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   882: Devarim

883: Vaeschanan

884: Eikev

885: Re'eh

886: Shoftim

887: Ki Seitzei

888: Ki Savo

889: Nitzavim

September 30, 2005 - 26 Elul, 5765

889: Nitzavim

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

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  888: Ki Savo 

Welcome to the High Holiday Hotline  |  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

Welcome to the High Holiday Hotline

by Rabbi Israel Rubin

Welcome to the High Holiday Hot Line. Your call is very important. If you are calling during the Ten Days of Repentance from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur (but, of course, not on the holy days themselves!), when G-d is closer, this is a local call, instead of the usual long distance.

Press #10 now.

During this time, you will hear one long note, three short beeps, nine shorter beeps, and a long note. This series will repeat several times, followed by a longer final note at the end.

For Ashkenazic pronunciation, bevakosho (please) press A. For Sephardic, bevakasha press S.

You may use any language, as long as it comes from the heart.

Teshuva, returning to G-d, requires patience and persistence. If you do not get through the first time, try again. If you still don't get through, try again. Do not hang up!

If you feel that you have reached us in error, this is the right place, for "to err is human, to forgive is Divine." This call is audio-visually monitored by "The Eye that sees, the Ear that hears, and All your deeds are recorded."

Your call may be interspersed with moving renditions of Avinu Malkeinu and Kol Nidrei melodies.

Lip service is unacceptable. If you are not serious, please hang up, try pressing "Return" and call back again.

To review your annual balance, here are some helpful numbers:

For mitzvot (commandments) in general, Press #613

For a positive commandment, Press #248

For a prohibition, Press #365

For Rabbinic laws use extension #7.

In case of a bad connection, press 1 for Teshuva, press 2 for Prayer, and press 3 for Charity, for as we read in the High Holiday Prayerbook: Repentance, Prayer and Charity can remove the bad decree.

You may

  • Press 1 for G-d Is One,

  • Press M to ask for Moshiach.

  • Press 0 to delete misdeeds,

Are you sure you want to delete your transgressions at this time?

If you sinned against another person, you must contact him or her first, and then call back after being forgiven.

If you sincerely regret past transgressions, but don't know where to begin, consult the Yom Kippur prayer book's alphabetical Al Cheit directory. Use right hand to press pound at each listing. Thanks to our special "Teshuva Advantage Program," all your debits are turned into credits.

All transfers to charity will be fully credited to your account. Enter pledge now.

Press #18 to contribute multiples of Chai.

May you be inscribed for a GOOD NEW YEAR.

Thank you, and please call again.

Living with the Rebbe

This week's Torah portion, Nitzavim, definitively describes a Jew's relation-ship with G-d and the Torah. "And you shall obey His voice...for He is your life, and the length of your days." The Torah not only enables a Jew to imbue his life with holiness and promises a reward in the World to Come - it is his very life.

To better understand this concept, we can use the human body as an analogy.

The life-force of a human being - that which animates the physical matter of which man is composed - is found to the same degree throughout the body, equally present in the heel as in the head.

Although the head is the center of the soul's higher faculties - intellectual understanding, the senses of sight and hearing - no one limb is more animated by this force than another. Every part of the physical body is equally alive.

The same principle is also true of the Torah and its far-reaching influence. Every detail of a Jew's existence - from the most exalted to the most mundane - derives its life-force from the Torah, inasmuch as the Torah addresses all the minutiae of daily life and imbues them with G-dliness.

This is clearly demonstrated by the type of reward G-d promises for observing the Torah: "If you will walk in My statutes...I will give you rain in due season...and the earth shall produce its yield."

The reward for studying Torah is not only spiritual benefit, but tangible, material reward as well, expressing the fact that the Torah addresses both the spiritual and physical nature of the Jew, covering the full spectrum of his existence.

The Torah's description of the Messianic Era, with its wondrous manifestations of G-dliness and extraordinary phenomena, is more clearly understood in this light.

"[In the Messianic Era] the land of Israel will produce [fully baked] loaves of bread and [ready-made] articles of silk," we are promised.

But why will such remarkable material developments be necessary, if, as we are taught, when Moshiach comes the entire world will recognize the G-dliness within creation, and the sole pursuit of the Jewish people will be to study G-d's Torah?

Simply put, it is through these miracles involving physical phenomena that the underlying unity of G-d's creation with His Torah will be most openly revealed.

When these miracles will be actualized in our everyday, physical lives, the truth that the Torah is "our life and the length of our days" will be obvious to all.

Adapted from a talk of the Rebbe, Parshiot Behar-Bechokotai, 5751

A Slice of Life

My Guardian Angel
by Leslie Seigel

On the eve of Rosh Hashana, my mother drove me over to the Marcus's house. I went up to the door and knocked, and when it opened, there stood Ita, Rabbi Marcus's wife. She was a petite woman with a big beautiful smile and a shining and expressive face.

There were three small children standing around her and I asked if they were all her's. Still smiling, Ita told me she had five children. I had never met a Jewish person with so many children before. The only people I knew with that many children were Catholic. Ita asked me why I was wearing a scarf on my head, and I told her I thought I was supposed to cover my hair when I went to the synagogue with her. Ita explained matter-of-factly that the mitzva (commandment) to cover your hair only applied to married women and the mitzva also meant covering your hair all of the time, not only in the synagogue. I waved goodbye to my mother and walked into Ita's house and into the lives of the warmest and most loving family I had ever known.

I met Ita's son Shmulie, who was about a year and a half old. Shmulie was a delightful, energetic and happy-go-lucky little boy who had a lot of fun following around his three older brothers. Ita had just had her first daughter, Bluma, only a few months earlier. Bluma was round and cute and everyone in the house was enjoying having the first girl in the family. Zalman was the oldest of the Marcus children. He was unusually mature and helpful for a boy who was only seven years old. It was a pleasure to watch how much he enjoyed helping his parents. Chaim, who was five, was outgoing and interested in what everyone else was doing. He was a real people person, the kind of child who makes sure everyone around him is doing okay. Yossi, who was three, had the most adorable round face and he was an especially warm and affectionate child.

The Marcus's house was overflowing with people for Rosh Hashana. In addition to having me sleep over at their house, they also had Rabbi Marcus's sister and brother-in-law and their three children. And besides that, Rabbi Marcus also brought home guests from shul. The whole house was buzzing with people laughing and children running around playing and it was just such an incredibly happy environment. Rabbi Marcus was a good-natured person and extremely amusing as well. He was tall with a long dark beard, and like Ita, he also had a shining face with a big smile.

It was unbearably hot that Rosh Hashana, but instead of complaining, Rabbi Marcus was joking about how he was going to find a way to fit a hundred bottles of seltzer in the refrigerator. I had never met a couple like the Marcuses before. It was like they were one person with two parts that functioned so well together. I could sense the connection they had with each other but it was on an entirely different level than I was used to seeing between a man and a woman.

I also loved watching the way Ita and Yitzchok interacted with their children. I noticed when Zalman kept dipping his challa in the honey more than a few times Yitzchok smiled at him and said, "Zalman, you'll have just as sweet a year if you only dip your challa once." It was a pleasure to see how they treated their children in such a positive manner. I enjoyed every single moment I spent in their home.

I also enjoyed going to shul with the Marcus', but it didn't take me long to figure out that the center of their life was not in shul but at home. Ita set the tone for her family. She was an unusually generous and giving person. Even with so many people in her home and all the activity going on, she made time to get to know me.

When my mother came to pick me up after Rosh Hashana I was sitting talking with Ita. She asked my mother if she would like to stay and talk for awhile. I could see my mother was completely taken with Ita's warmth and sincerity.They talked and talked about all sorts of things.

I watched my mother's face focused on Ita's as she told us there were many ways of behavior that G-d knew we could figure out by ourselves. But G-d also knew there were other right ways of behavior that we could not figure out by ourselves. So He gave us the laws in the Torah to make sure we would always know the right way to behave in every situation in life.

I think my mother and I could have sat there for years listening to the profound wisdom of this wonderful woman. But it was time to go back to the world we lived in and I think my mother and I both were a little sad about that. I knew the moment I met Ita that I wanted her to be a part of my life. I visited her many times after that Rosh Hashana, and she always made herself available to me and included me in whatever she was doing. I appreciated that she never pushed me to do anything that I wasn't ready to do as far as my pursuit of Jewishness was concerned.

Ita did become a very special part of my life, and I became a part of her's. She was and remains my friend, my teacher and my guardian angel. One time I was feeling unsure of whether I should continue writing to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. It was Ita who reassured me by explaining that having the Rebbe's wisdom and understanding of life available to us was like standing on the shoulders of a giant, enabling us to see things more clearly.

Since that very special Rosh Hashana, I have dragged Ita through everything in my life. She has seen me through joyful times and unfortunately difficult times as well. I recently asked her, "Ita, if you had known how much I was going to put you through, would you still have become my friend?"

Ita replied, like a true guardian angel, "Aliza (my Jewish name), I would not have given up this relationship for anything in the world."

What's New

Jewish Life Festival

Chabad on Washington Square presents the Jewish Life Festival on Sunday, October 2, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. The Festival celebrates Jewish culture and tradition with art exhibitions, live music, rides and games, interactive workshops (make your own real shofar) and a kosher food extravaganza. For the seventh year, the Festival takes place in Washington Square Park, Lower Manhattan. The Festival is open to the public. For more info call (212) 674-1950.

Chabad House is Your House

If you haven't already done so, call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center to find out about Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah innovative programs, services and meals during this special holiday season. Locate your local Center at

The Rebbe Writes

Free translation of a letter of the Rebbe
Erev Shabbos-Kodesh, Shabbos Teshuva
6 Tishrei, 5739 [1978]
To the Sons and Daughters of Our People Israel, Greeting and Blessing:

...Teshuva [repentance] enables a person to rectify completely all that should have been achie-ved throughout the past, in matters of Torah and Mitzvos - "with one 'turn' and in one moment."

Parenthetically, it is surely needless to emphasize that the above must not, G-d forbid, serve as an excuse for wrongdoing, as our Sages warned, "Whoever says, 'I will sin and repent later,' is not given an opportunity to do Teshuva."

On reflection, it can easily be seen that, all things added up, the world contains more quantity (materiality) than quality (spirituality), and more by far. Indeed, the more corporeal and gross a thing is, the greater is the quantity in which it is found. Thus, for example, the world in inanimate, (inorganic) matter is much greater in volume than the vegetable kingdom, and the latter is quantitatively greater than the animal kingdom, which, in turn, surpasses by far, in quantity, the highest of the four kingdoms, mankind (the "speaking" creature).

Similarly in the human body: the lowest extremities, the legs are larger in size than the rest of the body, and the latter is much greater in bulk than the head, wherein are located the organs of speech and the sense of smell, hearing and sight, as well as the intellect, etc., which animate the entire body and direct all its activities.

On further reflection, a person might also become disheartened, G-d forbid, wondering how is one to fulfill adequately one's real purpose in life on this earth, which is, to quote our Sages, "I was created to serve my Creator" - seeing that most of one's time is necessarily taken up with materialistic things, such as eating and drinking, sleeping, earning a livelihood, etc. What with the fact that the earliest years of a human being, before reaching maturity and knowledge, are spent in an entirely materialistic mode of living.

The answer is, first of all, that even the so-called materialistic preoccupation of the daily life must not become purely materialitstic and animal-like, for we have to be always mindful of the imperative, "Let all your doings be for the sake of Heaven," and "Know Him (G-d) in all your ways."

This means that also in carrying out the activities which are connected with the physical and material aspects of life (which, as mentioned, take up the greater part of a person's time) a human being must know that those material aspects are not an end in themselves, but they are, and must serve as, the means to attain to the higher, spiritual realm of life, namely, physical aspects with spiritual content, and utilize them for spiritual purpose. Thus, all these mundane, and in themselves trivial matters, are elevated to their proper role, perfection and spirituality.

But in addition to the above, there is also the unique effectiveness of Teshuva, which has the power to transform - "With one 'turn' and in one moment" - the whole past-the very materiality of it into spirituality.

Time is, of course, not measured simply by duration, but by its content in terms of achievement. Thus, in evaluating time there are vast differences in terms of content, and, hence, in real worth, of a minute, an hour, etc. Suffice it to mention by way of example, that one cannot compare an hour of prayer and outpouring of the soul before G-d with an hour of sleep. And to use the analogy of coins, there may be coins of identical size and shape, yet different in their intrinsic value, depending upon whether they are made of copper, silver or gold.

With all the wonderful opportunities that G-d provides for a person to fill his time with, there is the most wonderful gift from "G-d who does wonders" of the extraordinary quality of Teshuva, which transcends all limitations, including the limitations of time, so that "in one moment" it transforms the whole past, to the degree of absolute perfection in quality and spirituality.

The Alm-ghty has also ordained especially favorable times for Teshuva, at the end of each year and the beginning of the new year, together with the assurance that everyone who resolves to do Teshuva - he, or she, can accomplish it "in one moment." Thus, the person transforms the quantity of the materiality in the past, into meritorious quality, spirituality and holiness. At the same time, one prepares for the future, in the coming year and thereafter, in a proper manner.

This is accomplished through Torah and Mitzvos in the everyday life, thereby elevating himself (or herself) and the environment at large to the highest possible level of spirituality and holiness, thus making this material world a fitting abode for G-d, blessed be He.

May G-d grant that everyone actively strive for the above, in accordance with the prayer of the Propehtess Chanah, which we read on the first day of the New Year: "My heart rejoices in G-d, my strength is uplifted through G-d...I rejoice in His help... and He will exalt the reign of His Moshiach."

With blessing for success in all and to be sealed and completely sealed for good, both materially and spiritually,

Rambam this week

26 Elul, 5765 - September 30, 2005

Positive Mitzva 15: The Mezuza

This mitzva is based on the verse (Deut. 6:9), "And you shall write them upon the door-posts of your house and upon your gates" The Torah commands us to affix a mezuza on the right side of every entrance into Jewish houses and on the doorpost of every room. The mezuza assures us of Divine protection. The mezuza itself is written on parchment upon which portions of the Torah are hand-written by a qualified scribe. In time, the lettering may fade and, therefore, it is very important to check the mezuza periodically, to insure that it still contains all the letters.

A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

May this year be:

A year of "Arise and have mercy on Zion,"... uplifted in matters of Moshiach and the Redemption... faith in G-d and Moses His servant... traveling with the Heavenly clouds... Revealed Wonders; Wonders in Everything... the building of the Holy Temple... trust; Great wonders... the true and complete Redemption; Dignified Wonders... victory... the seventh generation is the generation of Redemption...King David lives and is eternal; "Those who rest in the dust will arise and sing and he will lead them"... Moshiach is coming and he has already come... the revelation of Moshiach; "He will redeem us"... "And they believed in G-d and in Moses His servant"; "This one will comfort us"; the wonders of true freedom... a new song; an abundance of good (Rambam); the king shall live; inscribed and sealed for a good year... the harp of Moshiach; learning Moshiach's teachings; the coming of Menachem who will comfort us... the King Moshiach; wonders... revealed miracles... a double portion; treasures... the completion and end of exile... the revelation of the Infinite Divine Light; "Humble ones, the time of your Redemption has arrived"; "Jerusalem will dwell in open space"; Your servant David will go forth; the ingathering of the exiles... acceptance of his sovereignty by the people; Rebbe - Rosh B'nei Yisrael; peace... a new song... Moshiach's shofar... unity of the Torah, unity of the Jewish people, unity of the land of Israel; Resurrection of the Dead... "A new Torah will come from Me"

Thoughts that Count

You are standing this day, all of you, before the L-rd your G-d (Deut. 29:9)

"All of you" are before G-d, all of you are equal in His eyes. Your "leaders, elders and officers" are not considered any more important and privileged than your "woodcutters and water carriers."

(Klai Yakar)

In your mouth and in your heart, that you will do it (Deut. 30:14)

Don't think that you have fulfilled your obligation "with your mouth" - just by speaking about doing a mitzva, or "in your heart" - just by thinking about doing one. Everything that is "in your mouth and in your heart" - all of these mitzvot - do it!

(Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotsk)

That you should enter into the covenant of G-d and into His oath (Deut. 29:11)

The purpose of a covenant is to ensure that the love and respect which exist between two parties continue. We learn this from the way this ceremony was performed in ancient times. The two parties would split an animal in half and pass between the two sections (symbolizing that they, too, were both halves of the same entity). Just as a person has self-love, a love independent of any outside force and not governed by logic and reason, so too should such a love between the two parties continue and never cease. This is the eternal bond which exists between G-d and the Jewish People.

(Lubavitcher Rebbe)

It Once Happened

by Rabbi M. M. Gorelik (of blessed memory)

I was imprisoned in a labor camp in the far north of Russia. The crowding in the bunk was terrible and there wasn't even enough air to breathe. I went out into the yard in order to get some fresh air and was met with 60 degrees below zero temperatures; all that could be seen was snow, snow, snow.

It was Rosh Hashana and one thought plagued my mind and heart: Where is my wife? Where are my children? The K.G.B. had told me terrifying things about my family. They had said, "Your wife is dead. When our men came to her house to take your children from her - because she cannot educate them in the Soviet spirit - she adamantly protested and went into a panic. In her great emotion she had a sudden heart attack and died. But don't worry. Your children are with us, in a Soviet orphanage where they'll get an excellent education in the spirit of communism. There will be none of your Jewish nonsense and religious stupidities."

When they saw that I believed them, they continued to torment me, saying: "Where is your G-d for whom you sacrificed your wife and children? Where is He? Why doesn't He save you from our hands?"

I wanted to cry but I had no tears. I kept all the pain deep inside. I felt that in another moment I would die from a broken heart. I decided to speak my heart to G-d before my end, before I left this world of falsehood.

I began: "Master of all, today is Rosh Hashana and we don't say 'Al Cheit' asking You for forgiveness from our many transgressions. But under the circumstances I cannot wait until Yom Kippur. I ask forgiveness for every day and year of my entire life in this world of falsehood. And You, in Your great mercy, forgive me also for saying Al Cheit today, on Rosh Hashana."

I began to emotionally recite my unique Al Cheit: "For the sin of organizing a secret school; for the sin of organizing workplaces so Jews wouldn't be forced to work on the Sabbath and holidays; for the sin of organizing factories in which they worked a few hours and in the rest of the time they taught children Torah; for the sin of arranging documents for those children so they wouldn't be caught and be sent to where I am now.

"I sinned greatly against these wicked people, but I did it all in order to preserve Your Torah and Your commandments, so please forgive me for my sins. Please allow me to express my final request: Tell me where my wife and children are. What has happened to them? Show them to me so it will be easier for me to leave this false world. Show me Your kindness.

"And one last thing. Today is Rosh Hashana. Merciful Father, give me the opportunity to fulfill today's mitzva of hearing the shofar."

Then, a voice resounded in my heart so clearly, I was sure it was a voice from heaven. It said, "Don't be sad and don't believe those wicked ones. Your wife and children are alive and are at home, as always. You will see one another with joy and success."

I cried out, "G-d! Please change Your rules of nature! We can hear long distance via the radio. Do me this kindness, let me actually hear the sound of the shofar."

Suddenly, I saw before my eyes a large synagogue with a bima in the center, and on the bima stood the Lubavitcher Rebbe blowing the shofar. T'kia - my heart cried wordlessly at this sound. Shvarim, t'rua - my crying intensified but without sound. My heart stopped beating in anticipation, and once again I heard: shvarim, t'rua. I stood there, drinking in this awesome and holy sight. I cried deep in my heart: "Father! Have mercy on us! Father! Rescue your children who need help..."

And then tears began to burst forth, copious, warm tears. I cried out before G-d for my troubles, for my wife's difficulties, and for the children, who did not sin, and for my brothers and sisters in these same straits.

During those moving moments, there was no snow and ice covered camp, no guard dogs or human-animals who patrolled the fence. What I saw and felt was only G-d, the holy Torah, the Rebbe blowing shofar, and many Jews who were listening to the sound of the shofar and were crying from the depths of their hearts. The Rebbe, too, was crying.

Many years passed and with G-d's kindness I remained alive. I was freed from the labor camp and returned home. I found my wife and children alive and observing Torah and mitzvot despite the dangers they endured while I was away. More decades went by and miraculously we were freed from that hell. Together with my wife and children we arrived in Israel.

I travelled to the Rebbe in New York at my first opportunity, to pray in his synagogue on Rosh Hashana, to thank him for praying for us, and for his blessings that encouraged us to be strong.

I entered "770." I saw before me a large synagogue with a bima in the center. The Rebbe prepared himself to blow the shofar as thousands of chasidim watched in awe. It was utterly silent. The Rebbe went up to the bima. He took three bags with him that contained letters requesting blessings, many from Jews in the Soviet Union requesting a blessing to be able to leave.

The Rebbe covered his holy face with his talit and cried. He cried for all the Jewish people. The Rebbe began to blow the shofar. T'kia, shvarim, t'rua...

It was the same vision I had seen in the labor camp decades ago. But this time it was not a vision!

This memoir of Rabbi Gorelik was originally printed in a publication for new immigrants to Israel from the Soviet Union. Translated and reprinted from Beis Moshiach Magazine.

Moshiach Matters

In the future, when Moshiach comes, every creation in this world will understand and recognize that there is a G-dly power within which makes it exist and gives it its life-force. This is the meaning of the line from the Amida prayer which we say on Rosh Hashana. We beseech G-d to reveal His Kingship in this world - "May everything that has been made know that You made it"- because in truth nothing exists without this G-dliness.

(Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi)

  888: Ki Savo 
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