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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 917
                           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.
        April 28, 2006       Sazria-Metzora       30 Nisan, 5766

                             Shining Bright

When Reb Pinchas Horowitz first became a disciple of the Maggid of
Meseritch, the Maggid advised him to study with Reb Zusha of Anapoli.

Reb Pinchas went to Reb Zusha. Reb Zusha humbly explained that he could
not understand why the Maggid would send anyone to study with him, but
that he would be happy to join Reb Pinchas in his intellectual

"What should we study?" Reb Pinchas asked.

"Whatever you are studying," Reb Zusha replied.

Reb Pinchas took out a volume of Talmud and began explaining the
following passage. "When there are only nine people in the synagogue,
there is an opinion that the ark of the synagogue can be counted to
complete the quorum of ten necessary for prayer. The Talmud then asks:
Is the ark a person? For no matter how holy the ark is, it is humans who
are required to fulfill the quorum for prayer."

As Reb Pinchas stated this, Reb Zusha interrupted: "What does the Talmud
mean: 'Is the ark a person?' Everyone knows the ark is an object."

Reb Pinchas was puzzled; the question was obviously rhetorical. Didn't
his partner appreciate that?

Reb Zusha continued: "Maybe the intent is that a person can be an ark in
which the Torah is contained, a veritable repository of knowledge, but
unless he is a person, unless that knowledge is integrated with his
humanity, there is a question if he can be counted among the community."

Reb Pinchas understood that this was the lesson the Maggid had wanted
him to learn from Reb Zusha: not how to augment his knowledge, but how
to use his knowledge to refine himself and change his character.

Judaism considers personal growth a lifelong task, 365 days a year for
every year of our lives. Nevertheless, every year, a period of time is
set aside when these efforts become our focus. This reflects the
spiritual significance of Sefirat HaOmer, the 49-days between the
holidays of Passover and Shavuot.

The Hebrew word sefira means, "counting." Every night we count one of
these 49 days. But sefira also means, "shining." During these 49 days,
we should endeavor to make our personalities shine.

According to Jewish mystical tradition we have seven fundamental
emotional qualities. These qualities combine with eachother to form the
full range of human feeling. Seven times seven equals 49, the number of
days mentioned above. This is not coincidental, for the cultivation of
our spiritual personalities during these 49 days involves the refinement
of our emotions, eliminating their coarseness and directing them to
G-dliness. As we work to upgrade our emotional potential, we prepare
ourselves to relive the experience of the giving of the Torah on the
holiday of Shavuot.

The ultimate experience of personal refinement will come in the era of
the Redemption, when "there will be neither envy nor competition...."
For then the G-dly spark that is latent within every person will be
revealed. At present, effort is necessary to appreciate the inner,
spiritual core that exists within ourselves and within others. In the
era of the Redemption it will be the way we naturally view things.

What can we do to hasten the coming of this era? Conduct ourselves at
present in a manner that demonstrates our awareness of this inner
G-dliness. When we show genuine love to another person, we are
highlighting the G-dly spark that we both possess and are establishing a
connection between the two. How more Messianic can one be?

        From Keeping in Touch by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger, published by
                                                 Sichos in English.

One of the laws pertaining to the Biblical affliction of leprosy
(discussed in this week's Torah portion, Metzora), seems somewhat

If a person discovered an eruption, a bright spot, or a white hair
indicative of the disease on part of his body, he was pronounced
"impure" by the priest. If, however, the leprosy covered his entire
body, he was pronounced pure. "[If] it is all turned white, he is pure,"
the Torah repeats.

How can it be that when the leprosy is confined to one area, the person
is impure, yet once it has spread all over his body, he is pure? There
are two possible explanations:

 1. The sole reason he is considered pure is because it is G-d's will.
    According to logic, the person whose leprosy covers all of his flesh
    should be impure; G-d, however, has decreed that he is pure.

 2. The law itself is logical. When the leprosy appears on only a part
    of a person's skin, it is obvious that he is suffering from some
    sort of malady. If it covers all of his skin, it is indicative of
    the individual's constitution and nature, not symptomatic of a

The Talmud cites this law in connection to the concept of redemption,
using the affliction of leprosy as a metaphor for sin. "The son of David
[Moshiach] will not come until all authority has become heretical,"
i.e., when G-dlessness is officially sanctioned and widespread
throughout the world.

Here we may ask the same question raised regarding leprosy: If the world
will be entirely dark, how will it be possible for the light of
Redemption to shine through? Why will the Redemption occur precisely
when evil is so powerful that it has overcome the entire world?

Again, the above two explanations may be applied to solve our dilemma:

 1. There is no logic involved. Moshiach will come when he does only
    because G-d will have decreed it thus; the Redemption will occur
    independent of the world's condition. An all-powerful and eternal
    G-d can certainly bring Moshiach no matter how degraded and evil the
    world becomes.

 2. The fact that evil is ascendent throughout the entire world is proof
    that something unusual is taking place; were this not so, some
    pockets of good would certainly have remained. Rather, the absolute
    supremacy of evil indicates that all the negative forces have become
    externalized, as they have already been fully vanquished from

Thus, the phenomenon of "all authority has become heretical" is actually
part of the world's purification, a process of separating good from evil
that will ultimately culminate with Moshiach's revelation. At that time,
the world will be sufficiently prepared for the light of Redemption.

                   Adapted from Likutei Sichot of the Rebbe Vol. 32

                             SLICE OF LIFE
       Cooking for 50 every week? Chabad wives are up to the task
                         by Jill Suzanne Jacobs

Miriam Ferris' groceries cost about $300 a week - not including the fish
and chicken she buys from the kosher butcher. The list includes such
items as "20 lbs. of potatoes," "2 bags of string beans" and "3 cases of

And believe it or not, this isn't her Passover shopping. Though if you
attend a normal Shabbat dinner at her house, you might think you are
there for a Passover seder.

Three tables are set together end-to-end. Close to 30 people are crammed
into a room. Plates and plates of hot food are served to grateful
guests, some of whom who dropped in without even a moment's notice.

And you thought preparing for a Passover seder was difficult. Try doing
this every week.

The wife of Berkeley's Chabad rabbi feeds a husband and 10 children
three times a day. On Shabbat she feeds between 20 and 50 guests for the
Friday night and Saturday afternoon meal.

Now imagine this: It is Thursday night and you know you have a bunch of
guests coming over tomorrow night for dinner. You don't know their
names, their ages or their eating preferences. Maybe some will be
vegetarians. Maybe some of your guests will hate eggplant. Or be
allergic to peanuts. You don't even know how many will show up. It could
be 20 people. It could be 50. But you have to be ready when your loving
spouse rolls in the door.

Enough to give you a nervous breakdown? Have a sudden desire to consult
the MSDS to find out the lowest published toxic dose of Valium? Now
imagine doing this every week.

Welcome to the life of a Chabad rebbetzin (rabbi's wife) who feeds the
hungry Jewish masses week after week - not just at Passover.

Sitting in her whistle-clean kitchen in the swank Noe Valley
neighborhood of San Francisco, Leah Potash doesn't seem to be showing
the strain. Scents of brownies baking waft through the air. The
bespectacled 26-year-old mother of four sips tea and smiles as she
reflects on her work.

"People are always asking me how I do it. I guess it really is a lot,"
she says. "For the amount that I enjoy it, it doesn't seem as much to me
as it seems to other people. When you love something, it doesn't feel as
if you are carrying the burden the whole time."

But the petite rebbetzin and rabbi's daughter sure has plenty to carry.
She buys flour in 50-pound bags and it lasts her three weeks. A 10-pound
bag of sugar may last a couple of months. But a 20-pound bag of potatoes
will only last a week. She has kosher chickens shipped up monthly from
Los Angeles by the case.

Ferris also never knows how many people she is feeding until they walk
in the door. How does she do it?

"You gotta roll with the punches," says Ferris. "And you just have to

Her secret (besides hard work)? "I follow the science of freezerology,"
she says with a laugh.

The rebbetzin always has prepared food in the freezer that can be taken
out and defrosted if need be. She keeps kosher deli meats in the
freezer, and canned foods - such as gefilte fish - that can be opened
and served in a pinch.

And in 24 years of serving as the rebbetzin of the Chabad House in
Berkeley, only once did she have to break into the cholent - the
traditional food eaten on Shabbat afternoon - on a Friday night.

Cooking for such a crowd in a domestic - as opposed to professional -
kitchen does pose some challenges. In fact, Potash has been known to
wash some of her larger pots in the bathtub because they won't fit in
the kitchen sink.

And of course there have been some snafus. Like the time when Ferris
burned a casserole. Her solution? She cut off the burned portion and
called it "Smoked Romanian Surprise." No one was the wiser.

Potash has known some snafus of her own. Like the time she and her
husband, Rabbi Gedalia Potash, found that the freezer storing the ice
cream for their Shavuot ice cream party had been left ajar and the ice
cream melted to soup. "We just poured it into the cones and gave it to
the kids in bowls," she says. "What could we do?"

Another time, Potash and her husband were up to the wee hours of the
night in their apartment dwelling "banging pots and pans" in preparation
for Passover. The next day the two were given a talking-to by their
neighbors about the noise they had made.

Right after Passover the two brought over some home-baked challah and a
bottle of wine. "We thought that would go over better than matzah,"
Gedalia Potash jokes. "The challahs that Leah makes are so delicious it
makes people turn religious overnight."

Sharing the warmth of Jewish life is part and parcel of the Chabad way
of life - in particular for rabbis and their wives who choose to spend
their lives as emissaries. Their door is always open, and they really
mean it when they say you are invited for Shabbat dinner.

Feeding dozens of hungry Jews week after week has become "second
nature," says Ferris. "It's not such a big deal to me."

"We chose this lifestyle," Potash said. "We love it."

Says Rabbi Yosef Levin of Chabad of Greater South Bay, "You are always
invited. So when you call us to come for a Shabbat dinner, all you are
doing is firming up the date."

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                            THE REBBE WRITES
               1st day of Rosh Chodesh Adar, 5712 [1952]

Greetings and Blessings!

Your letter ... reached me on time, but my reply has been delayed
because of the yahrzeit (anniversary of the passing) of my revered
father-in-law, the [Previous] Rebbe  - the preparations for that date,
and the matters connected with it and arising out of it. May G-d help
every one of us to fulfill his mission along the path that my saintly
father-in-law pointed out and laid down. This also includes guidance
along the path of Torah and mitzvos (commandments) itself, because even
within that path itself, the Evil Inclination finds ways of weakening
and hindering a person's endeavors to climb ever higher.

I was happy to read in your letter that you are firm in your trust in
G-d, and I hope that you will soon be enabled to see that trust
materialize in your business affairs.

One thing, however, I find surprising. Since you place your trust in G-d
in questions of materiality and your livelihood, surely that trust
should be firm when it comes to one's children and their conduct! After
all, this is what really matters to a Jew, much more than material
concerns. But in your case, when you come to that subject, you write
that you console yourself with the thought that at least they are in a
better state than some others, and so on.

On the phrase, bashamayim mima'al v'al ha'aretz mitachas - "in the
Heavens above, and on the earth below" - there is a [popular]
interpretation which is cited in many books and which you have no doubt
heard: When it comes to matters of Heaven, i.e., Divine and holy
matters, one should gaze upward towards those who are standing on a rung
that is above one's own and try to climb up there; when it comes to
earthly matters, one should lower one's glance and consider the
predicament of those whose status is below one's own.

The latter perspective enables a man to become a sameiach bechelko -
"one who is happy with his lot." And such a man is truly rich. As the
Sages teach, "Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot."

Now, there is no need for me to emphasize that Lubavitch in general, and
I personally, are not in the habit of offering pointless rebuke. The
above lines, then, express a dual intent: (a) to contribute whatever I
can to the strength of your trust that G-d will grant you a livelihood
and sound health, and (b) to recapitulate what I spoke of when you were
here - not to grow weary of speaking with your children concerning their
conduct in matters of Torah and mitzvos. And "the words of the wise,"
especially when they are expressed "tranquilly, are heeded."

With a blessing that you write me good tidings,

                                *  *  *

                          1 Shvat, 5718 [1958]

Greetings and Blessings!

...You have no doubt heard the teaching of the Rebbe Maharash, the
grandfather of my revered father-in-law, the [Previous] Rebbe: "People
say that if you can't make your way from below, you should climb over
the top - but I hold that right from the outset you should leap over the

Now, this approach applies to the present subject. At first sight it
would appear that manifest joy should wait until one's health improves
in actual fact. However, in the spirit of the above teaching, it could
be suggested that rejoicing over this improvement should be advanced
ahead of time, even though the improvement is not yet manifest.

Indeed, this itself will hasten the process. As has been repeatedly
cited in the name of the [earlier] Rebbes of Chabad, "Think positively,
and things will be positive." And how much more does this assurance
apply when one translates positive thoughts into joyful words and joyful
actions. This is especially relevant to yourself, whose literary skills
equip you to influence many people in this direction - and the reward of
those who gladden people's hearts is well known (Taanis 22a).

[...] With blessings for good news,

     Translated by Rabbi Uri Kaploun. Reprinted from In Good Hands,
                                    published by Sichos in English.

         Why does a baby boy receive his name at his brit mila?

G-d gave Abraham his full name (i.e., changing his name from Abram to
Abraham) when He said, "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you."
Thus we see that a name is given at the time when a covenant - in
Hebrew, bris - is made. Also, the Torah tells us that Abraham named his
son Isaac and then immediately afterward it relates: "And Abraham
circumcised his son..."

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This week, on Sunday, will be the birthday of Rabbi Shmuel, the fourth
Rebbe of Lubavitch, known as the Rebbe Maharash.

In one of his many writings, the Rebbe Maharash quotes a Midrash on the
sentiment of the Jewish people when G-d will send Moshiach:

"The Midrash on the Song of Songs states that when Moshiach comes, he
will say to the Jewish people, 'In this month you will be redeemed.' But
the Jews will protest that G-d told us we would be enslaved to the 70
nations [and we were not yet enslaved by all 70 nations].

"G-d will reply to them, 'One of you was exiled to the Barbary Coast,
and one of you was exiled to Samatry, etc. So it is as if you were all
enslaved to the 70 nations of the world. Therefore, in this month, you
will be redeemed.'"

This Midrash touches a very tender spot. There will come a time when G-d
is ready to send Moshiach and some Jews will protest that it's not the
right time!

This will not be the first time that such an occurrence has taken place
in Jewish history. For, commentators state that at the Exodus from
Egypt, some of our brethren protested to G-d, "But You said we would be
enslaved for 400 years, and we have only been here for 210 years!" G-d
explained to them that because the servitude had been so difficult, the
210 years counted as 400.

Can you imagine? They were being worked to the bone by the Egyptians,
and yet, there were some who preferred staying in Egypt!

Whether it was because we prefer the known, even if it is horrible, to
the unknown, or simply because they had become complacent, they
preferred Egypt to the Redemption.

It is time we stop making excuses for G-d and finding reasons for this
exile. As the Rebbe said so many times, everything has already been
done. Let us not place the blame for the long exile on a lack of unity,
or mitzvot, or faith. Let us judge each other and the entire Jewish
people meritoriously.

And let us cry out to G-d, "Ad Mosai - how long?"

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
He shall shave all his hair, his head and his beard and his eyebrows.
(Lev. 14:9)

A person was afflicted with tzara'at for one of three reasons:
haughtiness; slanderous talk or talebearing; and looking upon others
begrudgingly. His purification, therefore, had to involve: shaving his
head, where haughtiness comes from; shaving his beard because he didn't
keep his mouth closed when necessary; shaving his eyebrows because he
didn't look at people kindly.

                                                       (Klei Yakar)

                                *  *  *

When you come into the land of Canaan, which I give you for a
possession, and I put the plague of tzara'at in a house...(14:34)

The plague of tzara'at which effected a home was actually a blessing
from G-d. The entire time that the Jews were in the desert, the Amorites
hid their treasures in the walls of their homes. When the Jews conquered
the land and took over the homes, they were forced to break down the
walls when the plague hit, thereby finding the treasures.

                                                    (Vayikra Rabba)

                                *  *  *

This is the law concerning the metzoraleper (14:2).

Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel told his servant: "Go buy me something good
from the market." He went and bought a tongue. Rabbi Shimon said: "Go
buy me something bad from the market." The servant returned with another
tongue. Said Rabbi Gamliel: "I told you to buy something good and
something bad and you returned with the same thing. How is this
possible?" Answered his servant, "From the tongue comes good and bad.
When it is good there is nothing better than it, but when it is evil,
there is nothing more evil than it."

                                                    (Vayikra  Raba)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
The Chofetz Chaim (Rabbi Yisrael Hacohen, 1838-1933) readily agreed when
another prominent rabbi requested his help with a communal matter in
another city in Poland. The participation of the renowned Chofetz Chaim
was sure to add considerably to the success of the mission because of
his high standing in the eyes of all his co-religionists.

In the course of their trip the two rabbis stopped at a roadside inn to
partake of a meal. They were happy to eat at this establishment as a
Jewish woman who was well respected for her high standards of kashrut
ran it. The two rabbis were seated at a special table and accorded every
mark of honor.

After they had finished the meal the proprietress came to their table to
inquire how they had enjoyed the food.

The Chofetz Chaim smiled politely and replied: "It was very tasty, and I
enjoyed it very much. Thank you."

The other rabbi answered: "The meal was very good, thank you. Only, if I
might say, the soup might have used a bit more salt."

When the owner left the table the Chofetz Chaim turned to his companion,
and in an anguished voice said:

"Unbelievable! All my life I have avoided speaking or listening to
lashon hara (slander about a fellow Jew), and here I am, going on a trip
to perform a mitzva (commandment), and I have been put into a situation
of having to hear you speak lashon hara! I deeply regret my involvement
in this mission, for it cannot be a true mitzva. If it were, such a
terrible thing would never have happened to me!"

The other rabbi was shocked and upset by the Chofetz Chaim's reaction.
To him it seemed to be a perfectly innocent remark. "What was so
terrible about my comment? I only mentioned that a little salt would
help the food, which was otherwise very good."

The Chofetz Chaim began to explain himself. "You certainly don't
understand the power that words possess! Just see what a chain reaction
your words have set off: I'm sure that the woman who owns the inn
doesn't do her own cooking; she probably employs some poor person to do
it, maybe even a widow who depends upon this job for her living.

"Because of your thoughtless comment the employee will be reprimanded
for not adding enough salt to the food. She will try to defend herself
before replying that she certainly did put in enough salt, which will be
a lie. Then the owner will accuse her of lying, since she will certainly
take your word over that of the poor cook. This exchange will lead to an
argument and the owner will, in her anger, fire the poor cook, who will
then have no income with which to support herself and her family.

"And just think how many sins have been caused by one off-handed remark:
You spoke lashon hara and caused others to hear it; you caused the owner
of the inn to repeat the lashon hara; the poor cook was prompted to tell
a lie; the owner caused pain to a poor person; your remark caused an
argument. All of these are violations of the Torah!"

The rabbi, who had listened closely to the Chofetz Chaim's explanation,
replied respectfully: "Reb Yisrael Meir, I simply can't help but feel
that you are overreacting to the whole incident. My few casual words
couldn't have created all that damage. I think that your scenario just
isn't realistic."

The Chofetz Chaim rose from his seat, still in an agitated state, and
said: "If you don't believe me, then follow me into the kitchen and you
will see with your own eyes what has happened!"

The two rabbis quietly entered the kitchen, and a sorry sight met their
eyes. The proprietress was standing before an elderly woman and giving
her a sharp tongue-lashing; while the woman stood there with tears
streaming down her face. The shocked rabbi ran up to the cook and begged
her to forgive him for all the pain she was suffering. He then turned to
the owner of the inn and pleaded with her to forgive him and to forget
that he had ever made a comment. He had never intended that it be taken
so seriously.

The proprietress of the inn, who was really a kind person by nature, had
never actually intended to dismiss her elderly employee and was happy to
accede to the rabbi's request. She explained that she had merely wanted
to impress upon the cook her responsibility to be more careful in the
future. She assured the rabbi that the woman's job was secured and he
had no grounds for worry.

The rabbi turned to the Chofetz Chaim with an understanding look. He had
certainly acquired a new profound respect for the awesome power of

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
At the present, the all-embracing Unity of G-d is not overtly visible;
accordingly, the created universe appears to be an independent entity
that enjoys a self-sufficient existence. In the future, however, the
all-embracing Unity of the Creator will be manifest for all to see:
everyone will see how the universe is utterly nullified to the Divine
light that flows into it and animates it.

                                                         (Torah Or)

            END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 917 - Sazria-Metzora 5766

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