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Household chores. Most of us view them as annoying, inconvenient - but necessary. So we wash the dishes (load the dishwasher), sweep the floor, take out the garbage, etc.
One of the most time consuming household chores is laundry. There are so many steps to do before you actually put the clothes in the machine, like sorting, pre-soaking, unrolling cuffs and turning right side out... the list goes on.
Doing the laundry is tedious. (If you don't have a washer and dryer in the house, and have to go to a laundromat, it's even more tedious.) And what of those items that can't go in the dryer? They have to be hung up to dry. Somewhere. And in a couple days (if you're lucky), more laundry.
What's the expression, don't hang your dirty laundry in public?
But we all have dirty laundry. And we need to wash it before we run out of clothes.
Chasidic philosophy discusses at length the metaphors that Torah is food and mitzvot (commandments) are garments.
In Tanya, the basic book of Chabad Chasidic philosophy written by Rabbi Shneur Zalman, it is explained that the soul clothes itself in the garments of thought, speech and action. Just as clothing can be put on or taken off, and they express who we are ("clothes make the man," goes the clich้), so does the soul express itself through whichever garment, or garments, it is "wearing" at a particular time. The three garments of the soul, thought, speech and action, manifest themselves through the 613 commandments.
That is, there are commandments of thought (Love and Fear of G-d, for instance), mitzvot (commandments) of speech (prayer, of course) and mitzvot of action (lots of those, but charity is a prime example). So whichever mitzva we perform, that's how the soul is expressing itself, how it clothes itself in our bodies and minds.
OK, but what about the "dirty laundry"?
In the course of our day, we get our clothes dirty - even when we're doing good things while clothed in them. The same thing can be said about the garments of the soul: True, we have Torah thoughts, but we also have mundane thoughts, and thoughts that aren't always so proper. True, we speak about Jewish topics, we have conversations that improve relationships and understanding, but we also gossip, or make cutting remarks. True, we give charity and ... you get the idea.
So we have to "wash our laundry," so to speak. We have to clean the garments of our soul. We do that in a way that parallels how we wash our clothes, physically. How does it work? We put in some soap - an abrasive - and water, and wash away the dirt, restoring the garment to its original state.
For our souls, we had an abrasive - our honest self-evaluation - and water - our tears of regret and repentance. And through this process, we restore our spiritual garments to their original state.
So yes, cleaning our dirty laundry, having to do it every day, can be tedious and repetitious; but after all, when we go out to work and meet the boss, we want to make sure we have clean clothes.
When it came time to construct the Sanctuary's vessels, discussed in this week's portion, Tetzaveh, Moses was unsure of how to make the gold menora. G-d instructed him to throw the gold into the fire, and the menora miraculously took shape by itself.
Many of the Sanctuary's vessels were far more complicated to construct than the menora, but Moses had no difficulty with them. What then did Moses find so troublesome about the menora, especially since G-d had already shown him what it looked like on Mount Sinai?
What Moses found difficult to understand was not the menora's form but its function. How could a physical object - any object - serve as a "dwelling place" for G-d and become holy? What do a table, an ark, a menora or an altar have to do with the Divine Presence?
Indeed, King Solomon posed the same question in the verse, "The highest heavens cannot contain You; how then can this House?"
Logic seems to dictate that a "dwelling place" for G-d be constructed of spiritual building blocks: learning Torah, praying with the right intention, loving and fearing G-d, etc. But how can physical objects bring sanctity into our lives?
It was this concept that Moses found troubling, which found expression most particularly in the menora. The purpose of the Menora was to serve as "testimony to all mankind that the Divine Presence rests in Israel." By means of the Menora, the light of holiness was to disperse throughout the world; Moses wondered how any physical object could perform such a tremendous function.
G-d's answer was that, in truth, this task is indeed beyond human ability. Only an infinite and unlimited Creator can grant a gold menora the power to light up the entire world with holiness; the only reason it does is because such is G-d's will.
This was alluded to when the menora took shape in the fire without human intervention. Similarly, the entire concept of the Sanctuary serving as a dwelling place for G-d is Divine in origin and not human.
This provides us with an eternal lesson for today, for despite the fact that the physical Temple has not yet been restored (may it be rebuilt by Moshiach immediately), every Jew possesses a "Sanctuary to G-d" in his heart. Furthermore, the Jew's primary function in the world is to imbue all he comes in contact with holiness.
The Torah tells us that it's not enough to bring sanctity into life's spiritual dimensions; even the most mundane aspects of our lives must serve as a "Sanctuary" for G-d's Presence. This can be achieved miraculously if we throw ourselves into the "fire" of love for our fellow Jew - just like the menora that took shape in a supernatural manner.
Adapted from Likutei Sichot of the Rebbe, Vol. 1
It's Your Choice
by Yehudis Cohen
He's a man with a passion, although some might define it as more. Rabbi Israel Teitelbaum himself admits that his involvement in the School Choice movement is an obsession: "When I published my book The Case for School Choice I dedicated it to 'my dear wife Chaia, in appreciation of the extra burden she has carried due to my obsessive school choice advocacy," chuckles the rabbi.
"Americans insist on equality of opportunity in housing, employment and public accommodations, yet we trample upon this right where it hurts us most - the raising and nurturing of our children," explains Rabbi Teitelbaum in the introduction to his monograph.
Rabbi Teitelbaum was raised in Queens, New York, and descends from a long line of rabbis. His father, a Kapiznitzer Chasid, sent young Israel to the Lubavitcher Yeshiva in Brooklyn for his elementary and high school education. When Israel finished high school, he chose to attend advanced rabbinic studies at the Lubavitcher Yeshiva in Montreal.
But that's all past history. And Rabbi Teitelbaum has no time for the past, because he wants change to happen today and he wants each one of us to be involved in that change. "Free choice in education is not going to come about through politicians; it's going to come through people taking action. Democracy is about a request coming from the people, especially today, when politicians don't go out on a limb unless they hear from their constituents that they want it." Adds Rabbi Teitelbaum, "You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to get people simply to pick up the phone and call their elected officials to voice their support of free choice in education."
Rabbi Teitelbaum explains that a big part of what fuels his passion in school choice is the frustration at the injustice that is going on. "Families are society's first line of defense in raising law abiding citizens who form the foundation of any civilized society. By compelling parents to pay for government-run schools and denying them funding for alternative education, government has usurped the rights of parents to raise their own children. By shunting parents aside and assuming the responsibility for raising our youth, government has intervened in the very foundation of our societal structure, in a task for which it is not suited. Government functions far better conducting its constitutionally mandated responsibilities, such as national defense. Just as families are not fit to fight wars, so are governments unfit to raise families. Many of the ills we suffer today can be directly traced to the weakening of the family. This is where we need to focus our attention if we are to find our way back to America's true potential as envisioned by our founders."
It seems like an impossible task. Politicians won't take a stand until constituents raise their voices. Most voters either don't know their constitutional rights or don't care enough to help change the status quo. In addition, teachers' unions are spending millions of dollars to make sure that School Choice doesn't become a reality. But that doesn't stop Rabbi Teitelbaum. "How can you not be passionate when there is such an injustice going on. People need to wake up."
The Lubavitcher Rebbe and the teachings of the Torah serve as Rabbi Teitelbaum's inspiration to continue his grassroots effort to put School Choice in the consciousness of every American voter. " 'Nobody speaks up,' the Rebbe used to say at public gatherings," recalls Rabbi Teitelbaum. "The Rebbe pushed for this from the earliest years of his leadership. I remember hearing this directly from the Rebbe at public gatherings. One time the Rebbe told the children at a gathering especially for them that their teachers should help them write to their congressmen and the president regarding tuition support for yeshiva children, stating that it is one of our constitutional rights."
Rabbi Teitelbaum admits that even the biggest leaders in the School Choice movement have told him that getting School Choice passed through typical political channels is impossible. " 'Should I stop?' I've asked myself. But then I look around. Almost everything that we have today was considered impossible a generation or a century ago: refrigerators, cars, airplanes, space travel, wireless internet. The list goes on. In addition, the Mishna teaches, 'It is not incumbent upon the person to complete the work, but you are not free to desist from it.'"
If Rabbi Teitelbaum had limitless funds at his disposal to be used for School Choice, what is the first thing he would do? "I would hire people to phone voters to explain School Choice and ask them to call their elected officials. Or I would have people calling and patching them in directly to their congressmen and senators."
But even without the funding, Rabbi Teitelbaum urges, "Call your congressman, your elected officials at 202-224-3121. Tell them how you feel about School Choice. When people call you asking for your opinions in surveys or encouraging you to vote for this one or that one, share your thoughts with them. There is a wall of silence. Every person has to be his own leader and his own lobbyist. The American public is getting a raw deal. Justice is with us," Rabbi Teitelbaum assures us.
To learn more about School Choice or to read the highly informative "The Case for School Choice" visit www.schoolchoicevoter.org
New Torah Scrolls
The Federation of Jewish Communities of the former Soviet Union Jewish Community Center of Omsk, Russia, was recently presented with a new Torah scroll, the first time in the past century that this east Siberian community has received a new Torah scroll. The FJC center in Saratov, Russia, in the south also recently welcomed a new Torah scroll to their community on the occasion of the 100 year anniversary of the Great Choral Synagogue of Saratov. Chabad of Chatsworth, California, was also presented with a new Torah scroll. Chabad of Costa Rica was instrumental in having a Torah scroll donated to the small Jewish community in Nicaragua that has been without their own Torah for the last 28 years.
24 Adar, 5737 
Greeting and Blessing:
Thank you very much for your letter of March 7, in which you write in detail about the visit of our Lubavitch emissaries to the Jewish community of Wiesbaden, Germany, in connection with Purim. I was most gratified to read about the highly inspiring and lasting impression which they made on both the American Jewish personnel and the civilian Jewish community, not least their impact on the children.
Since "the essential thing is the deed," I am confident that the impressions you describe will be translated into actual deeds, in terms of Torah and Mitzvos (commandments) in the daily life of each and all who shared in this experience.
I have had occasion to share some thoughts with Jewish chaplains, and these may not be new to you, but they are always timely and worth repeating. For the mitzvah of "ve'ahavta l'rei'acha kamocha" [loving one's neighbor as oneself] makes it the constant duty and privilege of every Jew to promote Torah and Mitzvos to the fullest extent of one's ability This includes, moreover, the duty also to promote the observance of the so-called Seven Precepts [known also as the "Seven Laws of Noah"] (with all their ramifications) which are incumbent upon all mankind, in accordance with the Torah, "Toras Chaim" [the Torah of life].
A military chaplain is in an especially favorable position to achieve a great deal in the above area, because of the conducive conditions prevailing in military life.
What makes servicemen particularly receptive to the basic approach of Torah-true Judaism is, first of all, the very basic principle on which the military depends, namely obedience and discipline in the execution of an order by his commanding officer. Even though in civilian life a private may be superior to his c.o., the order must be executed promptly, whether or not the soldier understands its significance. This, of course, corresponds to the principle of na'aseh v'nishma [first we will do, then we will understand], the condition on which Jews accepted the Torah and Mitzvos from the Supreme Commander, the Giver of the Torah and Mitzvos.
A further basic point in military life is the fact that a soldier cannot argue about his personal conduct and whether or not he obeys an order is his private affair, and he is prepared to suffer the consequences, etc. Whether he realizes it or not, his conduct may have implications for his entire unit and all the military. In case of an emergency or war, the personal conduct of a single soldier could very seriously affect his platoon and brigade and division and the entire military operation, the whole army and country. Thus it is not just a question of one soldier's personal moral attitude; it is of vital importance to the whole army, sometimes even in time of peace.
Applying the analogy to Jewish life, it becomes quite evident how vitally important is every Jew's commitment to Torah and Mitzvos in his personal life and in spreading Yiddishkeit to the fullest extent of his influence. It may be added that our people live in a state of emergency, what with the general atmosphere of trends and idea which are inimical to the Torah way, and a Jew having to fight to overcome all and sundry alien forces which tend to undermine his spiritual, hence also also physical existence.
In other words, every Jew must consider himself a "soldier" in G-d's Army (Tzivos HaShem) and be on a constant alert to spread the Light of the Torah and Mitzvos, until the time when "G-d's Glory will be revealed, and all flesh shall see," and "all the earth will be full of the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the sea" - which will come to pass with the appearance of Moshiach-tzidkeinu - our righteous Moshiach, may he come speedily in our time.
Wishing you hatzlocho [success] in all above,
With esteem and blessing,
What is the significance of "Purim Katan"?
In a leap year such as this year, there are two Hebrew months of Adar. Marriages, births and deaths that took place in Adar of a non-leap year are all celebrated in the second Adar. The holiday of Purim, too, is celebrated in Adar II on the 14th of the month. However, it is customary to recognize the 14th of Adar I as "Purim Katan," or the Minor Purim. This is done by making meals of a festive nature, not delivering eulogies and not fasting.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
"V'ata Tetzaveh - And you shall command" are the words that begin this week's Torah portion. A Chasidic discourse based on this verse was issued by the Lubavitcher Rebbe and personally distributed to thousands of men, woman, and children on "Purim Katan - the Minor Purim," on 14 Adar I, 1992, less than two weeks before the Rebbe suffered a stroke on 27 Adar I. This Chasidic discourse was the last discourse edited personally and distributed personally by the Rebbe.
The discourse was based on a discourse of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe. When the Previous Rebbe delivered his discourse, it was with true self-sacrifice: Hundreds of Chasidim were risking their lives and defying the Communist government to gather in a small Lubavitch synagogue in Moscow in order to hear the Rebbe deliver the discourse. They knew that KGB agents were there. They knew that the Rebbe had been warned to cease his activities that maintained and bolstered Judaism in Russia. Indeed, only four months later the Previous Rebbe was arrested on capital charges. Moreover, the discourse encouraged them to defy the regime and to risk their lives for Judaism and Jewish education.
The discourse emphasizes the inspiration generated by Moses and the "extensions of Moses in every generation," the Torah leaders of the Jewish people. It is the Moses of the generation who stirs our people's desire for Redemption and prevents them from being lulled into complacency by the exile. Even when a person is blessed with success and prosperity, Moses' influence causes him to feel a hungering want for Redemption because of the very fact that he is in exile.
The discourse concludes by emphasizing how Moses' inspiration enables each individual to continue their divine service on their own initiative, shining as "a constant light" without change or variation.
Beaten (katit) for the light, to cause a light to burn continuously (Ex. 27:20)
The numerical equivalent of the word "katit" is 830 - the exact number of years the two Holy Temples stood in Jerusalem. (The First Temple existed for 410 years; the Second, 420.) The Third Holy Temple, by contrast, will exist "to cause a light to burn continuously" - eternally and forever.
And these are the garments which they shall make: a breastplate and an ephod (Ex. 28:4)
It is said that Rashi, the foremost Torah commentator, was once very perturbed when he stepped out of the study hall for a moment and saw a gentile noblewoman on a horse riding towards him. Later, however, when he was trying to find the right words to describe the ephod, he realized that it was exactly "like the kind of apron...with which the noblewomen gird themselves when they ride on horses." This too, had been part of the Divine Plan and had served a positive purpose.
(Maayana Shel Torah)
The names of the Children of Israel...six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six upon the other (Ex. 28:9-10)
The Jerusalem Talmud (Sota) relates that Benjamin's name was divided into two, "Bin" being engraved on one stone of the ephod, and "yamin" on the other. Indeed, the Aramaic translation of Yonatan renders this verse as "six names, although not complete ones." This is also reflected in the Torah's description of Benjamin (Deut. 33:12) as "dwelling between his shoulders," i.e., that the name was divided between the two halves of the ephod.
The great scholar Rabbi Yonatan Eibeshutz (1695-1764) was known far and wide for his enormous erudition and remarkably sharp wit. The governor of the city of Metz took great pleasure in testing the rabbi's intellect. He would make a decree against the Jewish residents, knowing full well that Rabbi Eibeshutz would dash to his palace to intercede for his brethren. Then, the governor would pose some difficult puzzle or riddle to attempt to stump the great scholar. As history records it, fortunately, Rabbi Eibeshutz always succeeded in besting his foe and having the evil decree nullified.
Once the governor issued a decree proclaiming that the Jews of Metz would be given a deadline by which they would all be required to submit to baptism. If they refused, which he knew they would, they would be forced from their homes into exile. The governor also knew from his past experience that Rabbi Eibeshutz would present himself at the governor's palace in order to plead for his people. Then, he would snare the rabbi in his plot, for this time, the rabbi would surely fail.
The Jews of Metz were thrown into turmoil. None would consider con-version, but what were they to do, where could they turn? Rabbi Eibeshutz immediately went to the governor. "Your excellency," he began, "how can you punish an entire community of innocent souls. I beg of you not to inflict this terrible suffering upon innocent women and babes."
A cold smile passed across the governor's face. "On the contrary, my dear rabbi, I am merely helping to fulfill a prophecy which is stated in scripture: 'A great trouble will ensue, so terrible as never before experienced and never to be repeated again.' This passage is interpreted to refer to the Jews. I consider it my great privilege to help bring it about."
Now came the moment the governor had waited for with such delight. With suppressed glee he turned to Rabbi Eibeshutz and continued: "But, my dear friend, I will give you the opportunity of nullifying my decree."
"And how may I do that," the rabbi asked.
"All you have to do is to answer a few questions which I will pose to you. Are you agreeable to this arrangement?" asked the governor.
"Yes, what are the questions?"
"First, tell me immediately and without hesitation how many letters there are in the [Hebrew] sentence I just quoted to you?"
With not even a pause, Rabbi Eibeshutz replied, "There are the same number as the years of your life, sixty."
The governor was astounded, but not deterred. He continued with his next question: "Now, how many words did the same sentence contain?"
The rabbi answered with the same swiftness, "There are 17 words - the same as in our famous saying, 'The people of Israel lives forever' - Am Yisrael Chai L'Olmai Ad."
The governor couldn't contain his admiration. "Wonderful! Now, tell me how many Jews live in Metz and its surrounding areas?"
Again Rabbi Eibeshutz didn't hesitate: "There are 45,760 Jews in the city of Metz and all of its suburbs, Your Excellency."
The governor was momentarily thrown off guard by the rabbi's brilliant answers. But he soon regained his bearings and threw out the last, and impossible demand. "I want you to write 'Israel lives forever' 45,760 times, on a parchment no larger than the ones you use for your mezuza scrolls." This time he knew he had won and he smirked with satisfaction.
Rabbi Eibeshutz paled when he heard this absurd and impossible order. "How long do I have to fulfill your command," he asked.
"I give you one hour," was the triumphant reply. "And remember that the fate of your unfortunate brethren is in your hands."
Rabbi Eibeshutz disappeared, but when one hour had elapsed he presented himself at the governor's palace.
"Your Honor, I have in my hand a parchment with the dimensions of 2" by 4". On it is written an anagram with the solution to your puzzle. My drawing contains 15 Hebrew letters across and 19 letters down."
The governor couldn't believe his ears. He reached out his hand to take the parchment from Rabbi Eibeshutz. As he stared at it, uncomprehending, the rabbi continued to explain:
"When you read this you will see the words, 'Am Yisroel Chai L'Olmai Ad,' written in every direction. It is spelled out 45,760 different ways."
The governor was too shocked to reply, and the rabbi continued. "I request of Your Honor to cancel the decree pending your deciphering this code, since it may take you some time to work it out."
The governor agreed. It is said that the governor worked at Rabbi Eibeshutz's anagram a full year before he was able to decipher all the combinations of words. When he completed his study of it, the governor summoned the rabbi to his palace. He embraced the scholar and said, "I can truly see that your G-d has imparted His wisdom to his followers." The governor no longer tormented the Jews of his city and until the end of his life held Rabbi Eibeshutz in the highest esteem.
On the verse, "Zion - there are none who seek her out," (Jeremiah 30:17) our Sages in the Talmud (Rosh Hashana 31a) comment, "This indicates that one should seek her out," implying that we must demand the Redemption. Similarly, we must seek out joy, including the ultimate joy, the joy of the Redemption. We must demand that G-d grant us the consummate joy of the Era of the Redemption.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 14 Elul, 1988)