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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 885
                           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.
        September 2, 2005        Re'eh               28 Av, 5765

                          Making A Connection

Imagine a brilliant teacher, a professor of world renowned profundity,
whose writings require advanced degrees to comprehend. This teacher is
working in his office, analyzing, thinking, delving into the deepest

Just outside his door at the university is the janitor, mopping the
hallway. The janitor is a simple man, without a "higher" education. He
wouldn't understand the basics of the professor's field; an advanced
degree  for him isn't even a question. For him to have any inkling of
what the professor is studying is utterly inconceivable.

Obviously, the professor and the janitor have no connection. The
thoughts of one operate in a different dimension than the thoughts of
the other.

But then the professor, hearing the janitor outside his door, asks if
the janitor would please bring him a drink of water. And at that moment,
a connection is begun, the lines of communication  are open and a
relationship becomes possible.

The teacher doesn't necessarily need the water. He is not particularly
thirsty. He just wants a drink. Such a request comes not from logic but
an exertion of his will. It's a desire, and a desire, the inner urge of
the soul, defies reason.

Now if the janitor brings the professor a glass of water, the connection
is made and the relationship established.

Our tradition uses analogies to help us understand how G-dliness works
and how we can have a connection with the Infinite Source of our being.
The previous analogy has been developed at length by Chasidic philosophy
to serve as a motif of connection.

Chasidic philosophy uses this analogy to explain how we, as finite human
beings, connect with the Infinite G-d, only the difference between us
and Him is vastly, immeasurably, infinitely greater than the distance
between the professor and the janitor.

G-d asks us to perform mitzvot (commandments). And when we do, when we
fulfill His will, not because it makes sense, not because there's a
reason, not even because we accomplish something, but simply because He
asks, because He wants us to do that action, then, and only then, do we
establish a relationship.

Indeed, the word "mitzva" means not just "commandment," but
"connection." When we respond to the command, we connect.

But there's one last point: Let's go back to our analogy. If the teacher
asks for a glass of water, but is brought soda, beer, or even orange
juice, not to mention ice cream or cake (what if he has a sugar
problem?), his request is not being fulfilled. The connection isn't
there. Because the only way to make that connection is to fulfill the
request, to do what is asked, not what the janitor thinks.

And the same is true with mitzvot. There's a right way to do them, the
way that will fulfill G-d's request, detailed for us in the Code of
Jewish Law. And that's how we connect with G-d.

In the Torah portion of Re'ei, the Holy Temple is referred to as "the
site that G-d will choose for His name to rest there."

The Holy Temple was a successor to the Tabernacle that the Jews
travelled with as they wandered through the desert, and, as such, was to
be similar to it in all important details. However, while the Tabernacle
was always set up on a level surface, the Holy Temple was built on a
slope with steps leading from level to level.

The Tabernacle was a temporary edifice and moved from place to place,
while Temple was to stand forever on a fixed site. This meant that the
sanctity of the Holy Temple extended to the actual physical site - "the
site that G-d will choose." As a result, the different levels of
sanctity within it were reflected in its different elevations - the more
sacred, the loftier the location.

Yet within the Holy Temple itself, the Holy and the Holy of Holies were
on the same plane. One would have expected a marked difference in
height, reflecting the greater sanctity of the Holy of Holies.

However, the notion that a more holy spot will be marked by a higher
physical elevation than a less holy one applies only when the degrees of
sanctity involved are comparable. When a spot's sanctity is incomparably
higher than any other's, it defies the very concept of "higher" and
"lower," and any difference in physical height cannot serve as an
indicator of its holiness.

The Holy of Holies, was that place wherein the unlimited essence of
G-dliness was revealed. Whereas all the other parts of the Beis
HaMikdash could be compared to each other as to their degree of
holiness, the Holy of Holies was of an infinitely greater degree of
holiness than any other part - exalted far beyond the confines of
"higher" and "lower."

This discussion also applies when considering the various levels of
sanctity in the spiritual Holy Temple that resides within each and every
individual Jew and with regard to the various levels of holiness we
achieve in our spiritual quest.

Under ordinary circumstances, whenever a person desires to attain a
higher spiritual level, it is incumbent upon him to "climb the steps"
and elevate himself through his spiritual service.

But when a person seeks to attain the highest of levels -  the Holy of
Holies - he must abandon all awareness of "self" or "seeking" and attain
a state in which everything exists for him in a state of "absolute

When a person attains this state, he is in touch with his soul's essence
- a level beyond the very concepts of "higher" and "lower," and on which
he is completely nullified before G-d's will. Such a person has attained
the Holy of Holies.

          Adapted by Rabbi S.B. Wineberg from Likkutei Sichos, Vol.
                       XXIX, reprinted from the Chassidic Dimension

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                       A Jewish Face to the World
                           by Geoffrey Zygier

Being a Jew is a holistic experience - whether at work, play, eating,
chatting or even sleeping. Early in my Jewish journey, an acquaintance
farther down the path of Torah knowledge and mitzva observance, who
already wore a kipa and tzitzit publicly, mentioned that he could never
eat in a non-kosher restaurant. While he was still not completely ready
to keep kosher, he could not consider "letting down the team" by eating
non-kosher in public. Thus the face we present to the world is a
remarkably effective tool in regulating our behavior.

Many like me who did not grow up in religious homes but became observant
later in life, find that affecting a significantly different look, one
that reveals the emerging Jew, can be a very challenging test.

I know this from personal experience. Some ten years ago, I commenced
wearing a kipa and tzitzit beyond the safety of my home and shul. On one
level, this was no big deal. After eight years of gradually increasing
involvement in Jewish observance, I had reached a certain level in my
Judaism: the point where it became necessary that I change my outer self
to reflect my internal transformation. In one sense this was merely the
next rung on the ladder, something I felt that I just had to do. In
another sense, however, it was such a radical break from the old me.

Yes, I was being true to myself. But while this may have been natural
and appropriate, it did not make it easy or simple. While my family and
friends had some idea of the revolution I had been going through, many
found this step, this obvious Jew, a very public and (for some)
confrontational statement. And if facing people who cared about me was
difficult, it was initially more stressful dealing with others
presumably less sympathetic.

I never would have thought it possible, but the adaptive process
literally took years. There were various reasons for this. For one there
was the question of my age. I was already in my mid-40s, clearly a late
developer! For younger people less settled in their ways and
environments, change may be easier.

More importantly, I felt let down by what I saw as the lack of
endorsement by those close to me. But as a friend later pointed out, in
truth they were just as vulnerable as I was, and my seemingly abrupt
Jewishness was equally (and probably even more) disconcerting for them.
Ultimately my family and friends were not objecting to the new me but
rather to their feeling of being excluded from my process of change.
Consequently, there was no mutual support and we became temporarily
distanced from one another. (To be fair, however, the situation was to
improve greatly as we talked and lived through the issues, and as they
came to accept the sincerity of my commitment.) Ironically, despite what
I had assumed, those who were strangers to me didn't at all care whether
I had gone bare-headed in the past or, for that matter, whether I was
Jewish or showed that Jewishness in an obvious manner.

Difficult though this period sometimes was, it nonetheless was leavened
by being a time of rich spiritual growth. Apart from the personal aspect
of adopting a Jewish appearance, there is another equally important
dimension, the universal, as exemplified in the following story:

During the 1960s, the Lubavitcher Rebbe sent several Chasidim to Russia,
in the guise of tourists. In some cities, they met secretly with members
of the Chasidic underground. In other places, such contact was too
dangerous; however, the Rebbe instructed his emissaries to still visit
synagogues and places where Jews might be found. Years later, after
having managed to leave Russia, one of the members of the Lubavitch
community explained how precious those visits had been.

"The Russian government had begun a campaign to demoralize us. It would
call in members of the Chasidic community and show them headlines from
American Jewish newspapers and magazines, which spoke of assimilation
and intermarriage. 'Your faith is doomed to extinction,' they told us.
'In Europe, your brethren have been wiped out and in America, they have
forgotten their heritage. Why must you be so stubborn in your

"Their words had an effect, not that we believed them totally. But
still, when reading an American Jewish newspaper that described 'the
vanishing American Jew,' we had to become somewhat disheartened. And
suddenly the Shluchim were seen in town! We could not talk with them,
but we saw them! We saw evidence that it was not all that dark in
America.  These were young Americans wearing yarmulkes, tzitzit and full
beards. It reinforced our faith in the future, and gave us strength to
carry on."

After reading this story, I remembered how as a secular Jewish child
growing up in Australia, I had been entranced by the "exotic" look of
Orthodox Jewish men. Indeed, it also occurred to me how, on many a day
when wearing a kipa seemed a burden, my feelings were lifted by a flash
of recognition by a fellow Jew in the street, and even by curious
non-Jews asking questions about Judaism.

It is ironic that, while many people would see affecting a Jewish
appearance as limiting, I know that the opposite is undoubtedly true.
Quite simply, there is nothing more liberating than finally stepping out
of the shadows of secularism into the clear light of Torah, and openly
acknowledging your true self. Second, as mentioned earlier, establishing
congruity between one's internal and external selves is likely the most
effective way of finding personal serenity. It is only then that we can
hope to work for peace with others.

               Mr. Zygier can be reached at

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             New Emissaries

Rabbi and Mrs. Chanan Krivisky are moving to Monsey, New York, to
establish Chabad at the State University of New York of Rockland County

                             New Synagogue

A groundbreaking ceremony for a new synagogue and Jewish community
center in Talinn, Estonia, will take place on September 19. This will be
the first synagogue in Estonia since the Holocaust.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                          4 Elul, 5734 (1984)

I am in receipt of your letter of 14 August.  Needless to say, I am very
sorry that my previous letter caused you some anguish, which, of course,
was neither intended nor anticipated.  I therefore hasten to reply to
your letter in order to clarify my intent and, hopefully, to dispel your

By way of preface, you must not think that I take personal offense if
the suggestions which I convey in writing or orally are not followed.
Certainly, in your case, there was no thought in my mind that if my
suggestions were not accepted there would be cause for apprehension.  It
is only that when I am asked for advice and the like, I offer it as I
see it, to the best of my knowledge, in the best interest of the
inquirer, and in the case of your husband and yourself--in the best
interests also of those in your environment.

Now to your letter and my previous one, to which it refers:  I am
certain that your husband can accomplish a great deal in his field, and
that he can accomplish it in a way that will also be beneficial to the
cause of Yiddishkeit [Judaism], which will be a source of blessing to
yourselves and many others, as indicated above. The more the activities
are in harmony with G-d's directives and Shabbos observance is one of
the most important ones, not only as a basic mitzva [commandment] of the
Torah, but also of the Ten Commandments - the wider are opened the
channels to receive G-d's blessings.

In the present instance there is a further benefit, in that generally
when there is a proposition to appear in a show or entertainment, and,
in the nature of things, such an offer may have both positive and
negative aspects - the question of Shabbos and Yom Tov [holiday]
observance can serve as a test of its desirability.  For if it has to be
declined on this ground, it is an indication that it is not desirable
also on other grounds, including the material aspect.

The above may seem like a mystical approach to material things.  But on
deeper reflection it can be seen that the mystical approach is also a
practical one.  Moreover, in recent years we have seen that where
certain celebrities insisted on Shabbos observance, their religious
convictions were respected.  To cite some instances:  The American Grand
Master of Chess, Samuel Reshevsky, while participating in a tournament
in Moscow, refused to play on Shabbos, and the game was postponed until
after Shabbos. And although religion is not at a "premium" in that
country, it only raised his prestige.  It was also beneficial to him
from a practical viewpoint, for it gave him an opportunity to rest an
extra day in between games, which, needless to say, are rather

The world chess champion, B. Fischer, who is a Jew, though he professes
to be a follower of the Seventh Day Adventists, also refused to play on
Shabbos, even though he forfeited the game, but it did not hurt his
chances to win the crown.

A further example from the world of business:  A person who is a friend
of mine participated in an International Fair in Moscow some 4 or 5
years ago.  He notified the authorities that he could not do business on
Shabbos, and a special session was arranged for him on Sunday.  It
turned out highly satisfactory for him, even business-wise, quite
unintentionally and unexpectedly.

You write that you hesitated to show my letter to your husband, not
knowing if he would follow my suggestion, etc.  But I do not see why you
should be apprehensive, since, as I explained, above, it is not
connected with any stricture on my part.  It is only free advice which,
I believe, is for his benefit also materially, in addition to the
spiritual aspects.  But if he is not ready yet to accept it, I am
certain we will remain good friends...

May I add that apparently I give your husband more credit than you do,
for I firmly believe that he is capable of forgoing the material gain
and personal satisfaction of appearing in a show if he is convinced that
there is a worthwhile cause to warrant it.  At any rate, my suggestion
was based on the assumption that it would come - as you express it in
regard to yourself, and also your husband, "from within, on a voluntary
basis," being certain that your husband already has it "within" him, and
only needs to bring it out to the surface in actual deed.

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
3 Elul, 5765 - September 7, 2005

Positive Mitzva 1: Believing in G-d

This mitzva is based on the verse (Ex. 20:2) "I am the L-rd, your G-d"
This first Positive mitzva commands us to believe in G-d, the Master
Creator of the Universe.

Prohibition 1: You shall not believe anything else has the power of G-d
except for G-d.

This mitzva is based on the verse (Ex. 20:3) "You shall have no other
gods besides Me" The first Positive mitzva teaches that we must believe
in G-d. However, it would still be possible for someone to believe in
G-d and also believe that there are other gods in the world. This
prohibition cautions us not to believe that anything or anyone has the
power of G-d, except for G-d.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
On Shabbat we bless the new month of Elul and on Sunday and Monday we
celebrate Rosh Chodesh Elul. The month of Elul is the last month of the
Jewish year. Thus, it is a month devoted to introspection and
repentance, in preparation for the new year.

Jewish teachings encourage us to be more careful and conscientious in
our mitzva observance during this month, to say additional Psalms, give
extra charity and make an honest reckoning of our behavior over the past

The Rebbe discusses the Sages comment of the need for the Jewish people
to do teshuva (return to G-d) before Moshiach comes. The Rebbe said:

"The Talmud (Sanhedrin) states that the coming of Moshiach is dependent
only on teshuva - repentance. As to the continuation of the above
declaration of the Sages, that 'the matter now depends on teshuva
alone,' G-d's people have already turned to Him in teshuva. For teshuva
is an instantaneous process, which transpires 'in one moment, in one
turn.' Furthermore, a single thought of teshuva is sufficient to alter
one's entire spiritual status....

"Since on more than one occasion every Jew has had thoughts of teshuva,
the coming of the future Redemption is surely imminent..."

Thus, though we are obligated to continuously do teshuva, the Rebbe
clearly stated that the teshuva necessary to bring the Redemption has
already been done.

May we merit the Redemption, as the Rebbe prophesied, in the immediate

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Behind the way of the going down of the sun (Deut. 11:30)

The true blessing and curse, that is, the fitting rewards and
punishments we receive according to our deeds, are bestowed only "behind
the way of the going down of the sun"- after a person leaves this world
and passes away, as it says, "There is no reward for a mitzva
(commandment) in this world."

                                                       (Klai Yakar)

                                *  *  *

Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse (Deut. 11:26)

There are two different kinds of "today" - the "today" of blessing and
the "today" of curse. Consideration of the present moment as an impetus
for action can be either positive or negative: "If not now, when?" spurs
a Jew on to do good, whereas "Eat and drink for tomorrow we die" leads
him down the path of evil.

                                (Rabbi Chanoch Henich of Alexander)

                                *  *  *

You are the children of the L-rd your G-d (Deut. 14:1)

Just as the child is drawn down from the brain of the father, so are the
souls of the Jewish people drawn down from G-d's Supernal wisdom.
However, the connection between the Jew and G-d is even loftier than
that between an earthly father and son, for G-d's wisdom is not a
separate entity from Him, but "He and His wisdom are one."


                                *  *  *

You shall not shut your hand from your needy brother (Deut. 15:7)

The first letters of this verse in Hebrew spell out the word "Tehillim"
- Psalms. Reciting Psalms on behalf of a poor person is not enough; one
must open his hand and give him material sustenance as well.

                                          (Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin)

                                *  *  *

Observe and hear all these words which I command you (Deut. 12:28)

The great Torah commentator Rashi explains that "observe" refers to the
study of Torah. Studying Torah preserves the G-dly spark within each of
us, preventing it from becoming nullified and lost in the body's
physicality and coarseness.

                                            (Sefer Hamaamarim 5672)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
There are numerous stories describing why the great Rabbi Yaakov Yosef
from Polanyah renounced his initial opposition to the fledgling Chasidic
movement and became an ardent follower of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of
Chasidism. The following story is considered by some to be the most

Early one morning, the Baal Shem Tov arrived at the marketplace in the
town of Sharigrad, where Rabbi Yaakov Yosef served as the city's rabbi,
and began talking to the passersby. Soon his heartfelt words and
inspiring stories attracted a sizeable crowd. Many of his listeners had
been on their way to shul for the morning services and stopped to hear
him instead.

One can imagine Rabbi Yaakov Yosef's displeasure upon arriving at shul
only to find it empty, except for the attendant.

"Where are all the people?" he demanded to know.

"Honored Rabbi," replied the attendant. "A distinguished-looking Jew is
telling stories in the marketplace and many people have congregated
around him."

"Well, please go tell them to come to shul immediately so we may proceed
with services as usual," the rabbi ordered.

The attendant went to summon the people, but instead found himself among
those captivated by the newcomer's tales.

"I'll go out there and call them myself," decided Rabbi Yaakov Yosef
when the attendant failed to return.

Rabbi Yaakov Yosef neared the crowd just as the Baal Shem Tov had begun
a new story and found himself listening with interest.

"There was once a simple porter who always began his day at dawn,
participating in the early minyan (quorom) for the saying of Psalms and
the morning prayers. After praying, he would toil for many long hours,
finishing shortly before sunset. Despite his exhaustion, the porter
would always rush to shul for the afternoon service. He was careful
never to miss the minyan and would stay on through the evening service
to join a study group for the simple laborers, appropriate to their
limited knowledge and understanding of Torah.

"The porter lived next door to a self-employed, learned scholar who led
a much more comfortable life. The scholar did not have to rush to
services, since his occupation afforded him both leisure and peace of
mind. His prayers were always preceded and followed by an hour or so of
concentrated study.

"One evening, the two neighbors met on their way home. The simple porter
heaved a deep sigh in envy of the scholar whose prayers and learning far
surpassed his own.

"Hearing the sigh, the scholar smiled to himself, thinking, 'How dare he
aspire to my level of service!'

"Years later both neighbors passed away. Upon his arrival at the
Heavenly Court, the scholar's prayers and Torah study were placed on one
side of the scale, and they weighed heavily in justification of his
devout service. Then, an unpleasant smile was placed on the other side,
and the balance of the scales was tipped against him.

"In contrast, the porter's limited amount of study and prayers weighed
lightly until his heartfelt sigh was added to them. Then, the scales
tipped easily in his favor."

Rabbi Yaakov Yosef began to consider his own service and realized that
it too, was tinged with self-concern. Perhaps, he thought to himself,
this story-teller could show him a new path of service.

Reprinted from From My Father's Shabbos Table by Rabbi Y. Chitrick.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The anticipation of the Redemption should be so powerful that one
actually considers the Redemption a reality. When this happens, one
should share this feeling with others, telling them that we can actually
see the coming of the ultimate Redemption. Furthermore, even a person
who has not fully internalized the concept of the Redemption in his own
mind should make efforts to spread this concept to others, beginning
with his own family and circle of acquaintances. Why should one's own
failure to internalize these concepts cause others to be denied this

                                    (The Rebbe, 30 Av, 5751 - 1991)

                 END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 885 - Re'eh 5765

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