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Devarim Deutronomy

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Devarim Deutronomy

April 8, 2005 - 28 Adar II, 5765

865: Sazria

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Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.

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  864: Shmini866: Metzora  

One Shabbat, One World  |  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

One Shabbat, One World

Shabbat Shalom. Gut Shabbos. Let's recite the Kiddush sanctifying the seventh day - Shabbat.

"And the heavens and the earth and all their hosts were completed."

Can we grasp with our minds, with our hearts, with all our senses, the majesty of Creation? We've pictured the farthest regions on a computer, telescoped the universe, viewed the vastness like a photo, and still the galaxies of time elude us.

"And the children of Israel shall observe the Shabbat..."

We search the cosmos for an inner certitude. We are looking for forever.

"And G-d finished by the Seventh Day His work which He had done, and He rested on the Seventh Day from all His work which He had done."

But how can G-d rest and the universe exist? For G-d continually creates creation. And what kind of "rest" is this when the stream of life pours forth from the Source of life?

"...establishing the Shabbat throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant."

The realm beyond this realm, the story after the end, the eternal of being - to paraphrase Jacob, G-d was in this moment, and I did not know it.

"And G-d blessed the Seventh Day and made it holy (kadosh)..."

This business of holiness I do not understand. I know the word, and its Hebrew, kadosh, separated. But let's face it, this lofty spirituality just doesn't fit with working, paying bills, driving a carpool and whatever else it takes to get through the day.

"It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel for all time..."

What do we mean by a "sign"? Let's think of some signs. A smile is a sign of affection. What we see is evidence of something we don't see. Perhaps a sign is a symptom of an underlying cause. A yawn is a symptom of fatigue. It signals a weariness. Are we not tired of exile?

"...for on it He rested from all His work which G-d created to function."

Have you ever heard the expression, "at one with..."? Perhaps herein lies the contrast: work requires separation, a moving away, outward, forward (at least in time). We cannot be doing and be one with. But we do in order to be one with. We go to work in order to come home and be one with our family.

G-d, so to speak, "goes to work" for six days to be one with His people.

"...for in six days the L-rd made the heavens and the earth..."

Oh, very nice, but what has that to do with us? Do we make the heavens and the earth? Do we make anything? Well, yes, in six days we make a world. It's a sign, you see, a symptom of something else, some underlying cause.

"...and on the seventh day He ceased from work and rested."

This is the holiness, this is the rest, this is the sign: that on Shabbat, the oneness is revealed.

And so we come back to a paraphrase of our Sages' statement: "Just one Shabbos and we'll all be free..." Free of what? Free of exile, of course. For, as the Talmud puts it, "If all Israel kept one Shabbat together, Redemption would come."

Because Shabbat - Shabbos - is a sign, a sign of oneness - the Oneness of G-d the Creator, and the oneness of G-d and the Jewish people, a oneness of the soul. But there is yet another sign, another oneness which must, in a sense, precede the oneness of which Shabbos - Shabbat - is the sign.

And that is the oneness of the Jewish people themselves. Unity of the Jews is a sign of our oneness with G-d.

And how do we transcend our differences - make a sign symptomatic of our underlying oneness?

One Shabbat, One World.

This Friday, April 8/28 Adar II - Chabad-Lubavitch invites all Jews to unite through "One Shabbat, One World," a campaign to celebrate the unity of the Jewish people and to transform the world into a world of good, peace and Redemption. Celebrate at home or at Chabad by contacting your local Chabad rabbi or visiting

Living with the Rebbe

This week's Torah reading, Tazria, focuses on the concept of ritual purity and impurity. Our Sages explain the distinction between the Torah's prohibitions and its laws of impurity as follows: Prohibitions guard against evil that our minds and hearts can appreciate. The laws of impurity, by contrast, protect against a dimension of evil which we cannot comprehend. As the Midrash states: "It is a statute which I (G-d) ordained, a decree that I instituted."

Although the evil associated with a prohibition can be appreciated more readily, there is a more severe dimension associated with impurity. For since the evil associated with impurity is not easily discerned, it is much more difficult to guard against and to eradicate. To cite an example, when a person eats non-kosher food, he has performed a transgression and must repent. Nevertheless, even before he repents, he may enter the Holy Temple and bring a sacrifice.

Casually coming into contact with an impure substance can change an individual's personal state and isolate him from holiness. For example, were a person to touch a dead lizard, he would be forbidden to enter the Holy Temple or partake of a sacrifice.

Moreover, just as ritual purity is a quality which cannot be grasped by our mortal intellect, it affects the levels of our souls that transcend reason and understanding. It has an effect on the dimensions of our being that are connected to G-d above the level of logical thought.

At present, the entire Jewish people is ritually impure, for throughout the ages, since the destruction of the Holy Temple, it has been impossible to maintain a state of ritual purity. For example, one of the fundamental sources of impurity is contact with a human corpse. To restore a person to a state of purity after such contact, a priest must sprinkle water mixed with the ashes of a red heifer upon an impure person. Since the destruction of the Temple, these ashes have not been available and therefore our entire people are impure.

This will be one of the first achievements of Moshiach after rebuilding the Holy Temple - to restore our people to a state of purity. When that is accomplished, our relationship with G-d will be lifted to an entirely different level.

From Keeping in Touch published by Sichos In English, adapted by Rabbi E. Touger from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

A Slice of Life

Two Stories for One Shabbat

by Ralph Schofer

Adaptability and flexibility, coupled with adherence to the principles of Torah, are what sustained the Jewish people over thousands of years and will continue to perpetuate the Jewish people to eternity. This adaptability and flexibility has been demonstrated over 3,800 years by specific remnants of the Jewish people who have lived in a multitude of locations around the world. Witness the variations in foods, cooking styles, names, dress, customs and habitat of Jewish people across the globe.

About 20 years ago, I was working on technology dissemination for the National Institute of Standards and Technology at Loyola University in New Orleans. I heard the Dean of Research state in a discussion with one of his colleagues that there are few organizations in the world more flexible than the Jews: this characteristic is what allows them to continue to survive in a changing world.

These characteristics were demonstrated at Chabad of Bethesda, Maryland on a Friday evening this winter. Shabbat services were scheduled to be followed by a Shabbat dinner honoring Gabbai Marshall Foster. Shortly before the service was to begin, an electric power transmission pole serving an entire square block caught fire after being hit by a car. The fire department found it necessary to cut off electric power serving Chabad's building. This caused every electrically powered device to cease functioning. There was no lighting in the building for the service or even in the courtyard. Everything stopped, including the electric stove.

Nightfall was rapidly approaching and there would be no ambient light available at the windows.

This "minor" problem had absolutely no impact on the program planned by Rabbi Bentzion and Zlata Geisinsky. In the short few minutes before Shabbat, flashlights were illuminated, candles and sternos were lit, and the davening was commenced as planned, followed by kiddush, hamotzie and dinner.

The delicious meal was kept hot and served by candlelight to about 50 worshippers. Thus, a flexible and adaptable Chabad Rabbi and his wife turned a potentially disastrous power interruption into a delightful candlelight Shabbat with presentation of the full planned program. This dinner and service by candlelight was similar to Shabbat dinners during the first hundred years of the Lubavitcher movement. Everyone arrived home safely with memories of a delightful and inspiring greeting of the Shabbat. Chabad of Bethesda is a living organization because it is dynamic, flexible and adaptable.

by Yehuda Amar

For many years, Rabbi Zushe Silberstein of Chabad Chabanel, Montreal, would bring a busload of people bi-monthly to spend Shabbat with the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

During public gatherings on Shabbat afternoon, the Rebbe encouraged the group to use the visits to strengthen themselves in the observance of Torah and mitzvot, as well as making them emissaries to share with others what they had gained from their experience in Crown Heights.

One Friday when Rabbi Silberstein gave the Rebbe's secretary a list of the Shabbaton participants, the Rebbe responded with appreciation for the group's visit and wrote that he would surely be notified, as soon as possible, the concrete increases in good deeds resulting from the Shabbaton.

Thenceforth, it became a highlight of the program on Saturday night (after Shabbat) for each participant to write down a specific mitzva in which they planned to increase their observance. They would then hand the note to the Rebbe on Sunday during the Rebbes' distribution of dollars for charity.

At some point on Saturday night, participants would often share why they had chosen to increase in a particular mitzva. On one of these occasions, Max D., a Montreal businessman, shared his story:

"I immigrated to Montreal from Israel a number of years ago. I landed a job in a Jewish printing and mailing company. I learned the ropes and eventually opened my own business with my brother. We started out modestly. Thank G-d the business grew and we presently employ about 200 people.

"I got to know Rabbi Silberstein as well as other Chabad Rabbis and have become one of the printers for Chabad publications in Montreal. One day Rabbi Silberstein ran into my office, invited me to put on tefilin and then started to discuss the next job.

" 'Max,' he said, "I need 26,000 copies of this 64 page magazine by Tuesday morning.' There was no point in arguing with Rabbi Silberstein that it was already Thursday noon because he and I knew that we would do the job. Just before leaving, the rabbi reminded me, 'Do not print it on Shabbat!!!' At that point in my life I had stopped going to work on Shabbat but was not observing it 100%.

"That Saturday afternoon I was driving my wife downtown to go shopping. I wanted to stop in the office for just ONE second to check on an important matter. After a half hour of waiting in the car my wife came into the shop.

" 'We have a major problem,' I told her frantically. 'Our computerized collating machine in excellent working order is not working. Neither the foreman or the engineer can figure out the problem.

"My wife looked at the machine and suddenly shrieked, 'Don't you see what's on the machine? Look, the Rebbe is staring at you from the cover of the Chabad magazine!'

"Stunned, I instructed all the employees to go home and told the foreman and the engineer to come back after nightfall. After Shabbat, my wife, my brother, the engineer, the foreman and I returned to the plant. We watched the machine start without any problems whatsoever! Since then, I took upon myself to increase in my observance of Shabbat.

"So," concluded Max, "tomorrow we will receive from the Rebbe a dollar and a blessing. The Rebbe will be looking at us directly, not through the cover of a magazine. The Rebbe gives us the direction and strength to fulfill our mission, lets give him our promise that we will continue to increase in mitzvot until we bring the final Redemption."

What's New

New Emissaries

Rabbi Nochi and Chani Katsenelenbogen have established Chabad of Owings Mills and Reisterstown, suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland.

New Centers

Two new centers were established under the auspices of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS in the Lugansk region of eastern Ukraine. One center is in the Pervomaisk neighborhood and the other is in the Popasnenski neighborhood. These new communities have brought the number of centers in the Lugansk Region to a total of ten.

Tanya Printed in Hills of Hebron

The Chabad House of Kiryat Arba and Hebron printed the Tanya, the basic book of Chabad Chasidic philosophy, in the Hills of Hebron in the Nagahot settlement, slated to be evacuated by the Israeli goverment this summer.

The Rebbe Writes

2nd of Shevat, 5740 [1980]

Your letter of Jan. 14th, with the enclosure, reached me with some delay. In it you write about the forthcoming opening of your new business on the 14th of September. May G-d grant that it should be with Hatzlocho [success].

Although you do not mention it, I am certain that the business will be conducted in strict observance of Shabbos and Yom Tov. For, if this is a "must" in the conduct of the home, it is no less imperative that the parnosso [livelihood] should be a Kosher one, in accordance with G-d's Will, which also insures that the income will be spent on good and healthy and happy things both materially and spiritually.

There is also a timely significance in the date of the opening, which is in the week of Shabbos Shiro (Beshalach) followed by Parshas [the Torah portion of] Yisro, the Shabbos of Mattan Torah [when we read about the Giving of the Torah]. In the first, the role of the Jewish woman is emphasized by the song of Miriam, which is followed up by the song of Devorah in the Haftorah, while in the second, we find the commandment "Remember the Shabbos day to keep it holy" as one of the Ten Commandments.

Receipt is enclosed for your Tzedoko [charity], and may it additionally stand you and yours in good stead, particularly that you and your husband should have true Yiddish Nachas [Jewish pleasure] from your children, in good health and ample sustenance.

Hoping to hear good news from you in all above,

P.S. It would be well that you should keep in your business place a Tzedoko Pushka [charity box], into which you as well as your customers could put in a coin, which will further widen the channels to receive G-d's blessings in all needs.

27 Shevat, 5721 [1961]

I received your letter of the 20th of Shevat, in which you bring to my attention the problem of a certain businessman in your community, who is generally an observant Jew, but is involved in a business which makes it difficult for him to observe Shabbos, but now a suggestion was made to him to enter another field in which he could avoid the desecration of Shabbos.

It is clear to the unbiased mind, and even to plain common sense, that the Almighty, Who is the Giver of the Torah and mitzvos [commandments], is also the Creator and Master of the world, Whose benevolent Providence extends to everyone individually.

Therefore, when G-d commanded us to live in the way of the Torah and mitzvos, He has also given us the ability to live accordingly under all circum-stances, and He has given us also the power to overcome any obstacles. It is only a matter of will and determination on the part of every Jew, since, potentially, he has the fullest capacity to live up to the will and the commandments of G-d, the Creator and Master of the world.

It is also obvious that this is the only way for a Jew to be truly happy, materially and spiritually. It is only because G-d is infinitely merciful and patient that He does not immediately impose the consequences of any breach of His commandments, in order to permit the individual to mend his ways.

It is also equally obvious that no lasting good can come from breaking G-d's laws, especially such a fundamental law as Shabbos observance, for the important thing is not how much money a person earns, but that he should be able to spend it in good health and on happy things, which are entirely in the hands of G-d.

In view of the above, it is quite clear what the attitude of the businessman in question should be, even if there were no other immediate business propositions. For it is necessary, without delay, to give up the kind of business which interferes with Shabbos observance, with the full confidence that He who feeds and sustains three billion people and all living things will also be able to take care of the individual and his family and provide him with a source of parnosa [livelihood] which should not be in conflict with the Will of G-d.

I trust you will convey the above to the gentleman in question, as well as to others who might be in a similar position.

Rambam this week

2 Nisan, 5765 - April 11, 2005

Positive Mitzvah 107: Impurity of coming in contact with a Dead Body

This mitzva is based on the verse (Num. 19:11) "He that touches the dead body of any man shall be unclean." Contact with a dead body makes a person impure. G-d defined certain situations as impure. Persons or items coming in contact with impurity may also be considered impure and they must go through a process of purification. The Torah commands us to regard certain things and situations as being impure. There are many detailed laws applying to each stage of impurity. The Torah teaches us the procedures of purification for the different types of impurity.

A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

Have you started getting ready for Passover yet? Afterall, in two weeks from this Saturday night, the festival of Passover begins.

In the Mishna, two different opinions of our Sages are stated as to how much before Passover one must begin one's preparations for the holiday.

According to one opinion, we study and inquire about the laws of Passover a full 30 days before the holiday. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says that one begins two weeks before the holiday."

Although the halacha (Jewish legal ruling) was decided according to the former opinion, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel's view is also significant as our Sages teach, "These and these are the words of the living G-d."

So, if you'll just be starting your Passover preparations this Saturday night (after a joyous celebration of Shabbat with family and friends as part of the One Shabbat-One World campaign) you're not late.

Interestingly, it is actually possible to fulfill both opinions. To explain: One should start preparing by reviewing the laws of Passover 30 days before the holiday. As the holiday approaches, however, one should reassess one's situation and increase both the quality and the quantity of one's preparations.

Just as we must make an effort to prepare for Passover, we must also make efforts to provide others with their Passover needs, giving "maot chittim," the special charity associated with Passover. Here too, even if one gave 30 days before Passover, as the Passover holiday grows nearer, one must reassess and increase his donations.

As G-d sees the extent of one's generosity, He will provide one with more blessings. A person who gives without reservations and limitations, will likewise receive Divine blessings that know no bounds.

Thoughts that Count

And on the eighth day shall he be circumcised (Lev. 12:3)

The Midrash says: "How great is the Sabbath day, that a baby is not circumcised until he has passed one Shabbat." A circumcision (brit mila) is performed on the eighth day of the baby's life, insuring that he will have passed at least one Shabbat. The Shabbat itself makes the child holy, and prepares him for the holiness of the mitzva of brit mila.

(Yalkut Yehuda)

At a brit mila we say, "Just as he has entered into the Covenant so may he enter into Torah, into marriage and into good deeds." It is a Chabad Chasidic custom to make an advance payment on the tuition fees for the child's Jewish education at this time.

(Hayom Yom)

When a woman conceives and gives birth... (Lev. 12:2)

This Torah portion is immediately preceded by the words "to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten," to teach that keeping kosher has a direct effect upon the spirituality of future generations.


It Once Happened

In 1831, the year of the Polish uprising, Polish patriots organized a rebellion against their Russian overlords.

In a small town near Kovno, there lived a Jewish innkeeper. The innkeeper, whom we'll call Joseph, was well known as an honest, G-d-fearing Jew and members of the Polish nobility frequently visited his inn for good food and wine.

One late Friday afternoon, a Russian General arrived in town with his troops. The General had heard about the reputation of the local Jewish innkeeper, and sent his aide to him.

The aide found the inn but it was closed; the sun had already set. The aide went around to the private entrance and knocked on the door. The innkeeper, dressed in his Shabbat clothes, welcomed the aide into his house.

"The General sent me to buy some of your best wine," the aide said, taking out a roll of money.

"I am sorry indeed," Joseph replied. "We are now celebrating the Sabbath and I do not do any business on this holy day."

Nothing the aide said would change the mind of the loyal Jew, and he therefore returned to the General empty-handed.

The General flew into a rage and immediately sent two soldiers to warn the innkeeper to sell him some wine.

Some time later, the soldiers returned to the thirsty general - without wine.

"Why didn't you bring me wine?" the general roared.

"The Jew said he could not sell any wine to anybody on his Sabbath. However, he sent the key to his wine cellar, and suggested that perhaps the General might wish to help himself to any of the wine as his guest!" the soldiers reported.

"What a queer Jew that is!" the general thought. "He would not sell me a bottle of wine because of the Sabbath, but he is prepared to give away all his wine." The general set out to meet the Jew in person.

When the general entered Joseph's house, the Shabbat atmosphere was everywhere. The table was covered with tasty dishes and the candles shone brightly. Joseph and his family were all dressed in their Sabbath clothes and their faces were all aglow with delight. In fact, the Jewish home and all of its inhabitants looked as if they were entertaining a royal guest. And perhaps they were, for the Sabbath is referred to in Jewish teachings as the "Shabbat Queen."

The general, who had burst into the house with the intention of teaching this Jew a lesson, felt his anger melt away and very politely asked him why he refused to sell him wine. "Don't you know that refusing to sell provisions to the army in times of war is a tantamount to rebellion?"

"Your Highness," said Joseph, "to keep the Sabbath day holy is one of the Ten Commandments given to us by G-d, the Supreme King of Kings. His command we must obey before any command by human kings and princes. However, we shall indeed consider it a great honor if you would join us as our Sabbath guests."

The general accepted the offer and was greatly impressed with Joseph and his family. At the end of a wonderful evening, he warmly shook hands with his host and departed in a happy mood.

Several years later, Joseph was falsely accused of taking part in a new Polish conspiracy to overthrow the Russians and drive them out of Poland. He was arrested and thrown in jail.

One day, as Joseph sat in his prison cell reciting Psalms, the heavy door of his cell opened and a high official appeared. The official was the Chief Inspector of the prisons and was on a routine check-up of the prison. When the Inspector approached Joseph's cell, he gazed at him, and then exclaimed, "Why, this is my good friend, Joseph the innkeeper. Good Heavens, what are you doing here?"

Joseph looked up in astonishment and realized that this Inspector was none other than the General whom he had entertained in his house that Friday night so long ago!

The general, now Chief Inspector, vouched for the innocence of the Jewish innkeeper and assured the investigating committee that he had nothing to do with the conspiracy.

The Chief Inspector's words had a great influence and Joseph was immediately sent home free. "How did this miracle take place?" his wife asked in astonishment and delight.

"The Queen intervened in my behalf," Joseph said.

"What Queen?" his wife asked.

"The Sabbath Queen, of course," replied Joseph.

Moshiach Matters

Every Shabbat (Sabbath) is a microcosm of "the era that is all Shabbat and rest for eternity" and the thee Shabbat meals are a reflection of the feast to be served on that day.

(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

  864: Shmini866: Metzora  
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