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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1033
                           Copyright (c) 2008
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        August 15, 2008        Vaeschanan            14 Av, 5768

                             Don't Scratch!

Ever have an itch? Of course. And what's the best way to relieve it?
Well, if not the bet way, what's our automatic reaction? Scratch! And
isn't that what the doctor - not to mention your mother, who knows best
- tells you not to do?

But it itches! What am I supposed to do - ignore it?

Well, yeah - if you can. And if not...

Wait, first let's find out exactly what is an itch, why it makes us
scratch, why we shouldn't, and what we should do if we can't help

An itch is an irritation of the skin. Now, many things can cause itches,
and if the itch is widespread, persistent or has other symptoms (major
skin problems), obviously one needs to see a dermatologist.

But the most common cause of itching is not physiological, but
psychological. When under stress, we itch. Anxiety makes us itch. (And
if there is a physiological source, stress can aggravate the itching

Scratching might relieve itching, temporarily, because it activates
nerves that stimulate pleasure systems in the brain.

This is why scratching doesn't solve the problem: it masks the
irritation, but doesn't get rid of it.

The best way to deal with a stress-induced itch is to ignore it. But it
was the weakening of mental resolve - the anxiety - that caused the
itch, so it's hard to will away an itch.

Other than will power, the best way to stop an itch is cold - cold water
or an anti-itch cream that does the same thing, numbs the nerve endings
and interrupts the cycle of itch-scratch, or false pain- false pleasure.

We can see in this process parallels to our spiritual life. When we are
under "spiritual stress," at moments when we are most searching for
G-dliness, ironically then we can be most distracted. Hypersensitive, we
can get diverted from our true goal. The diversion is not a direct
threat to our spiritual life, or life as a Jew, but it irritates us

For instance, when we realize, from whatever cause, that something's
"missing in our lives," we have an "itch" to learn or do something
spiritual. At such times, we may "scratch" that itch with something
pleasurable, but not necessarily Jewish. Even things that appear good -
actions, books, retreats - may just aggravate the condition.

The way to relieve a spiritual irritation is to "cool it" - that is,
cool the passions and desires that have been inflamed by the allergens,
stresses and "insect bites" of life in the physical world. And the only
way to "cool it," to remove the cause of the itch, is to do that which
is authentically and verifiably Jewish - studying Torah, as transmitted
through the generations, and fulfilling the commandments, as brought
down in the Code of Jewish Law.

There are 613 commandments in the Torah, all of which spell relief for
an itch of the soul. And there are hundreds of Torah classes, tens of
thousands of Torah books, audio lectures and websites that will not only
sooth the itch, but remove it permanently.

At the end of the Torah portion of Va'etchanan it states, "Which I
command you this day, to do them," upon which Rashi comments, "And
tomorrow, in the World to Come, to receive their reward."

A Jew is rewarded for observing G-d's commandments. However, most
mitzvot (commandments) are rewarded not in this world, but in the World
to Come. And the reason is simple:

As Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism explained, the
reward for doing mitzvot is so great that this limited, physical world
cannot contain it; we must therefore wait until the less restrictive
World to Come to receive our reward. The majority of the Torah's
commandments fall into this category.

Nonetheless, there are certain mitzvot for which we are rewarded in this
world as well. These are the good deeds we do to benefit others. Not
only are they "good for heaven," but "good for the creations." Such
mitzvot elicit a response from G-d that is measure for measure: Because
we have helped our fellow Jew in this world, it is only fitting that our
reward be in this world too.

The following illustrates the concept of delayed reward:

There was once a king who ruled over the entire world. One day he left
his palace and met a Jewish boy, Yisrael.

"Yisrael," the king said, "Find a beautiful diamond for my royal crown."
At once Yisrael embarked on a search. When he found a diamond he thought
was suitable he brought it to the palace, where the royal jewelers cut
and polished the stone and set it in the king's crown. Everyone was
stunned by the stone's brilliance. The king promised Yisrael a reward
for his deed. Although now he was only a child, when he grew up the king
would appoint him as his highest ranking minister.

The next day Yisrael sat down to eat, but his plate was empty. "It isn't
fair!" he cried. "I did what the king wanted, yet still I go hungry! How
can the king not care about me?"

It was only years later that Yisrael realized that he had received his
true reward. The king appointed Yisrael second in command over his
entire kingdom.

The second category of mitzvot, for which we are rewarded in this world,
is illustrated by the following parable:

The same king once met Yisrael and asked him to do a different sort of
favor: he wanted him to feed his children, the royal princes and
princesses. Yisrael, of course, immediately stopped what he was doing
and arranged a lavish meal for the king's children. This time the king
did not allow Yisrael to go hungry. In addition to the reward he would
get later, the boy was invited to sit at the table and eat.

So too is it when we help our fellow Jews. Not only are we rewarded
later, but the King of the universe grants us our reward in the here and

                             Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Volume 19

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                            Above Down-Under
                            by Yehudis Cohen

    A little over one month ago, Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner, the
    Lubavitcher Rebbe's emissary to Australia and  a giant of a man,
    passed away after a long illness. The following article about Rabbi
    Groner appeared in the first issue of the L'Chaim Monthly newspaper,
    January, 1989.

The list of Lubavitch programs and institutions in Melbourne, Australia,
seems endless. Every item flows easily from Rabbi Yitzchok Groner's
lips. He speaks of each with the same pride one would hear from a
grandfather whose grandchildren have given him much nachas (pleasure).

One might wonder what Rabbi Groner's goals were when he stepped foot on
Australian soil. "When I came to Australia, 30 years ago, I had no
goals, no aim, except," he states with a serious, sincere tone of voice,
"to spread Yiddishkeit (Judaism) and help as many people as possible. My
first visit to Australia was in 1947. I came as a shaliach (emissary) of
the P Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe. Rabbi Groner's main objective was to
raise funds for various Lubavitcher projects. Again, in 1954, Rabbi
Groner visited Australia. But it wasn't until 1958 that he actually
settled in Melbourne with his wife and six children.

"A shaliach of the Rebbe has a certain responsibility. 'A shaliach of a
person is like that person, himself.' A shaliach's goals," continues
Rabbi Groner, "are to do what the Rebbe wants, and the Rebbe wants what
G-d wants - to bring Judaism to every Jew. A shaliach must effuse a love
of every Jew which is in a manner of 'shtus d'kedush' - beyond all
limitations. In addition, a shaliach cannot be passive. He must work
beyond his strength and ability. Then, and only then, will the Rebbe's
blessing for success come into actuality."

Although this interview is supposed to be about Rabbi Groner and all of
his accomplishments in helping build the Jewish community in Melbourne
in general and the Lubavitch community in particular, time and again,
Rabbi Groner goes back to the subject of the personality of a shaliach
and the fact that a shaliach is truly a conduit for the work of the

Rabbi Groner is described by former students and relatives as someone
totally butel (nullified) to the Rebbe. However, when Rabbi Groner
enters a room, his presence is felt. He is a large man, and his voice
booms when he speaks to a crowd, especially when he speaks passionately,
which is often. People have said that, when hearing him "at his best" -
gesturing, his voice thundering to emphasize his point - one could
almost picture Moses on Mount Sinai, rebuking the Jewish people.

One might think that such a person would make a formidable and
intimidating boss. Yet Rabbi Groner makes sure to allow all those who
work under him to express themselves in their own way. Whether Chabad
House director in Perth or a teacher at Ohel Chana, he encourages them
to grow in the most appropriate way for their situation.

Rabbi Groner remembers that when he came to Australia in 1947 there was
a group of Jews who said that Lubavitch would never be able to attract
the Australian youth. "No until hair grows on your palm," was the
expression they used. They have been proven wrong, Lubavitch has
attracted the "youth" and turned them into caring, responsive and
committed Jews.

Time and again, in the course of conversation, Rabbi Groner constantly
veers back to his favorite subject - the responsibility of a shaliach.
It is as if he wants to ensure that a story about Rabbi Yitzchok Groner
will not be about Rabbi Yitzchok Groner. It will be the story of any
shaliach who is truly dedicated to the Rebbe and his work.

He begins, "The mazel, the zodiac sign of the month of Shevat [the month
this interview took place] is a bucket, d'lee. A bucket symbolizes the
essence of the Jewish people. A Jew goes down, draws substance, and
gives to others. About Abraham's servant and disciple it says in the
Talmud, 'Doleh u'mashke mitoraso shel rabo - He draws and is quenched by
the teaching of his master - Abraham.'

"A shaliach is a d'lee. He is nothing but an empty vessel. He has to go
down to the dark recesses of the well, where it is cold and damp. His
main objective is to draw the water - the teachings of the Rebbe - up
and use it to quench the thirst of others. And then, what happens to the
d'lee?" Rabbi Groner asks with a smile. "It is hung up and forgotten.
That," he says decisively, "is a shaliach."

Bringing an example from his surroundings to further illustrate his
point, Rabbi Groner motions out the window, toward Brooklyn's Eastern
Parkway where major construction on the city's pipes is underway. "Do
you see the pipes?" he asks. "When they're put underground, they will be
put as deep as possible. They will be hidden from sight. A shaliach is
like a pipe. The more hidden, the more butel he [his ego] is, the more
he accomplishes."

Rabbi Groner concludes with one last thought on what a shaliach is. "The
old Chasidim in Lubavitch used to say, 'it's 100% for sure that what the
Rebbe wants to accomplish, he will accomplish. Hashem should help that a
little of what needs to be accomplished will come through me."

                               WHAT'S NEW
                           Saying Mazel Tov!

Modern medical wisdom recognizes that good health depends on a patient's
emotional state and mental attitude. For centuries, it has been
customary for Jewish women to adorn both the birthing room and the
cradle with Psalm 121 (Shir Lama'alot). The Psalm states our declaration
of dependence upon the Creator for our safety and well-being, and His
commitment to guard us at all times. To get a color print of the Psalm
call Taharas Hamishpacha Int'l. at (718) 756-5700 or e-mail, or visit

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                          25 Adar, 5721 [1961]

I received your letter which is an acknowledgment of my letter. I was
pleased to read in it about your shiurim [study classes], and I hope
that you make additional efforts from time to time in accordance with
the precept of our Sages that all things of holiness should be on the

Generally speaking, all the questions which you mentioned have already
been answered in our sacred books, and those who continue to argue about
them do so mostly either because of ignorance or mischief. Some people
simply fear that if they accepted the Torah and mitzvoth (commandments]
fully, they would be obliged to commit themselves in their daily life
and conduct, and give up certain pleasures, and the like. Therefore,
they try to justify their misguided views by futile arguments.

By way of example, I will take one question which you mention in your
letter, and which apparently was impressed upon you as something
complicated, but in reality the matter was discussed and solved very
simply in our sacred literature. I refer to the question of how can man
have freedom of choice of action if G-d already knows beforehand what he
is going to do? The answer to this is simple enough as can be seen on
the basis of two illustrations:

 1. Suppose there is a human being who can foretell the future of
    what is going to happen to a person. This does not mean that this
    knowledge deprives that person from acting freely as before. It only
    means that the knowledge of the forecaster is such that it is the
    knowledge of how the person will choose freely and of his own
    volition. Similarly, G-d's knowledge of human actions is such that
    it does not deprive humans from the free choice of action, but it
    only means that G-d knows how the person will choose to act in a
    certain situation. To formulate this in scientific terms, we can say
    that the opposite of free choice is not pre-knowledge, but
    compulsion, for there is such knowledge which does not entail
    compulsion (as for example, knowledge of the past).

 2. Every believer in G-d, and not Jews only, believes that with G-d
    the past, present and future are all the same, since He is above
    time and space. Just as in the case of human affairs, the fact that
    Mr. X knows all that happened to Mr. Y in the past, this knowledge
    did not affect Mr. Y's actions in the past, so G-d's knowledge of
    the future, which is the same as His knowledge of the past, does not
    affect the free choice of human action.

From the simple solution to the above question, you can draw an analogy
in regard to all similar questions and be sure that there is an answer
to them, and very often a simple one. But the proper Jewish way is to
fulfill the Torah and mitzvoth without question, and then to try and
find out anything that one wishes to find out about the Torah and
mitzvoth, but not, G-d forbid, make human understanding a condition of
performance of G-d's commandments.

With blessings,

         What was the reason for the custom, in ancient Israel,
         of Jewish girls going out into the fields to dance on
                            the 15th of Av?

The 15th of Av is the day when the Jewish people were forgiven for their
believing the evil report made against the Land of Israel by the spies
in the desert. Since it was a day of forgiveness, it was considered an
especially appropriate time for activities that would lead to marriages.
Each girl wore a borrowed white dress so that no one would be
embarrassed by her poverty. It was a festival whose activities - even
its dances - were solely for the sake of Heaven.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This Shabbat, we celebrate the festive day of the Fifteen of Av.  On the
15th of Av the days begin to get shorter. In times gone by, the onset of
evening meant that the workday was over.  Our Sages, therefore,
encourage us to use the longer evenings for increased study of Jewish

The exile is often referred to as "night" and the Redemption,  as
"dawn."  Though we are certainly in the last few moments of the  long
night of exile, it sometimes seems like the "night" is getting longer
rather than shorter.  Thus, the above teaching of our Sages is certainly

Maimonides explains that in the era of the Redemption, the sole
occupation of the world will be to know G-d.  The Rebbe  suggested,
therefore, that as a preparation for that time, we increase in our
studies wherever possible. In addition, the Rebbe expressed the
following thoughts on studying  matters specifically concerning Moshiach
and the Redemption.

"Since Moshiach is about to come, a final effort is required  that will
bring him.  Every man, woman and child should increase his Torah study
in subjects that concern the Redemption...  One  should likewise upgrade
one's meticulous observance of mitzvot,  particularly charity, 'which
brings the Redemption near.'

"The above-described study is not only a spiritual means of securing the
speedy advent of Moshiach; it is a way of beginning to live one's life
in the mood of Moshiach and the Redemption by having one's mind
permeated with an understanding of the concepts of Moshiach and
Redemption.  From the mind, these concepts will then find their way into
the emotions  Ultimately, they will find expression in one's actual
conduct - in thought, word and deed - in a way befitting this unique era
when we stand on the threshold of the Redemption."

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
And I pleaded with the L-rd (va'etchanan) at that time (Deut. 3:23)

One reason the Torah uses this phrase instead of "va'etpalel" ("and I
prayed") is that the numerical equivalent of "va'etchanan" is the same
as "tefila" ("prayer") and "shira" ("song"). This teaches that it is
commendable to pray in a melodious, pleasant voice, utilizing the best
of one's G-d-given abilities for speech and song for a higher purpose.

                                                  (Pa'aneiach Raza)

                                *  *  *

Lest you corrupt yourselves and make a graven image (Deut. 4:16)

Why did Moses have to remind the Jewish people not to make graven
images, considering the fact that they had just spent forty years in the
desert and had seen all sorts of open miracles and wonders? Were they
not already on such a high spiritual level that making a graven image
would be unthinkable? From this we learn that an individual must never
think that his worship of G-d is perfect and  he is beyond temptation.
One must be ever on guard, even against those sins which appear to have
no attraction whatsoever.

                                                     (Sifrei Musar)

                                *  *  *

You have been shown to know that the L-rd is G-d (Deut. 4:35)

When G-d revealed Himself on Mount Sinai to the soul of every Jew of
every generation, He thereby made it possible for any Jew who sincerely
desires to serve Him to perceive the true essence of the world, despite
the darkness and concealment of what presents itself as reality.

                                                       (Sefat Emet)

                                *  *  *

Hear, O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One (Deut. 6:4)

"My children," G-d declares to Israel, "everything I created in the
world I created in pairs: heaven and earth; sun and moon; Adam and Eve;
this world and the world to come. I alone am without counterpart."

                                                    (Devarim Rabba)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
On one of the Skuler Rebbe's visits to Reb Boruch of Medzibuzh, he told
Reb Boruch the following story:

"Once I was sitting together with the Baal Shem Tov when two strangers
entered the room. The more distinguished-looking of the two men
approached the Baal Shem Tov and spoke: 'We have come to ask the advice
of the tzadik,' he said. Then he continued with his story: 'I am the
rabbi of a small town in this district and I have come to ask the Baal
Shem Tov if I should make a match between my daughter and this man's

"The Baal Shem Tov looked closely for a full minute at the speaker and
then shifted his penetrating glance to the other man. Then he replied
without hesitation, 'Why not?'

"The rabbi looked surprised at the response and began speaking rapidly
and nervously, explaining his situation. 'You see, Rebbe, this man is a
simple person, not at all learned - in fact, he had been water carrier
when fortune smiled on him and he became a wealthy man. Then, he got it
into his head that he wanted to make a match between his son and my
daughter. Of course, he realized I would never entertain such a
proposition so he approached my children's teacher with an offer: He
would pay the teacher fifty rubles in advance if he would come to me
every day and ask me to arrange the marriage between my daughter and the
water carrier's son.'

"The Baal Shem Tov turned to the rich man and asked, 'Is all this true?'

" 'Yes, Rabbi,' he replied. 'I knew that he wouldn't go for the idea
right away, but I figured if he were asked every day for a few weeks, he
would begin to think about it more seriously, and it might go through.'

" 'Yes,' chimed in the rabbi, 'I can't get rid of this pest. Every day
the teacher comes to me with the same story about the rich man's son,
until I really can't stand it any more. Nothing will dissuade him, and
so I finally agreed to come to you and accept whatever verdict that you
give. If you say I should arrange the match, it's as good as done; if
you say to forget it, he has agreed to leave me alone.'

" 'All right, then,' replied the Baal Shem Tov, 'tell me, is this man a
G-d-fearing person? Is the family known to be engaged in good deeds and
charity? Are they honest, good people?'

"The rabbi could only answer in the affirmative to all the Baal Shem
Tov's questions, for the rich man and his family were known to be fine,
upstanding people and no one had ever had a bad word to say against
them. 'If that's the case,' said the Baal Shem Tov, 'let's arrange the
marriage now. There's no reason to delay.' They sealed the agreement,
l'chaims were poured, and happy mazal-tovs were exchanged all around.
The two men shook hands and seemed to be satisfied with the arrangement.

"When the men departed, the Besht turned to me, and said,"  'That man
would make a good matchmaker in the world of clowns.' He chuckled to
himself and seemed to be amused at something I couldn't understand.

"I had no idea what he meant by that odd remark, but I intended to find
out, so I left and followed the two men to the local inn where I knew
they were staying. When I found the rabbi I related the Baal Shem Tov's
statement to him in hopes of receiving some explanation which would
illuminate the mysterious remark of the Besht.

"The rabbi listened incredulously and then with great excitement, cried
out, 'Now I understand where I was in my dream! Let me explain. You see,
not long ago I dreamed that I was traveling around in my district to
receive payment from my congregants as I usually did, in the form of all
sorts of farm produce. I arrived in one village and entered the study
hall where I overheard a discussion which was taking place between the
men seated around a long table. They were having a heated argument about
some scholarly topic which, to me, seemed an easy question to resolve. I
ventured to explain it in a simple fashion when suddenly I heard a loud
voice from the back of the shul saying, "How dare this man offer an
opinion in such matters? Why he's nothing but an ignoramus!"'

" 'In the next part of my dream, I was in a different village where the
same scene repeated itself. Then, I went to another village where it
happened yet again. In each town I entered a study hall, overheard a
learned dispute, and ventured my opinion, only to be derided and shamed.

"In the last part of my dream, which was similar to all the others, an
elderly rabbi approached me and said, "This ignoramus still doesn't want
to marry his daughter to the son of the rich man?" I woke up completely
upset and confused.

" 'Now that you have told me the words of the Baal Shem Tov, I
understand the meaning of these dreams. In the world of dreams I had
been made sport of so that my pride would be broken and I would agree to
the match between my daughter and the rich man's son. Now I understand
that the marriage has been ordained in Heaven.' "

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
When the pre-marriage contract was written for Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of
Berditchev's niece, he told them to write: "The wedding will take place,
G-d willing, with good mazal, in the holy city of Jerusalem. And if, G-d
forbid, Moshiach has not arrived by then, the wedding will take place in

              END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1033 - Vaeschanan 5768

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