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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1058
                           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.
        February 13, 2009        Yisro           19 Shevat, 5769

                           21 - Surely, Only

With this issue of L'Chaim we mark the 21st yartzeit (anniversary of the
passing) of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson. As the Baal Shem Tov
teaches, everything we encounter can provide a lesson in our Divine
Service. And so, the fact that we have reached not just a yartzeit, but
the twenty-first yartzeit, must also have a unique message for us.

Perhaps the message can come from the number of the yartzeit -

The number twenty-one has an obvious significance in many countries.
It's the age of adulthood, when one, by every way it can be reckoned
legally, has finally grown up.

Jewish teachings explains that every Hebrew letter has a numerical
value. And from a numerical combination of letters, words emerge. Thus,
alef, the first letter, is one, beit, the second letter, is two, and so
on. Yud, the tenth letter is 10, and then we start counting by tens, so
that chof, the next letter, is 20.

So it turns out that the two letters that have the numerical value of 21
are alef (1) and chof (20). Together they spell the word "ach," which
has several meanings in Hebrew, such as: surely, but, only, indeed.

Whichever way we translate it, the word "ach" - numerically equivalent
to 21 - indicates a transition, a separation of stages, a change in
condition - sort of like what twenty-one means legally.

We can see the special sense of the word, as it is used in several
Biblical verses. For instance, in Psalm 23 we find the phrase, "Ach tov
v'chesed - Only goodness and kindness" - shall follow me all the days of
my life. Or, Psalm 73, which begins, "Ach tov l'Yisrael - Surely G-d is
good to Israel." There are many more examples, but these should make the
point for now.

There's much that can be said about this concept of transition, this
change of status. Adulthood, responsibility - getting to the point where
we start fulfilling our destiny, so to speak. Or defining it. Surely,
indeed we are the only ones who can do so, but we need to focus on the
task, our Divine purpose.

Although we only turn 21 once, there are many "ach" moments - twenty-one
like changes in situation, where, without any apparent external change
(that comes later, as a result), we become in some way different, more
elevated, more aware. Indeed, the sensation of turning twenty-one is
strange. We anticipate the change, but really, the only change is in our
attitude, the way we - and the world - look at ourselves.

Surely we can compare an individual turning twenty-one, "becoming
legal," as they say, with the world itself reaching maturity - the stage
of responsibility, fulfillment.

The world will "become legal" when it reaches not so much the age of
maturity (though that, too), but the age of Redemption.  Ach - Only,
Surely - when Moshiach comes, the world will have truly grown up.

In this week's Torah portion, Yitro, we read: "And Yitro
heard...everything that G-d had done for Moses and His people
Israel...and Yitro Moses into the wilderness."

What did Yitro hear that caused him to leave his land and join the
Jewish people? As Rashi explains, he heard about the splitting of the
Sea and the war against Amalek.

At first glance, this is surprising. The exodus from Egypt, with all its
miracles, took place before the splitting of the Sea of Reeds; surely
Yitro was aware of what happened. Why then was it not until the Sea was
split and the battle fought against Amalek that he decided to go to

There is another difficulty as well. According to the principle that
"one must always ascend in matters of holiness," one would expect the
Jewish people to have reached a more elevated spiritual state by the
time the Torah was given. The war against Amalek seems to represent a
spiritual decline. However, as will be explained, the battle against
Amalek was actually a significant ascent in the Jews' progression toward
Mount Sinai.

When the Sea split, G-d's Divine light illuminated all planes of
existence, effecting a bond between the higher spheres and the mundane
physical world. All the nations heard of the great miracle; the
revelation of G-dliness at the Sea struck fear in their hearts.
Nevertheless, even after the splitting of the Sea, Amalek was not afraid
to confront the Jews. Why? Because the revelation of holiness that
occurred had still not purified the very lowest levels of the physical.
These lowest levels became purified only after the battle with Amalek,
when the Jews were victorious.

Thus the war against Amalek was the final step in the Jewish people's
preparation for receiving the Torah. For it was by means of this war
that the entire world was transformed into an appropriate vessel to
contain the Torah.

This also explains why these two events convinced Yitro to join the
Jewish people: it was only after both had occurred that the world was
completely ready to accept the Torah.

                                *  *  *

Each day we say: "Blessed are You... Who gives the Torah" - in the
present tense. Every day we receive the Torah anew. Just as our
ancestors prepared themselves to accept the Torah at Sinai, so too must
we prepare ourselves.

We do this by living with the adage "Know Him in all your ways." A Jew's
connection to G-d must be constant, not just during prayer or Torah
study. First comes the "splitting of the Sea" - our involvement in
spiritual matters, only after which can we wage "war against Amalek" and
see to mundane affairs.

               Adapted for Maayan Chai from Likutei Sichot, Vol. 11

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                        Keep a Pot on the Stove
                            by Yehudis Cohen

"I was 22 years old," remembers David Tsinman. "Mom asked me to help
someone who had gotten into serious trouble through his own stupidity. I
told her that I didn't want to do it. First, I would put myself in
danger in attempting to help him. It would take a lot of time; this was
not a one time favor, it would take many months. It would also cost me,
financially, to help him.

"My mother looked at me and said, 'You are right about everything, 100%
right. But if you won't help him, he will surely die.' I still did not
agree. Then Mom told me, 'If you won't help him, you can take your
tefilin and throw them in the garbage.' When she told me that, it really
shook me. I agreed to help the person. It took years and it cost me in
many ways. I suffered and my mother suffered because she saw me
suffering. Afterwards, despite everything, she said, 'You still have to
do a Jew a favor.' "

Mrs. Mera Galperin, who passed away this year on the last day of
Chanuka, was a woman of great stature. She combined strength, dignity,
wisdom, fortitude, compassion and love in a way that is hard to find
today. She was born in Babinovitch (Belarus), the same city where
Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, daughter of the Previous Lubavitcher
Rebbe and wife of the Rebbe, was born. Mrs. Galperin was friendly with
the Previous Rebbe's daughters.

After World War II, the Galperins moved to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. In
1948, Meir Tsinman arrived in Tashkent. He had spent the last 10 years
in Stalin's prison camps. Mera and Meir married. He urged Mera to keep
her maiden name in case he was arrested again. Sure enough, in 1949,
Stalin declared that all those who had been imprisoned must return to
jail. Meir ran away to Kutaisi, Georgia. He was in hiding when their
first son, Yaakov, was born. Soon after the baby's brit, Mera joined
Meir in Kutaisi.

A few months after they were reunited, Meir was arrested at work. When
he didn't return home, Mera went to the KGB. "We know nothing," they
insisted. "Check all of the morgues." Carrying her infant son with her,
Mera visited all of the local hospital morgues and thankfully did not
find Meir. She went back to the KGB, where an officer informed her he
had been sent to Tibilisi (another city in Georgia). Mera travelled to
Tibilisi and was  told that he Meir been sent to Tashkent. She travelled
the 1,300 miles to Tashkent and found Meir imprisoned there. After two
years in jail in Tashkent he was finally given a "court hearing" and
sentenced to life in exile, in Siberia.

Exiles were dropped off in Siberia with nothing more than the clothes on
their backs and they had to fend for themselves. Meir was "lucky" enough
to find a corner of a room to rent from a local gentile. He began making
nails out of wire, a skill he had learned in the prison camp. Working
for himself meant that he would not have a problem observing Shabbat.

As soon as Meir was "established" in Siberia, Mera and Yaakov joined
him. Their first "home" was the changing room of a bathhouse! Yet even
with so little space and money, Mera always made sure to help those who
had less than her. One of her favorite mottos was "If you have an extra
spoon of something, give it to someone who needs it." She always kept a
pot on the stove, filled with water, crusts of bread, and anything else
she could find to make a soup, so that anyone who was hungry would
always have something to eat.

One day, Meir found a Jew so desperately suffering from starvation that
he had tried to hang himself. Meir took the noose off from around the
man's neck and carried him home. Mera nursed him back to physical and
mental health.

When Stalin died in 1953, all of the exiles were finally free. The
Tsinmans moved back to Tashkent. In the 1960s they started applying to
leave the U.S.S.R. Meir's health was precarious from the beatings as a
young man in prison. He passed away in 1968, only 50 years old, of a
heart attack. In 1971, Mrs. Galperin and her sons were finally given
permission to emigrate.

When Mrs. Galperin arrived in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, she had almost
nothing. Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka took her to the Previous Rebbe's
apartment at 770 Eastern Parkway and gave Mrs. Galperin items to set
herself up.

"Mom spoke on the phone or visited the Rebbetzin at least 3 or 4 times a
week, usually for anywhere from 2 to 7 hours. I often asked her, 'What
did you speak about for so long?' 'The Rebbetzin speaks freely with me
because she knows I keep everything confidential,' Mom would say. I
would press her and pressure her but I wouldn't get a word out of her.
All of those thousands of hours of conversations over the years and no
one was privy to any of them."

Mrs. Galperin became the cook at the Machon Chana dormitory. Machon
Chana was the first yeshiva established for Baalos Teshuva, girls and
women returning to their Jewish roots. But Mrs. Galperin was much more
than a cook. In the first years, she was the mainstay of the dorm. She
took care of the girls like a mother hen, nurturing them physically and
spiritually. The Rebbe once told Mrs. Galperin that she was the "Mama of
Machon Chana." One Seder night when the Rebbe visited the dormitory, the
Rebbe asked her if she cooks for the girls as she cooks at home. Later,
Mrs. Galperin discussed with the dorm mother Mrs. Gita Gansburg (she
should live and be well) what they could do to make the Passover dorm
food more homey. She decided to add various items to the menu even
though it entailed a tremendous amount of time and effort.

Miryam Tsinman, Yaakov's wife, shared an unusually close relationship
with her mother-in-law. She noted that though she smiled rarely, Mrs.
Galperin was always happy and positive; she was thankful for what she
had, gracious, and generous to all. "She was so real."

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             New Emissaries

Rabbi Zvi Yaakov and Chanie Zwiebel have been appointed the new
directors of new Librescu Chabad Center at Virginia Tech University in
Blacksburg, Virginia. Rabbi Yanky and Chanshy Majesky will be
establishing a new Chabad House in North Orlando, Florida, serving the
Jews in the area. Rabbi Hershy and Frumi Spritzer are arriving soon in
the S. Fernando Valley, California, to establish Chabad on Tampa,
serving the local Jewish community. Rabbi Benny and Sonia Hershcovich
have completed their pilot trip to Los Cabos, Mexico, and will soon be
returning their permanently to establish and new Chabad House there that
will serve the local Jewish population and Jewish tourists.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
  Freely translated and excerpted from a talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Our Sages relate that at the time of the Exodus certain nations insisted
that it was literally impossible for the Jewish people to have retained
their sanctity, holiness and purity, after 210 years of exile.
Especially so, since the Egyptian exile was one of the most difficult
exiles, where the Jewish people were enslaved and held captive by the
despotic Pharaohs.

In response to this, G-d testifies at the conclusion of the book of
Numbers, that each and every Jewish family remained pure and holy; the
Jewish people left Egypt with exactly the same degree of purity and
sanctity that they enjoyed when Jacob and his family descended from the
Holy Land into Egypt. In fact, the Jewish people were taken out of exile
precisely because of their undefiled and holy state, not having
succumbed to the customs and mores of the land in which they found
themselves, the land of Egypt.

At that particular point in history Egypt was a highly advanced
civilization. This was so both with regard to their culture, as well as
with regard to their general knowledge, wisdom and philosophy. In these
areas, Egypt outshined by far all other nations that were then extant.
So much so, that their knowledge in certain areas - such as the art of
forming particular vessels, dyes, etc. - stymie and confound us to this

The Jewish people, enslaved as they were to the mightiest, largest and
most developed country, nevertheless did not adopt the mores and customs
of their Egyptian neighbors. Rather, knowing as they did that they were
sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and daughters of Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel
and Leah, they realized that "I shall descend with you to Egypt," that
G-d was with them in Egypt every step of the way. Consequently, they
recognized that they must surely and steadfastly cling to G-d and
conduct themselves according to His dictates. Only then would they be
able to leave Egypt whole, unsullied and unblemished.

Thus the Torah relates that the Jewish people departed Egypt whole and
complete, "with our youth and elders, with our sons and daughters,"
i.e., children, parents and grandparents were entirely united in their
outlooks, perspectives and attitudes without any generational gaps - a
unified nation, a whole and intact nation, and a healthy nation, both
physically and spiritually.

It was with this spirit of unity that they all left Egypt in order to
receive the Torah on Sinai, with the Torah as their - and our - eternal
guidepost in life, thereby ensuring that the spirit of unity between
generations endures for all time.

Our Sages tell us that one of the things in whose merit the Jewish
people were freed from Egyptian bondage was that "they did not change
their mode of dress." Jewish men, and especially Jewish women and
daughters retained their distinctly modest Jewish mode of dress, and
were not at all influenced by the Egyptian style of dress and conduct.

It was a given that their uniqueness as a people would prevent and
prohibit them from altering their Jewish dress code, notwithstanding
that they were dispersed among the Egyptians. To have done so would have
meant lowering and demeaning themselves by chasing after Egyptian
fashion, that because Egyptians are wearing such garments we must -
Heaven forfend - imitate and copy them.

Indeed, modesty of dress is one of the most fundamental principles of
tznius (modesty) for the aspect of tznius which is most readily
discernible is with regard to clothing.

Here, too, Torah teaches us that we are not to change our mode of Jewish
dress. Moreover, retaining our Jewish dress code will not cause us to
lose favor and respect among our non-Jewish neighbors. Quite the
contrary, the nations among whom we find ourselves will realize that we
are a people who sticks to our principles. And even if doing so may
sometimes prove difficult, we are not frightened by this, for we realize
that by observing our Jewish dress code, observing tznius, we preserve
our identity, guaranteeing our strength and existence as a nation and as
individuals. This is the path that leads us out of exile.

As mentioned on numerous occasions, Torah is not - G-d forbid - a
history book that recounts events that transpired many years ago, with
the sole purpose of relating to us that which took place with our
forebears. Rather, Torah is a "Torah of Life," a "living Torah," in a
manner whereby "the deeds of our ancestors are signs to their
descendants" - when the Torah relates that which happened with our
ancestors, it is a sign to us how we are to conduct ourselves.

This, in itself, demonstrates that now as well, this year and this very
day and wherever one finds oneself, all Jewish women and daughters are
capable of conducting themselves in a manner of tznius with regard to
all matters: conduct, dress, and even speech. Moreover, they are capable
of doing so with joy and gladness.

             From Beautiful Within, published by Sichos In English.
                              Excerpted from Likutei Sichos, Vol. 8

                            A CALL TO ACTION
                             Positive Deeds

"The yahrzeit (anniversary of passing) should, as is Jewish custom, be
connected with deeds undertaken in memory of the departed. The Hebrew
expression for this intent, l'ilui nishmat, means "for the ascent of the
soul." Our deeds help elevate the soul of the departed. Then, the higher
levels that the soul reaches, are drawn down and influence this
world....Also, it is proper that gifts be given to charity in multiples
of 470, the numerical equivalent of the Rebbetzin's name. (The Rebbe, 22
Shevat, 5750-1990)

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

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This Monday will mark the twenty-first yartzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya
Mushka Schneerson, of blessed memory, wife of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. In
the year after her passing, the Rebbe spoke often about the concept of
"And the living shall take to heart" - that by performing practical
mitzvot and good deeds in the Rebbetzin's memory, the departed's soul is
elevated even higher. In the years since, numerous educational
institutions, tzedaka organizations and outreach programs have been
founded in the Rebbetzin's name, and hundreds if not thousands of Jewish
girls are proud to be named after such a holy woman.

Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, daughter of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, was
a symbol of all the positive attributes Jewish women have embodied
throughout the ages, incorporating a profound sense of modesty and
unwavering devotion to truth with a sincere consideration for others.
Deliberately shunning the spot-light, she consistently fled from any
recognition of her special status, choosing instead to "work behind the
scenes" with countless individual acts of kindness and self-sacrifice
for her fellow Jews. The many stories about the Rebbetzin that began to
surface only after her passing paint a picture of an exceptional Jewish
figure whose entire life was an example of nobility, devotion and

In her later years the Rebbetzin's health was less than optimal, yet she
was so self-effacing that she refused to "bother" her husband with her
problems. "It is very important to me to avoid causing the Rebbe
sorrow," she once replied when someone pointed out that if people could
come from around the world to seek the Rebbe's blessing for such
matters, surely she could do the same.

Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka chose to live in the "shade" of the luminaries
who surrounded her. But by striving to emulate her example, we ensure
that she continues to illuminate our world forever.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
And you shall be My own treasure (segula) (Ex. 19:8)

Just as the Hebrew vowel "segol" is made up of three dots, so too, does
G-d's treasure (segula) - the Jewish people - consist of three
constituent parts: priests, Levites, and Israelites. The Torah, too,
from where Jews draw their strength, is also three-part: The Five Books
of Moses, Prophets, and Writings.

                                            (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

                                *  *  *

Moses spoke (yedaber), and G-d answered him (Ex. 19:19)

The word "yedaber" is actually in the future tense, implying "Moses will
speak." It is also etymologically related to the word "yadber," meaning
"he will lead and guide" - a reference to the "reflection of Moses that
exists in every generation ."

                                      (Sefer HaMaamarim Kuntreisim)

                                *  *  *

I am the L-rd your G-d (Ex. 20:2)

This first of the Ten Commandments was given in the singular ("Elokecha"
not "Elokeichem"), as each individual's conception and understanding of
G-d is different, depending on his capacity for spirituality, knowledge
of Torah, and individual service. Accordingly, each person who was
present at Mount Sinai understood the commandment differently.

                                                     (Siftei Kohen)

                                *  *  *

Six days you shall labor and do all your work (Ex. 20:9)

In truth, is it possible to complete all one's work in only six days?
Rather, the intent is that a person must desist from labor on Shabbat,
and consider it as if all his work was already done.


                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Once, three men - a poor man, a simpleton, and an old bachelor who was
both poor and simple - came to Elijah to ask for his blessing.

The first man came to the prophet and said, "I am so poor that I can't
even feed and clothe my family. Please, take pity on me, and give me
your blessing that I may become wealthy."

Elijah agreed to help him, but on one condition: "When you become rich,
and you certainly will, you must promise to give charity and share your
wealth with others." The man promised, and Elijah handed him a coin.
"This coin will make you rich," assured the prophet. "Don't forget your

The second man came and made his request: "The one thing I desire most
in the world is to become a Torah scholar. Please, help me."

Elijah considered his request worthy, but made one condition: "When you
become a Torah scholar, you must promise to instruct even the simplest
folk who come to you asking to study Torah."

"Of course, I promise," said the man. "It would be my honor and
privilege to teach my fellow Jews."

Elijah took a sheet of parchment on which was written the Hebrew
alphabet and handed it to the man, saying, "If you study from this page
you will certainly become a great scholar. But don't forget your
promise." The man parted from the prophet happily clutching the
parchment to his chest.

Then the third man approached the prophet. "Master, please take pity on
me. I am no longer young. I am very poor and not so bright. Worst of
all," said the man, "I'm all alone in the world without a wife. But I
won't take just any wife-I will marry only a woman with good sense."

Elijah took pity on the man. "I have the perfect woman for you. But, you
must promise to listen to your wife in every matter, all the days of
your life." The man agreed and Elijah led him into the depths of the
forest. They entered a small hut in the forest where an old woman and
her daughter were sitting. "This woman is the perfect wife for you,"
said the prophet, nodding towards the daughter. Both parties agreed to
the marriage and it took place soon after.

Two years passed and Elijah returned to see if the three had kept their
promises. First, he visited the opulent home of the formerly poor man.
Approaching the huge door, he saw a sign that read: "Beggars and
Deliveries to the Rear." Elijah went to the back door and was given a
small coin. "I wish to speak with your employer," demanded the prophet.
"Not permitted. You can have a coin and a loaf of bread."

"No," insisted Elijah. "I want to see the master of the house!"

"Take two coins and be off!" was the curt response. Still, Elijah stood
his ground. In fact, he created such a fuss that the servants had to
call the owner.

Elijah asked the man for a more substantial sum, but he just scoffed:
"One coin should be enough for you!" Each time he asked, Elijah was
rebuffed more violently.

"I see that you don't recognize me and you have forgotten your promise,"
Elijah said solemnly. "So, you must return my coin."

"Ha! Do you think that silly coin did anything? You can have it back,
it's worthless." The man returned the coin and in no time he was poor

Next, Elijah went to visit the great yeshiva where the simpleton was now
a renowned Torah scholar and dean of the yeshiva. "Pardon me Rabbi, but
I would like to learn Torah," the prophet said to the great men.

"Have you studied the entire Talmud and all of its commentaries?"

"No, I haven't had the chance to study, but I want to very much."

"I'm sorry, I don't have time to instruct beginner students. You see, I
am the head of the yeshiva, and I have more important things to do!"

Elijah begged the man, but to no avail. Then the prophet said, "I see
you don't recognize me. What is more, you haven't kept your promise. You
must return my parchment!"

"This parchment is worthless!" the scholar laughed. "Take it." No sooner
had the prophet departed, than the head of the yeshiva forgot all of his

Sadly Elijah trudged to the hut of the couple who had been married two
years. The wife saw Elijah and told her husband, "We have never been
privileged to have a guest, and here is a distinguished looking man
approaching. Let's take our cow to be slaughtered and serve our guest

The husband could not imagine how they would manage without the cow;
they eked out a bare subsistence from her milk. It did not seem to make
sense, but he agreed all the same. "If you feel that we should, let's
prepare the cow."

Elijah ate and when he finished, he said to the couple, "I see that you
have lived according to your promise, and so I have two more gifts for
you - a coin and a parchment..."

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The efforts of Jewish women to serve as catalysts for the Redemption
have historical precedents. In the Egyptian exile, it was Miriam who
communicated the prophecy that a redeemer would emerge.Moreover, this
took place while she was still a child, implying that similar activities
can be undertaken by Jewish girls even before they reach full maturity.
Even when the leaders of the generation could not foresee an end to
servitude and oppression, she spread hope and trust among her people.

                    (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 11 Shevat, 5752 - 1992)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1058 - Yisro 5769

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