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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1060
                           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 27, 2009       Terumah             3 Adar, 5769

                           Spiritual Genetics

Have you heard of the Lemba tribe in Zimbabwe? They have a tradition
that they are one of the ten "lost tribes" of the Jewish people.
According to their tradition, about 2,500 years ago they left Judea (the
period prior to the second Temple). After a stay in Yemen, one group
migrated to Ethiopia, and a second continued farther south to where the
Lemba eventually settled.

They have several practices that resemble Biblical Judaism. Among other
things, they are monotheists, they have a holy day (like Shabbat), they
consider themselves a chosen people, they don't eat certain foods or
combinations (milk and meat) prohibited in the Torah, they have a form
of ritual slaughter, they practice circumcision, and put a Star of David
on their tombstones. They even have a form of conversion.

Furthermore, the man who led them, Buba, was a kohen - and they have a
priestly class. This becomes important later.

They also have  "language markers" - words that don't belong in the
African language they speak.

In 1998 geneticists in the U.S., Israel and England examined the "y"
chromosome of Lemba men. Why? Because in 1997 scientists found a genetic
marker of Jewish priesthood on the "y" chromosome. The "Kohen Gene" was
quite distinct; other Jewish men didn't have it, but kohanim all over
the world did. It was genetic proof of Jewish tradi-tion, or at least a
critical part of it.

And the descendants of Buba, the Lemba priests, shared that marker. This
meant that their oral history had some basis, that at some point there
was strong evidence of a connection to the Jewish people.

Why is this significant?

Well, for one thing, it gives greater weight to oral tradition. It's a
scientific nod to Yehudah HaLevi who, in the Kuzari, explained that one
way we know the Torah is true is because there has been an unchallenged
chain of transmission.

It's significant for another reason. We declare that we are children of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that our Jewishness is part of the very fabric
of our being. What these genetic markers tell us is that we carry within
us the information of our ancestors. We are a living history.

There's another interesting aspect to all this. Information gets encoded
because of encounters with the environment. Science tells us that our
genes "learn" from experience; the kohen gene gets passed down from
father to son in an unbroken chain. But our actions also influence what
gets passed on.

In simple terms, when parents perform mitzvot (commandments),
consistently, this becomes part of the "family genetics." It gets passed
down from generation to generation, not just as an oral tradition, but
as part of what that family does, and therefore, who they are.

In a sense, then, we encode our spiritual genes with mitzvot, and pass
on that "spiritual genetic code" to our children, and they to their
children, and so on.

And since spiritual genetics are also influenced by the environment, we
can gain the "mitzva gene" (as converts do), by our actions. So not only
are we a living history, we can acquire and pass on, as surely as we do
blood type or eye color, a spiritual genetics, an inheritance of mitzvot
and G-dliness.

This week's Torah portion, Teruma, opens with G-d's command to Moses:
"Speak to the Children of Israel, that they may bring me a contribution,
from every one whose heart prompts, and silver and copper."
As we find out further in the Torah reading, the Jews responded in
droves, donating much of their wealth for the purpose of erecting the
Tabernacle in the desert. Vast amounts of precious metal were amassed,
necessary for making all of the Tabernacle's many implements. Obviously,
a donation of gold is at a higher level than one of silver or copper -
commodities that are worth far less. Our Sages interpreted the
contribution of each metal as symbolic of the different levels that
exist in the giving of tzedaka (charity).

The Hebrew word for gold is zahav, an acronym for "he who gives in
fullness of health (ze hanoten bari)." This refers to the highest level
of charity, when one shares his wealth with others solely to fulfill the
commandment of tzedaka (charity). Kesef (silver), stands for k'sheyesh
sakanat pachad - when a person gives tzedaka because he is fearful,
hoping that the merit of his charity will prevent evil from befalling
him. This level of giving tzedaka is lower than the first, for the giver
is motivated by the desire for personal gain. The lowest level of
charity is that of copper - nechoshet, the letters of which stand for
netinat choleh she'omer tenu - the charitable donation of one who is
ill. This person, motivated by the desire to alleviate his own
suffering, remembers to fulfill the mitzva of tzedaka only when he
himself is in pain, hoping thereby to alleviate his misery.

On a deeper level, the differences between gold, silver and copper
symbolize the differences between the First, Second and Third Holy
Temples. Gold, the most precious metal, alludes to the First Holy
Temple, the most perfect and complete of G-d's dwelling places. Silver,
although valuable, is worth far less than gold. This alludes to the
Second Holy Temple, which was missing five items present in the First,
among them the Ark of the Covenant.

These deficiencies reflected the fearful state of the mind of the Jewish
people at that time, who worried that the Holy Temple would once again
be destroyed. Indeed, history proved that their fears were legitimate.
Lastly, copper is symbolic of our present state of being, while we yet
suffer the pains of the exile. Like one who is stricken with any other
illness, we must cry out to our Father in Heaven, begging Him to
establish the Third Holy Temple that will last forever.

        Adapted from a talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Vayigash 5752

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                      An Angel Came to the Funeral
                              by Asna Wise

I live in Toronto and recently lost my mother, who lived in Israel. I am
an only child with no husband or children. My mother was my entire
family, my ally and my counselor, my one true friend who loved me and
worried about me.

I had to travel to Israel quickly to arrange her burial. I had no idea
how things were done there - who to deal with, where she would be
buried, legal formalities. I was too distressed and confused to think
straight. I asked the Rebbetzin at my Chabad synagogue, Rebbetzin Goldie
Plotkin, to recommend someone in Israel who could help. She suggested
her brother in Jerusalem, Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov.

My Mom had been raised in an Orthodox home. Her father was a rabbi and
she had two brothers who studied in the great yeshiva in Ponevizh before
they were murdered by the Nazis. This had to be done right for my Mom,
and I knew that if Chabad got involved it would be.

I phoned Rabbi Shemtov from Ben Gurion Airport, and without hesitation
he set things into motion. He contacted the Chevra Kaddisha (Holy Burial
Society) and found out where my Mom was, where she would be buried, and
who was looking after her. He made sure everything was done according to
Jewish law, and even promised to attend the funeral.

My Mom's funeral was an ordeal for me. As soon as it was over people
started to leave. Just then Rabbi Shemtov drove up with his son, Mendy.
He asked everyone to stay just a few more moments, and gave a beautiful
eulogy about my Mom's background, how she moved to Israel and how
committed she was to the country. I had told him only a few details
about her and yet he managed to deliver this beautiful, touching speech.
He was the only one who spoke. Her other friends looked anxious to go
and seemed to scatter as soon as his speech was done. I had come to the
funeral in a taxi and now someone drove me back to my Mom's apartment.

I was alone. I sat in my mother's silent home, surrounded by her things,
her pictures, and my memories, and felt a grief that was unbearable. Yet
in this darkness G-d remembered me. There was a knock on the door and
Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov came in. He said, "Why are you sitting here

I said, "I don't know. Because no one came with me." I had never sat
shiva before and had no idea what to expect or what I was supposed to

This angel said, "I am going out to get you candles."

Half an hour later I heard footsteps on the stairs and saw Rabbi Shemtov
and Mendy dragging bags and bags of food - up to the third floor of a
building with no elevator, in the midday heat. He filled up my
refrigerator; two weeks later I was still eating the food he'd brought.

Rabbi Shemtov set up five candles for me. We lit them and he told me
what blessing to say. Then he set up a tzedaka (charity) plate and gave
tzedaka. He found a small, low bench for me to sit on, he covered the
mirrors and told me all the rules and customs of shiva (the first seven
days of mourning). I asked him to arrange for Kaddish to be said for my
Mom at a yeshiva in Jerusalem, which he immediately agreed to do.

Then he asked how Kaddish was going to be said for my mother during the
week of shiva at her home. I did not know ten men in Israel for a minyan
(quorom). I did not live there and most of my Mom's friends were old
ladies. We went out together to find a synagogue and found an Ashkenazi
synagogue a block away. Rabbi Shemtov spoke to the gabbai (sexton),
explained my situation and arranged for the gabbai to say Kaddish and
Kel Mallai Rachamim for my mother. The gabbai opened a private room for
me near where the men daven. I could cry there as much as I wanted and
not be embarrassed. Rabbi Shemtov even bent over pages of a prayer book
for me so I would know which parts to say. That evening, the gabbai
shared a Torah thought in honor of my mother.

As we left the shul (synagogue), Rabbi Shemtov gave me the blessing for
mourners and his son Mendy also said the blessing. By now it was dark,
and he still had a three-hour drive from Kiryat Bialik, where my Mom
lived, back to Jerusalem. This man - to whom I was a stranger - had
spent an entire day looking after me, plus six hours of driving.

Now, Rabbi Shemtov is not a man with spare time. First, he has a family
with seven small children. Furthermore, he is the executive director of
two yeshivos and has other obligations. This man is not a millionaire.
Gasoline costs money, and he shopped for me like he would shop for his
own sister.

Rabbi Shemtov did all this for a person he did not know who needed help
at a difficult time. There are angels walking the earth and one of them
is Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov.

        Reprinted with permission from the N'Shei Chabad Newsletter

                               WHAT'S NEW
                           New Torah Scrolls

A new Torah scroll was completed and dedicated at the Chabad House on
Montezuma Road in S. Diego, California. Nizhny Novgorod, Russia's fourth
largest city, recently dedicated a Torah scroll for the first time in
over 100 years. The Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS Jewish
Community Center in Nizhny Novgorod dedicated the Torah. The FJC Jewish
Community Center in Krasnodor, Russia, also recently held a celebration
for the dedication of a new Torah scroll.  Until now, the community has
been using a borrowed Torah scroll. The Moshiach Center of Chicago,
Illinois, celebrated the dedication of a Torah scroll written in memory
of a young child, Menachem Mendel Fine, who passed away. The Beis
Menachem Synagogue in Petersburg, Russia,  dedicated their second  Torah
scroll this year. In the Chabad synagogue in the settlement town of
Adam, Israel, a new Torah scroll was dedicated. A new torah scroll was
also dedicated in the Chabad House of Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, Israel.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                     Freely translated and adapted

                          Adar 1, 5714 (1954)

From time to time I inquire about your wellbeing and receive news about
your welfare from your children. I am surprised by the fact that on a
number of occasions they have told me that your mood is not as it should

In general, each and every one of us, when we search and ponder our
lives, even during the last few years when matters do not seem to be
going so well, will observe G-d's kindness and goodness, up to and
including matters that were not at all expected.

In fact, the individual sees these things to an even greater extent than
does another - as each person knows in his or her own life.

This should lead the person to recognize and acknowledge the blessings
and goodness that he has received from G-d, and quite possibly, on more
than one occasion, the person has received these blessings without any
effort on his part.

This leads to the inevitable conclusion that if there do exist matters
that are contrary to a person's desires, then it may very well be one of
two things:

Firstly, quite often a person does not truly know what is best for him
and if that which he desires will indeed bring him true benefit or
possibly the opposite.

Even when the individual concludes that he knows with
one-hundred-percent certainty that the thing is good for him, he still
cannot possibly know the reasons why he has not been granted these
matters for the time being.

This is analogous to the business world: A good and experienced
businessperson will not sell his merchandise at an inopportune time. And
this is the case even when he can realize a profit, but that he reckons
that by selling his merchandise at a later date he can realize a far
greater profit.

The same is so with G-d's goodness. If it is delayed, it is in all
probability because at a later time G-d's beneficence will be in a much
greater manner in both quantity and quality.

This is particularly true in your case, where G-d has blessed you with
true nachas (pride) from children, something which is not so often found
.... Since you and your wife can anticipate even more nachas from your
children, your going around unhappy (something which can be interpreted
as dissatisfaction - G-d forbid - with the manner in which G-d conducts
your affairs) defies understanding. Moreover, to a certain extent this
is an expression of ingratitude to G-d.

It is self-understood that I am not writing to you in order to admonish
you but to convince you that even according to the way you look at your
life, the good things in your life are incomparably greater and more
significant than those matters that you think are - temporarily - not as
they should be.

Bear in mind that when a businessman makes an accounting, he does not
consider each item individually, but makes a total accounting of the
inventory as a whole. And so too regarding the "balance sheet" of events
in your life.

It is my hope that the above few lines will move you to reconsider the
"calculation" that you are making. I am sure that when you will do so,
you will reach a much happier conclusion than you have reached until
now. ...

                                *  *  *

                         26 Adar 1, 5717 (1957)

... Surely I need not explain at length to an individual like yourself
that there is no room for feeling downhearted from your encountering
some difficulties in the course of fulfilling your true task in life,
that of "I was created to serve my Maker."

Such feelings are from the machinations of the evil inclination that
seeks to bring the person to a crestfallen state. In point of fact, the
entire purpose of the evil inclination lies in man's vanquishing him.
Indeed, this, i.e., that the evil inclination be vanquished, is also the
desire of the evil inclination itself, as is to be understood from the
holy Zohar, quoted in Tanya,ch. 29.

Ultimately, even those matters that presently conceal and obscure
goodness and holiness are themselves transformed into good - and not
only in a manner of "All that G d does, He does for the good," i.e.,
that goodness will eventually result, but in a manner of "This too is
for the good," i.e., that the matter itself becomes good.

This difference is to be understood from the story itself of Nachum Ish
Gam Zu, wherein the transformation of the earth into weapons served as
overtly revealed goodness, as opposed to the expression "All that G d
does, He does for the good," wherein it was merely "for the good" but it
was not transformed into actual goodness.

This is particularly so as we are now commencing the days of the month
in which there is the joyous festival of Purim, about which our holy
Torah states: "The month" - i.e., this is true of the entire month -
"that was transformed for the Jews into a month of joy and Yom Tov."

Now, the concept of "transformation" during this month means that the
entire month is propitious for transforming those untoward events into a
form of "joy and Yom Tov" that is palpably revealed to us.

       From Healthy in Body, Mind and Soul, translated and compiled
            by Rabbi S. B. Wineberg, published by Sichos in English

                                *  *  *

... I surely need not emphasize to you that a true businessman is not
one who can manage his affairs when conditions are favorable and matters
are running smoothly and successfully, but also, and even more so, when
he demonstrates that he knows how to deal with adversity and the
occasional setback.

Indeed, facing up to the challenge of adversity makes one a stronger and
more effective executive than before, with an added dimension of
experience and a keener acumen, which can be put to good use even when
things begin to turn upwards.

Sometimes, a temporary setback is just what is needed for the resumption
of the advance with greater vigor, as in the case of an athlete having
to negotiate a hurdle, where stepping back is necessary in order to
facilitate a higher leap.

                  From a letter of the Rebbe, dated 25 Shevat, 5736

                            A CALL TO ACTION
                       Maintain Your Jewish Name

Our Sages stated that one of the reasons the Jews merited the redemption
from Egypt was that "they did not change their names." They continued
using Hebrew names throughout the entire exile. Find out what your
Jewish name is (a Jewish name can be Hebrew or Yiddish) and your
mother's and father's Jewish names. If you were never given a Jewish
name, chose one yourself after consulting your rabbi. Consider slowly
switching to using your Jewish name.

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

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
It's Adar, be happy! This is the basic theme of the Jewish month in
which we find ourselves. "When Adar begins, we increase in joy," our
Sages teach.

But why should we be so happy just because it is Adar? In Adar we
celebrate the joyous holiday of Purim, commemorating the time when the
unity and prayers of the Jewish people brought about the nullification
of Haman's wicked plan to annihilate the Jews.

Our Sages declared Purim a day of festivity and rejoicing; of sharing
our joy with our fellow-Jews. As Purim is the central holiday of Adar
and the "theme" of the month, the entire month is permeated with our
pursuit of joy and happiness. The Talmud describes Adar as having "a
healthy mazal."

It is a month which brings the Jewish people strength and true health.
In the month of Adar, G-d's blessings for a good and sweet year are
renewed, intensified, and increased. These provide more good reasons to

In our day and age we have another reason to rejoice when Adar begins.
Jewish teachings explain that "Joy breaks all boundaries." As we stand
literally on the threshold of the long-awaited Redemption of the Jewish
people and the entire world, the Rebbe has suggested that our every
action be permeated with joy in the hope that this will break through
the last boundaries of exile.

May the joy we experience in these, the last days of exile, hasten the
coming of the ultimate joy, the coming of Moshiach. May we join one
Redemption to another and connect the redemption of Purim to the
Messianic Redemption. May it take place imminently.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
And they shall take for Me an offering (Ex. 25:2)

The word "offering" has two meanings: something set aside for a special
purpose and that which is picked up and raised. An offering made to G-d
achieves both of these objectives. Setting aside one's money to do a
mitzva (commandment) elevates the physical object that is bought with
the money, transforming the material into holiness, as it says in Tanya:
"G-d gives man corporeality in order to transform it into spirituality."

                                                   (Likutei Sichot)

                                *  *  *

Speak to the Children of Israel, that they may bring Me a contribution
(Ex. 25:2)

"The fool gives, and the clever man takes," states the popular
expression. What does this refer to? The giving of tzedaka (charity).
The fool thinks he is parting with something belonging to him; the
clever man realizes that whatever he gives, he actually receives [its

                                          (Rabbi Yisrael of Rizhin)

                                *  *  *

They shall make Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell in their midst (Ex.

It is taught in the name of Rabbi Tarfon: How great is the significance
of human labor and practical action! From the above verse we see G-d did
not cause his Divine Presence to rest in the Sanctuary until Israel had
performed the tasks connected to its erection.

                                               (Avot D'Rabbi Natan)

                                *  *  *

According to Maimonides, this positive commandment refers not only to
the erection of the Sanctuary, but the building of the First, Second and
Third Holy Temples as well. When Moshiach comes and the Third Holy
Temple is established, the original Sanctuary built by Moses will also
be revealed, for a special connection exists between the two. Just as
the Sanctuary was built in the desert, by an individual who himself
never set foot in the Holy Land, so will the Third Holy Temple reflect
the good deeds we have performed and our service of G-d throughout the
present exile.

                                                  (Peninei Hageula)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
The Rizhiner Rebbe had thousands of Chasidim in Ukraine while Czar
Nicholas sat on his throne. It was during this period that the opponents
of Chasidism made terrible accusations against Chasidim which reached
even the highest gentile authorities.

One time the Czar was told that the Rizhiner Rebbe considered himself a
king, and that he did not recognize the authority of the Russian crown.
Incensed, the Czar decided to dispatch an infiltrator to make an

The infiltrator was a high-ranking officer, a renegade Jew happy to turn
informer. Arriving in Rizhin, he asserted that he wanted ask the tzadik
(holy, righteous person) for his blessing for business endeavors. To
ingratiate himself with the Chasidim, he bought refreshments. Then he
began discussing his business, attacking the government for making laws
and restrictions. The infiltrator was surprised that not one voice was
raised in his favor. He repeated this performance several times, but
each time was met by total silence from his listeners.

One afternoon he was ushered into the Rebbe's room. The spy began to
tell the Rebbe how, as a wealthy merchant, he was suffering from the
terrible decrees and regulations imposed by the government.

The Rebbe looked deeply at his visitor and said, "I will tell you a

In a small village lived a Jewish innkeeper who had an only son named
Yossel. Because the village was so isolated, Yossel had no Jewish
friends. His best friend was Stepan, the son of the gentile handyman who
worked for his father. Stepan had a quick mind and enjoyed sitting in on
Yossel's Torah lessons. In fact, Stepan was quicker than Yossel to grasp
the lessons.

Years passed, and it was time to look for a bride for Yossel. A
matchmaker came to the little village to interview him. Stepan sat
together with Yossel as the matchmaker questioned him on Jewish topics.
Each time a question was posed, however, Yossel was silent, while Stepan
supplied the answer. It was clear to the matchmaker that this boy was
not a good prospect and he left. The innkeeper decided to separate his
son from Stepan.

After much thought, he decided to send away both father and son. When
the handyman heard, he protested: 'Why should I be punished on account
of my son? Let him go out into the world.' And so Stepan left the inn.

For many months Stepan went from one study hall to another masquerading
as a Jewish orphan and receiving hospitality from Jews wherever he went.
Eventually he tired of that life and decided to move to a large city,
where he enrolled in a university and excelled in his studies. When he
completed his courses he began searching for a good opportunity.

One day, arriving in a very distant city, he heard that the citizens
were about to choose a new ruler, something they did every three years.
All candidates were to present themselves at the palace where their
suitability for kingship would be determined. Stepan rushed to the
palace. With his outstanding intelligence he was chosen king.

Soon after his coronation the new king inexplicably began making
terrible decrees against the local Jews. The most devastating was that
the Jews would have to leave the realm at the end of twelve months!

The Chief Rabbi declared a public fast, during which the people begged
G-d to soften the king's heart. On the fourth day, he called a meeting
of the seven most prominent members of the community at which he related
to them his strange dream. He dreamed that in a faraway land there was a
young innkeeper named Yossel who would be able to change the decree of
the king. Strangely enough, each man present had had the exact same

Messengers were dispatched at once to bring the innkeeper to their city.
They related their strange tale and begged him to accompany them and
Yossel agreed. The prominent Jews of the city managed to arrange a
meeting with the king, and Yossel was ushered into the royal throne
room. Stepan was overjoyed to see his old friend, and they embraced each
other warmly.

"What is this I am told about the evil decrees you have made against the
Jews of this realm?" asked Yossel.

"I really don't have anything against the Jews," Stepan replied. "In
fact, they have always treated me very kindly, but as soon as I became
king, I felt that I had to make these new decrees. I don't entirely
understand why."

The Chief Rabbi explained: "Your majesty, our Torah teaches that the
hearts of kings and rulers are in the hand of G-d. When Jews keep the
Torah they fare well. But when they rebel against G-d, He hardens the
heart of their king and they fall prey to evil decrees. Nonetheless,
they do not pray for another king, for they know that it is their own
actions that shape their destiny and not the will of the king."

Having concluded his story, the Rizhiner looked into the eyes of the
informer and said: Go and tell those who have sent you that the
accusations against the Jews are untrue. They are loyal citizens and
pray for the welfare of their rulers and the country in which they live.

                                      Adapted from Talks and Talesn

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
Everyone should realize the ability they have to affect others. This is
closely connected with the idea of Hakhel (the year following the
Sabbatical year in which all Jews would gather in the Holy Temple to
hear the king read the Torah) to influence all men, women and children
in taking on a greater commitment to Judaism. One shouldn't think, "I
can always begin later on..." On the contrary, haste is of the utmost
importance, and one must begin as soon as possible. The efforts expended
on positively affecting others will hasten the fulfillment of Hakhel in
the plain sense, with the arrival of Moshiach.

                        (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 29 Elul, 5747-1987)

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1060 - Terumah 5769

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