Holidays   Shabbat   Chabad-houses   Chassidism   Subscribe   Calendar   Links B"H
 
 
 
The Weekly Publication for Every Jewish Person
Archives Current Issues Home Current Issue
                                  B"H
                                 -----
                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1116
*********************************************************************
                           Copyright (c) 2010
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
                             --------------
                  Electronic version provided free at:
                          www.LchaimWeekly.org
                          --------------------
                  Palm-Pilot version provided free at:
                www.LchaimWeekly.org/lchaim/5770/1116.prc
                          --------------------
                    To receive the L'CHAIM by e-mail
                  write to: listserv@LchaimWeekly.org
                              Subscribe W1
*********************************************************************
             THE WEEKLY PUBLICATION FOR EVERY JEWISH PERSON
   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
*********************************************************************
        April 16, 2010       Sazria-Metzora        2 Iyyar, 5770
*********************************************************************

                          Lesson from a Story

Told by the Lubavitcher Rebbe at a public gathering on 11 Nissan, 1983.

A true story. A story of a Jew who unknowingly started a chain of events
whose ripple effects he could never have imagined.  A Jew blessed by G-d
with great wealth, who takes an occasional vacation on his yacht. He
employs a captain, a non-Jew, to sail the yacht.

The time for prayer arrives. Jews face towards the holy city of
Jerusalem during prayer, towards the east. He does not know where east
is on the ocean. He asks the captain.

Prayer time again. Again the same problem, where is east? Again he asks
the captain. And so with the third time he prays, and the fourth.

The first time he asks, the captain pays no special attention. When the
employer keeps on asking the same question, the captain becomes curious.
His employer is not the navigator. Why is he always interested in
knowing where east is? He asks him.

The Jew is not ashamed. "I am a Jew," he answers. "I want to pray to
G-d. Prayers pass through the site of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. So I
must face that direction, which in this part of the world is east. Each
time I pray I need to know where is east."

The captain is impressed. This is a successful man, wealthy enough to
own a yacht and hire a captain. Yet he considers it proper to interrupt
his affairs to pray to G-d - and to bother to face the correct
direction. "I will also begin to think of G-d and pray to Him," exclaims
the captain.

Later, the captain told the yacht owner that ever since he decided to
pray to the Creator, he has also told his family and friends about
praying to G-d. "If all the people in the world would think about their
Creator," concluded the captain, "the world would not be the jungle it
is!"

A Jew can influence non-Jews to acknowledge the Creator and ruler of the
world, and to therefore conduct themselves according to the Seven
Noachide Laws. Moreover, as seen from the story, such influence is
effective just by a Jew being proud and firm in his religion. The yacht
owner did not intend to influence the captain. But because he conducted
himself properly, his influence was automa-tically felt. He could not
know of the ripple effect he would cause merely by asking where was
east. And because of him, a non-Jew began to think about G-d, conduct
himself more righteously - and in turn, lead others in the same path.
All because of one Jew's actions.

On a deeper level: The world is like a ship sailing in stormy seas,
steered by the governments of the world. But appearances are misleading.
It is not they, with their plans and strategies, who determine its
course and destination. The course of the world is determined by the
spiritual, not the physical. The governments who conduct the world's
affairs are the captain who steers the ship. They steer the ship; the
Jew, through his perfor-mance of mitzvot, charts the course.

And this is what the story of the yacht teaches. It seems the non-Jewish
captain is the master, for he controls the rudder that steers the ship.
Yet it is the Jewish owner who is truly master, and it is the owner who
directs the yacht's destination.

The owner of the yacht is wealthy, and "there is no wealthy person
except in [Torah] knowledge." Through Torah, the Jew can influence the
world, can chart the course. Just as the yacht owner, through acting
according to the Torah's teachings, influenced the captain, so too Jews,
through standing firm in performing mitzvot, can influence the nations
to acknowledge the Creator and Master of the world.

*********************************************************************
           LIVING WITH THE REBBE  -  THE WEEKLY TORAH PORTION
*********************************************************************
The name of a Torah portion is indicative of its contents and theme. The
name of the first of this week's two readings, Tazria (literally "when
[she] shall conceive") is therefore surprising at first glance, as the
entire portion deals with the affliction of leprosy rather than
conception and birth. In fact, the Biblical plague of leprosy was the
most severe form of spiritual uncleanliness, leading our Sages to
declare, "The leper is considered as if dead."

Tazria, however, is an allusion to the positive, inner purpose of all
the afflictions and punishments that are prescribed in the Torah, as
will be explained:

G-d is the epitome of goodness and loving-kindness. He doesn't punish
anyone for the sake of being punitive. His sole intention is to refine
and purify the person, to remove the "shell" that was created by his
sins, and to elevate him to a higher level. All of the Torah's
punishments, even the most stringent, are for the ultimate good of the
recipient.

This is also the inner intention of the Biblical plague of leprosy
(tzara'at), as distinguished from the modern day illness known as
Hansen's Disease. As Maimonides explains, the physical manifestations of
tzara'at were miraculous in nature, and were visited on an individual
for the sin of lashon hara (gossip). "The first symptoms would appear on
a person's house; if he repented, the house would be purified. If he
persisted in his wickedness until the house was destroyed, the leather
garments in his house would begin to change... If he persisted in his
wickedness until they had to be burned, the clothing he wore would be
afflicted." It was only if a person did not return to G-d after all
these warnings that any symptoms of tzara'at would appear on his body.

Once this happened, the afflicted person had to temporarily leave the
rest of society and dwell in isolation. The purpose of this period of
separation and reflection was to transform the former sinner into a new
entity, one that was purified and refined.

The name of the Torah portion, Tazria, thus reveals the true objective
of all the Biblical plagues: the "birth" of a new being, a purer and
holier Jew.

This is also the inner meaning of the Jewish people's exile. During the
exile, we "sow" mitzvot and good deeds that they may "grow" and flourish
when Moshiach comes. The reward we will receive in the Messianic era
will not be dissociated from our present service; on the contrary, it
will be the natural outgrowth of all the "seeds" we are planting now.

May we merit to see this immediately.

                           Adapted from Volume 22 of Likutei Sichot

*********************************************************************
                             SLICE OF LIFE
*********************************************************************
                          Unexpected Responses

The young bearded man in the dark suit hardly resembled the regular
customers of the large clothing store in a New York inner city
neighborhood. But Tony, the non-Jewish security guard, was not surprised
to see this "regular." Every week, he would come to visit Tony's boss,
the owner of the store.

"We talk about our religion," the boss had told Tony when he asked about
the visitor. "He also tells me all kinds of miracle stories about this
holy Rabbi of his who lives in Brooklyn and helps sick people. He has a
lot of admirers, this Rabbi. I heard that even the President sends him a
card on his birthday. Impressive, eh?"

But Tony wasn't thinking about the president. He thought about his own
four-year-old little son, Michael, who was suffering from a
develop-mental disorder. He did not talk, walk, or feed himself, and the
doctors had been unable to help.

"It's a far out idea," Tony thought hesitantly. "But maybe...." Still,
he could never bring himself to approach the bearded man.

One hot summer afternoon, Tony was standing listlessly at his post when
the young man walked through the door. Maybe the intense heat gave Tony
a sense of urgency. "It's now or never! I've got to ask the man to get
his Rabbi to bless my son."

After waiting nervously for the man to end his meeting with the boss,
Tony called out, "Hey sir, got a minute?"

The young man turned to the guard. "What can I do for you?" he answered
politely.

With a what-do-I-have-to-lose shrug, Tony blurted out his request. He
could see the man listening attentively and thinking as he spoke, and
then he offered to help. "But there's one small condition," the young
man said. Tony instinctively reached for his wallet.

"No, no," the young man said, waving his hand. "That's not what I
meant." Tony was surprised. Now it was his turn to listen. The man told
him about the Rebbe's campaign to begin each day with a moment of
silence, meditating upon the Creator of the World and His expectations
of man. He explained the Seven Universal Laws commanded to Noah and his
descendants which all non-Jews are obligated to observe.

"I'll write the letter about Michael to the Rebbe," the young man
concluded, "but I'd like to tell him that you're trying to earn the
blessing. Do the things that we spoke about for a week, and then we'll
see."

"It's a deal," responded Tony enthusiastically. "I'll do my thing and
you do yours. I'll think about G-d every morning and try to act right. I
swear my wife will be in on this too. Next week, we write this letter to
the Rabbi and you give it to him, O.K.?"

The next time they met, Tony vowed that he had kept his part of the
deal. "It ain't bad, thinking about G-d and all that every morning..."

The letter was written, but Tony's boss left for vacation, and it was
several months before the two saw each other again. When they met again,
Tony greeted the young man with a flashing smile. "Unbelievable! The kid
suddenly started living! He's walkin' and talkin' and he's gonna go to
school this September! Listen, would you help me write a thank-you card
to the Rabbi?"

Tony promised to tell all his friends about the miracle. He tried to
convince them to start their day with a moment of silence and to keep
those seven laws.

                                *  *  *


A colorful combination of adept professionalism, personal charm and
downright chutzpa blended in the "770" photographer, Reb Levi Yitzchak
Frieden.

Reb Levi Itche, as he was affectionately called, had visited "770" from
his home in Israel during each of the High Holidays since 1975. His
camera's lens captured many touching incidents, such as the Rebbe's
blessing of yeshiva students moments before Yom Kippur began. With one
eye on his watch, as he dared not desecrate the holiest day of the year,
and the other eye focusing his camera, Levi Itche took shot after shot
of this memorable moment.

He was so involved in his work that the Rebbe once told Frieden to tell
the yeshiva students studying at "770" that if their enthusiasm would
match Frieden's passion for photography, things would look much better.

Frieden was eager to share the scenes of "770" with other Jews in
Israel. In 1976, he held an exhibit called "770" at Tel Aviv's
journalist center, Beit Sokolov. The exhibit, which later moved to
Jerusalem and Bar Ilan University, afforded the large crowd of viewers a
mix of spiritual experience and professional expertise.

On the whole, the exhibit was highly applauded. However, one journalist
commented in the guest book: 'With all due respect to the superb
photography, the subject you have chosen is extremely clerical and takes
us back to the primitive darkness of the Middle Ages.'

"Upon my next visit to the States," Frieden continued. "I presented the
Rebbe with the guest book. Leafing through it quickly, the Rebbe noticed
that negative remark. "'Please compliment the journalist on his strength
of character. It takes fortitude to differ from all of the other
responses,' the Rebbe said, 'But tell him that not everything in the
Middle Ages was dark. Furthermore, ask him to review his own newspaper.
Today's news is not all that bright either.'

"The Rebbe then handed me a dollar, asking me to deliver it to that
journalist."

            From To Know and To Care by Rabbi Eli and Malka Touger,
                                     published by Sichos in English

*********************************************************************
                               WHAT'S NEW
*********************************************************************
                           New Centers in FSU

The inauguration of a new Jewish Community Center in Russia's
southernmost Jewish community took place this past month. The new center
is in Derbent, Russia. A new Jewish  Community Center, built on the site
of a synagogue which burned down five years ago, opened in Malakhovka, a
suburb of Moscow, in Russia.

                                *  *  *

                             New Emissaries

Rabbi Shmuli and Tzivia Brown will be opening a new Chabad on Campus in
time for the upcoming school year. The new Chabad Lubavitch House will
be serving Jewish students at universities  in Liverpool, England.

*********************************************************************
                            THE REBBE WRITES
*********************************************************************
                     Rosh Chodesh Iyar, 5731 [1971]

         To All Participants in the "Evening with Lubavitch" in
                           Philadelphia, Pa.

                            G-d bless you -

Greeting and Blessing:

I am please to extend greetings and prayerful wishes to all participants
in the Evening with Lubavitch, and particularly to the honored guests.

Inasmuch as the event is taking place in the days of Sefira ("Counting
of the Omer"), it is well to reflect on the significance of this Mitzvo
[commandment].

At first glance, the counting of days seems to be of no consequence,
since the flow of time is beyond man's control. Yet, it is obviously
very significant in that it lends emphasis to the period connecting the
two most important events in Jewish history:

Pesach - the liberation from Egyptian bondage, marking the birth of the
Jewish people; and Shevuos - the Receiving of the Torah at Sinai, where
the Jewish people became a truly free and mature nation.

Like all things with Torah, the Counting of the Omer has many aspects.

To one them I will address myself here.

Generally, the counting of things by the unit, rather than by
approximation of the total, indicates the importance of the thing. The
fact that each day, day after day for forty-nine days, a Brocho
[blessing] is said before the counting, further emphasizes the
importance of this thing - in this case the value of time. The Brocho we
make expresses not only our gratitude to G-d forgiving us the Mitzvo of
Sefira, but also our gratitude for each day which He gives us. We must
learn to appreciate the precious gift of each day by making the proper
use of it. The tasks we have to accomplish today cannot be postponed for
tomorrow, since a day gone by is irretrievable.

Secondly, while it is true that the flow of time is beyond our control,
since we can neither slow it or quicken it, expand it nor shrink it;
yet, in a way we can directly affect time by the content with which we
fill each day of our life. When a person makes a far-reaching discovery,
or reaches an important resolution, he can in effect put "ages" into
minutes. On the other hand, time allowed to go by without proper
content, has no reality at all, however long it may last.

Correspondingly, the Torah tells us that man has been given unlimited
powers not only in regard to shaping his own destiny, but also the
destiny of the world in which he lives. Just as in the case of time, the
real length of it is not measured in terms of quantity but in terms of
quality, so also in regard to a man's efforts. Every good effort can
further be expanded by the vitality and enthusiasm which he puts into
it.

Indeed, the period of seven weeks connecting the above mentioned two
greatest historic events in Jewish life, illustrates the Torah concept
of time and effort as indicated above. In the course of only seven
weeks, a people which has been enslaved for 210 years to most depraved
taskmasters, were transformed into a "Kingdom of Priests and Holy
Nation," who witnessed the Divine Revelation at Sinai and received the
Torah and Mitzvoth from G-d Himself.

"Lubavitch" teaches and exemplifies the principle of the predominance of
form over matter, of the soul over the body. It is not the quantity - in
terms of physical capacity and length of time - that is the essential
factor, but it is the quality of the effort and the infinite capacity of
the soul that determine the results.

I trust that the spirit of Lubavitch will stimulate each and all of the
participants to ever greater accomplishments in all areas of Jewish
life, both personal and communal.

With blessing for Hatzlocho [success],

*********************************************************************
                            WHAT'S IN A NAME
*********************************************************************
NOACH (Noah) means rest, or quiet.  Noach was the father of all mankind.
He was also the first to build a ship, plant a vineyard, and use a
plowshare.

NAOMI means beautiful, pleasant.  In the book of Ruth (Chap. 1:2) she
was the mother-in-law of Ruth, a convert to Judaism.  To Naomi, Ruth
said the famous words, "Wherever you go I will go."

*********************************************************************
                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
*********************************************************************
The Rebbe spoke often of how important the Land of Israel is to the
Jewish people and about the importance of maintaining possession of
every inch of the land, saying:

"Just as the Jews are G-d's chosen people, Eretz Yisrael [the Land of
Israel] is G-d's chosen land, a holy land given to the Jewish people,
those living on the land at present, and those who are presently living
in the Diaspora. No one is entitled to give up any portion of Eretz
Yisrael to gentiles. Maintaining possession of these lands is the only
path to peace. Succumbing to the pressure to surrender them will only
invite additional pressure, weakening the security of the Jewish people
and exposing them to danger. Heaven forbid that the government in Eretz
Yisrael should consider surrendering any por-tion of Eretz Yisrael which
G-d has granted us."

The Rebbe's approach to Eretz Yisrael could almost be described as that
of "L'chatchila Ariber." L'chatchila Ariber means, "to begin with, go
over."

This concept was innovated by the Rebbe Maharash (Rabbi Shmuel, the
fourth Chabad Rebbe), whose birthday is celebrated this Friday, 2 Iyar.

The approach of L'chatchila Ariber teaches that if we come upon an
obstacle to a task we are involved in, or an obstacle to a mitzva or
project or good deed which comes our way (or we pursue), we should
overcome the obstacle in the most direct manner.

The Rebbe Maharash explained that while some people propose that when
confronted with an obstacle the best route is to go around, or under it
- and the Rebbe Maharash says: "And I say one has to go l'chatchila
ariber [from the start, go over it]."

May our pursuit of Torah and mitzvot be in a manner of "l'chatchila
ariber." Surely this fortitude and persistence will have its desired
effect, true peace in the Land of Israel, and throughout the entire
world, with the revelation of Moshiach, NOW!

*********************************************************************
                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
*********************************************************************
And I will place the plague of leprosy upon a house in the land of your
possession (Lev. 14:34)

One commentary states that to a certain extent a plague on a house after
the Jews entered Israel was a good thing because the Amorites, who had
lived in Israel previously, had hidden gold in the walls of their
houses. When the Jews had to break down their walls because of the
plague, they found the gold. This is a lesson for all of us. Every Jew
has treasures hidden deep within. When he sins, he is neglecting the
treasures that G-d has instilled within. When a Jew is given a plague,
it reminds him to repent, which brings him closer to G-d. In that way,
the hidden treasures are revealed.

                                                   (Likutei Sichot)

                                *  *  *


When a woman conceives and gives birth (Lev. 12:2)

The potential contained within a seed is virtually limitless. When
properly nurtured, a seed will develop into a mature tree, which, in
turn, will yield more seeds with the potential for growth and
regeneration. Our service of G-d must be performed in a similar manner.
A good deed must not be self-limiting; a Jew must always strive to
ensure that his actions have far-reaching effects, bearing fruit in the
next generation as well.

                                              (Likrat Shabbat, #22)

                                *  *  *


And the priest shall take one of the sheep and offer it as a guilt
offering (Lev. 14:12)

A guilt offering was generally brought for transgressions of sacrilege.
The leper, who had committed the sin of slander and haughtiness, was
guilty of such sacrilege against G-d. "He who commits a sin in private
drives away the Divine Presence." A person who whispers his gossip,
glancing right and left to see if anyone else can hear, has forgotten
that there is an ear above that hears every word that is uttered.
Likewise, a haughty person also causes the Divine Presence to depart, as
it states, "Both he and I cannot dwell in the same place."

                                                           (Sforno)

                                *  *  *


On the subject of afflictions, the Talmud states, "A person sees all
defects, except for his own," meaning that we are sometimes blind to our
own faults. The Baal Shem Tov explained that when a person notices a
spiritual defect in another, it is a sure sign that he suffers from the
same problem himself, at least to a small degree. The Hebrew verse can
also be read, "All defects that a person sees in his fellow, are his own
defects."

*********************************************************************
                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
*********************************************************************
The Rebbe Maharash (Rabbi Shmuel, the fifth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch)
carefully scrutinized the chasid who had just entered his room for a
private audience. "Tell me," he asked, "have you allotted time to learn
Torah with others?"

The chasid shifted uneasily. A talented silversmith and skillful
watchmaker, he had traveled for many days from his town, Vladimir, to be
with the Rebbe, and this private audience was definitely the culmination
of his visit.

No, he explained, he had not scheduled any learning sessions with
others, but he was not to blame. He had just taken up residence in
Vladimir and the Jewish population there was comprised of boors, through
no fault of their own. They were descendants of the Cantonists - the
Jewish children who had been brutally kidnapped from their
grief-stricken parents to serve forcibly in the Czar's army, eventually
forgetting the sacred laws and rituals of their youth.

There were only two villagers capable of officiating as cantor; the
chasid was the only one in the entire community learned enough to read
from the Torah, and it was his sacred duty to prepare the weekly Torah
portion. This, besides his daily private study schedule and business,
argued the chasid, left him with no additional time to teach others.

"I do not understand you," said the Rebbe Maharash disapprovingly. "For
what reason did you leave your previous residence in Polotsk - which is
famed for its religious adherence - and exchange it for Vladimir, a
wilderness barren of Torah study and observance of mitzvot
(commandments)?"

The chasid agreed wholeheartedly. Polotsk had been an exemplary place to
live, inhabited by exceptionally pious people who filled its synagogues
from dawn till dusk, and whose yeshivot boasted advanced levels of
religious education of no small repute. But what could he do? His
business had deteriorated steadily and he barely eked out a meager
existence in Polotsk. Besides, he had expressly asked for and received
the Rebbe's consent and blessing to move to Vladimir. The blessing had
materialized to the fullest extent with his business succeeding beyond
his wildest dreams.

"You are mistaken," said the Rebbe Maharash, "thinking that you were
sent to Vladimir for business purposes. Whoever believes in G-d and
Divine Providence can, and must, understand that G-d does not uproot a
G-d-fearing family from a place of Torah to an irreligious environment
for material reasons. This notion stems from your misconception of your
purpose. In truth, your purpose is not to work with silver and watches
but to spread G-d's Torah and its commandments wherever possible. Your
move to Vladimir was Divinely orchestrated to enable you to teach and
inspire the masses, whether the knowledgeable soldier or the illiterate
Cantonist children."

The Rebbe Maharash continued, "Have you forgotten the teaching of the
saintly Baal Shem Tov that a soul descends to this physical world for 70
or 80 years to do another Jew a favor, a physical favor and especially a
spiritual one? He who assumes that his steps are predestined according
to his material needs is lacking in his faith. Cannot the same Divine
blessing rest in Polotsk as in Vladimir? My blessing for your material
success was intended to accompany your own efforts in disseminating
Judaism; without it, my blessing will come to nothing."

"Let the reader beware," wrote the Previous Rebbe, who recorded this
story in a letter to one of his followers, " do not read this story as
if it were just another anecdote, entering one ear just to exit the
other. Rather, let the words of the Rebbe Maharash permeate his very
essence, and let every person ask himself - what am I doing to fulfill
the Divine mission that has been entrusted to my care in the place which
has been Divinely ordained for me?!"

                             Reprinted from Beis Moshiach Magazine.

*********************************************************************
                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
*********************************************************************
Many people await the coming of Moshiach and the "better days" it will
bring. In truth, however, these are the best days there are. What
Moshiach will do is reveal the hidden goodness of our present-day
existence.

    (Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch  - Sefer HaSichot 5704, p.93)

*********************************************************************
            END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1116 - Sazria-Metzora 5770
*********************************************************************

Current
  • Daily Lessons
  • Weekly Texts & Audio
  • Candle-Lighting times

    613 Commandments
  • 248 Positive
  • 365 Negative

    PDA
  • BlackBerry
  • iPhone / iPod Touch
  • Java Phones
  • Palm Pilot
  • Palm Pre
  • Pocket PC
  • P800/P900
  • Moshiach
  • Resurrection
  • For children - part 1
  • For children - part 2

    General
  • Jewish Women
  • Holiday guides
  • About Holidays
  • The Hebrew Alphabet
  • Hebrew/English Calendar
  • Glossary

    Books
  • by SIE
  • About
  • Chabad
  • The Baal Shem Tov
  • The Alter Rebbe
  • The Rebbe Maharash
  • The Previous Rebbe
  • The Rebbe
  • Mitzvah Campaign

    Children's Corner
  • Rabbi Riddle
  • Rebbetzin Riddle
  • Tzivos Hashem

  • © Copyright 1988-2009
    All Rights Reserved
    L'Chaim Weekly