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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 974
                           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.
        June 15, 2007            Korach           29 Sivan, 5767

                            by Tzvi Freeman

My mother, G-d bless her, told me there are men and women that come to
this world, but stay above it. My mother's mother told stories of the
tzadikim (righteous) of Baghdad, where she was born.

If your mother never told you these things, let me tell it to you now: A
world without holy men and women is a house without windows. A tightly
plastered cistern of a universe that offers no escape.

Of course, you could always paint pictures on the walls. Perhaps even
illuminate them from behind. Or use mirrors, even a battery of
television screens. You would imagine you see beyond while staring at
your renditions of what is within.

And so we need our precious mothers and other pure souls of simple faith
to tell us, "Don't be a fool. There are windows, and you can tell them
easily from paintings on the wall."

Your mother may have told you this as well, as mine did: That the most
important quality of a window is how there is nothing there. It shelters
you, as a mother bird shelters her infants from the great blue sky for
which they are not yet prepared. But it provides of itself only that
which you need. If it screams out, "Here I am! I am a window! I am
teaching you about the great outside!" it is a painting on the wall. A
painting is a statement that someone felt a need to make. A window is no
more than a passage of light.

There are windows and there are windows. Windows to the north, to the
south. To the future, to the past. A window could be a lens, finely
shaped without distortion, to magnify the details before you. Another
window projects your vision to the details of the distant hills. Yet
together, the many windows present a single, consistent view. One may
show you the rain that bounces off its surface while the other filters
the rays of the sun. One looks out over a magnificent precipice, while
another to the truth of your own backyard. But together, it is all one
view. Because all the windows share a single truth. The truth of what is

So too, all the holy men and women, they are all one. They receive from
one another, passing down a holy fire that has never extinguished since
they received it from Abraham and Sarah, and they from Noah and Na'amah,
and they from Adam and Chava. From them we know what is beyond and where
we are going, where we stand and what we must do to move ahead. Without
them we might as well be those blind creatures who are born and die
beneath the earth and never see the light of day. With the guidance of
those holy souls, we look outside and know our journey, an amazing
odyssey through a vast, fantastic cosmos.

I knew there must still be windows to our universe, that not all the
shutters had been sealed. I found many paintings, perhaps a few
apertures in the wall, but when I found a window I sat before it and
soaked in its light, its warmth, its panorama. Its stunning revelation
of what is. What is beyond and what is within - for the tiny capsule
that held me had transformed as well.

Let me tell you about the Rebbe's words: They are not poems for the
lips. They are not pretty ideas for intellectual games. They are not
necessarily nice, nor particularly palatable. They are answers. They are
meant to drive people into life with all they've got, squeezing out
every moment and facing every challenge. To show purpose in each thing.

They are answers because they are for someone who has a question.
Some-one who experiences life and comes up against brick walls, things
that seem futile and pointless. They are meant to open windows, to shine
light on each of those things and reveal its meaning.

Answers are never easy, they come to those who make room for them.

Eventually everybody asks, What now after the Rebbe has passed on?

First of all, you must know - even though it doesn't answer our question
- that the Rebbe is still here with us. Just as a parent who leaves this
world is still with his or her children - but much, much more so. Just
as any tzadik, for whom death is no more than a passing from the
confines of the body to a freedom to work within this world without such
limitations. But even more so.

For a tzadik as transcendent as the Rebbe, none of the events of this
world, not even death, effect any real change. His life is truth, and
truth is constant. He guides those who are bound to him as he guided
them before, and continues to channel light and blessing into our world
and for those in need, as he always has. The only change is for us, that
our flesh eyes looking out of a coarse world, cannot see a tzadik before
them. And that is our question: How can we be expected to carry on with
our window shades down?

The question is really a larger one: Where are all the tzadikim when we
need them most? Once upon a time, people lived a simple life and had
clear direction from their teachers and parents. They believed with
simple faith that wonders and miracles could happen, and that G-d could
speak with Man. What need did they have for tzadikim? Now, with our
disillusion, confusion and apathy, now we need someone transcendent to
show us that G-d is still possible. Yet now we are more alone than ever.

The answer is that each one of us must find our window now. The tzadik
within. The place where the tzadik and the student are no longer two

That is the whole purpose. For all of time and all of creation was
directed to this point: a point when the people no longer look above for
G-dliness to pour down from the heavens but search for that G-dliness
within themselves, within the people of the earth who belong to the
earth. When heaven has reached earth and speaks from within it. From
within each one of us.

The tzadik has shown us where to look. Now he hides so we may discover.
Soak in the wisdom of the Rebbe, not as words, not as ideas, but in
attempt to feel the tzadik within them. Find a place where the teacher
and student merge.

Once enough of us have done this, it will be time for the blind to be
pulled from over our eyes, for all the walls to be dissolved and we will
see the world for what it truly is. We will know wisdom once again from
the Rebbe's mouth - until there will no longer be a teacher and a
student. We will have arrived. May that be sooner than we can imagine.

In this week's Torah portion, Korach, we read of Korach's questioning
and eventually rebelling against Moses and G-d. Korach's first question
to Moses was, "Does a garment made completely of turquoise wool still
require a single turquoise thread in its tzitzit-fringes?"

Moses' answer was "yes." Korach believed Moses' response was absurd.

Why the commandment for one strand of turquoise wool in the tzitzit? The
Talmud explains because turquoise is a spiritual color. It resembles the
oceans and the heavens, reminding a human being of G-d's majesty.

In truth, Korach and Moses debated the nature of spiritual leadership,
the question of how to inspire human beings toward idealism and

Korach believed that you need to overwhelm people with the magic and
majesty of your message. Let their entire "garment," their entire
identity, become all-turquoise, melting completely in the "blue" of

Moses disagreed; to let people's spirits soar is splendid, but never
enough. For inspiration to leave a lasting impact, it must find
expression in individual specific acts, words and thoughts. To make a
real transformation in people's lives, you must give them a single act
through which they can connect to G-d and bring His morality into the
world on a daily basis. You need to inspire people to make one strand of
their lives blue.

This was an argument about what should become the great emphasis of
Judaism. According to Korach, Judaism was about awakening a passion to
revolutionize the universe. But Moses understood that in order to
accomplish this goal, the primary focus of Judaism needed to be on
individual daily behavior, changing the world one mitzva (commandment)
at a time.

Korach's message seemed logical. If we can electrify a soul with a
passion for making the world a G-dly place, is the individual mitzva
ultimately relevant? Let us talk about changing people and changing the
world, not about small individual acts!

Korach felt that Moses was misrepresenting G-d's true intent. By
focusing so much on mitzvot, Moses was stifling the spiritual creativity
in the souls of Israel. Moses was robbing the community of its grandeur.

Korach was a revolutionary; he was a soul on fire. But Moses was a
leader, a shepherd. Moses, to be sure, deeply identified with Korach's
message. If anybody understood the value of impassioned idealism, it was
Moses, a man who left everything behind in his quest for truth. But a
leader is not an individual lofty soul; a leader is a person who
encompasses within his own heart an entire nation, from the highest to
the lowest, and who is deeply in-tune with human nature.

Moses knew that a message that inspires boundless awe and excitement,
but that does not demand individual life changes, won't have a lasting

When an idealistic spirit speaks of transforming the universe and
uplifting all of humanity, but fails to focus on building this universe
through daily actions and words, at the end, he might fall very low,
perhaps even become swallowed by the abyss. This indeed occurred to
Korach and his men.

The lesson in our lives is clear: Living a Jewish life on a daily basis,
saturated with the study of Torah and observance of mitzvot, and passing
on these sacred deeds to our children - that is what will secure Jewish
continuity and healing the world.

              Adapted by Rabbi Yosef Y. Jacobson from a talk of the
        Lubavitcher Rebbe, June 16, 1974. Reprinted with permission
     from The Algemeiner Journal ( To subscribe
        to Rabbi Jacobson's weekly essay, e-mail

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                     Words to Hear With Your Heart
                            by Sarah Karmely

I come from a family of Jews from Mashhad, Iran, although I grew up in
Stamford Hill, London, very near the heart of Orthodox Jewry in England.
Our family was traditional. We kept strictly kosher and lit candles for
Shabbat; my father wore a hat and a yarmulke. But we were totally
unfamiliar with the teachings of Chasidism.

When I was 18 years old, I married Benjamin Karmely and moved to Milan,
Italy, where I quickly had three children and settled into a rather
normal, culturally modern yet traditional Jewish life. For thirteen
years, I had everything any woman could want, from one perspective: I
had a loving husband who supported us very nicely; three healthy
children who were the light of my life; a lovely home, friends, good

But something was missing all along - I couldn't have told you what it
was, but I knew it was there. There was a hollow core within me, one
that I was trying to fill the "as-soon-as" thoughts. You know, as soon
as I finish school, everything will be perfect. And then as soon as I
get married, and then I will feel complete. And then as soon as we have
children, everything will really be perfect. But there I was, with
everything - and yet still, something was missing.

Then, as now, Benjamin traveled a good deal for his business. But one
day he flew home after a trip to Thailand, and when I picked him up from
the airport, I could see, even from a distance, that something was
wrong. He was limping, and he looked ill - pale, drawn and obviously in
pain. He insisted he was fine, but he couldn't fool me.

Something was very wrong.

By the next morning there was no question - he was in excruciating pain,
and his whole body was in a state of spasm. He couldn't walk or move his
legs, and even his speech was affected. We saw the doctor and Benjamin
was immediately hospitalized, although no one knew what was wrong. Over
the next several days he underwent test after test but nothing proved
conclusive. All the while, he was getting worse and worse. At times he
was partially paralyzed, but all the time he was in serious pain. He
wasn't even able to get out of bed by himself. I went to the hospital
several times a day to bring the kosher food we regularly ate - which
seemed especially important at that point - but as I watched, he
continued to deteriorate day by day. The days turned into weeks, and
when even the painful bone marrow tests gave no indication of what the
problem could be, I started losing home, fast.

The worst day was about a month after he'd been hospitalized. I arrived
at the hospital slightly earlier than usual and came upon my usually
stoic husband collapsed in tears. Seeing him so distraught removed the
last of my own defenses. I was terrified. I went to the doctors,
demanding they tell me what was wrong, convinced that they knew, and
were hiding something from me. They insisted: "We don't know. We have no
idea what it could be." And since they didn't know the cause, they had
no clear indication of what treatment to begin. "We need more tests,"
they said, over and over again. How long would this go on? I asked. The
doctors shrugged. "We don't know. Maybe in a few months things will

Months more? I was stunned by the bleak prognosis - no, it was more than
that. I was depressed, I was frustrated and I felt totally lost. My
husband was the strong one, our protector, and the one who always knew
what to do. With him so very ill, I was alone and frightened. I didn't
know what to do, or where to turn. I went home from the hospital that
day, exhausted and depressed, and as I walked in the door, my phone was

I was my usual weekly call from Rabbi Moshe Lazar, a Chabad rabbi in
Milan who'd become a good friend. How was my husband? He wanted to know.
I couldn't answer. All I could do was cry.

Rabbi Lazar held out a straw of hope I hadn't thought of before. "Why
don't we ask for a bracha (a blessing) from the Rebbe?" he asked. "The
Rebbe" was the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson,
residing in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. I had
never met the Rebbe, but I had heard stories. Everyone had.  The Rebbe
was said to be a holy, G-dly man able to do many otherworldly things.
So, why not? I thought. At this point, I was desperate, and besides, it
couldn't hurt.

I gave Rabbi Lazar my husband's name and his mother's name so the proper
bracha could be said, and he said he would call New York that very
night. I thanked him, and we hung up.

I was grateful, of course, and having at least done something, I felt a
small sense of peace. But if I told you now I had confidence in a
miracle of some kind, that would not be true. Maybe, maybe...

The next morning, looking for some company and moral support for a day I
expected to be exhausting, I invited my father-in-law to come with me to
the hospital. As we walked in, I remembered the blessing Rabbi Lazar had
said he'd request, but decided against mentioning it to my
father-in-law. No point in both of us being disappointed. We stepped out
of the elevator on the third floor, and I looked down the hall toward
the door of my husband's room.

Can you imagine our surprise when we saw my formerly-paralyzed husband
walking toward us in the hall, without crutches?

Again, all I could do was cry - in fact, we all did. As well as I was
able to between sobs, I told the story of Rabbi Lazar's call the night
before, the request for a blessing from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and

There was, of course no medical explanation from the doctors as to what
the problem had been, or what had cured it. They simply didn't know. And
neither was there ever a clear explanation, in my mind, for all the whys
I had accumulated. Why us? Why my husband? Why was he chosen for the
affliction - and then for the miracle cure?

We don't presume to know the answers to those questions, Rabbi Lazar
said. G-d has His plan. But, he reminded us, there is one thing we do
know: Everything that happens to us is for the good. G-d uses His own
means and devices - including affliction, healings, or not healing - for
our own good.

My husband had already come to that conclusion. When he returned home,
he told me about the days and nights he spent in pain, in the hospital,
unable to walk, uncertain of his future. "I learned one thing for sure,"
he said. "There's more to life than just business and pleasure."

That was true, of course. And quite obviously everything did work out
"for the best." But neither of us then, at that moment, knew the full
impact of Benjamin's illness recovery. G-d still had a few more cards to
play. But those were all within His Will, at the moment, yet completely
unknown to us.

     From Words to Hear With Your Heart by Sarah Karmely. Reprinted
                                                    with permission

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                            THE REBBE WRITES
                     Freely adapted and translated

                     Rosh Chodesh Adar, 5710 [1950]

...In the well-known Epistle 27 in Iggeres HaKodesh, written to offer
redoubled consolation to "the smitten, who are sighing and groaning,"
Rabbi Shneur Zalman (founder of Chabad Chasidism) writes that a tzaddik
"leaves over life... to every living being, that is, to the soul of
every living being who is bound to his soul..., in each and every
individual, corresponding to the degree of his genuine bond with the
tzaddik and his true and pure love of him."

It is explained in Inyan HaHishtat'chus that "even with those who did
not know or recognize the tzaddik during his actual lifetime but only
studied the holy books that he left over as a blessing, and who bask in
the radiance of his Torah teachings and are thereby invigorated in their
service of G-d,... it is certain that they too are called his
disciples,... for they believe in that tzaddik and from him they receive
the light of his Torah teachings;... the branches are drawn back to
their roots."

So, too, my late revered father-in-law the Rebbe Rayatz explained in a
letter that a chassid "is able to satisfy his strong desire for a bond
with his Rebbe only by studying the discourses of Chassidus which the
Rebbe delivers or writes; merely beholding his face is not enough."

Another letter states explicitly: "You ask, what does your bond with me
consist of, since I do not know you by face.... True hiskashrus
(connecting) is attained by the study of the Torah. If you study my
discourses of Chassidus, read the talks, associate with my friends (the
members of the Chassidic brotherhood and the temimim [Chabad yeshiva
students]) in their studies and in their farbrengens, and fulfill my
request concerning the daily recital of Tehillim and the observance of
fixed times for Torah study - in this lies hiskashrus."

When we will study the Torah teachings and the sichos of the Rebbe
Rayatz, and will walk in this "straight path which he has shown us,"
then " 'as in water, a face reflects a face; so is the heart of man to
man', and 'spirit rouses spirit and brings forth spirit.' For his ruach
remains truly in our midst...; that is, even in this world of action -
of which it is written, 'This day: to do them' - the departed tzaddik is
found more than in his lifetime." And just as here he stood and
dutifully served, there too he stands and dutifully serves....

                                *  *  *

                          Adar 26, 5710 [1950]

Greetings and blessings,

In one of his letters, my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, hk"m,
writes: "Chassidus brought about a situation in which one is not alone."
If that applied when "the tzaddik was living on this a
physical place," certainly it applies to a much greater degree at
present when "he is found" - even in this world of deed - "more than in
his lifetime." How much more so does this apply with regard to a tzaddik
who is also a Rebbe who is "an intermediary who binds" between G-d and
the Jewish people!

The name used for G-d, Havayah, is not related to the limitations of
nature, Heaven forbid. The intermediary possesses dimensions of both the
entities between which he mediates. With regard to his chassidim and
those bound to him at present, as previously - for a connection with a
Rebbe is one of yechidah which is above the concept of time - the motif
of bonding is even stronger now. For the chassidim tell their souls and
their bodies that we have no other alternative at all. And then there
will be no interruption in that bond, Heaven forbid. On the contrary,
"the spirit will draw down the spirit."

This will be manifest in spiritual matters and in material matters, in
all forms of good. For just as Above, so too below, i.e., with regard to
a Rebbe: the nature (i.e., a tendency above nature) of the good is to do

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

        Why is the "bima," the elevated platform where the Torah
            is read, located in the center of the synagogue?

The bima is in the center for numerous reasons:

It is symbolic of the altar which was in the center of the Holy Temple;
Since it is primarily used for reading the Torah, its central location
makes it easier for everyone to hear; The Holy Temple stood in the
center of the universe to diffuse its spiritual light throughout the
world. So, too, the bima where the Torah is read is in the center to
convey that its teachings should radiate to the entire world; It reminds
us of the encampment of the Jews in the desert, when the 12 Tribes
formed a square around the Tabernacle; To indicate that the Torah
belongs equally to all those present.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
In the book "HaYom Yom," compiled by the Rebbe at the behest of the
Previous Rebbe, it says, "You ask how can you be bound to me when I do
not know you personally. The true bond is created by studying Torah.
When you study my discourses, read the informal talks and associate with
those dear to this is the bond."

The Rebbe's most recent talks, from 1991 and 1992, consistently
communicated the news that the time of the Redemption has arrived and
that every individual can and must play an active role in hastening the
Redemption. One of the ways this can be done, the Rebbe explained, is by
permeating our lives with the awareness of the imminent Redemption.

By attending classes at your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center, by listening
to Torah classes over the phone, by studying and reading the Rebbe's
published talks and essays (available in many languages), you will
connect to the Rebbe and everything he personifies.

As we approach Gimmel Tammuz, the pain has not lessened. But there is no
room for despair. For, as each moment passes, we are one moment closer
to seeing in a revealed manner that, to quote the Rebbe, "Moshiach is
coming," and that "he has already come." We are one moment closer to
recognizing that "the world is ready for Moshiach" and that "the time of
the Redemption has arrived." We are one moment closer to being reunited
with the Rebbe, and "he will redeem us."

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov said: "He who fulfills one mitzva
(commandments) acquires for himself one advocate..." (Ethics 4:11)

The simple meaning of this Mishna is that the performance of a mitzva
(commandment) creates an angel that will act as an advocate for the
person in his final judgment. Nevertheless, the fact that the Mishna
uses the expression "acquires" rather than "creates" implies something
deeper. In addition to the angel created by each mitzva he performs, a
person acquires One advocate; the One becomes an advocate for him. For
every mitzva a person performs, regardless of his intent, connects him
to G-d. (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Motzei Shabbat Eikev, 5738)

Rabbi Yannai said: "We are unable to understand either the well-being of
the wicked or the tribulations of the righteous." (Ethics 4:15)

One of the Maggid of Mezeritch's students asked him how it was possible
to accept tribulation with joy. The Maggid sent him to his student, Reb
Zushya of Anapoli. Reb Zushya was poor, suffered from physical
difficulties, and endured many different types of privation.
Nevertheless, he radiated happiness. When the student told him the
purpose of his journey, he replied: "I don't know why the Maggid sent
you to me. I have never suffered any adversity in my life." Not knowing,
in the positive sense, is the key. When a person makes a commitment to
G-dliness that is not bound by the limitations of understanding, he is
able to appreciate that everything which G-d grants him is good.

                                           (Likutei Sichot, Vol. 4)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
   by Eddie (from, reprinted with permission)

I'd like to share an experience. I have a trading position on one of the
exchanges in the U.S.A. This is my third year trading; my first year was
a scratch , which meant I owed the firm which had backed me. I made a
strong effort in Judaism during the second year and saw enough trading
success to cover what I owed and make a little, thanks to G-d. This
fiscal year which began this past October held a lot of promise; my
slate was clean with my firm -  they were happy with me -  I had
experience to build on, I had made pledges to tzedaka (charity) and was
working on sharing Judaism with those around me (getting co-workers to
put on tefilin, study Torah, etc.). All systems looked good for success.

Unfortunately October ended poorly, November was a disaster and December
started out shaky. I was deep in the red and my stress level was high,
especially with my wife expecting our first child. I couldn't help but
think it would be another year of difficulty just like the first, which
I didn't think I could take. During this time my observance of Judaism
started to nose dive. Praying got shorter, my outreach went to a
trickle, and like an idiot, I turned to the TV for escape. Every time I
tried to get my emuna (faith) going, all these doubts crept in: A part
of me kept telling me that G-d wants to punish me, and that I just am
not that type of person that can have the right faith. I was choking
myself with fears and running away from the true solution, steadfast

Rabbi Lazer, I always read your site and personal letters of emuna. I
also came across letters of the Lubavitcher Rebbe talking about emuna.
Both of you stress how emuna that G-d will take care of us is the
prerequisite key for success. "More emuna more parnasa (livelihood),"
the Rebbe told someone. Still I couldn't shake the stress. Finally I
just started talking to my wife about emuna, stating to my wife my
desire to have the right emuna and trust in G-d that things will turn
out right. Everytime the fears and doubts surfaced I forced myself to
think - G-d will help. Last Sunday, I went to the Lubavitcher Rebbe's
grave, to ask for a blessing and help.

The next day on the train to work as I was thinking how rough things
were, I stopped myself and tried to think as sincerely as possible, "I
can't wait to see how G-d will help me out of this." I had a warm
feeling of confidence that G-d would provide - it felt so very good. As
I stepped off the train, I had a message on my cell phone - it was my
head manager at work telling me something big had happened - good big.

I came into the office and found out that one of my positions that was a
100-1 shot had unexpectedly hit big, making up for my entire deficit and
putting me nicely positive for the year thus far. It was a miracle from
G-d. It was a blessing from the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I have no doubt.  For
all my trying to figure out how to succeed, I actually succeeded in a
way I never dreamed would happen and just a few days earlier would have
told you my position is no good. G-d not only did a miracle for me but I
finally have the privilege to see emuna at work first hand. Emuna in
Tzadikim (the righteous) and Emuna in G-d no matter how rough it looks
will work in the end.

I wish I hadn't given myself all those months of stress and substandard
Judaism because of my lack of faith. I hope I learn from this when I
face difficulties in the future. Writing to you is one of the ways I am
trying to not loose the effects of my experience. I hope others can
benefit from it too.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
"Do all you can - in a manner of Orot D'Tohu in Keilim d'Tikkun (lights
of Tohu in vessels of tikkun, i.e., the harnessing and control of
tremendous energy and enthusiasm) - to actually bring Moshiach in the
most immediate present! May it be G-d's will that there finally be ten
Jews who will be obstinate that they absolutely must achieve the
redemption from G-d and they most certainly will achieve."

                           (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 28 Nissan, 5761)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 974 - Korach 5767

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