Holidays   Shabbat   Chabad-houses   Chassidism   Subscribe   Calendar   Links B"H
The Weekly Publication for Every Jewish Person
Archives Current Issues Home Current Issue
                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 965
                           Copyright (c) 2007
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
                  Electronic version provided free at:
                  Palm-Pilot version provided free at:
                    To receive the L'CHAIM by e-mail
                  write to:
                              Subscribe W1
   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        April 13, 2007           Shmini           25 Nisan, 5767

                             The Can Opener

There are lot of household appliances we take for granted. That is,
until we need them. Then we search desperately and bemoan the absence of
the one appliance we need.

Let's look at, for example, the can opener.

Before the can opener, there had to be, of course, the metal can. Before
refrigerators, preserving food was a major concern, particularly for
those going on long sea voyages. And so in 1813 Peter Durand invented a
metal can for the British Navy. His instructions for opening the cans?
"Cut round the top near the outer edge with a chisel and hammer."

About fifty years later, thinner steel cans came into use, and the can
opener could be invented. In 1858 Ezra Warner patented one that looked
like a bent knife. The tin can with a "key," like you still see on
sardine cans, was patented in 1868.

The can opener we're familiar with, even in electric models, the kind
that has a cutting wheel that rolls around the rim, was invented in
1870. Later on, a magnet to hold the lid was added, and in 1931 the
first electric can opener was put on the market.

A method for preserving food for use on long journeys is invented. But
that very method makes the food inaccessible until something else is

Torah is the food of the soul; it sustains us on the long journey toward
making the world a dwelling place for holiness, a journey to the

The "can," that which preserves the food, keeps it fresh for the long
journey, is Torah study, adult education classes, audio classes, Torah
websites - the burgeoning use of technology to make Torah accessible at
so many levels.

But according to the analogy, opening the can was often difficult and
laborious. Indeed, sometimes the can couldn't be opened - the food was
preserved, but inaccessible!

How does that fit with our understanding of Torah study today? Surely
there are many "can openers," so to speak!

Actually, our situation has not changed much since the times of the Baal
Shem Tov (founder of the Chasidic movement) and Rabbi Shneur Zalman
(founder of Chabad Chasidism) over 200 years ago. For study,
scholarship, adult education classes, etc., without the right "can
opener" still simultaneously preserves the "food," Torah itself, and
makes it inaccessible.

How so?

In the times of the Baal Shem Tov, scholarship often led to arrogance:
the learned looked down on the simple Jew, disparaging their service and
heart-felt devotion. The study of Torah became a concealment of the
Torah, for Torah became an academic subject, the Divine, spiritual
essence covered, blocked by a metal (heart-dulling) container. Chasidut,
especially as developed by Rabbi Shneur Zalman, served as the spiritual
"can opener," so to speak,  revealing the G-dliness within the
apparently lifeless study.

Then, too, adult education classes, internet study, etc., can lead to a
false sense of competence. Because everything's available, in print or
online, learning becomes self-contained, self-validating. Expertise
becomes instantaneous, and egotistic.

For this, too, Chasidut is the "can opener": its mystical insights place
law, understanding and practical mitzva observance in the proper
relationship and context, inspiring us to action.

The insights of Chasidut open up all other forms of Torah study,
revealing the holy, G-dly dimension, so that Torah, far from being an
intellectual exercise, infuses life into every aspect of daily life -
emotional, intellectual and physical.

The "can opener," that which makes the food accessible, is Chasidut.

"And it came to pass on the eighth day...and Moses and Aaron went into
the Tent of Meeting, and then went out and blessed the people. And the
glory of G-d appeared before all the people," we read in this week's
Torah portion, Shemini.

The seven days of consecration had passed; it was already the eighth
day, and the Divine Presence had not yet come down to rest upon the

The Jewish people were getting nervous. Had all their hard work been in
vain? G-d's Presence in the Sanctuary would indicate that the sin of the
Golden Calf had been forgiven. What was wrong? Maybe they hadn't
followed G-d's instructions properly...

As they were to find out, the only thing missing was Aaron's
participation. For there is an essential difference between the service
of Moshe and the service of Aaron the priest, and both were necessary in
order for G-d's Presence to descend.

Moses' Divine service flowed from above to below; his function was to
draw G-d's holiness down into this world. This is reflected in the fact
that the Torah was given precisely through Moses, who brought it down
from heaven and presented it to the Jewish people.

The direction of Aaron's Divine service, on the other hand, flowed
"upward," as reflected in his kindling of the Sanctuary's menora.

His function was to elevate and raise the Jewish people towards G-d, by
offering the sacrifices and performing the other services in the
Sanctuary. Both thrusts - upward and downward - are required in order to
effect G-d's plan of establishing a "dwelling place down in this world."

G-d imbues the world with holiness so that we, His creations, may be
refined and elevated. Once the Torah was brought down by Moses, the
second step was necessary, that of actually performing the service in
the Sanctuary and meeting Him half way, as it were. For it is only when
both thrusts are present that the dynamic process is complete, and the
maximum level of holiness is attained.

The practical lesson to be derived from this is that a Jew must emulate
Aaron if he sincerely wants the Divine Presence to permeate his being.

Aaron, we are told, "loved peace and pursued peace, loved [G-d's]
creatures and brought them closer to Torah." Dealing in such a manner
with our fellow man not only brings benefit to others but to ourselves
as well, for, as noted before, it is the "upward" thrust that causes
G-d's Presence to descend and rest on the works of our hands.

                   Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Vol. 7 of the Rebbe

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                          Snorkling and Study
                           by Deanna Zyndorf

Let me start off by saying that I never intentionally planned on going
to Key Largo for some Jewish spiritual retreat. I admit that I'm a
conservative Jew, who like many non Orthodox Jews, doesn't keep strictly
Kosher or go to services regularly.  Growing up and living in a city
where you can't distinguish the Jews from the non-Jews and people view
not eating bread on Passover as a sign of true religious devotion, I
could not understand why the strictly religious Jews, the Orthodox Jews,
refused to get with the times.  Why do men continue to resemble
storybook characters like Mr. Sowerberry from Oliver Twist, with their
ridiculously large top hats and suits? And don't the women ever turn on
the television or glance at fashion magazines, at least at the checkout
counter at the local supermarket? In the 1850s, women began to wear
bloomers and then pants in the 1920s to 30s.  Yet these Orthodox women
continue to sport their long skirts and unrevealing shirts-not to
mention, the married women wear wigs or scarves to cover their hair.
These bizarre fashion statements, among other things, perplexed me.
Hadn't society reached a cultural liberation in which everyone could
just do his or her own thing?

One day in December out of the blue, I got a call from the Chasidic
Rabbi in Toledo, Ohio, informing me of a full scholarship offered by
Bais Chana for a Jewish spiritual retreat in Key Largo with other female
college students.  When Rabbi Shemtov mentioned that the deadline for
the application was the next day, the only thing I thought was:
"Spiritual retreat, resort in Florida, warm weather."  I'm from Ohio.
It didn't take much to convince me to book a plane flight to Miami and
mount a bus with a bunch of other Jewish women to the Marriott hotel in
Key Largo a few weeks later.

Less than a couple hours later, I step off of the cool bus and into the
pleasant Florida weather where I soon settle into the reclusive yet
charming hotel.  I share a room with three other women from different
backgrounds: one is from Russia, another from Uzbekistan, and one from
South Africa.  Less than an hour after leaving our suitcases in our
rooms, everyone comes together and meets each other for dinner in the
conference center, where we practically do everything together for the
next week.  And if my roommates' cultural diversity shocked me, then the
diversity of the women in the conference center left me flabbergasted.
Not even in visiting New York City, referred to as the melting pot, did
I see such a high concentration of people from all over the world greet
each other with such warmth and openness.  It was like one big Jewish
family reunion, complete with food, spiritual exploration and
discussion, and bonding time.  From waking up in the morning until
falling asleep at night, we grew stronger and wiser as we delved into
our Jewish identity as "the chosen people."

During various classes, such as Tanya with Rabbi Friedman or studying
the Kabbala with Rivka Slonim we discussed Judaism not only from a
religious and historical standpoint but also from a very personal one.
When exploring the story of Rachel and Leah, we related their distinct
personality differences to ours, how each of us has both Rachel's
ability to materialize relationships and Leah's tunnel vision and power
to transform a whole city.  In fusing the traits of each sister into our
approach to life, we have the power to conceive and to accomplish
greatness in whatever we pursue in our personal or professional lives.
The more we explored such Kabbalistic aspects as well as more physical
manifestations of Judaism, such as why married women hide their hair, we
came to a much greater appreciation of even the minute or seemingly
trivial aspects of Judaism.  Before classes in the morning, between
classes during the day, and after classes at night, the women would
congregate and chat about what really matters: the spiritual self.

This inner exploration that bonded us women also led us to explore and
to admire the outer beauty of the universe.  When we weren't in the
conference center, we spent time taking advantage of the relaxing and
invigorating surroundings.  With the beach at our fingertips, a sunset
that burned vibrantly rich colors in the sky, and the opportunity to go
snorkeling, jet skiing, swimming, parasailing, you name it, boredom
became a foreign territory.  We were too immersed in enjoying the beauty
of life to lose ourselves to superficiality or negativity.  The bond
that we shared helped us not only to relate to one another, but also to
understand how each and every one of us is a piece of the great puzzle
and chosen to follow G-d's will.  However abstract this notion of will
versus human desire seemed before having gone to Key Largo, I left the
retreat particularly struck with the relevancy of destiny and fate in my
life.  At what point do coincidences become far more significant than
mere coincidence?  Quite simply, for anyone curious about learning about
Judaism, spending time at a resort in Florida, or coming to better
appreciate the beauty of nature, I encourage you to embrace this
opportunity as something much more than transitory.  This experience
will widen your eyes unto a world far more magnificent and mysterious
than our minds can ever fathom.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                     Women's Retreat in Berkshires

From April 22-26, 2007, Jewish women of all ages and backgrounds will
explore the Ten Sefirot: A Guide to the Powers of the Soul. Participants
can attend any or all of the five-day Jewish study retreat being held at
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in the breathtaking Berkshire
Mountains. Top educators, Rabbi Manis Friedman, Shimonah Tzukernik, and
others, will cover Kabbala, Talmud, Bible, prayer, Jewish traditions,
laws and ethics, as well as relationships, the male-female dynamic, and
the complexity of the spiritual self. Boating, tennis, hiking, fitness
workshops and massage are all available. No previous Jewish education is
necessary. Visit for more info; email to; or call 800.473.4801 (718.604.0088 outside US &

                             New Emissaries

Rabbi Yosef Y. and Sarah Refsun are opening a new Chabad House in
Charlston, South Carolina. Their activities will include adult
education, holiday programs and youth activities. Rabbi Zalman and Hindy
Gurevitz are relocating soon to Morgantown, West Virginia, where they
will be opening a Chabad Center for the students and faculty of West
Virginia University. Another new Chabad House on campus is being opened
by Rabbi Boruch Sholom and Chanie Kantor at Temple University in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Elad area council is giving the local Chabad House, run by Rabbi
Yosef Yitzchok Silberman, a new building in a new area of the city,
called "Quarter A." The Chabad House is already running a city library
for local residents, which has around 2,000 books, thousands of Torah
audio cassettes and videos, and a large computerized database of
information on the responsa project.

The council allotted a building for the Chabad House when they saw how
successful their projects are. These projects include regular
farbrengens and shiurim with leading Rabbis and teachers.

                                               (SOURCE: COL.ORG.IL)

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                     Freely translated and adapted
                      11 Menachem Av, 5710 (1950)

Greetings and blessings,

...With regard to what you wrote - that you wanted to write a longer
letter but refrained from doing so because I am very busy: I want to
assure you that I am always happy to receive detailed letters and I read
them with the appropriate concentration. It may, however, happen that my
reply will be delayed because of the large amount of work. I would like
that, in such an instance, you not be offended and indeed, you probably
will not become offended.

In continuation of my previous letter, whose content emphasized working
with others, I would like to add several lines about the nature of the
work which every person must and can achieve with himself. As my revered
father-in-law, the Rebbe (hk"m), once said in his talks: "We must work
with others, but we may not forget about ourselves."

Nevertheless, the yetzer hara (evil inclination)  is aptly called "the
clever one," and therefore approaches every individual according to his
particular character. If it sees that a person has abilities in communal
activities (the field of social work), it tells him: "Why should you
work on yourself? Saving lives supersedes everything. And besides, if
you can make others more observant, there is no need to take care of
one's own Divine service."

This is what the Rebbe sought to clarify, that one can't let himself be
convinced by the words of "the clever one": one must always examine
oneself to see if all the aspects of his conduct are as they should be,
as mandated by the Torah and its mitzvos (commandments) , as clarified
by Chassidus.

In general, one's Divine service with one's own self involves three
dimensions: Torah study, service (prayer), and deeds of kindness. All of
these must be performed as avodah, labor, working on oneself with
strenuous exertion. As long as one does not exert himself, his Divine
service is not being conducted as it should. As stated in Tanya, ch. 15,
the battle with the yetzer hara requires that one struggle to advance in
his Divine service] far more than his nature motivates him. Only then]
is he referred to as "a servant of G-d."

Every person must carefully judge the extent to which he carries out the
awesome battle with the yetzer hara, as clarified at length in Tanya,
ch. 30.

I hope you will not take offense at my writing openly. I await hearing
good news from you, both in your work on yourself and your work with

Wishing you all forms of good and with blessing to you and your

                                *  *  *

                      23 Menachem Av, 5710 (1950)

Greetings and blessings,

In reply to your letter of the Friday preceding Shabbos Nachamu which
brought the news that you are settled in an appropriate position:

Thank you for the good news. May G-d grant you the merit of always
bearing only good news both regarding your individual situation and your

I mention "your surroundings" based on the ruling of Maimonides (Hilchos
Deos 6:1) which states that: "Man's inherent tendency is that his
character and conduct are influenced by his friends and comrades....
Therefore a person should join together with the righteous and reside
with the wise...."

There Maimonides is speaking about a person's character as a recipient,
which is the first stage of his development. Immediately thereafter, he
must also become a source of influence for others, as my revered
father-in-law, the Rebbe (hk"m) requested in his talk printed in Kuntres
Yud-Beis Tammuz, 5710, sec. 3: "See to it that you yourself are alive
and make others alive."

Since this goal is demanded of us, we are certainly given the potential
to achieve it. If he would only desire, each one of us will be able to
shine light within his surroundings. The meaning of "light" in this
context is solely the Torah and its mitzvos (commandments), as it is
written: "For a mitzvah is a candle and the Torah, light."

Signing with blessings and with greetings,

        From "I Will Write It In Their Hearts," translated by Rabbi
                         Eli Touger, published by Sichos in English

         Why is Shalom Aleichem- "Peace unto you, angels" sung
                    before kiddush on Friday night?

Since in the hustle and bustle of Shabbat preparations, members of the
household might irritate one another, the angels are called upon to
restore peace. Also, according to the Midrash, when returning home from
the synagogue, we are escorted by two angels, one good and one evil.
When they enter the home and see everything beautiful and serene, the
good angel blesses the family, and the evil one must answer "amen."

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This Shabbat afternooon, we begin the cycle of study of Ethics of the
Fathers that will customarily continue until Rosh Hashana. The opening
lines of Chapter One express a fundamental and axiomatic concept in

"Moses received the Torah from Sinai and passed it on to Joshua; Joshua
to the Elders; the Elders to the Prophets; and the Prophets passed it on
to the Men of the Great Assembly."

Why is it important for us to know this chain of transmission? To teach
us that the Torah we have in our possession today is the very same Torah
that was revealed to Moses thousands of years ago. And, as links in the
ongoing chain of tradition, it is our duty as Jewish parents to transmit
the Torah to our children.

The Torah has an infinite number of facets. Some parts are narrative,
others are legal codes, while other sections are allegorical. The Five
Books of Moses, Talmud, Midrashim, Shulchan Aruch, Chasidut - all are
part and parcel of the G-dly body of knowledge we call Torah.

Some parts of the Torah were meant to be written down; others were
transmitted orally until the proper time came to put them into writing.
(This is one reason why the non-Jewish "Bible" bears little resemblance
to the Torah; ignorance of the Oral Tradition has led to many false
interpretations and absurdities over the millennia!)

At Sinai, Moses received the entirety of Torah with all its potential
for extrapolation, "even that which the scholar would innovate in the
future." An halachic decision rendered today is Torah, revealed to man
according to a Divinely-inspired "timetable" of revelation. This process
will reach its culmination in the Messianic era, when Moshiach will
teach the world a new and deeper dimension of Torah, as it states in
Isaiah 51:4: "For Torah shall proceed from Me, and I will make My
judgment suddenly for a light of the people."

May it happen at once.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Shimon HaTzadik... used to say: "The world stands upon three things -
upon Torah, upon Divine service and upon acts of kindness." (1:2)

This Mishna refers to the author of its message as Shimon HaTzadik - the
Righteous. A truly saintly, righteous person is not satisfied with
working upon himself only, but makes an effort to influence the world as
well, as the verse states, "G-d is righteous and loves righteousness."

                                             (Biurim l'Pirkei Avot)

                                *  *  *

Yose ben Yoezer of Tzreida said: "Make your house a meeting place of the
Sages; sit in the dust at their feet; and thirstily drink their words."

Whereas Yose ben Yoezer's teacher aimed at perfecting the person
himself, Yose ben Yoezer instructed his disciples to aspire to an even
higher level - he taught how a person is to permeate even his house with
love and awe of G-d.

                                            (The Maharal of Prague)

                                *  *  *

Yose ben Yochanan of Jerusalem said: "Let your house be wide open; treat
the poor as members of your own family..." (1:5)

Rabbi Yose ben Yochanan continues the theme of perfecting one's house.
In order for holiness to permeate one's home, it is insufficient to
merely love Torah. The love of Torah must be combined with the love of
one's fellow Jew, expressed in acts of kindness. However, this must be
done in such a way that one's hospitality will not result in undesirable
negative consequences.

                                            (The Maharal of Prague)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Yankel the innkeeper lived in an isolated hamlet for so long that he
hardly remembered that he was a Jew. Shabbat was a word he hardly
recalled. Day and night he served the Polish peasants who bought drinks
in his little inn. Nothing new ever happened and one year slipped
unnoticed into the next.

One day, however, a stately-looking Jew entered Yankel's inn and
disturbed Yankel's quiet existence. This visitor was none other than the
famous tzadik, Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov, who had leased a hut in the
middle of a forest in order to meditate and pray in the stillness of the
woods. At times, however, he came to the inn to purchase food, and that
is how he came to know Yankel.

When the tzadik had first entered his inn, something deep inside Yankel
stirred and prompted him to say to the rabbi, "You know, Sir, I too, am
a Jew."

"How can you live in a place where there are no other Jews?" the tzadik
queried him. "Why, it seems you have even forgotten our holy traditions.
My poor brother, why, even the animals of Jews refrain from work on the
Shabbat. Can you do even less than that?"

Yankel blushed at Rabbi Moshe Leib's words. "But, Rabbi," he continued,
"I have to stay open on Shabbat or the peasants buy their drinks
elsewhere, and I will be destitute!"

"Nevertheless," Rabbi Moshe Leib insisted, "you must close on Shabbat.
How can a holy Jewish soul do less than the donkey of a Jew who is kept
from working on the Sabbath day?"

When Yankel saw that the tzadik was adamant, he began to think and he
resolved to close the inn on Shabbat.

Yankel's announcement provoked a bitter reaction from his customers. "If
you refuse to sell us liquor, we'll...we'll... complain to the landlord!
He'll throw you out! You can't do this to us!"

Yankel knew they were as good as their words -- particularly when it
touched the issue of vodka. He walked deep into the forest until he
found the hut of the tzadik. "The peasants are threatening to ruin me,"
Yankel cried.

"Don't worry. Bolt the doors. If the landlord questions you, do not
hesitate to tell him that your G-d commanded Jews to keep the Sabbath
day holy," replied Rabbi Moshe Leib.

The innkeeper was very frightened, but he resolved to do as the tzadik
said. Shabbat arrived and Yankel bolted the door of his inn. The
peasants arrived and began to pound on the door and windows trying to
get in. Finally, the voice of the landlord could be heard outside,
demanding that Yankel open up the inn.

Yankel had no choice but to open, and it was a very angry poritz who
entered the inn crying, "Who do you think you are, denying vodka to your
customers!? Why else did I lease this inn, except to make a profit?"

"Sire," began a frightened Yankel, "surely you know I am a Jew. Just
recently I was told by a holy Jew that our Torah forbids us to work on
the Sabbath day. That is why I have closed the inn today."

The directness of the reply intrigued the landowner. "Where is this
person? Bring him to me!"

Soon, Rabbi Moshe Leib was standing before the landlord. "Tell me, Jew,
does this prohibition against working apply to a Jew who is in danger of
losing his livelihood?" he asked, in a cutting tone.

"Sire, it applies even in such a case," was the tzadik's reply.

"Why do you torment this man? I doubt your answer would be the same if
it applied to you. I will find out, and if you are really sincere, I
will permit the inn to close on the Sabbath." The landlord left, a plan
hatching in his mind.

The following Shabbat, the landowner rode into the forest with a bag of
gold coins. When he saw Rabbi Moshe Leib leaving his hut, he scattered
the coins on the floor of the forest and waited to see what would
transpire. At first the tzadik passed right by the coins, but then he
returned and examined them closely. The landlord waited gleefully for
the fatal moment when the Jew would eagerly scoop them into his hands.
But no, he continued walking.

The landower then rushed out of his hiding place. "I am very impressed,
and I will keep my end of the deal. But tell me, why did you first
ignore the money and then bend down to examine it?"

"I will explain," began Rabbi Moshe Leib. "At first, I ignored the
money, for it was Shabbat. But then, I began to think how I needed the
money to rescue many imprisoned Jews. Perhaps that mitzva overrides the
prohibitions of the Shabbat.

I became confused, and then I prayed to G-d to give me direction.

Suddenly I understood. G-d could certainly provide me with the money in
a permissible way. Sire, if I had taken or hidden the money, you would
not have understood my motives. You would have assumed that I was taking
it for my own desires. I have always scrupulously observed the Shabbat,
and now Heaven has protected me from coming to any harm. Surely, now you
can see the importance of keeping the holiness of the Sabbath.".

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
A personal obligation rests upon every individual Jew to arouse his
fellow to the practice of good deeds. When instead a person adopts an
attitude of humility and argues, "Who am I to arouse my fellow? What
kind of a spokesman am I?" - he deserves to be sternly rebuked. These
"meek of the earth" will be rebuked by Moshiach, as it says, "With
equity shall he rebuke the meek of the earth." (Isaiah 11:9) Though
here, as in other areas, Moshiach will find extenuating circumstances.

                                                  (Likutei Diburim)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 965 - Shmini 5767

  • Daily Lessons
  • Weekly Texts & Audio
  • Candle-Lighting times

    613 Commandments
  • 248 Positive
  • 365 Negative

  • BlackBerry
  • iPhone / iPod Touch
  • Java Phones
  • Palm Pilot
  • Palm Pre
  • Pocket PC
  • P800/P900
  • Moshiach
  • Resurrection
  • For children - part 1
  • For children - part 2

  • Jewish Women
  • Holiday guides
  • About Holidays
  • The Hebrew Alphabet
  • Hebrew/English Calendar
  • Glossary

  • by SIE
  • About
  • Chabad
  • The Baal Shem Tov
  • The Alter Rebbe
  • The Rebbe Maharash
  • The Previous Rebbe
  • The Rebbe
  • Mitzvah Campaign

    Children's Corner
  • Rabbi Riddle
  • Rebbetzin Riddle
  • Tzivos Hashem

  • © Copyright 1988-2009
    All Rights Reserved
    L'Chaim Weekly