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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1123
                           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.
        June 4, 2010            Sh'lach           22 Sivan, 5770

                            Wash Your Hands!

Hand-washing and hand-wringing - two closely associated activities. One
indicates cleanliness, courtesy, attention to details and to health. The
other indicates indecision, weakness of character, even fear or guilt.

It's almost as if we wring our hands when we can't wash our hands - when
we are dirty - physically, emotionally, psychologically - and can't rid
ourselves of the dirt, we wring our hands. When we can cleanse
ourselves, we are no longer insecure and on edge.

A new scientific study confirms the power within washing our hands, how
the simple act gives us ease of mind, and makes us comfortable with our

The study focused on how we react after we make a decision. It is human
nature to want to be right. So once we make a choice we often
rationalize our decision, to make ourselves comfortable with what we
have decided - even beyond reason.

This difference in perception - between what we know we did and how we
wish to view our decision - is called "cognitive dissonance" - call it
the perceived distance between desire and reality. (There may be none,
but if we perceive a gap, for us, it's there.)

Scientists conducted an experiment, testing the effect of hand washing
on cognitive dissonance.

It reduced it. In other words, people who washed their hands after
making a decision were more comfor-table with the choices they had made.

One of the scientists concluded that the "hand-washing effect" applies
not only to "intense, morally profound situations, but that it reduces
the influence of past behaviors and decisions that have no moral
implications whatsoever."

Nevertheless, we know that Judaism teaches that no act, no behavior, no
decision is without moral implication. Everything we do - indeed,
everything we say or think - has, by definition, a moral implication,
since being moral is what truly distinguishes a human being. A moral
person - a person of mitzvos - is an individual aware of the potential
goodness or holiness in every act, every word, every thought.

And so we should not be surprised that the Torah and our Sages were
aware that hand-washing has a transformative power - not just the
potential to clean the dirt off our hands, but to remove the spiritual
impurities we may have collected, even unwittingly, throughout the day.

In Temple times, the priests had to perform a ritual washing of the
hands before performing the service in the Temple - perhaps symbolizing
the removal of spiritual doubts and uncertainties. And today, before we
eat a meal with bread, before making the HaMotzi blessing, we too wash
our hands, in a way bringing our perception - that the world is a
separate independent existence - more in line with the reality that the
world is dependent on the G-dly force that gives it life.

And, from one perspective even more significant, our Sages instituted a
ritual washing of the hands immediately upon waking - without a
blessing, before getting dressed, even, if possible, before getting
completely out of bed! (For this reason, many keep a cup and basin by
their bedside.)

This wake-up washing removes the spiritual impurities that accumulated
during the night, removes, at least ritually, the moral doubts, and
allows us to declare, with the first words out of mouth, Modeh Ani - I
offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully
restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.

This week's Torah portion, Shelach, contains the account of the twelve
spies sent to scout out the land of Israel. Upon their return they
announced, "We will not be able to go against the people, for they are
stronger than we - mimenu."

Our Sages explain that the Hebrew word "mimenu" may also be interpreted
"than him" - than Him! The spies insisted that the Canaanites were even
more powerful than G-d, Who had promised the land to the Jews.

How could they have made such a statement? The 12 spies were men of
distinction and piety. Furthermore, the entire Jewish people had just
witnessed the greatest open miracles - the exodus from Egypt, the
splitting of the Red Sea and the manna from the sky. Why wasn't the
spies' report simply discounted, instead of being given such credence?

When the spies insisted that the Land was too well fortified to be
conquered, Calev stood up and calmed the people. "Don't worry," he
insisted. "The same G-d who performed all these miracles for us will
continue to guard His people. Let us go up at once, without fear!"

"But," countered the spies, "there we saw the nefilim, the sons of
Anak!" Who were these nefilim, that their mention threw fear into the
hearts of the Jews? The great commentator, Rashi, explains that the
nefilim were people of gigantic stature, descendents of two angels who
had descended to earth many years before during the generation of Enosh.
Their very name - "nefilim" - attests to their descent, from the root
word meaning "to fall."

Yes, conceded the spies, G-d is certainly more powerful than mere
mortals. But can G-d prevail against the nefilim and their higher level
of spirituality? The nefilim had even survived the great flood which
destroyed the rest of the world. These two angels, who came down into
the world with the best and holiest of intentions, were unable to
withstand the lure of the material world. They and their descendents
ended up degraded and debased. If angels, the spies contended, have
failed, how much more so will we if we even attempt to conquer the Land.
Let us simply reject the material world and remain in the wilderness!

To this, two of the spies, Joshua and Calev, replied, "No, this is not
G-d's plan. G-d wants us to live in the physical world, performing
physical mitzvot (commandments). 'Do not fear...for G-d is with us'."
Angels may not be equipped to deal with this world, but we are even
higher than the angels, for we possess a G-dly soul in a corporeal body.
We have the power to fuse the physical with the spiritual, by performing
concrete mitzvot which bring holiness into the world and make it a
dwelling place for G-d. Thus, we can withstand any negative force, not
only emerging triumphant, but transforming those very forces into
instruments of good.

                   Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                         Enhancing Achievement
                      by Eliyahu and Malka Touger

Professor Yirmeyahu (Herman) Branover achieved world-wide renown as an
authority on magneto-hydrodynamics. Research in this area of alternative
energy technology is carried out by a limited number of highly trained
professionals. Raised in the then Soviet Union, Professor Branover's
published research had won him an international reputation in this field
in the '60s.

Along with his work on hydrodynamics, Professor Branover has a dynamic
Jewish heart. He applied for an emigration visa to Israel, knowing that
it would mark the end of his professional career in the Soviet Union. He
was dismissed from his post at the Academy of Sciences in Riga and
prevented from continuing his research.

During this time, he was exposed to the Torah and mitzvot (commandments)
by members of the Lubavitch Chasidic underground. When he was finally
allowed to emigrate from the Soviet Union to Israel in 1972, he was
already fully observant.

After moving to Israel, Professor Branover was in constant demand as a
lecturer, but not only in his profession. He was frequently invited to
lecture on science and Torah. Campus audiences around the globe were
extremely interested to hear an internationally renowned scientist
reconcile his belief in the Torah with the supposed conflicts emerging
from modern science.

"In the winter of 1973," relates Professor Branover, "I was on a lecture
tour in the United States. Towards the end of the two-month tour, Rabbi
Avraham Shemtov requested that I add the University of Pennsylvania to
my itinerary. My wife and I were both weary from the constant travel,
but our commitment to spread Torah motivated us to agree.

"Shortly before the scheduled date, I was privileged to visit the Rebbe
at yechidut (a private meeting). Among other matters, I mentioned the
trip to Philadelphia. The Rebbe inquired about the details of the
program and commented: 'During your stay in Philadelphia, do not forget
to introduce yourself to a local professor who has an interest in your

"The Rebbe's statement baffled me. I was well acquainted with the names
of the American scientists involved in magneto-hydrodynamics and I knew
the universities with which they were associated. I was certain that no
Philadelphian was familiar with my field.

"I made the trip to Philadelphia following the busy schedule of
lectures. On the morning of my arrival, when Rabbi Shemtov met me at the
train station, I spoke about my encounter with the Rebbe. I mentioned
the Rebbe's strange remark and added that it appeared to be an error.

" 'The Rebbe does not make mistakes,' Rabbi Shemtov said emphatically.
'Allow me to assist you in locating the scientist.'

"Rabbi Shemtov convinced me to visit Temple University and the
University of Pennsylvania and to check the faculties of these
institutions. After many hours of searching, we were introduced to
Professor Hsuan Yeh. It was a refreshing change of pace to engage in a
sophisticated discussion with a person who was clearly knowledgeable in

As we concluded our conversation, Professor Yeh said: 'In six weeks
there will be a Magneto-Hydrodynamic Energy Convention at Stanford
University in California. Although the program is already finalized, I
will insist that your name be added to the list of lecturers. A
colleague who has arrived so recently from Russia should be given the
opportunity to present his thoughts.'

"I looked at him in surprise. 'Didn't you just say that the program was

Professor Yeh added with a smile, 'You see, I am on the program

"I appreciated the Professor's offer, and yet I graciously declined,
explaining that both my wife and I were anxious to return to our home in
Israel. The trip had already been extended more than we would have

"I returned to New York and we prepared to return home. Just before
leaving, I wrote the Rebbe a report of our trip to Philadelphia,
mentioning my encounter with Professor Yeh. Once again, the Rebbe made
an unexpected statement. He advised me to reschedule my plans and to
accept the invitation, for the convention presented an important

"My wife and I were taken by surprise by the Rebbe's response. Despite
the need to rearrange our plans, we were acquainted enough with the
Rebbe to value his advice. I called Professor Yeh, who was happy to
arrange for me to deliver a lecture.

"The significance of my participation at the convention became clear
very rapidly. I met two representatives of the Office of Naval Research
in Virginia who had read about my work, and who were prepared to finance
further research. They added, 'We understand that you want to establish
your laboratory in Israel, and we are willing to provide you with funds
for your work there.'

"As a result, I set up a laboratory in Beer Sheva, which gained
worldwide recognition for its magneto-hydrodynamics research. My
contract with the Office of Naval Research was renewed six times since
that original grant. I could not have imagined at that point how
valuable and far-reaching the Rebbe's advice had been.

           From To Know and To Care, published by Sichos in English

                               WHAT'S NEW
                           Saying Mazel Tov?

Modern medical wisdom recognizes that good health depends on a patient's
emotional state and mental attitude. For centuries, it has been
customary for Jewish women to adorn both the birthing room and the
cradle with Psalm 121 (Shir Lama'alot). The Psalm states our declaration
of dependence upon the Creator for our safety and well-being, and His
commitment to guard us at all times. To get a color print of the Psalm
call LEFJME at (718) 756-5700 or e-mail

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                          13 Iyar, 5738 (1978)

I am in receipt of your letter of May 18, in which you write about your
present state and feelings towards Jews, Yiddishkeit [Judaism], the
Torah, etc., which you blame on the attitude towards you on the part of
the yeshiva and its students.

Needless to say, the connection is most surprising, for it is plain and
obvious that a Jew, whoever he may be, who believes in the Torah and
does his best to observe its mitzvoth [commandments], does so because of
his personal commitment to G-d's Torah and mitzvoth, which were given to
each and every Jew at Sinai, and as our Sages tell us, the souls of all
Jews of all generations were present there and accepted the Torah and

Hence, if a Jew should declare, G-d forbid, that he does not accept the
Ten Commandments because his friends or teachers do not conduct
themselves as they should, I do not think that anyone will say that this
is a proper or sensible approach.

To put it a different way: If a teacher whom you respect will say that
two times two is five, it is incorrect; and if a teacher whom you do not
respect will say that two times two is four, it is nevertheless correct,
for truth is independent. Judging by your writing, there is surely no
need to elaborate to you on what is evident.

As for your complaint about your friends' attitude towards you -- it is
also clear that neither I nor anyone else can make a judgment on this
without first hearing what both sides have to say.

Now, let us assume - from your point of view - that you have reason to
complain; surely you know, and must have seen it yourself in other
situations where people have a disagreement, that in every dispute
between two people it is impossible that one should be 100% right and
the other 100% wrong. It would be rare indeed, if it ever happened,
although one does not have to be 100% right to win his case: 99% against
1% is also sufficient.

But when one of the two parties who is personally involved, and
consequently subjective, claims to be 100% right and all the others 100%
wrong, this is most extraordinary. Don't you think that someone who
examines the whole situation objectively may find you also wrong, at
least to the extent of 1%?

If this be very likely, how is it that you didn't mention anything about
it in your letter, not even by as much as a hint?

All that has been said above is by way of response to your writing,
dealing with the "letter" as distinct from the "spirit."

The crucial point, however, is that it suffices to consider the fact
that Yiddishkeit, Torah and mitzvoth, and the Jewish people have
survived 3,500 years of persecution, pogroms, the Holocaust, etc., (our
nation is alive and thriving to this day, while many powerful nations
and "civilizations" have disappeared without a remnant) - to be
convinced (despite your assertions in the beginning of your letter) that
the Torah is Toras Emes [the Torah of Truth], and its mitzvoth are Emes,
and that "they are our life and the length of our days," both for the
Jewish people as a whole and for every Jew individually.

It is also self-understood that G-d desires Jews to observe His mitzvoth
not for His benefit, but for the benefit of the one who live s in
accordance with G-d's Will.

In light of the above, I hope and trust that you will do all that is in
your power to learn the Torah with devotion and diligence and to fulfill
the mitzvoth with extra "beauty" - not because I or anyone else tells
you to do this, but because it is the truth itself, as has been amply
verified by the uninterrupted history of our people from generation to

And although this is an obvious "must" for its own sake, it is also the
channel to receive G-d's blessing for success in all your needs, as well
as for your parents and all your dear ones.

                            WHAT'S IN A NAME
YOSEF (Joseph) means, "G-d will add."  Yosef was one of the twelve sons
of Yakov from his wife, Rachel (Genesis 30:24).  There were many great
sages with the name Yosef.  A variant form is Yosi, the name of many
Jerusalem and Babylonian scholars.  Yosel is the Yiddish diminutive

YEDIDA means "beloved of G-d."  Yedida was the mother of King Yoshiayahu
- Josia (Kings II 22:1).

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
Summer is a great time for kids. Without the pressures of school,
children have the opportunity to spend their summer vacation in
enjoyable and educational pursuits. The summer schedule is particularly
suitable for children to grow spiritually, by attending a day or
overnight camp with a vibrant, exciting and Torah-true Jewish

Each year, without exception, as the summer approached, the Rebbe
emphasized the importance of Jewish children attending Jewish camps. The
amount that a child can learn in the summer, unencumbered by the pursuit
of reading, writing and arithmetic, goes far beyond what he can
accomplish at any other time of year. And, as this knowledge is being
imparted in an atmosphere of fun and excitement, in an environment
totally saturated with Jewish pride, it remains with a child long after
the summer months are over.

It's still not too late to enroll your child in a Jewish camp. And it's
certainly not too late to facilitate other children attending a Jewish
camp if you do not have camp-age kids. By calling your local
Chabad-Lubavitch Center, you can find out about a summer camp experience
for someone you know whose benefit will last a lifetime.

By the way, adults, too, should take advantage of the more relaxed
atmosphere of summer to revitalize and nourish themselves Jewishly. Try
a Jewish retreat or even just a weekly Torah class to enhance your
Jewish pride and knowledge.

And may this summer be our last one in exile and our first in the Era of
the Redemption.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make fringes on the
corners of their garments...and that they put upon the fringe of the
borders a thread of blue (Num. 15:38)

This was done in ancient times; today, however, we do not know how to
make this blue dye, and all eight threads of the tzitzit (fringes) are
white. Symbolically, blue alludes to fear of G-d and avoiding the
negative ("depart from evil"). White alludes to love, and the service of
doing good deeds ("and do good"). From this we learn that in our times,
the primary thrust of our Divine service must consist of love and
positive actions.

                                                   (Likutei Sichot)

                                *  *  *

And it shall be to you for fringes, that you may look upon it, and
remember all the commandments of the L-rd (Num. 15:39)

Rabbi Meir explained: The Torah uses the singular "it" rather than the
plural "them" because it is referring here to the Divine Presence:
"Whoever fulfills the commandment of tzitzit is considered to be
greeting G-d's countenance." The "blue thread" resembles the sea, which
resembles grass, which resembles the sky, which should remind the wearer
of the Throne of Glory.

                                        (Jerusalem Talmud, Brachot)

                                *  *  *

Making a sign to remind oneself to do something is always helpful and
appropriate. A person shouldn't rely on memory alone, regardless of
whether the obligation is physical or spiritual.

                                                    (Peninei Torah)

                                *  *  *

That you may remember, and do all My commandments, and be holy to your
G-d (Num. 15:40)

Said Rabbi Chanina ben Antignos: Whoever observes the mitzva of tzitzit
will merit to live in the times about which the Prophet Zechariah said,
"In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men from the nations of
every language shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, We will go
with you; for we have heard that G-d is with you."

                                                   (Yalkut Shimoni)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Rabbi Elazar ben Shamua was a great Sage in the times of the Talmud.

The Midrash relates that on one stormy day he was walking along the
beach. As he gazed out on the wild sea he saw a ship sinking beneath the
waves. It seemed to him that a small speck was floating on a plank,
traveling parallel to the shore.

He strained his eyes on that point and realized that the speck which
clung to the wooden board was a person.

Finally the plank with its dripping passenger landed ashore. The man,
having been stripped of his clothing by the waves, hid himself among the
seaside plants which clustered on the beach. But when he saw the Jews
passing along the shore he called out to them, "Please, take pity on me
and give me some clothing. I was tossed up on this beach by the vicious
storm which carried away all that I had. I am one of the sons of Esau,
your brother. Please help me."

But to his horror, no one showed the least inclination to help him. On
the contrary, several men laughed at his predicament, answering, "May
all of your brethren be similarly tossed about," and continued on their
way. The Edomite was cold and exhausted from his ordeal. Finally, Rabbi
Elazar ben Shamua approached, and the man called out again in despair,
"Sir, I can see that you are a respected person amongst your people.
Surely you appreciate that some respect must be given to G-d's
creatures. Please give me some garment to put on to cover my nakedness.
All of my clothing was torn from me by the storm which I barely

Rabbi Elazar was a very wealthy man. He was wearing seven beautiful and
costly garments, one of which he took off and gave to the man. Then he
took the Edomite to his home where he revived him with food and drink.
He presented the man with 200 dinars, set him in his carriage and drove
him towards his home, all with the greatest kindness and respect.

After some time, the king of that land died and the people chose the
Edomite as their new king. Hatred for the Jews burned in him, and one of
his first decrees upon assuming the throne was to issue a terrible
decree against them - that all the men be killed and the women be taken
as wives by whomever wished. A long time he had waited to take revenge
for the carelessly cruel remark: "May all your people be tossed around

The Jews were panic-stricken. How could they convince the new king to
annul his deadly decree? They went to the Torah Sage and leader, Rabbi
Elazar ben Shamua, who was known for his great wisdom and begged him to
intercede on their behalf with the king.

"I will go to the palace and try to speak with him," Rabbi Elazar
agreed, "but you know that no authorities do anything without payment."
The people collected the tremendous sum of 4000 dinars and gave the
money to Rabbi Elazar; perhaps he would succeed in buying their lives.
Rabbi Elazar set off on the long journey to the royal palace, ransom
money in hand.

When he arrived in the capital, he went to the palace where he asked to
be announced to the king. Permission was granted and he was led into the
throne room. When the king recognized Rabbi Elazar, he threw himself at
the Sage's feet crying, "Why have you troubled yourself to travel this
great distance to see me, my benefactor?"

"I have come to intercede for the Jews, to beg you to cancel your decree
against them."

"You are a great rabbi. Tell me, are there any falsehoods in your

"No," replied Rabbi Elazar. "Everything in the Torah is true and just."

"I will ask further: Is it not written 'An Ammonite and a Moabite shall
not enter the congregation of G-d because they met you not with bread
and water on the way'? And also does it not say that 'An Edomite thou
shalt not abhor, for he is your brother'? I am an Edomite, and yet the
Jews showed me no pity in my darkest hour of need. Therefore they
deserve the death penalty."

Rabbi Elazar listened to all the king said and then replied simply, "You
are correct that they sinned against you, but still, show them

The king agreed to obey Rabbi Elazar, but he said, "No king annuls a
decree for nothing."

"The people have given me 4,000 dinars for your majesty. Please, take
them and redeem my people."

"I will take those 4,000 dinars and I hereby present them to you in
payment for the 200 dinars you so kindly gave me. Furthermore, to reward
you for giving me your cloak, I present you with 70 robes from my royal
storehouse. In gratitude for the food and drink with which you restored
my soul, I will redeem your people. Now, return to them in peace, for if
it were not for your kindness, they would have no reprieve from my

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
In the Era of the Redemption, Israel will be divided into 13 portions, a
portion for each tribe including Levi. The tribe of Levi did not receive
a portion in Israel, for the Levites were set aside to serve G-d and to
instruct the Jewish people. This applies in the present era, when the
material nature of the world prevents a person from being both totally
dedicated to G-d and simultaneously involved in the world. In the Era of
the Redemption, however, there will be no need for the Levites to set
themselves aside from worldly involvement. Thus, they too will receive a
portion of the Land.

                (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Shabbat Shelach, 5751-1991)

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1123 - Sh'lach 5770

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