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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1068
                           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.
        May 1, 2009       Achrei Mos-Kedoshim      7 Iyyar, 5769

                         Time is of the Essence

Honking horns, the Gulfstream jet, paying bills on-line, fancy watches
in every shape, size and color. These are just a few examples that
illustrate just how important and precious time is to most of us.
Convenience stores and neighborhood groceries abound because we'd rather
waste a little money than a lot of time.

For forty-nine days, seven weeks between the holiday of Passover and
Shavuot, we are reminded just how valuable time is. Starting on the
second night of Passover and continuing through the day preceding
Shavuot, we "count the omer*." Each evening, we state that it is a
certain number of days since the bringing of the omer. In addition, we
preface the count by saying a bless-ing for this mitzva (commandment).

If by chance, one forgot to "count the omer" for an entire day, he may
continue counting once he remembers, but without the blessing.

"What's the big deal?" one might ask, "by forgetting to count one day
out of forty-nine, a person forfeits the opportunity to say the blessing
for all the remaining days!" True, it might seem a bit harsh, but it
teaches a powerful lesson: time is priceless and irreplaceable.

Counting the Omer instills within us the understanding that time should
not and must not be wasted. The story is told of a famous rabbi who
could literally account for every minute of his day. He knew exactly
what he did when. He never "lost" time. He, like many others, viewed his
every hour, every minute, as a precious gift from G-d. Just as one
wouldn't use an expensive bottle of wine for cooking, or give fine
imported chocolates to a three-year-old, so, too, time should be used to
its fullest and spent on the more important aspects of life.

There's another "timely" idea that we can learn from counting the Omer.
Each day influences the next day. If, unfortunately, we forget to count
one day, all of the rest of the days are effected by our forgetfulness.
If, however, we remember to count every day, we are able to bless each
subsequent day, and that blessing impacts future days positively.

Chasidic philosophy explains an added dimension of the seven-week
countdown. These seven weeks correspond to the seven character aspects
(or emotions) of G-d and of man (because man is made in G-d's image) and
through this commandment we can link our personalities to that of the

As the Midrash (Vayikra Rabba 28:3) puts it: Said Rabbi Chiah: "When are
these 'seven complete weeks' really complete? When the Jews do the will
of G-d."

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains: Rabbi Chiah is implying that Jewish
service of G-d can and should be with total emotional and intellectual
involvement. But this is not yet complete. The goal of counting the Omer
is to rise to even more complete and meaningful involvement.

So, whether you wear a Rolex or a Timex, try to keep in mind just how
precious time is, how it can be used to connect with Infinite
timelessness, and make a point of scheduling in time for really
important things, like learning more about your 4,000 year old heritage.

* The Omer was a bundle of barley from the new harvest brought to the
Temple altar on the day after Passover. Although today there is no Omer
and no Temple (until Moshiach builds the Third Holy Temple), counting
the forty-nine days from Passover to Shavuot remains a commandment.

This week we read two Torah portions, Acharei and Kedoshim. In most
years, the Torah portions of Acharei and Kedoshim are read together. In
fact, they share the common theme of holiness.

The portion of Acharei opens with G-d's command to Aaron, warning him
that he may not "come at all times into the Sanctuary." (The High Priest
was only allowed to enter the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur.) Acharei
thus deals with the highest level of sanctity (the service in the Holy
of Holies), on the holiest day of the year (Yom Kippur), performed by
the Jew on the highest level of holiness, the High Priest.

The portion of Kedoshim also begins with a command concerning holiness:
"You shall be holy, for I am holy." Every Jew is obligated to emulate
G-d and strive for the highest degree of holiness. But, practically
speaking, how is this possible?

The answer lies in the Torah's directive "You shall be holy," the
wording of which also implies a promise: "You will be holy!" G-d assures
every Jew, "for I am holy" - for the simple reason that your holiness is
derived from Mine. Every Jew possesses a "veritable portion of G-d
Above," a Jewish soul that is a part of the Infinite. Every Jew is thus
capable of rising to even the highest levels of holiness.

As the Torah teaches, the ultimate objective is not what happened to
Aaron's two sons, Nadav and Avihu, who achieved such a state of
spiritual arousal that their souls could no longer tolerate the
confinement of their physical bodies. The highest level of Divine
service transcends even this.

In the Midrash, our Sages interpreted the verse "You shall be holy" as
meaning "My holiness is superior to yours." In other words, no matter
how high a spiritual level a Jew may attain, he should always remember
that G-d is Infinite and thus higher.

This contains a practical lesson for every Jew to apply in his Divine
service, regardless of his present spiritual standing: The greatest
tzadik (righteous person) can always rise higher, while those on the
lower rungs of spiritual achievement must never despair of improvement.
The directive of "You shall be holy" applies to everyone. G-d gives
every Jew the strengths and abilities he needs to ascend. And when a Jew
takes the first step and makes the effort to sanctify himself, G-d takes
him by the hand and helps him achieve his goal.

      Adapted from Likutei Sichot of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Vol. 12

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                      The Rectification of Anusim
                            by Ayala Markoff

I was born in Brazil to a Catholic family, and did not have the
opportunity to meet Jews until much later in life. My grandparents and
parents were born and raised on a farm in the rural area of Sao Paulo,
Brazil. They lived a simple and honest life. Hospitality was a trademark
in our family, and still is to this day. Farming the land in Brazil in
the 1900s was no easy job, so Grandma insisted that her children go to
school to have a better chance in life. Having had some schooling, my
parents' generation left the rural area to try life in the city. They
focused on education and sent all their children to college. For many
years I lived a calm, happy and uneventful life. By the time I reached
my early thirties, I was a successful scientist working for an
international corporation. I knew very little about Jews and Judaism.
Business led me to the United States, where I met Jews for the first
time in my life. Or so I thought.

I remember the first time I heard about Yom Kippur. For no logical
reason, I felt I had to observe this holiday. I embarked on a day of
fasting and prayer that I will never forget. The Kol Nidrei services
were particularly moving to me. Later I learned that many anusim would
gather in secret locations on Yom Kippur eve. Before starting the Yom
Kippur services they would pour their hearts out to G-d, begging for
forgiveness for the public statements they had made against Judaism
during the year. Anusim comes from the Hebrew word "anus," meaning
"forced ones." They were Jews who went through forced conversion to
Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition under the threat of
expulsion or death. They are sometimes called Marranos, a term avoided
by many because of its derogatory nature; Marrano means pig.

My interest in Judaism grew quickly. I attended all classes available to
me. As destiny would have it, I learned to read Hebrew in Sephardic
style and would walk around with a Jewish star around my neck. Whatever
mitzva (commandment) I heard about I observed, as soon as possible and
in the best way I could.

One day, I was talking with someone who said to me casually, "You are
not Jewish." Hearing these words caused me great pain and anguish. I
felt indignant and even insulted! Pondering my intense emotional
response, I could not understand why a non-Jew would feel offended at
someone stating the truth in a factual manner.

In one of the many Torah classes I attended I had a spiritual meltdown.
Chabad Rebbetzin Chaya Epstein, of Beis Menachem in Chicago, Illinois,
was teaching a class on the life of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe
o.b.m., Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson. Tears rolled down my face. My
soul was deeply moved by his life. In that moment, his suffering for
keeping Judaism alive in communist Russia became my suffering. After
class, Mrs. Epstein approached me privately and asked me if everything
was alright. Still sobbing. I told her that I had no idea what was
affecting me so much. After all, I was not even Jewish.

To my surprise, she asked me how could I be so sure that I was not
Jewish. Shocked by her response, I could not understand how I could
possibly be Jewish given my birth to a Catholic family and my Christian
upbringing. Mrs. Epstein suggested that I research my ancestral lineage,
focusing on my mother's side.

I continued attending her classes and learning from her. I also followed
her advice and went on a journey of self-discovery, reaching deep into
my family's history, roots, and customs. After a number of years,
countless hours on the computer, and digging through the past by means
of family interviews and reunions, trips to cemeteries, and visits to
city halls in Brazil, I found out much of my family's history. My
research revealed that my maternal great-great-grandmother's last name,
Gomes, is Jewish, coming from the Hebrew word "gomel." Gomes is also my
father's last name. The most amazing discovery, however, was that my
maternal great-grandmother, Josefa Martin, kept a number of rituals
which were reminiscent of mitzvot, as did many anusim from the
post-Inquisition era in Malaga, Spain, where she came from. One of these
mitzvot was to separate challa (to remove a small portion of dough
reminiscent of the Holy Temple offering) every time she made bread, a
mitzva that she could observe in the privacy of her home and which she
passed down to all her daughters. Taking challa was one of the first
mitzvot I was attracted to. I now enjoy sharing this special and
significant mitzva with other women of my generation.

With the help of Chabad rabbis and rebbetzins, I have gone through a
process of returning to the Jewish roots of my ancestors, according to
Jewish law, as established by the Rabbinical Court of the Chicago
Rabbinical Council of Illinois. My case was the first ever of this
nature at this court. I was certified as a Returnee to the ways of my
ancestors. I feel so privileged to be living in a country and in a
generation where, unlike my great-grandmother, I have no need to hide my
true Jewish identity. I can openly observe Torah and mitzvot. I pray to
G-d that other Jewish souls who are yearning to return to Judaism, both
consciously and unconsciously, find the proper guidance and support that
will lead them back to Judaism.

Finally, I deeply thank the many people who were very helpful and
supportive to me in this beautiful process, far too many to mention. In
particular, I would like to thank my caring and supportive husband,
Bruce Markoff; Rebbetzin Chaya Epstein of Beis Menachem; Rabbi Dovid
Flinkenstein of Chabad of Wilmette; Rabbis Meir Moscowitz and Doniel
Moscowitz of Chabad of Northbrook; and Rav Gedalia Schwartz of the
Chicago Rabbinical Council.

May we all celebrate with much joy the return of any and all Jewish
souls to the Jewish nation. And may we all experience the ultimate
celebration with the coming of Moshiach today.

        Reprinted with permission from the N'Shei Chabad Newsletter

                               WHAT'S NEW
                       Torah Scroll and Expansion

Jews in South Africa's West Coast welcomed a Torah scroll donated by the
Welkom Hebrew Congregation, and celebrated the expansion of the Chabad
preschool directed by Rabbi Asher and Zeesa Deren. The school's
expansion included an additional classroom, indoor gym, and renovated
bathrooms and lobby.

                             New Emissaries

Rabbi Shmuli and Sara Stiefel will be arriving soon in St Ives,
Australia, where they will be joining the staff at Chabad of the North

                            New Soup Kitchen

A soup kitchen opened in Minsk, Belarus, in the new Jewish Community
Center there. The kitchen will serve 300 needy children daily, as well
as supply indigent families with hot meals.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                      13th of Kislev, 5716 [1956]

Sholom uBrocho [Greeting and Blessing]:

I received your letter of 28th of Cheshvan, and I hope you will excuse
the delay in reply, which was due to the pressure of duties.

You write that sometimes you are oppressed by the thought that perhaps
in a prior life some things remained to be corrected, and you wonder how
this may be corrected.

While it is true, as you have heard, that most souls have had a previous
life, which explains, as you write, why some children suffer, and may
also explain seemingly undeserved punishment in adult life, but the fact
that the soul may have had a previous life should not cause anxiety. For
G-d does not deal despotically chas v'shalom [G-d forbid], and does not
expect one to consciously correct something of which he is not
consciously aware. The reason that the secret of the soul's possible
previous life was revealed to us is mainly in order that we should not
entertain any suspicion that G-d's Hashgocho [supervision] is unjust,
G-d forbid, so that where we cannot find a reasonable explanation for
any happening, we can attribute it to a previous life. In other words,
the knowledge that there may have been a previous life, should only
strengthen our trust in G-d and bring gladness to our heart. This is
indicated in Tillim [Psalms] (25;9,10, etc.): "G-d is good and upright,
therefore He teaches sinners the way... All the ways of G-d are kindness
and truth... forgive therefore my sin... may my soul dwell in

Wishing you to have good news to inform about yourself and health of
your daughters, and to "serve G-d with joy,"

With blessing

                                *  *  *

                       2nd of Tammuz, 5716 [1956]

Blessing and Greeting:

I received your letter in which you ask the question "if a soul has come
back to earth several times to complete its duty here, when Messiah
comes in which form will the soul come back?"

I was pleased to note from your letter that you are taking an interest
in your studies and follow the instruction of our Holy Torah as you are
taught in the Yeshivah in New Haven.

As for your question, it was already asked a very long time ago by one
of our great teachers of the Talmud, Rabbi Hizkiah, as mentioned in the
holy book Zohar (Part 1, page 131a). The answer given there by another
great teacher of the Mishnah, Rabbi Jose, is that the soul will come
back to life in the body in which it has accomplished Torah and Mitzvoth
[commandments] during her lifetime on this earth, and that a body which
did not practice Torah and Mitzvoth on earth will not come back to life.
This answer must be considered in the light of a further explanation by
the great Rabbi Isaac Luria, who lived about 400 years ago, and is known
as Ari (the "Lion"). (About his life and work you may have read in the
"Talks and Tales.") The saintly Ari explained that it is almost
impossible for a Jew not to fulfill at least some Mitzvoth. Therefore,
in accordance with the answer in Zohar, almost all bodies will come back
to life. The question then is in which body will the soul return if it
had been in more than one body. The answer, strange as it may seem at
first glance, is that it will return in all bodies it had inhabited. To
understand how this is possible, let us remember that the souls of
mankind started from two people, Adam and Eve. Their souls included all
the souls of the future generations, in a way a single seed includes in
it future generations of trees, fruits, and seeds. In the same way the
souls of parents are not just two souls, but they can split up into soul
sparks, each of which is in turn a complete soul. Therefore, when a Jew
performs a Mitzvah, the body takes part in it and it is no longer "dry
wood" that rots away, but it will come back to life with a soul which is
a Divine spark, and which was included in the original soul. Thus at the
Time of Resurrection (after Messiah will come) all "parts" of a
"general" soul will each have a separate body, just as parents will come
back to life with all their children.

If you find the above a little difficult to understand, you can ask your
teacher to explain to you more fully, or leave the question until you
grow older. But you may be sure that no good deed, no Mitzvah, not even
a single minute spent in the study of Torah, is ever lost.

With blessing,

                            A CALL TO ACTION
                         Study Torah in Groups

"Study should be communal in nature, preferably in groups of ten, for
'over every group of ten, the Divine Presence rests.' Furthermore,
communal study contributes an element of happiness. Even a person who
prefers the peace and quiet of individual study, should compliment his
own studies by participating in these communal sessions. Everyone should
consider the need to participate in these efforts as directed to him
individually. (The Rebbe, 6 Iyar, 5751-1991)

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

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
We are currently in the month of Iyar. In the Torah, Iyar is referred to
as the second month, since it is the second month from Nissan. It is
also called Ziv - the month of radiance (Kings I) - because the sun's
radiance begins to grow. Iyar is also a month of healing, for the
generation of Jews who came out of Egypt were healed this month from all
their illnesses, as they prepared to receive the Torah. In fact, the
word Iyar spelled in Hebrew letters is an acronym for the verse, "I G-d
am your Healer."

The month of Iyar for the generation of the desert was, in essence, a
foretaste of the Messianic Era when we will witness ultimate physical
and spiritual bliss. According to the Midrash (Breishit Rabba) everyone
will be healed of all their diseases. At the time of the Redemption, we
are told, G-d will take the sun out of the special sheath in which He
enclosed it. These special rays of the sun which had previously been
hidden are healing rays and will cure everyone of all their ailments.
Anyone who has any illness or disease, any blemish or disability, will
be healed.

Death itself will cease, as the Prophet Isaiah said, "Death will be
swallowed up forever and G-d will wipe the tears from every face."

When will these miracles occur? There are two stages to the Redemption.
The first stage is the one about which Maimonides writes, "The world
will follow its normal course." This stage is a precursor for the
second, later stage when we will see changes in the conduct of the
world. The laws of nature will be changed to what they were originally
intended to be, that is, as they functioned while Adam and Eve were
still in the Garden of Eden. At this time we will see the actual
fulfillment of our Prophets' words such as the wolf at peace with the
lamb, etc.

It is in this second stage that we will witness the Resurrection of the
Dead. In this second stage, G-d will be revealed in all of His Glory.

May the month of Iyar truly be a month of healing - spiritual, physical
and emotional healing for the Jewish people and the entire world.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
With this - bezot - Aaron shall come into the holy place (Lev. 16:3)

The Hebrew word "bezot" has the numerical equivalent of 410, alluding to
the 410 years of the First Holy Temple's existence. But why would Moses
tell the Jewish people that the Temple would exist for only a specific
time? What is to be gained by predicting this tragedy? Rather, Moses'
intent was not to dishearten. On the contrary, he informed the Jewish
people that it was in their power to prevent the sad event. Proper
behavior would confer eternity to the first Holy Temple and preclude any
exile. Now, too, it is up to us. Our present conduct can rid us of the
exile. Our actions can hasten the coming of Moshiach and the
establishment of the Third Holy Temple, which will stand forever.

                                                  (Peninei HaGeula)

                                *  *  *

For on that day [the high priest] shall make an atonement for you to
cleanse you from all your sins; before G-d you shall be clean (Lev. 16:

Why is it necessary to explicitly add the words "from all your sins"? Is
this not already implied? "An atonement to cleanse you" refers to sins
that are committed against G-d; "All your shall be clean"
refers to sins that are committed against one's fellow man. For these
transgressions, Yom Kippur does not offer atonement until the wronged
party has been properly conciliated.

                                                   (Likrat Shabbat)

                                *  *  *

Blood shall it be considered to that man; blood has he shed (Lev. 17:4)

The purpose of the animal offerings was to accustom the individual to
self-sacrifice. However, the Torah tells us, if the sacrifice was
offered in the wrong place, "blood shall it be considered to that man."
Sacrificing oneself on foreign altars, for the sake of foreign
ideologies and ideals, is not only a waste of time, but a grievous sin.

                                                        (Eglai Tal)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
The famous Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak of Lublin, Poland, was known as the
Chozeh of Lublin. One of his chasidim, Avraham Mordechai of Pintshov,
was a pauper with no means to marry off his three daughters. Avraham
Mordechai had no recourse than to go to the Chozeh and pour out his

The Chozeh gave him a few coins and said "Go to the town of Kreshnik and
there you will be saved." Avraham Mordechai hurried home, told his wife
what the Chozeh had said, and set off to Kreshnik with no idea what to
do there.

Three days later he arrived, checked into the only Jewish hotel. Each
day after reciting the morning prayers, Avraham Mordechai would wander
around Kreshnik for an hour or two. He would then return to the hotel to
eat, study Torah for a few hours, and then wander around the town some

Late one evening, about ten days into his stay, there was a knock at his
hotel room door. "Who is it?" Avraham Mordechai asked.

"Can I talk to you," was the answer. Avraham Mordechai opened the door
and a religious Jew about 40-years-old entered, sat down, and spoke
quietly as his eyes filled with tears. "I won't tell you my name and
please don't ask. I have something I want you to give to the owner of
this hotel."

The man produced an envelope from his coat, opened it and took out a
stack of large denomination bills. "It's ten thousand rubles," he said.
"It belongs to the hotel owner and I want you give it to him. Will you
do this?"

The man saw that Avraham Mordechai was confused and he began to explain.
"Ten years ago I worked here for the innkeeper. I was a private Torah
teacher for his five wonderful children. We were like family, he trusted
me implicitly. One day, I was teaching his youngest son and I noticed
that the innkeeper entered his office in the room adjoining. I saw him
take a large stack of money and put it in a desk drawer, lock it and put
the key behind a picture on the wall.

"Seeing this planted an evil seed in my heart. At first I pushed it off
as foolishness, but it didn't go away. I became overpowered by the
thought that I needed the money!

"Finally, one night when everyone was out of the house I went to the
office and found it unlocked. I entered, found the key, opened the
drawer, took the money and a minute later I was in the back yard burying
it in the hole I had prepared there. The robbery was not discovered
until a few weeks later.

"Of course, no one suspected me. I was the epitome of faith and honesty,
the last one in the world that would steal. After a month everything
calmed down and life returned to normal. I worked for another year or
so, told them I had work elsewhere and we parted the best of friends.

"But my conscience bothered me. A hundred times, a thousand times I
thought of returning the money but I didn't. I was afraid maybe someone
would catch me digging it up. Or maybe the innkeeper would get mad when
I confessed and have me put in jail.

"For ten years I have been going insane from regret but with no solution
in sight. Until a week ago something told me the time had come. I came
back here in the middle of the night, dug up the money and waited till
the morning in front of the hotel wondering what to do next. When I saw
you come out I knew that you are the one. Help me erase my sin and clear
my conscience. Please, ask the innkeeper not to ask any questions and
give him the money back for me."

Avraham Mordechai stared in wide-eyed disbelief. Should he do it? Maybe
he would get into trouble himself! But something inside told him this
man was genuinely repenting, and so he agreed. The next morning Avraham
Mordechai asked the innkeeper if they could speak privately.

Avraham Mordechai pulled the envelope from his pocket and put it on the
table. "Here is the ten thousand rubles that were stolen from you ten
years ago," he said. "Someone gave it to me to give to you and requested
that you ask no questions."

The innkeeper picked up the money, began to count it and when he was
finished looked up and, still under the impression of this dreamlike
experience, wiped his brow and said, "But can I ask who are you? What
are you doing here? I've seen you leave and enter and have heard that
you just wander the streets. Why are you here?"

Suddenly Avraham Mordechai snapped back into his own reality and told
the innkeeper who he was and how the Chozeh of Lublin had sent him for a
solution to marry off his three daughters.

The innkeeper understood the Chozeh's intent. He immediately counted out
one thousand rubles and handed it to him. "Here is enough money to marry
off your daughters and buy them houses as well. And I would like to see
your Rebbe and thank him personally for the miracle and for the chance
to give this charity."

When Avraham Mordechai returned to the Chozeh and told him what happened
the Chozeh just replied. "I had to do it this way...the power of the
repentance of that teacher didn't allow me to sleep at night!"

                       by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton from

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
Rebbe Yisroel of Ruzhin taught, "We don't need trains for the
ingathering of the exiles, because gathering the exiles will take place
in a manner resembling how I move the cup from one side of the table to
the other."

                                       (Ner Yisroel vol. 2, p. 188)

         END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1068 - Achrei Mos-Kedoshim 5769

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