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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 966
                           Copyright (c) 2007
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        April 20, 2007       Sazria-Metzora        2 Iyyar, 5767

                          The "Why" Chromosome
                   by Dr. Aryeh (Arnie) Gotfryd, PhD.

Kids are weird. All the stuff that we clever, worldly grown-ups so
sensibly take for granted, children question. Which parent has not
fielded such curve-ball queries as:

"Why is the sky blue?"

"Why do people die?"

You stop and think. You wonder at her wondering, take pride in her
cleverness, and dig deep into the recesses of your mind to dredge up
some long-forgotten explanation. Thinking how best to say it, you
repackage the idea, trim off some details, choose easy words, and tell
it like it is expecting (naively) that your kid will be satisfied and
the matter happily laid to rest.

"The sky is blue because the air scatters around the other colors but
lets the blue through."

"People die because their bodies wear out."

So the kid soaks it up, ponders a bit, rolls his toy car, pats her doll,
runs a bit around the room and off you go back to your things, thinking
the case is closed until one or two hours or days later when you face
the next round of reality checking.

"But why doesn't the air scatter the blue light?"

"Why do bodies wear out?"

Usually not, but sometimes the questioning turns into a game called
Possible-by-Asking-an-Endless-Series-of-Why's. But even then, a sincere
childish curiosity underlies the game, a need to know the explanation of

Of course the game is not restricted to children. The fact that most of
us outgrow our inherent curiosity about the world is not so much because
we know the answers but more because as life grinds on, we become dulled
to the wondrous workings of the world around us. By the time we hit our
age, the only "why" most of us ask is "why me?" Most of us except
scientists of course.

Maybe scientists are more sensitive. Maybe they just never grew up. Or
maybe its an overactive Why Chromosome on their DNA. Whatever it is, the
question remains: Why the Why?

Answering this turns out to be more important than it looks at first,
because the uniquely human habit of seeking explanations drives two of
the most powerful social forces at work today: science and religion. And
since the two seem all too often at loggerheads, it may be worth the
effort to investigate how one little question can generate two such
radically different answers.

As with many other questions, we can use the "Abraham Principle" to
resolve this too. The Abraham Princi-ple states that when two or more
entities have a correlated structure or behavior, this itself is
evidence for the existence of some third being or causal force, external
to and more powerful than them, which deter-mines their form or mode of

For the scientist, the question 'why' is a journey from effect to cause
and getting there is half the fun. The other half is knowing that
regardless of what we discover, the original questions somehow remain
while new questions abound. For the sincerely religious also, the
question 'why' is an exploration, but one that ends not with some
infinite regress, nor endless stream of questions, but rather with an
ultimate answer: That there is a First Cause that seeded the world,
planted the 'why chromosome' in our psyches, and gave us the logical
prowess to infer back to the source, the ultimate Because before which
there is no why. And why would He do a thing like that? Well, why not?

    For more of Dr. Gotfryd's articles visit

The first of this week's two Torah portions, Tazria, speaks of one of
the most serious forms of ritual impurity, the disease of tzara'at. A
person thus afflicted (called a "metzora") was sent outside the Jewish
camp and lived in total seclusion until he was cured.

The only authority qualified to determine if an individual had tzara'at
and was required to leave the camp was a kohen (priest), as it says,
"When the disease of tzara'at is in a man, he shall be brought to the
priest...and the priest shall see him and pronounce him impure...for all
the days that he bears the affliction...he is impure...."

Even the greatest Torah authority was not permitted to establish the
existence of tzara'at if he was not a priest. The only opinion that bore
weight was that of the kohen, and his decision was accepted as law.

Why couldn't a Torah authority establish the existence of tzara'at? Why
did this have to be done by a kohen?

The answer is revealed when we consider the punishment incurred by the
metzora. A metzora was required to undergo a particularly harsh form of
punishment: banishment and isolation from the rest of society. The
metzora, forced to leave the camp of Israel, was seemingly cut off from
the entire Jewish people.

By nature, kohanim are merciful people. Their hearts are filled with
love for their fellow Jews, as reflected in the Priestly Blessing:
"...Who has sanctified us with His mitzvot and commanded us to bless His
people Israel with love."

The Torah recognizes that a priest will not rush to judge his fellow Jew
impure. The priest is reluctant to pronounce a person a metzora, thereby
subjecting him to severe punishment. The kohen will go to great lengths
in order to spare another person suffering.

The Torah relies on a kohen's judgment as it knows he will make the
determination of tzara'at only when there is no other choice. For this
reason the ability to establish tzara'at, and the accompanying
responsibility for condemning a fellow Jew to social isolation, is given
solely to him.

This contains a lesson for all of us:

We must never deem a person worthy of censure and shun his company, even
if his behavior appears defective. No flaw is so great that it warrants
rejection of our fellow Jew.

Instead, the first thing we must do is examine our own conduct and
motivation. Are we seeing another Jew's defects out of love for him, or
are we merely recognizing character defects in others because they exist
within ourselves? For it is only once we are sure that we are acting out
of genuine love that we may approach another person and speak to him
about correcting his behavior.

                Adapted by Maayan Chai from Likutei Sichot, vol. 27

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                          To Sitka and Beyond

What do a couple of nice, Jewish boys from suburbia have to do with a
city on the Baranof Island of Alaska called Sitka? Quite a bit, if your
name is Pinchas Taylor or Berel Brafman. The two spent a long weekend in
Sitka this past March at the invitation of David and Esther Voluck.

Mr. Voluck, a lawyer, is an alumnus of the Rabbinical College of
America's yeshiva for baalei teshuva (those who become Torah observant)
in Morristown, New Jersey. A few years ago when he was in "Morristown"
(the yeshiva's nickname for those who study there), Mr. Voluck suggested
to Pinchas that a visit to the small Jewish community in Sitka would be
in order. Hundreds of emails and phone calls later, the trip was
scheduled for the week before Purim.

After consulting with Rabbi Yossi and Esty Greenberg, the Lubavitcher
Rebbe's emissaries in Alaska, it was decided that one of the first
things that the pair would do in Sitka would be to print a Tanya, the
basic book of Chabad Chasidic philosophy. The motivation for this
printing is based on a public address by the Rebbe in 1984. At that
time, the Rebbe explained that printing Tanya in any and every place
where Jews can be found helps hasten the Redemption. The Rebbe said, "As
part of the dissemination of Chasidic philosophy, editions of Tanya
should be printed in every place which has a Jewish population. This
will lend extra enthusiasm to the study of Tanya by all Jews, the
preparation to the Messianic era."

After the Tanya was printing (it had to be taken back to the east coast
to bind as there are no binderies in Sitka, population 8,800) Pinchas
and Berel sat themselves down in the print shop. Together, they studied
chapter 32 of Tanya, which speaks about the importance of each Jew
sincerely loving his fellow Jew and seeing himself interconnected to all
Jews. What a great preparation for the days to come!

On Friday morning, Pinchas and Berel took to the airwaves at one of
Sitka's four radio stations. Mr. Voluck has a weekly, one-hour general
news radio spot about what's going on in town and he was able to arrange
an additional hour for Pinchas and Berel. The two yeshiva students spoke
about Judaism and took time to explain about the upcoming Purim holiday.
They informed the listeners about a Purim party that would take place at
the Voluck residence on Sunday, complete with Megila reading and

Shabbat services on Saturday morning were a first for some of Sitka's
small Jewish community. Seeing a Torah scroll up close was also new for
many of the 30-50 Jews who live in Sitka.

The Purim celebration was a success, with about 230 people in
attendance. No, Jews didn't travel all the way from Anchorage or Juno.
But folks from the area, who mostly know each other at least by sight,
were eager to have this Jewish cultural experience and attended the

Pinchas and Berel had some interesting stories happen to them on their
way to, in and on their way home from Sitka. One that comes easily to
mind took place after their departure was delayed for a day due to a
blizzard. After what seemed like an eternity, they finally boarded the
aircraft - a small "shuttle" plane that goes from Anchorage to Juno to
Katchakan (and a few places in between) - destined for Seattle. When the
plane stopped in Katchakan, a middle-aged man boarded and sat down next
to them. He introduced himself as a pastor in a local church. Striking
up a discussion, the pastor asked the two young men what had brought
them to Sitka.

"Did you ever hear of Purim?" Pinchas asked the pastor.

"Sure, I have some Jewish ancestry," answered the pastor. "But just on
my mother's side," he continued.

Pinchas' and Berel's jaws dropped open. The pastor was a Jew! When his
grandmother had emigrated to the United States from Russia she had shed
her Jewish background and had gotten involved in some very strange
spiritual practices. The pastor was raised with no religious education
as his mother had not wanted to follow her mother's practices. "When I
was a teenager I got involved in Christianity," the pastor told the
young men.

The yeshiva students encouraged the pastor to spend a few moments with
them at the next airport that their plane would be "shuttling" to in
order to put on tefilin. The pastor readily agreed. In the airport, he
smiled broadly, with tefilin on his head and arm, flanked by the two
students, when Pinchas gave his camera to a passerby to snap a photo.
Later, Pinchas emailed the picture to the pastor. The pastor sent
Pinchas an email thanking him for the spur of the moment Bar Mitzva and
telling Pinchas that he had never forgotten his Jewish roots.

These past few weeks, Pinchas and Berel were in a slightly less exotic
location: S. Cruz, California. There, they were helping the local
emissaries Rabbi Yochanan and Baily Friedman with special Shmura
hand-matza distribution and then with leading a community Seder. Of
course, once they found out that Tanya had never been printed in this
Caifornia city, they arranged to print Tanya there, as well.

Next stop? Hopefully the holy city of Jerusalem with Moshiach, now!

                               WHAT'S NEW
                              On Marriage

Each section in Vidibarta Bam: Marriage by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky is
flavored with Torah insights, thought-provoking ideas, homilies and
explanations on marriage. As a special feature, Vedibarta Bam Marriage
also includes thorough explanations to the wedding rituals and customs.
As in the previous installments in the Vedibarta Bam series, the
question and answer format makes it ideal for both students and

                    I Will Write It In Their Hearts

This fifth volume of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's letters translated into
English displays the Rebbe's his scholarship, wisdom, and understanding
in personal responses to communications from people in all walks of
life. The profound lessons of his advice transcend the spheres of the
individual recipients. Intense and inspiring, these letters provide a
fascinating glimpse of the Rebbe-Chasid relationship. This volume
corresponds to letters # 530 - 701 in the 3rd volume of the original
Igrot Kodesh. Translated by Rabbi Eli Touger, published by Sichos In

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                     Freely translated and adapted
                          10 Iyar, 5710 (1950)

Greetings and blessings,

Enclosed is a pamphlet that was recently published. You will certainly
share it with people at large and in that way, the merit of the many
will be dependent on you.

We are now in the midst of the days of the Counting of the Omer. We can
learn a lesson in the service of G-d from every matter. From a mitzvah
(commandment), in particular, we can learn many things.

The Counting of the Omer teaches us, among many other things, that time
is precious. We always have to be counting. If we miss one day, that
creates a blemish not only in the day that was missed, but in the days
and weeks that follow. Conversely, when we do count that day, the coming
days and weeks are also blessed.

In the blessing for the Counting of the Omer, we praise G-d as E-lokeinu
("our L-rd") which means "our strength and our vitality" and "the King
of the universe," implying that He controls the entire world. (As a
matter of course, it can be understood that He must, and He will, give
all types of good to those whom He calls "My son, My firstborn,

This applies to an ordinary person. In particular, it applies to a
person who has influence over many people and whose activities are
reflected within many Jews and have an effect on them. And in a most
particular sense, it applies to those who have already succeeded in
having an influence on others. They certainly must use every opportunity
- and indeed, seek out new opportunities - to have an effect in
strengthening the Torah and Yiddishkeit and spreading the Torah and the
teachings of Chassidus. My revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, hk"m,
promised that one can rest assured that any effort undertaken will not
be without results.

Signing with regards to those who receive influence from you and with
wishes for a recovery for your wife and success in your work to
illuminate your surroundings,

                                *  *  *

                          17 Iyar, 5710 (1950)

Greetings and blessings,

I was sorry to hear that you feel your health is weakening and that, in
addition, you are not careful in heeding the directives of the doctor.

On several occasions, I heard the following statement from my revered
father-in-law, the Rebbe (hk"m), in the name of his father, the Rebbe
Rashab: "How dear is a Jewish body! For it, so much is sacrificed!" For
it is well known that the Torah and its mitzvos were given to souls as
they are enclothed in bodies and not to angels.

If the Creator cherishes the body so much, then, as a matter of course,
it is understood how much care a person must give to this article
entrusted to him from Above.

Our Sages (Berachos 60a) informed us that a doctor was given license to
heal. If so, the doctor is acting under the authority and the command of
the Torah. Thus it is clear that if by listening to the instructions of
a doctor one temporarily negates the observance of a desirable custom,
the meticulous practice of a particular mitzvah, or the like, the Torah
will not remain a debtor. Through nullifying the custom or the
meticulous practice for a brief time, one will receive the potential to
add strength to his observance of the Torah and its mitzvos manifold
times for a lengthy and good span of years.

With wishes for a complete recovery and much satisfaction from all of
your descendants as per the everlasting blessings of my revered
father-in-law, the Rebbe, hk"m,

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

          Why, when visiting a cemetery, do we put pebbles or
             grass on the grave of the one whom we visited?

It is customary to put pebbles or grass because of "Kavod HaMayt" -
giving honor to the deceased - for this shows that people visited the

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
Rabbi Shmuel, who is known by the acronym of his name, the Rebbe
Maharash, was the fourth Rebbe of Lubavitch. His birthday is this week
on Friday, 2 Iyar (April 20 this year). The saying which became
identified with him is "L'chat'chila Ariber," meaning that when one
encounters obstacles, one should immediately seek to rise above them.

He said, "The world says that when you cannot go under it (around the
problem), then you should rise above it, and I say, 'L'Chat'chila
Ariber' - the first approach should be to go above it."

In other words, no obstacle should be considered too big, and whatever
you do, do it as if you are in a position of power and command. Indeed,
this approach characterized his whole approach to life and communal

The Rebbe Maharash's style was noteworthy in its expansiveness and
opulence.  This "broadness" of style was characteristic of him and his
Divine service throughout his lifetime.

All of this extreme opulence, however, was not for the personal pleasure
of the Rebbe, but in order to serve Hashem in a manner which would
impress the oppressive Russian government and induce them to treat the
Jews with respect.

His unique approach was also seen in his dealings with the Russian
government. The Rebbe Maharash was always very outspoken and bold when
relating to government.

He believed that the government should not assist the Jews out of pity;
rather, he demanded that they help, and explained that it was to their
own benefit to aid the Jews.

In his final years, when pogroms broke out in Russia, the Rebbe Maharash
spoke out against the violence. Even though the government admonished
him (he requested other governments to pressure the Russians), and
threatened him with imprisonment, the pogroms stopped after he spoke

His outspokenness affected his health adversely. When his doctor
complained that he should not have made himself ill, the Rebbe Maharash
replied that it is the entire essence of the Lubavitcher Rebbes to
endure any consequence to help the Jewish nation.

This approach of "L'chatchila Ariber" by the Rebbe Maharash reinforced
the Jewish belief that no matter how hopeless a situation appears to be,
we must never abandon hope. Instead, we must proceed in each situation,
knowing that with G-d's help it is possible to overcome all obstacles.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Rebbi [Yehuda HaNasi] said, "...Be as careful in a minor mitzva as with
a major one, for you do not know the reward given for the mitzvot..."
(Pirkei Avot - Ethics of the Fathers 2:1)

Fulfill all of the mitzvot (commandments) in order to please your
Creator, not in order to receive reward or honor. One who is interested
in achieving honor through the mitzvot tries to fulfill the "major"
mitzvot, whereas he tends to place less emphasis on the "minor" mitzvot.
That is, he fulfills the mitzvot which will bring him more honor.

                                           (Or Torah of the Maggid)

                                *  *  *

He [Rabbi Gamliel] used to say: "Fulfill His will as you would your own
will, so that He may fulfill your will as though it were His will..."

Try to make the will of the Almighty your own will, and fulfill His will
as you fulfill your own wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm. And if the
Almighty's will is difficult for you to fulfill, set aside your will
because of His will. As a reward, the Holy One, blessed is He, will
nullify the will of others, who do not agree with the way you would like
things to be, and He will agree with your view.

                                                    (Machzor Vitri)

                                *  *  *

He used to say: "...The bashful person cannot learn, neither can the
short-tempered teach..." (2:5)

A student should not be too bashful in front of his colleagues to say,
"I do not understand." Rather, he should ask and ask again, even several

                                             (Shulchan Aruch HaRav)

                                *  *  *

A teacher who is overly rigid and oppressive prevents his words from
being accepted by his audience. His students will not be able to discuss
their learning with him in the proper way.


                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
The fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel (the Rebbe Maharash), had a
chasid who was a successful businessman. Before undertaking any
significant deal, he always consulted the Rebbe and followed his

One time, the chasid was offered a fabulous opportunity.

If successful - and most certainly it would be - he would make millions.
The deal, however, required that he invest almost his entire fortune.

Before the chasid would make such a major move, he set off to the city
of Lubavitch to seek the Rebbe's advice.

After hearing the details of the proposition the Rebbe Maharash told him
that he should not go through with the deal.

The chasid was stunned.

He tried to "convince" the Rebbe that this was a sound proposal; he
described all of the great profits to be made, but to no avail. The
Rebbe's answer was final: NO!

A few days later, the would-be business partners came to the chasid.
When they heard that he was not interested, based upon the Rebbe's
answer, they began to laugh at him. "Certainly you didn't understand the
Rebbe's words," they told him. "And anyway, maybe there were some
important details you left out that would solicit a different answer.
After all," they said, "isn't there a saying that 'according to how you
ask, that is how you're answered?' Go back to the Rebbe and make sure to
tell him all the details. You'll see, the answer will be different this

Back to Lubavitch the chasid went. "Rebbe," he pleaded, "obviously I did
not explain myself well enough last time. We're talking about tremendous
sums of money. I can become rich 'overnight' and give much tzedaka as

The Rebbe listened patiently once again, and at the end of the
"presentation" his answer was simple and direct: "No. It's not

The chasid made his way home, thinking about all the money he could have
made, if only the Rebbe would have agreed. "The Rebbe doesn't even
explain his reasons," thought the chasid.

But his friends and family wouldn't let up. "It's forbidden to lose such
an opportunity," they cried. "Go back to the Rebbe again and certainly
the answer will be different."

In his third attempt, the chasid tried everything, even begging the
Rebbe to let him make the deal, but the Rebbe answered once again: "No."

When the chasid came home, he couldn't stand up to the pressure of
family and friends, and contrary to the Rebbe's advice, he signed the
deal. He quieted his conscience by telling himself that he would now
really give a lot of charity. Unfortunately, things did not go well. In
a short while, the chasid lost all his money.

The chasid realized how wrong it was to not follow the Rebbe's
instruction. Full of regret, he made his way back a fourth time to see
the Rebbe.

The chasid spent a long time in private with the Rebbe. When he came
out, he revealed only one thing the Rebbe had told him.

"There are people," said the Rebbe, "big businessmen among them, who
come to ask my advice concerning important matters. Sometimes the issues
are quite complex; matters which I have never engaged in, nor did my
ancestors. So then why do they ask me my advice, and follow my
instructions and counsel?

"There are three answers, each one matching a different type of Jew who
comes to me.

"One person thinks, 'It's very simple. The Rebbe has Ruach HaKodesh -
Divine Inspiration! The Rebbe is a G-dly man, a prophet. It is G-d's
words coming from his mouth and therefore we must follow him, no
questions asked!'

"Another type," continued the Rebbe, "is a person who operates on a
different level, somewhat more down to earth. 'The Rebbe studies Torah
all the time and serves G-d with his entire being. His intellect is
totally nullified to G-d's Will. Therefore, everything he says stems
from Torah and certainly his words will be fulfilled.'

"The third type," explained the Rebbe, "says, 'The Rebbe meets so many
people, from all over the world and from all walks of life. He has
acquired an incredibly broad knowledge of worldly matters. With this
knowledge and his ability to see things from many different angles, the
Rebbe sees what others cannot. Therefore, we must listen to him.'

"Whichever group you might belong to," the Rebbe Maharash concluded,
"you should never have gone through with the deal after hearing from me
not once, not twice, but three times clearly 'no!'"

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
Of the future time it is written,  "For they will all know Me."
(Jeremiah 31:33) Nevertheless, not all will be equal: the person with
the deeper and broader mind will understand more than another. Hence the
verse (Isaiah) "For the earth shall be as full of the knowledge of G-d
as the waters cover the ocean bed." contains the simile, "as the waters
cover the ocean bed": though on the surface the water is even, the
chasms in the ocean bed hold more water than elsewhere.

                                     (Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi)

            END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 966 - Sazria-Metzora 5767

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