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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 890
                           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.
        October 7, 2005        Vayeilech         4 Tishrei, 5766

                     Think Good and It Will Be Good
                        by Rabbi Zushe Greenberg

It's Yom Kippur eve, and the synagogue is packed with worshippers ready
for Kol Nidrei. All rise as the ark is opened and the Torah scrolls are
removed. The room is charged with emotion, and the cantor begins the
moving traditional tune, which dates back thousands of years. "Kol
Nidrei ..."

What is Kol Nidrei? And what is it about the Kol Nidrei service, that
even Jews who are not regular synagogue-goes, make every effort to be
present on Yom Kippur eve?

Kol Nidrei is a prayer written in Aramaic which literally means "All the
vows." It's a declaration that nullifies all future vows and, according
to some opinions, also retroactively repeals all the vows which one
might have made during the course of the previous year.

The root of the Kol Nidrei prayer is found in the Torah (Num. 30:2).
"When a person makes a vow to G-d or takes an oath... he may not violate
his word, and he must act in accordance with whatever he uttered"

The Torah places a strong emphasis on promises; therefore, the Jewish
people found it necessary to institute a special prayer to nullify in
advance all vows that we may end up not being able to keep.

Why does the Torah place such great emphasis on the spoken word? Kabala
tells us that speech is a very important component of our lives. The
Torah points out that man is created in the image of G-d, referring
(among other concepts) to the power of speech. Just as G-d created the
world through speech, "Let there be light," so, too, our words, although
we don't see them spoken, create a certain level of reality.

Based on this notion, Chasidic tradition emphasizes that a person should
be extra careful not to utter negative predictions ("He has only six
months to live," etc.). On the contrary, they should make special effort
to predict positive outcomes, as in, "He'll certainly recover from this
illness" or "This business will be successful." These positive words
often carry the power to make them come true.

This idea goes one step further. Not only do words have power, even
thoughts can have long lasting effects.

There was once a Chasid who came to the third Chabad Rebbe, begging for
a blessing for a family member who was very ill. The Rebbe's response
was, "Tracht gut, vet zayn gut! - Think good, and it'll be good!" In
other words, your positive thoughts can actually bring about positive

Speaking positively is a matter of carefully choosing the words that you
say, but thinking positive is a real challenge, because it's human
nature to worry. If you are able to overcome this urge, you might enjoy
great positive outcomes.

As you go about your day, it's inevitable that bad news will come your
way. Remember this simple Chasidic remedy, "Think good, and it'll be

    Rabbi Zushe Greenberg is the spiritual leader of Chabad of Solon,

The Torah portion of Vayeilech teaches us about the commandment of
Hakhel: During the times of the Holy Temple, the Jewish People made a
pilgrimage to Jerusalem every seventh year to hear the king read the
Torah aloud, "that they may hear and that they may learn and fear G-d."

At that time, the kohanim, or priests, surrounded the city of Jerusalem.
With golden trumpets they signaled that it was time for everyone to
assemble at the Holy Temple. In fact, this musical alarm was so
important that, "any kohen who did not have a gold trumpet did not seem
to be a kohen at all."

This curious comment needs further explanation. To understand what was
meant, let us examine what exactly the kohen's job in the Temple was.

The kohanim were responsible for serving in the Temple, and performed
many of the tasks associated with the worship there. Sounding the golden
trumpets in the outskirts of Jerusalem was, however, only the
preparation for the commandment of hakhel, and not part of the mitzva
itself. What, then was so important about this, that a kohen who did not
participate was not considered a "real" kohen?

One of the most important and central services performed by the kohanim
in the Temple was the burning of the ketoret (incense). Maimonides
explains that the purpose of the incense was to dispel any offensive
odors and make the Temple smell pleasant.

As with all aspects of Torah, this is understood on many different
levels. It is explained in the Zohar that the kohanim were not merely
interested in converting unpleasant smells to pleasant ones; the inner
purpose of the ketoret was to dispel the foulness of the Evil

The ketoret was composed of various inedible substances, among them
chelb'na (galbanum), a particularly foul-smelling resin. The Talmud
teaches that this ingredient symbolized all that was lowly and inferior.
The task of the kohanim was to take the lowly and mundane and utilize it
in the service of G-d. Their job was to elevate even the most mundane
aspects of life and infuse the physical world with holiness.

This fundamental service of the kohanim found its most emphatic
expression in the preparation for the commandment of hakhel. For seven
long years prior to this day, the kohanim had been busy in the Temple
elevating the physical world. Now it was their turn to elevate the
entire Jewish People to a higher spiritual level.

To a certain extent, this was the "test" which determined a kohen's
mettle. If he took his G-d-given task to heart, he would run to assemble
his fellow Jews, and thereby prove that he was of priestly stock. If,
however, he lazily remained at home, he "did not seem to be a kohen at

In a broader sense, every single Jew is also a kohen, as it states, "And
you shall be a nation of kohanim (priests)." It is every Jew's task in
life to go out into the world and "sound the trumpet," arousing his
fellow Jews to reach spiritually higher and higher.

                    Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                      Have You Seen My Chicken...?
                        by Rabbi Simon Jacobson

I lost my chicken the day before Yom Kippur. You may be wondering why
that is a problem. But you see, this was not an ordinary chicken. On
Erev (the day preceding) Yom Kippur we observe the custom of kaporot, by
circling a chicken over our heads to atone for our sins (the connection
between a helpless chicken and sins is another discussion). Yes, I am
sorry to admit that I do have my share of sins. So off I went in search
of my chicken in S. Monica.

What was I doing in S. Monica? I flew there from New York to lead a Yom
Kippur service - a fascinating experience of its own.

My dear friend Peter, with whom I collaborate for the Yom Kippur
service, has a chicken waiting for me. He calls me on my cell. He is
waiting in an SUV filled with chicken stench. "You better get down here
immediately, or else..." I hurry down. Off we go with cackling chickens
in the back, some already used by Peter's family. One chicken is
particularly loud. "That must be your chicken acting up," I tell Peter.

We finally reach the slaughterhouse, and go to retrieve my chicken from
the back of his car, and... off the chicken runs, clearly aware of its
impending fate. I never saw a chicken run so fast; my sins must have
frightened him to death.

Finally we corner that naughty rascal. I have an allergic resistance to
touching this chicken. I finally grab him under the wings, walk over to
the door of the slaughterhouse, and am surprised to hear the sound
within. Mexican music is blaring out the door. But as I peek inside, the
smell and ambiance of the makeshift chicken factory are unmistakably
Erev Yom Kippur'dik.

And so, I did kaparot to the tune of La Bamba... Yes, it was quite a

This is how my Erev Yom Kippur unfolded on a cool morning on the West

You may ask, what is the metaphor and lesson in all of this? And what is
this thing with a chicken anyway? Why do innocent chickens have to die
for our sins?

Perhaps it is just to teach us a humble lesson. Instead of escaping on
Yom Kippur into meditating on lofty concepts, the chicken forces you out
of your head and into reality. Yes, this is not just some academic
exercise; it is about life and death. It is about holding in your hands
a chicken throbbing with life and knowing that your actions will affect
the destiny of this creature.

In my case, this particular year, I needed to pursue this white rooster,
no small feat, and look into its blinking eyes and acknowledge that I
have some things to account for, which this chicken will not allow me to

I don't relate to the word "sin." The guilt thing just never got to me.
What is a sin after all? The word in Hebrew for "sin" is "aveira," which
means "dislocate" ("ha'avara m'reshut l'reshut - movement from on entity
to another"). A sin is a mode of behavior or an action that dislocates
us from our essence.

Yom Kippur is a day when each of us has the unique opportunity to return
to our true being. To reconnect even after we have wandered off. To
reintegrate who we really are and our preoccupations.

Yom Kippur is the birth of hope. On this day Moses returned to us after
80 arduous days of prayer, beseeching G-d to forgive the Jewish people
for their iniquities.

There is no greater celebration than the ones that comes from returning
and reconnecting to one's essence.

And there I was in plastic L.A. chasing after a chicken in preparation
for the holiest day of the year. It doesn't get more hilarious, and at
the same time serious in a strange way.

I was not surprised to discover that this Yom Kippur was one of the most
memorable in my life. The prayers came alive as we applied them to our
daily lives. We experienced a true combination of history draped in real
life. The holiest day of the year, thousands of years of prayers,
beginning with Moses at Sinai, all integrated with our struggles today
created a most powerful experience. Traveling the journey of Yom
Kippur's five step prayer service, climbing the ladder from prayer to
prayer, through the five levels of the soul, nefesh, ruach, neshama,
chaya, yechida (the five levels of life: functional, emotional,
intellectual, spiritual, the essence), was exhilarating and

Indeed, Yom Kippur is a day that allows you to leave behind for 26 hours
a world of monotony and often pain into a purer world of spirit. A world
that is driven not by pettiness and competition, with all the
distractions and tiresome efforts of trying to make ourselves feel
important. A world where you are just there and feel you belong
unconditionally, with no airs and pretenses.

If you let yourself go - and that chicken in S. Monica sure loosened me
up - Yom Kippur becomes the most powerful cleanser.

And that is the greatest cause of celebration, when we celebrate the awe
of Yom Kippur.

Whoever said that Yom Kippur can't be fun?

    Rabbi Simon Jacobson is the author of the best-selling Toward a
    Meaningful Life which has been translated into Hebrew, French,
    Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Russian and Japanese. He is the
    director of the Meaningful Life Center. Reprinted with permission
    from All rights reserved.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                  Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Beyond

The Outreach Department of the Lubavitch Youth Organization, as well as
the Prison's Department of that organization, have been spear-heading
holiday programs throughout the New York Metro area for five decades.
Patients in local hospitals as well as home-bound elderly were able to
fulfill the special mitzva (commandment) of hearing the shofar blown on
Rosh Hashana thanks to volunteers who walked from Crown Heights,
Brooklyn, headquarters to other parts of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.
Prisons in the Federal and State system were visited before Rosh Hashana
so that Jewish inmates could get a taste of the Jewish holiday season of
their own. For the upcoming Sukkot holiday, there will be mobile Sukkot
traversing the streets of Manhattan and other boroughs to bring the
mitzvot of the Sukkot holiday to people on the go.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
              Freely translated from a letter of the Rebbe

The days immediately preceding and following Rosh Hashana are the time
dedicated to sincere introspection and a careful and honest examination
of the record of the outgoing year, with a view to the proper deductions
and resolutions which are to regulate one's personal daily life, as well
as that of his home, and all his affairs in the year to come.

Moreover, these are exceptionally propitious days, days permeated with
the core of the Psalm: "Search my inwardness; Thy inner essence, G-d, do
I seek" (Ps. 27:8). They call and demand:

Search for the innermost and the profound within you; seek out also the
inwardness of everything around you, the soul of the universe; search
for and bring to light the G-dliness that animates and pervades the

Both aspects - the honest self-appraisal and the search for the inner
essence of things - are interrelated and interdependent.

In evaluating the results of the outgoing year, one is very prone to err
by taking into account only the external, both in himself and in the
environment. In doing so, one is on equally treacherous grounds in
regard to setting the pattern of daily living in the year to come.

To forestall this misleading approach, these auspicious days sound their
message and challenge:

Do not sell yourself short! Do not underestimate your capacities and

For no matter what your spiritual "stock-in-trade" is, your "visible
assets" - the existing possibilities that you have to conduct your life
in accordance with the teachings of our Torah; no matter how formidable
is your strength of character and your ability to cope with a
frustrating environment, and with undaunted perseverance to follow your
path of Torah and mitzvot (commandments) -

Much greater and richer are your "hidden reserves" of powers to create
new possibilities, and of inner qualities giving you the ability to
overcome obstacles and to shape your life and the life around you to be
in harmony with Truth and Goodness.

In order to reveal and apply these powers, however, it is necessary that
you search for and release your potential forces. But you are promised:
"You will discover - because you will search with all your heart and
soul" (Deut. 4:29).

What has been said above is more especially and more fully applicable to
those who occupy positions of spiritual leadership and influence, from
the rabbi of the community down to the individual parents who set the
pace of the spiritual life of their household and family.

All too often do we see them stymied by doubt and fear, afraid to use,
what seem to them, a strong word or excessive demand lest they might
alienate, instead of attract.

To them these days address themselves with this message and challenge:

Search inwardly: seek deeply and you will unravel the innermost
treasures of those whom you would lead and inspire; evaluate them not
externally, but according to their inner resources, according to the
capacity of their soul, the veritable spark of G-d-liness from Above.

For with the right approach and by indefatigable effort you will be able
to uncover and activate in everyone his inner spiritual resources, so
that they begin to animate his daily life.

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
6 Tishrei, 5766 - October 9, 2005

Positive Mitzvah 154: Resting on Shabbat

This mitzva is based on the verse (Ex. 23:12) "And on the seventh day
you shall rest."

We are commanded to stop all our work and rest on the seventh day,
Shabbat - from before sundown on Friday until after nightfall on
Saturday. On Shabbat, we do not concern nor involve ourselves in our
weekday work and occupations.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
There is a custom on the eve of Yom Kippur to eat "lekach" - honey cake.
The reason for this custom is that honey cake is a sweet dessert. By
eating it, we are expressing our desire and hope that G-d will bless us
with a sweet, pleasant, good year.

There is also a custom to give (and receive) honey cake. The reason for
this is much less well-known. When we receive honey cake from someone we
do it with this thought in mind: Let the honey cake be the only thing
this year that we have to take from someone else. Let us be
self-sufficient, self-supporting, even be able to help support and
provide for others, with G-d's help.

Thus, if there was any possible heavenly decree that the person would
have had to ask another for his food during this year, when one asks for
lekach the decree has been fulfilled and there will be no further need
to ask; all one's needs will be provided for by G-d.

On a deeper level, even the lekach is not really being received from a
person! In reality, all food comes from G-d, and therefore a poor person
who receives food from a person thanks G-d, Who "provides nourishment
and sustenance for all." This is because the person is only an
intermediary for delivering G-d's blessings.

However, both parties still feel that a transaction has taken place
between two human beings. The giving of lekach on the eve of Yom Kippur
is not like this, however. Since these are the days when G-d is "close,"
all parties involved feel that G-d Himself is doing the giving, and the
giver is no more than a messenger. Even more so, the giver is not even
seen as a messenger, but just a link enabling G-d's gift to come to the

May we, this very Yom Kippur and even before, see with our own eyes that
G-d is truly the Giver and that He gives only good, with the complete
revelation of our righteous Moshiach NOW!

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
...Because my G-d is not in the midst of me, that these evils have
overtaken me" (Deut. 31:17)

The Baal Shem Tov used to say that if one sees something bad in someone
else, it is a sign that an element of the same negative trait exists in
the person finding fault. It is as if one is looking into a mirror and
sees his own reflection. Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch added his
interpretation on this verse: "Because my G-d is not in the midst of me
- because my own face is dirty and my own connection to G-d and holiness
is flawed, have these evils overtaken me - that is why I find fault in

                                *  *  *

Assemble the people together (Deut: 31:12)

Even a newborn was obligated in the commandment of hakhel, the
once-in-seven-year assemblage of all Jews to hear the reading of the
Torah. We learn from this that a Jewish child's education begins right
after his birth, even before he learns to speak or go to school.

                                            (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

                                *  *  *

You have been rebellious with G-d. (Deut. 31:27)

The verse does not say "against G-d," but "with G-d." With every
improper thing that we do, we cause G-d to be a partner. This is
especially true when we do these things in the name of a mitzva


                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson, wife of the scholar and Kabbalist Rabbi Levi
Yitzchak Schneerson and mother of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, passed away in
the late afternoon on the Shabbat between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur,
1964. At the time that Rebbetzin Chana returned her pure soul to her
Creator, her chair in the women's section of the main Lubavitch
synagogue ("770" Eastern Parkway) inexplicably caught fire and burned.

The following vignettes about Yom Kippur are from Rebbetzin Chana's
memoirs. They took place during Rav Levi Yitzchak's years of exile by
the Soviet government in Chi'li, Kazakhstan.

                                *  *  *

On Yom Kippur, the three of us-my husband, a Roumanian Jew, and
I-enclosed ourselves in our room. It is hard to set down on paper the
emotions and the spiritual states that we experienced on that day.

Suddenly, we became aware of eyes peering at us through the window. Our
guest and I were frightened to open the door, but as soon as the Rav
realized what was going on, he went over to the door and threw it open
wide. Our unexpected guest turned out to be a young Lithuanian Jew, also
in exile.

Here, in exile, this young fellow worked as a wagon-driver. He related
to us that while driving his wagon, he had caught a glimpse of the Rav
and was struck by his appearance. Since this had occurred during the
week before Yom Kippur, he had decided to find out who this person was
and where he lived, so that he could try to be in his presence on the
holiday. The lad felt that if he could be privileged to be with the Rav
on this holiest of days, it would ease the weight of his sorrows and be
a balm for his soul. Somehow, our young visitor had managed to locate

Half an hour later we heard a knock on the door. We opened it to find a
frightened woman who, like the young wagon-driver, yearned to be in the
Rav's presence on this day. It seemed that she and her husband had been
exiled here from Nikolaiev, and while her husband refused to pray
anymore, she herself felt a greater need to pray now than she had ever
felt in the past. Not allowing the grueling fast to deter her, she
trudged a distance of four kilometers in order to reach our house.

                                *  *  *

The influx of refugees to our area brought about a severe housing
shortage, and the Government responded by issuing a decree restricting
each person to a specific number of square meters of living-space.
According to the new law, our one room was now large enough to house
five people.

The head of the Department of Housing in our area was a gentile
engineer, also an exile. He had authored several books on mathematics
and occasionally engaged the Rav in scholarly discussions on that
subject. Because of his great respect for my husband, this man
overlooked the "vacant" space in our room and did not send anyone to
share our quarters.

This was a great favor to us.

One day, the daughter or our landlady arrived in the village together
with her two children and immediately began dispatching a flurry of
petitions to the Chief of Housing. Making great play of the scandalous
fact that an exiled Jew had such a large apartment while she, a true
proletarian and a loyal Communist, had no place to live at all, she
insistently demanded authorization to move into Schneerson's room,
especially since it was situated so close to her mother's place.

Having no choice, the Chief issued a permit which gave its bearer the
right to move into our room. However, he did not give this permit to the
landlady's daughter but to someone else, instead. A teacher with a small
child had also applied for a dwelling, and since she was a refined
person, he assumed that we would get along much better with her than we
would with the landlady's daughter.

The next day, the teacher and her son arrived at our house. Waving the
permit at the landlady, she crowed triumphantly, "Schneerson doesn't
want a gentile neighbor? - I'll show him!"

The day on which this happened was only a couple of weeks before Yom
Kippur. With tears in his eyes, the Rav said to me, "How will I be able
to pray here on the Holy Day?" Immediately he began to search his mind
for a solution. And we faced yet another problem - keeping kosher -
since the kitchen would have to be shared with a gentile.

We were amazed when, without explanation, the teacher left the permit
with us and walked out. One week passed, and then another; she never
came back! And when the landlady's daughter came along, voicing her
demands, we showed her the permit - proof that the room was already
occupied to capacity.

After Yom Kippur, the teacher approached my husband on the street.
"Rabbi," she inquired in Yiddish, "how was your fast? I also fasted!"

It turned out that this woman was a Jewish refugee from Poland who, in
order to save her life, had forged a passport indicating that she was
gentile. Subsequently, she had wandered from place to place until
arriving in Chi'ili.

"As soon as I saw you," she explained, "I decided not to inconvenience
you in any way. Live on in your room, alone and in peace; if anybody
complains, you can show them my permit."

Similar causes for small celebrations would arise from time to time.
They invariably came about as a result of the high esteem in which
everyone held my husband - even those who saw him for the first time.

         From A Mother in Israel, the Life and Memoirs of Rebbetzin
            Chana Schneerson, translated by Yrachmiel Tilles, Kehot

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
All of the Prophets prescribed teshuva (repentance) and said that the
Jewish people will be redeemed only through teshuva. The Torah has given
assurance that Israel will do teshuva - at the end of its exile - and
will be redeemed immediately, as it says in Deuteronomy: "It will be
when all these things have happened... you will return to G-d... and G-d
will return your captivity and will gather you from among all the
nations where He dispersed you"

                                      (Maimonides, Laws of Teshuva)

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 890 - Vayeilech 5766

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