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All beginnings are difficult. Starting a job, starting school, starting a marriage, starting dinner, starting new cleaning help - even starting the day! We find beginnings difficult because a new beginning requires a change. What went before wasn't good enough. Whether we're changing from one thing to another - from one job to another, for example - or from a "nothing" state to a "something" state - from not being married to being married - we have to change. And change requires effort; we have to overcome our inertia. In order to change we have to begin. And beginning requires an act of will. We resist beginning until we want to begin. (How many times have we resisted getting out of bed in the morning to start the day until we simply decided to get up - for no apparent reason?)
This explains the difficulty of beginning: we not only have to begin, we have to begin to begin. That is, before we can start something, we have to envision it as complete, whole, finished. From where we are we have to see where we will be. We cannot imagine what we want superficially, not if we want it to be real. We have to see the details. We must anticipate not only how the thing will work but also how it will get made and how we will feel about it. We have to have a goal, a business plan.
So not only must we actually start the project - get the materials, follow the instructions, do all the little things to open the store or assemble the bookcase - we must build it virtually, so to speak, construct it in our minds. Even before we begin, we must have begun. Even as we build, we must imaginatively have already built.
In a sense, creation requires double vision. We must foresee the final result, the completed product. We must envision the end of the process, indeed, what will be after we finish that which we've begun. But the level of insight never becomes real; we constantly anticipate but never arrive. In fact, as long we see the end, as long as we live - mentally - after the fact we not only never get there, we don't ever start. We "begin to begin" - we have constantly in mind the final moment after; but we never actually start.
Thus we have to see differently. We have to see beyond the will-be, or rather, we have to look closer than the yet-to-be. We have to perceive the process. We have to "just do it," to live in the middle, to experience the unfolding of the initial point.
The first type of beginning conceals; it's the goal, the thought in mind, the future already real but never reached. The second type of beginning reveals; it's the start, the origin, the potential for progress and the development of details.
But we don't have two eyes to see double. That strains the muscles and drains the mind. We have two eyes so that we can see holistically, integrate our vision (of the future) and perception (of the here and now). When the two become one - when the inner reality becomes outwardly manifest - then we live in the time of Shabbat, the time of perfect vision.
That's the goal of Creation, of course, to see G-dliness. And in the era of Moshiach the whole world will experience it, will be filled with knowledge of the L-rd.
The Midrash recounts the sequence of events that led to Adam and Eve's eating from the Tree of Knowledge, as narrated in this week's Torah portion, Bereishit: First the serpent approached Eve, and asked if G-d had forbidden them to eat all the fruit in the Garden of Eden. She replied that they were permitted to eat any fruit, except for those growing on the Tree of Knowledge: "G-d has said, 'You shall not eat of it, and you shall not touch it, lest you die.' " When the serpent heard this reply, he pushed Eve towards the Tree and told her, "Surely you will not die."
The Midrash explains that Eve's mistake was adding on to G-d's command. The prohibition was only against eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, yet Eve added that they weren't allowed to touch it. It was this initial digression that enabled the serpent to lead her astray, and later, for her to cause Adam to sin.
Our Sages tell us that the reason Eve made this mistake was that she didn't hear the command directly from G-d; it was transmitted only second-hand, through Adam. Had she heard it directly from G-d, not only would she not have sinned and led her husband to sin, she would have kept Adam from transgressing.
This is why, at the revelation of the Torah at Mount Sinai, G-d commanded Moses to give the Torah first to the Jewish women, then to the men. "Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob," G-d told him, referring to the Jewish women; "and tell the people of Israel," referring to the Jewish men. In this manner, G-d ensured that the Jewish women would always be on the forefront of Torah observance throughout the generations, and from their perspective, "correct" the sin of the Tree of Knowledge.
The special advantage of Jewish women - the ability to extend a protective and positive influence on their husbands - is derived from the way Eve was created, which was different from Adam. Adam was created from the earth, from a base substance, whereas Eve was created from Adam's rib, from the body of a human being.
Our Sages also interpret the verse "G-d built (vayiven) the rib" as relating to the "extra measure of wisdom (bina) G-d has given women over men." Because women are on a higher spiritual level, they possess this ability to guard them.
This underscores how crucial it is to provide Jewish girls with a Torah-true education, instilling in them pride and a sense of joy in their Judaism. For the Jewish woman is the foundation of the home, and the positive influence she wields is very powerful.
Adapted from Likutei Sichot vol. 3 of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
What it Means to Be a Jew
by Dr. Miryam Z. Wahrman
Need a babysitter, a ride to Manhattan, or a kosher used barbecue grill? TeaneckShuls, a moderated listserv connecting people in the northern New Jersey area, can help you find what you need. Need a kidney? TeaneckShuls can help as well. Ruthie Levi, a moderator for the listserv, reports that "as a result of an e-mail posting on this list for someone seeking a kidney donation, Rabbi Ephraim Simon of Chabad Teaneck has successfully donated his own kidney."
"It's not like I woke up one morning and wanted to donate a kidney," said Simon, who serves as the Chabad Rabbi in Teaneck. "My own children, ages 2 to 14, are my first priority." He recounted how a woman named Chaya Lipshutz had been posting for years on TeaneckShuls about people who needed kidney donors. "I would read them, and sigh, and go on with my day. I have nine little children and it was not something I would envision doing." However, one such posting touched him deeply. "In August 2008, [Lipshutz] had a post of a 12-year-old girl - how could I let a 12-year-old girl die? I have a daughter who is 12.
"I spoke to my wife about it. We discussed it intensely; we could not let a 12-year-old girl die." When he called a few days later to offer to test for the youngster, the need had already been met. "My wife was very relieved. But I felt if I could do this for her, I could do it for someone else in a similar situation." He was tested as a donor for the next two postings, a 40-year-old mother of two and a 30-year-old male, but he did not match. "OK," he thought. "I can't give this kidney away."
Then last spring, Simon, 41, learned of a 51-year-old father of 10 who desperately needed a kidney. "After Purim I was tested. About one hour before the [Passover] seder I got a call from the hospital: 'Rabbi Simon, you match.'
"Since I'm a Chabad rabbi, in the summer we have summer camp to run. I asked if it was OK to wait until after camp ends." Camp ended on Aug. 7, and the following week the two surgeries were performed at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/ Weill Cornell Medical Center.
"Eighty thousand people need kidneys. The amount of people willing to donate is not that many," said Simon. "Live kidneys from living donors are healthier, and last longer."
Lipshutz reported that "99 percent of the time there are no complications for the donor. As for the recipient, there's about a 5 percent chance that the kidney will fail."
Simon explained that he did extensive research. "There are risks," he said, "but they are minimal. [A donor will go through] life with one kidney, but you have plenty of kidney function with one kidney to live a long, healthy life.
"If I put on a scale the risks and rewards, and I can save a human being, and give a father of 10 back to his children and a husband back to his wife, that reward outweighs the risk," said Simon. "I can't live my life afraid of tiny risks. Every time we get in a car we take risks. It is such a small risk to save a life."
Simon reported that in the process of screening you are asked if you are getting any money to be a donor. "I responded I wouldn't sell this mitzvah for anything in the world. My two motivations were to save his life and be an example for my children," he said.
"My younger ones don't completely understand. The older ones said, 'Wow, that's amazing.' The real hero in all this is my wife [Nechamy]. She has been very supportive from the minute I came to her about the 12-year-old girl. For my wife it's a much bigger sacrifice. When you have nine children you need both parents hands-on. I live to make life easier for my wife and this will temporarily not make life easier for her."
A major goal of Simon's was the lesson he could provide for others. He was disturbed by the recent scandal involving Jews in New Jersey selling kidneys. "I hope that my operation taking place at the same time will show that there are good people as well, and it will be a kiddush HaShem [sanctification of G-d's name].
"I'm a rabbi and I teach my congregation and children how important it is to give," he continued. "G-d put us here to help others.... My children should see what it means to be a Jew and to sacrifice for others. I told my older children, 'You all are one of my main motivations for doing that, so that you should have an example.'
"The rabbi's greatest sermon is the way he lives his life," said Simon.
"The kidney started working right on the operating table for him. In 48 hours he had completely normal kidney function," Simon reported. "It was just an amazing experience, right up there with the birth of my nine children," said Simon. "Here's a man who was dying and now he's a healthy man. It's so rewarding to see that and to see the looks on his and his wife's faces. They said, 'What can we say? What is thank you? It doesn't begin to touch the surface.'
"I told him, 'Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity,'" said Simon. "I really feel that way. I don't want him or his wife to feel any obligation. It's my incredible honor. He shouldn't feel that he owes me anything ever.G-d could have just as easily made me the recipient."
Lawrence Milstein, a Teaneck resident who attends a class offered by Simon, said that the rabbi's deed has inspired others in the community. "We have all in certain situations turned to each other and said, 'If Rabbi Simon can donate his kidney, I can at least do such and such.' For some it is stretching to give more time and or money to worthy causes at a time when we are all feeling the economic pinch, or it is committing to being a better parent, spouse, or friend...We are certainly taking other actions in our own lives to make a positive impact."
Reprinted with permission from The New Jersey Jewish Standard
Rabbi Shaya and Rochel Tenenboim moved to Hollywood, Florida where Rabbi Tenenboim will serve as associate rabbi, and director of Adult Education and programming, and Mrs. Tenenboim will direct the Hebrew School at Hollywood Community Synagogue-Chabad Lubavitch. Rabbi Levi and Ella Potash will be arriving soon in Redwood City, California, to start a new Chabad House serving the local Jewish community of Redwood City and Woodside. Rabbi Moshe and Chanie Levin recently opened a new Chabad House in East Downtown Los Angeles, California, serving the thousands of Jews working in the Fashion district and East Downtown.
Freely translated and adapted
Rosh Chodesh, Marcheshvan, 5743 
To the Sons and Daughters of Our People Israel, Everywhere,
G-d bless you all!
Greeting and Blessing:
Coming from the month of Tishrei ... and taking into consideration the familiar saying to the effect that "as one prepares himself for the journey, so one proceeds," which is associated with the well known customs of proclaiming as Simchas Torah ends, "and Jacob went his way,"
Meaning that inasmuch as a Jew, every Jew, is, of course, a member of Kehilas Yaakov (the Community of Jacob), is now about to set out on "his way," going into the "ordinary" months of the year that are not "abundant with festivals," but are largely taken up with matters of earning a livelihood and mundane affairs, this is the time to remind him that "his way" is the way of Yaakov as it has been designated by G-d, namely, the way of G-d, the way of "All your actions should be for the sake of Heaven," as behooves a descendant of Yaakov;
Considering further that although all Jews have the same task and purpose in life - complete dedication to the service of G-d, as our Sages expressed it: "I was created to serve my Creator," yet, coming down to actual conduct they are divided into three categories: men, women, and children (of pre-Bar-Mitzvah and pre-Bas Mitzvah age). Hence, this is reflected in the resolutions which have been adopted by them respectively, during Tishrei for the entire new year.
In light of all above, and also in view of the fact that a resolution made jointly by several persons, and more so by many people, in congregation, is more certain to be carried out with greater hatzlocho [suc-cess] and in the fullest measure by each one, man and woman, I take the liberty of making the following suggestion and request, hoping that it will be acted upon:
It would surely be "right and proper and good and fitting" that "the heads of the people together with the tribes of Israel" everywhere gather together as soon as possible - men separately, as well as women and children separately (the children under their respective counselors, of course) in order to reaffirm and, especially, to decide upon the proper ways and means of carrying out in actual reality and in the fullest measure, the good resolutions which each had made during the auspicious month of Tishrei, beginning with Rosh Hashono and in the propitious subsequent days, as well as to supple-ment those resolutions, if necessary,
The resolutions relating to speech, thought (these "too" are known to G-d), and certainly actions, since action is the essential thing: the resolutions made for the entire year, may it bring good and blessing to us and all our Jewish people.
It is surely unnecessary to underscore that in regard to good resolutions and good intentions there is always the assurance that G-d helps carry them out, and, indeed, even better and sooner than one expected -
Especially if these gatherings will be associated with, and continuous to, one of the daily prayers, together with words of Torah at the opening of the gathering, and with a donation to Tzedoko [charity] during the proceedings or at the conclusion:
For then will be "brought into" the gathering the "three things on which the world stands Torah, prayer and acts of benevolence; beginning with one's self, the so-called "small world," and on to the "world" in the ordinary sense, the world in which one lives, which is in need of a very, very strong blessing from the Creator and Master of the world that it should be a world that stands firmly, and not, G-d forbid, a world that shakes and stumbles etc., particularly as of recent times.
To conclude with blessings: May G-d grant Hatzlocho that the "writing and sealing for good" and the "sealing for good" which everyone received in the month of Tishrei, should materialize in the fullest measure, in the kind of good that is revealed and obvious, throughout the coming months and days, bringing good and blessing to us and all our people, to the extent of "open wide your mouth, (state all your desires), and I shall fulfill them,"
And soon indeed bring the realization of the main and essential blessing - the true and complete Geulo (Redemption) through Moshiach Tzidkeinu.
With esteem and blessing for Hatzlocho and for good tidings, in all above -
Eat A Shabbat Meal With Your Family
In 5734 (1974) the Rebbe urged families to unite through eating Shabbat meals together. Just imagine, no t.v., no computer, no texting - what a great way to enhance communication skills within your family. Try a traditional Shabbat menu, exotic recipes or even a one pot meal. The main point is to do it together as a family.
In memory of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg and the other kedoshim of Mumbai
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The Chabad Rebbes taught that Shabbat Bereishit is a special day that has an influence on the entire year. In fact, a Jew's conduct on Shabbat Bereishit determines his conduct throughout the entire year to come.
Why Shabbat Bereishit? Because the foundation of a Jew's service the whole year long is the perpetual remembrance of "In the beginning G-d created."
G-d created the world from absolute nothingness, and continues to create it every second anew. The miracle of creation wasn't a one-time event, but an ongoing miracle by which each individual creation is constantly being sustained.
The world doesn't exist by virtue of its own right. The only reason it continues to exist is that G-d chooses to recreate it every minute.
A Jew may sometimes feel that keeping Torah and mitzvot is difficult. So many problems and obstacles threaten to hinder his Divine service! But when he reminds himself that "In the beginning G-d created," that G-d is perpetually creating the world and preventing it from falling back into nothingness this very minute, he will come to understand that nothing can deter him from serving the Creator. As every creature receives its vitality directly from G-d, nothing has the power to prevent him from observing G-d's commandments.
When a Jew thinks about "In the beginning G-d created," his personal concerns will soon be forgotten. He will realize that G-d is the one true Source of everything, and that only good can come from Him. And in that way he will merit to receive G-d's blessings in all of his endeavors.
And G-d created the man (Gen. 1:27)
"For this reason was man created alone, to teach you that whosoever destroys a single soul... scripture imputes cuilt to him as though he had destroyed a complete world; and whosoever preserves a single soul..., scripture ascribes [merit] to him as though he had preserved a complete world."
(Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a)
Why doesn't the Torah state after the creation of man, "and it was good," as it does after all the other things created during the six days? Every other creature was created complete, with its nature and instincts ready to be applied to the world. Man, however, was created incomplete, and it is his purpose in life to perfect himself. Human beings are given free will and the responsibility for their own development and improvement. That is why it doesn't immediately state, "and it was good" - we must wait and see how man behaves before passing judgement.
Although the Torah mentions the creation of heaven, its emphasis is clearly on earth, for that is where man is destined to fulfill his G-dly role.
(Rabbi Shimshon Refael Hirsch)
He put him into the Garden of Eden to till it and to keep it (Gen. 2:15)
In the "Seven Blessings" of the marriage ceremony, the bride and groom are blessed with the following: "Happy and joyous may you be, O loving companions, like the joy of your progenitors in the Garden of Eden many years ago." May the young couple, just embarking on a life together, be as true and faithful to each other as Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, when they were as yet the only two people in the world.
The L-rd G-d called to Adam and said to him, Where are you? (Gen. 3:9)
From this we learn that one should never burst into another person's home unannounced. Indeed, we derive proper manners from G-d Himself, Who "stood" at the entrance to the Garden of Eden and initiated a conversation with Adam before entering.
Once there lived a wealthy Jewish butcher in a town on the seaside. In his youth he had been quite poor, and had worked very hard to amass his wealth. Unfortunately, he had never had the opportunity to learn Torah, but he took great pleasure in praying and saying Psalms. He never forgot what it meant to be needy, and he constantly went out of his way to help his fellow Jews. Every Friday afternoon before Shabbat he would distribute meat and money to all the poor families in the town.
His good nature made him a favorite among not only the Jews, but also the gentiles of the town. His reputation even spread to the governor who favored him with an important appointment as the chief customs officer of the port. As such, he would collect taxes on imports and also collect a fee for his services. As one of the benefits of his job, he was also permitted to take any one item from amongst the goods. It was in the capacity of customs collector that he amassed an even greater fortune.
One day a ship arrived in port, and he went to inspect the goods on board. After he performed his duties, the captain approached him saying, "I have some especially good merchandise on board today. Something totally unique, but I am not at liberty to divulge to you the nature of this merchandise unless you want to buy it."
The butcher was very curious and asked what it was, but he always received the same reply: "I will tell you only if you agree to buy it."
"How much do you want for it?" he inquired.
"Ten thousand gold coins!" was the astonishing answer.
"You expect me to make the purchase without knowing what I'm buying?"
"That's the stipulation. I assure you, you won't be disappointed."
The butcher was all but hooked, but the captain was enjoying his power over the butcher. He was no longer satisfied with ten thousand; he raised the price to twenty thousand coins, and then forty thousand gold coins!
Finally the butcher agreed. "I will pay your price. Just show me the merchandise!
"Only after you have brought all the money," the captain answered with a grin, and off went the butcher to fetch the treasure of coins.
Even as he went to collect the coins, the butcher was doubting his sanity. He returned and laid the money on the table. The captain turned on his heel and in a few minutes he returned with the "merchandise" - Jewish men, women and children in tow - bound hand and foot.
The evil captain couldn't restrain himself, and broke out into laughter: "Aren't you happy now? What a bargain you got yourself! If you hadn't bought them, they would have been food for sharks - I certainly have no use for them!"
The butcher took the hapless people with him and left the ship as fast as his feet could carry him, lest the wicked captain have a change of heart. He kept thinking over and over again how G-d had inspired him to spend a fortune on unknown goods in order to save these Jews.
The butcher fed and clothed the former prisoners and treated them with the utmost kindness. One day he noticed a young girl from among them and thought, "This girl would be perfect for my son." The two young people agreed and preparations were made for the wedding.
On the eve of the great affair, the butcher circulated among the guests, offering a drink here, a dainty there, when he saw a young man sitting in a corner weeping.
"What is wrong? Everyone is rejoicing, why are you so sad?"
The poor boy replied, "The girl who is about to marry your son was betrothed to me before we were abducted by the pirates."
"Why did no one tell me?" the butcher asked.
"We are all so grateful to you, that no one dared disturb your happiness," the boy responded.
The butcher thought for a while, and then called his son to him. After recounting the entire story to the groom, he asked, "What do you want to do about it?"
"There is no question. Let the couple be married today as they had planned so many months ago. I will not stand in their way."
And so it was, that the entire village celebrated the marriage that very day. The butcher not only made them the wedding, but furnished them with a house and furnishing and enough money to begin a new life.
The Sages said of this man that with his forty thousand gold coins he purchased a place in the World to Come equaled only to that of the most righteous.
The birth of a Jewish child brings joy not only to his parents and extended family but to the entire Jewish people, for it signifies a step closer to the coming of Moshiach. The Talmud states that Moshiach will not arrive until "all the souls in guf" (the storehouse in which they await their descent into the physical world) have been born. The birth of a Jewish baby therefore hastens the Redemption and brings closer the blessings of the Messianic Era.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 25 Iyar, 5743-1983)