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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 914
                           Copyright (c) 2006
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        March 31, 2006          Vayikra            2 Nisan, 5766

                         How Big is Your House?

There's an old story about a couple who grumbled that their house was
too small. They were too poor to buy another house or build an addition.
Day after day, the family suffered from lack of space and overcrowded
quarters. Finally the husband went to the rabbi of the town to ask for

The rabbi advised, "Go home and bring the roosters into the house."

What?" the man said. "I say the house is too crowded and you say I
should bring more into the house?"

But the rabbi was, after all, the rabbi. And so the man went home, and
they did as the rabbi advised.

Sure enough, it was even more crowded. The wife insisted that her
husband return to the rabbi for a better solution.

"You're right," the rabbi said, after listening to the man. "Now, bring
the goats into the house."

The man protested, but the rabbi was adamant. If he wanted to solve his
problem, he must bring the goats into the house.

And so it went. Each time another animal came into the house, causing
more of a ruckus, taking up more room, the wife would send her husband
to the rabbi and the rabbi would send him back and another animal would
come into the house.

Until finally, the entire family was reduced to tears. "Take all the
animals out!" the rabbi ordered. "Immediately!"

Suddenly they had plenty of room in their house.

Which leads to a question: How much room do we need in our house? In
answer, let's ask another question:

Have you ever been alone in your house? Not by yourself.

No, we can be alone in our own house even when other family members are
there. When mother's away, say at a convention, the house doesn't just
seem empty. You're alone. And sometimes, if you're at one end and
father's at the other, even if one end is the kitchen and the other's
the living room and it's ten steps from one to the other, you can still
be alone.

The room in our homes isn't just the rooms in our houses. It's not the
physical space. Oh, yes, we need a certain amount of physical space to
call our own. But the space we really need is emotional space. Those
animals didn't just make it difficult to move around; they crowded out
the people, with their braying and mooing and instinct-first behavior.

The irony is that when our homes are emotionally crowded they're
physically expansive. There just always seems to be enough room - the
house is always big enough - when the family groups together

And spiritually, for that's the source of the emotional roominess.

You see, it's not the physical dimensions that determine how big your
house is. It's the G-dliness inside, a G-dliness that crowds out
everything else and so paradoxically creates more room.

The first way to expand your house, then, to make it larger in the only
way that really counts, is to make sure  you have a kosher mezuza on
every door post - not just the outside, but all the ones inside as well.
That way the spiritual dimension enters into the emotional, expanding

This week's Torah reading, Vayikra, focuses on the karbanot, the
offerings brought by the Jews in the Sanctuary in the desert and
afterwards, in the Temple in Jerusalem. It introduces this subject with
the verse (translated literally): "When a man will offer of you a
sacrifice to G-d of the animal." Proper grammar would have the verse
read: "When a man from among you offers...." But the verse is structured
in this manner to teach that the offering is "of you," dependent on each
person and no one else.

The word karban has its root in the word karov, meaning "close."
Bringing an offering means coming close to G-d. And the Torah teaches us
that coming close to G-d is dependent on each individual. No external
factors can stand in his way. Every person can come close to G-d. If he
truly desires, he can reach the highest peaks.

Also implied is that the offering comes "of you," of the animal within
the person himself. For each one of us has an animalistic side. This
isn't necessarily something bad, for not all animals possess negative
qualities such as cruelty or parasitism. On the contrary, most animals
are pleasant creatures that are not harmful to humans or other beasts.

Even so, an animal is not considered a positive model for our Divine
service. For an animal acts only to fulfill its own instinctual drives.
It thinks of nothing more than satisfying its own needs and achieving
gratification. Its selfishness lies not in the desire to take advantage
of others; it just doesn't think of others. It is concerned with one
thing: how to get what it wants and needs.

We each have a certain animal dimension to our personalities. There are
times when we think only of ourselves and what we want. This is not
necessarily bad, but it can lead to conflict when two people want the
same thing, and it does not represent a developed state. One of the
unique dimensions of a human being is that he can think and his brain
can control his feelings and desires. But when a person allows the
animal in him to control his conduct, he does nothing with this human
potential. He will leave the world the same way he came in without
having developed himself.

That is not why G-d brought us into being. He created us to make a
change in the world and to begin by making a change in ourselves.
Instead of just acting because we feel like doing something, our actions
should be motivated by thought. We should act because what we're doing
is right, because it follows G-d's intent in the world. Instead of
always taking we should think of looking outward and giving. And this
involves changing the animal in ourselves, bringing it closer to G-d.
That's the spiritual service associated with bringing a sacrifice.

How is this done? Through thought. The animal in us is also intelligent.
What does it want? To feel good. When it appreciates that giving can be
more satisfying than receiving and that the greatest happiness comes
from attuning oneself to G-d's will, it will also act in that manner.
That's why we must continually expose ourselves to inspiring ideas and
uplifting concepts. In this way, we will be motivated to look beyond our
self-interest and seek goals that benefit mankind as a whole.

     From Keeping in Touch: Torah Thoughts Inspired By The Works Of
       The Lubavitcher Rebbe, by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger, published by
                                                 Sichos In English.

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                        by Rabbi Simon Jacobson

Around 15 years ago I was invited to serve as the guest speaker at a
weekend Shabbaton in a small city in the United States (names and
details have been omitted to "protect the innocent").

During the meals various volunteers helped set up and serve. Among them
I noticed one man who was being particularly helpful. With a congenial
smile and no airs about him he was doing everything possible to make all
the guests comfortable.

During my talks I observed that this gentleman (we'll call him David)
was extremely attentive, absorbing every word. And when discussions
ensued after the talks his engaged curiosity was extraordinary. At every
possible opportunity David would approach me with more inquisitive
questions. His insatiable thirst for knowledge, his sincerity and
innocence of heart touched me deeply. I quietly asked the host Rabbi
about David.

His story goes like this. David was a Viet Nam veteran. After being
discharged from the US Navy, where he served several years, he began a
search for his Jewish roots. He visited different synagogues, attended
various classes, and finally ended up in this particular synagogue.
David grew up in a completely secular home, with absolutely no Jewish
education. Now he embraced his heritage and began observing Torah and
mitzvot. The Rabbi tells me that David has unquenchable thirst for
study, doing everything possible to compensate for his years of no
Jewish education.

Then came the punch line. Nonchalantly the rabbi whispers to me, "You
should know that David is a tzaddik nistar," a hidden righteous person
(tzaddik nistar is an expression used to describe hidden tzaddikim that
exist in the world. The concept originates from the thirty-six hidden
tzaddikim). "You see," the Rabbi continues, "when David was in the navy
he had his body tattooed, as many sailors and marines do in the navy.
From head to toe, his body was covered with tattoos. When David began
becoming observant he had some procedures done to remove his many
tattoos. Besides for the fact that David now learned about the Torah's
prohibition of mutilating or scarring the body, including the etching of
tattoos, he also felt that his tattoos were not in the spirit of where
he wanted to be.

"But some tattoos were simply impossible to get rid of. One tattoo in
particular irked David. It was a tattoo that was etched on his left
bicep, where a right handed individual places his Tefillin on the arm.
This particular tattoo was - how shall we say it? - not exactly the Star
of David. It therefore deeply disturbed David that this tattoo stared
him in the face every morning as he donned his Tefillin.

"He presented the question to a rabbi. Besides the problem of
'chatziza,' an obstruction between the Tefillin and the arm, the tattoo
was also a distraction and contrary to the entire spirit and intention
of Tefillin, which is about binding your heart and mind in service the
Divine. An authoritative rabbi told David that since he did not know
better when he had himself tattooed and being that the tattoo was
irreversible, he shouldn't worry about it and just put on Tefillin and
ignore the tattoo."

The rabbi then added: "After becoming observant five years ago, David
immerses himself in a mikva (a ritual bath) every morning [a custom
embraced by many males]. Because he doesn't want anyone to see his
remaining tattoos, David wakes up each morning at 5a.m. and goes to the
mikva before anyone else arrives...

"What do you think G-d is feeling," the rabbi innocently asks me, "when
He sees the holy mikva waters spilling over and covering the tattooed
body of this Viet Nam veteran each morning?"

I sat stunned. In awe. I looked at David pleasantly going about his way
helping everyone in sight, considering himself a simple person, asking
questions as though he was inadequate due to his lack of Torah education
- with no clue of the sheer power and beauty of his deep connection to
G-d, a connection that transcended his tattoos.

I was deeply moved. There is nothing as powerful as witnessing the human
triumph over a handicap. And I said to myself, "This is the power of
Judaism, which celebrates the ultimate majesty of life: We don't escape
our scars and tattoos; but we can immerse them in deeper experiences,
and thus transcend them."

The Torah teaches and trains us all to look at the inner core of human
beings. Never to be distracted by the outer tattoos, scars and other
superimposed states. No matter how deeply etched they are, no matter if
they may even be naturally irreversible, the fact remains that the inner
essence of a person is beautiful and can prevail over any difficulty.

We all have our tattoos - physical or metaphorical - the scars, wounds
and bruises we carry, some from the abuse of a dysfunctional childhood,
others from errors of judgment, ignorance or inexperience. Some of these
tattoos may be irreversible. Once we have lost our innocence, by
imposition or by choice, and tasted from the "forbidden fruit," we can't
always turn the clock back.

But that doesn't mean that things are lost. It means that we have to dig
deeper. Even if our tattoos are etched into our skins and beings, even
when our wells get clogged, we have the power to burrow beneath them and
discover deeper reserves.

The Viet Nam veteran's story is the story of a walking example of
possibility - how each of us can access places that are beyond even the
deepest scars.

Possibility - that is the ultimate message of empowerment that Torah
offers the human race.

    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.

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                            THE REBBE WRITES
                         16 Sivan, 5719 [1959]

Blessings and Greetings!

You write of your state of mind, in which you find it difficult to make
decisions on any matter and remain in doubt as to whether you are doing
as you ought, and so on.

In view of your upbringing, of which you write, there is certainly no
need for me to emphasize the subject of Divine Providence, a fundamental
principle in our faith and in our Torah, the Torah of Life. The meaning
of this concept, hashgachah peratis, is straightforward - that G-d, Who
created and directs the world, watches over every man and woman, not
only in public matters, but also in his private affairs. This concept
enables us to understand the principle of trusting in the One Who
conducts the world and Who is the essence of good, for accordingly,
everything is also for the good, plainly and simply.

Every believer's mind, too, understands that the first direct result of
this trust is that there is no worry and no confusion. For when a person
is weighing in his mind what he should decide and how he should act, at
that time, too, G-d is watching over him and helping him, helping all
those who desire what is good and upright. And when one conducts himself
according to the directives of the Torah, this is the good path, and
such conduct in itself helps a person to go ahead with all his affairs
in a way that is good for him.

As in all matters of faith, the above-mentioned principle likewise
requires neither intellectual argumentation nor profound and complex
philosophical proofs. For every individual of the Children of Israel,
man or woman, senses in his soul that he truly has faith - even when he
is not thinking about whether this principle is correct or whether it is
a rational imperative. As the Sages affirm, all Jews are "believers, the
descendants of believers." This means that the faith that is within
them, both in their own right and as a heritage from their forebears who
were believers, and all the spiritual properties that became theirs in
their own right and also as a heritage - this faith and these spiritual
properties are utterly strong within them all. This is self-explanatory.

I hope that these lines of mine, limited as they are in quantity, will
suffice to rouse your thoughts and to guide you toward the truest and
innermost point within your own self - that in your innermost soul you
most definitely trust that G-d watches over you. All you need to do is
to bring forth this thought from within your soul to your day-to-day
life. After all, "there is nothing that stands in the way of the will."

As was said above, the way to accomplish this is not by profound
intellectual debate, but by relying on your inner feeling that you place
your trust in G-d - not by seeking out doubts, nor by creating
problematic queries that are not at all problematic and in fact do not
trouble you. Averting your attention from all of this will no doubt help
you to rid yourself easily of all the confusing factors that have been
spoken of.

It would be advisable that before the morning prayers on weekdays, a few
times a week, you set aside a few cents to be donated for tzedaka -
preferably on Mondays and Thursdays and on the eve of Shabbos. And it
goes without saying that such an undertaking should be made without a
formal vow.

With blessings for a strengthening of your bitachon and for good news
regarding all the above,

     From In Good Hands, translated by Rabbi Uri Kaploun, published
                                               by Sichos In English

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
The two candles symbolize the two verses: "Remember the Sabbath day"
(Ex. 20:8), and "Observe the Sabbath day" (Deut. 5:12). Many women add
another candle upon the birth of each additional child. This custom is
rooted in the verse, "The  candle of G-d is man's soul."

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
On Thursday, a certain Jew suddenly desired a new suit for Shabbat. He
went out, purchased the suit, and proudly brought it home. He showed the
suit to his wife and asked her if she would hem the pants so he could
wear it for Shabbat.

"It's Thursday night and I still have to make the challahs, the kugel,
the cholent, the soup. There is no way I can hem your pants," she said

So, the man went to his daughter with the same request. "Dad, I have
tons of homework, I have to bathe the kids and clean my room. Sorry, but
I just can't do it."

The man resigned himself to not wearing his suit on Shabbat. At about
two in the morning, though, he woke up. He decided to take matters into
his own hands, laid out the pants and proceeded to cut off a few inches.

At three o'clock, his wife woke up. Feeling quite bad, she found the
pants, cut off a few inches, and assured herself she would hem them in
the morning.

The daughter woke up a little while later, feeling very guilty. She
found her father's pants, cut off a few inches, and mentally scheduled
the hemming into her day.

Friday morning arrived, and the man eagerly tried on his pants only to
find that he now had - shorts!

The point of this story? Sometimes, in our attempt to "tailor" Judaism
to fit our lifestyle, we snip a little here and a little there. But when
we really take a good look at what we have after all the tailoring, we
see that it hardly resembles the original product.

You can do mitzvot without tailoring them by taking your time, one
mitzva at a time, one day at a time. It you don't take short-cuts, you
won't wind up with shorts.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Of his own voluntary will (Lev. 1:3)

The commentator Rashi explains that although the verse says "of his own
voluntary will," if one does not want to bring a sacrifice, we compel
him to do so. How, then, can we say that the sacrifice is brought
willingly? We compel him until he wants to do it. When the Torah tells a
person to do something and a person apparently does not want to do, his
negative reaction is not reality. For, in the innermost depths of his
heart, a Jew wants to carry out the Will of G-d. Through forcing him to
do what is correct, his negative inclination is nullified and the
willingness to carry out G-d's Will is genuine.

                             (Rambam on the laws of divorce, ch. 2)

                                *  *  *

With all your sacrifices you shall offer salt (Lev. 2:13)

The sacrifice symbolizes the revealed part of the Torah, which is
likened to meat. The salt symbolizes the hidden aspects of Torah which
are more abstract. This is why each sacrifice had to be brought with
salt. In the same way that salt preserves meat from spoiling, so do the
inner, esoteric explanations of Torah preserve the revealed part of

                                                    (Likutei Torah)

                                *  *  *

If a person sins...and is not sure, he shall bear guilt (Lev. 5:17)

The Torah is even stricter, in terms of bringing sacrifices, with one
who is not sure if he has sinned. The sacrifice when one is uncertain if
he sinned cost more than the sacrifice that was brought as an atonement
for a known sin. If a person knows clearly that he has done something
wrong, he will regret it. However, if he is not sure, he may convince
himself that he really did not sin. Then, he will not repent. Thus, he
has to bring a costlier sacrifice that will cause him to be more

                                                    (Rabbeinu Yona)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Despite his vast wealth and riches, Reb Shlomo, one of the Baal Shem
Tov's chasidim, was burdened with the deep sorrow of childlessness.
Often he sought his Rebbe's blessing for children, but to no avail.

Reb Shlomo, however, persisted. On one of his visits to Mezibush, he
implored the Rebbe to bless him with children. This time, the Besht
agreed to grant the blessing, but attached a condition. "If you agree to
forego your wealth, you will be blessed with a child," promised the

Reb Shlomo was overjoyed at the thought of his wish being granted.

"Go home and discuss it with your wife," the Besht said.

Reb Shlomo rushed home to consult his wife. "Hurry back to the Besht and
tell him I agree wholeheartedly," said his wife. Reb Shlomo immediately
set out to Mezibush and finally received the long-awaited blessing.

On his journey home, he stopped at an inn to rest. He conversed with
some fellow travelers who had passed through his city and without
introducing himself, asked about the latest news.

"Haven't you heard about the misfortune of Reb Shlomo? His entire fleet
of ships, loaded with tons of wood, was lost in the stormy seas!"

"So, it's actually happening," thought Reb Shlomo with delight. As he
neared his hometown, he was greeted with stories of fires that had
consumed all his possessions. Reb Shlomo, however, was anything but sad.
"The blessing will come sooner than I imagined," he thought. Neither Reb
Shlomo nor his wife complained about their misfortune. On the contrary,
their thoughts were filled with eager anticipation and within a year,
Reb Shlomo's wife gave birth to a baby boy.

By now, Reb Shlomo was reduced to begging for alms. He joined a group of
beggars that made their rounds in other towns. During their wanderings,
they passed through Mezibush. "Let us go to the Besht's house of study,"
one beggar suggested. "He always gives generously."

The group joined the line in the courtyard and passed by the Besht who
handed out charity personally. "Come to my study, later," the Besht
instructed Reb Shlomo when he recognized him.

Later the Besht addressed Reb Shlomo. "Though it was decreed that you be
a poor man, you are entitled to a dignified level of poverty. Travel to
Krim and there your fortunes will change. May you be successful."

Obediently and with great anticipation, Reb Shlomo set out on the road.
Upon arrival, he sought out the local shul, where he was greeted very
warmly by the attendant and introduced to a wealthy man who would host
him for Shabbat. It was a splendid Shabbat spent in joy and abundance;
his host spared no effort to make Reb Shlomo comfortable.

However, after Shabbat ended, Reb Shlomo noticed a marked change in his
host's demeanor from that of joy to deep concern and sorrow.

"You've been wonderful to me," Reb Shlomo said to his host gently. "I'm
sorry to see you so troubled. Please share your problem with me, it may
lighten your burden."

The wealthy man explained that his daughter had a terrible health
problem. "I know of someone who can help you," Reb Shlomo exclaimed. "In
the town of Mezibush, there is a very great tzadik, the Baal Shem Tov,
who has assisted many people. We will seek the holy rabbi's advice."

With a hopeful heart, the rich man accompanied Reb Shlomo to Mezibush,
and presented his problem to the Besht. The Besht instructed Rabbi Tzvi
Sofer, his attendant, to accompany him, and the four set out for the
rich man's town.

Upon arrival, the Besht told his attendant to go to the mikva and
declare: "The Besht has demanded that you leave this place." As soon as
he uttered those words, a voice was heard from the mikva: "The Besht has
power only over Poland! I will not obey him here!" When Rabbi Tzvi
related what the voice had said, the Besht handed Rabbi Tzvi his walking
stick, "Should the spirit refuse again," he told him, "strike the water
with my stick."

Rabbi Tzvi did as he was told. When he struck the water, it turned
crimson. The Besht then instructed that the mikva be cleaned. The health
problems that the rich man's daughter had experience utterly

"How can I repay you for what you have done?" cried the rich man.

"I need nothing," replied the Besht. "However, please tell me how is it
that you have amassed such wealth?"

"I owned a small dock at the harbor. One day, gusty winds blew a fleet
of boats and logs into my dock. I sold the boats and the merchandise and
netted a large profit.

The Besht nodded and pointed to Reb Shlomo. "Those boats and logs
belonged to this man," he said. "Though you were free to profit from the
luck the sea brought you, he, nevertheless, is entitled to a share."

The rich man generously paid Reb Shlomo, who now lived peacefully,
sharing with his wife the pleasure of children and grandchildren.

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

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The prophet Isaiah states: "For the earth shall be as full of the
knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean bed." Of the future time
it is likewise written, "For they will all know Me." (Jeremiah)
Nevertheless, not all will be equal: the man with the deeper and broader
mind will understand more than another. Hence the simile, "as the waters
cover the ocean bed": though on the surface the water is even, the
chasms in the ocean bed hold more water than elsewhere.

                    (The Short Maamarim of the Alter Rebbe, p. 141)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 914 - Vayikra 5766

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