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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 951
                           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.
        December 29, 2006       Vayigash           8 Tevet, 5767

                           Chanuka and Beyond

The story of Chanuka is familiar to us all, of course: the Maccabees,
the fight against assimilation and for Torah, the small jar of oil, the
miracle of eight days, and the Talmudic injunction to publicize the
miracle. It is, as our prayers describe it, a time when G-d "delivered
the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the
pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous..."

But what happens after Chanuka? After the lights of the menora are no
longer lit and we move into the month of Tevet, a month of (in some
locales) cold and darkness. Where are the lights, but in our memories?

And indeed the month of Tevet might be called a "month of anguish."
True, Rosh Chodesh Tevet - the first of the month - is also the end of
Chanuka. But the joy and light of Chanuka does not seem to carry over,
to suffuse the month. In fact, the anguish, historically, begins even on
the first of Tevet, for on that day, during the times of the Babylonian
siege and destruction, Yechoniah, King of Judah was exiled, along with
the Sages and the nobles of Jerusalem.

Three of the first ten days were so calamitous that many fast on all
three - and the last is one of the public fasts. On the 8th of Tevet,
King Ptolemy ordered the Torah translated into Greek. The problem was
not just that any translation is inadequate; Ptolemy separated
seventy-two scholars, hoping that the variations in translation would
give him ample opportunity to mislead the Jewish people and present a
pretext for ancient pogroms. (Only a miracle, whereby G-d inspired them
to all translate exactly the same, averted a complete tragedy.)

On the 9th of Tevet, Ezra and Nechemyah, who, after the destruction of
the First Temple, led the return from the Babylonian captivity back to
Israel, passed away.

And on the 10th of Tevet, Nebuchadnezzer, King of Babylon, laid siege to
Jerusalem. Three years later he breached the walls (on the 17th of
Tammuz) and three weeks after that, on the 9th of Av, destroyed the
Temple. The 10th of Tevet is the first of the four public fasts
connected with the destruction of the Temple.

So we can ask, why do not the lights of Chanuka illuminate the darkness
of those days?

The answer, of course, is they do. That Chanuka comes first in the
calendar (Kislev is the 9th month, Tevet the 10th) means that it carries
over and influences the next. Indeed, as we noted, Chanuka ends on the
first of Tevet, indicating that in a sense the spiritual illumination
culminates and is most revealed in - Tevet.

What does this mean? If we look at each of the events, we can see how
the lights of Chanuka push away the darkness of early Tevet.

8th of Tevet: the translation of Ptolemy - Chanuka occurred because the
Jewish people refused to deny the holiness of Torah.

9th of Tevet: passing of Ezra the scribe - During the Chanuka period,
the Jewish people studied Torah, taught it to the children, at great
risk and personal sacrifice.

10th of Tevet: siege of Jerusalem - Chanuka culminated in the
rededication of the Temple, the re-lighting of the Menorah,
foreshadowing the ultimate Redemption and the building of the Third

The lesson is simple: The lights of the Menorah are for more than
Chanuka, they are for the dark days that follow, which can be
illuminated through them. The light of the Menora  - Chanuka and beyond.

This week's Torah portion, Vayigash, contains the verse, "And [Jacob]
sent Judah...before him to Goshen - l'horot - to make preparations."
According to the foremost commentaries, Judah was sent to establish a
yeshiva.  (L'horot is from the same root as hora'a which means

When G-d told Jacob to go to Egypt, Jacob first ensured the presence of
Jewish schools. Despite the fact that G-d promised Jacob He would be
with him in the Egyptian exile, only once the yeshivot were established
did Jacob bring his family with him to Egypt, for Jewish education is
the foundation and mainstay of Judaism.

In all times and places where Jews lives, even in the terribly harsh
exile of Egypt, there were centers where Torah was studied, for Torah
study is the life of the Jewish people.

The Egyptian exile was the most severe of all exiles, including the
present one, for several reasons. However, regardless of all the
difficulties, Jews were never without a yeshivas.

The Torah is not a history text-book. Every subject and episode, every
letter of the Torah, offers direction for all times and places.

Some people claim that this is not the time to be sending children to
Jewish day schools; today, afternoon Hebrew school or Sunday school are

The Egyptian exile and this week's Torah portion thus instruct us:
Conditions in Egypt were far more difficult than those at present, but
were disregarded and Torah was studied. They disregarded not only the
severe physical conditions of the exile. They also dismissed the fact
that, because the Torah had not yet been given collectively to all the
Jewish people on Mount Sinai, they were not capable of reaching the
tremendous heights to which we can aspire today.

All of the above applies, too, to the question of support for Jewish
education. There are those who claim that financial conditions are worse
than ever. When conditions improve, they will support Jewish education
and maybe even have the "self-sacrifice" to send their own children to a

We must all remember, in Egypt the exile was far worse. There our
ancestors did not have even stubble for bricks and had to wander through
a foreign land to search for it while Pharoah's taskmasters stood over
them lashing out with their whips. They had no straw, but they had a
proper Jewish education!

     Translated from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe by Rabbi J.
                                                 Immanuel Schochet.

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                          A Mother Observes...
                            by Davida Siegel

There are some experiences in life you simply want to be "special."  You
picture the moment; perhaps a person of experience or wisdom passing
something down to the younger generation.  As the parent, looking on,
hoping the experience will "click..."

For awhile, my husband Mark and I had been promising Ethan that we would
take him to purchase tefilin for his upcoming Bar Mitzva and for life.
We pictured it to be a special day. Initially we were encouraged to go
to a particular Jewish bookstore in  Chicago's Jewish neighborhood.
Later on, we received more information about another place where we
could go that might be even better.

As plans continued to unfold for this long-awaited day, we lovingly
began to put together a group of people who would accompany us in
helping Ethan purchase his tefilin. I was so glad that Mr. Goffen, my
life-long friend Lauren's father, would be able to join us.
Additionally, Ethan's Hebrew school teacher, Mr. Meyers, a wonderful
mentor and friend was also available to assist us with this process. We
set the date to go.  Each man agreed to give so kindly of his time and
love to Ethan. Each did research to make sure that what we were to
purchase would be the best, but give us price options. What a blessing.

Together with all of this joy was a touch of sadness for me and the
question "why."  Why couldn't my own father (or even one of my own
grandfathers) be there? Or my mom?

I picture the joy that each of them would get from Ethan. No doubt my
mother's bias and endless love would radiate. I see my father kvell with
an unfair amount of pride. I see him have patience with Ethan as they
discuss and laugh.  And I see my dad step outside his box to go to
synagogue with Ethan and pray with him... enter his world of structure
and knowledge and understanding.  When Ethan asks him, "Why don't you
believe?"  My dad quietly answers him and smiles. And although he
believes he is too old to change, he goes along with Ethan because he
grew up in a traditional Jewish home and is familiar enough and they can
connect for just that moment. This is a good day!

We arrived at a small holiday art fair at B'Nai Shalom. Ethan's Bar
Mitzvah tutor, Ken Miller, will be there. He is a very kind and special
man.  In addition to Judaica and Jewish art, there was a wonderful
Lubavitcher rabbi there from Chicago Mitzvah Campaign selling kosher
scrolls for mezuzot and tefilin.  Ethan and I stopped by to speak with
him.  Ethan asked many questions.  We all asked a lot of questions and
Rabbi Aron Wolf explained everything, showing us how the tefilin are
made and adding that he purchased scrolls only from certified scribes in
Israel. We must have stopped back at the booth at least three times, by
Ethan's choice, of course.

Gently, Ethan asked me, "What should I do?  I don't want to upset Mr.
Goffen or Mr. Meyers, but I think I would like the tefilin from the
Chicago Mitzvah Campaign booth." I told him that he needed to make the
decision, and that I would tell Mr. Goffen and Mr. Meyers and they would
understand.  Ken Miller purchased a pair of tefilin from Rabbi Wolf.
Ethan was deep in thought about what to do.

We took our last trip back to the booth. Ethan and I stood across the
table from Rabbi Wolf, a  very kind and traditional-looking man with a
long beard. Ethan said to the rabbi, "I don't know which set to buy; the
good set or the better set."  Rabbi Wolf replied saying that he could
not make the decision for Ethan. Ethan looked at me and I said that he
could have either set if he made a commitment to use it for more than
his Bar Mitzva.  I could see him deep in thought.  I LOVE that!  To see
your own child deep in the thinking process... that is a gift.  I
silently watched in awe of his mind working with care. Ethan makes
decisions about a thing he is serious about with passion and that is a
good thing.

So Rabbi Wolf asked him what made him want one pair of tefilin vs. the
other.  And Ethan said, "Well, if I put some money in and my mom and dad
pay some and the better set can last a lifetime, then over a lifetime,
the $50.00 I put in isn't a lot, because I will make a lot more money
than that in my life.  So I think I want the better one."

Rabbi Wolf and Ethan chatted and Ethan picked out a nice bag to hold his
tefilin.  Then Rabbi Wolf congratulated Ethan on his purchase and
decision. Then, Rabbi Wolf said, "Because your parents made an
investment and you made an investment, now I would like to make an
investment in your tefilin."  Ethan looked up at Rabbi Wolf with
curiosity. Rabbi Wolf said he would like to have Ethan's name
monogrammed on his tefilin bag.  "...And I will pay for it and mail it
to you. Do you want your English or Hebrew name?" Ethan said he wanted
his Hebrew name on the bag.

Later, after we left the synagogue with the tefilin, Ethan told me how
excited he was and that he could not wait until his next Bar Mitzva
tutoring session to learn and practice putting them on.  He also said
something to me that I thought was unusual and special for a 12-year-old
boy.  "Mom," he said, "Rabbi Wolf is very warm."  I agreed with him and
told him that I thought it was great that he noticed.

On a very special day, just a few months before our son's Bar Mitzva, we
all grew a bit closer and perhaps grew a little more on that exceptional

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                            THE REBBE WRITES
                       5th of Teves, 5712 [1952]
                         Students' Study Group
                                New York

Sholom u'Brocho [Peace and blessing]:

In reply to your request for a message in connection with Chanukah, in
view of your recent visits I trust I may regard our conversation on that
occasion as having, in part at least, satisfied your request.

However, inasmuch as Chanukah extends to the beginning of this week,
belonging to the weekly Sidrah [Torah portion] of Vayigash, I take this
opportunity to convey to you a thought apropos of this Sidrah, which may
serve as a message not only for the festival of "Dedication," but which
is also of fundamental significance in our daily life.

The Sidrah of Vayigash contains the climax of the story of Joseph and
his brothers. Joseph, as you no doubt recall, had been torn from his
happy home in the Holy Land and delivered into slavery in Egypt.
However, he overcomes all trials and temptations, being guided by the
high moral code he brought along with him from his home. Eventually he
emerges as the Grand Vizier and ruler of all Egypt, who not only saves
his brothers from famine, but also all Egypt and the world around. When
finally his identity is revealed to his brothers he tells them - and
herein lies the key to the great and mysterious drama - not to feel
sorry for all that had befallen him, "For G-d has sent me as a
sustenance for you."

There is a profound message in these words for all humanity and for Jews
in particular. The whole episode may serve as an illustration and answer
to the mystery of our life on this earth. It is man's soul that
represents the essential part of his existence. The soul, which is a
"part of G-d above," is torn from its heavenly abode, its real "Holy
Land," and sent down to the earthly and corporal world (its "Egypt"),
where it becomes largely enslaved by the physical body.

Needless to say, the purpose of it is not to torture the soul. The soul
is sent down to be a "Joseph" who both in slavery and glory remains
loyal to his fatherly home in the "Holy Land." It should never acquiesce
or despair in slavery, but should remember its mission, to become the
ruler of "Egypt" and the giver of sustenance - Divine Food - to his own
body and to all with whom it comes in contact.

The way to achieve this is to be constantly conscious of one's origin
and "home" and always remain receptive to the vibrating influences
emanating from the parental home in the "Holy Land," until the moments
when the shackles of slavery are completely broken and the soul - Joseph
- becomes ruler of "Egypt" - body - the materialistic world, and the
Divine goal is thus fully attained.

I trust that each one of you will try and be a "Joseph" in this sense.

With blessing,

                                *  *  *

                         12 Teves, 5739 [1979]
                          c/o Telshe Yeshivah
                            Wickliffe, Ohio

Sholom u'Brocho:

Your letter of Rosh Chodesh Teves reached me with some delay. In it you
write that you stopped shaving, with the intention to grow a beard.

I trust you have seen the Sefer [book] Hadras Ponim Zoken, whose author
is a talmid [student] of the Mirer Yeshivah, which was published
recently, with Haskomos [approbations] by prominent Rabbonim, on the
great significance and the must and importance of growing a full beard.
The Sefer includes also Teshuvos beruros [clear responses] by Gedolei
Yisroel [great rabbinic authorities] who had been asked for an opinion
in this matter.

May Hashem Yisborach [G-d, may He be Blessed] grant you Hatzlocho
[success] that in addition to preserving the sanctity of Hadras Ponim
you should go from strength to strength in Torah learning and the
observance of its Mitzvos with Hiddur [enhancement], which is also one
of the teachings of Ner Chanukah [the Chanuka lights], kindled in
growing numbers and brightness from day to day, reflecting Ner mitzva
v'Torah Or ["a mitzva is a candle and Torah is light], and may you be a
source of true Nachas-ruach [pride] to your Roshei Yeshivah [deans] and
Mashpiim [mentors].

With blessings,

P.S. Since you have written to me on this matter, it is my duty and
Zechus [pprivilege] to refer you "also" to the Teshuvo "Tzemach Tzedek"
(Yore-Deah, par. 93), as well to his Sefer "Yahel-Or" on Tehillim (in
the Miluim, on the verse "Vehu Rachum," p. 626).

                  What exactly is a Bar or Bat Mitzva?

On the day a boy becomes thirteen he becomes a "bar mitzva," literally
son of commandment; a girl on her twelfth birthday becomes a bat
mitzva--daughter of commandment. From then on they are subject to the
obligations and privileges of an adult as pertains to mitzvot. The
earliest reference to any celebration is by a 15th century authority
saying that a father must make a festive meal on the day his son becomes
a bar mitzva. There is no basis for the contemporary custom of
celebrating with lavish parties.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This coming Sunday, the tenth of Tevet (December 30) is the anniversary
of the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezar, King of
Babylon. The siege eventually resulted in the destruction of the First
Holy Temple in 422 b.c.e.

A number of years ago, someone wrote to the Rebbe requesting of him
instructions in connection with the Fast of the Tenth of Tevet.

The Rebbe's suggestions are as valid now as then and are as follow:

During the fast day, to help insure security and strengthen the Land of
Israel, materially and spiritually, and also for the material and
spiritual benefit of all Jews wherever they are, a special effort should
be made in the areas of Torah study, prayer, and charity.

Charity, in particular, should be given in the morning and afternoon,
and it is especially appropriate to give tzedaka for an institution in

A person who does any of the above mentioned activities throughout the
day is to be praised. And the more he does, the more praiseworthy he is.

If each one of us performs these three important mitzvot to the best
--and even a little better than our ability--then very soon, the promise
will be fulfilled that  "These days will be transformed into days of
rejoicing and gladness."

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Then Judah drew near and said, "My lord - bi adoni..." (Gen. 44:18)

The Hebrew words "bi adoni" may also be rendered "the L-rd is within
me."A Jew must always remember when he prepares himself to pray that he
has an actual part of G-d inside him, his Jewish soul, on whose behalf
he is communing with his Maker.

                                                        (Ohr Torah)

                                *  *  *

G-d has made me - samani - lord of all Egypt (Gen. 45:9)

What was this message to Jacob from his long-lost son Joseph supposed to
impart? Was this news meant to be reassuring? The Hebrew word "samani"
may also be read "sam ani" - "I have caused G-d to be lord of all
Egypt." It is through my public prominence that G-d has become known,
Joseph implied. This indeed was a comforting thought to Jacob when he at
last heard from his beloved son.

                                          (Rabbi Yisrael of Rizhin)

                                *  *  *

And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt
(Gen. 47:14)

When Joseph was sold into slavery, the exile was effectively shortened
from 400 years to 210 years; the last 86 years were the harshest and
most severe. Joseph, who was on a higher spiritual plane than his
brothers, went down to Egypt before them to pave the way. By elevating
the sparks of holiness, the exile was shortened for the entire Jewish

                                                      (Ohr Hatorah)

                                *  *  *

And Benjamin wept upon his neck (Gen. 45:14)

"For the Tabernacle at Shiloh (in Joseph's portion of the land) that
would one day be destroyed," comments Rashi. Why did Benjamin weep over
the destruction of the Tabernacle, located in his brother's portion of
Israel, and not over the destruction of the two Holy Temples, located in
his own territory? Because the sorrow of others should be even more
keenly felt than one's own suffering.

                                       (Rabbi Yechezkel of Kozimir)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Once Rabbi Chanoch Henich of Alexander was having a Chasidic gathering
with his followers on the topic of humility. "If you want to know what
real humility is," he said, "I'll tell you of an incident that happened
to the Chief Rabbi of the Rabbinical Court of Frankfurt on Main.

"The man's name was Abraham Abish and aside from the many hours he spent
occupied with rabbinical duties and scholarship, he occupied himself
greatly with the mitzva (commandment) of helping providing food and
clothing to the poor. It was his custom to make the rounds of the
wealthy citizens of the city and merchants who came to Frankfurt to
conduct business to solicit charity which he later distributed to the
poor, to widows and to orphans.

"One day as he made his rounds he stopped in one of the local inns and
approached a merchant who was visiting Frankfurt on business. 'Excuse
me, my good sir,' began the Rabbi. 'Could you please make a contribution
to help the poor with food and clothing?'

"It seemed as if the merchant hadn't heard, for he didn't so much as
raise his eyes to gaze at the supplicant standing before him.

"Rabbi Abraham, for his part, was too unassuming to announce his name,
and so, he stood before the merchant patiently waiting. He made his
request one more time. The merchant wasn't in the mood to be troubled by
paupers, who seemed never to leave him in peace. He lifted his gaze and
stared at the beggar who had the impunity to interrupt him. 'Go away.
Get out of here and stop bothering busy people.' Rabbi Abraham said not
one more word. He turned and left the inn, never insisting and never
imagining to use his identity to coerce the unwilling donor.

"A few minutes later, when the merchant had finished perusing his
accounts, he rose to leave and reached for his cane, but to his surprise
it was nowhere to be found. This stick happened to be a prized
possession of his and he was very upset to find it missing.

"It didn't take him long to assume that the pauper had stolen it in
revenge. The merchant dashed out of the inn in hot pursuit of the thief.
A few hundred yards away he ran right into the thieving pauper.

" 'Give me my walking stick, you no good thief!' he cried.

" 'I'm sorry, but I have not seen your stick, my good man,' Rabbi
Abraham replied calmly. 'I would certainly never take anything from

"But the merchant's anger, instead of being assuaged, only grew in
ferocity and virulence until he even struck Rabbi Abraham. Still, the
Chief Rabbi of Frankfurt didn't respond with anger; he merely picked
himself up and continued on his mission.

"As Divine Providence would have it, the merchant was delayed longer in
Frankfurt than he had anticipated. When the Shabbat approached he found
himself still in the city. On the afternoon of the holy day all the Jews
gathered to hear some words of Torah, and he decided to join them, for
he had heard that the famous tzadik, Rabbi Abraham Abish would address
the crowd and he very much wanted to hear the great man in person.

"The merchant entered the large hall and raised his eyes to the podium
to catch a glimpse of the rabbi. To his great shock and dismay, he
recognized the man at once, and the terrible, scene of a few days before
appeared before him in a horrible new light.

"Unable to bear the shame, he fainted to the floor. When he regained
consciousness, he was surrounded by the congregants all trying to bring
him to consciousness.

"'What has happened?' they all asked him anxiously. To his great shame,
he related to them the entire incident.

"'You must go to the Rabbi and beg his forgiveness,' was the advice
offered from all sides. The merchant realized that he must do as they

"When the Rabbi had finished speaking he passed through the crowd,
greeting everyone graciously. The quaking merchant stood a little to the
side, speechless with embarrassment, as the Rabbi approached. The rabbi
caught his glance, but said nothing; only his eyes had a glitter of

"Before the merchant could stutter an apology, Rabbi Abraham began
speaking in a calm, conciliatory voice, wanting only to calm the man.

"Please, believe me, I didn't take your stick. I promise you on my word
of honor."

"The Rabbi had no thought that the man might be coming to apologize to
him. For he was so humble that he never considered his own honor above
that of anyone else. The Chief Rabbi of Frankfurt was not above
apologizing yet again to the thoughtless merchant, even before the eyes
of his admiring congregants."

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
Our rabbis, of blessed memory, envisioned the end of our Exile as a
period in which the Jewish people would have to endure many troubles and
sorrows, a time referred to as "the birth-pangs of the  Moshiach."  That
is why, in our daily prayers we entreat G-d "that our eyes should see
Your return to Zion with mercy."  We long for the time when our own eyes
will witness the return to Zion, but we ask G-d to make it come about in
a merciful way, one in which we will be able to withstand the
pre-Messianic tribulations.

                                                   (Imrei Tzadikim)
               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 951 - Vayigash 5767

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