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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1040
                           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.
        October 3, 2008        Vayeilech         4 Tishrei, 5769

                               Locked In
                        by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger

The Maggid of Koznitz would say: "On Yom Kippur, why would anyone want
to eat?" This spiritual man felt the holiness of the day so powerfully
that eating was out of the question for him. He was lifted above the
realm of the mundane and totally absorbed in the spiritual.

More than a little bit above the experience of most of us, for sure. But
something we can understand. After all, haven't we heard of scientist
and mathematicians who have been so absorbed in their work that they
don't eat or sleep?

On Yom Kippur, what we're involved in is more stimulating than a problem
in science or math. Yom Kippur is the most sacred day of the year. It
was the day on which the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies in
the Holy Temple, experiencing a direct bond with G-d. There was nothing
else there but him and G-d's revealed presence.

In microcosm, this state of connection is experienced by every Jew on
Yom Kippur. This is the heart of the Neila service, the last of our Yom
Kippur prayers. Neila means "locked." During Neila, every person is
"locked in," alone with G-d. Every person has his or her time to be
together with Him.

Will we consciously feel this? There surely are differences between what
goes on in each person's heart, but on this day, every person feels some
spiritual inspiration. He or she draws closer to G-d and becomes more
aware of his or her Jewish roots.

It's a function of time. Just as there are natural settings which arouse
feelings of beauty and awe, Yom Kippur is a day created for spiritual
inspiration. At the core of our being, beyond the "I" with which we
carry on our ordinary daily experience, each of us possesses a soul that
is "an actual part of G-d." And on Yom Kippur, the nature of the day
causes this spiritual core to be revealed, pushing it into our conscious

That's why we recite confessional prayers on Yom Kippur; it's like a
couple making up. If they've felt distance and separation, and then come
together again, they'll look each other up close and say they're sorry.
It's got nothing to do with a guilt trip; it's a natural response when
you've hurt someone you love.

And the couple promise to change their conduct in the future, to turn
away from those things which cause each other pain and to do more of
those things that bring them happiness.

That's what our prayers are about on Yom Kippur: coming close to G-d,
saying we're sorry because we caused Him pain, and promising that in the
next year we will try to do better.

For Yom Kippur is not intended to be an isolated spiritual event.
Although it is unique in its holiness, the intent is that the uplifting
influence of Yom Kippur will inspire changes in our conduct throughout
the year. On Yom Kippur, we've got to think of what happens afterwards,
how to make the spiritual feelings of that day a spur to enable us to
live better and more fulfilled lives in the year to come.

                                    Reprinted from Keeping In Touch

This week's Torah portion, Vayeilech, contains a verse which sums up the
entire concept of the exile of the Jewish people. "And on that day My
anger will burn against them," we read, "and I will forsake them, and I
will hide My face from them."

Rashi, the foremost Torah commentator, explains that the concealment of
G-d's presence from the Jews is only an illusion, only "as if" He were
in hiding. "I will hide My face from them," G-d says, "as though I do
not see their distress." In truth, however, G-d is always with the
Jewish people; He always sees and observes them, and indeed senses their
distress, as it is written, "In all their distress, He is distressed."

The sole reason that G-d hides Himself, as it were, is to stir the
Jewish people to return to Him.

Chasidut uses the analogy of a father who hides himself from his young
son to determine how smart he is. The son, being subjected to the test,
can respond in one of two ways: he can fall into despair and conclude
that his father has abandoned him, or, if he is truly wise, he will
correctly surmise that his father would never leave him and he must
therefore be nearby. When the son realizes the purpose of the "game" and
understands that his father is really there, despite the fact that he
cannot see him, this in itself arouses a stronger love and causes the
son to express these feelings for his parent more fervently.

Furthermore, as the Baal Shem Tov explained, the double expression
"haster astir" - "I will surely hide" - means that the Divine
concealment itself will be concealed, especially during this final
period of exile, when spiritual darkness prevails. Nonetheless, we must
always remember that nothing can separate G-d from the Jewish people,
and that G-dliness is forever within us.

Galut, exile, is the ultimate form of "I will hide My face from them."
The sole purpose of the seeming "concealment" is to test the reaction of
the Jewish people, about whom the Torah states, "You are the children of
the L-rd your G-d." This, however, is no more than a temporary illusion
to motivate us to seek the "hidden presence" of G-d. Thus, through being
in exile, we are led to intensify our bond with G-d, culminating in the
ultimate manifestation of G-d's love for Israel that will come about
with the Messianic Redemption.

                             Adapted from a talk of the Rebbe, 5748

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                          Yom Kippur in Prison
                         by Rabbi Fishel Jacobs

Boris, 6' 4", 240 pounds of hulking muscle, in his late forties, stood
poised in front of me. Etched on his face was the intense ruthless
expression of a killer.

How did I meet Boris? A few years ago I spent Yom Kippur in one of the
Israeli prisons where I am a chaplain. I arrived the afternoon preceding
Yom Kippur and made sure all the preparations were taken care of. An
hour before the holiday began, I visited the cells to wish the inmates
an easy fast and a healthy new year.

It was then I met Boris, a mountain of a man, standing there in the
middle of his cell, in all his awesome might, dressed only in his

"Du redtz Yiddish? You speak Yiddish?" he asked, explaining his Hebrew
wasn't too good.

"Yuh," I answered. We shook hands. I patted him on the shoulder, gave
him a smile.

He warmed up. A smile slowly, but only briefly, passed his lips.
Nodding, he grunted to the other prisoners, "Er iz beseder, he's okay."
A pass straight out of a mafia family meeting.

Covering his huge beefy shoulder was an eight-by-seven inch tattoo of an
old Jew with a long white beard, wearing a fur hat. Kneeling on one
knee, he held both ends of a sword horizontally above his head. Resting
on top of the sword's top edge was a large Star of David.

"I'm Russian," he said.

"Why the tattoo?" I asked.

"I'm a Jew. And I want everyone to know. Especially, those lousy
Russians," he muttered. "I'm also a Kohein" (priest), he said proudly.

"Do you know anything about Judaism?"

"Nothing at all." Then Boris laughed, a kind of bellowing, raspy blast,
a laugh that expressed humor, hidden suffering, fear, fierce resolution.
His ethnic pride was sincere and refreshing.

Later, on Yom Kippur, I asked him what he did for a living in Russia.
Stammering, he muttered, "A gonif, a thief."

"How long have you been in prisons?"

"In and out," he said, "for over 27 years."

"What's it like in Russian prisons?" I continued. "I heard it's harder
than elsewhere."

"The guards aren't like here," he said, his body heaving with laughter.
Then, suddenly, a cold heaviness shot through his eyes, "Here the guards
are human... There not."

"What did you do to spend time?"

"For years, we broke heavy boulders with huge sledgehammers for eight
hours a day. The authorities took these by railroad cars and dumped them
into the sea."

"What?!" I asked disbelieving.

"The imprisonment is to break the spirit. That's their tactic."

"How did they look at Jews?" I asked.

"They don't," he said, penetrating me with a piercing glance which could
only be connected with death itself. "They kill the weaker ones."


"Russian thugs. Only the strongest survive in prison, especially when it
comes to Jews."

"How did you survive all those years with that tattoo in Russian

His lips smiled, his eyes did not. I shuddered.

Here was a Jew, by his own admission totally ignorant of Judaism, yet
proud enough to flaunt a huge picture depicting an ethnically defiant
theme, a tattoo which, were it not for his size, probably would have
gotten him killed.

"Were you ever attacked?"

"Yes," he said, lifting his shirt, showing me a five inch scar above his


"One, in front, with a shovel, another behind me with a knife."


"The one in front, I killed. Then I collapsed. Woke up in the

All during Yom Kippur, Boris kept flashing into my mind. During the
closing services, as customary, I gave a speech. I spoke about the
Cantonists in Russia. These were Jewish children, kidnapped by
government order for 25 years of forced military service under Czar
Nikolai I. The number ran in the tens of thousands.

Many of these captive youth managed to stay together, practicing
whatever they remembered of their religion. Some were beaten mercilessly
by their officers. Many died bitter deaths.

Once, a group of rabbis were in Petersburg to meet with the Czar before
Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur itself, the rabbis went to one of the
synagogues where the Cantonists prayed. When it came time for the
closing prayer of Neila, the rabbis asked if one amongst them could lead
this final supplication.

The Cantonists explained: "We have a tradition that one of us leads this
prayer. This man sanctified G-d's name. He withstood difficult tests and
was subjected to tremendous suffering."

At that, the Cantonist opened his shirt to reveal a chest covered with
scars from whippings and beatings. The rabbis stood in awe of the man.

Before beginning Kaddish preceding Neila, the Cantonist offered the
following petition of his own. "G-d, all of Your people Israel stand
before you at this time and ask for nachas from their children, long
life and livelihood. Do we Cantonists ask for nachas from children? No!
We are all childless! Do we ask for long life? No, our lives are not
really life. Do we ask for livelihood? We are supported by our
government pensions! If so, what can we request? We have nothing to
request for ourselves, therefore, we ask only that - Yitgadal
Vayitkadash Shmei Raba - Exalted and Hallowed be His Great Name!"

Then I continued: "It's written, 'G-d wants the heart of man.' It's not
only our minds, but our hearts the Al-mighty wants," I explained. "I
think it would be fitting for Boris to open the holy ark."

Everyone nodded in agreement.

Boris gratefully accepted the invitation, but had no idea why he was
being honored.

Reprinted with permission from Rabbi Jacob's book, Israel Behind Bars.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                      New Chabad Centers on Campus

Rabbi Yudi and Rivkie Steiner will arrive soon in Washington, DC, to
establish Chabad-Lubavitch at The George Washington University. Five new
campus centers are opening in England: Rabbi Pini and Gitty Weinman are
on their way to open Chabad at the University of Edinburgh. Rabbi Mendy
and Sara Loewenthal are off to Imperial College in London, England.
Rabbi Dovid and Sora Cohen are establishing a multi-campus center in
south London, based in Wimbledon, serving Kingston, Roehampton, Surrey,
St. George's Medical School, Goldsmiths, Greenwich, Royal Holloway and
Wimbledon School of Art. Rabbi Mendy and Brocha Lent have arrived at
Nottingham University to establish a new Chabad on Campus there. Rabbi
Dovid and Leah Usiskin have opened Chabad at Bristol University.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
              Freely translated from a letter of the Rebbe

The days immediately preceding and following Rosh Hashanah are the time
dedicated to sincere introspection and a careful and honest examination
of the record of the outgoing year, with a view to the proper deductions
and resolutions which are to regulate one's personal daily life, as well
as that of his home, and all his affairs in the year to come.

Moreover, these are exceptionally propitious days, days permeated with
the core of the Psalm: "Search my inwardness; Thy inner essence, G-d, do
I seek" (Ps. 27:8). They call and demand:

Search for the innermost and the profound within you; seek out also the
inwardness of everything around you, the soul of the universe; search
for and bring to light the G-dliness that animates and pervades the

Both aspects - the honest self-appraisal and the search for the inner
essence of things - are interrelated and interdependent.

In evaluating the results of the outgoing year, one is very prone to err
by taking into account only the external, both in himself and in the
environment. In doing so, one is on equally treacherous grounds in
regard to setting the pattern of daily living in the year to come.

To forestall this misleading approach, these auspicious days sound their
message and challenge:

Do not sell yourself short! Do not underestimate your capacities and

For no matter what your spiritual "stock-in-trade" is, your "visible
assets" - the existing possibilities that you have to conduct your life
in accordance with the teachings of our Torah; no matter how formidable
is your strength of character and your ability to cope with a
frustrating environment, and with undaunted perseverance to follow your
path of Torah and mitzvoth (commandments) -

Much greater and richer are your "hidden reserves" of powers to create
new possibilities, and of inner qualities giving you the ability to
overcome obstacles and to shape your life and the life around you to be
in harmony with Truth and Goodness.

In order to reveal and apply these powers, however, it is necessary that
you search for and release your potential forces. But you are promised:
"You will discover - because you will search with all your heart and
soul" (Deut. 4:29).

What has been said above is more especially and more fully applicable to
those who occupy positions of spiritual leadership and influence, from
the rabbi of the community down to the individual parents who set the
pace of the spiritual life of their household and family.

All too often do we see them stymied by doubt and fear, afraid to use,
what seem to them, a strong word or excessive demand lest they might
alienate, instead of attract.

To them these days address themselves with this message and challenge:

Search inwardly: seek deeply and you will unravel the innermost
treasures of those whom you would lead and inspire; evaluate them not
externally, but according to their inner resources, according to the
capacity of their soul, the veritable spark of G-dliness from Above.

For with the right approach and by indefatigable effort you will be able
to uncover and activate in everyone his inner spiritual resources, so
that they begin to animate his daily life.

                          What are "kapparot"

Literally, kapparot means "atonement." Customarily on the eve of Yom
Kippur, a man or boy takes in hand a rooster, a woman or girl takes a
hen, and passes the fowl over the head three times while reciting a
special prayer. The chicken is then ritually slaughtered and often given
to the poor to use for their pre-Yom Kippur meal. The purpose of
kapparot is to invoke sincere repentance through the thought that a
similar fate as that awaiting the fowl might be due us for our sins, but
through G-d's mercy and our true repentance it is averted.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
One of the unique points about Yom Kippur is the special service of the
Kohein Gadol - the High Priest, who performed the Yom Kippur service on
that day by himself.

For the part of the High Priest's service which was performed in the two
outer halls of the Holy Temple, he wore gold clothing. The part of the
service performed inside the Holy of Holies, however, was performed in
plain white clothing.

Although the physical Holy Temple was destroyed - and we eagerly await
its rebuilding - the spiritual Sanctuary within every Jew - his Holy of
Holies - remains totally intact. Thus, each individual Jew is personally
responsible to perform the special service of the High Priest on Yom

The High Priest wore gold clothing for a large part of his special
service to remind us that we should use the most precious and beautiful
materials available in serving G-d; we should perform mitzvot in a
beautiful and enhanced manner.

The white clothing of the High Priest, worn in the Holy of Holies, is a
reminder though, that it is not enough to only do those mitzvot that
involve us in material matters. Those mitzvot that are purely spiritual
in nature, such as prayer and Torah study, must also be performed.

At the end of his service, the High Priest said a short prayer that the
year should be a good year materially for himself, his tribe and all the
Jewish people throughout the entire world.

This, too, is part of the service of every single Jew on the holiest day
of the year and in the Holy of Holies of his heart. Each Jew on Yom
Kippur should also pray for a good year not only for himself and his
family, but for the entire Jewish people.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
And Moses went (Deut. 31:1)

"To the study hall," adds the Targum Yonatan. Before addressing the
Jewish people, Moses went to the study hall to study the matter he was
about to impart. From this we learn that a person mustn't rely on his
own memory and knowledge when it comes to rendering legal decisions.
Rather, he must first consult books of Jewish law before issuing a

                                            (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

                                *  *  *

You shall read this Torah before all of Israel (31:11)

Every seven years, when the Jewish people gathered together in Jerusalem
as one entity, the king would read aloud to them the Written Torah. For
the Written Torah, as opposed to the Oral Law, is the equal possession
of all and thus unifies all Jews; just by reciting the words a person
fulfills the mitzva of Torah study, even if he does not understand their

                                                   (Likrat Shabbat)

                                *  *  *

Assemble ("Hakhel") the people, the men and the women and the little
ones (Deut. 31:12)

The Sabbatical year (in which the land lies fallow and debts are
declared in remission) brings with it peace and unity, as it blurs the
distinctions between rich and poor. In the Sabbatical year all Jews are
equal, rendering them worthy of the commandment of Hakhel (the grand
assemblage on Sukot during which the king reads aloud certain portions
of the Torah).

                                *  *  *

Now therefore write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the
children of Israel (Deut. 31:19)

From this verse our Sages learn that every Jew is obligated to write for
himself a Torah scroll (or hire someone else to do so for him).
Nowadays, when we no longer study the Torah from an open scroll and
writing the Oral Law is permissible, a Jew fulfills this obligation by
purchasing holy books, for indeed the mitzva is to "teach it to the
children of Israel."

In the past, many Jews were not strict about fulfilling this mitzva as
there was generally only one Torah scroll in a community; thus it was
assumed that it had been written for everyone. However, at the behest of
the Rebbe, many Torah scrolls are now being written in which a person
may purchase a letter and become a partner in its writing.

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
One time, at a farbrengen (gathering) where the Chasidim were sitting
and drinking mead (a sweet honey wine that used to be very popular), a
Chasid named Reb Moshe told the following story:

"Many years ago," he began, "while visiting Vienna, I sent my servant to
a nearby inn to buy a bottle of mead. When he came back I discovered
that it was the most delicious mead that I had ever tasted. In fact, it
was so good that I immediately sent him back to buy some more. I gave
him enough money for ten bottles, figuring that my family and I would
enjoy it for a long time to come.

"But my servant came back empty-handed. I took out a few more coins from
my pocket, but he shook his head. 'It isn't the money,' he told me.
'There just isn't any more to be had.'

"I decided to go see for myself. When I entered the inn, I saw a large
crowd of people who had apparently just finished eating a festive meal.
I approached the innkeeper and asked him to sell me some of his
delicious honey wine.

"'I'm sorry, but there isn't even a drop left of that particular type,'
he said. 'Well, when do you expect to get more?' I persisted. 'Quite
frankly, never!' " The innkeeper then told me the following:

Many years before he had been a mohel, a ritual circumciser. From the
very beginning of his holy work he had set himself one cardinal rule:
that he would never refuse a request to make a brit mila, no matter how
difficult the circumstances.

One Erev Yom Kippur, a coarsely dressed Jewish farmer had knocked on his
door and asked him to circumcise his eight-day-old son. The farmer lived
quite a distance away - six parasangs [about 24 miles] - and it was the
day before Yom Kippur. Nonetheless, the mohel agreed to conduct the

When they stepped outside the mohel realized that the farmer was too
poor to have hired a carriage; neither was the mohel himself a man of
means. There was no choice but to walk to whole distance. The farmer
started out in the direction of his house, but he was walking so quickly
that the mohel soon lagged behind. Eventually the farmer disappeared
behind a bend in the road.

Hours later the mohel arrived in town and asked some neighbors where the
family with the new baby lived. When he walked into the house he found
the mother lying in bed with the infant. She was so weakened and frail
that she could barely respond. The father, however, was nowhere to be
seen. For some reason he hadn't thought it appropriate to attend his own
son's brit...

The mohel now faced a serious problem: Who would serve as sandek to hold
the baby during the ritual procedure? Time was of the essence; it was
the eighth day of the infant's life, and he needed to be entered into
the covenant of Abraham immediately. But without a sandek it would be
very dangerous. Indeed, the mohel had never attempted such a thing

The mohel walked outside hoping to find someone on the street he could
ask. For a long time he waited, but the street was deserted. Suddenly,
he spotted an old beggar coming around the corner. "I'm in a big hurry,"
the man replied impatiently when the mohel asked for his assistance.
"Today is Erev Yom Kippur, and I can collect a whole ruble going from
door to door if I get to the city in time."

Desperate by then, the mohel promised to pay him a ruble if he would
only serve as sandek. The beggar agreed, and the brit mila was conducted
without incident. The mohel then left for the long walk back to the

After praying the afternoon service the mohel went home for the final
meal before the fast, and was astonished to see the very same beggar
waiting on his doorstep. He quickly paid him the ruble he had promised,
but the beggar also demanded a drink of mead. The mohel was very tired
by then and in no mood for entertaining. Nevertheless, but he invited
him inside and poured the drink. But even that wasn't enough for the
strange old man: he insisted that the mohel join him in a glass of mead,
and that they wish each other a good and sweet new year. With no
alternative, the mohel complied.

"Tell me, is there any more of this wine left in the barrel?" the
annoying stranger persisted. "Very little," the mohel answered, "only a
few more drops." "There will always be mead in this barrel," the beggar
then pronounced cryptically, "until the last blessing is recited at your
youngest son's wedding celebration." The beggar then pointed to the
mohel's son sleeping in his cradle.

"The blessing was fulfilled in its entirety," the innkeeper concluded
his tale. "There is no explanation other than that the old man was
Elijah the Prophet. With my seemingly endless supply of mead I opened
this inn, and completely forgot about the rest of his prediction. That
is, until today, when the barrel suddenly fell and broke into pieces as
we were reciting the Grace After Meals at my youngest son's wedding. And
that is why I am telling you that there will never be any more of this
particular batch of mead..."

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
G-d will surely fulfill the inner will of every Jew - and the will of
the Jews reflects the inner will of G-d as Maimonides writes - and that
inner will is for the Redemption to come. This is particularly true,
because "all the appointed times for Moshiach's coming have passed." As
the Previous (Lubavitcher) Rebbe explained, all that is necessary is to
"stand together prepared [to greet Moshiach]" and that has also been
accomplished. All that is necessary is one turn to G-d. That will come
naturally, there is no need for miracles.

            (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Eve of Yom Kippur, 5752 - 1991)

              END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1040 - Vayeilech 5769

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