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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1056
                           Copyright (c) 2009
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        January 30, 2009           Bo             5 Shevat, 5769

                            Ready for Battle

There is a new group of recruits in the army. The soon-to-be soldiers
are put through rigorous training, to toughen them up physically, and to
prepare them psychologically for the difficulties and dilemmas they may
encounter in various aspects of war in Israel.

The training is hard enough, but the greatest test is saved for last.
The soldiers can only "graduate" and earn their berets after a grueling
three-day survival hike. The group is given a mission to accomplish
while covering the most difficult terrain with very few supplies and
little support. You can't imagine how difficult it is unless you've done
it; it's almost impossible. When you feel like you have no strength
left, you have to dig deeply inside to find hidden resources to keep on

Now, obviously, not every soldier is the same. Some are stronger and
hardier than others. Some are more resilient and perseverant. There are
those, however, who just find it too hard. They begin to lag behind, and
if no help is forthcoming, are unlikely to make it to the goal. Is it
reasonable to assume that the hardier soldiers forge ahead with no
backward glance?

Absolutely not! Each soldier knows that he is part of the whole. If even
one of his friends doesn't make it to the finish line, then no one
graduates - no beret for anyone. Consequently every person looks after
the next. If a recruit sees someone starting to falter, he stops to
help. Perhaps he only needs to give a word of encouragement, or a hand
to steady him on a rocky slope. It may be necessary to carry some of the
other fellow's equipment, in addition to his own 60-pound backpack.
Sometimes there's no way the other guy will make it on his own two feet,
so his friends just pick him up and carry him. If they are capable, then
it's up to them to make sure everyone gets there, they can't just think
of themselves.

As we mark Yud Shevat, entering the 60th year of the Rebbe's leadership
of the Lubavitch movement and world Jewry, this training technique can
help us understand an important facet of the Rebbe's approach to
ensuring the fulfillment of our  mission on earth.

While many focus on their commu-nity, strengthening their own movement
and institutions, the Rebbe alone stands for the notion that we can only
graduate if we bring everyone along.

While it would be easier to say, as some do, "We must keep our own
people strong. We can not worry about the entire world,"the Rebbe
teaches everyone to go out of their comfort zone; to seek out their
fellow Jews wherever in the world they may be; and to give them the
encouragement and support they need to be able to fulfill their
potential as Jews.

The Rebbe has made it clear that after 2,000 years in exile we are
nearly finished with our training course and are now in the final
"survival hike."

We all need to pull our weight - and more! We must dig deeply inside to
find the hidden resources to do another mitzva (commandment), to perform
acts of kindness, to encourage a friend to join us at a Torah class, to
invite another guest to a Shabbat meal, to put an additional coin in a
charity box. And if we must, we must carry another person's burden - or
the person himself - on our own shoulders together with our load. For
when every Jew makes it to the finish line, by completing his own unique
personal mission on earth, we will all receive our "berets"with the
revelation of Moshiach and the rebuilding of our Holy Temple, may it be

             Adapted from a talk by Tully Garalnik at Merkos Women,
                                               Melbourne, Australia

This week's Torah portion, Bo, contains the account of the tenth and
final plague which G-d visited on the Egyptians, the only one in which
the Jews were required to put a mark of identification upon their homes
so that they would not also be afflicted when the firstborn sons were
killed. The Jews were commanded to put blood from the Passover sacrifice
on their doorposts, also symbolic of the blood of the covenant of
circumcision, and warned to remain in their homes until the morning.

The Midrash offers an explanation why these precautions were necessary:
"Once the Destroyer is given free reign, it cannot distinguish between
the righteous and the wicked." This is why a special sign was needed to
divert the Angel of Death. But wasn't the Angel of Death allowed free
reign during the previous nine plagues? Why weren't measures taken then
by the Jewish people to protect themselves?

The answer lies in the fact that the slaying of the firstborn was
essentially different from the plagues which preceded it. The first nine
plagues brought a limited and specific type of injury and devastation;
the Angel of Death was not allowed to indiscriminately destroy in
whatever manner it chose. During the tenth plague, however, the Egyptian
firstborn died in a multitude of different ways.

Even more fundamental is the fact that the aim of the first nine plagues
was to make the Egyptians acknowledge the existence and power of G-d.
The final plague was sent solely to punish and to kill.

At this point, the Attribute of Justice complained before G-d and
pleaded that the Destroyer be allowed to harm the Jews as well: "How are
the Jews so different from the Egyptians? Both nations have served
idols, and both nations have sunk into the 49 gates of impurity!" G-d
therefore decreed that the Jews identify themselves with a special sign,
so that no harm would befall them.

But how could a drop of blood on a doorpost defend the Jews against such
a grave accusation? Chasidic philosophy explains that the tenth plague
was visited by G-d Himself, and was a demonstration of G-d's
overwhelming love for the Jewish people, the love a father has for his
children. This is a love irrespective of the son's negative behavior; it
transcends even the legitimate claims of the Attribute of Justice.

The blood with which the Jews painted their doorposts was symbolic of
the essential connection which exists between G-d and the Jew, a bond
which transcends all rationale and human understanding. Just as the
command to publicly defy Egyptian sensitivities by slaughtering a lamb,
the Egyptian deity, seemed to be irrational, it was precisely this
disregard for the natural order and the desire for self-sacrifice which
brought about the redemption. It is only when Jews go beyond the
boundaries of logic to show their devotion to G-d that He repays in

Today, the Jewish people finds itself in a situation similar to the one
faced by the Children of Israel as they were about to leave Egypt. The
Final Redemption is right at our door, and all that is required is that
we transcend the bonds of rational deliberation and declare ourselves
ready. In this merit may we see the coming of Moshiach and the dawn of
the Messianic Era.

                    Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                       A Blessing from the Rebbe
                         by Rabbi Leibl Groner

Rabbi Leibl Groner is a member of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's secretariat

A woman told me this story six months ago when I was in Melbourne for
the shloshim of my brother:

In 1988 the Rebbe began a custom of "Sunday dollars." Each week,
thousands of people would line up to receive a dollar and a blessing
from the Rebbe. The recipients were to give the dollars or their
equivalent to charity. On one of those Sundays, a married couple came to
the Rebbe to ask for a blessing. The woman was expecting their first
child. As she passed by the Rebbe she asked for a blessing for an easy
pregnancy and an easy birth. The Rebbe gave the woman a dollar. He then
gave another dollar to her and a dollar to the husband, saying, "L'orech
yamim v'shanim tovos (for length of days and good years)."

The woman gave birth to healthy baby boy. For the first years of his
life everything was fine. When he was twelve years old, however, he
started complaining about headaches. The family doctor sent them to a
neurologist who, after various tests, told them that there was a growth
on the boy's brain. The growth, the doctor insisted, was very aggressive
and he had only a short time to live.

Upon hearing this dire verdict, the husband told the wife, "Do you
remember when we went to the Rebbe when you were pregnant and what the
Rebbe said? Surely the Rebbe meant his blessing for long life and good
years for this period now. We have to do everything that we can
according to the laws of nature and we will rely on the Rebbe for
everything else."

The couple insisted that the doctors aggressively treat the growth and
do whatever was possible according to medicine to help their son. Today,
he is a healthy young man, married and starting a family of his own.

                                *  *  *

I was in France a little while ago and a woman there told me that her
eight-year-old daughter was suffering from an extremely severe skin
rash. She had gone to a team of dermatologists and they had recommended
giving her very high doses or cortisone in the hopes that it would give
the little girl some relief. The mother was reluctant to follow this
advice, due to various side-effects that can be caused by high dosages
of cortisone.

The mother wrote a letter to the Rebbe asking for the Rebbe's advice and
blessings and then placed the letter in the Igrot Kodesh (volumes of
correspondence of the Rebbe). She then opened up the book to the page
where she had randomly inserted the letter. In the letter on that page
the Rebbe wrote "... a member of your family is suffering from a skin
disease and the doctors want to give a medication that is very strong;
in my opinion the diagnosis is a mistake and I do not think that the
person should take the medicine. In fact, if the person will take the
medicine it can be very detrimental."

With this answer from the Rebbe, the mother went back to the
dermatologists and told the doctor that she was not willing to give the
cortisone to her daughter. "In that case," the doctor told her, "we will
have to send you to a different dermatologist. He is one of the top
specialists in all of Paris."

The mother and daughter went to the specialist who examined the child
and reviewed the medical reports. "The diagnosis is a mistake," the
doctor told the mother. "I hope you did not give the cortisone to your
daughter as the previous doctors recommended because if she were to take
this medicine it could be very detrimental."

                                *  *  *

A woman whom my wife knows was moving from one apartment to another. She
came to my wife asking her if she could help her write a letter to the
Rebbe requesting a blessing for the move. As she didn't know Yiddish or
Hebrew, she was asking my wife to write the letter for her. "Write the
letter in English," my wife encouraged her. "The Rebbe understands
English." The woman wrote the letter herself and then inserted it in a
volume of Igrot Kodesh that she had removed from our bookshelf. My wife
opened the book to the page where the letter had been randomly placed
and translated the letter that was on the page. It was a letter to a
couple who were moving into a new apartment, blessing them that
everything about the move should be met with success. The woman was
pleased with the blessing, but then my wife noticed that the book she
had taken out of the bookshelf was a collection of letters of the
Previous Rebbe, the father-in-law of the Rebbe. "Of course, the Previous
Rebbe was a tzadik and a Rebbe, but I would feel more comfortable having
a blessing from our Rebbe, as well," the woman said to my wife. My wife
pointed out to the woman the volumes of the Rebbe's Igrot Kodesh that
were on the second shelf. The woman selected a volume from the second
shelf and placed her letter randomly in this second volume. She handed
the book to my wife and asked my wife to translate the letter that
appeared on that page. My wife read, "I'm surprised that you are turning
to me about a subject that my father-in-law has already dealt with..."

                                *  *  *

Recently, a father and son came to our home. The father told me, "Do you
remember that you asked me for a bill? Well, this is the payment."

But let me backtrack. After the Rebbe had a stroke in 1992, the
physicians who were attended to the Rebbe in the Rebbe's room at
Lubavitch World Headquarters regularly needed to order blood analysis.
Most of the labs were only able to provide results in 2-3 days. The
doctors wanted the results as quickly as possible. We located a lab in
Brooklyn owned by two brothers who assured us that for the Rebbe they
could provide us with results within 4-5 hours.

A month after we started using this lab, I called the owners to ask them
for a bill for the work that they had done so far and requested that
they bill us on a regular basis. (The Rebbe would never accept anything
gratis.) They never sent any bills. Many, many months later, a week
after Gimmel Tammuz, one of the owners called my office. He told me,
"You asked us for a bill for the lab work we did on behalf of the Rebbe.
My wife and I have been married for nine years and we have no children.
I would like the payment of the bill to be a blessing from the Rebbe
that we have a child."

I asked him for his full Hebrew name and his wife's full Hebrew name.
That day I went to the Ohel (the Rebbe's resting place) and told the
Rebbe everything, and that they wanted the payment of the bill to be
that they have a child. Eighteen months later the lab owner called me
and told me the good news that his wife had had a baby boy. And
recently, the boy, now 12 years old, came to visit me with his father.
"Do you remember that you asked for a bill?" the father said. "This is
the payment."

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                            THE REBBE WRITES
                     Freely translated and adapted

                          17 Elul, 5710 (1950)

You ask to be mentioned at the gravesite of my father in law, the Rebbe,
of blessed memory; I will do as you ask. You write that you have no
understanding of this. [To this I respond that] even when you eat,
drink, and sleep, you surely do not contemplate first how this affects
your body and soul, and you do all this even if you don't understand how
the impact works. The same principle applies here as well.

As for what you write that it [visiting the gravesite of a Tzaddik
(righteous person)] appears: like speaking to the dead; like directing
one's thoughts to a force other than G-d, G-d forbid.

You surely understand on your own that this is not so. For it is
accepted [in Torah sources] that Caleb the son of Yefuneh [Sotah 34b],
several Tana'im and Amora'im, and Tzaddikim throughout all the
generations did so.

Your question can be explained further, albeit in brief: Even when
people would come to the [Previous] Rebbe to request a blessing [during
his lifetime], they would come to him not on account of the greatness of
his body, but on account of the greatness of his soul. The whole idea of
death is only possible for the body, since the soul is eternal. This is
true of the soul of a Tzaddik in particular, for it has no connection
whatsoever to Purgatory, Kaf HaKela [a punishment for the soul after
death], etc. [See Zohar 3:21b] The death of the soul of the Tzaddik is
termed Histalkus, which means an elevation to a higher level, and he is
not called a dead person, G-d forbid, as it is written in the Zohar
(3:71) [thus, visiting the Tzaddik's gravesite does not constitute
speaking to the dead].

As for what you write that it appears like directing one's thoughts to a
force other than G-d; in short, this is not so. For the request is that
the Tzaddik in his great righteousness plead favorably on behalf of the
one requesting the blessing before the King of all kings, the Holy One,
blessed be He.

There is a second intention in this regard: Every Chassid and person
connected to the Tzaddik is an individual aspect of the soul of the
Tzaddik, which is a great gestalt. It [the Tzaddik's soul] is comparable
to the head relative to its individual souls [which are compared to the
body], as explained in Tanya chapter two.

Every individual organ receives its sustenance from the soul, and the
soul vests itself first in the head and the brain, and from there the
vitality is divided up according to the individual needs of each
individual organ.

So is it also in the case of a Chassid and a Rebbe: Since the head is
healthy and strong, it contains all the vitality of all the individual
bodily organs. [Thus,] in order for the individual organ to be healthy,
it must be fully connected to the head: The sinews and nerves that join
the head with the organs must be open, for then the vitality related to
each respective organ will flow to it.

Generally speaking, this is the concept of Hiskashrus, the bond of a
Chassid and a Rebbe. Through this the Chassid receives everything that
he needs, both materially and spiritually.

              Translated and adapted by Rabbi Yehoshoiphot Olliver,
                             published on

                            A CALL TO ACTION
                        Make Hakhel Gatherings!

This year is a Hakhel year. Hakhel means literally "assembly."
Immediately before and numerous times during the "Hakhel" year of 5748
(1987-8), the Lubavitcher Rebbe emphasized the importance of holding
gatherings that would bring together and unite Jews. Men, women and even
little children were charged with this commandment. Make a gathering for
friends and family during this Hakhel year; all the better if you do it
on a regular basis! Incorporate into the gathering the "three pillars
upon which the world stands" - Torah study, prayer and charity. Share a
thought from the Rebbe, say a prayer for the Redemption, and give
charity, even a few coins, to a worthy cause.

    In memory of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg and the other
    kedoshim of Mumbai

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
On this coming Wednesday, Yud (the tenth of) Shevat, we will commemorate
the passing of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1950. On Yud Shevat in
1951, the present Rebbe officially accepted the position of leadership
and delivered his first Chasidic discourse, "Basi Legani."

This discourse was truly ground-breaking, laying the foundation of the
Rebbe's work over the next few decades. In no uncertain terms it
described the uniqueness of our generation and the special role we play
in history.

The core revelation the Rebbe introduced is that ours is "the last
generation of exile and the first generation of Redemption." During the
past seven generations of Jewish history, beginning with the inception
of Chabad Chasidism, Divine consciousness has been progressively

Ours, the seventh generation, is poised on the threshold of the

"This is not through our own choice or a result of our service; in fact,
it might often not even be to our liking. Nevertheless...we stand on the
'heel of Moshiach' - the very edge of the heel - ready to complete the
task of drawing down the Divine Presence...into the lowest realm

This knowledge implies a responsibility that is incumbent upon each and
every one us. As the Previous Rebbe wrote in a letter, every Jew must
ask himself, "What have I done and what am I doing to alleviate the
birth-pangs of Moshiach, and to merit the total Redemption which will
come through our Righteous Moshiach?" Every mitzva we do, every good
deed or increase in Torah study has the potential to tip the scales, to
bring the ongoing historical process toward the Messianic era to its
ultimate conclusion.

As "Basi Legani" concludes, "Let us all merit to see and be together
with the Rebbe, in a physical body and within our reach, and he will
redeem us."

May it happen immediately,

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
For I have hardened his heart (Ex. 10:1)

G-d "boasts" of the free will He has given man, one of the greatest
mysteries of all creation, and a part of the Divine plan. Only man can
take the life-force and blessings he receives from Above and use them in
a manner totally contrary to G-d's will.

                                                       (Sefat Emet)

                                *  *  *

We know not with what we must serve G-d, until we reach there (Ex.

While we yet live in this world, we cannot accurately assess the value
of our Torah learning and our performance of commandments, or even know
if they were done only for the sake of heaven. It is only after we have
reached the World to Come, the World of Truth, that we will know how
faithfully we fulfilled our tasks.

                                                  (Chidushai Harim)

                                *  *  *

This month shall be unto you (Ex. 12:2)

According to Rabbi Yitzchak the Torah should have begun with this verse,
and not "In the beginning, G-d created the heavens and the earth." What
is so special about this mitzva (commandment), and why doesn't the Torah
begin with the words "I am the L-rd thy G-d," a seemingly more
fundamental principle of Judaism? The existence of G-d is the basis upon
which the observance of Torah and mitzvot is predicated, but the
objective of the entire Torah is best expressed in the mitzva of "this
month (chodesh) shall be unto you." The purpose of the Jew is to become
an active partner in creation (the Hebrew word "chodesh" comes from the
word chadash - "new"), transforming the physical world, which seems to
be a separate entity, divorced from G-dliness, into yet another
expression of holiness.

                                                (Lubavitcher Rebbe)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
The tenth of Shevat is the anniversary of the passing of the Previous
Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn.

The Previous Rebbe led the Chabad-Lubavitch movement for thirty years.
The first ten years were in anti-Semitic Communist Russia where the
Previous Rebbe inspired the establishment of hundreds, even thousands of
clandestine "underground" Torah schools, mikvas and the training of
mohels and rabbis to keep Judaism alive. He defied Stalin's
all-pervasive, deadly "purge Network" until he was finally imprisoned,
sentenced to death and then miraculously released but forced to leave
the country. The next ten years were in anti-Semitic Poland until the
Nazis attacked and the Previous Rebbe was forced to flee to the United

The Previous Rebbe arrived in the United States in a wheelchair, broken
in body, but whole in spirit. He immediately devoted the last ten years
of his life and all his energies to saving world Judaism, beginning and
developing the concept of Jewish outreach.

The Previous Rebbe vowed to "melt the ice of America." He printed books
and pamphlets, encouraged programs on radio and even sent out
emissaries; all with the goal of waking up Jews and preparing the world
for Moshiach.

This story takes place in the first ten year period of the Previous
Rebbe's leadership.

At this time (1924) the headquarters of Chabad-Lubavitch was in the city
of Rostov far from the center of Russia. From there the Previous Rebbe
controlled his "forbidden" educational network which, besides the
physical dangers hanging over the heads of the teachers and pupils, was
always in deep financial problems.

Hundreds of teachers and workers had to be paid, pupils had to be fed
and donations, especially for "counter-revolutionary" Jewish causes,
were very scarce.

One Chasid of the Previous Rebbe who was manager of one of these
yeshivas got acquainted with a very wealthy Jew in Rostov and asked for
financial assistance. "The yeshiva is folding! The teachers and staff
have not been paid for months and there is no food for the pupils!" He
pleaded. But despite his requests, arguments and tears the rich man
would not budge; he was a true miser.

Until one day the rich Jew happened to mention his own problem: he had
no children! This broke his heart and worried him day and night.
Suddenly he looked the Chasid in the eyes, became serious and made a
proposition. "If you, being a Chasid and a man of G-d, would bless me
with a child I will give what you ask."

The Chasid, realizing that this was a golden opportunity, shifted into
another gear and the words came tumbling out.

"My school is going to close any day, certainly we can't wait nine
months! If you give the money that the yeshiva needs (here he quoted a
very large sum) now, then I promise that within a year you will be
hugging your son!"

The rich man burst into tears of grateful joy as he shook the Chasid's
hand, went to his safe, took out the entire sum and gave it to the
Chasid. The Chasid felt a tweak of guilt about the blessing, but
hundreds of young Jewish souls would be saved! Think of all the Torah
that would be studied! All the commandments that would be observed!
Surely in the merit of all this, the blessing for a child would be

But it wasn't. The months passed and nothing. Finally after a year, the
donor went to the home of the Chasid.

"Do you remember me? Do you remember your promise? Your blessing? Where
is my child?"

The Chasid didn't lose his composure, forced a smile and answered, "Give
it a few more weeks."

The rich man quieted down and as soon as he left, the Chasid ran to the
house of the Rebbe and arranged a private meeting. "Who told you to
promise children?" said the Rebbe. "How could you do such a thing? The
fact is that I can't help."

"But Rebbe," the Chasid pleaded "I did it for the children, for the
pupils - without his money the yeshiva would have closed!" But his pleas
were to no avail.

Two weeks later the man was back. And he was demanding his donation back
if the Chasid did not make good on his blessing for a child. The Chasid
had no choice but to return to the Rebbe.

"Please Rebbe" he begged after somehow managing to secure another
private audience. "Save me!"

This time the Rebbe answered differently, "All right! But this is the
only time! Go and tell him in my name that this year he will have a son.
But from now on, never make promises that you cannot fulfill!"

Sure enough that year his son was born, he continued to support the
Rebbe's programs and the Chasid never made any more such promises.

                       From by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught that the numerical value of Moshiach, 358,
equals the word for emissary, 348, with an additional yud, 10. Yud, the
smallest Hebrew letter, characterizes selflessness and total dedication
to fulfilling G-d's will, the prerequisite of true leadership. Yud also
alludes to the highest level of soul, the yechida, whose initial letter
yud symbolizes the point of Moshiach within every Jew waiting to be
directed toward the fulfillment of G-d's ultimate plan. Thus, by
cultivating and realizing leadership potential within our own limited
reality, we help create the proper spiritual climate for G-d to reveal
Himself fully.


                  END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1056 - Bo 5769

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