Holidays   Shabbat   Chabad-houses   Chassidism   Subscribe   Calendar   Links B"H
 
 
 
The Weekly Publication for Every Jewish Person
Archives Current Issues Home Current Issue
                                  B"H
                                 -----
                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1044
*********************************************************************
                           Copyright (c) 2008
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
                             --------------
                  Electronic version provided free at:
                          www.LchaimWeekly.org
                          --------------------
                  Palm-Pilot version provided free at:
                www.LchaimWeekly.org/lchaim/5769/1044.prc
                          --------------------
                    To receive the L'CHAIM by e-mail
                  write to: listserv@LchaimWeekly.org
                              Subscribe W1
*********************************************************************
             THE WEEKLY PUBLICATION FOR EVERY JEWISH PERSON
   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
*********************************************************************
        November 7, 2008       Lech-Lecha       9 Cheshvan, 5769
*********************************************************************

                             Too Many Keys

Let's see. You've got a key to your house. A key to your car. A key to
your wife's car. A key to your office. A key to your briefcase. A key to
the filing cabinet, one for each of the three suitcases, a spare key to
someone else's house.

That doesn't include the dozen or so keys that unlock you have no idea
what, sitting in a kitchen drawer or in a container in the workshop or
somewhere else.

What do we need so many keys for, anyway? Well, there are lots of parts
of our lives we need access to, and we need keys to open them up. If we
want to get into our house, we need a key - to the front door and back
door, at least. We can't start our car without a key.

Yeah, but why do we need keys to begin with? That answer's obvious,
right? We have to lock things up and lock things out to protect
ourselves. If we couldn't lock our cars, they might get stolen. If we
couldn't lock our houses, we might get robbed (G-d forbid). If we
couldn't lock our offices, our competitors might learn our secrets.

But even if don't have to worry about theft, we need locks for more than
protection. We need them for privacy. We lock the door to our house so
that guests first need our permission to enter. We control who comes
into our spaces - our family space, our work space, our private space -
by locking everyone out.

We have the key that lets someone into our lives. So giving someone a
key is more than a sign of trust. It's the ultimate act of trust.

The thing is, we have to know which keys are still useful, and who to
give them to.

The same is true of our spiritual lives. We have many "spaces" and each
has its own door. There's the "space" for tzedeka (charity), the "space"
for prayer, the "space" for Torah study, etc. And each one has its key.

But sometimes we change the locks. The amount of tzedeka we were able to
give last year - our "space" for tzedeka - has changed, has grown. But
if we try to use the same old "key," we won't open the right door. The
same applies to prayer, to Torah study, to any other mitzva
(commandment).

But how do we know when we're using the wrong key? How do we know if we
have "too many keys" - keys that are useless duplicates, keys to doors
we no longer need, keys to spaces we've grown out of?

Sometimes we can tell by trial and error. Sometimes, though, we need
someone else to tell us: this "key" isn't good any more. Sometimes we
need someone to give us a new key, the key to our new spiritual office,
our new spiritual house.

That's the someone we trust with the master key - the key to our
spiritual door. And that, in part, is why Jewish teachings encourage us
- "acquire for yourself a Rav," why the Lubavitcher Rebbe has urged
everyone to have a "mashpia" - a friend or mentor or guide, someone you
trust, who's close to you, who has your best interest at heart, and can
give you sound spiritual advise.

Someone who knows which key you should use, and if you've trying to open
the right doors, if, in a sense, you have too few keys,  too many keys -
or just the right amount of keys to the right doors.

*********************************************************************
           LIVING WITH THE REBBE  -  THE WEEKLY TORAH PORTION
*********************************************************************
There is a saying of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef
Yitzchak Schneersohn, quoted in the name of his father, the Rebbe
Rashab:

"The first Torah portion, Bereishit (Genesis), is a joyful Torah
portion, for in it, G-d created the world and all of its inhabitants.

"Noah, however, relates the Great Flood. The week in which it is read is
therefore a sad one, but it ends on a happy note with the birth of our
forefather Abraham.

"Yet the week which is truly the happiest is the one in which the Torah
portion of Lech Lecha is read. For each and every day of the week we
live with Abraham."

Why is Lech Lecha, this week's Torah reading, considered the most joyful
of the three?

Bereishit contains the narrative of Creation.  This portion relates
G-d's actions, and describes how He created the world in six days. The
portion tells us what G-d did, but it does not relate the deeds of the
creations themselves.

Noach, by contrast, deals primarily with the actions of mankind. In this
Torah portion we learn about the Great Flood, about the behavior of the
people of Noach's generation, and about the deeds of the righteous Noach
himself.

Thus each of the first two Torah portions concerns itself with an
entirely different sphere. Bereishit revolves around G-d and G-dly
matters, whereas Noach concentrates on the more mundane affairs of
mankind. In neither of these Torah portions is the connection between
G-d and man, the higher spheres and the lower spheres, expressed.

How do Jews create that connection?  By carrying out the will of G-d and
performing His mitvzot (commandments).

When Jews observe the Torah's commandments they draw closer to G-d,
binding themselves to Him with an everlasting bond. When G-d gave His
holy Torah to the Jewish people, He thereby gave them the means to forge
a connection between the "higher worlds" - G-d - and the "lower worlds"
- human beings.

The preparation for the giving of the Torah began with Lech Lecha, when
G-d gave Abraham the commandment to "go out" of his native land, and
Abraham obeyed. Ignoring his own personal wishes and his natural
proclivities and inclinations, Abraham set off to fulfill the will of
G-d to establish a "dwelling place" for Him in the physical world.

Thus began the wondrous connection with G-d that continues and is
strengthened with every mitzva we perform.

This is why Lech Lecha is the most joyful of the Torah's first three
portions. The first speaks solely of the higher worlds; the second, only
about the lower. It isn't until the third portion, Lech Lecha, that the
true connection to G-d first commences.

                             Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Volume 15

*********************************************************************
                             SLICE OF LIFE
*********************************************************************
                             by Diana Bloom

I want to share with you how my experience at Chabad of Binghamton
impacted my path as a Jewish woman, a Jewish wife and a Jewish mother. A
path that my family and I walk, cherish, and reflect on in our daily
lives.

I grew up in Rockville, Long Island, and when I was old enough to attend
religious school we joined a Reform synagogue. My mother cared about her
Judaism to the extent that she wanted it to be passed on. As a child of
survivors, much of  her Judaism was in  relation to  the Holocaust. She
felt the overall sadness of being a Jew and not much  of the joy.

Living  in Irish Catholic Rockville Centre, my Judaism was very much
about being unlike the other kids, about all the things my family didn't
do that everyone else did and the things we did to a degree, that no one
else did. I grew up in a Judaism of negation, not relevance. I, like so
many Jewish kids, was  living a Judaism with little wisdom,
comprehension, or knowledge.

In high school,  I had some opportunities to discover that I didn't know
what I thought I knew about Judaism. I wanted to know what other Jews
knew, I felt I had been cheated somehow in my religious education.

I became curious enough to want to be a Judaic Studies major in college.
I chose Binghamton for its reputation, its Judaic Studies program, for
the percentage of Jewish students that attended, and for the price. I
did not chose Binghamton for the Chabad House. I had never heard of
Chabad House.

The fascinating thing about Chabad House is that it is exactly for
people like me even though people like me don't know what Chabad House
is until we are lucky enough to find it on campus.

Despite growing up with a Jewish identity and feeling a responsibility
toward the Jewish people, Judaism as a living idea plays an
insignificant role in the day-to-day existence of most Jewish college
students. It is only with Chabad that most Jewish students strengthen
the Judaism they inherit from their parents and grandparents.

Chabad sees Judaism as a relevant, compelling, joyful blessing and they
create the programming, experiences and events that show us how to do
that in our own lives. Chabad  shows us at whatever level we want to
take it on, how to be Jewish.

There is a crucial window of time when we are at college, a delicate
place of searching, struggling and deciding, a place where our parents
can not reach us or teach us and Chabad is where we, in our fragile
Jewish state, can go and be sustained.

Many of my friends at Binghamton who drew strength from Rabbi and Rivky
Slonim at Chabad House were kids who had grown up at Jewish Day schools,
gone to Orthodox synagogues, did all of the observant things one
imagines a Jew would do, and they were no less fragile then me. Chabad
is the anchor, that keeps them fastened to Judaism, at a time that they
could quite simply drift away.

How does Chabad do it? With boundless optimism, with love, with
intellect and with delight. Chabad shows us how Judaism can enrich
rather than burden our lives. Chabad is the one place where everyone is
expected to be different, believe differently, have different traditions
or no traditions, some knowledge or no knowledge.

Chabad is where, whatever your place, that is the right place to be.
Which is why no one drags their feet to Chabad House on Friday night.
How many of us can say that about our own current place of worship? My
friends and I would get dressed and bundle up for the longish and
usually cold walk to Chabad House. For many of us it was our first stop
of the night that would later be followed by house parties or bar
hopping. I had never in my life had so much pleasure in being Jewish.

My mother was wary of any involvement I had with Chabad; she was
concerned that I might become observant with all of the negative
connotations that held for her, based on her upbringing. To her relief,
by the time I graduated,  I was engaged to a  nice Reform Jewish boy.

But my connection to Chabad remained. Throughout my post Binghamton
years, I had some tough decisions to make. At each of those moments, I
would tell my husband, "I want to call Rivky and see what she says."

My husband would give me a look of concern, only to be pleasantly
surprised that Rivky's advice very much mirrored his own.

All of the ways in which Chabad at Binghamton impacted my life pales in
comparison with what happened next. In March of 2004, I gave birth to
our twins.

Everything that had laid dormant in the basement of my subconscious
awoke in me. I realized in that moment that I wasn't just supposed to
have Jewish children, I needed to raise Jewish children. Not because of
the Holocaust or because my parents said so, but because I wanted them
to have a framework for their lives, meaning, relevance, joy, and
respect for humanity.

I wanted what many parents want for their children, the difference is I
knew how to do it. I felt competent and skilled. It had been modeled for
me at Chabad.  I learned it from the Slonims, not just Rabbi and Rivky
but their children as well. Chabad laid the foundation that enabled me
to eventually build the structure of my present Jewish life. Chabad gave
me the blueprint.

When our children  Eliana and Gil were born, we made the kitchen kosher.
We switch everything over for Passover, and we build a suka in the back
yard every year. We still don't keep Shabbat, we eat out at restaurants,
our kids will go to public school, but they relish being Jewish, they
relate to their world as Jews, they tell the passing of the seasons by
the holidays, they bake challah with me every week, they look forward to
our Friday night dinners and lighting the candles, they recite the Shema
every night before they go to bed.  And guess what? Whenever my mother
witnesses any of these moments and  I glance over at her, she has tears
in her eyes.

      From a speech at the dedication ceremony of the new Chabad of
                                  Binghamton Jewish Student Center.

*********************************************************************
                               WHAT'S NEW
*********************************************************************
                             New Emissaries

Rabbi Tzvi and Noa Rivkin recently arrived in the Indian Silicone
Valley, as emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to Bangalore, India.
Although there are only 50 Jewish families in Bangalore, the city
attracts businessmen from all over the world due to its fast developing
high-tech companies.

A new Chabad House on campus has been opened by Chabad-Lubavitch of
Western Monmouth County, New Jersey. The new Chabad Jewish Center will
serve the students of Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, and the
neighboring community. Rabbi Shmaya and Rochi Galperin moved to the area
recently to open the new student center.

*********************************************************************
                            THE REBBE WRITES
*********************************************************************
                     Freely translated and adapted

                      erev Lag BaOmer, 5729 (1969)

... I am usually very reluctant to express my view on matters that lie
outside my field of competence. However, having glanced through the
detailed research program that you enclosed in your letter I decided to
share an observation with you:

I fail to find among the itemized points of study one aspect which, in
my humble opinion, should have been of particular interest.

I am referring to the recognition that certain microbes and infections
may be particularly linked to hospitals - a view which, I believe, has
received some attention in pertinent literature.

I am not familiar with the details of this problem, but I believe it has
to do with the ability of bacteria to develop immunity to antibiotics,
as has been established in the case of penicillin, etc.

Hence, it is very possible that methods of infection control that are
effective elsewhere may lose their effectiveness because of their
continued and consistent application in hospitals, causing the bacteria
to become immune to this form of infection control, or because the
hospital environment has produced certain strains of certain bacteria,
which has given them a measure of immunity in that specific environment.
...

I do not know whether the omission of this aspect from your project is
due to the fact that a three-month study period would not be sufficient
to include an investigation into this area, since, undoubtedly, it would
entail the problem of distinguishing "immunized" from "non-immunized"
bacteria, etc., as well as the problems of changing methods of
sterilization and infection control and clinical observation, etc. Or,
simply, because this question is outside your present work.

Yet, it seems to me that this is a question of practical importance and
should be well within your field of interest.

                                *  *  *

                          25 Iyar, 5711 (1951)


I duly received the pidyon nefesh on behalf of Mr. ...; surely he took
along his tefillin for his hospital stay, and surely you also gave him
the printed "Message" from my father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed
memory.

Make sure to exhort him time and again that he put on tefillin daily -
except understandably on Shabbos and Yom Tov [Sabbath and holidays]. If
he cannot do so in the morning, then he should put them on sometime
during the day, until sunset; he should do so at least for a brief
period of time, although he may have to remove his tefillin immediately
after putting them on.

Explain to him that this mitzvah (commandment) possesses a special
segulah [lit. cherished treasure] for longevity, as our Sages, of
blessed memory, state: "Whoever puts on tefillin merits a long life."
Consequently, this is not a religious matter alone, but protection from
danger and peril.

Explain to him that he is to put on tefillin scrupulously while in the
hospital, regardless of his circumstances concerning the daily
performance of Torah and mitzvos while at home.

No doubt you will find the right words with which to convey the above;
if necessary, translate what I just wrote into English.

                                *  *  *

                         17 Teves, 5712 (1952)


I received your pidyon nefesh for your mother.

You need to be strong in your bitachon [trust] in G-d that He will help
and that your mother's health will improve. It is important to assure
that she is under the supervision of doctors; if she is in a hospital
then she certainly is.

From time to time inquire of the hospital staff how your mother is
doing; the very act of making this inquiry will have an effect on the
hospital staff. When they see that people are concerned with her
welfare, it will enhance their attitude towards her.

        Reprinted from Healthy in Body, Mind and Soul, compiled and
     translated by Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg, published by Sichos in
                                                            English

*********************************************************************
                                CUSTOMS
*********************************************************************
                        What is Kiddush Levana?

Kiddush Levana, literally "Sanctification of the Moon," is a short
prayer service recited each month upon sighting the new moon. It is
customary to recite Kiddush Levana together with as many people as
possible, but preferably with at least one other person. The prayers may
be recited only until the conclusion of the fifteenth day of the Hebrew
month after the rebirth of the moon. According to Kabala, they should
not be recited before he seventh day after the rebirth of the moon. The
prayers should be recited under the open skies, but may not be recited
when the moon is covered with clouds. It is preferably to recite Kiddush
Levana on Saturday night, while one is still in festive clothing.

*********************************************************************
                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
*********************************************************************
This past Wednesday was the seventh day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan.
In the times of the Holy Temple, the Jewish people traveled to Jerusalem
for the festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot, the seventh of
Cheshvan marked the end of the pilgrimage season surrounding the
festival of Sukkot, according to our Sages. During Sukkot, the entire
Jewish people were in Jerusalem. For the Jews living on the Euphrates
River, the furthest reaches of the Holy Land, their journey home took
fifteen days and thus, was concluded on the seventh of Cheshvan. It was
beginning on the seventh of Cheshvan that the prayer for rain commenced,
once all of the pilgrims were comfortably home again.

This fact, of the delay of the prayers for rain until the last pilgrims
reached their homes, is relevant to the concept of Jewish unity.

During the pilgrimage festivals, the essential unity of the Jewish
people is expressed. However, that unity applies to the essential
oneness that binds our people together, while transcending our
individuality. The unity expressed by the seventh of Cheshvan relates to
Jews as individuals. Jewish unity remains even after each Jew returns to
his own home and his individual lifestyle.

The seventh of Cheshvan is the final stage of Jewish unity that was
begun during the month of Elul (the days of preparation for Rosh
Hashana) and enhanced throughout all of the days of month of Tishrei.
May we continue to work on and enhance Jewish unity in every way
possible until the ultimate revelation of total Jewish unity and the
unity of G-d and the entire world with the coming of Moshiach, NOW!

*********************************************************************
                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
*********************************************************************
Go out of your country... to the land that I will show you - areka (Gen.
12:1)

Surprisingly, the Torah does not explicitly tell us that G-d showed
Abraham the Land of Israel, prompting another explanation based on
Hebrew grammar: In this instance, the letter "kaf" in the word "areka"
does not refer to the Land, but to Abraham. In other words, G-d was
telling Abraham that He would show Himself and reveal His true nature to
the world through Abraham's service.

                                                (HaDrash VeHa'iyun)

                                *  *  *


And Abram said to the king of Sodom...I will not take from a thread to a
thong (Gen. 14:22-23)

In the merit of this declaration, Abraham's descendants were given two
mitzvot: the blue thread of the tzitzit (ritual fringes on a
four-cornered garment), and the leather straps of the tefilin.

                                *  *  *


And your name shall be Abraham (Gen. 17:5)

It states in the Talmud: "Anyone who calls Abraham [by his former name]
'Abram' transgresses a positive commandment, as the Torah explicitly
states, 'And your name shall be Abraham.'" Yet there is no similar
prohibition against referring to our forefather Jacob as Jacob, even
though he was later given another name, Israel. One explanation offered
by Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson is that the name Abram was given to
Abraham by his non-Jewish father, Terach, and it is forbidden to change
one's Jewish name and assume one given by a gentile. Jacob, by contrast,
was given his name by a Jew, our Patriarch Isaac.

                                             (Toldot Levi Yitzchak)

*********************************************************************
                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
*********************************************************************
When the Baal Shem Tov lived in the town of Medzhibozh, there lived
there, too, a poverty-stricken Torah scholar whose entire life was
devoted to studying the Torah. Unfortunately, he was not blessed with
wealth, in fact, he and his family existed only through the tzedaka
(charity) of his fellow townspeople.

His wife was equally devoted to his learning, and she never complained
about their poverty. However, when their children reached marriageable
age, she went to her husband and said, "Thanks to G-d, we have always
managed to live, but now, we must marry off our children. So, I am
asking you, my husband, how will we manage to gather the money?"

Her husband listened thoughtfully, but he had no answer for her. His
wife, however, had a plan in mind.

"My husband, I know you have not attached yourself to the holy Baal Shem
Tov, who lives in this town, but many people have benefitted from his
wisdom and the miracles he brings about. So, I am asking you to go to
him and tell him of our problem. He will surely advise you well."

The scholar followed his wife's advice and went to the Baal Shem Tov.
The Baal Shem Tov listened and then replied: "If you wish to be helped,
you must go to the town of K. and inquire there into the whereabouts of
a certain Jew. Do not give up until you find him, for only then will you
be freed from your burdens."

The man immediately set out for the town which was located quite a
distance away. When he finally arrived, he was directed to the town's
guest house where he rested and received food. As soon as he regained
some strength, he began to question the locals about the person he was
instructed to locate. He asked the manager of the guest house, but to no
avail; then he went to the shul and asked there, but he was told that no
one had ever heard of such a person. The rumor spread through the city
that a learned stranger was inquiring after such and such a person.

Just as he had almost despaired of ever finding the man and was about to
return to Medzhibozh, a man came to him and said: "Why are you searching
for a wicked man who has been dead these 60 years?" And then, he went on
to elaborate all the terrible deeds this person had done during his vile
lifetime. It seemed that, while alive, this person had neglected no
evil.

The scholar went home with a heavy soul. Here he had rushed to follow
the instructions of the holy Baal Shem Tov and had gone to K. to find a
certain individual who would help him out of his troubles, just to
discover that the man was deceased; and not only was he deceased, but he
was a known evil-doer. The scholar was anxious to visit the Baal Shem
Tov and discover the reason for his seemingly fruitless journey.

The scholar related to the Baal Shem Tov the difficulties of the
journey; how he had arrived at the communal guest house, inquired after
the individual in question, and how he had finally received the evil
tidings about him. He continued telling the Baal Shem Tov all the
terrible things he had heard about the individual he had sought.

The Baal Shem Tov listened and then began to speak. "I know you to be a
fine, G-d-fearing person. I am sure that you believe in the teachings of
the Kabbala which explain that souls return to cleanse themselves of
transgressions committed in a previous lifetime. I want you to
understand that you have been given the opportunity to purify your holy
soul by returning to this world as a righteous scholar. For your soul,
my friend, occupied the man of that outrageous sinner who lived sixty
years ago in the town of K.

"You have been granted a great gift by the Al-mighty, for by your
righteous life, you have achieved a great tikun [correction]."

The scholar was dumb-struck by this news. His first thought was that his
poverty must certainly have been decreed against him to atone for his
previous riotous way of living. He returned to his wife and related to
her the entire episode. From that time on they strengthened their faith
in G-d Who helped them out of their troubles. He became one of the Baal
Shem Tov's closest disciples and devoted his entire life to the study of
Torah and the practice of mitzvot (commandments).

*********************************************************************
                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
*********************************************************************
It is written: "If you will chance upon a bird's nest...send away the
mother bird..." The explanation in the Tikunim is that in order to
awaken mercy we must beseech the Holy One, blessed be He: "Just as all
birds have mercy on their offspring, shouldn't You have mercy on Your
children?" At that time the Holy One says 'For My sake I will do it.' "

                                              (Kesser Shem Tov 415)

*********************************************************************
              END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1044 - Lech-Lecha 5769
*********************************************************************

Current
  • Daily Lessons
  • Weekly Texts & Audio
  • Candle-Lighting times

    613 Commandments
  • 248 Positive
  • 365 Negative

    PDA
  • BlackBerry
  • iPhone / iPod Touch
  • Java Phones
  • Palm Pilot
  • Palm Pre
  • Pocket PC
  • P800/P900
  • Moshiach
  • Resurrection
  • For children - part 1
  • For children - part 2

    General
  • Jewish Women
  • Holiday guides
  • About Holidays
  • The Hebrew Alphabet
  • Hebrew/English Calendar
  • Glossary

    Books
  • by SIE
  • About
  • Chabad
  • The Baal Shem Tov
  • The Alter Rebbe
  • The Rebbe Maharash
  • The Previous Rebbe
  • The Rebbe
  • Mitzvah Campaign

    Children's Corner
  • Rabbi Riddle
  • Rebbetzin Riddle
  • Tzivos Hashem

  • © Copyright 1988-2009
    All Rights Reserved
    L'Chaim Weekly