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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 928
                           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.
        July 14, 2006           Pinchas           18 Tamuz, 5766

                            Home Sweet Home

You've been away at camp for the whole summer, or in college out-of-town
for a few years. Or maybe you're married with children of your own.Yet,
you still reminisce about the home in which you grew up. You remember
many of the antics  you and your siblings or friends did there. You can
point out the exact spot where you laid to rest your pet goldfish,
turtle, or bird. You can even detect a faint scent of your family's
favorite dinner as you walk through the kitchen.

Even if your family doesn't live in the house anymore, "just for old
times' sake" you go back, or think of going back, for a visit. "This is
where I used to live when I was your age," you tell your child who's
sitting in the back seat of the car.

"Home is where the heart is," so the adage goes. "My heart is in the
east, though I am in the west," writes Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi, famous
Jewish poet, scholar, and philosopher of the twelfth century.

Why was the rabbi pining for the east? In many parts of the world, due
east is Jerusalem the holy city and the site of the first and second
Holy Temples.

Go to the "Western Wall" in Jerusalem and you'll see where the Jewish
heart really is. Known simply as "The Wall," "koisel," or "kotel"
(Ashkenazic and Sefardic pronunciations of the Hebrew word for "wall"),
Jews from the entire spectrum of life visit it when they come to Israel.

Even if Israel isn't at the top of your list of vacation plans for right
now, when you do get to Israel, you will eventually go to the Wall. And
more likely than not, you'll stand there with tears in your eyes, maybe
even tucking a little note into the cracks and crevices of the ancient

You will be standing there together with Jews who pray three times daily
for Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. You will be standing
with newly arrived immigrants, Israeli soldiers, chasidim, kibbutzniks
and visitors from around the world. You might not even know that this
wall is the last remnant of the Second Holy Temple, or for that matter,
that there was a first Holy Temple, both of which were burnt to the
ground on the Ninth of Av. But you will be there. Because your heart and
your soul know that this is your home. And a homecoming is always sweet.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe said,
"Though our bodies were sent into exile, our souls never were." The fire
of the Jewish soul is eternal. It burns brighter and stronger than any
physical fire that destroyed our Holy Temples. The soul is like a torch
that leads the Jew, through the seemingly unending darkness, over the
highest mountains and into the lowest valleys, through mazes of twisting
roads and streets, until it finds its way home.

During the current three week period of mourning for the destruction of
the Holy Temples, go home - to your soul. Find the flame and fan it,
together with friends and family. The "welcome mat" of the soul are good
deeds, sincere prayer, exploring Jewish knowledge. Come in!

This week's Torah reading, Pinchas, contains a passage that sheds unique
insight on the nature of Moses' leadership qualities. G-d tells Moses
that the time has come for him to pass away. Moses' response is not to
ask anything for himself or for his children. Instead, he asks G-d:
"G-d, L-rd of spirits, appoint a man over the assembly." At the moment
of truth, he shows no self concern. His attention is focused solely on
the welfare of his people.

This is the fundamental quality that distinguishes a Jewish leader. In
general, leadership involves identifying with ideals and principles that
transcend one's own self. If all a person is selling is his own self,
others will not identify with him so easily; for they are concerned with
their own selves. Why should they nullify themselves before the other

Yes, they can be forced to accept authority or they can be bribed. But
then, the person's authority will be dependent on the strength of the
stick or the flavor of the carrot. The people will have no inner
connection to him.

What will inspire a person to willingly accept the authority of another?
A purpose which both the leader and the follower recognize as greater
than his self. When the leader espouses and identifies with an ideal
that gives his life greater meaning and direction, he will be able to
share this ideal with people at large. For every person is ultimately
looking for something more in life than the fulfillment of his personal

A Jewish leader, a Moses, transcends himself to a greater degree. First
of all, he is not concerned with his own personal objectives - even as
an afterthought. Many leaders, though concerned with a purpose beyond
themselves, are still looking for their own payoff. They bear in mind
their own honor, wealth, or self-interest. A Moses is not looking for

But most of all, the purpose with which a worldly leader identifies is
still somewhat intertwined with his own self, for ultimately, what is a
leader looking for? To make the world a better place for all the people
living here. Although he is concerned for others besides himself, his
ultimate goal is how to make his own life better. He merely has the
vision to appreciate that his own life cannot be consummately good until
the lives of others are also improved.

A Moses, by contrast, is concerned with G-d's purpose, not man's. He
wants to make the world a dwelling for Him, not merely a pleasant abode
for mankind. Certainly, when G-d's dwelling is completed, it will also
be very comfortable for man to live in, but that is not his purpose. He
is concerned with G-d's objective, and the identification with that goal
takes him beyond his personal self entirely and makes him the ultimate
paradigm of leadership.

        From Keeping in Touch by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger, adapted from
         the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, published by Sichos In

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                           by Dovid Poltorak

I hold his trembling hand, which is unrecognizably soft. I remember
holding this hand as a child, and it was a hard, tough hand; it was the
hand of a military hero. But today my grandfather's hand is soft in
mine. Today, the hand that led me through some the lessons of youth,
gave me strength and pushed me along as I nervously pedaled and swerved
on my first two-wheeler, holds my hand for strength.

He looks at me and repeats my name soothingly: "Dovid'l, Dovid'l..." He
squeezes my hand with each repetition, as if trying to associate my feel
with my name. He wants me to stay with him. As his awareness fades and
he forgets so many things, my grandfather, may he be well, wants to know
his grandson.

Those eyes, once the sharp eyes of the chief judge in Krasnodar, are now
pale. They are eyes that look into the past and see visions of old, and
are, on a bad day, unaware of their very surroundings. Today, those
liquid eyes focus on me. I wonder if his eyes cut me out of my
surroundings and place me instead in some childhood memory. Maybe he
sees himself in me. Perhaps he is looking for himself in me, in which
case I leave him wanting.

When Deidushka was my age he was a decorated war hero who had just lost
both of his legs fighting the Nazi enemy. He was an accomplished and
educated person. The very thought is sobering and inspiring: a twenty
year double amputee veteran picking up the pieces, finishing his
education, falling in love, getting married and becoming a Judge in his
city. I can only imagine the opposition he faced, both from the outside
and from within. He was opposed from the outside: a Jew living in one of
the most notoriously anti-Semitic cities in Russia generally doesn't
feel too welcomed as a person, never mind as an official. Imagine the
internal opposition: the desperation a kid could feel when dealt the
pain my grandfather suffered. Yet he persevered. And today, 60 years
after he was the age I now am, he looks into my eyes, squeezes my hand
and repeats in a soft and hollow voice, "Dovid'l, main Dovid'l."

He asks about my affairs with genuine interest. But he is headed
somewhere, and I am aware of that as I answer and guide him to the
question that is really weighing down on him. "Dovid'l," he asks in
Russian, "do you get along with Moishe?" I reassure him that I do. When
I was younger we'd fight as brothers usually do, but I dismiss all that
as child-stuff. But Deidushka presses: "Are you sure you get along?
Promise me you'll love him and be close to him the way brothers should
be. Dovid'l, main Dovid'l..." I promise. He smiles and falls back into a
contemplative silence. He then breaks the silence again and tells me,
"Dovid, family is what you'll have forever. It's all you'll have
forever. Love and appreciate your family!"

My grandfather embodies those words. Stripped of the honor of his youth
and aware that his mind is fading, he grasps at one straw: his family.

I feel so small here, with him, my dear grandfather, looking at me for
guidance. He wants me to help him move, to talk to him and to fill in
the blanks in his memory. He wants me to teach him what I learn, and
just be here for him. And I know I must. I know I can't tell him that
his looking to me for inspiration is absurdly ironic. I need to be here
for him. But I know that even in a time like this, maybe especially in a
time like this, I see him as my heroic grandfather. I see his condition
and I am inspired by his perseverance, and I am inspired by his
dedication to his family. He is still my strong Deidushka, if not
showing off his muscles and guiding me on my bike, he is teaching me
with his spirit and his love

I hold his hand and tell him that Moshiach is going to come soon, and
he'll be strong again. He sighs and smiles. "I'm ready for Moshiach," he
says in Yiddish. I know that he is.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                            Sefer Hamitzvot

This handsomely bound volume is the first English translation of the
authoritative 1981 Kapach edition of Rabbi Moses Maimonides' (Rambam)
Sefer HaMitzvot ("Book of Commandments). It is arranged according to the
second half of the yearly study schedule of the book (lessons 147-339)
and annotated with sources and comments. In the appendices to this
volume is a list of the 613 commandments, along with its corresponding
lesson(s). Translated by Rabbi Berel Bell, published by Sichos In

               Healthy in Body, Mind and Spirit - Vol. 2

A guide to good health based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Follow the Lubavitcher Rebbe's prescription for health with this wide
ranging collection of the Rebbe's letters and talks on maintaining
physical well-being. Discover to what extent a doctor's advice should be
followed. When should second opinions be sought? What about trying new
and experimental treatments? Thousands of letters poured into the
Rebbe's office, beseeching his opinion on the most pressing health
matters. Translated by Rabbi Sholom Ber Wineberg, published by Sichos In

                        Bound Volumes of L'Chaim

A limited number of bound volumes of L'Chaim are available for sale. To
find out which years are available call the Lubavitch Youth Organization
office at (718) 778-6000.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
         Freely translated from a letter of the Rebbe addressed
         to "all campers in summer camps, everywhere," written
                three months before the Yom Kippur War.

                              Tammuz 5733

I hope and pray that you are making the fullest use of the present
summer days to gain new strength and strengthen your health - both the
health of the body and the health of the soul, which are closely linked
together. And since the health of the soul is bound up with the Torah,
which is "our very life and the length of our days," and with its
mitzvot, "by which the Jew lives," you are surely doing your utmost in
regard to Torah study and the observance of the mitzvot; in which case
you may be certain for the fulfillment of the promise - "Try hard, and
you will succeed."

I wish to emphasize one point in particular, in connection with the
forthcoming "Three Weeks." You are, no doubt, familiar with the events
and significance of these days. The point is this:

I want you to consider carefully the special merit which Jewish children
have, a privilege which affects our entire Jewish people, to which King
David refers in the following words: "Out of the mouths of babes and
infants You have ordained strength - still the enemy and
avenger" - including also the enemy that has caused the "Three Weeks"
and still seeks vengeance to this day. In other words, the way to
vanquish and silence the enemy is through the study of the Torah, called
"strength" (oz), by the mouths of young children. Indeed, so great is
their power, that our Sages of blessed memory declare: "The whole world
exists only by virtue of the breath of little Jewish children, whose
breath is pure and free of sin," referring to children who have not yet
reached the age of responsibility for wrongdoing, that is, boys and
girls of pre-Bar/Bat Mitzva age.

In this connection it is necessary to bear in mind the words of our
Prophet Isaiah (in the first chapter): "Zion will be redeemed through
justice (mishpat) and her returnees through righteousness (tzedaka)."
"Mishpat," here, means that through the study of the Torah and the
observance of its mitzvot, especially the mitzva of tzedaka, the
Redemption is brought closer. And tzedaka - in the light of what has
been said in the beginning of this letter - includes both tzedaka for
the body and tzedaka for the soul. Tzedaka for the body is, simply,
giving tzedaka to a poor man, or putting money in a tzedaka box. Tzedaka
for the soul is done by helping one's classmates and friends spiritually
- that is, to encourage them in matters of Torah and mitzvot, through
showing them a living example of how Jewish boys and girls should
conduct themselves, and also by talking to them about these things.

Since it is my strong wish, and also great pleasure, to be your partner
in this tzedaka activity, I have sent out instructions to give each and
every one of you a token amount of money in the currency of your
country, which is to be my participation in the said tzedaka campaign.

May G-d bless each and every one of you and grant you success in all the
above, especially in your Torah learning and practice of tzedaka, in a
steadily growing measure, so that even when you return home from camp
and throughout the next school-year (may it be a good one for all of us)
you will - with renewed vigor and in good health, in body as well as in
soul - go from strength to strength in your study of Torah with
diligence and devotion, and that your studies be translated into deeds -
in the practice of mitzvot with beauty; and all this should be carried
out with joy and gladness of heart.

And may we all very soon, together with all our Jewish brethren, merit
the fulfillment of the prophecy that these days of the Three Weeks be
transformed from sadness into gladness and joy.

With the true and complete Redemption through our righteous Moshiach,
"who will reign from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the
earth...and all the earth will be filled with G-d's Glory."

            Why do we dip bread into salt before eating it?

All of the sacrifices were salted before they were offered on the altar
of the Holy Temple. The table at which we eat is likened to an altar and
we are reminded of this through dipping our bread in salt. Salt also
reminds us that the poor should be guests at our table; Lot's wife, who
was turned into a pillar of salt, repre-sented the epitome of Sodom's
wickedness and inhospitality.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
We presently find ourselves in the "Three Weeks" between the Fasts of
the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av.

What is the purpose of a fast? Fasting brings one to repentance. It is
also, according to Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism, the
path by which we can weaken and even eradicate our desires and impulses
toward that which is not good and proper.

Fasting, however, significantly weakens the body, making it difficult to
do even that which we are supposed to do.

The Baal Shem Tov recognized that our bodies are not as strong as they
were in times of old. He encouraged his followers not to abstain totally
from eating or mortify their bodies. Rather, he broadened the term of
fasting to include refraining from a "craving."

By holding ourselves back from gossiping or speaking ill of another
person, for instance, we are "fasting." We are abstaining from a
negative aspect of communication and are also training ourselves not to
continue this bad habit.

If you are one who yells a lot, talking softly may be your form of
"fasting." If you are very impatient by nature, taking the time to count
to ten before blowing up (and then not blowing up) is an effective fast
for you.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman was a disciple of the Baal Shem Tov. When he stated
that fasting is the method by which we can eradicate our bad traits, it
was the Baal Shem Tov's definition of fasting that he encouraged.

This, of course, relates only to times that one wished to take upon
himself a "personal fast." However, the public fast days, defined by the
Torah or our sages, are fast days in the traditional sense. They are
days when we abstain totally from all forms of food and drink.

May the Seventeenth of Tammuz be the last public fast day, and may we be
privileged to celebrate the Ninth of Av all together in the Holy city of
Jerusalem, may it speedily be rebuilt, NOW.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Let the L-rd, the G-d of all living souls, appoint a man over the
congregation (Num. 27:16)

Rashi explains that Moses was asking G-d to appoint a leader who would
be able to understand each person according to that person's needs.
Moses referred to G-d as the "G-d of all living souls." This was to
underline that the leader should be one who loves all Jews in an equal
and fair manner, regardless of their fear of G-d, or position.

                                                    (Kedushat Levi)

                                *  *  *

And the Children of Korach did not die (Num. 26:11)

They did not die, and in every generation Korach's "inheritors" - those
who rebel against the Moses of that generation - are alive and well,
continuing in his path.

                                                   (Sefer HaSichot)

                                *  *  *

The land shall be divided by lot (Num. 26:55)

In the land of Israel there are different kinds of areas: mountains,
valleys, fields, orchards, etc. When one received his share in the
mountains and another in a valley, or one received cornfields and
another orchards, this division of the physical land of Israel reflected
each one's individual relationship to the spiritual land of Israel. This
means that everyone has something unique that relates specifically to
him or her in his spiritual service.

                                                   (Likutei Sichot)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Around the time Herod was rebuilding the Second Temple a man named
Nikanor lived in the Land of Israel. When he heard about the magnificent
restoration of the Holy Temple he wanted with all his heart to join in
the great work and make his own contribution to G-d's House.

He decided that he would have two huge copper gates constructed to lead
from the courtyard to the Holy Temple itself. At that time the city of
Alexandria in Egypt was the center for copper work, and so Nikanor
travelled to Egypt to commission and oversee the job. He was a man of
means, and so after assessing the best craftsmen, he rented a studio and
hired expert coppersmiths to design and execute the project.

The gates were of gigantic dimensions and the work was slow and
painstaking. Finally the doors were completed, and Nikanor couldn't wait
to see his beautiful gates become a part of the Holy Temple. He hired
skilled porters to transport the gates to the port where a ship lay
anchored and ready to sail back to the Holy Land.

At long last the gates were loaded aboard the ship and on their way to
the Land of Israel. For the first few days everything went according to
schedule, but suddenly the weather shifted and a terrible storm blew up.
Enormous, angry waves crashed against the sides of the ship until it was
filled with water and about to sink.

The sailors rushed to lighten the ship's load. The panicked captain ran
to Nikanor, pleading, "You must agree to throw at least one of your
gates overboard. They are the heaviest part of our cargo, and if we are
to have a chance to survive, they must go."

Nikanor wouldn't hear of it. He clung to the doors with all of his
strength. Soon, however, even he could see that his pro-tests were
futile. As Nikanor watched in horror a few hefty seamen gathered on deck
and cast one of the enormous doors overboard. The vessel was about to
right itself, but the pitching of the waves continued unabated and the
ship began to take water once again.

There was no choice. The sailors were about to throw the second gate
overboard when Nikanor cried out in anguish, "If you throw this
overboard, you will have to throw me, too! I will not be parted from
it!" But the sailors seized the one remaining door and with all their
might they cast it into the sea. At the very moment the door hit the
waves, the sea quieted.

Nikanor scanned the glassy sea as far as his eyes could see. There,
floating out on the smooth waters, was the gate, sparkling like gold in
the sunlight. By some miracle it had not sunk into the deep, but was
floating its way to the Holy Land. Nikanor couldn't contain his great
happiness. The gate landed at the quay the same time the ship docked. A
few days later the other door also made its way to the shores of Akko.

The two doors were transported with great celebration, to Jerusalem
where they were installed in a place of honor, in the eastern wall
opposite the Holy of Holies. The gateway which they occupied was given
the name "The Gate of Nikanor."

Many years later when all of the gates of the Holy Temple were covered
in gold, or exchanged for doors of solid gold, the Gates of Nikanor were
left unchanged in memory of the great miracle accompanying their

                                *  *  *

Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa was a great sage who lived during the time of the
Holy Temple. Rabbi Chanina lived a life of poverty, but even though he
was poor, he wanted to donate a gift to the Holy Temple. What could he
give, when he could barely feed his own family? One day Rabbi Chanina
was standing by the roadside watching the other Jews bringing their
sacrifices to the Temple. He began walking down the road, meditating on
his dilemma. Suddenly he noticed, standing by the road, a huge boulder
of an unusually beautiful shape and color. That gave him an idea. "Why,
I could work this stone and polish it until it is a truly beautiful
object. Then it will be a fitting gift for the Holy Temple."

He worked on the stone and when his job was completed, he looked around
for porters to carry it to Jerusalem. But no one would carry it for the
five small coins, which were the only money he possessed. Suddenly five
men appeared from nowhere and immediately agreed to bring his stone to
Jerusalem for the tiny sum of five coins.

In moments Rabbi Chanina stood in Jerusalem with his stone - the porters
had disappeared as quickly as they had appeared. A miracle had occurred
to enable the tzadik to make his gift to the Holy Temple. Rabbi Chanina
ben Dosa donated his five coins to the fund for poor scholars and
returned home a happy and fulfilled man.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
Our Sages taught that the Holy Temple below is positioned opposite the
Holy Temple on high."

                    (Midrash Tanchuma, Parshas Mishpatim, sec. 18.)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 928 - Pinchas 5766

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