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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1066
                           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.
        April 17, 2009           Shmini           23 Nisan, 5769

                            Dull Discipline

We all admire a great performance - whether athletic or artistic, or in
any field, for that matter. And we know it takes a combination of talent
and  hard work to achieve any level of success. Yet when we hear tales
of the schedules or routines of these performers, we often react with
amusement or skepticism. A pitcher throws exactly a hundred extra
pitches after practice, and maybe has a "ritual" of retying his shoes
before he starts. A musician listens to the "Moonlight Sonata" before
sitting down to compose, which he does daily from nine to twelve.
Similar stories of writers, who put themselves on a clock, not allowing
any interruptions, are legendary. And they also have their routines -
the coffee cup just so, the picture moved two inches - whatever.

What many of us find odd, perhaps, is the devotion not just to practice
- that we get - but to a highly rigid schedule. That kind of discipline
often astounds, and perhaps intimidates us. And yet, we also have rigid
schedules - when we must be at work, when we have dinner, etc. It's just
that those who excel make their practice or work time as inflexible as
the rest of us do personal routines.

Gary Kasparov, perhaps the greatest chess player ever, explains the
power of this devotion to discipline, to a regimen that allows no
exceptions: "If discipline sounds dull, or even impossible in today's
fast-paced world, you should take a moment to consider how you might
benefit from targeting just a few small areas of your life for
effi-ciency... If  you spend fifteen minutes a day studying openings, in
a year you'll be a stronger chess player."

What Kasparov says about chess applies to every endeavor. Set aside even
a few minutes every day - but be consistent and persistent - set those
minutes aside at the same time every day, and the cumulative effect will
surely astound you.

But this principle is imbedded in Jewish thought. In fact, we thought of
it first. Or, more accurately, the great sage Shammai. For the first
chapter of Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) records an aphorism of
his: make your Torah constant. (We should note that here we've tried to
keep the imperative rhythm of the original, but that the Hebrew word
we've translated "constant" also implies consistent, set, fixed, etc. -
that is, your Torah study should be a regular, inviolate part of your
daily schedule.)

We know that a consistent, persistent routine produces positive results.
"All" it requires is discipline. But in that "all," what apparent
difficulties lie! We all know how hard it is to stay disciplined, right?

Well, yes and no. And that's the point of Shammai's aphorism. If
regular, fixed Torah study is just something we do, then it too becomes
automatic. The alarm rings, we get out of bed and automatically go
through a morning routine.

The point is that we live by routine. We succeed through discipline. And
we will surprise ourselves if we follow Shammai's dictum, and make the
time and duration of our learning a set immutable part of our daily

Try it. Pick five or ten minutes during the day. Then, every day, at
that very same time, study a little Torah, for instance, the day's
section of the Torah reading (with the basic commentary of Rashi).
You'll find it's the very dullness of the discipline that yields the
best results.

In the beginning of this week's Torah portion, Shemini, we read about
the dedication of the Sanctuary: "And Moses said, 'This is the thing
which the L-rd commanded you to do; and the glory of the L-rd will
appear to you.' " In Chronicles II, the Torah provides a similar
description of the dedication of the Holy Temple built by King Solomon:
"And when all the people of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the
glory of the L-rd upon the house, they bowed with their faces to the
ground upon the pavement, and prostrated themselves and praised the
L-rd, saying: For He is good; for His loving kindness endures forever."

When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem the Jewish people bowed down to
G-d in the literal sense, "with their faces to the ground upon the
pavement." But the concept of spiritual prostration or nullification
before G-d exists even now, in the Divine service of each and every Jew.

In fact, there are three levels of prostration:

The highest level is when a person sees the "fire" and the "glory of the
L-rd," and as a natural consequence, willingly bows down and nullifies
himself. The person is so attuned to holiness that he can actually "see"
it; his awareness of G-d is so overpowering that it arouses the strong
desire to worship Him.

But what happens if a person's soul is not particularly illuminated by
G-dly revelation? What if he doesn't see or feel the "glory of the
L-rd," and the underlying G-dliness of creation is hidden by the
coarseness of the material world? In this instance, the person must
force himself to bow down and be submissive. In other words, he serves
G-d out of a sense of coercion, but against his natural inclination.

In general, this is the difference between the times of the Holy Temple
and the exile. When the Holy Temple was in existence, the Divine
Presence was openly revealed. The pilgrimage to Jerusalem was performed
not only "to be seen" but "to see" the G-dly light that illuminated

By contrast, during the exile G-dliness is concealed. We cannot see the
open miracles that were commonplace when the Temple stood. Accordingly,
it is impossible to reach the level of prostration that comes from
"seeing," and a certain measure of coercion is necessary.

There is, however, a third example of prostration, which starts with
coercion and leads to a heightened perception of G-dliness. When a Jew
forces himself to serve G-d, he gradually gains the ability to feel
holiness, even if he couldn't in the very beginning. This will
ultimately result in a Divine service that is enthusiastic. For whenever
a Jew takes the first step and makes the effort, he will discover that
deep inside, he wanted to serve G-d all along...

      Adapted from Likutei Sichot of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Vol. 27

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                       These People Love Us A Lot
                             by Steve Hyatt

I had heard of Crown Heights, Brooklyn,  since first discovering Chabad
in 1983. Throughout the years scores of Chabad rabbis had shared stories
about their lives and events in this unique Jewish community. Based on
their vivid stories I envisioned the hustle and bustle of life in this
tiny enclave and always promised myself that someday I would see what
the "fuss" was all about. I just never imagined it would take me 26
years to get there.

In February of 2009 I was invited to the wedding of my friend Rabbi Meir
Perelstein and his kalla (bride) Chanie Tarlow. As much as I wanted to
be there, economic challenges caused me to hesitate. I asked my Rabbi,
Mendel Cunin, what I should do. His response was swift and without
hesitation: "Steve, eliminate the excuses and simply push ahead."

Armed with his sage advice and the emotional support of my wife I
accepted the invitation and made the appropriate arrangements. Shortly
after Rabbi Cunin informed me that he'd taken his own advice and had
decided to join me. So together we set off on a grand adventure. We
designed an itinerary that brought us to Crown Heights for a total of 36
hours that were destined to be the most enlightening and inspiring of my
Jewish life.

Upon arriving in New York, our first stop was at the "Ohel," the resting
place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I am not sure what I expected but I was
overcome with a feeling of peace, love and contentment there. We wrote
requests for guidance and blessings and placed them at the Ohel. We
proceeded to Crown Heights and spent a wonderful evening sharing a
delicious meal with the rabbi's sister and her husband. After a good
night's sleep I met the rabbi at the main Chabad shul, known to most
simply as "770."

Upon entering this historic facility I felt like I had been hit with a
jolt of spiritual electricity. Surrounded by hundreds of men praying,
studying and discussing the issues of the day, I felt plugged into the
holiness that permeates every cell of the building. During the course of
the day we visited the Rebbe's office and his library, we saw the Chabad
online school that enables children of the Rebbe's shluchim (emissaries)
world-wide who live in cities where there is no Jewish school to be
home-schooled, we found our way to the Shmura matza bakery where
Passover matzos are prepared from start to finish in a scant 18 minutes.
It was an intimate tour of this precious community that will remain
emblazoned in my mind's eye forever.

Toward the end of the day it was time for the wedding. At 4:30 sharp the
rabbi and I met at the Oholei Torah Ballroom where the celebration was
to take place. I watched in wonder as Meir recited from memory a
Chasidic discourse written by the fifth Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe
explaining the different levels of the connection of man and wife, as
well as the direct connection between G-d and Israel, and how both
concepts unite as the bride and groom are wed.

At the conclusion of his recitation Meir's father and father-in-law
tenderly took him by the arms and started a procession that led to the
women's side of the room. As we slowly made our way to the kalla the
gentlemen in attendance set the mood as they quietly hummed a stirring
Chasidic melody. When we arrived in front of the kalla, Meir gently
placed a veil on her head. The simple, tender moment brought tears to my
eyes as I witnessed this ancient testimony to love, modesty and family
purity. As a group we made our way to 770 and the actual wedding
ceremony took place outside under the chupa (wedding canopy). I was
mesmerized as the bride walked around her future husband seven times. I
was captivated as family members and friends read the Seven Blessings
and I cheered as the groom broke a glass under his foot, reminding all
of the destruction of the Holy Temple.

As the groom and his bride entered 770 to break their wedding day fast,
the rest of us walked back to the hall to await their return. In this
traditional setting the room is separated by a mechitza, or short wall.
The men celebrate on one side and the women on the other. After a
delicious dinner the musician revved up his keyboard and the wedding
hall exploded into a sea of joyful dancing. Even I, a 54 year old
Connecticut-born Yankee, couldn't resist the urge to jump into the
frenetic activity on the dance floor. Before I knew what I was doing I
was surrounded by an energetic mass of young and older men who exuded
joy and love as they joined hands and celebrated with the groom.

When the evening came to a close I was both energized and exhausted. I
had never felt so alive, so Jewish, and so happy in my entire life! This
was what they meant by "L'Chaim," to life!

Several hours later the rabbi and I took off for the West coast. As I
sat in my seat staring out the window I couldn't help but wonder how
these rabbis and their families could possibly leave Crown Heights, how
they could give up that little bit of heaven on earth, that center of
vibrant, pulsating Jewish life, to live in distant lands like Siberia,
Thailand and Reno. Communities where there is little if any kosher food,
Jewish schools, or close friends or family. Somewhere over Iowa it
occurred to me that these Shluchim must love their fellow Jews much more
than we could ever possibly imagine.

After spending a mere 36 hours in Crown Heights I now possessed a
clarity of vision I never knew existed. I'd seen, tasted, felt and
participated in the activities of a thriving, energized, living,
breathing Jewish community. It made me truly appreciate the personal
sacrifices the Cunins have made for my community, motivating me to do
even more to ensure that "The Biggest Little City in the World"
appreciates and supports them and their efforts like never before.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             New Emissaries

Rabbi Tzvi and Shana Dechter will be arriving soon in Lighthouse Point,
Florida, where they will establish a new Chabad House serving the Jewish
residents in East Deerfield Beach, East Pompano Beach, and Hillsboro
Beach. Rabbi Yossi and Chanie Hecht are also headed to the sunshine
state to establish Chabad-Lubavitch of Marion County in Ocala, Florida.

                            New Soup Kitchen

Zhitomir, Ukraine, recently dedicated the "Fellowship House," a soup
kitchen to aid the local Jewish community. This facility joins the
previously established Children's Home that caters to orphans and
children from impoverished and single-parent families.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                      27th of Teveth, 5721 [1961]

Greeting and Blessing:

I received your letter and enclosures.

It is explained in many places in Chasidus, beginning with the Tanya,
about the negative aspects of all forms of sadness, depression,
despondency, etc. It is also clear from experience that these attitudes
belong to the bag of tricks of the Yetzer Hora [evil inclination] in
order to distract the Jew from serving G-d. To achieve this end the
Yetzer Hora sometimes even clothes itself in the mantle of piety.

The true test, however, is what the results are, whether these attitudes
bring about an improvement in, and a fuller measure of Torah and Mitzvos
[commandments], or the reverse. This should be easy to determine.

On the other hand we have been assured that "He who is determined to
purify himself receives Divine help." The road to purity and holiness,
however, is one that should be trodden step by step, and by gradual and
steady advancement.

Needless to say, the idea of your continuing at the Yeshivah for some
time is the right one. As for the question how and what to write to your
parents, I suggest that you consult with Rabbi Joseph Weinberg, who
knows them personally, and who could give you some useful suggestions.

Hoping to hear good news from you in all above,

With blessing,

                                *  *  *

                          Chanukah 5722 [1961]

Blessing and Greeting:

I am in receipt of your letter, and I hasten my reply as requested, and
because time is of the essence in this case.

You write that you would like to use some of the published Nigunim
[Chasidic melodies] of Chabad at your forthcoming marriage and ask my
opinion about it.

My reply is as follows: There could be an advantage, or otherwise, in
using these Nigunim depending on the circumstances (a) or (b).

If - as is expected of every Jewish girl and boy who are about to be
married the marriage is entered into with a firm resolution to establish
a truly Jewish home, on the foundation of the Torah and Mitzvoth, and
likewise, or course, the preparations before the wedding are also as
they should, with observance of the laws and regulations of Taharas
Hamishpocho [the laws of Family Purity] (which an observant rabbi has no
doubt explained to you), and the Chuppah [wedding canopy] and Kiddushin
[sanctification of the marriage] is carried out by an Orthodox rabbi,
etc. - then the use of the Lubavitcher Nigunim would not only be
appropriate, but also desirable and auspicious. For a Nigun is closely
linked with the soul of its author and those who have used it on sacred
occasions (which is also the reason for the above-mentioned condition
that everything connected with the wedding should be in according to the
Torah, since the Torah was their whole life and ideal).

On the other hand, if, G-d forbid, there is a deficiency in the above
conditions From the viewpoint of the Torah and Shulchan Aruch [Code of
Jewish Law], the inference is obvious. However, I do not wish to dwell
on this, since I feel certain that, judging by your letter, everything
is in accordance with the Torah and Shulchan Aruch, and moreover, that
there is a constant effort to advance in all matters of Torah and
Mitzvoth, in accordance with the principle that all things of holiness
should be on the ascendancy, as also indicated by the message of the
Chanukah lights which are kindled in increasing number.

On the basis of this firm belief, I extend to you and your Chosson
[groom] my prayerful wishes that the marriage take place in a happy and
auspicious hour and that you should both build a Binyan adei ad
[everlasting ediface].

With the blessing of Mazal Tov.

                           With thanks to

                            A CALL TO ACTION
                      Study Ethics of the Fathers

Each Shabbat afternoon beginning after Passover, it is customary to
study a chapter of the Mishna known as Pirkei Avot - Ethics of the
Fathers. Some have the custom of continuing through Shavuot while other
continue through the summer months until Rosh Hashana. The Lubavitcher
Rebbe emphasized the importance of not only reciting the chapters but
actually studying them. Recommended books for this study include, In the
Paths of Our Fathers translated from the Rebbe's talks
(, Pirkei Avot in the Light of Chasidut, and Pirkei
Avot - Ethics of the Fathers in memory of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivky
Holtzberg (

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

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
In chapter one of Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, that we study this
week on Shabbat afternoon, we read, "Hillel said, 'Be of the disciples
of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving your fellow creatures,
and bringing them near to the Torah.' "

Our Sages were very careful about each word they wrote. Would it not
have been sufficient for Rabbi Hillel to have said, "Love peace and
pursue peace" and leave mention of Aaron out? There must be something
that we can learn from the fact that Aaron was mentioned as the one who
loved and pursued peace.

Who was Aaron? He was the High Priest, the one who served in the Holy of
Holies. Because of his exalted position he could have totally separated
himself from the rest of the people. Yet, he purposely involved himself
in the day-to-day activities of the Jewish nation. So much so that even
when two Jews, or even a husband and wife, were fighting he spoke to
them and encouraged them to make peace. Thus, we are enjoined to be
students of Aaron and learn this wonderful characteristic from him.

In addition, to love and pursue peace is a positive commandment, as the
Talmud teaches, "Anyone who strengthens an argument or dispute commits a
transgression." Thus, we are to behave like Aaron, who would say,
"sholom" - hello - peace - even to an evil person. Through this he was
able to bring the person closer to the Torah

May we all take to heart this lesson of Rabbi Hillel as exemplified by

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
                       The Torah Portion Shemini

The Torah portion of Shemini begins with the most sublime and elevated
service on the eighth day of preparation for the Tabernacle, and ends
with the prohibition against eating crawling insects, something which
goes against human nature. From this we learn that even one who stands
on the highest level of spirituality and observance is not protected
against spiritual downfall, G-d forbid, and must serve G-d with the same
measure of acceptance of the yoke of heaven as others.

                                                   (Likutei Sichot)

                                *  *  *

Wine or strong drink you shall not drink, neither you nor your sons with
you, when you go into the Sanctuary of Meeting (Lev. 10:8,9)

The service in the Holy Temple was performed according to a schedule
whereby each kohen (priest) knew in advance when he was to serve. The
kohen was forbidden to drink wine or liquor just prior to this time so
that his mind would be clear when he performed the holy service. This
applies today as well, for we eagerly anticipate the re-establishment of
the Holy Temple at any moment, at which time the kohanim will be
required to commence their service immediately. According to Jewish law,
intoxication may be dissipated in one of two ways - either by going to
sleep, or by waiting for a period of 18-24 minutes to elapse. This
proves that Moshiach may arrive and the Holy Temple may be rebuilt in
less than 24 minutes!

                                                 (Peninei Hegeulah)

                                *  *  *

To distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast
that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten (Lev. 11:47)

In Hebrew, this verse begins and ends with the letter lamed, (the
numerical value of which is 60 when added together), alluding to the
Jewish legal principle of nullification in 60 parts (i.e., if a drop of
non-kosher food inadvertently falls into a pot of kosher food, the
mixture is permitted if the volume of kosher food is 60 times as great
as the non-kosher).

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Two wealthy men were friends and lived in the same city. Each one had a
daughter of marriageable age. Both daughters married yeshiva students
who continued their Torah studies after the wedding, supported by their
fathers-in-law. One groom was widely recognized as a great genius; the
other was a more simple fellow, yet G-d-fearing and pious. The
father-in-law of the ordinary groom was very jealous of his friend's
more brilliant son-in-law.

One day, as the more learned of the two young men was studying in the
synagogue, an obviously distraught man walked in. He opened the holy ark
and began to weep. He had come to say good-bye, as it were, before
drowning himself in the river. He was at the end of his rope and saw no
way out except suicide, he mumbled through his tears.

Having overheard the man's words, the scholar rushed over to convince
him that such a step was wrong. "Please tell me the problem."

"I am the treasurer of a communal fund in a certain town," the man
answered. "I am responsible for large sums of money, yet I was gullible
enough to be taken in by unscrupulous people. When they approached me
for a loan I agreed, and gave them all the money in my charge. They
immediately absconded. The date has already come and gone, and there is
no way I can repay the loan. I see no alternative but suicide," he

"You must put these thought from your mind at once!" the young scholar
replied, attempting to calm him down. "Do not worry about anything - I
will give you the money. G-d forbid you should entertain such a notion!"
The grateful man accepted the kind offer and was mollified.

The scholar, however, had no money; he had made the promise to save the
man's life. Where would he get such a sum of money? His father-in-law
certainly wouldn't give it to him. An idea formed in his head: He would
go to his father-in-law's friend and appeal to him for money, without,
of course, revealing why he needed it. Surely he wouldn't turn down his

The "friend" saw this as a perfect opportunity to "get even" with his
colleague. "I will give you the money," he said, "on one condition: You
must wear this long coat (he indicated an old, ragged article of
clothing) through the streets of the city." His intent was to humiliate
the young scholar: people would see him wearing the torn and filthy
garment and assume he had lost his mind.

The young man agreed and the two shook hands. The son-in-law raced back
to the synagogue and gave the money to the man whose life he thus saved.
Now it was time for him to keep his part of the deal. He donned the
despicable garment and paraded through the city as he had promised.

The reaction was predictable. Just as the rich man had intended,
everyone assumed that the young man had become unhinged. When he arrived
home his in-laws angrily demanded an explanation, but he remained
silent, further validating their fear that he was mentally unstable.
After several weeks of otherwise "normal" behavior, however, they saw
that they had been mistaken. The incident was eventually forgotten.

Meanwhile, the rich man who had perpetrated the disgrace on an innocent
person gradually lost his wealth. Day by day his assets shriveled till
he was forced to sell his household belongings in order to feed his
family. Among the other items he sold was the old, torn coat.

The garment was purchased by a poor tailor, who laundered it carefully,
patched it up, and fashioned a set of tachrichim (funeral shrouds), to
be used after his death. As the garment was slightly too short, the
tailor took a piece of fabric from another source and made an alteration
to lengthen it.

Many years passed. The tailor eventually died and was buried in the
tachrichim he had prepared for himself. A few days after the burial the
tailor appeared to his son in a dream, asking him to open the fresh
grave and remove the small piece of cloth he had once used to lengthen
his garment. It was imperative he do this, the father explained, as it
was only due to this small bit of fabric that the destructive angels
were able to cause him harm.

When the son awoke he went straight to the rabbi and related his dream.
"If your father appears again, tell him to come to me," the rabbi
instructed. That night the son had the same dream. In it, he told his
father what the rabbi had said. The tailor then appeared to the rabbi
and repeated his request, exacting a promise from him to remove the
offending cloth. After the deed was done, the deceased appeared once
more to the rabbi and thanked him.

The rabbi was perplexed by the entire incident. He began to wonder about
the significance of the cloth, and made inquiries about the tailor's
funeral garments. Where had he purchased them, and to whom did they
previously belong? After much effort he succeeded in uncovering the
story of the brilliant son-in-law and the good deed he had done at the
expense of his own honor. The garment possessed a special measure of
holiness, for through it, the great mitzva (commandment) of saving a
Jewish life had been accomplished, accompanied by great self-sacrifice.
In this merit, it had the ability to protect its wearer from all harm.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The opening Mishna of Ethics of the Fathers states: "All Israel have a
share in the World to Come, as it is stated [Isaiah 60:21], 'And your
people are all righteous; they shall inherit the Land forever. [They
are] the branch of My planting, the work of My hands in which to take
pride.' (Sanhedrin 10:1)" Within the Talmudic writings, there are two
interpretations of the phrase "the World to Come": 1. the Garden of Eden
- the spiritual realm of souls, the afterlife; 2. The Era of the
Resurrection. In this Mishna, the term refers to the Era of the

                                      (In the Paths of Our Fathers)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1066 - Shmini 5769

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