Do What I Say... | Living with the Rebbe | A Slice of Life | What's New
The Rebbe Writes | What's In A Name | A Word from the Director | Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened | Moshiach Matters
Do you remember hearing a parent, teacher or elder admonish you, "Do what I say, not what I do"? Although as children we might have considered such an instruction contradictory (and maybe it was!), as "mature" adults we can certainly understand it. After all, who's perfect? We're human. It's hard to always be "on," to always exhibit the behavior we expect of others, to walk the walk and talk the talk.
G-d, however, doesn't have that problem! He isn't limited as we are. When G-d tells us to do something, He accepts upon Himself the same obligation. And we don't have to worry that G-d will say one thing and do another!
For instance, just as Jewish men are commanded to wear tefilin each weekday, G-d, too, "wears" tefilin, though His tefilin are slightly different than ours. Whereas our tefilin speak of our love for G-d and our responsibility to obey His commands, G-d's tefilin speak of His love for the Jewish people.
This reciprocal relationship - of G-d obligating Himself to do the same commandments He has given us - is evident in the upcoming holiday of Purim, as well. On Purim we have the mitzva (commandment) of giving charity to anyone who extends his/her hand for help. Our Sages explain that on Purim, we too have the right to "put out our hand" to G-d and ask Him for our needs, even more than on any other day. As we are commanded by G-d to give to others when they extend their hands on Purim, G-d will also fulfill our needs when we do the same.
How do we put out our hand to G-d? Through prayer.
The Baal Shem Tov, founder of Chasidism, taught that on Purim one should rise early to pray and ask G-d for all of one's needs. And not only one's own needs, but one should pray on behalf of others as well.
Purim is an especially auspicious time for our prayers. In fact, we can understand just how special Purim is when we consider another important Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is often referred to as "Yom HaKippurim." This can be translated to read, "The day that is like Purim," hinting to us that what we can accomplish on Yom Kippur is only similar to that which can be accomplished on Purim!
Thus, amidst the rejoicing, merrymaking, charity-giving, hamentashen-eating, gifts-of-food (mishloach manot) sending, Megila-hearing, and dressing up of Purim, it's a truly special time to spend some minutes in heartfelt prayer. By doing so, we are putting out our hands to G-d for all of our own personal needs, and for the needs of our family and friends.
On Purim, the holiday of Redemption from Haman's evil plan, we should also make sure to ask G-d for our most personal and, at the same time, global need, the era of peace, health, prosperity and knowledge of G-d that will be initiated with the revelation of Moshiach and the final Redemption.
The Torah reading Tetzaveh, that we read this week, continues from the previous portion to enumerate the commandants that pertain to the various details of the Sanctuary. These portions contain the "instructions" on how to make the Sanctuary's vessels, as well as the holy garments that were worn by the kohanim (priests).
The very last mitzva (commandment) we are told of relates to the building of the golden altar and the incense offering that was made upon it. "And you shall make an altar to burn incense upon...every morning when he dresses the lamps...a perpetual incense before the L-rd, throughout your generations." Because the incense offering concludes the list of these mitzvot, we may infer that it was the culmination of all the different services that were performed in the Sanctuary.
Every day the incense offering was made by a different kohen. Only the kohen was allowed to enter; no other person was permitted to be present when the mitzva was performed. The kohen was alone in the Divine Presence of the Holy One.
The same holds true for the G-dly service of every individual Jew. The highest level we strive for is to serve G-d without fanfare or publicity, especially when standing alone in G-d's presence. In a certain sense, every Jew is considered to be a "kohen," as G-d commanded, "You shall be to me a nation of kohanim." Just as the kohanim were chosen to perform the service in the Sanctuary and Holy Temple, so too has every Jew been chosen to serve G-d, not only for his own sake but for his people as a whole.
The best way to perform any mitzva, particularly the mitzva of tzedaka (charity), is not under the glare of spotlights or in front of a camera. A Jew doesn't observe a mitzva in order for his good deed to be written up in the newspapers. The most perfect manner of doing a mitzva is in secret, so that only G-d and the participant are aware of it - just like the incense that was offered by the kohen in the presence only of G-d.
Furthermore, just like the incense offering in the Sanctuary, when a Jew observes the Torah's commandments in private, it likewise causes the Divine Presence to dwell in the physical world.
Adapted from Likutei Sichot of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Volume 1
One of the Guys
by Menachem Jacoby
This Shabbat marks the anniversary of the passing four years ago of a remarkable man, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak (affectionately known as "Reb Itchke") Gansburg.
When we first met, he already had a white beard. Yet the person who introduced him to me said simply: "This is Itchke." No Mr., no Rabbi, no honorifics, titles or indications of stature. Just Itchke, a loving nickname from his childhood. As I got to know him better I understood why this name suited him so well...
I saw that although he was a man of advanced years, he was extremely youthful, really just "one of the guys." On several occasions when I had the pleasure of his company in public, I noticed he would greet passersby with a gracious smile, a warm welcome that stretched straight from his heart to theirs.
I had read much about his life's accomplishments. Many of the Chabad-Lubavitch holiday campaigns and projects that today are taken for granted were the initiatives of Itchke: Giving out mishloach manot (gifts of food) at army bases, hospitals, and even street corners on Purim; making hand-baked "shmura matza" to as many people as possible for Passover, programs for war widows and soldiers, exhibits and community gatherings, all of which have become a regular part of Israeli culture and life. Itchke was instrumental in the establishment of many contemporary Israeli institutions: Reshet Schools, Chabad Youth Organization, Gan Israel Summer Camps, and more.
But what most touched me was his pure "simchat chaim" - his sheer joy of life - and his ability to view the flip side of any situation with his characteristic good humor.
A story is told that I believe typifies Reb Itchke's upbeat attitude and love of life. Mrs. Gita Gansburg, R. Itchke's wife, relates the following:
In 1973, we lived in Nazareth. During that period, we rented out our house in Kfar Chabad to the M.'s, a local family, while their home was under construction.
It was a particularly cold winter and homes at that time were heated with kerosene. The family, like many others, used a kerosene oven. One cold winter afternoon, Mrs. M. was standing outside chatting with a neighbor. Meanwhile inside the house a spark flew up from the oven, caught onto the curtain hanging nearby and within minutes the entire house was engulfed in flames.
Horrified at the sight, Mrs. M. did what any good mother would do: She ran into the flaming building to save her children. She ran from room to room in the large house extracting her children one at a time and leading them out of the house. It was only when the last child was safely outside that she realized that the raging fire was completely blocking her exit. Her only escape was to jump out of a window upstairs. Mrs. M. raced up the steps and jumped out the second floor window to safety. But between the fire and the fall she burned her hand and injured her spine.
When she was rushed to the hospital, Mrs. M. was beside herself with grief. "How will I explain to the Gansburgs that their entire house, with all of their belongings, went up in flames?" she sobbed.
Now this event took place prior to the time when people regularly had homeowner's insurance. Any items lost would have to be replaced and the house would have to be re-built from scratch, all from our own pockets!
We learned of the fire from our daughter Frady, who at the time lived in Kfar Chabad with Reb Zalman and Rochel Levin. She phoned the Lipsker family in Nazereth because they had a telephone.
Dispirited, we traveled to Kfar Chabad to see the devastation for ourselves.We could not recognize our house, so badly was it damaged by the fire.
When the neighbors noticed our arrival they came to offer their help and words of comfort. And between words of comfort some whispered about Mrs. M.'s fears of our reaction to the tragedy. Some even passed along rumors that she was willing to give us her own home as a replacement for ours.
I don't know how other people would react to this incident but I know that my Itchke maintained his original and humorous outlook even at this most difficult moment.
Right there on the spot he decided that we were going to pay a visit to Mrs. M. and find out how she was doing.
We went to the Asaf HaRofeh Hospital, straight to the room of our injured friend.
As he entered the room, Itchke called out: "What a mazel (good fortune) that out house burnt down!"
Naturally, Mrs. M. looked at him like he had gone completely mad. "What did you say?" she asked in disbelief. "What mazel??"
"Yes, yes, of course!! What mazel!" repeated Itchke, with great enthusiasm.
Grasping that this was definitely some characteristically Gansburg concept, Mrs. M. asked: "And why is this a mazel?"
Itchke bent over as if to whisper a great secret. Then he told her:
"You know that I am always busy with my various outreach activities and I have no spare time in which to learn Torah. I always worried that after 120 years I will have to answer for this. But now, when I will go to Heaven and they will ask me 'Why didn't you learn a lot of Torah?' I will answer them: 'What should I do? All my holy books were burnt in a fire!' Then I will definitely be forgiven. And all in your merit! That's why I came here today. To thank you!"
If I ever needed proof of the great and special soul which my husband possessed, I got it then and there, in that small hospital room, between the laughter and the tears.
The fun and festive holiday for young and old alike, Purim, starts this coming Saturday evening February 27 after nightfall. Call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center to find out about how and where you can celebrate Purim and fulfill all of the special mitzvot (commandments) of the day, including hearing the Scroll of Esther read on Saturday evening and Sunday, eating a festive meal, giving charity to the poor and gifts of food (mishloach manot) to friends and family.
19 Adar-sheni, 5711 
Greetings and Blessings:
This letter is intended for the entire study group which you lead, and I will appreciate your conveying same to all:
I wish to acknowledge with thanks receipt of the Shallach Monos [gifts of food to friends given on Purim] with the accompanying note. I also want you to know that I was gratified to meet several members of your group at our Purim celebration.
There are a number of topics which I should have liked to take up with you. but I must confine this letter the acknowledgement, adding but a few lines on the subject of Shallach Monos.
You are surely aware that one of the explanations of this Mitzvah (commandment) is that by observing it we rectify a corresponding transgression committed by some of our people in the days of Ahasuerus. As you are familiar from the Megillah [scroll of Esther] Ahasuerus arranged a sumptuous banquet. The food and drinks served at this feast were not kosher. At the same time degrading use was made of the holy vessels of the Beth Hamikdosh [Holy Temple] which were in the custody of the Persian conquerors. Nevertheless, some Jews participated in the banquet and partook of the trefah [non-kosher] food. Therefore, when we commemorate the downfall of Haman and the frustration of his murderous plans after the Jews had completely returned to G-d, we celebrate the festival also by sending each other Shallach Monos of ready-to-eat food and drinks, thus demonstrating our loyalty to G-d in general, and to His laws of Kashruth (kosher) in particular.
There is a more profound explanation also.
Persia, in the days of Ahasuerus, was the mightiest empire in the world. It also boasted the most advanced civilization of those days. On the other hand, the Jewish people at that time was in despair.
The Holy Land and the Beth Hamikdosh lay in ruins. The opinion was widely circulated that G-d had abandoned His people. This was supported by miscalculations purporting to show that the period of seventy years' exile prophesied by our prophets was at an end, yet the promised liberation had not come. This, in fact, was one of the reasons why Ahasuerus made the pompous feast and dared to profane the holy vessels.
Under the circumstances, when the head of the mightiest world empire and civilization arranged the royal feast, inviting to it representatives of all nations, the Jews among them, many Jews could not resist the temptation. They were not deterred by the fact that this banquet was to mark the beginning of a new "era" of complete assimilation and were deluded by the friendly slogan of "no compulsion." Thus they became a party to the profanation of the holy vessels.
Symbolically, the profanation of the holy vessels of the Beth Hamikdosh marked also the desecration of the Divine soul which forms the sanctuary of every Jew and Jewess. The purpose and mission of this Divine spark is to light up one's immediate environment and one's share in the world at large with the light of the highest Divine ideals. Far from fulfilling their soul's mission upon this earth, those weak Jews lent aid and comfort to the forces of assimilation and darkness. By partaking from the "food" of Ahasuerus they contaminated both their bodies and souls.
Purim, therefore, reminds us not to be carried away by the outer sparkle of foreign civilizations or cultures, and not to be misled into assimilation by the notion that it appears to be in no conflict with our spiritual heritage.
We are a unique people, as stated in the Megilla: "There is one people (although) scattered and spread among the people of the world, (yet) their laws are different from those of other peoples." We have preserved our unity and uniqueness despite our being dispersed in the world, because we have preserved our laws. It is by preserving our Torah and Mitzvoth that we Jews in general, and our youth in particular, can best contribute towards the enlightenment of the world at large and bring real happiness to ourselves, our people, and humanity as a whole.
To sum up. The Torah is the Truth. Therefore, there can be no other truth which is in conflict with it. It follows that anything which is in conflict with the Torah is not Truth. The purpose of science is to discover Truth. Therefore, any study which contradicts the Torah is not science but the opposite of it, and instead of leading the student to the truth, leads him away from it. Moreover, even where the science which one studies corresponds with the truth, there is no assurance that it will be applied to constructive purposes and not for the destruction of self and others, unless it is guided by the Divine truth of the Torah. Only then will the world become - as G-d intended it to be - a Sanctuary for the Divine Presence, that G-d may be manifested in it and in ourselves.
MORDECHAI is Persian, and means, "warrior." Mordechai was a member of the Men of the Great Assembly and leader of Persian Jewry during the time of the Purim story. With Haman's death, Mordechai became advisor and confidant of the King, his second in command.
ESTHER, in Persian means, "star." In Hebrew, it is related to the word meaning "hidden." Queen Esther was the heroine of the Purim story. She and Mordechai recorded the events in the Megila (scroll) for her. Esther's Hebrew name was HADASA which means myrtle.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The total triumph of the Jewish people over the evil Haman, which we celebrate on Purim, transforms the entire month - not just the day of Purim - into a day of joy and happiness.
Why is the Purim victory so amazing that it has the power to actually transform the entire month?
Haman (may his name be erased) was a descendant of Amalek, the nation that had the chutzpa to attack the Jewish people after their miraculous exodus from Egypt.
All of the nations of the world trembled at the thought of battling with the Jewish nation, except for Amalek. The Torah explains that Amalek "met" the Jewish nation during its journey. But our commentators explain that the Hebrew word for "met" - "karcha" can also mean "made you cold."
Amalek, in his insidious way, wanted to "cool off" the Jewish people from their fiery faith in G-d and Moses after all the miracles and Divine revelations they had merited.
The very name "Amalek" has the same numerical value as the Hebrew word "safek" meaning "doubt." Amalek's main goal was not to win a military victory over the Jews, but to pierce their perfect faith and strong belief by bringing in "doubts."
So you see, when, generations later, the Jews at the time of Purim were victorious over Haman the Amalekite, the ultimate victory was not over the man but over all that he stood for - coldness, doubt, skepticism, and the like.
Thus, the entire month of Adar is permeated with the joy and happiness of the Purim holiday, because the stakes were so terribly high.
May we all be victorious over our personal Amaleks this Purim until we merit the ultimate victory over Amalek at the time of the Redemption.
And you shall command (tetzaveh) the Children of Israel (Ex. 27:20)
The word "tetzaveh" is derived from the word "tzavta," meaning attachment and connection. In other words, G-d commanded Moses to be always attached and connected to the Jewish people. And because Moses sacrificed himself on their behalf, he merited that his strength would remain with them eternally.
To cause a light to burn always...outside the veil (Ex. 27:20-21)
G-d's "light" must shine within the Jew not only in the synagogue or study hall, or when he learns Torah and recites his prayers. Rather, it must illuminate "outside the veil" - in the street, in his business dealings, and in his relations with his fellow man.
And his sound shall be heard when he goes into the holy place (Ex. 28:35)
According to all the signs given by our Sages, ours is the last generation before the coming of Moshiach. In fact, our generation is termed "the heels of Moshiach," and likened to the "hem of the (priest's) robe." The hem of the priestly garment was adorned with bells and pomegranates, symbolic of Jews who do not study Torah or observe its commandments. And yet, when the priest approached "the holy place," the bells and pomegranates made a "great noise" - "and its sound was heard." From this we learn that the spreading of Judaism in our generation should be done with the greatest publicity, fanfare and "noise."
That they may keep its whole form, and all its ordinances, and do them (from the Haftora; Ezekiel 43:11)
All Jews should familiarize themselves with the "form" of the Holy Temple and become knowledgeable of its many laws and details. This state of readiness is necessary to enable us to commence building the Temple the minute Moshiach arrives. Indeed, when the Jewish people will attain this high level of faith, they will merit to build the Holy Temple in actuality.
(Tosfot Yom Tov)
World War I was into its second year and the Jews of Poland were suffering tremendous deprivation. It was almost Purim and the town of Radin was plunged into darkness and despair. The rabbi of the little town was Rabbi Yisroel Meir HaKohen, the saintly Chofetz Chaim, a great leader of world Jewry in the early years of the century.
During this black year, conditions in Radin steadily worsened. Food was scarce, taxes were high, and worst of all, most of the young men had been drafted into the military, never to be seen again.
At the approach of Purim, one Jew came to the Chofetz Chaim and asked, "Rebbe, our lives are so miserable this year. Our sons are off at the front. How can we be expected to celebrate Purim in this joyless, suffering world?"
The Chofetz Chaim knew that the man was speaking from his own pain and his fear for the life of his own young son who was one of the draftees.
"Don't worry, my friend," the Chofetz Chaim said. "Even in these terrible and troubled times, we must not lose our faith in G-d's salvation. Even now, we must rejoice in the thought of the great miracles which He did for our people on Purim.
"Once many years ago when I was a young man in Vilna, it was Purim time and the Czar had issued a bitter decree. He ordered that the Jews must provide double the usual number of young men for the military draft. As you know these draftees, the Cantonists, were little more than children, and were pressed into military service for twenty years. After that long period of time, they often remembered nothing of their Jewishness and were totally lost to their families forever. That year, the draft fell out on Purim and the Jews of Vilna were in virtual mourning.
"However, in spite of their sorrow, the Jews of Vilna performed the mitzvot of Purim - they distributed mishloach manot - gifts of food to their friends, and tzedaka - charity to the poor. Their only consolation was in reading Megilat Esther (the Scroll of Esther), recounting the miracle of Purim, when G-d brought a sudden and wondrous salvation to His people.
"It wasn't long, though, until things became even worse. The Czar issued yet another decree against the Jews, ordering them to provide still more young men for the Russian army. All the greatest rabbis and Jewish leaders of the time petitioned the Czar to rescind this terrible decree, but all their pleas were to no avail. The young men were chosen and ordered to report for military service the following Av, the month in the Jewish year when both Temples were destroyed, the month especially marked for tragedy.
"The orders were drawn up and ready for the Czar's signature which would finalize the fate of the young men. It took only a second for the Czar to affix his name to the document, but as he reached out to blot the wet ink, his hand accidentally knocked over the ink bottle, and it spilled over the paper, obliterating his name.
"The Czar was shocked at his mistake. In his mind it seemed an omen from Above, and so he stubbornly refused to have the document redrawn. And so, these young men were freed from the terrible fate which had awaited them.
"The month of Av [which coincides roughly with August] had already begun when word of the sudden miraculous reprieve reached the Jews of Vilna. The young men, who had already prepared to leave Vilna quickly unpacked. Their families breathed a joyful sigh of relief, realizing how close they had come to losing their precious sons and brothers. That year the month of Av turned from mourning to rejoicing for the Jews of Vilna.
"How can we tell whether it was the rejoicing of the Jews in Vilna on that dark Purim when the evil decree was issued that had in it the spark of their redemption the following Av? Perhaps our joyous celebration of Purim now will be the seed of a great redemption which will follow in the same unexpected way, as G-d redeems His people once again."
The time has come to prepare the world for Moshiach. This includes settling the world through spreading the Seven Laws of Noah that all non-Jews are required to observe... Every single Jew must be involved in bringing the redemption.... This is also the other reason for the stress on the Seven Laws of Noah. Since the world has changed, and Moshiach has nevertheless not come, every individual must do everything possible to hasten his coming.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Purim, 5747-1987)