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We've all been in this situation: aching feet. Maybe you've been on your feet all day long, just no time to sit down. Maybe you've been shopping - going from one store to another.
Maybe you teach young children - now there's a profession where it's hard to find a chance to sit. Maybe you've been exercising, pounding the pavement. Only what you're really pounding is your feet - toes, heels and arches.
Sometimes it's the shoes we wear. High heels are notoriously bad for the posture, the feet and the back. But even so-called regular shoes can be the worst thing for your feet. Even when they don't pinch, there may just not be enough arch support.
And that's where the real problem lies - flat feet. Flat feet used to be able to keep you out of the infantry. But they can also cause all kinds of pain: foot pain, heel pain, shin pain (splints), knee pain and back pain. It leads to achilles tendonities and plantar fasciitis.
What causes flat feet? Fallen arches. Normally there should be a gap between the bottom of the foot and the ground when you stand. If not, because of heredity, injury, poor shoes or bad walking mechanics, you've got flat feet. And it can really, really hurt.
More often than not, you need an arch support, an insert that goes into your shoes and raises your foot enough to create the arch. Then you can walk, or run, pain free and properly supported.
Our generation has been described as the "heels" - the least worthy, compared to the spiritual heights of our ancestors. Yet we live in the times of the "footsteps of Moshiach" - the period immediately preceding the final and complete Redemption. And we share in the merit of Jacob, our forefather, whose name means "heel."
Indeed, there is a special spiritual value to the foot, Chasidic philosophy explains. The feet can think no lofty thoughts, they cannot inspire or communicate, they cannot keep the body alive - through circulation or respiration, they can build nothing, produce nothing.
Yet the feet have two distinct advantages over the rest of the body, advantages that have a spiritual basis: they do what they're told, when they're told, how they're told, without question. Feet, then, manifest the concept of kabalat ol - accepting the yoke of the Kingship of heaven. The merit of our generation is that although, perhaps because, we cannot comprehend the spiritual depths, we perform the commandments simply because G-d said so.
That, and the second trait of the foot, qualify this generation to bring Moshiach. For without our feet, we accomplish nothing: they take us where we want, where we need to go. Through the feet, our thoughts, our feelings, our plans, our relationships become real, actualized. Because they get us there.
In all of this, though, for the feet to function properly, there must be an arch. Since our feet connect us with the physical world where G-dliness is not yet revealed, there must be a gap, a space between our selves, infused with the spiritual, and the material existence upon which we tread. Otherwise, we may become too rooted in the earth. Otherwise, our steps - spiritual towards Redemption - may become painful.
What then, is our spiritual "arch support"? What enables us to move forward, to have contact with the physical, and yet proceed painlessly, as it were, toward the goal?
The study of Chasidic teachings.
This week's Torah portion, Vayikra, is the first portion in the book of Leviticus. It discusses the various types of sacrifices the Jewish people were commanded to offer during the times of the Tabernacle and later the Holy Temple. In the description of the first few types of sacrifices, the wood used for the fire on the altar is mentioned numerous times.
The Talmud relates that when the Jews returned to Israel from the Babylonian Exile, after the destruction of the First Holy Temple, they found no wood for the altar in the Temple's storehouses. Several families banded together and donated wood. Later, these families were given the permanent honor of supplying the wood for the altar. The Sages decreed that the days when the wood was donated should be celebrated as a minor festival by the families.
Interestingly, there is another instance in which celebrations are connected to wood. The Mishna states: "There were no other holidays as great to all of Israel as the 15th of Av and Yom Kippur." One of the reasons for the joy on the 15th of Av was that this day marked the end of the harvest of trees whose wood would be used to burn the sacrifices.
What is so significant about the wood for the altar that its donation mandated an actual holiday, and its harvest brought such joy to the entire Jewish nation?
The wood was not merely fuel for the fire by which the offerings were burnt; it played a far deeper role in the spiritual function of the Holy Temple, and was an essential element of the sacrifices themselves.
But to grasp the importance of wood, we must first understand the significance of the sacrifices. According to Nachmanides, an individual bringing an offering was to have in mind that the animal being slaughtered was in his place. Only through G-d's good will did He accept an animal in exchange.
There were many different types of offerings, and the thoughts accompanying each of them varied. For example, when a person brought a sin offering, he was required to dwell on thoughts of repentance and make amends for his wrongdoing, whereas the thanks-offerings aroused a deep love for G-d. Each offering was to be brought with its appropriate reflections and meditations.
But the most fundamental thought of all, no matter which offering was brought, was that of giving oneself totally over to G-d. This absolute self-sacrifice transcended any personal emotions or motivations. Only after this requirement was met could the individual go on to express the emotions demanded by the particular offering.
This self-sacrifice was expressed by the burning of the wood on the altar. The Torah likens man to a tree. The burning of the wood symbolized the willingness to sacrifice oneself without personal considerations. For, when bringing an offering, the donor might derive some degree of satisfaction, personal glory or benefit from the act. However, the burning wood reminded him that there should be no such ulterior motives. The celebrations surrounding the provision of wood for the altar therefore epitomized the purest and most lofty aim of the sacrifices themselves.
Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
I Found A Friend
by Dr. Harry A. Krantz
If you are like me you really don't know anything about Chabad. Before continuing, I must tell you something about my religious background - nothing. However, Jewish I am, and Jewish I will always be. As so many others who think as I do, we go to High Holy Day Services and follow our own convenient way for the rest of the year.
The contrived attitude of the community towards Chabad is the same as it always has been; Fear of not knowing! I remember seeing Chasidim walk arm in arm through Boro Park, Brooklyn, wearing long black coats, black hats, and beards disguising their faces. They seemed to be very stern and never smiled in public. I now know I really was looking at myself in "FEAR" because they knew where "G-d" was within me, telling me what to say and what to do. Be righteous and helpful to your fellow man. These are "G-dly commandments.
I was very reluctant to go to the Chabad. I had a very stubborn and closed mind. I recalled how much they affected me when I was a young boy, and the same sense of fear still came over me even as a mature adult. Having found G-d within myself I became more secure and more curious as to who are the Chabadniks?
What part in all this did the Chabad play?
I don't know! I do believe that I was put on this earth to help my fellow man this may have brought me to Chabad, whose basic philosophy is extending a helping hand to those in need and do it with joy.
I had met "Orthodox" co-religionists, but I was more inquisitive about Chabad.
At the Chabad House I was greeted at the door by a very friendly smiling human being. This was the first time I saw the woman of the house. In one arm she was carrying a baby. I extended my hand in a sign of greeting. She never extended her hand! Can you imagine that!? This was earth shattering! I overcame my astonishment when she explained that men and women do not exhibit any affection to each other. They are also separated by a curtain during services. Most women at the Chabad services wear head coverings. These are just a few of the traditional laws.
People who are non traditionalists think it is degrading and a stigma to all women who witness such behavior. As an observer I found that they do not feel degraded nor stigmatized, if anything the opposite is true. They are the strength behind every man. This is the way it was and this is the way it always will be!!
You must accept them for what they are; no changes, no assimilation, only the continuation of the Jewish faith until eternity.
There are many edicts that I don't understand, and I am not going to try. Chasidism has existed for over 300 years. They have been persecuted, lived through pogroms, the Holocaust, and have survived to bring joy and support into Jewish life.
The introduction of song and dance in to their services has been on of the great factors in keeping the Jewish religion alive through these many centuries.
The Chabad families are ample in size, I cannot give any statistics as to the average, but I am sure it is substantial. Now that I have attended Friday night services I enjoy watching the playful antics of the children. Firm discipline leaves once you enter the Chabad House.
I join the standing, sitting, mouthing words, singing and dancing without anyone knowing or caring. They make me feel like a participant, not a spectator, even though I don't know what is going on.
Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays sumptuous meals are provided after services. Songs ring out through the dining room, and a good time is had by all.
Chabad also offers sleeping quarters for those who do not ride on Jewish Holidays.
For those students away from home, Chabad is like an extended family where they can celebrate Jewish customs together with familiar faces on Shabbat and holidays.
There is no membership (all are welcome), no taxation of any kind. Chabad exists mainly on voluntary contributions without solicitation. There are tzedaka coin boxes available to those who may request them. Funds they receive come primarily from the support of the social functions they run throughout the year. There is no support from the parent organization. This is the way that Chabad exists financially.
Their current and most challenging project is the war on drugs. Although their budget is strained they feel they are a part of the U.T. campus and therefore contribute to this cause. The greater donations received the more they can contribute to the needy problems at hand; funds they receive are never squandered on inanimate objects. Life and what happens to it is what Chabad is all about.
I feel that we are on the right track together. Although Rabbi Levertov and I are completely polarized in our religious rituals, I don't feel we are that far apart. A philosophic respect for each other's ideologies is the key to a good friendly, relationship. I will always remain a friend to Chabad.
Dr. Krantz, of blessed memory, wrote this as a letter to his friends and the general Jewish community to encourage them to be supportive of the Chabad Student Center at the University of Texas in Austin.
New Russian Haggadah
The new "Haggadah Shel Pesach" with Russian translation has been revised and enhanced in a number of ways. The entire volume, both Hebrew and Russian, was reset in a clear, crisp typeface. The Russian translation, has been amended to read more smoothly. Detailed instructions have been added for Haggadah users to follow as a guide to practice, giving the origin of the customs at every point in the Seder. Published by F.R.E.E.
The Rebbe's Haggadah: For Youth
A unique Haggadah specially prepared for young people was recently published. Known as The Rebbe's Haggadah in Question and Answer Form for Youth, the Haggadah was created by educator Rabbi Zalman Shanowitz. It contains hundreds of questions and answers in a clear format on both the text of the Haggadah, customs and practices of the Seder.
10th of Nissan, 5741 
To all the Participants in the International Symposium on Jewish Mysticism Sponsored by the Lubavitch Foundation London, England
I was pleased to be informed of the upcoming Symposium on Jewish Mysticism, and extend prayerful wishes for its success. And success, or rather hatzlacha in its true Jewish concept, is rooted in the Torah, which insists on the primacy of action - "the essential thing is the deed."
Mysticism, in general, has a variety of connotations, but Jewish mysticism must necessarily be defined in terms of specific topics that have to do with the nistar [hidden] of Torah - one of the two primary facets of the Torah: nigleh [revealed] and nistar, the revealed and the hidden.
Needless to say, there can be no dichotomy between the two, because it is One Torah, given by One G-d, to the "one people on earth."
According to the Baal Shemtov's interpretation, the words "one people on earth allude to the mystic nature of the Jewish soul that is endowed with the capacity to reveal the oneness in the multiplicity of earthly things.
Jewish mysticism teaches that the purpose of the soul's descent to earth is to reveal the harmony that is inherent in the created world, beginning with the small world, namely, man - a creature of nigleh and nistar, of a body and soul. Inner personal peace and harmony can be achieved only through the supremacy of the soul over the body, since in the nature and scheme of things, the body can be made to submit to the soul - willingly, and in the case of the true mystic even eagerly; but never vice versa.
Jewish mysticism helps to realize the said purpose of the soul by teaching it how to recognize the spirituality of matter, and that in every physical thing, even in the inanimate, there is a "soul," which is the creative force which has created it - a being out of non- being - and continuously keeps it from reverting back to its former state of non-existence.
It is this "spark" of G-dliness that is the true essence and reality of all things, and this spark is released and revealed when physical matter is used for a sublime purpose or deed in accordance with the Will of the Creator, as, for example, in the performance of a mitzva (tefilin made of leather, etc.).
One of the aspects of Chabad is to reveal and expound the esoteric aspects of the Torah and mitzvot so that they can be comprehended by the three intellectual faculties - chochma, bina, daas [wisdom, understanding, knowledge], and reduced to rational categories, down to the actual performance of the mitzvot, showing how, in the final analysis, G-d can be "comprehended" better by action (the performance of mitzvos [commandments]) than by meditation, which is one of the cardinal differences between Jewish and non-Jewish mysticism.
As we are about to celebrate Pesach [Passover], the Festival of our Freedom, we are reminded that yetzias Mitzrayim [the exodus from Egypt] (in the sense of metzarim, constraints) is a continuous process of Jewish living, gaining an evergrowing measure of true freedom through the everyday experience of Torah and mitzvos with emphasis on actual deed.
What is the difference between cleaning for Passover and "spring cleaning"?
A lot! The commandment to "clean" for Passover comes from the commandment to neither see nor possess any chametz - leavened products. So, the object of cleaning for Passover is to rid your property of any chametz that you will not put away and sell for the duration of the Passover holiday. This includes cleaning out drawers, closets, pockets, etc., in which food crumbs might have accumulated, but does not include general cleaning, though many people find that before Passover is the best time for doing "spring" cleaning.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The Mishna states two opinions as to when we must begin studying the laws of an upcoming holiday. One opinion is 30 days before the holiday, while the other is two weeks.
Although the first opinion is the accepted one, it is appropriate to also reassess and intensify our efforts now that we are less than two weeks before the holiday. Just as we must make an effort to study the Passover laws in advance of the festival, we must also make efforts to provide others with their Passover needs, giving money to maot chitim, the special charity associated with Passover. Concerning the special charity for Passover needs, the Rebbe said:
"Although surely one gave thirty days before Passover, as the Passover holiday grows nearer one must reassess and increase his donations.
"Similarly, in regard to the size of one's donations, one must reassess one's earnings and give according to the nature of the blessings G-d has provided. Giving in this manner will not cause a person any losses. On the contrary, as G-d sees the extent of one's generosity, He will provide him with more blessings. A person who gives without reservations and limitations will receive Divine blessings that know no bounds.
The above is connected with the Prince who brought his offerings on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, Nachshon ben Aminadav. Aminadav can refer to generosity, the meaning of the word 'nadav.' Nachshon jumped into the sea, giving himself over with self-sacrifice, serving G-d without limitations. Thus, Nachshon ben Aminadav reflected how our generosity must be expressed without limitation, giving in a miraculous manner.
"This will transform everything undesirable. Just as Nachshon's jumping into the sea, caused the sea to split and led to the final and most complete phase of the Exodus from Egypt, so too, our unbounded gifts to tzedaka will bring near the redemption and indeed transform all the negative influences into good."
May the Rebbe's words be actualized immediately so that we can all celebrate together in the Holy Land.
If any person sins through ignorance against any of the commandments of G-d...and does any of them (Lev. 4:2)
There are times when even a mitzva can be considered a transgression. If a person fulfills a commandment of G-d, with full knowledge that he is doing a mitzva, yet he thinks he is doing a great favor to G-d by his compliance - this attitude is in itself sinful.
And if a person should sin...by doing one of the commandments of G-d, concerning things which ought not to be done (Lev. 4:27)
Two disciples of the Maggid of Mezeritch once chanced upon each other. Naturally, the conversation soon turned to matters of Torah. "Oy," sighed the first. "What will be with us after 120 years? How will we be able to face our Maker, having committed so many transgressions during our lifetimes?" "I'm not worried about my sins," replied the second. "We have been granted the path of teshuva [repentance] to take care of those. What concerns me is our mitzvot. How will we be able to appear before G-d and defend such paltry mitzvot as we have to our credit.."
And G-d called to Moses (Lev. 1:1)
We learn about the various offerings and sacrifices to teach us that we must be willing to make sacrifices, both monetary and otherwise, to afford our children a proper Jewish education. Furthermore, a child's earliest and most precious years must be devoted to Torah study, without regard for later professional choices. For this reason, young children just beginning their Torah studies start with the book of Leviticus.
If any one of you bring an offering to G-d (Lev. 1:2)
Chasidic philosophy interprets this verse to mean that the personal offering each one of us brings to G-d must truly be "of us," from our innermost part. Yet a person might hesitate, thinking that a mere mortal can never bridge the gap between the finite and infinite. We must therefore remember that our relationship with G-d is, in actuality, dependent only on our initiative. Once that initiative is taken, nothing can stand in the way of communion between man and G-d.
(The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe)
Many years ago, in the time when the Holy Temple stood, there lived in Jerusalem two storekeepers named Rabbi Elazar ben Tzadok and Abba Shaul ben Botnit.
The two men were neighbors and friends and had known each other most of their lives. But in addition to being friends, they shared a wonderful and rare character trait - absolute and strict honesty.
It is related in the Talmud that as a favor to their fellow Jews, these two men would prepare stores of wine and oil before every holiday so that the people of Jerusalem would have what they needed to celebrate the holidays properly.
Tens of thousands of Jews would stream into Jerusalem for the holidays and would be welcomed into homes throughout the city. With so many guests, it was no wonder that their gracious hosts would sometimes run out of oil or wine during a festival.
Whenever that happened, they could go to Rabbi Elazar or Abba Shaul and take what they needed. Of course, no money would pass hands on a festival, but there would be no lack of those two necessities to prepare for the festive meals.
Even during the intermediate days of the pilgrimage festivals of Sukkot and Passover, the two generous merchants would prepare in advance and make their goods available to those in need so that they could spend their time studying Torah.
Not only did they practice these deeds of great kindness, but even on regular workdays they were outstanding in their adherence to the mitzva of honesty. When they would finish pouring the contents of one of their containers into a customer's container, they would sit their container on top of that of the customer and allow the dregs of the jug to drip into the customer's receptacle. Only then were they sure that they had given the customer everything that was due him.
Despite their stringencies, the two rabbis feared that a bit of oil and wine would still cling to the edges of the jugs. So what did they do? Each man had a special container into which he would pour the last tiny drops. Over many years, they accumulated three hundred barrels of oil and three hundred barrels of wine.
One day, they decided to bring all of these barrels to the Holy Temple. After all, they did not consider it their property, yet they could not give it to the customers either. They decided to consecrate it to the Holy Temple. When the porters arrived, they were met by the treasurers of the Temple.
"What have you brought?" they asked.
"We have brought three hundred barrels of wine and three hundred barrels of oil for use in the Holy Temple. It has taken us many years to accumulate it, allowing it to drip from the sides of our jugs. We did not want to benefit from anything which does not belong to us, and we couldn't give it to our customers."
"It was certainly not necessary to collect those small leftovers," remarked the treasurers. "Your customers understand that tiny drops adhere to the sides of your jugs, and they expect there to be some waste."
"Nevertheless," the men continued, "We don't want anything that is not rightfully ours."
"Since you wish to keep such a high standard, we will accept your offering. The oil and wine will be used for the good of the community. We will sell them and from the profits we will dig wells for the pilgrims to have water on the festivals. The residents of the city will also be able to use them. So you see, even your own customers will benefit from your offering, and your own minds can be at ease."
The two merchants left the precincts of the Holy Temple with hearts full of joy, knowing that they never departed from their customs of strict honesty and kindness.
"In Nissan our ancestors were redeemed, and in Nissan they will in the future be redeemed," say our sages (Talmud, Rosh Hashana 11a, Midrash Shmot Rabba 15:11). More specifically, the Redemption that started with the exodus from Egypt was incomplete for it was followed by further exile and suffering. But the process of Redemption that started then continues till now and will be completed in the true ultimate Redemption with the coming of Moshiach.