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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1094
                           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.
        November 6, 2009         Vayera        19 Cheshvan, 5770

                         Just A Little Reminder

We've come a long way from tying strings around our fingers as reminders
that we have to do something important.

Modern technology has brought us bells in our cars so we remember to put
on our seat belts; watches and computers that can be set to chime if we
mustn't forget to make an important phone call or be at an appointment;
voice mail and email where we can leave messages when we're away from
our desks to be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Of course, long before the onset of every holiday or celebration, card
shops remind us of the upcoming special day and enjoin us not to forget

Blackberries and Outlook calendars have replaced PDAs and
"old-fashioned" paper calendars as the way to keep track of where we
need to be and what we need to do at any given moment

Throughout the year, we also come across reminders of Jewish holidays
and, by extension, our Jewishness. From the local supermarket's ad
promoting honey, gefilte fish and Shabbat candles around Rosh Hashana,
to American Greetings' and Hallmark's attempt to get us "in the spirit"
before Chanuka, commercialism sporadically reminds us of our Judaism.

But with weeks since the High Holidays and over a month until Chanuka,
we can all use a daily reminder, at the very least, of our Jewishness.

Jewish reminders, a.k.a. mitzvot (commandments), come in all shapes and
sizes. Daily mitzvot can take literally a second or as long as you like.
But, in keeping with our fast-paced lives and the quick reminders modern
technology and consumerism afford us, we'll mention just a few
moment-taking mitzvot that can be done on a daily basis and will enhance
our Jewish living.


 *) Putting a coin daily in a tzedaka box (except on Shabbat and
    Jewish holidays).

 *) Touching or kissing the mezuza on your front door before leaving
    or entering your home.

 *) Saying the Shema prayer before retiring at night.

 *) Reciting a blessing before sipping that coffee or gulping down
    the Snapple, or spring water (The blessing is "Baruch Ata Ado-ni
    Elo-haynu Melech Haolam, Shehakol N'hiya Bidvaro - Blessed are You,
    L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, by whose word everything came
    into being").

 *) Listening to a pre-recorded Torah class. They last anywhere from
    3 minutes to 30 and you can call your closest Chabad-Lubavitch
    Center to find out your local number.

 *) Taking a moment to contemplate the blessings and good you have in
    your life and thanking G-d for them.

 *) Doing a good deed or kind act specifically to bring the

We shouldn't wait until we're so inundated by non-Jewish symbols or
holidays that we establish Jewish bells, chimes or messages as a
reaction to the onslaught. And, of course, Jewish reminders don't have
to be limited to those times during the year when the more external
reminders are absent.

This week's portion, Vayeira, contains the account of the "binding of
Isaac," Abraham's tenth and most difficult test. Commanded by G-d to
sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, Abraham responded with alacrity and
devotion, but at the last minute was prevented from carrying out his
task by a heavenly angel. "And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked,
and behold, behind him was a ram...and he offered it up for a
burnt-offering instead of his son."

Abraham intoned the following prayer at every stage of the service as he
offered the animal: "May it be Your will that this action be considered
as having been performed on my son." Abraham was not content to merely
offer the ram instead of Isaac; he prayed for his actions to be
considered by G-d as if he had actually sacrificed his son.

It was then that the angel called out to him again: " 'By Myself have I
sworn,' says G-d, 'because you have done this and have not withheld your
son, your only son, I will greatly bless you and make your descendants
as numerous as the stars in heaven.' " Abraham's offering was so
favorable to G-d that He swore in confirmation of the blessings He would
bestow on Abraham and his children.

What was so special about the offering of the ram, and why did the angel
call out only after it was sacrificed? And, why was it so important to
Abraham for G-d to consider it as if Isaac had been offered, as
originally commanded?

The explanation for this lies in the difference between a person's
willingness to do something and the actual performance of the deed. A
person willing to sacrifice his life for the sanctification of G-d's
name is not on the same level as one who actually does so.

When Abraham was commanded by G-d to sacrifice his son he was willing to
obey without any hesitation whatsoever. When it came to actually
performing the deed, however, Abraham was prevented from doing so.
Abraham could therefore be credited with only the willingness to carry
out G-d's will, but not with the actual deed. It was for this reason
that Abraham prayed so insistently for G-d to consider it as if Isaac
himself had been sacrificed.

Because of Abraham's extraordinary devotion in this regard he merited
G-d's sworn affirmation of the blessings He would bestow. A blessing can
be averted by a person's transgressions, but a sworn oath uttered by G-d
can never be abrogated. This oath, in the merit of the "binding of
Isaac," has stood the Jewish people in good stead throughout the
generations, and will attain complete fruition when, "your descendants
shall inherit the gates of their enemies," with the coming of Moshiach
and the Final Redemption, speedily in our day.

                    Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                           A Taste of Yeshiva

    Ed.'s Note: After reading this you won't want to wait 'til summer to
    experience "Yeshivacation." And you don't have to! Winter
    Yeshivcation is just around the corner (See etc. below).

                            by Randy Diamond

A group of us from the Waxman Chabad House of Beechwood, Ohio, were
planning our seventh annual summer Yeshivacation trip.

I remembered back to our first trip when my friend David Kottler and I
saw the advertisement on our shul's bulletin board. The ad promised
unlimited learning and relaxation in the serene Catskill mountains. We
would be together with full-time yeshiva students in there twenties as
well as "older guys" like ourselves. We knew immediately that this would
be a perfect getaway; David and I had had our share of ski trips, golf
trips and other types of "guys trips" and we were open to a new
experience. Over the years we have encouraged others from our shul to
join us.

Our itinerary has become somewhat set at this point. We drive from
Cleveland straight to the Rebbe's Ohel (resting place) in Queens. Next,
what trip would be complete without a visit to one of NYC's best kosher
steak houses? By evening we have made it to the campground in the
Catskill Mountains, and we're ready for a few days of learning and

The first morning when we get up (class begins at 8:00 a.m.) and emerge
from our cabins, we know that once again we have made a smart decision
to return this summer.

There are three rabbis who have been teaching every year, Rabbis Yaakov
Goldberg, Yosef Boruch Wircberg and Yaakov Osdoba. All of the rabbis are
special people, excellent teachers, and we look forward to
re-acquainting ourselves with them each summer. (They claim our visit is
the high point of their summer probably because what other nuts would
come from so far away like this!!)

Throughout the rest of the day there is  davening (not hurried prayers,
like those back at home where everyone is rushing off to work) and
classes, with alternatives for more advanced and less advanced. We use
some of the free time to visit local towns and sample some of the
scenery and fare, all of which never seems to disappoint.

By nighttime, though the meals are good quality camp fare, we make our
own barbeque with steaks we've brought from NYC. Later in the evening,
there is always a fabrengen (gathering). This year's farbrengens were
all led by Rabbi Goldberg, who related many great stories and Torah
thoughts which have been gleaned from his 41 years at Hadar Hatorah. We
never wanted them to end.

Eventually, Shabbat comes. A truly wonderful meal is set, and there is
lots of singing, dancing, and just some short words of Torah. In  the
first few summers that our group attended Yeshivacation we would arrive
on Sunday and leave before Shabbat. When we decided to extend our stay
to include Shabbat, we realized that in the past we had made a BIG
mistake!! Shabbat at Hagar Hatorah in the Catskills is unforgettable.
The spirit is fantastic, more singing and dancing and great stories
about the Rebbe.

On Sunday we say goodbye to the rabbis and their families, and all of
the new and old friends we have made. Our only regret , every year, is
that we don't stay longer.

As we re-join our families back in Cleveland we each do our best to
share the experiences with our wives. What did you do... what did you
learn... are you glad to still be shlepping up there every year? (Maybe
they're just happy to get rid of us for a few days, though I like to
think that they really do enjoy seeing how much we look forward to this
trip each year and how each of us grows Jewishly from the experience.)

We strongly encourage other shuls to organize their own small groups and
you will see how you will love it. You will probably start coming each
year just as we  have.

                                *  *  *

                            by David Kottler

In our hectic, action-filled lives, striving for many material things, a
persistent part of our soul keeps calling out for tranquility, a closer
connection to our Creator, a deeper understanding of the meaning and
value of the lives we live and the actions we pursue.

Chasidic teachings explain that for water to be pure, it needs to be
connected to a source, like a wellspring. This is analogous to our
connection with the Rebbe as well as the encouragement to "spread the
wellsprings" of Chasidut.

This is the feeling I get when I pull into the long driveway at our
home-away-from-home, Hagar Hatorah in the Catskills. There is actually a
beautiful river running through the property, and a gazebo overlooking
the river, where I had my first class one morning eight years ago.

That was one of many very profound and impactful classes (studying
Chasidic teachings before davening) where the teachings and the words
resonated very deeply. The lesson that day was that G-d blesses us
beyond all our efforts, like the dew, for our attempts to study his

Our most recent trip started with an early morning class by Rabbi
Goldberg, the senior rabbi, on a subject I had been struggling with for
months. How can we daven better, and what types of meditations or better
yet, how do we meditate on the greatness of G-d and His unity?

The words that morning were as the Torah describes, sweeter than honey
and more valuable than silver or gold. Rabbi Goldberg brought to life
the teachings of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism.

I strongly encourage everyone to experience what the "Yeshivacation" can
do for you and your soul by spending some time there. It is plugging
into and becoming recharged with the inspiration that carries us through
our "daily lives" back home with our families and communities.

                               WHAT'S NEW

It's time to treat yourself to a unique and meaningful vacation! This
winter Hadar Hatorah Men's Yeshiva and Machon Chana Women's Institute
can take you on a journey to the warm reaches of your Jewish soul. The
Yeshivacation program is being held from December 23 through January 3,
2010 in the Lubavitch community of Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
Yeshivacation is an intensive learning program for Jewish men and women
from all walks of life, at all levels of Jewish study and observance. To
contact Hadar HaTorah call (718) 735-0250, e-mail
or visit To contact Machon Chana call (718)
735-0030, e-mail or visit

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                     Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5736 (1976)
            To The Jewish Mothers and Daughters everywhere,
                            G-d bless you -

Blessing and Greeting:

In view of the recent events - the hijacking and saving of the hostages
held in Uganda; and the subsequent attempt of the terrorists to
perpetrate a vicious reprisal, G-d forbid, in Kushta (Istanbul),

It should be understood that these events are an indication that Jews
must, at the earliest possible, strengthen all aspects of their security
and defenses - first and foremost in their spiritual life, which is the
channel to receive G-d's blessings also in the physical aspect, namely,
to know the right ways and means that have to be undertaken in the
natural order of things, and to fully succeed in these efforts, in
accordance with the Divine promise, "G-d, your G-d, will bless you in
all that you do" - to be protected and secured from enemies, and to be
spared any undesirable happenings, G-d forbid.

The above events remind each and all of our Jewish brethren in general,
and Jewish mothers and daughters in particular - since every married
Jewish woman is called Akeres Habayis, "Foundation of the Home," and
those not yet married are to be Akeres Habayis, for which they must
prepare themselves from tender age - the following:

The present situation calls for the protection of every Jewish home.
True protection is that which only G-d provides, as it is written, "G-d
guards the city." To ensure this Divine guardianship, the home has to be
conducted in all aspects according to G-d's will.

Then the home is also an abode for the Shechinah (G-d's Presence), in
accordance with His promise, "I will dwell among them."

In addition to this, G-d has given our people a special gift wherewith
to protect the home, namely, the Mitzvah (commandment) of Mezuzah. Our
Sages declare explicitly that "the home is protected by it (the

Moreover, this protection embraces the members of the household also
when they go out of the house, as it is written, 'G-d will guard your
going and your coming from now and forever.' It is further explained in
our holy sources that the Divine Name (Shin-Dalet-Yud) written on the
back of the sacred Mezuzah parchment spells out the words, "Shomer
Dalsos Yisroel - Guardian of Jewish Doors."

Let it also be remembered that inasmuch as all Jews constitute one body,
and are bound up with one another, every Mezuzah is a Divine protection
not only for the individual home, with everybody and everything in it,
but each additional kosher Mezuzah that is affixed on a doorpost of any
Jewish home, anywhere, adds to the protection of all our people

And considering - as mentioned above - that every Jewish housewife is an
Akeres Habayis, and every Jewish girl a future Akeres Habayis, they have
a special Zechus (merit) and responsibility in the matter of Mezuzah, to
see to it that not only a kosher Mezuzah be affixed on every doorpost in
their home that is required to have a Mezuzah, but that the same be done
by their Jewish neighbors and friends, and in all Jewish homes.

I hope and pray that you will do this with inspiration and joy, which,
in addition to increasing the Hatzlocho [success] in this effort, will
also inspire many others to do likewise, and the Zechus Horabim [the
merit you brought to the many] will further stand you in good stead....

                            A CALL TO ACTION
                               Thank G-d!

How much should one thank G-d, through reciting blessings? The Rebbe
explained (22 Marcheshvan, 5751) - "A person is obligated to recite 100
blessings each day as it is written, 'Now Israel, what is it that G-d
asks from you?' Do not read 'mah' ('what'), read 'mei-ah' (100)... These
100 blessings are intended to bring a person to fear G-d, to love Him
and to recall Him at all times through the recitation of these
blessings." Visit your local Judaica store or for a
blessing guide.

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

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This Shabbat is the 20th of Marcheshvan, the birthday of the fifth
Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber Schneersohn, born in 5621 (1860).
Often referred to as "the Maimonides of Chasidut" for his terse and
practical summarizations of complex subject matter, he also founded
Yeshiva Tomchei Temimim in 1897, which continues to flourish around the

It was during the years of the Rebbe Rashab's leadership that the famous
Mendel Beilis blood libel case occurred in Russia. Accused in 1911 of
the age-old charge of ritual murder when the body of a Christian boy was
found near a brick oven owned by a Jew, Mendel Beilis, an innocent
employee, was arrested and ordered to stand trial, despite the absence
of any incriminating evidence. A two-year anti-Jewish campaign ensued,
culminating in the trial itself. The judges had been carefully selected
for their narrow-mindedness, and the jury consisted of ignorant peasants
who believed in the myth of Jewish ritual murder.

The Rebbe Rashab was instrumental in helping the Jewish defense
attorney, Oscar Gruzenberg, prepare his case, providing him with some 33
books to consult. In a letter of encouragement and support, the Rebbe
also instructed him to conclude his defense with the verse "Shema
Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad" ("Hear O Israel, the L-rd is our
G-d, the L-rd is One"). The Rebbe also gave Gruzenberg a blessing to
succeed in his objective.

Oscar Gruzenberg listened to the Rebbe's advice. At the end of his very
lengthy presentation in court, he turned to the prisoner sitting on the
defendant's bench and said, "Mendel Beilis! Even if these judges close
their ears and their hearts to the truth and find you guilty, do not be
discouraged. Be as willing for self-sacrifice as every other Jew who
ever gave up his soul for the sanctity of G-d's name with the
declaration, 'Hear O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One!'"

Mendel Beilis was acquitted.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
He lifted up his eyes... and behold, three men were standing by him
(Gen. 18:2)

To Abraham the visitors appeared as men, but to Lot they looked like
angels. Our ancestor Abraham was generous and kind, welcoming rich and
poor into his tent with equal enthusiasm. Lot, by contrast, would only
allow important people into his home. Thus there was no need for the
strangers to appear to Abraham as angels, as his hospitality extended to

                                               (Nifla'ot Chadashot)

                                *  *  *

For I know him, that he will command his children and his household
after him (Gen. 18:19)

According to Rashi, "For I know him" is "an expression of love...for he
who knows someone brings him near to himself, and knows him and
understands him." Why did G-d love Abraham so much? Unlike other
righteous people who lived before his time, Abraham understood that the
objective in serving G-d is not to attain individual perfection through
contemplation, but to actually have a positive effect on the world. G-d
knew that Abraham would "command his children and household after him"
to go in the way of the Torah, and thus loved him dearly.

                                                        (Our Sages)

                                *  *  *

And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian...laughing (Gen. 21:9)

As Rashi explains, the word "laughing" in this context denotes "idol
worship, illicit relations and murder." To a wicked person like Ishmael,
even the gravest sins were a big "joke." Isaac, however (whose Hebrew
name Yitzchak is derived from the same word meaning "to laugh"), laughed
at the petty stratagems of the Evil Inclination...

                                                  (Chidushei HaRim)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Many years ago, after the rabbi of Tchentzikov had been married for 18
years without having been blessed with children, he travelled to the
Kozhnitzer Maggid to obtain the blessing of the tzadik (righteous

When the Kozhnitzer listened to the man's request he uttered a sigh from
deep within his being. "The gates of heaven are closed to your
petition!" he cried.

"No, no! Please, you must help me!" the man wept desperately.

"I cannot help you," said the Kozhnitzer. "But I will send you to
someone else who will be able to help. You must go to a certain person
who is called 'Shvartze Wolf - Black Wolf,' and he will be the one to

"Yes, I know him," the rabbi said, "He lives in my village, and a more
coarse, miserable person you could never find."

At first the Kozhnitzer did not respond. The rabbi realized that if the
Kozhnitzer was sending him to Black Wolf, he must have a good reason.

The Kozhnitzer then quietly revealed, "Black Wolf is head of the
eighteen hidden saints whose merits sustain the world."

The rabbi sought out Black Wolf in the forest hut which was his home.
Though cognizant of Black Wolf's true identity, the rabbi was still
frightened to approach him.

He devised a ruse by which to gain admittance to his hut.

He would go into the forest just before Shabbat and when he found Black
Wolf's house, would pretend that he had lost his way. He would beg to
spend the holy Shabbat there, and under the circumstances, Black Wolf
could hardly refuse a fellow Jew that favor.

Friday afternoon he set out and as planned reached Black Wolf's hut. He
knocked on the door and the man's wife answered.

Her horrible appearance marked her as a true equal to her husband, for
never had a more hideous and unpleasant woman been seen.

Nevertheless, the rabbi begged her to allow him to stay over Shabbat.

"Very well," she finally relented. "But if my husband finds you here,
he'll tear you apart with his bare hands. You can't stay in here, but go
into the stable if you want," she croaked.

Soon Black Wolf arrived home and entered the stable, his eyes blazing
with hatred. "How dare you come here! If you set foot outside of this
stable, I'll rip you apart with my bare hands!"

The frightened Jew shivered in his boots as he beheld the terrible
visage of Black Wolf.

Suddenly the thought came to the rabbi that a tzadik is so pure that he
acts as a mirror, reflecting the image of the person who is looking upon

Thus, what he saw in the appearance of Black Wolf was nothing more or
less than a picture of his own spiritual impurity. With that, he
searched into his soul, and prayed from the deepest part of his being.
He poured out his soul and in those few moments returned wholeheartedly
to his Maker. He felt himself suffused with a warm, peaceful feeling.

Suddenly he was shaken from his reverie by the unexpected sensation of a
soft hand being laid on his shoulder. He looked up, not quite sure what
he would see, a shiver of fear passing through him. There stood Black
Wolf, but instead of his accustomed fierce exterior, he had a refined
and peaceful visage.

The visitor was ushered into the hut, which no longer appeared rough and
tumble-down, but warm and inviting. Black Wolf's wife entered with her
children, and their appearance, too, was beautiful and serene.

Black Wolf turned to his guest and said in a quiet voice, "I know why
you have come here. I know, I know. You and your wife will rejoice in
the birth of a boy. But you must name him Schvartze Wolf."

The rabbi wondered to himself, "How can I name my son after him? It is
not our custom to name after the living," but he remained silent.

The following morning Shvartze Wolf passed away.

After Shabbat, the Tchentzikover Rabbi returned home. In time, he
revealed to his congregation the hidden identity of the hated Shvartze

True to his word, a baby boy was born and he was given the strange name
"Shvartze Wolf."

In the year 1945 Jews who had survived the horrors of the Holocaust
began streaming into the Land of Israel. When the Belzer Rebbe held his
first Melave Malka (Saturday night meal taking leave of the Sabbath
Queen) in the Holy Land many Chasidim came and introduced themselves to
the Rebbe.

This story was one of those related at that first Melave Malka of the
Belzer Rebbe.

And at that memorable occasion one man stood before the assembled and
said, "My name is Shvartze Wolf ben Chana, and I am a descendant of that
child who is spoken about in the story."

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
In the future when the spirit of impurity will be removed from the
earth, Divine Providence will become manifest and revealed; at that
time, everyone will see how every single occurrence derives from G-d.

                                         (Keser Shem Tov, sec. 607)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1094 - Vayera 5770

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