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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1087
                           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.
        September 11, 2009 Nitzavim-Vayeilech      22 Elul, 5769

                          Overdraft Protection

"Economic indicators" indicate that the economy is beginning to turn
around. Economists point out, though, that it still takes time to climb
out of a recession like this. So even though we are hopefully in the
beginning of a recovery, times may still be tough for a while.

Even in the best of times, many of us sometimes find ourselves with a
"cash flow" problem: It's not that we don't have money, we just don't
have it right now when we need it.

Or sometimes we miscalculate, thinking we have more in the bank account
than we do.

In either case, we find out that we're overdrawn. And then the bank
starts charging us $30 (or more) per bounced check, and the deficit

However, many banks offer what they call "overdraft protection." It
comes in different forms, but one basic set-up is that when your
checking account becomes overdrawn, there's an automatic transfer of
funds from your savings account. Another version creates an instant
loan. Either way, you have access to funds that prevent your checks from
bouncing and protect you from being charged an overdraft fee. Overdraft
protection also protects your credit.

We can look at our deeds - our thought, speech and action - as deposits
or withdrawals, as an asset (a mitzva) or a liability (a transgression)
in our spiritual bank account. This idea fits with the theme of Elul and
Tishrei - a spiritual accounting in Elul, in preparation for the Divine
audit in Tishrei.

When we do something that G-d forbids (G-d forbid!), whether in thought,
speech or action, we are withdrawing funds from our spiritual bank
account, so to speak. Of course, we're also making deposits, with all of
the many wonderful good deeds and mitzvot (commandments) that we perform
daily, as the saying goes, "Even the simplest Jew is as full of good
deeds as a pomegranate is of seeds."

But still, there may be times when we are "spiritually overdrawn." For
whatever reason, an accurate assessment shows that, on balance, we've
got more spiritual liabilities than assets, and payment is due now.

Our Sages teach that mitzvot and transgressions are measured
qualitatively as well as quantitatively. Thus, one small mitzva may
outweigh tens or even hundreds of transgressions (and vice versa). It's
possible that we might have a huge cache to our credit. But it's also
possible that unknowingly, we may be "overdrawn": payment is due and our
spiritual credit rating is suffering.

We can prevent this; we can set up a spiritual "overdraft protection,"
by conducting ourselves in accordance with G-d's kindnesses, that are
"without limit or end." By acting with chesed - kindness and compassion,
we "draw down upon ourselves the Supreme compassion" - an overdraft
protection from the Source of unlimited, infinite Chesed.

How do we do this? How do we conduct ourselves with a kindness that
knows no bounds? Through giving tzedeka - charity.

When we give tzedeka above and beyond the requisite amount (10%), when
we give it just because and on a regular basis, we create an "overdraft

This is why our Sages tell us that giving tzedeka brings redemption,
both on a personal basis, during the High Holiday spiritual accounting,
and also globally, that tzedeka brings the ultimate redemption of the
world through Moshiach.

This week we read two Torah portions, Nitzavim and Vayeilech. The
portion of Nitzavim is always read on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashana.
It begins with Moses' address to the Jewish people, "You are standing
today, all of you, before the L-rd your G-d..."  This invocation is both
general and specific.  It mentions the individual classes of Jews, from
the heads of the tribes to the drawers of water.  And it gathers them
all into the collective phrase, "all of you."

This is in itself something of a contradiction. The verse begins by
speaking to Israel as a unity - "You are standing...all of you" -
without making any distinctions. But immediately afterwards, it proceeds
to detail the different classes of Jews.  Why, in any case, did it need
to do so, when the phrase "all of You" already encompasses them all?

This was done in order to make a fundamental point:  that on the one
hand, there must be unity among Jews; and, at the same time, each has
his unique contribution to make, his own individual mission.

But if there have to be distinctions among Jews, especially ones as
extreme as that between "your heads" and "the drawer of your water," how
can there be true unity among them?  The verse supplies its own answer.
"You are standing today, all of you, before the L-rd your G-d.  It is
when Jews stand before G-d, in the full recognition that He is the
author of their powers and the foundation of their being, that they are

This can be explained by a simple analogy.  When men from a group or
community unite for a specific purpose, economic, intellectual or
whatever, they share their money or labor or ideas towards a given end
and for a specified time.  Outside this partnership they remain separate
individuals, each with his own private word.

Yet, the community of Israel is a partnership "before the L-rd your G-d"
and its purpose is that you should enter into the covenant of the L-rd
your G-d, and into His oath..."  This partnership encompasses the whole
person - not just his labor or his ideas - each according to his
capacity.  And it is a partnership in perpetuity, as eternal as the
Torah.  This is true unity.

Moreover, the effort of each Jew playing his unique part in the covenant
is implicit to the work of the whole community.  The unity of Israel is
created not by every Jew being the same, but by his own unique role in
fulfilling the directives of "the L-rd your G-d."  Israel is one before
G-d when, and only when, each Jew fulfills the mission which is his

     From "Torah Studies" by Jonathan Sacks, adapted from the works
                                          of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                          A Miracle Bar Mitzva
                       by Rabbi Refoel Jaworowski

A Bar Mitzva is a solemn and momentous turning point in the life of
every Jewish teen, and it is a proud and poignant experience for his
parents. But for the Lev family it was much more than that; it was a

Baruch and Olga Lev immigrated to the United State from Russia, where
Jewish observance had been persecuted by government authorities. In
coming to America, the Levs happily anticipated the freedom to raise
their son Alex with a strong Jewish education and religious training in
the tenets and practices of Judaism. They dreamed of the Bar Mitzva
celebration they would hold for him, and the wonderful Yiddishe nachas
(Jewish pride) they would have in seeing him formally assume the
responsibilities of Jewish adulthood.

But in December 2008 tragedy struck: a devastating accident left twelve
year-old Alex Lev a paraplegic, destroying his prospects of leading a
normal teenage life. During the months following the accident, while he
was shifted from one hospital to another undergoing various treatments,
his family worked on developing coping strategies and keeping everyone's
spirits up.

As the date of his Bar Mitzva approached in June 2009 Alex was still
hospitalized, and was capable of only very limited communication. The
blessings marking the traditional Bar Mitzva rite of passage would be
very difficult for him, and the challenges involved in organizing a
suitable prayer service and accompanying celebration with Alex still in
hospital would have seemed insurmountable to many.

But local rabbis from various social services organizations refused to
allow the Lev family's dream to be obliterated. Chai Lifeline, Chai
Center, Lubavitch Chabad of Wilmette, and the Chicago Mitzvah Campaign
were determined to provide Alex with every opportunity to celebrate his
Bar Mitzva in style. Baruch and Olga were amazed at what these dedicated
and resourceful organizations were able to accomplish.

Rabbi Shlomo Crandall of Chai Lifeline, Rabbi Aron Wolf of the Chicago
Mitzvah Campaign and Rabbi Dovid Flinkenstein of Chabad of Wilmette
teamed up to throw a Bar Mitzva celebration that will be long remembered
by Baruch, Olga, Alex and their guests. The mezzanine floor of the
Chicago Rehabilitation Center was converted into a makeshift synagogue
for the prayer service. Baruch and Alex were both called to the Torah
that was brought in especially for the occasion, and recited the
blessings. Despite Alex's physical difficulties, Rabbi Aron Wolf
assisted him to put on and pray with his new pair of tefilin that were
happily donated by the Chicago Mitzvah Campaign.

The formal prayer service was followed by a joyous celebration, with a
professional musician and photographer adding to the festivities and the
delicious refreshments provided by local caterers. These volunteers all
teamed up together with the above-mentioned organizations in providing
all the services necessary to facilitate this amazing event. A group of
Cheder Lubavitch yeshiva students enhanced the merriment with their high
spirits and lively singing and dancing. Speakers at the celebration
included hospital nurses and therapists as well as Baruch, who spoke to
the gathering about the meaning of a Bar Mitzva, and thanked everyone
for giving of themselves to help make the affair such an uplifting and
memorable occasion for Alex.

Indeed, the uplifting emotions and the memories of Alex Lev's "Miracle
Bar Mitzva" are sure to live on for a very long time for all those who
were present.

Fulfilling the important mitzva of tefilin was not a one-time experience
for Alex at his "miracle" Bar Mitzva. Alex continues to put on tefilin
every weekday, with the help of his father, despite his physical

The Lev family has a wonderful appreciation for the Chicago Mitzvah
Campaign, Chabad of Wilmette, Illinois and Chai Lifeline for their
ongoing support during the nine months since Alex's accident. As it does
for numerous families in hospitals throughout Chicago, the Chicago
Mitzvah Campaign continues to provide special Shabbat meals in the
hospital every week for Baruch and Olga, who spend countless days and
nights with Alex in the hospital.

Chai Lifeline, which has provided emotional, social and financial
support to the Lev family since Alex's accident, continues to offer its
special assistance to the family, and for this Baruch and Olga are
extremely grateful.

    Alex came home from the hospital on August 17, although he is still
    in need of continuous medical intervention. The family requests that
    everyone keep Alex in mind and pray for his complete recovery.
    Alex's Hebrew name is Binyomin ben (son of) Olga. Reprinted with
    permission from

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             New Emissaries

Rabbi Bentzion and Mashie Butman, and their two young children, will be
arriving soon in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. They will be establishing a new
Chabad-Lubavitch center in this Asian country. The Butmans led Passover
seders there this past year.

                               New Center

A new Chabad Center in Palermo Soho, a popular bohemian neighborhood in
Buenos Aires, Argentina, had a gala dedication ceremony this past month.
The new center is under the directorship of Rabbi Tzvi and Rivka
Lipinski who have been organizing Jewish programs in the area for a
number of years. The new center brings the number of Chabad Centers in
Buenos Aires alone to 22.

                            THE REBBE WRITES

    The first two paragraphs are translated from Hebrew. The rest of the
    letter is in the Rebbe's original English

                          10 Kislev, 5740-1980

Concerning the notification that you will soon be entering the age of
mitzvos [commandments], it should be G-d's will that from 13 years of
age you will grow to 15, etc. as it says in the Mishnah (Avos ch. 5),
and you will increase in studiousness and diligence in the study of
Torah, the revealed Torah and Chassidus, and you will be careful in the
performance of mitzvos, and G-d will make you successful to be a
Chassid, a fearer of Heaven, and a scholar.

P.S. The following is written in the "language of the land" so that he
will be able, if he wants, to show it to his friends, in the spirit of
the commandment of "And you shall love your neighbor as yourself," that
if in all matters one must look for the good of others, how much more so
in matters of Judaism, Torah and its mitzvos.

At first glance, it is strange that the day of Bar Mitzvah, which is so
important that the Zohar declares that for the Bar Mitzvah boy it is
almost like the day of Matan Torah (when Jews first received the Torah
and mitzvos), yet, insofar as Tachnun [a special penitential prayer] is
concerned, which is omitted even on the so-called "Minor Holidays," if
it does not occur on Shabbos or Yom Tov (or another day that Tachnun is
not said) - Tachnun is said by the Bar Mitzvah boy, as on any ordinary

One of the explanations is as follows:

When one considers that human capacities are limited in general,
especially the capacities of a boy at the start of his fourteenth year,
yet he must assume all the duties and responsibilities of a full-fledged
Jew; and, moreover, fulfill them with joy, in keeping with the rule:
Serve G-d with joy - the question begs itself: How is he going to carry
out all that is expected of him, especially being a member of a people
which is a small minority among the nations of the world; and even in
this country, where one has every opportunity to carry out all religious
duties, but most are more interested and engaged in the material aspects
of life?

The answer is that the Torah and mitzvos have been given by G-d, the
Creator of the world, and of man, and He knows all the difficulties that
a Jew may encounter. G-d has surely provided every Jew with the
necessary strength to overcome any and all difficulties to live up to
G-d's Will, for G-d would not expect someone to do something which is
beyond his capacity.

If, however, there should be a moment of weakness, when carrying out
G-d's Will is not in the fullest measure of perfection, G-d in His
infinite goodness makes it possible to "say Tachnun" - to do Teshuvah
[repent]. Indeed, as the Alter Rebbe [Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of
Chabad Chasidism] explains, teshuvah is basically for the lack of
perfection in Avodas Hashem [G-dly service].

Therefore, on the first day of becoming a full-fledged Jew, and after
fulfilling the very first mitzvah, namely, the saying of the Shema, by
which a Jew declares his total commitment to G-d and obedience to all
His commandments, the Bar Mitzvah boy does say Tachnun the following
morning and afternoon (provided it is not Shabbs or Yom Tov, etc.), for
the essence of Tachnun is teshuvah, and there is the assurance that
"Nothing stands in the way of teshuvah."

This knowledge will, moreover, also stand him in good stead when he will
involve himself in the great mitzvah of v'ahavto lre'acho kamocho
[loving one's fellow Jew as oneself], to bring the alienated closer to
Judaism. For remembering the rule that "Nothing stands in the way of
teshuvah," he will eagerly and compassionately apply it to them,
especially when in most cases, the failure to observe fully the Torah
and mitzvos is due to extenuating circumstances.

With all the above in mind, and being fortunate in growing up in a
family where Yiddishkeit [Judaism]is a living experience in your
everyday life, you will start out on your way of life as a full-fledged
Jew with confidence, and will proceed from strength to strength, and be
a source of true pride and joy to your dear parents and family, and to
all our Jewish people.

                            A CALL TO ACTION
                    Say the Special Selichot Prayers

Saturday evening, September 12, after midnight, the first Selichot
("prayers for forgiveness") will be said in synagogues throughout the
world. From Monday morning through the eve of Rosh Hashana the Selichot
prayers are said in the early morning. Go with the whole family Saturday
night, let the kids stay up late! This is a real, "hands-on" Jewish
experience that is bound to be remembered for months if not years. Call
your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center for exact time and the location
nearest you.

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

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This coming Saturday night, in preparation for the High Holy Days, we
will begin saying the special set of penitential prayers known as

There is a story about a Chasid who came into a small town during the
days before Rosh Hashana. Over Shabbat he stayed at an inn that was
managed by a simple Jew. Late Saturday night, the innkeeper and his wife
readied themselves to go to the synagogue to say the Selichot prayers.

"Where are you going?" asked the chasid.

Answered the innkeeper, "Our cow gives milk, the vegetables are growing.
Our orchard produces fine fruits. We are going to shul to say selichot."

"Feh," said the chasid emphatically. "Old people get up in the middle of
the night to ask the Alm-ghty for food?"

In truth, we should and are required to ask G-d for food and all of our
other necessities. However, selichot is not the time to be asking G-d
for these things.

Selichot means forgiveness. More than forgiveness, it means making
amends. We recharge our batteries, return to our Source, and make an
accounting of what we did last year. We contemplate on how we can
improve in the coming year and begin to put our thoughts into action.

If we make sure that our Selichot prayers contain all of the above, the
Alm-ghty will certainly give us not only the food and other necessities
that the simple innkeeper prayed for, but a good year in all material
and spiritual areas as well.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
You are standing this day, all of you, before the L-rd your G-d...
(Deut. 29:9)

"All of you" before your G-d, all of you equal in His eyes. There are no
"leaders, elders, officers" more important than the "hewers of wood and
drawers of water."

                                                       (Klei Yakar)

                                *  *  *

To cause you to pass into the covenant of the L-rd your G-d and into His
oath (Deut.29:11).

In Biblical times, when entering into a covenant, the two parties
involved would take an object and cut it in two, then pass together
between the pieces. The first impression one gets from such a symbolic
act is that of disunity.  However, the real message is that each of the
parties was only a half, dependent on the other for fulfillment.  This
is the type of covenant that the Jewish people has with G-d.

                                                    (Likutei Torah)

                                *  *  *

Because my G-d is not in my midst have I found these troubles (Deut.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that when a person sees bad in his neighbor, it
is because he has a similar blemish of his own: the other person is a
mirror, showing us ourselves.  The second Chabad Rebbe, R. Dov Ber,
paraphrased this verse to bring out the above point. "Because G-d is not
in me do I notice this evil."

                                                   (Sefer Hasichot)

                                *  *  *

I will hide My face on that day (Deut. 31:18)

"Hiding" generally implies that we do not know where the other person
is.  However if we know that the person is on the other side of the
obstacle, and it is merely that we do not see him, he is not truly
hidden. G-d is encouraging us:  Even though I am not visible I am
standing close by.

                                       (Based on the Baal Shem Tov)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
It was a chilly, windy day when the Baal Shem Tov stepped into his
carriage, and as was his custom, allowed the horses to run as they
would, invariably bringing their master to some small village or hamlet
where the Baal Shem Tov would bring his fiery G-dliness to his fellow

In what seemed like no time, the horses stopped in a tiny hamlet, buried
in the midst of a dense forest and surrounded by tilled fields. The Jews
of this place were a hard-working lot, ignorant of Torah, able to steal
just a few minutes a day to devote to their prayers, most of which they
didn't understand. The Baal Shem Tov was filled with love and compassion
for these Jews, and so he made these journeys to bring them a spiritual
light to their eyes and turn their thoughts to G-d.

There was only one villager who was a cut above, and he was a wealthy
landowner, who, it turned out, was celebrating his son's Bar Mitzva just
that very day. When the father of the boy heard that the famous Tzadik
had arrived, he quickly harnessed his wagon and came to escort him to
the grand celebration.

The Baal Shem Tov was seated at the head of the table and welcomed with
great honor. But his attention riveted to the wrinkled faces and worn
hands of the Jewish peasants who had also come to join the party. The
Baal Shem Tov began to speak and the wondrous tales and parables he told
held his audience spellbound. Then he began singing in his melodious
voice, the lovely Carpathian tunes sung by the local shepherd boys as
they pastured their flocks on the mountainsides. The change which could
be detected in the sad and exhausted faces of the laborers, the tears
which trickled down their wrinkled cheeks, were touching to behold.

The wealthy landowner perceived the scene very differently. Why was the
guest of honor devoting himself entirely to these unlettered peasants
and paying no attention to me, he thought. He decided he would avenge
himself on the Baal Shem Tov, and with this in mind announced, "My dear
friends, I want you to know that the highlight of this celebration will
be a speech which my son, the Bar Mitzva boy, will deliver in the
presence of our most esteemed guest, the rabbi of a nearby town, who
will be here with his party. Only before such a prominent rabbi is it
fitting to deliver his discourse."

The Baal Shem Tov was not oblivious to the insult, but he did not
acknowledge it. Rather, he engaged the Bar Mitzva boy in conversation
about various spiritual matters.

As he spoke, his spiritual gaze wandered afield to a faraway place
beyond the green fields and forests of the village.

Suddenly the Baal Shem Tov broke out into a burst of joyous laughter
which seemed to engulf his entire being and spread to every man and
woman in the room. Soon, not only the Baal Shem Tov was laughing, but
the whole room was filled with joy and laughter - the people, the
objects and even farm animals outside joined in his unbounded joy.

In the midst of all this laughter, the sound of carriage wheels grinding
to a halt could be heard from the courtyard. It was the wealthy master
of the feast who had just arrived with the rabbi of the nearby town, the
much awaited guest of honor.

As they approached, they were astonished to hear peals of laughter which
emitted from the hall. "What has happened here?" the wealthy landowner

When silence was restored, the Baal Shem Tov began his explanation:

"Far away from here, in a lonely hamlet, there lives a widow and her
only son. Today, he too is becoming a Bar Mitzva, and although he knows
nothing about Torah and has never lived among Jews, he has a pair of
tefilin left to him by his father.

"He put on the tefilin and his mother explained to him the tradition of
going to the synagogue to be called up to the Torah. But, alas the poor
lad had no way to fulfill this custom. He walked out to the barn and
gathered all his beloved animals, which he cared for so devotedly and he
formed them into a 'minyan.' Then he announced in a loud voice, 'Today I
am a Bar Mitzva!' The animals responded to his words with a cacophony of
'moos,' 'neighs,' and 'clucks.' When the heavenly hosts beheld this
strange but touching Bar Mitzva celebration, they laughed so heartily
that their laughter echoed through the universe until it reached the
Holy Throne of G-d where it provoked great Divine Joy.

"And so, concluded the Baal Shem Tov, it is now a propitious time to
hear the discourse of the Bar Mitzva boy, for now, the Gates of Heaven
are open."

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk was so strong in his faith in Moshiach
that he literally awaited him every day and night. Each evening, before
he went to bed, he set one of his disciples near him. In that way, if
the disciple heard the sound of the shofar heralding Moshiach, he could
be immediately awakened from sleep.

          END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1087 - Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5769

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