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Devarim Deutronomy

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Devarim Deutronomy

June 23, 2006 - 27 Sivan, 5766

925: Sh'lach

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The Weekly Publication For Every Jewish Person
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.

Text VersionFor Palm Pilot
  924: Beha'aloscha926: Korach  

Mining the Depths  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
The Rebbe Writes  |  Customs  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

Mining the Depths

Once when the Rebbe was asked to elaborate on the nature of his position, he explained that he is a miner. Just as a miner digs into the depths of the earth, sifts through much dirt and stone, and ultimately comes up with jewels and precious metals, so, too, the Rebbe teaches and empowers us to penetrate to the depths of our being and reveal the inner G-dliness dormant within our souls.

Now going beneath the surface of our personalities is not particularly new. For over a century, psychologists have spoken about this goal, and in the last decades motivational specialists and personal growth coaches have become a major part of even the corporate structure of western society. So what's new about the Rebbe's approach?

The novelty is not in the idea of digging, but what one comes up with when one digs.

Secular psychologists have dug and come up with passions and fears that diminish rather than enhance our humanity. Humanists have dug and come up with existential despair and emptiness. The Rebbe dug and came up with G-dliness.

Why do the psychologists come up with fears and passions, or the humanists with despair, when they try to probe beneath a person's surface?

Because that is their own inner mindset. They do not set out to diminish man's potential. Quite the contrary, they want to help; they are well-intentioned and honest.

But that very honesty causes them to project their own image over humanity as a whole. You can't blame them for that. They are human and this is the way they see man. But what is their image of themselves or of man in general? And what is the image of man the Rebbe projects?

They look around at their environment and try to make sense out of the different forces and factors they see. They discover patterns and share them with others. By doing so, they reinforce the patterns that they discover.

The Rebbe operates from a different perspective. What is significant is not what he or other people see or want in this world, but what G-d wants. Why did G-d create the world? And why did He create this particular person, this particular situation, and this particular moment?

The question motivates the answer. It frees a person to look beyond his own individual horizons and see a larger picture - a Divine picture.

Most of us do not ask these questions naturally. But as we connect with the Rebbe, study his teachings, follow his directives, and endeavor to understand his motivation, we learn to do so.

Extending this approach further, one looks to the era when G-d's conception of the world will blossom into manifest fulfillment: the era of the Redemption. For just as every particular entity was created with a purpose, so, too, the world at large was brought into being with a goal. As our Sages comment, "The world was created solely for Moshiach."

For that reason it is important to learn about the era of the Redemption and appreciate the mindset that will prevail at that time. As we become more acquainted with G-d's purpose for creation, we are more capable of prodding that purpose into fulfillment and enabling the world to reach that desired state.

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

Living with the Rebbe

In this week's Torah portion, Shelach, we read about the report of the spies whom Moses sent to explore the Land of Israel. The reaction of the Jewish people to the spies' negative report was immediate: "Our wives and children will surely be taken captive by the strong people living there. Let us appoint a new leader and go back to Egypt." G-d, therefore, decreed that they would not be allowed to enter the Land. "But your children, of whom you said 'they will become prey,' them I will bring in, and they will know the land you have despised." The children, the younger generation, will be the ones to enter Israel, G-d promises.

Why is there such an emphasis on children, in both the complaint of the Jewish people and in G-d's response? Because children played a role of great significance, both in the inheritance of the Land and the mission with which the Jewish people are entrusted.

Concerning young children our Sages comment: "A baby breaks into crumbs more than he manages to eat." This means that a young child utilizes only a small portion of the food he is given, while most of it ends up on the floor.

This saying can also be understood in the spiritual sense. A baby symbolizes a person who possesses little wisdom and understanding. The food stands for the Torah and its commandments which sustain the G-dly soul. A person who is an "adult," who utilizes his time on earth wisely, devotes the major portion of his life to doing mitzvot and fulfilling his mission in life. A child, in the spiritual sense, wastes most of his time by becoming involved with foolish and extraneous matters, losing sight of the Divine purpose for his soul. Most of his spiritual sustenance, the Torah, ends up unassimilated and undigested, "crumbs on the floor."

This, in fact, was the claim made by the spies: "Why must we enter the Land of Israel and waste our precious time involving ourselves with physical matters? Here in the desert where all our physical needs are miraculously met, we can devote ourselves totally to learning Torah. For even if we will have time to learn once we enter the Land, most of our day will be wasted! It is far better to stay in the desert than to lower ourselves to that level!" they claimed.

To which G-d responded: "Your children...will be the ones to inherit." Even though the generation of Jews which left Egypt was on a very high spiritual level, devoting their lives to studying the Torah, it was precisely the children, those possessing little Torah knowledge, who would be allowed to enter the Land of Israel. The new generation would be required to pursue a different path, working hard to provide the physical necessities of life, while at the same time imbuing their surroundings with G-dliness and holiness. For this is what G-d really wants Jews to do. Our mission in life is to lead a normal, physical existence, while at the same time following the precepts of the Torah.

The Torah learning of young children is also especially dear to G-d. "The learning of little children may not be disturbed, even to build the Holy Temple!" we are told. Their pure faith and belief in G-d has the power to arouse G-d's mercy and foil the evil plans of the enemies of the Jewish people.

Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

A Slice of Life

Continue to Write
by Yehudis Cohen

Nachum Markowitz is an Israeli-born Chasid well known for his good deeds. Soon after his marriage, Nachum established himself in the trucking business, renting trucks from Salem Truck Leasing, the Steinberg brothers' family business. Whenever he visited their office, the warm, gregarious Nachum would be sure to share a Torah thought, or a story about the Rebbe.

When the Rebbe founded the Machne Israel Development Fund to aid the emissaries in financing new projects, Nachum got Allan Steinberg on board.

The members of the Machne Israel Development Fund were all able to have a private audience with the Rebbe. That was the first time that Steinberg met the Rebbe. When Mr. Steinberg returned to his office after the meeting, he related to his brother, Steve, "If there is a place close to G-d in this world, I was there today."

Mr. Steinberg was very impressed by the Rebbe's discussion of the partnership between business people and students of Torah, and how supporting Jewish institutions is a key to material success. He mentioned to the Rebbe about a business proposition he was considering and appreciated the Rebbe's far-reaching vision in advising him to have patience and not to make premature moves.

Years passed and the relationship continued. From time to time, Nachum would try to persuade Mr. Steinberg to do a mitzva but Mr. Steinberg, afraid that he was being pressured to "become religious," would counter, "You can't turn a cat into a dog." Nachum would reassure his friend that each mitzva had its own value and that the connection it created was important without any agendas.

A few years ago, Mr. Steinberg encountered a serious health problem that required a complicated operation. He was understandably very worried about the outcome of the surgery.

Nachum urged Mr. Steinberg to go with him to pray at the Ohel (the resting place of the Rebbe). "But you can't go empty-handed," explained Nachum. "Tell the Rebbe that you will put on tefilin every week-day, ask your wife to start lighting Shabbat candles Friday afternoon, and promise that when you are healthy you will have a class once a week at your office. In this way you will make a vessel for the Rebbe's blessing. With simple faith, tell the Rebbe that you are putting your life in his hands and the Rebbe will take care of you." After praying at the Ohel, Mr. Steinberg felt more confident that the surgery would go well.

Over the years, Mr. Steinberg had been a supporter of the Chabad schools in Ofakim, a poor development town in the South of Israel. The schools were run by Nachum's cousin, Rabbi Yisrael Hershkowitz. Nachum felt that since Rabbi Hershkowitz was Mr. Steinberg's "partner" he should be informed of the impending operation. Rabbi Hershkowitz like many Chasidim, was accustomed to obtaining advice and blessings from the Rebbe by opening at random a volume of the Rebbe's letters, Igrot Kodesh. Rabbi Hershkowitz related to Nachum that he had written to the Rebbe about Mr. Steinberg's condition and that he wanted him to convey the contents of the letter (which had been written in Yiddish) to Mr. Steinberg. Nachum was in shock at just how precise the answer was.

Nevertheless, Nachum was unsure, even a little skeptical, of this manner of receiving answers from the Rebbe. Although he knew of countless stories where people had received blessings through the Igrot Kodesh, he had also seen the dangers when people misuse the Igrot to find the answer they want to hear. Still, he had the letter translated into English and he decided to give it directly to Mr. Steinberg without commentary.

Uncomfortable with what had transpired, Nachum himself sat down and addressed a letter to the Rebbe. He placed it in a volume of letters, and when he opened the volume, he understood immediately that the letter he was reading was addressed to him. The content of the letter was to the effect that: when one translates from Yiddish to English one must indicate that the material is a free translation and may not be exactly true to the original; when communicating to people who are not familiar with Chasidic teachings, one must explain the ideas fully to them before giving it to them in writing; but since you already did it differently, it will be fine this way too.

The Rebbe's letter had also mentioned about celebrating Yud Tet Kislev, the "New Year" of the Chabad movement. Nachum very much wanted to bring Mr. Steinberg to a Chasidic gathering on that day since he felt that it was tied to the blessing for the operation. Mr. Steinberg had been reluctant, again protesting, "You can't turn a cat into a dog." Finally, on Friday, he agreed to meet Nachum on Sunday at the Ohel to review the procedure for putting on tefilin, to which Mr. Steinberg was still a little new.

When they spoke by phone on Saturday night, to finalize their meeting, Mr. Steinberg shared his concerns with Nachum, saying that physically he felt fine but that he was sick with worry. Now Nachum wrote again to the Rebbe, this time about Mr. Steinberg's concerns about his operation. The letter he opened to began with the words, "following up on our conversation of Friday and the subsequent telephone call, I remain firm in my conviction that there is no reason to be concerned and that the main thing is to remove your mind completely from all worries." The letter contained a promise for long life. Nachum couldn't contain his excitement and called Mr. Steinberg a number of times that evening, leaving messages on his phone, until he finally reached him after midnight.

Thank G-d, the operation was successful and Mr. Steinberg was able to return to his demanding business and active lifestyle.

Recently, Mr. Steinberg's niece was seriously hurt in a car accident. The letter Nachum opened after visiting the Ohel expressed the wish that the situation had already changed for the better. It also suggested that an "alternative" kind of medicine for the migraine headaches would be to carry a kosher mezuza at all times (properly wrapped in deference to its holiness).

When Nachum related to the parents the part of the letter about migraine headaches, the mother stopped him in surprise. "How does the Rebbe know about my daughter's migraines?" she asked. "Two weeks ago, my daughter blacked out at home. When we took her to the doctor, he told us it was due to a migraine headache. The doctors believe that her accident probably occurred because she lost consciousness again from a migraine while she was driving."

Nachum sent a mezuza to the hospital. The niece's condition had already begun to improve and continued to improve. She was soon out of danger and a little while later left the hospital.

Nachum cautions that it is important to consult with an elder advisor to clarify advice from the Rebbe, especially when the response is not as direct as those he received for the Steinbergs. And answers do not only come through the Igrot. He recalls the words of the Rebbe at a time when Chasidim of his father-in-law, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, were unsure about writing to him and receiving his blessing, "Continue to write," the Rebbe told them, "and the Rebbe, my father-in-law will find a way to answer."

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The Rebbe Writes

2 Tammuz, 5727 [1967]

Your letter reached me with some delay. In the meantime I was pleased to see your husband at the farbrengen [Chasidic gathering] here.

As for the subject matter of your letter, you surely know that the Torah tells us that the conquest of the promised Holy Land was to take place by stages. The same applies, in a deeper sense, to the personal conquest of the self.

In other words, when it comes to personal advancement in matters of Yiddishkeit [Judaism], the best method is sometimes precisely in the way of a gradual conquest, step by step, and stage by stage, rather than by means of a drastic change.

Of course there are certain situations and matters where a drastic change may be necessary, but by and large steady progress is usually steadier than progress by fits and starts.

In light of the above, and in regard to the matter which you mentioned, it is possible that you may be pushing a little too hard. It is perhaps advisable that inasmuch as you have expressed your opinion, and it was not accepted, it is better to leave it alone until such time as the other party will himself come to the same conclusion. I trust that this will come to pass sooner than you anticipate.

I trust that you have begun your summer vacation in a suitable way, and may G-d grant that the vacation will generate new strength and power to be able to carry on all good activities with increased vigor.

Above all, I reiterate the central point, namely that you and your husband should together bring up your children in good health and happiness, materially and spiritually.

We have now entered the particularly auspicious month, the month of Tammuz, with the anniversary of the liberation of my father-in-law of saintly memory, the history of which is undoubtedly familiar to you.

This anniversary is not something which affected only the personal fate of my father-in-law of saintly memory, but was of far-reaching consequences for Russian Jewry and world Jewry as a whole.

Indeed, my father-in-law of saintly memory, referring to his miraculous geula [redemption], wrote explicitly to that effect, saying, "It was not me personally that G-d had saved, but it was a salvation for Yiddishkeit in general."

The anniversary therefore is an occasion for celebration and inspiration for each and every one of us every year at this time.

But this year is particularly significant inasmuch as it will mark the fortieth anniversary. As our Sages explained, the completion of forty years provides special understanding, appreciation and insight into the mind and personality of one's teacher.

I trust you will suitably observe this coming anniversary on the 12- 13th of Tammuz, and derive lasting inspiration from it.

The obvious lesson which we must draw from it is this:

If a Jew can accomplish so much for Yiddishkeit single-handedly, despite overwhelming odds and obstacles, how much must each and everyone one of us try to do our share, being fortunate in living under infinitely better circumstances, with complete freedom of action to strengthen and spread Torah-Yiddishkeit.

With regards to the whole family and with the blessing of Chag HaGeula [holiday of liberation],


Why do people go to pray at the resting place of holy people?

Praying by the gravesite of a righteous person can help a person physically as well as spiritually. Our sages tell us that the reason why Caleb was successful in remaining faithful to Moses when all the other spies (who were originally spiritual people) failed, was because he went to pray for assistance by the gravesite of our Patriarchs (see Numbers, chapters 13-14). A tzaddik, who is close to G-d, has the ability to bring our prayers to G-d's attention, and be a successful "lawyer" on our behalf.

by Rabbi N. Silberberg

A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

A basic teaching of Chasidic philosophy is that everything that happens in this world is guided by Divine Providence.

The book "Hayom Yom - From Day to Day," was compiled by the Rebbe in 1942 at the behest of his father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe, and contains short thoughts for each day from the teachings of the Previous Rebbe.

The thought included by the Rebbe for next Thursday, Gimmel (the third of) Tammuz, reads:

"A Jewish groan which, G-d forbid, arises from physical misfortune, is also a great repentance; how much more so then, is a groan arising from spiritual distress a lofty and effective repentance. The groan pulls him out of the depths of evil and places him on a firm footing in the realm of good."

Though Gimmel Tammuz is actually the day in 1927 on which the Previous Rebbe's death sentence by the Russian government was commuted to life in exile -- thus marking the beginning of his liberation -- the Rebbe chose not to include a message appropriate to these happy tidings, but rather, a thought about the tremendous power of a Jewish sigh.

How many Jewish groans were emitted on Gimmel Tammuz 12 years ago for the spiritual distress of the Rebbe leaving this physical world? How many sighs are uttered each day, each year, that passes that we still find ourselves in exile?

But, as the Rebbe asked a chasid after the passing of the Previous Rebbe, "What good are your tears?" i.e., crying will not help the situation, it is action that is demanded and required to bring Moshiach.

By each one of us adding on or enhancing in mitzva observance, surely we will all be placed on a firm footing in the realm of good, the ultimate good of the Redemption, may it commence immediately, NOW!

Thoughts that Count

From the first of your dough you shall set aside a challah offering (Num. 15:20)

There are two meanings to the word arisa. The first is the kneading trough in which dough is made, and the second is a child's cradle. One should pay particular attention to a child's education while he is still in the cradle. For even when they are so tiny it is our duty to educate them as Jews, and not to postpone it until a later time.

(Chatam Sofer)

Here we are, and we will go up to the place which G-d has said (Num. 14:40)

How could the Jewish people change their minds so quickly; first, an intense fear of conquering the Land of Israel, and then being willing and ready to enter the land, saying, "Here we are, and we will go up." Did G-d show them some kind of miracle or sign to convince them that they could conquer the inhabitants of the land? The truth of the matter is that Jews are "believers, the children of believers." Even while protesting to the contrary, the Jews really believed, in their hearts, in the power and strength of G-d. The Evil Inclination, however, rose up and caused them to ignore their innate faith. But when G-d spoke to them harshly-"How long shall I hear the evil..."-the Evil Inclination was vanquished and their hearts were once more in touch with their true feelings. Their innate faith was then revealed.


It Once Happened

Rabbi Pinchas Teitz of Elizabeth, N.J. made 22 trips to Russia in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Even in the heyday of the Communist empire and the secret police, he managed to secure permission for his visits. He had good contacts in the government and they trusted him. Nevertheless, he was often able to utilize his visits to secretly smuggle in important Jewish paraphernalia, such as tefilin and prayer books, for the benefit of the oppressed Jews of the U.S.S.R.

Although Rabbi Teitz was born and educated in Lithuania and its yeshivas, it was impossible to be involved in Jewish life in the Soviet Union in those days and not laud the activities of the Chabad Chasidim who had dedicated their lives to preserve Judaism there. Thus, many times he merited to bring objects from the Lubavitcher Rebbe to his Chasidim in Russia, and vice versa.

Once, when Rabbi Teitz was preparing for another trip, a representative of the Rebbe brought him a package. This was no surprise; he was already used to and even expected the arrival of an emissary and the usual package.

But this time the messenger from the Rebbe also took out a small-sized volume of Tanya, the foundation book of Chabad teachings, and handed it to the rabbi. He explained that the Rebbe asked that Rabbi Teitz take it and carry it with him while in Russia, but didn't say who to give it to.

"I was astonished," related Rabbi Teitz afterwards. "To cooperate with the Rebbe to deliver basic Jewish necessities to the deprived Jews of Russia was one matter, but to go with a copy of Tanya in my luggage? To Russia? It seemed unnecessarily dangerous. The KGB knew very well what is a Tanya.

What plausible explanation could I give if it were detected?"

In the end, he decided to take it. If the Rebbe was making such an unusual request of him, he must have a good reason.

On the third day of his stay in Moscow, while he was walking back to his hotel from the Great Synagogue after the Evening Prayer, two young men approached him as he passed through a dark side street. They forced him quickly into a nearby parked car. The rabbi was taken by surprise and of course frightened. Were they the KGB? Was this a kidnapping?

His fears were soon dissipated, however as his two "snatchers" turned out to be local Chabad Chasidim. They apologized for the rough treatment, explaining that this was the only means by which they could possibly bring him to a safe house, and they needed to discuss with him matters of emergency.

Only after they were safely in the house, did the two introduce themselves. They said they had investigated and discovered that he could be trusted, and what they wanted of him was that he should deliver a message to the Rebbe for each of them. They had major life decisions to make for which they needed the Rebbe's input, and they couldn't wait for an official emissary.

The older one had recently found out that the KGB was actively pursuing him, so he wanted to know if the Rebbe thought he should flee Moscow and move to another city, or should he remain despite the obvious danger in order to maintain and further his important educational activities in the Jewish underground, which the Rebbe already knew about.

The second, the younger, wanted the Rebbe's advice whether he should apply for an emigration visa to Israel. Recently, a number of such requests had been approved. However, he held an excellent position as a top engineer, and as soon as he would submit his application he would be fired from his job, and if the request was refused, he would be left without any means of support.

Rabbi Teitz was very moved by the fiery dedication of the two Chasidim. He promised to memorize their names and their questions to tell the Rebbe, as it would be too dangerous to write them down and have such a paper in his possession. The three men relaxed and engaged in conversation. The rabbi mentioned that the Rebbe had given him a Tanya to keep with him on the trip.

"Do you mean to say that you have this Tanya from the Rebbe in your possession? Now? Here?" they exclaimed enthusiastically.

Rabbi Teitz silently took the Tanya from his coat pocket and showed it to them. They eagerly examined it from all sides and angles. Their increasing excitement was palpable. Clearly they were overjoyed to be holding a book that less than a week ago had been in the Rebbe's own holy hands.

While holding the book, one of them shouted out in amazement. He pointed to what their intense scrutiny had uncovered: a page had been folded down at the top corner, as a person sometimes does in place of a bookmark.

They opened to the page and were awestruck by the very first words! "...he is extremely pressed for time and finds it utterly impossible to delay...

"That's my answer from the Rebbe!" cried out the older Chasid, visibly shaking with emotion. The Rebbe is telling me to hurry and escape from here."

The younger Chasid quickly picked up the book and eagerly examined it even more closely, hoping to find another crimped page. And there was one! Again they were overwhelmed. This time it only took two words! "...l'heekaneis l'aretz... - to enter the Land..."

"That's the answer for me!" he shouted excitedly. "I should apply to make aliyah to the Holy Land now."

The two pleaded with Rabbi Teitz to allow them to keep the book. He refused, saying that the Rebbe had instructed him to carry it with him, but had said nothing about giving it to anyone.

Translated and freely adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from V'rabim Hashiv M'avon and Sichat HaShavua for Yrachmiel Tilles is a founder of Ascent in Tzfas and director of Do not reprint without permission of the author.

Moshiach Matters

Although in chronological order, the advent of Moshiach will precede the Resurrection of the Dead, special individuals will nonetheless be resurrected prior to Moshiach's coming. First and foremost, the Rebbe, my father-in-law, will once again enclothe himself in a body, and return. (In reality, it makes no difference how he comes, whether through the door, the window, or the roof...) He will then gather all the Jewish people together and proclaim, "The time has come to leave Exile. Come, let us go to our Holy Land!"

(The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 2nd day Shavuot, 5710-1950)

  924: Beha'aloscha926: Korach  
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