Holidays   Shabbat   Chabad-houses   Chassidism   Subscribe   Calendar   Links B"H
The Weekly Publication for Every Jewish Person
Archives Current Issues Home Current Issue
                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 900
                           Copyright (c) 2005
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
                  Electronic version provided free at:
                  Palm-Pilot version provided free at:
                    To receive the L'CHAIM by e-mail
                  write to:
                              Subscribe W1
   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        December 23, 2005       Vayeshev         22 Kislev, 5766

                        Butterflies and Candles

"A butterfly flapping its wings in Japan creates a hurricane in New
York." A small change at the beginning leads to large consequences at
the end. Within the apparently random there is order. That's the science
of Chaos.

A butterfly flapping its wings disturbs the air ever so slightly. But
that slight disturbance disturbs some more of the atmosphere - and we
end up with an atmospheric snowball, with the wind doubling on itself,
and then doubling on itself again, until - the tiniest of breezes
becomes a raging hurricane.

It doesn't seem very orderly, but if we look inside the weather system,
we see patterns repeating themselves, only on different scales. And this
repetition across scale, occurs elsewhere.

Take a pattern, duplicate it, and add it to itself. From that idea a
tree grows, its branches spreading in apparent chaos but underlying

This idea of replication across scale also expresses a central idea of
Chanuka. It's not just that the light increases - one candle becomes
two. It's the public nature of Chanuka, the mitzva (command-ment) to
publicize the miracle.

Let's back up a step. One of the Chanuka slogans, if you will, is that
"a little light pushes away great darkness." But how can that be? We
know a candle (or even a flashlight) will illuminate our immediate area,
but if we're in a pitch black room, the light of the candle doesn't
"push away" much of the darkness.

But if a friend lights his candle from ours, and a friend of his lights
a candle from that of our friend, then, soon enough, the room is filled
with light. Simply by repeating the pattern of lighting a candle.

And that's part of the idea of publicizing the miracle, by putting the
menora in a doorway or window where it can be seen from the street, or
having a large, public menora lighting ceremony. To duplicate, in an
ever increasing scale, the miracle of lighting a candle, physically and
spiritually, so that the light within illuminates the darkness without.

Why when a butterfly flaps its wings does a hurricane result? We can't
even feel a breeze from a butterfly's wings.

But the atmosphere is very sensitive. Even the slightest change affects
it, and affects it deeply. Scientists call this a "sensitive dependence
on initial conditions." That means even a minute disturbance creates an
echo, or snowball, multiplying itself.

Our souls have an atmosphere, and it too is very sensitive. It too
depends on the initial condition. Enveloped in the darkness of the
physical world and the darkness of our spiritual struggles, the soul
responds to the tiniest light. A candle in the darkness.

And the soul, once illuminated, perforce illuminates another soul.

And so the miracle spreads, light adding to light, announcing the
miracle, pushing away the darkness until G-dliness - the Divine Light -
pushes away all darkness and illuminates the world.

This Chanuka, publicize the miracle, participate in a public menora

Our atmosphere is very sensitive, and a slight beginning, a beginning as
slight as lighting a candle for the world to see, transforms the world.

The Torah portion Vayeishev chronicles Joseph's trials and tribulations
from the time he left his father's house and was sold into slavery until
his eventual appointment to the position of second in command of the
entire Egypt. But Joseph was more than just an individual, and his life
showed the path that the Jewish nation would take. Indeed, Joseph's life
closely parallels the life of every Jew, and by studying his story we
can better understand our own mission in life.

Joseph began his life by enjoying the comfort of his father's household.
The most beloved of Jacob's children, Joseph enjoyed a special
relationship with his father. Not only did Jacob make him the famous
coat of many colors, but he learned Torah with him day and night, while
the other brothers were busy shepherding the flocks. For Joseph, this
period was his happiest, both spiritually and physically.

This situation is analogous to the condition of the Jewish soul before
coming into the body. A "veritable part of G-d," it exists on the
highest plane, enjoying the proximity of only holiness and G-dly light.
Even when the soul has descended into this world and is in the fetus, it
still enjoys the luxury of learning the entire Torah before the baby is

But suddenly, Joseph's idyllic existence was interrupted - "Joseph was
brought down to Egypt." Sold as a slave, his situation continued to
deteriorate until he found himself a prisoner in Pharaoh's jail.
Spiritually as well, Joseph could not have been in a worse situation.
Plucked from the refuge of the tent of learning Torah, Joseph was
dropped directly into the most corrupt and depraved civilization of his

This symbolizes the soul's dramatic descent into this world. No longer
can it bask in G-d's glory - the soul finds itself trapped in a physical
body, subject to its whims and fancies. It must endure the temptations
to which the body is drawn, and overcome all sorts of trials. The soul
longs to return to its source above.

Yet we learn that Joseph triumphed and attained an even higher position
than he had enjoyed while in his father's house. Joseph was victorious
spiritually as well, as the Torah calls him, "Joseph the Righteous," for
despite his elevation to high office Joseph retained his purity and
goodness. Joseph turned his descent to Egypt into triumph and ascent,
emerging the master and ruler.

This then is the purpose of the soul's journey down into this world and
its imprisonment within the body: Our task is to subjugate the Evil
Inclination and conduct our lives according to the dictates of Torah.
Overcoming the obstacles which try to prevent us from doing mitzvot
enables us to attain greater spirituality than would have been possible
had the soul remained above.

                   Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                         Three Firsts for Sumy:

In the city of Sumy, trends in Ukrainian politics had divided the
government to such an extent that when Rabbi Yechiel Shlomo Levitansky
mentioned that he wanted to put up a Menora in the city square last
year, municipal leaders were not certain whom they should turn to.

Coming from S. Monica, California, where his father lights twelve giant
menoras throughout the city every year, Rabbi Levitansky could not
imagine Chanuka without a public Menora lighting.

With Chanuka quickly approaching, Rabbi Levitansky brought the issue to
a Jewish official from the Governor's office who has been very helpful
to the community and, for the first time in the official's life, put on
tefilin with him right there at the local "White house." Afterwards,
they spoke about how they could possibly find a way to erect the
12-foot-high Menora in the square, which Rabbi Levitansky had already
constructed, certain that a mini-Chanuka miracle would take place and a
solution could be found.

The problems were many. Apart from the threat of anti-Semitism and the
Menora's security, the city had never once had a public Menora and
permits would have to be obtained by the City Council, which is neither
politically aligned with the Mayor nor the Governor.

Seeing how much this meant to the Rabbi, the official in the Governor's
office said that as a Jew he felt for the situation and was therefore
willing to "cross political lines." He immediately called a City Council
member from the opposing political party, who is also Jewish, and told
him: "The local rabbi wants a Menora in the city square and although we
may disagree on everything else, this is an issue that we must help

Needless to say, the council member came to meet with Rabbi Levitansky
and also put tefilin on for the first time. That day, the City Council
voted to put up the first public Menora in "Park Druzhba" (Friendship
Park), located right in the city's center. The City Administration also
arranged for round-the-clock security for the site.

While elderly Jews in the community were slow to believe that there
would actually be a public Menora and Menora lighting in the park, the
younger generation were not even familiar with the structure and
wondered what it was. Nevertheless, despite below zero temperatures,
hundreds of Jews gathered together on the last night of Chanuka to
celebrate their own community's Chanuka miracle.

At the massive candle-lighting ceremony, Jewish community Chairman
Alexander Goron spoke about the incredible changes that the city has
seen with the coming of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries Rabbi Yechiel Shlomo
and Rochi Levitansky just three months earlier. "Now we can proudly say
that here in Sumy, Ukraine, there is freedom of religion and we don't
have to be scared or embarrassed to act as Jews," explained the Jewish

Rabbi Levitansky spoke about the significance of the final day of
Chanuka and then lit the Menora, as the crowd applauded in excitement.
Everyone sang traditional Chanuka songs as passers-by looked on.

The owner of the security company, who is also Jewish, was so impressed
with this display of Jewish pride that he helped the community to
resolve yet another potential problem. He happily offered to store the
Menora, which weighs over a ton, by keeping it on display in front of
his business all year round!

Earlier that week, on the third evening of Chanuka, members and guests
of the Jewish community in Sumy enjoyed a candle-lighting ceremony and a
spectacular concert with the renowned Jewish choir "Pirchei Ukraina,"
visiting from the Dnepropetrovsk.

A hall packed with 450 people enthusiastically joined in song during the
choir's performance, which lasted for over two hours. "I have never seen
such a show in the over 30 years that I have been working here," said
Valentina Nikolayevna, the Assistant Director of the Children's Theatre
where the concert was held.

Rabbi Levitansky lit the candles and spoke to the participants about the
third night of Chanuka. All of the children attending the festive event
approached the stage, where they received Chanuka gelt and a dreidel,
presented to them by a Jewish official in the Sumy Regional
Administration. The children recited verses of Torah and gave charity.

For many people who attended the Chanuka concert, it was the first time
they ever tasted "sufganiyot" - jelly doughnuts traditionally eaten on
Chanuka. The sufganiyot also involved a "mini-miracle": the local bakery
allowed Rabbi Levitansky to kosher the facilities, ensuring that
everyone would have had a happy and kosher Chanuka.

    To read more about the myriad activities of Chabad-Lubavitch
    throughout the entire former Soviet Union, visit the Federation of
    Jewish Communities of CIS website:

                               WHAT'S NEW
                        World's Largest Menora:

Be part of the Chanuka celebrations at the World's Largest Chanuka
Menora at Fifth Ave. and 59th St. in New York City. The menora will be
lit on: Sunday, Dec. 25 at 5:30 p.m.; Monday - Thursday, Dec. 26- 29 at
5:30 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 30 at 3:40 p.m.; Saturday night, Dec. 31 at 8:00
p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 1 at 5:30 p.m. On both Sundays there will be live
music, free not latkes and Chanuka gelt. For more info call the
Lubavitch Youth Organization at (212) 736-8400. For public menora
lightings in your area call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                         Chanukah, 5724 [1963]
                       To the Participants in the
                 20th Annual Testimonial Dinner of the
                     Beth Rivkah Schools for Girls

Greeting and Blessing:

This year's Annual Dinner, coming just a few days after Chanukah, will
surely find all the participants amply imbued with the spirit of the
Festival of Lights. The Beth Rivkah Dinner offers an excellent
opportunity to translate this inspiration into action.

The message of the Chanukah Lights contains three basic points which are
applicable - in an immediate and practical way - to the crucial problems
of our day:

 a) The Chanukah Lights (symbolizing the light of the Torah and
    Mitzvoth [commandments]) have to be kindled after dark. This
    indicates that one should not be discouraged by the prevailing
    "darkness" outside, for even a little light of Torah and Mitzvoth
    can dispel a lot of darkness.

 b) The Chanukah Lights are required to be kindled in such a way that
    their light should be seen outside. This indicates that it is not
    enough to illuminate one's own home with the light and warmth of
    Torah-true Yiddishkeit [Judaism], but that it is necessary to spread
    it also - outside, in the neighborhood and in the community at

 c) The Chanukah Lights are kindled in a growing number each night of
    Chanukah, teaching us to make a steadily growing effort to spread
    the light of the Torah and Mitzvoth, and that these efforts contain
    in themselves the assurance of ever-growing success.

Our Sages of the Talmud declare that the Mitzvah of the Chanukah Lights
must be shared by the women no less than by the men, because women also
contributed to the miraculous deliverance "in those days at this
season." The Jewish women are particularly credited with the
self-sacrificing determination to safeguard the sanctity of the Jewish
home and the chastity of Jewish womanhood.

Nowadays, more than ever before, Jewish girls must be educated and
trained to carry on their historic role in the preservation of the
Jewish way of life and the preservation of our people. It is precisely
for this purpose that the Beth Rivkah Schools for Girls were founded by
my saintly father-in-law twenty years ago. I hope and pray that everyone
will realize the personal responsibility and privilege to support the
Beth Rivkah Schools in a growing measure, all the more so as such
support is also a channel to receive G-d's blessings with increasing
abundance, in all one's needs, materially and spiritually.

With the blessing of utmost success,

                                *  *  *

                  In the Days of Chanukah, 5721 [1960]

...Thank you very much for letting me know about your daughter's
activities. I also hope that the health of your wife has improved

As we are at present in the auspicious days of Chanukah, the Festival of
Lights, which we observe, among other things, by lighting the Chanukah
lights in growing numbers, may G-d send you and yours a growing measure
of light and happiness and success in all matters connected with Ner
Mitzvah v'Torah Or [a mitzva is a candle and Torah is light], which, as
a matter of course, will bring you success and true happiness in all
your affairs, both personal and communal.

Hoping to hear good news from you and wishing you a happy Chanukah.

With blessing,

                                *  *  *

                      15th of Teveth, 5721 [1961]

Blessing and Greeting:

I received your letter of the 8th day of Chanukah, in which you write
about your birthday which is on the 13th of Teveth. I send you my
prayerful wishes that your birthday usher in a year of success in all
your affairs, both personal and general, and in an ever growing measure
of light and true happiness, as symbolized by the lights of Chanukah.

May you, together with your husband, derive much Nachas, true Yiddish
Nachas [Jewish pleasure], from your children, as well as from those who
benefit from your good work and influence in matters of Yiddishkeit.

With all good wishes for long life, good health and happiness,
materially and spiritually, and with blessing,

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
23 Kislev, 5766 - December 24, 2005

Positive Mitzva 95: The Nullification of Vows

(The exact source for this commandment is considered a matter of
question by our Rabbinic Sages.) Sometimes, a person just cannot keep
his promise or finds himself unable to fulfill his obligation. The Torah
commands us to examine the situation. By dealing properly with the
incident and judging the circumstances, it may be possible to absolve
the vow.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The very first issue of L'Chaim rolled off the press in time to mark the
end of the shloshim (thirty days after the passing) of our beloved
Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka of righteous memory. L'Chaim was established upon
the Rebbe's request that institutions be founded in the Rebbetzin's
name. L'Chaim is an acronym "Lzecher Chaya Mushka."

Since then, L'Chaim has grown from a modest weekly newsletter read by a
few thousand New Yorker's to a unique international Jewish educational
publication that has filled a much needed void. But, more importantly,
L'Chaim is a unifying factor amongst Jews, for it is read and
appreciated by Jews from all walks of life, at all levels of Jewish
education and commitment, throughout the United States and around the

L'Chaim's subscribers hail from nearly every state in the United States.
Our international subscribers hail from France, Italy, South Africa,
Holland, Israel, England, Peru, Brazil, Hungary, and Australia. Enjoying
the electronic version of L'Chaim via the internet are readers in
countries as diverse as: Jordon, China, Bosnia, Congo, Poland, Russia,
Japan, Czech, Sweden, Germany, Scotland... the list goes on.

It gives me great pleasure to thank the able staff of L'Chaim for their
devotion, dedication and hard work. In nine hundred issues they've never
missed a deadline! Additional thank you's go to the staff of who work diligently at maintaining L'Chaim's presence
in Cyberspace.

Recognition goes, as well, to the Lubavitcher students in New York, New
Jersey, Los Angeles, Miami, Detroit, Montreal, Toronto, London,
Manchester, Israel and other international cities, who spend their "free
time" on Friday afternoons visiting people in their work places,
encouraging them to put on tefilin or light Shabbat candles, and leaving
them with the much enjoyed and appreciated L'Chaim.

It is my most fervent wish, and surely that of the entire L'Chaim staff
and readership, that even before we reach the eighteen year anniversary
of L'Chaim, all Jews will be reunited with each other and Moshiach in
the final Redemption.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Go now and see if it is well with your brothers (Gen. 37:14)

When Jacob sent Joseph to look for his brothers, he enjoined him to see
only that which was "well" - the goodness and positive qualities they
had. In such a way would the brothers maintain their unity.

                                   (Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Pshischa)

                                *  *  *

Reuven returned to the pit, and behold, Joseph was not in the pit (Gen.

Reuven's absence allowed the other brothers to sell Joseph; had Reuven
been present, he would not have permitted them to do it. And where was
he? Rashi says Reuven was preoccupied with fasting and perfecting
himself. Because he was concerned only with himself, Joseph was sold and
the whole series of events was set in motion that would lead to our
forefathers' exile in Egypt. An important lesson is learned: One must
not be concerned solely with his own perfection to the exclusion of
others. We must always have our fellow Jew in mind and truly love him,
lest he be ignored in his time of need.

                                                   (Likutei Sichot)

                                *  *  *

And Joseph was brought down to Egypt (Gen. 39:1)

"He reigned over them," the Midrash relates, explaining that the word
"brought down" is linguistically related to the word "reign." As proof
of this, the Midrash cites a verse about Moshiach, "He shall reign from
sea to sea." What is the connection between Joseph's descent into the
cesspool of ancient Egypt, and the sovereignty of Moshiach? The Jewish
history of exile actually began when Joseph was brought down to Egypt,
and, as the prototype of all other exiles to follow, its true purpose
was the elevation and ascent of the Jewish people which would follow its
suffering. The objective of our present exile is likewise the coming of
Moshiach and the ultimate Redemption.

                                                    (Sichot Kodesh)

                                *  *  *

He asked the officers of Pharaoh... "Why do you look so sad today?"
(Gen. 40:7)

While in prison, Joseph was given the task of managing the daily affairs
of the prison. Wasn't inquiring after sad and depressed prisoners beyond
the call of duty? And wasn't it natural that these former high-ranking
members of the royal staff would be saddened to find themselves reduced
to such a sorry state? Joseph believed that every person should always
be joyous, because he was created by G-d - the essence of goodness. When
Joseph saw his unhappy fellow prisoners he wanted to help them. This one
small action brought about his own release from prison, his appointment
as second in command over all of Egypt, and saved the entire world
during the years of famine that followed.

                                                (Lubavitcher Rebbe)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
                          by Yerachmiel Tilles

All of his Chasidim strove to be present when Rabbi David of Tolna
kindled his Chanuka lights. It was a powerful event. The  Rebbe would be
intensely focused and in an exalted state and his Menora in itself was
something quite impressive. It was made of pure gold, and magnificently
crafted with intricate designs. The Chasidim who merited to be in the
house would be inspired, and the nights of Chanuka would be filled with
joyous festive songs and melodies.

"Do you bend over towards her or does she raise herself up to your

One year, on the first night of Chanuka, just before the time to light
the flame, the Rebbe was standing before the menorah, involved in his
last-moment inner preparations. The crowd of chasidim pressed around
him. Unexpectedly, the Rebbe turned to a certain chasid and said, "I
know that your wife is quite short. When you need to speak to her, what
do you do? Do you bend over towards her or does she raise herself up to
your height?"

Immediately upon uttering this remarkable question, the Rebbe began his
recital of the Chanuka blessings and lit his golden menora.

The astonished man to whom the Rebbe had directed his question, as well
as all the other  Chasidim of Tolna, were totally bewildered by the
Rebbe's mysterious words. No one could even begin to suggest what the
Rebbe could possibly have meant.

Standing among the Chasidim at the time was Rabbi Mordechai Dov of
Hornsteipel, a grandson of one of the Rebbe's sisters, who was already
known as a tzadik. He had come to visit with his relatives for a while.
Seeing how perplexed the Chasidim were by their Rebbe's words, he
cleared his throat and addressed them.

" The Divine Presence never descends lower than ten..."

"Shall I explain to you what my holy great-uncle said? It is taught in
Kabbala that 'The Divine Presence never descends lower than ten tefachim
(handbreadths) from the ground.' The one exception is the Chanuka light.
According to its law, ideally it should be lit at a height of less than
ten tefachim (about eighty centimeters/two feet, but higher than three
tefachim) above the ground. Then the Divine Presence will descend to
'lower than ten.'

"The holy Ari of Safed stated that this secret of the descent of the
Divine Presence is the mystical root of the Talmudic statement, 'If your
wife is short, bend over and whisper to her.' It is this secret that the
Rebbe, my great-uncle, wished to hint at and invoke with his words to
that tall Chasid."

The next evening, when it was time to kindle the second light, the Rebbe
of Tolna turned to a different Chasid, and again said something baffling
that no one could penetrate. Then, as he turned back to the menora, he
addressed his great-nephew and remarked, "This time you will not be able
to decipher it for them."

And so it was.

    Translated and freely adapted from Sipurei Chasidim-Festivals for Yerachmiel Tilles is a founder of Ascent in
    Tzfas and director of

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
Our Sages tell us that at the time of creation G-d saw that the light he
created was too good for the wicked people of this world to enjoy and
hid it for the righteous people that will live at the time of the coming
of Moshiach and in the World to Come. The number of hours the light
shone before it was hidden was exactly 36. Over the eight days of
Chanuka we light exactly thirty six candles that correspond to these 36
hours of light. The holiday of Chanuka brings with it the pure rays of
the light of creation that will reappear with the coming of Moshiach.

             (Torah Insights on the Weekly Parsha by Efraim Levine)

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 900 - Vayeshev 5766

  • Daily Lessons
  • Weekly Texts & Audio
  • Candle-Lighting times

    613 Commandments
  • 248 Positive
  • 365 Negative

  • BlackBerry
  • iPhone / iPod Touch
  • Java Phones
  • Palm Pilot
  • Palm Pre
  • Pocket PC
  • P800/P900
  • Moshiach
  • Resurrection
  • For children - part 1
  • For children - part 2

  • Jewish Women
  • Holiday guides
  • About Holidays
  • The Hebrew Alphabet
  • Hebrew/English Calendar
  • Glossary

  • by SIE
  • About
  • Chabad
  • The Baal Shem Tov
  • The Alter Rebbe
  • The Rebbe Maharash
  • The Previous Rebbe
  • The Rebbe
  • Mitzvah Campaign

    Children's Corner
  • Rabbi Riddle
  • Rebbetzin Riddle
  • Tzivos Hashem

  • © Copyright 1988-2009
    All Rights Reserved
    L'Chaim Weekly