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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 987
                           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.
  September 12, 2007    Rosh Hashana / Ha'Azinu      29 Elul, 5767

                        A Glorious Rosh Hashana
                        by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger

Jews understand the difference between Rosh Hashana and the secular New
Year. Rosh Hashana is not a time to party and let loose. True, it is
associated with celebrations as the Bible states: "Go eat succulent
foods and drink sweet beverages and send portions to those who have
nothing prepared.... Do not be sad, for the joy of G-d is your
strength." But the same passage gives the reason for the rejoi-cing:
"The day is sacred to our G-d."

More particularly, Rosh Hahana is the Day of Judgment, when G-d "opens
the book of memories... and all the inhabitants of the world pass before
Him like sheep.... And He writes out their decree."

Knowing the awesomeness of His judgment, many are concerned with their
own future: "What will my coming year be like?" Some are concerned with
their material future: How much will they make in the coming year? What
will their health be? Will they marry? Will they have children? Others
focus on spiritual desires: Will they be able to gain wisdom? Will they
be inspired with the love and fear of G-d?

All of these desires can be expressed on many planes, with various
motivations. When, however, they are reduced to their lowest common
denominator, the question prompting all others is: Will G-d give me what
I want in the coming year?

On Rosh Hashana, however, what we really should be thinking about is not
what we want, but what He wants.

There is a classic Chasidic adage: "On Rosh Hashana, in some synagogues,
it is when the cantor comes to the words: 'Repentance, prayer, and
charity - teshuva, tefila u'tzedaka - nullify the evil decree,' that the
emotions reach their peak. But in Chasidic synagogues, it is the words
'Reveal the glory of Your sovereignty upon us' that arouse the
congregation most powerfully."

G-d did not have to create this world. On one hand, the fact that there
is no reason compelling the creation introduces a dimension of utter
randomness. There is no need for Him to conform to an existing plan; He
can do anything He wants.

However, the very same logic necessitates that everything He did create
was created for a specific desire and purpose. On Rosh Hashana, when we
relive the dynamic of creation, we should hone in on that purpose and
make it the focus of our conduct.

What is His purpose in creation? As foremost commentator Rashi states at
the very beginning of his commentary to the Torah, all of existence was
created "for the sake of the Torah and the Jewish people." Simply put,
that means that G-d created the world so that a Jew could study the
Torah and observe the mitzvot (commandments), not for our sake but for

Translating that into practical directives, this means when I see a
person in need, I should help him, not because I feel sorry for him, but
because G-d commanded us to go out of our way to help another person.
When I do a mitzva, I should be thinking not of the reward G-d will give
me for fulfilling His will, but of the fact that I am fulfilling His
will. When I am studying the Torah, I should be doing so not because it
is intellectually edifying or interesting, but because it is His wisdom
and He asked us to explore it.

On Rosh Hashana, our acceptance of G-d as King should have at its core a
yearning to know true Sovereignty, and see G-d "reign over the entire
world in His glory... and reveal Himself in the majesty of His glorious
might over all inhabitants" with the coming of Moshi-ach. May it be
speedily in our days.

              From Keeping in Touch, published by Sichos In English

The Haftara of the first day of Rosh Hashana relates the story of Chana,
who was childless and came to the Sanctuary to pray. In the merit of her
prayers she was blessed with a son - the prophet Samuel.

Eli the High Priest, seeing Chana so immersed in prayer and oblivious to
her surroundings, suspected her of being intoxicated - not from wine,
but from the very act of praying.

"I am not drunk," Chana explained. "I am pouring out my soul before the
L-rd." Through prayer, Chana's soul was uniting with G-d.

On Rosh Hashana we ask G-d to fulfill our needs. Our requests are
spiritual and material: We ask Him to bless us with healthy children,
long lives, and an abundant livelihood.

Rosh Hashana is the day of G-d's coronation as King, as we say, "Reign
over the whole world in Your glory."

How do we accept G-d's sovereignty? By nullifying ourselves in His
Presence. When we are completely nullified before the King, we are
unaware of our personal desires, aware only of being in G-d's Presence.

This presents us with a seeming contradiction. If Rosh Hashana is
characterized by an absence of self-perception, how can we
simultaneously pray for the fulfillment of our personal requests?

When a Jew prays to G-d on Rosh Hashana, his prayer is an extension of
the process of coronation. While superficially he may be asking G-d for
material blessings, his true intention - whether consciously or
subconsciously - is the desire to spread awareness of G-d's kingship in
the world. By praying for material blessing, the Jew is merely asking
for Divine assistance in fulfilling his G-dly mission on earth.

It was this concept that was unclear to Eli the priest. His contention
was that when a Jew prays there is no room for personal requests; the
awareness of being in G-d's Presence should be so intense that it
precludes anything else. When Eli saw Chana praying for a child, he
mistakenly concluded that she had forgotten G-d's Presence.

Not so, was Chana's reply. Her longing for a child was not a personal
desire, but a wish to fulfill a greater mission in life. This is evident
in the vow she made, that if G-d would bless her, the child would be
given over for a life of total service of G-d. Chana wasn't asking G-d
to fulfill her personal request; she was praying for G-d to fulfill His
own needs!

So too is it with us on Rosh Hashana. Although our petitions are
personal in focus, the true essence of our prayer is to unite with G-d.

             Adapted for Maayan Chai from Likutei Sichot, Volume 19

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                           U-Turn on Wilshire
                            by Yossi Marcus

Yosef Groner is a Chabad rabbi in Charlotte, North Carolina. His accent
is straight out of Brooklyn but if you listen closely you can hear an
occasional southern drawl. Fifteen years in the Tar Heel State must have
had some effect on the gregarious rabbi.

It's a week after Rosh Hashana, and Groner is preparing his Yom Kippur
address. He takes a call from one Harvey Yelnick. The name is vaguely
familiar but otherwise meaningless to the rabbi.

"Rabbi Groner speaking," he says leaning back with a smile, one hand
cradling a black receiver the other fixing a blue velvet yarmulke on his
thinning hair.

"Hi Rabbi, this is Harvey Yelnick, you don't know me but I have to say,
you guys don't even know what you do. I've never met you but I have to
thank you."

"Well, you're very welcome," Groner chuckles, "sounds like you have a

"Indeed, I do. It regards my daughter, Debra."

Debra's in her early thirties, Yelnick says, living in Los Angeles. She
has a great job, loves the weather, even the people. The problem is that
each year before Rosh Hashana she puts up a fight about going to a
synagogue for the High Holidays. This year, just before Rosh Hashana,
Yelnick calls his daughter to wish her a good year and to offer his
annual nudging. Debra is a good daughter but she is also honest:

"Pops, I'm not going to any synagogue this year. I'm sick of it. It's
meaningless to me. I don't understand it, I don't get it - none of it
resonates with me anymore. Why should I pay two hundred and fifty
dollars to listen to some rabbi preaching at me about world peace when I
could be at the office finishing a report? This Rosh Hashana I'm going
to work. For me, Judaism is dead."

Debra's words are like a dagger in her father's heart. Yelnick feels
deeply for his daughter but he knows she's stubborn. Once she's made her
mind there's not much use in trying to change it. Yelnick hangs up the
phone with a heavy heart. He doesn't consider himself to be the most
religious Jew in the world, but once a year on Rosh Hashana a Jew
belongs in a synagogue. Where had he gone wrong in educating his
daughter? Why had he failed to pass on to her the same feeling he had
for the Jewish faith?

As he sits in his synagogue that Rosh Hashana, Harvey says an extra
prayer for his daughter - and for all the sons and daughters of Israel
out there, in Los Angeles, Chicago, Tel Aviv, walking about oblivious to
the holiness of the day, lost to the tradition of their people.

Over on the West Coast, Debra Yelnick is walking down Wilshire
Boulevard, oblivious to the holiness of the day. She's three blocks from
her office on the corner of Poinsettia and she's reaching for her cell
phone to dial her voice mail. She decides against it when she sees a
Lubavitcher chasid walking briskly in her direction. She'll wait until
he passes before making the call. It occurs to her that she has nothing
in common with this coreligionist of hers, that their worlds are so
disparate and unbridgeable. She stops at a red light and sees the chasid
walking over to a homeless man sitting beneath the awning of a Persian
rug store. The chasid wishes the man a good morning and asks him if he
is Jewish. The homeless man's face lights up and he says yes and that
his name is David.

Have you heard the shofar yet today, David? the chasid asks. Don't think
so, David replies. Not to worry, says the chasid, as he removes a ram's
horn from inside his caftan. He removes the kipa from under his hat and
places it on David's dry and matted hair.

The chasid brings the shofar to his lips - and Debra to tears.

The light has turned green but she's not going anywhere. The cry of the
shofar now reverberating on Wilshire Boulevard commands her full
attention. She hears in its primal sound something she'd never heard in
it before: the sound of a soul crying, the voice of a princess yearning
to return to the Palace.

The office down the block is now the farthest thing from her mind. As
she makes her way back home, considering her synagogue options - maybe
that new-agey one, down in Venice - she "processes" the experience she's
just lived. Here's a homeless man who most people try to steer clear of
lest they catch some disease by proximity. Yet the chasid does the exact
opposite - he walks over to the man and treats him like a human being.
He says to him you're a Jew like any other. Rosh Hashana and the mitzva
of shofar is your heritage just as much as the greatest rabbi's.

She saw Jewish unity in action, she saw a man who valued a stranger and
believed in the power of a mitzva. She saw that Judaism was very much

                                *  *  *

"So Rabbi," Yelnick concludes, "I just have to say thank you."

Groner fingers his tie. It's a bluish-greenish, in a style that went out
some time in the early 80s. His ear is red from pushing the phone for so
long against it. Finally he speaks:

"Well, I'm not sure what I did but thank you for telling me this
beautiful story. I hope we run into each other one of these days,

"Absolutely, rabbi, absolutely. When my daughter called me after Rosh
Hashana and told me the story, I almost cried. It was the greatest gift
G-d could ever have given me. You don't know how grateful I am, Rabbi
Groner, you don't know how grateful I am..."

                               WHAT'S NEW
                               New Mikvas

A dedication ceremony for a new mikva took place recently at the
Federation of Jewish Communities affiliated synagogue in Tallinn,
Estonia. The Talinn mikva is the first in Estonia since World War II.
Chabad of Pinellas County has begun construction on a new mikva in Palm
Harbor, Florida. Both mikvaot, named "Mei Menachem," are sponsored by
the Bistritsky family of New York.

                               New Center

Though Chabad has had a presence in Berlin under the directorship of
Rabbi Yehudah and Leah Tiechtel for the past 11 years, they recently
opened a beautiful state-of-the-art center. The Rohr Chabad Center
includes a synagogue, library and mikva. It provides assistance to local
Jews and a roof to anyone who needs one.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                     Freely translated and adapted

                   First Day of Selichot, 5713 [1953]

On the threshold of the New Year, may it bring blessings to us all, I
send you my prayerful wishes for a good and pleasant year, materially
and spiritually.

Rosh Hashana marks the beginning of a new year - 5714 - since the
Creation, a new date in the cycle of time, and everyone hopes and prays
that it will also be the beginning of a new year in one's personal life,
one that is "good and sweet" materially and spiritually.

It is significant that the anniversary of the Creation is not celebrated
on the first day of Creation, but on the sixth, the day when Man was
created. Although all other things making up our vast universe - the
inanimate, vegetable and living creatures - preceded the Creation of
Man, as is related in the Torah, in the first chapter of Genesis,
nevertheless it is on the anniversary of Man's creation that we
celebrate Rosh Hashana, and on this day we say, "This is the day of the
beginning of Thy works!"

Herein lies a profound lesson for every one of us:

Man, the microcosm ("small world") contains within him all the "Four
Kingdoms" into which the macrocosm, the universe at large, is divided.

In the course of his life, man passes through the stages of inanimate,
vegetable and animated existence until he reaches maturity and begins to
live a rational and spiritual life of a human being. Even then, in his
daily life, he may experience a varied existence, as reflected in his
deeds and actions.

Part of the time he may be regarded in the category of the inanimate; at
other times he may vegetate, or live an animated existence; but a true
human being he is when his activities give evidence of his intellect and
spiritual qualities.

Moreover, the name "Adam - man" is justified only then, when also those
areas of one's life and activities which correspond to the animal,
vegetable and even inanimate "kingdoms" are sublimated, elevated and
sanctified to the level of human quality.

Rosh Hashana, and the Ten Days of Repentance introducing the New Year,
is the time for self-evaluation and mature reflection on the profound
lessons of these solemn days:

Just as the world, all the world, begins its true existence, an
existence befitting the purpose of its creation, from the day Man was
created, who immediately after coming to life proclaimed the sovereignty
of the Creator to all the universe: "Come, let us worship, let us bow
down and kneel before G-d our Maker" inspiring the whole universe with
this call (Zohar I, 221b; Pirkei d'Rabbi Eleazar, ch. 11), thereby
making all the universe an abode for the Divine Presence and carrying
out the inner purpose of the Creation,

So each and every individual must realize that his whole essence and
purpose consists in the predominance of the true human element of his
being and the 'humanization' of the inanimate, vegetable and animal
parts of which he is composed.

It is not enough, not enough at all, if part of his time and effort
correspond to the behavior of a true human being; it is absolutely
necessary that the 'man' should inspire, sublimate, elevate and sanctify
all his component parts, including the animal, vegetable and inanimate,
in order that they, too, respond to the call, "Come, let us worship, let
us bow down and kneel before G-d our Maker." Such a life in accordance
with the commands of the Creator, a life in accordance with the Torah
and mitzvoth which G-d, our Maker, has given us, and only such a life,
justifies one's own existence, and justifies thereby also the Creation.

With the traditional blessing of K'siva vaChasima Tova, [may you be
inscribed and sealed for good]

                      What is an "eruv tavshilin"?

Unlike Shabbat, when cooking/baking is forbidden, we are allowed to cook
or bake food on Yom Tov if we will be eating the food on that day of the
holiday itself. When Yom Tov occurs on Friday, such as this year, one
must make an "eruv tavshilin" in order to be permitted to cook and bake
for the upcoming Shabbat. To make an eruv tavshilin we take two cooked
foods that will be eaten on Shabbat, recite a blessing and declare that
this marks the start of our Shabbat preparations. For more info on the
exact procedure contact your local Orthodox rabbi or visit

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
We would like to wish the entire Jewish People our sincerest blessings
for a k'siva vachasima tova, l'shana tova u'msuka - to be inscribed and
sealed for a good, sweet year, with blessings from every letter of the
Hebrew Alef-Beis.

May this year be:

A year of "Arise and have mercy on Zion,"... uplifted in matters of
Moshiach and the Redemption... faith in G-d and Moses His servant...
traveling with the Heavenly clouds... Revealed Wonders; Wonders in
Everything... the building of the Holy Temple... trust; Great wonders...
the true and complete Redemption; Dignified Wonders... victory... the
seventh generation is the generation of Redemption...King David lives
and is eternal; "Those who rest in the dust will arise and sing and he
will lead them"... Moshiach is coming and he has already come... the
revelation of Moshiach; "He will redeem us"... "And they believed in G-d
and in Moses His servant"; "This one will comfort us"; the wonders of
true freedom... a new song; an abundance of good (Rambam); the king
shall live; inscribed and sealed for a good year... the harp of
Moshiach; learning Moshiach's teachings; the coming of Menachem who will
comfort us... the King Moshiach; wonders... revealed miracles... a
double portion; treasures... the completion and end of exile... the
revelation of the Infinite Divine Light; "Humble ones, the time of your
Redemption has arrived"; "Jerusalem will dwell in open space"; Your
servant David will go forth; the ingathering of the exiles... acceptance
of his sovereignty by the people; Rebbe - Rosh B'nei Yisrael; peace... a
new song... Moshiach's shofar... unity of the Torah, unity of the Jewish
people, unity of the land of Israel; Resurrection of the Dead... "A new
Torah will come from Me"

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Assemble the people together, men, women, and children (Deut. 31:12)

This verse concerns the gathering of the Jewish people once every 7
years in the Holy Temple. As any parent knows, young children usually
make a lot of noise. Wouldn't it have been easier to leave them at home,
so as not to disturb the adults? However, parents have a responsibility
to expose their children to Judaism and provide them with a Jewish
education, even if some sacrifice is required. Better to bring the
children along and miss a few words, than to leave them at home and hear
every word clearly...

                                                (Rabbi Nasan Adler)

                                *  *  *

And they will say on that day, "Is it not because my G-d is not in my
midst, that these troubles have overtaken me" (Deut. 31:17)

A Jew must believe that G-d is with him even in adversity, and that He
dwells within him at all times. It is only when his faith slackens, when
he begins to doubt that G-d is in his midst, that his troubles can
"overtake" him.

                                   (Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Pshischa)

                                *  *  *

I will certainly hide (lit. "hide I will hide") My face on that day
(Deut. 31:18)

Commenting on the Torah's repetition of the word "hide," the Baal Shem
Tov said: There will come a time at the end of the exile when G-d's
concealment will be two-fold. Not only will He be "hidden" within the
physical world, but His concealment will be so great that people will
cease to realize that anything is hidden! Nonetheless, there is no
concealment capable of separating the Jew from G-d. The same "I" Who
hides His face is the same "I" Who uttered the Ten Commandments, and
dwells in the heart of every Jew.

                                             (Likutei Sichot, 5748)

                                *  *  *

Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; O earth, the words of my mouth
(Deut. 32:1)

How did Moses, the most humble man to ever walk the face of the earth,
dare to demand the attention of the heavens? Because the more
insignificant a person considers himself, the more right he has to ask
that the heavens pay him mind.

                                   (Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
It was Rosh Hashana in the shul of the Baal Shem Tov. In the middle of
the prayers, a snuffbox accidentally dropped from the pocket of one of
the Chasidim. He bent down to pick it up, and unthinking, he took a
pinch of snuff and inhaled it. The man who was sitting next to him saw
the little episode and an accusatory thought passed through his mind:
"How could he have done such a mundane thing here in the Baal Shem Tov's
shul and on this, such a holy day!?"

Through his holy intuition, the Baal Shem Tov perceived this thought,
and he understood the repercussions this thought would have Above for
the man who had taken the snuff. Throughout the remainder of Rosh
Hashana the Baal Shem Tov tried his best to annul the effects of the
thought, but to no avail. The man stood accused before the Heavenly
Court all through the holy month of Tishrei.

Finally, during the evening prayers of the last day of Sukkot - Hoshana
Raba - the Baal Shem Tov managed to strike a deal for the accused. If
the accuser would himself, find some merit in the snuff-taker, the
snuff-taker would be forgiven. The only catch was this was not to be
disclosed to either man.

When the Baal Shem Tov entered the shul that night he noticed that the
Chasid who had had the critical thought was preparing to pray, but he
seemed unable to concentrate his thoughts and he paced back and forth.
He was thinking, "I wonder why tobacco, which is something people like
to smoke and inhale, was introduced to the world. I suppose it is
because there is some benefit to be had from it." As soon as that
rationale entered his mind, he felt a rush of guilt and sadness at
having judged his friend's actions so critically on Rosh Hashana.

On Hoshana Rabba it was customary for the Baal Shem Tov to make himself
available to answer the questions of his Chasidim, which they would
prepare in advance. That night, the accusing Chasid came to him with the
question, "Is there any benefit to be had from tobacco and snuff?"

The Baal Shem Tov responded with his own question: "What are your
thoughts on the matter?" The Chasid proceeded to tell the Rebbe his
thoughts of the previous night, that there must be some benefit in these

"I have a feeling there is more than you are telling me," replied the
Baal Shem Tov. "Tell me what else you are thinking."

At the Baal Shem Tov's prompting the Chasid related the entire incident
of the snuff which had occurred on Rosh Hashana. "When I saw my friend
take so much enjoyment from the pinch of snuff on such a holy day, I
immediately condemned him, thinking he must be a very coarse individual.
But then, last night, I started thinking there was probably some
redeeming quality about snuff, and I began to regret my negative

The Baal Shem Tov was then free to tell him what reaction his judgmental
thoughts had caused in the Heavens. "Your thoughts aroused quite a stir
Above, and a serious charge was lodged against your companion.
Fortunately, your change of heart has reversed that ruling, but you must
resolve to guard your thoughts carefully in the future."

                                *  *  *

Every Rosh Hashana, before blowing the shofar, the Shpole Zeide would
spend time alone in his room. Nobody knew what he did there and it
remained a mystery for years.

One year, a Chasid came from a distant land and when he heard about the
Shpole Zeide's practice of spending time alone before blowing the
shofar, he decided he would solve the mystery. What did he do? Before
the Shpole Zeide entered the room, he quietly hid and from his hiding
place he peeked through a crack into the room.

The Shpole Zeide entered the room and to the Chassid's great surprise he
saw him lying spread out on the floor crying and pleading:

"Master of the Universe, what do you want of your nation, Israel? If I
didn't see for myself the mitzvos and good deeds that the Jewish people
do, I would not have believed that in this bitter exile, where the Satan
dances among them and everything desirable is before their eyes, they
could fulfill even one mitzva (commandment).

"You describe Purgatory in books, but You place temptations and trials
right before their eyes. I promise You that if you had done the opposite
and had described the temptations in a book and put Purgatory in front
of their eyes, not a single Jew would transgress even a minor

Then the Shpole Zeide got up, passed his hand over his eyes, left the
room and began his preparation for blowing the shofar.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
Rav Saadia Gaon taught, "In the place where a person's thoughts are, so
there he himself is found." During the blowing of the shofar on Rosh
Hashana, a Jew's thoughts are on hearing the "great shofar," (heralding
the Redemption) and thus he indeed hears the "great shofar" to which his
thoughts are directed. Since 'deed is the essential thing," we must work
to ensure that the "great shofar" should be sounded in actuality - to
work in doing those things that bring the Redemption closer, when the
promise of "It shall be on that day that a great shofar will be sounded"
will be literally fulfilled.

                 (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rosh Hashana, 5742 - 1981)

        END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 987 - Rosh Hashana / Ha'Azinu 5768

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