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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1107
                           Copyright (c) 2010
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        February 5, 2010         Yisro           21 Shevat, 5770

                            It's About Time

Time is relative. When you're "on hold" for the operator or customer
service rep, each minute is an endless source of annoyance. However,
when you are frantically finishing an exam, 60 seconds is far too short.
When you're late for an appointment and caught in traffic, each second
is a year. But when you're doing the finishing touches before the
"company" arrives, every second is a windfall.

Time can also stretch and shrink. For children, the months of the school
year drag on interminably while the vacation days seem to instantly
disappear. As we get older, though, we speak in terms of how "time
flies." Days, weeks, months, years, blur together. And though we feel as
if just yesterday we were in high school, we receive invitations to
attend 10, 25, or 50 year reunions.

In every day there are seconds, minutes and hours. And every instant of
all of our days should be filled with meaningful pursuits. "Wasting
time" is not a phrase traditionally found in the Jewish lexicon. One
might even go so far as to say that time is not ours to waste. For the
Jewish concept of time is that it is a precious gift given to us by G-d.
As the saying goes, "The past is history, the future is a mystery. Today
is a gift. That's why it's called 'present.'"

Not using the gift of time in a manner deemed appropriate by the
Gift-giver is, in essence, saying that the gift is not valued. Time not
used, or not used properly, is lost; and lost time can never be

Time, Chasidic thought teaches, must be guarded. Every bit of time, each
day that passes, is not just a day but an entire lifetime. As Jewish
teachings express, "The day is short, the work is much... and the Master
is pressing." (Avot 2:15)

The "day" referred to in the above teaching is a person's lifetime. When
a person realizes the nature of the work before him - to conduct his
entire life in accordance with the Master's will - he understands that
one day, one lifetime, is indeed short.

And because life is so short, we must make use of every moment: the
moments of our days and of our nights; the moments of our youth and of
our maturity; the moments when we have the vigor to "burn the candle at
both ends" and the moments when the candle is flickering and fading.

A thoughtful incident about  time and the last moments of a candle's
light is told concerning Rabbi Yisrael Salanter. One evening, Rabbi
Salanter passed the house of a shoemaker, and saw him working by the
light of a candle that was almost dying out.

"Why do you work so late?" Rabbi Salanter asked. "The candle will soon
go out, and you won't be able to do anymore."

"It does not matter that the candle will soon go out," the shoe-maker
replied. "While the candle burns, I can still make repairs."

Rabbi Salanter was deeply impacted and concluded, "A person works for
material sustenance all the while that the candle is burning. So, too,
should he work for the needs of his soul and repair as much as he
possibly can as long as the lamp of G-d, which is the soul of person, is
still burning."

    This issue of L'Chaim marks the 22nd yartzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya
    Mushka. The numerical equivalent of the Hebrew letters of her name
    is 470, the same as the numerical value of the Hebrew word "eit" -

This week's Torah reading, Yitro, narrates the giving of the Torah at
Mount Sinai. About this central event in the  history of the Jewish
people the Torah states,  "And G-d spoke all these words, saying." Our
commentators ask a logical question: What is the meaning of the
seemingly superfluous word "saying"?

Throughout the Torah, wherever the word "saying" appears, the intent is
for those words to be transmitted and repeated to those Jews who were
not present at the time when G-d uttered them.

However, at the giving of the Torah, every single Jew was present.
Everyone was there at Mount Sinai, everyone heard the Ten Commandments -
even the souls of Jews yet to be born in future generations were
present. Why then, in this instance, does the Torah employ the word

The Maggid of Mezeritch, Rabbi Dov Ber, successor of the Baal Shem Tov,
answered this question as follows:

"Vayedabeir - And G-d spoke" alludes to the Ten Commandments.

"Leimor - saying" alludes to the Ten Utterances by which G-d created the

The intent of the verse "And G-d spoke all these words, saying" is that
the Torah was given for the purpose of drawing down the Ten Commandments
into the Ten Utterances of the physical world, i.e., that the light of
Torah would illuminate the world to such an extent that it is perceived
on the physical plane of existence.

This job was given to the Jewish people when G-d gave them His Torah.
Our task as Jews is to cause the light of Torah ("And G-d spoke") to
illuminate the world ("saying"). We must never think that the Torah and
the world are two separate entities. It isn't enough to conduct
ourselves according to Torah when studying and praying. Rather, the
light of Torah must be brought down to even our most mundane affairs.
Everything a Jew does, no matter how worldly, must be carried out in
accordance with the Torah's dictates and performed in a spirit of

This, then, is the core of the giving of the Torah: bringing the light
of Torah, the Ten Commandments - "And G-d spoke" - not only into the
realm of Torah, but also into the realm of physical existence, into the
world that was created by the Ten Utterances - "saying."

                              Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Volume 1

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                           A Time to Reflect

    The following two stories came into our mailbox just in time for
    this special issue marking the 22nd yartzeit (anniversary of the
    passing) of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, wife of the
    Lubavitcher Rebbe. It is surely Divine providence that we received
    these stories now, as both the Mitzva Tank and the L'Chaim
    publication are projects that were established in memory of
    Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka.

                              by Larry L.

The first time I saw a Mitzva Tank was in 2007 on Park Avenue and 53rd
Street in Manhattan. As I hurriedly walked along the sidewalk, a young
Chasid asked me if I was Jewish. An extremely detached and secular
inclination within me impelled me to respond with an emphatic "no,"
after which I kept walking on.

It was nearly a year later when I was again "accosted" by one of these
upstart Chasidim. However, this time, as I walked along Park Avenue, I
was in mid-freefall toward the depths of despair. This time there was no
hesitation. "Yes. Yes, I am Jewish."

I was escorted across the street to a custom-made RV, also known as a
"Mitzva Tank," where I was greeted warmly by two Lubavitcher Chasidim
and a young boy. One of the Chasidim wrapped tefilin around my arm and
my head and assisted me with the recitation of the Shema prayer.

It was not long afterward that I was introduced to the person who was to
become my rabbi. He turned me on to Judaism and Chasidic teachings. I
can honestly say that since the moment when I first stepped foot in the
Mitzva Tank, my life has improved steadily, although in a measured pace,
as I have learned more about Jewish teachings and observance.

The second blessing in the Amidah prayer which I now recite three times
daily, praises G-d as the One "worthy to restore the dead." My
interpretation of this reference is the "spiritually dead." I was one of
these. I have since been restored to spiritual life, thank G-d! I have
begun to observe Shabbat and mitzvot (commandments). My otherwise busy
days are interspersed with prayer, Torah study, and the performance of
mitzvot. Shabbat is my Island in Time and I consider it a treasure.

My life has purpose and meaning and everyday is spent involved in acts
that remind me of G-d's warmth and graciousness.

Miracles do occur and they are the work of our Creator. Clearly, the
Mitzva Tank is an important instrument for G-d's sublime intents. I
thank you all and wish you continued fortification in your pursuits.

                                *  *  *

                       by Rabbi Zushe Silberstein

As an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Montreal, I regularly visit a
number of jails in the Montreal area. Each Friday, before Shabbat, I
visit the inmates in the Bordeaux Jail. This past Friday, one of the
inmates was especially glad to see me. He asked me to make sure to have
a few moments so that I could speak with him privately. Near the end of
my visit, he pulled me aside and excitedly told me the following:

"Rabbi Silberstein, when you were here last Friday, I had wanted to
spend a few minutes privately with you, because there were a number of
things that I had wanted to discuss with you.

"You came and spoke with all of us Jewish inmates together, as a group.
As usual, you gave each one of us a copy of the L'Chaim publication.
Before we knew it, the time was up and we were all escorted back to our
cells. I was really disappointed that I hadn't had a chance to speak
with you privately.

"When I got back to my cell, I took out the L'Chaim and began to read
it. Rabbi, all three of my questions that I had wanted to ask you were
answered in that issue of L'Chaim! One question was to ask you what
advice you could give me in my relationship with my girlfriend, and the
front page article was all about the importance of honor, esteem and
respect in relationships! The other two questions were similarly
answered in that same issue!"

I must tell you that for some of the prisoners whom I visit, the L'Chaim
has literally changed their lives. It is their one bit of Jewish
teachings, their one link to Judaism, each week.

One fellow had, unfortunately, been in prison for quite a while. Each
week, he would save the L'Chaim I gave him until he had quite an
impressive collection! Recently he was released and is now living in our
rehab center, Maison Bellfield. One of his most proud possessions that
he took with him out of jail is his collection of L'Chaims.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             New Emissaries

This year, 47 couples became emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in
Israel. Today, in every major town and city there are Chabad Houses,
with many emissaries in smaller communities, as well. Rabbi Yisrael and
Chanchy Kugel moved recently to the West Side of Manhattan where they
will be especially involved in creating programming for Jews who had
little or no involvement in Jewish activities until now. Rabbi Tzali and
Chana Mala Borenstein will soon be arriving in the North East of
Toronto, Ontario, specifically the Durham Region,  where they will
establish a new Chabad House serving the Jewish community in the cities
of Pickering, Ajax Whitby and Oshawa.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                         2 Tammuz, 5730 [1970]

After the long interval, I was pleased to receive your letter of last
week, with the enclosures.

For various reasons, I am replying in English, one of them being that
you may wish to show the letter to some of the friends of Chabad in your
community, for whom Hebrew text may not be so easy.

Referring to the main topic of your letter, namely the dissemination of
Yiddishkeit [Judaism] among the Jewish women, I can hardly overemphasize
that this activity is one of the most basic and vital efforts for the
general strengthening and spreading of Yiddishkeit. The role of Jewish
women in Jewish life goes back to the time of Matan Torah [the giving of
the Torah], as is well known from the commentary of our Sages on the
verse, "Thus shalt thou say to the House of Jacob, and tell the children
of Israel - the 'House of Jacob' meaning the women." (Mechilta on Yisro
19:3 quoted Rashi on this verse.)

In other words, before giving the Torah to the whole people of Israel,
G-d told Moshe Rabbeinu [Moses] to first approach the women, and then
the men. This emphasizes the primary role of the Jewish wife and mother
in preserving the Torah. Ever since, and throughout the ages, Jewish
women have had a crucial role in the destiny of our people, as is
well-known. Moreover, the Jewish housewife is called the Akeres Habayis
- "the foundation of the house." In addition to the plain meaning of
this term, namely, that she is the foundation of her own home, the term
may be extended to include the whole "House of Israel," which is made up
of many individual homes and families, for, indeed, this has been the
historic role of Jewish womanhood.

Being acutely aware of this role of Jewish women in Jewish life,
especially in the most recent generations, my father-in-law of saintly
memory, frequently emphasized this, so much so that immediately after
his liberation from Soviet Russia in 1927, when it became possible for
him to publish his teachings, he published a number of discourses, talks
and addresses in Yiddish, in order to make them more easily accessible
to Jewish women and daughters. There is no need to elaborate further on
the obvious. In the light of the above, and since this has been the
consistent policy of all Chabad activities, it is hardly likely that any
Chabad worker would not be interested in this area, and there can only
be a misunderstanding if this is the impression in the particular case.
I am confident that by discussing the matter together, it will soon be
discovered that there has been a misunderstanding, and the reasons that
have given rise to such a misunderstanding could be cleared up and
easily removed.

Needless to say, you may show this letter to whom it may concern. I may
add, however, that judging by your writing, that person seems to have a
heavy burden of activity on his shoulders, and this may be the
explanation why little has been done in the area of disseminating
Yiddishkeit among the women as you write, simply for lack of manpower
and time, etc. At any rate, I trust that you will get together and clear
this matter up, in accordance with the verse - Az Nidbiru Yirei Hashem
["So shall those who fear G-d speak"], etc....

I was pleased to read in your letter about the advancement in your
position, and may G-d grant that you continue to advance from good to
better and best, since there is no limit to the good. In our days there
is the additional important consideration, and that is when a Jew, a
Shomer Torah and mitzvoth [one who observes the Torah and its
commandments], attains prominence in his field, regardless what his
field may be, this gives him an additional opportunity and capacity to
spread and strengthen Yiddishkeit, all the more so a person who is
already active in the dissemination of traditional Yiddishkeit of the
Torah and mitzvoth.

May G-d grant that you should have good news to report in all above, and
together with your wife, to bring up your children to a life of Torah,
Chuppah [marriage] and Good Deeds, in good health and happy

With blessing,

P.S. Acting on your request, this letter is being sent to you on a
priority basis.

                            A CALL TO ACTION
                           Do Positive Deeds

On the yartzeit (anniversary of the passing) of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka
Schneerson in 1990, the Rebbe encouraged the following: "The yahrzeit
should, as is Jewish custom, be connected with deeds undertaken in
memory of the departed. The Hebrew expression for this intent, l'ilui
nishmat, means 'for the ascent of the soul.' Our deeds help elevate the
soul of the departed. Then, the higher levels that the soul reaches, are
drawn down and influence this world....Also, it is proper that gifts be
given to charity in multiples of 470, the numerical equivalent of the
Rebbetzin's name.

    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 anniversary of the passing of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka
Schneerson, wife of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and daughter of the Previous
Rebbe. Extremely modest, queenly in bearing, sensitive, compassionate
and intelligent, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka was the embodiment of Jewish

After the Rebbetzin's passing in 1988, the Rebbe began to speak about "a
new era" having commenced. Although the Rebbe had always stressed our
generation's unique role in preparing the world for Moshiach, at that
point the Rebbe declared that the only thing left in our Divine service
is to actually greet Moshiach himself.

As the Rebbe further explained, this "new period" we are now in is
especially significant for Jewish women and girls, whose task is not
only to establish a "dwelling place for G-d in the lower realms" (as is
every Jewish person's), but to ensure that it is a "beautiful" dwelling.
When a "beautiful dwelling" is established, G-d "puts Himself" into the
dwelling in an entirely different manner, not just "dwelling there" but
uniting with it, as it were. G-d's dwelling place in the lower worlds
becomes not only nullified to the "Owner," but one with Him.

This is reflected in the special mitzvot of Jewish women and girls, with
their emphasis on light (Shabbat and Yom Tov candles), purity and
holiness (kashrut and the laws of family purity), and warmth (providing
children with a Torah-true Jewish education, the main objective of which
is to instill enthusiasm for Judaism). In other words, Jewish women and
girls are the ultimate "interior decorators" in establishing a
"beautiful dwelling."

In these last few moments of exile, it is therefore crucial that all
Jewish women and girls be aware of their tremendous role in hastening
the Final Redemption, which will come "as reward for the righteous women
of the generation."

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Because the L-rd descended on it in fire (Ex. 19:18)

The giving of the Torah at Sinai is closely associated with fire, to
teach us that a Jew should always worship G-d with a fiery enthusiasm,
eagerness and warmth - the ability for which was conferred at Mount

                                           (Sefer HaMaamarim, 5701)

                                *  *  *

And Mount Sinai was altogether smoke (ashan) (Ex. 19:18)

The three letters of the word ashan, ayin-shin-nun, stand for olam
(world - the dimension of place); shana (year - the dimension of time);
and nefesh (soul - the energy that animates the physical plane). The
revelation at Sinai signified that from that point on we were given the
ability to refine and elevate these two dimensions (through Torah and
mitzvot - commandments), and infuse them with a G-dly light and

                 (Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism)

                                *  *  *

Honor your father and your mother (Ex. 20:12)

A basic principle in Judaism is that a person should always acknowledge
and appreciate the good that is done for him. When a person considers
that his father and mother are the reason he exists, having brought him
into the world and taken care of him as a child, he will realize that it
is only right that he repay their efforts to the best of his ability.
This will, in turn, lead him to a greater appreciation of G-d, the
Father of us all going back to Adam.

                                                  (Sefer HaChinuch)

                                *  *  *

It states in Psalms (128:6), "And may you see children born to your
children; peace upon Israel." The way of the world is that children
always complain that their parents aren't providing them with enough. It
isn't until they grow up, have children of their own, and hear the very
same complaints that they begin to understand their parents, and there
is "peace on Israel."

                                                       (Alei Zayit)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Years ago in the city of Minsk there lived a man named Shmuel Nachum.
Although his main occupation was studying Torah, his mind was so acute
in business matters that he became an arbiter and legal advisor in all
sorts of business disputes. In fact, this is how he made a comfortable

Shmuel Nachum and his wife had one surviving daughter, named Devorah, on
whom they doted. Devorah was an unusually bright child and her father
assumed total responsibility for her education. By the age of eight she
was studying the Chumash (the Five Books of Moses) and the Prophets. Her
progress continued and by age ten she knew the whole Bible and began
learning Mishna and the Code of Jewish Law. In addition she learned
mathematics, Polish, and was able to read and write. By the age of
fifteen she was studying Talmud with the commentaries of Rashi.

At 18, Devorah married a fine young man and was a happy new bride. Her
husband succeeded in business and she shortly gave birth to two girls
and one boy. Suddenly, tragedy struck her in a series of terrible blows.
Her two little girls died in an epidemic and within the same year her
husband also died. Broken-hearted, the young widow returned to her
parents' home with her little son. But three years later, her son also,
was taken from her.

What did Devorah have left to live for? All day she tried to hide her
grief from her parents, but from time to time she would closet herself
in her room and weep for hours. After some time she realized that she
must take charge of her shattered life, and she threw herself into her
studies more than ever. She also began to involve herself in the social
welfare of the local women.

Together with two of her childhood friends, Devorah established
study-circles among the young women of Minsk who had not been as
fortunate as she in learning Torah. Indeed, her learning groups became
popular and spread throughout the city, making her a sought-after
lecturer. Devorah found great solace in her work for, in helping others,
she at the same time stilled the dull pain in her aching heart.

One day her father was approached by a certain man named Tzadok Moshe
with a suggestion for a match between Devorah and his rebbe, a notable
Torah scholar from Vitebsk named Nachum. Devorah expressed an interest
in meeting the man, and it was arranged that he should travel to Minsk
to meet this extraordinary woman. Within a short time they became
engaged and thus began a new episode in the life of this unusual woman.

Having been used to the high level of Torah scholarship amongst the
women of Minsk, Devorah was appalled at the ignorance of the women in
Vitebsk, and she set about remedying it. Again she arranged
study-circles as she had in Minsk. In addition, she established
institutions for the sick and needy. She was very happy in her new life,
filling her time with study, social service and managing her husband's

Nachum was not merely astonished to find that his wife was such a
capable manager of his business affairs, but her extensive Torah
knowledge astounded him! He began to realize more and more what a
treasure he had in such a wife, and his respect and admiration for her
increased enormously. He began to realize what a change her coming had
made, not only in his own home which had become a veritable "Open House
and Council of Wise Men," but in Vitebsk at large, where her influence
was felt and appreciated in every sphere of social and educational
activity! What he did not know was that Devorah found time every day to
study Talmud and that she was studying it in its entirety for the second

Devorah was not satisfied to concentrate on the women alone; her
ambition was to see Vitebsk as a whole become a center of Jewish
learning. To that end she devised a plan in which a number of promising
students from the small Vitebsk yeshiva would be supported to learn in
one of the great yeshivas in another town where they would prepare
themselves to serve their home town upon their return. In the interim,
she convinced her husband to import and maintain at his own expense, a
group of teachers and their families to come and educate the people of
Vitebsk. This plan took time to implement, but within a year ten
teachers were installed in Vitebsk and the sweet sound of Torah could be
heard throughout the whole town.

Devorah had made her home in Vitebsk for ten years and her dream of
making it a Torah center was slowly becoming a reality due to her
efforts, foresight, and rare abilities.

                      Adapted from the Lubavitcher Rebbe's Memoirs.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
Redemption is intrinsically related to women. Kabala explains that the
Sefira (Attribute) of Malchut ("sovereignty") reflects the feminine
dimension. During exile, Malchut is in a state of descent and does not
receive direct influence from the other Attributes. Conversely, in the
Era of the Redemption, "a woman of valor [will be] the crown of her
husband" (Proverbs 12:4). The higher source of Malchut will be revealed,
the direct bond between Malchut and the other Attributes will be
reestablished, and Malchut will become a source of vital influence,
renewing the totality of existence.

                   (Shulamit Tilles, The Jewish Feminine Dimension)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1107 - Yisro 5770

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