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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 971
                           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.
        May 25, 2007             Nasso             8 Sivan, 5767

                          Point Count Systems

Point Count Systems. Our lives are full of them. They're how we measure
progress, assess our standings. Some diet plans assign a numeric value
to specific foods. Each number or "point" represents a certain number of
calories. Some foods, obviously, get more points than others. You only
get a certain number of "points" each day. You can divide them up any
way you want.

Chess uses a point count system, too. Each piece is worth a certain
number of points: pawns 1, knights and bishops 3, etc. And even
non-material things like an attack can be assigned a point value. It's
one way to evaluate who's winning, or if an exchange is worth it.

Giveaway contests and prize sweepstakes use point systems. If you're
selling magazines, or reading books for a book-a-thon, you need say, 150
points for the bicycle and  200 points for the iPod, but only 10 points
for the autographed baseball.

Point Count Systems have a place, because they help us assess and assign
a relative value to things. Sometimes by adding together things that
have fewer points, we get more value than if we take something that has
more points. (In the diet example, you get more value by having points
left over. In chess, two rooks (5 points each) are worth more than one
queen (9 points). In the book-a-thon, you can get six or seven things
(autographed baseball, CDs, videos, maybe even a scooter) instead of
that new bicycle (your older brother's still works, anyway.)

In Judaism, we see an example of this Point Count System when it comes
to tzedeka (charity). On the verse, "And he garbed himself with tzedeka
as a coat of mail..." (Isaiah 59:17), the Sages explain that "just as
with chain mail, each scale adds up to form a large mail [garment], so
too with charity; each coin adds up to a large amount." (Rabbi Shneur
Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism, expounds upon the mystical
significance of this.)

So we might ask, what's the advantage of a coat of mail made up of lots
of small scales? Why not make solid armor? Similarly, what's the
advantage of given a few coins to tzedeka every day? Why not give a
large lump sum once a year, or even just once a month?

For one thing, not everyone has the funds to give a large sum all at
once. But everyone can give a quarter or a dime every day. This is a way
of uniting the Jewish people - everyone doing the same mitzva
(command-ment) every day. And giving tzedeka every day creates a
consistency of action; it becomes habit-forming. And once it's a habit,
it's comfortable - and easy-to-do. Thus, giving a little tzedekah every
day makes it easier to give tzedeka altogether - or a larger amount at
one of the "usual times" (Passover, Rosh Hashana, end of the year,

And if doing a mitzva polishes or beautifies the soul, then each time a
mitzva is done, the soul becomes more beautiful. So if one gives, say, a
dollar a day, then even if one would otherwise give 365 dollars as an
annual donation, the soul would still be 364 times "more beautiful" from
giving daily.

Most importantly, each little bit of tzedeka - the point count system -
has a cumulative effect, because each coin that is given links to the
one before and the one after, lending support to and strengthening the
spiritual value of yesterday's and tomorrow's mitzvot.

So when it comes to tzedeka, it pays to count the points - day by day.

"It came to pass on the day that Moses had finished setting up the
Sanctuary..." As we read in this week's Torah portion, Nasso, after the
Jewish people had finished constructing all of the Sanctuary's different
components, they brought them to Moses so that he could erect it. For
the massive wooden planks were just too heavy; even working together,
the Jews were unable to build the Sanctuary by themselves.

Recognizing the dilemma, Moses asked G-d how human beings could be
expected to perform such a difficult task. G-d told him to put his hand
on the enormous boards; they rose by themselves, and the Sanctuary was
erected in a miraculous manner. But why was it necessary for G-d to
perform a miracle?

According to historians it was the Jewish slaves who built the pyramids
in Egypt. Indeed, the Torah tells us, "And they built treasure cities
for Pharaoh, Pitom and Raamses." Each individual stone of the pyramids
weighed several tons, yet, as depicted in ancient hieroglyphics and
paintings, the slaves nonetheless managed to drag these tremendous
weights and build the colossal edifices that continue to exist till this
very day.

The wooden planks of the Sanctuary weighed far less than these stones.
Why then did the Jewish people find it impossible to lift them? Why was
it necessary for the Sanctuary to be erected by means of a miracle?

The answer lies in the fact that the pyramids were built by slave labor,
by "avodat perach" (back-breaking, rigorous work). The only reason the
Jewish slaves were able to move the stones was because Pharaoh compelled
them to.

The Jewish people had no choice; they obeyed Pharaoh's commands out of
fear. This fear motivated them to tie themselves together with rope (as
seen in the paintings) and perform the seemingly superhuman feat.

Building the Sanctuary involved a different type of work entirely. The
Sanctuary was to be erected willingly, with joy in being able to execute
G-d's command. But the wooden planks proved to be too heavy for the Jews
to lift.

G-d didn't want the Sanctuary to be built out of a sense of compulsion.
Its erection was a happy event, not a sorrowful one. He therefore made a
miracle to express this concept, and the Sanctuary was erected with a
feeling of true freedom and liberation.

So it is in the erection of our own individual "Sanctuaries" - the
performance of G-d's commandments. Observing G-d's commandments should
never be considered "back-breaking labor"; rather, we carry out G-d's
command willingly, joyfully, and with the full assistance of the Holy
One, blessed be He.

                             Adapted from a talk of the Rebbe, 5745

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                      Lost and Found... in Ireland
                            by Louise Bloom

Kabbala has always been an idea that intrigued me but I had no idea how
to set about learning it until in my sixties I found Chabad - or rather,
Chabad found me, in a remote corner of a country that few people know
very much about. But I have to go back a bit to explain.

A few years ago when my husband and I reached retirement age we decided
to move out of London, where we had lived all our lives. We sold our
house in the suburbs and to our friends' astonishment moved to a small
rural town in the Irish Republic. So we left an area of London where
there was a very large Jewish community, synagogues to suit every shade
of orthodoxy, and shops to supply every Jewish appetite from matzos to
gefilte fish; and we moved to a Catholic country and a farming area
where there are only two other Jewish people, both of whom have "married

Although in London our friends were almost all Jewish, neither my
husband nor I are observant. We both came from families who belonged to
the United Synagogue, but for different reasons we broke away. So for
the first three years or so in our new life the only Jewish things we
felt we missed were fresh-baked challas and rye bread! We are a
five-hour journey from the capital city Dublin, where there are some
five or six hundred Jewish people. My father was born in Dublin and was
part of a large, happy family there and that is the reason I chose to
make my new home in the Emerald Isle.

Ireland is a very beautiful country of about four million people, and
the Irish are renowned for their kindness and charm. The pace of life
where we live is slow, although it is beginning to speed up; very few of
the streets have names and as yet there are no zip codes. When you
present a cheque you are trusted and you don't usually need to show a
bank card to back it up. I joined an art class and a writing group and
we both joined the bridge club and took lessons for the first time.

There was a lot to keep us busy, particularly as we were renting a house
and needed to find a place of our own to buy, which we eventually did.
We have a lovely modern house just outside the town, surrounded by
fields in which horses graze, but few people here know anything about

As a child and teenager I had a religious nature and was always looking
for something in the synagogue service that I could not find. The
rabbi's sermons left me feeling disappointed and hungry for something
more sustaining. I had Hebrew lessons for a while at the age of 12 but
they did not help. So in my twenties I investigated Buddhism briefly and
then other esoteric schools of thought which seemed more likely to meet
my spiritual needs. I have been seeking all my life for the right path.

I was still looking for the important "something else" when, wonder of
wonders, I received a telephone call from a young Chabad rabbi, who I
later found out was part of a program called "Merkos Shluchus," arranged
by Rabbi Kotlarsky at Lubavitch World Headquarters. He told me that he
and a colleague from New York were on an annual tour of Ireland, North
and South, to visit all the Jews in the country, the first purpose being
to make contact but also to provide any articles needed such as mezzuzas
or Chanuka menoras. Each year a different pair comes and with incredible
detective-like skills, they seek out people even in the most
out-of-the-way spots and find their way through narrow country lanes to
visit them, if a visit is wanted.

I first invited them to our house about four years ago and welcomed the
chance to connect with Jewish thinking and culture for an hour or two. I
also learned that the Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in New York sends
help to all us Jews who live outside the Dublin area at Passover, Rosh
Hashana and Yom Kippur. Young, enthusiastic and incredibly good-humoured
rabbis come over to assist or conduct the services (bringing with them
and preparing kosher food for all) at the synagogue in Cork, Ireland's
second city. Cork once had a Jewish population of about 400 but now
there is only one family remaining.

It was during last year's Merkos Shluchus visit to our house that I
finally found the means to study Kabbala. I learned about JNet (The
Jewish Learning Network) an organization that matches people together as
"learning partners" to study Judaism. I was given a form to fill in,
stating my details and what areas of the religion I wished to study. Not
long after, I was astonished to be put in touch with the wife of a rabbi
in, of all places, South America. This wonderfully motivating woman was
originally from New York. Thanks to Skype technology (where telephone
calls are free via computers) we were able to have a weekly hour's
lesson on the psychological meaning of the week's Torah portion.
Thereafter I acquired another learning partner, this time a young woman
living outside London, also a rabbi's wife. It is she who has undertaken
to instruct me in the mystical aspects of Kabbala and our lessons have
proved how knowledgeable and enthusiastic she is about the history of
Chasidut and the underlying meanings of the biblical texts.

JNet, for me at this time in my life, seems to be helping with answers
to my questions. Everyone I have encountered in Chabad has been
remarkably warm and accepting and joyful. I am not promising to become
observant , but on a recent trip to Israel I did buy two mezzuzas...

                               WHAT'S NEW
                         Have Phone Will Study

Hundreds of Jewish men and women are already taking advantage of The
Jewish Learning Network's Torah study by phone service. JNet provides
the opportunity to study Torah from home, work, school, wherever and
whenever - free of charge. Applicants choose when they are available and
what they would like to study and JNet matches them with an educated and
friendly volunteer. JNet volunteers can teach a variety of topics,
including Jewish traditions, Prayer, Jewish Law and Ethics, Mysticism
and Kabbalah, running a Jewish home, raising Jewish children,
relationships, or just general questions. JNet is geared for Jews of all
levels of learning. No prior Torah knowledge or Hebrew skills are
required. To start, sign up at or call 718-467-4400, e-mail JNet is a division of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch and is made
possible through a grant from The Rohr Foundation.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                     Freely translated and adapted

                         19 Tammuz, 5710 [1959]

Greetings and blessings,

In response to what you wrote... In your circles, you have a good
opportunity to become effective in fulfilling the mission for which
Divine providence has led you to this place.

One should not be discouraged if it appears that only a small number of
individuals allow themselves to be influenced and even with these few,
the influence is less than one would desire.

With regard to quantity: We have to understand that every individual is
an entire world and it is worthwhile for the entire world to devote
itself to saving even one individual Jew with regard to material matters
and how much more so, in spiritual matters.

In addition, the good influence that the recipient is granted does not
remain sequestered in his possession. In a direct or indirect manner, he
has a positive effect on the other people in his close or broad circles
of influence. To speak in analogies, just as every organ is a part of
the body as a whole, every individual is a part of the community as a

Thus the spiritual improvement of one person strengthens the well-being
of the entire community as a matter of course.

With regard to quality: There is no way we can appreciate the greatness
of the good accomplished for a person when we help him lift himself up
even a little bit higher!

Aside from the immeasurable worth that results from performing even one
less sin and doing one more mitzvah [commandment], a sin would have led
to another sin and one mitzvah leads to another mitzvah.

Moreover, with each mitzvah, one becomes more fit to properly appreciate
a true Torah concept and to have the potential to apply that concept in
actual life. In practice, this means having one Jew put on a yarmulke,
another, tefillin, a third, tzitzis, a fourth, inspiring him towards
love for his fellow man and proper character traits, a fifth,
encouraging him to observe taharas hamishpachah [the laws of family
purity], a sixth, to teach his children Torah, and so on.

...It is difficult in a letter to tally all of the particular areas
where you have potential to make yourself more effective. What is most
fundamental is, as my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, hk"m, would say:
"We have to talk less and do more."

All of the above concerns your work with others. It is, however, with
regard to one's work with his own self that the yetzer hara [evil
inclination] presents the greatest obstacles. We will leave that topic,
however, for another time.

Awaiting good tidings,

                                *  *  *

                         21 Tammuz, 5710 [1950]

Greetings and blessings,

I received your letter. Thank you for the information contained therein.

May it be G-d's will that your stay - in a vacation spot together with
your family - will lead to the desired benefit of enhancing the health
of the body and strengthening it in an obvious manner, according to the
adage of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, hk"m, stated in the name
of his father, the Rebbe Rashab: "How dear is a Jewish body! For it, so
much Torah is poured out!"

See Rambam, Hilchos Deos, beginning of ch. 4, "Maintaining a healthy and
sound body is among the ways of G-d."

From this we can draw a most obvious inference to the importance of the
health of the soul. If it is necessary to devote energy to this
throughout the year, how much more so is it necessary to strengthen this
endeavor with additional power during the time when we are occupied and
showing interest in the health of the body. This is necessary lest one
come to a situation where the strength of the body will lead to the
weakness of the soul (Zohar I, p. 180b)....

I am not writing merely for the sake of rhetoric, but rather to arouse
an undertaking, somewhat like is'hapcha [transforming material desires
to spiritual], to use the days and the opportunity for restoring the
health of the body for strengthening the soul, i.e., to add a fixed time
for special study during this vacation period. Also, one should seek out
opportunities to inspire others coming to vacation in your place or
surroundings to Torah study, Divine service, and deeds of kindness, each
person according to his own situation. Sometimes, it might be helpful to
explain to them that we are not able to comprehend the secrets of the
sublime providence. Perhaps the purpose they all came to this particular
place was to add jewels to the crown of the King of kings, the Holy One,
blessed be He.

My revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, hk"m, has already promised: "One
can rest assured that no effort will go unrewarded." He is a faithful
person upon whom one may rely.

With wishes for a healthy summer for both body and soul; with regards to
all those who seek our welfare,

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

            Must one give charity to anyone who asks for it?

We are not obligated to give someone who asks for charity a large
contribution, but we are not allowed to send him away empty-handed.
Also, it is forbidden to pretend not to notice someone who asks for
charity. If someone asks for food we give him food immediately without
checking to see if he has any. However, if he is unclad and asks for
clothing, we are permitted to check into his situation.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
Summer is a great time for kids. Without the pressures of school,
children have the opportunity to spend their summer vacation in
enjoyable and educational pursuits. The summer schedule is particularly
suitable for children to grow spiritually, by attending a day or
overnight camp with a vibrant, exciting and Torah-true Jewish

Each year, without exception, as the summer approached, the Rebbe
emphasized the importance of Jewish children attending Jewish camps. The
amount that a child can learn in the summer, unencumbered by the pursuit
of reading, writing and arithmetic, goes far beyond what he can
accomplish at any other time of year. And, as this knowledge is being
imparted in an atmosphere of fun and excitement, in an environment
totally saturated with Jewish pride, it remains with a child long after
the summer months are over.

It's still not too late to enroll your child in a Jewish camp. And it's
certainly not too late to facilitate other children attending a Jewish
camp if you do not have camp-age kids. By calling your local
Chabad-Lubavitch Center, or visiting, you can find out about
a summer camp experience for someone you know, the benefit of which will
last a lifetime.

By the way, adults, too, should take advantage of the more relaxed
atmosphere of summer to revitalize and nourish themselves Jewishly. Try
a Jewish retreat or even just a weekly Torah class to enhance your
Jewish pride and knowledge.

And may this summer be our last one in exile and our first in the Era of
the Redemption.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Antigonos of Socho received the tradition from Shimon HaTzadik. He used
to say: ...And let reverence for Heaven (literally, the fear of Heaven)
be upon you (Ethics Ch. 1:3)

After Antigonos emphasizes that one should not serve G-d with a view to
receiving reward, but out of complete love for Him, he declares that a
person must also be careful regarding his reverence for G-d. One who
serves with love is eager to fulfill a positive commandment, and one who
serves with reverence is careful regarding negative ones. Thus, by being
careful in both aspects, a person's service is complete.


                                *  *  *

Hillel said: Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing
peace, loving other people, and drawing them to Torah (Ethics Ch. 1:12)

Moses drew G-dliness down to the Jewish people from Above by means of
the Torah which was given through him. Thus he is referred to as "the
chaperone of the King" - analogous to the escort who accompanies the
groom to his bride. Aaron, by contrast, brought the Jewish people closer
to G-d from below to Above, and is thus referred to as "the bride's
chaperone," analogous to the escort who accompanies a bride, leading her
up to the groom who awaits her.

                                  (Sefer Ha'Arachim Chabad, Vol. 2)

                                *  *  *

[Hillel] used to say: If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am
only for myself, what am I? (Ethics Ch. 1:14)

In many areas of Jewish life the individual and the community are
completely integrated and harmonized, with equal emphasis on both.
Hence, "If I am not for myself" expresses the importance of the
individual. At the same time, each person is part of the whole Jewish
community, and if he is not, i.e., "if I am only for myself," isolated
from the community, what is the individual truly worth?

                                           (Likutei Sichot Vol. 18)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
For a year and a half the Chasidim had been pleading with the Tzemach
Tzedek, the grandson of Rabbi Shneur Zalman (founder of  Chabad
Chasidism) to become Rebbe after the passing of his uncle, Rabbi Dov
Ber, but to no avail. He refuted every argument they presented. The
greatest Chasidim gathered in the city of Lubavitch to press their plea
that the Tzemach Tzedek finally acquiesce. No matter what they said, he
adamantly refused to be swayed.

On the eve of Shavuot, Reb Pesach, a venerable Chasid of the Rabbi
Shneur Zalman, met with two other of the most notable Chasidim, Reb
Aisik Homiler and Reb Hillel Paritcher to devise some strategy. Reb
Pesach said to them, "G-d has given me an idea which the Tzemach Tzedek
will not be able to refute." They made an appointment to meet with the
Tzemach Tzedek and were all present in his room when Reb Pesach asked
permission to speak.

Reb Pesach began as follow, "This week's Torah portion discusses the
mystery of conception. Now, according to Kabala, if the father's
contribution is greater then the child will be female, if the mother's
contribution is greater the child will be male. According to this
teaching, your grandfather, the Alter Rebbe, is most closely connected
to your mother, his daughter. It is she who is his true inheritor. And
it follows that you, who have the strongest connection to your mother,
through her, are most closely connected to your grandfather."

When the Tzemach Tzedek heard their logic, he fell into a deep
meditation. He meditated for some time and then declared, "I accept.
Soon I will come out and deliver a Chasidic discourse."

The city of Lubavitch erupted in great joy, and as word spread, Chasidim
flocked in droves to the study hall. An enormous crowd had gather by the
time the Tzemach Tzedek, garbed in the long white coat which had
belonged to his grandfather, entered the room. A hush fell on the crowd
as the Tzemach Tzedek began the discourse with the words, "Upon three
things the world stands...".

Reb Aisik Homiler suddenly recalled 38 years ago standing in the room
listening to the Alter Rebbe deliver the same discourse, word for word.
The Tzemach Tzedek had been a mere child of three at the time. Reb Aisik
thought to himself, "What a stunt that he can remember this discourse,
word for word!"

Suddenly the Tzemach Tzedek stopped in the middle of his discourse and
looked at Reb Aisik. "Feh, why are you suspecting me of a trick? What
can I do if my grandfather is here, and he is telling me to say this
discourse!?" Nobody present (except Reb Aisik) understood the meaning of
these words.

Not long after, Reb Aisik Homiler became very ill with a raging fever.
Reb Hillel Paritcher and Reb Pesach came to visit him.

Reb Aisik recalled to them the day, 38 years ago, when the Alter Rebbe
delivered the discourse. It was very abstruse and the Chasidim didn't
understand it. They begged Rabbi Shneur Zalman to repeat it another
time, but he replied that he had no time now, and would repeat it at
some other time.

Little Menachem Mendel, later to be known as the "Tzemach Tzedek," was
always in the room of his grandfather and always mimicked his
grandfather's actions. He even had a pair of "tefilin" which he had made
from a cut potato, and when his grandfather donned his tefilin, the
small boy would don his own "tefilin," tying them with straps of string.
The Chasidim noted the patience and attention Rabbi Shneur Zalman gave
his little grandson, even to the extent of pausing in his own prayer to
help the child extricate his "tefilin straps" from the legs of the table
where they would often become tangled.

When the much awaited time came to repeat the discourse, the Chasidim
filed into the Alter Rebbe's room. Little three-year old Menachem
Mendel, who also wanted to listen to his grandfather, pushed himself
between the legs of Reb Aisik in his attempt to find a good listening
post. Reb Aisik was afraid the child would distract him from his
concentration, and he gently pushed the boy away. Rabbi Shneur Zalman,
noticing this, paused in his recitation, rebuking Reb Aisik with the
words, "Leave him alone. He hears, and you will see that he hears."

Now, 38 years later, Reb Aisik was realizing the truth of that
prediction, for the Tzemach Tzedek had repeated, word for word, the
Chasidic discourse he had heard 38 years before.

"I have become ill because I suspected the Rebbe of performing some
trick," Reb Aisik told his friends, and he asked them to go and beg the
Tzemach Tzedek for forgiveness. The following day, the Tzemach Tzedek
stopped to exchanged friendly words with Reb Aisik. Reb Aisik recovered
at once and was able to continue celebrating the Yom Tov with great joy.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The Zohar (III, 153b.) teaches, "Moshiach will come in order to cause
the righteous to return in repentance." In the days of Moshiach there
will be a stupendous revelation of Divinity. For G-d, who is known as
'the righteous of the world,' this revelation will be a kind of
'repentance' - for having withheld this light from His people throughout
all the years of exile.

                                      (Or HaTorah, Vayikra, p. 235)

                 END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 971 - Nasso 5767

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