Dot-to-Dot | Living with the Rebbe | A Slice of Life | What's New
The Rebbe Writes | A Word from the Director | Thoughts that Count | It Once Happened
Do you remember doing dot-to-dot puzzles as a child? To a preschooler, connecting the dots could be difficult, even aggravating. It takes patience to stay focused and complete the puzzle, especially as a young child can't see the total picture that the connected dots will create. When you were a little older (and certainly as an adult), it was easier to visualize the picture the dots would fashion even without connecting them.
Each dot stands on its own and each dot is a necessary and integral part of the whole picture.
At a public gathering, the Rebbe related the story of a young Jewish girl who, after learning about Shabbat candles, pressed her mother to allow her to fulfill this special commandment. Dot.
The Rebbe described how this ritual awakened the mother's interest in Jewish observance, pushing her to take her own steps forward. Dot.
The candle-lighting campaign is just one of many "dots" the Rebbe encouraged people to place on their own personal work of art.
Boys over Bar Mitzva and men wearing tefilin each weekday. Dot. Giving charity, even just a small coin each weekday. Dot. Loving one's fellow Jew. Dot. Married couples observing the laws of family purity. Dot. Keeping the kosher dietary laws. Dot. Having mezuzot on one's doors. Dot. Studying Torah. Dot. Having Jewish books in one's home. Dot. Jewish kids getting a Jewish education. Dot.
The dot by dot philosophy is the Rebbe's approach not just for each person's individualized illustration but for the transformation of the entire world as well. For G-d's intent in creating this world was that it be transformed into the picture-perfect era of Redemption: a pain and war free universe, where all people will live together harmoniously.
How do we accomplish such a seemingly monumental task as the transformation of the entire world to good? Through the small, good deeds - dots - of people across the globe:
"Moshiach is ready to come now," the Rebbe told CNN reporters. "It is only on our part to increase in acts of goodness and kindness." Dot.
Each individual's small strides, join the dots on the huge artwork-in-progress which, when completed, will display the Rebbe's vision that powers his leadership. It is a vision that began forming when he was just a young child, a vision of "the Redemption of the Jewish people from their final exile, a Redemption of such magnitude that through it will be understood the suffering, the terrible decrees, persecution and oppression of the exile..."
May our dots and deeds be joined to create the ultimate masterpiece with Moshiach NOW!
This week's Torah portion, Korach, describes Korach's confrontation with Moses. Korach protested: "The entire nation is holy and G-d is among them. Why do you exalt yourself over the congregation of G-d?" Why did G-d support Moses totally, bringing about a unique miracle to destroy Korach and his following?
To answer this question, we have to focus on two different approaches of leadership. One approach is based on charisma. Such a leader attracts people because he shines; he projects an image of a more exciting future. Korach was rich and he promised the people better stakes. And so, many gullible people ran after him.
Moses was tongue-tied and had trouble communicating. The people found it difficult to understand him. Nevertheless, they knew that Moses spoke G-d's truth. His source of strength was not his personal self, but rather his ability to transcend himself.
The dissonance between the feelings he inspired led to an approach-avoidance conflict. Because Moses didn't promise them glitter, they weren't overly excited about his message. On the other hand, they realized - and were constantly reminded by G-d - that Moses was G-d's messenger. He was only saying what G-d wanted him to say.
What this seems to imply is that Korach is attractive, but Moses is right. So, if I'll choose Moses, it will be with a kind of drab attitude of, "Well, this is what's going to be, so I might as well resign myself to it."
A Moses-style leader is concerned with empowering his followers to discover and fulfill their mission in life. Every person was created with a unique G-d-given purpose. A Moses does not give a person quick answers and ready solutions. Instead, he motivates him to penetrate to the depths of his being and understand G-d's intent for him.
True, this requires a person to look beyond his immediate horizons. He has to think not of what makes him feel good at the moment, but of what is genuinely right and true. That's a lot more challenging, but ultimately a lot more gratifying. For if something is right and true, even though it may require some immediate sacrifice, it will certainly lead to the person's good. Moreover, that good will be continuous, existing not only for the moment, but for the future.
Moses gives people a long-term vision that enables them to live their lives with purpose and joy. Instead of looking for an immediate high, a Moses person thinks about the goals he is living for. And the awareness of that mission endows him with vitality and joy. He is excited about living his daily life because every act he performs resounds with significance; there's genuine value in what he is doing.
In every generation, we can find leaders who are like Korach and those like Moses. Similarly, each one of us can be a Moses or a Korach - for in our homes, in our workplaces, and among our friends - all of us act as leaders at one time or another. When exercising this leadership potential, we should not focus on self-interest - neither our own or that of the people we are trying to impress - but on the higher purposes that are involved. This is what Moses' leadership teaches us.
From Keeping in Touch published by Sichos In English, adapted by Rabbi E. Touger from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
What is a Chasid?
Nosson Deitsch tragically passed away this year on Lag B'Omer, May 2. To the hundreds of young people who called him their close friend and the thousands of people he met through his years in yeshiva and at his siblings' Chabad Houses, he was the ultimate example of a Chasid of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. We share what friends wrote about this young man whose life the Rebbe inspired and whose life inspired so many.
by Chaim Bortunk
The greatness of Nosson was his smile, his warmth, his love, and his caring nature. Nosson left me with something that I will never forget, his friendship. Did he need to run over to me with a huge smile the first time we met? Did he need to greet me with a warm, shining glow and ask, "Hey, what's your name, and how are you doing"? Did he need to give me the time of day when he really didn't have a clue who I was?
Nosson made it a point to make people feel like they belonged, like they were connected, like they had a purpose! Not because he had anything to gain by doing it, but because this was the only way he knew how to act! His hardships, his pain, his suffering didn't stop his illuminating smile; it didn't stop his will or his drive to make everyone feel like they were something.
by Adam Cohen
I met Nosson one day as he wandered through my office building looking for Jews to put tefilin on. I was happy to meet with him because I had began a process of very serious introspection and religious study.
Nosson was very excited to help. We talked regularly. He would never miss an opportunity to come by when he was in town. I benefitted greatly from my conversations with him. He was always willing to help me when I needed help.
On more difficult days, I would pray to G-d saying "This is too hard for me" or "If You want me to do this then please send help." Invariably, those were the days that Nosson showed up in my office. He helped me develop the awareness that G-d controls all things, answers our prayers, and helps us to achieve things we think are impossible.
by Mendy Tzfasman
When we were about 15 years old, we were very into memorizing Tanya (the basic book of Chabad-Chasidic philosophy which is comprised of 53 chapters). A typical questions amongst all of us was, "How much have you memorized?" Nosson never told anyone. At a certain point we realized that according to our calculations Nosson had memorized all 53 chapters!
Nosson was totally non-judgmental; you could always speak openly with him. He never said a bad word or put anyone down.
It was a fact to Nosson that he was going on Shlichus (to be an emissary of the Rebbe). He used to tell me about his plans for the future. I remember him telling me that he'd bring me to his Chabad House. "You'll come - you'll see everything will be gevaldik!"
by Darrin Moses
Last Chanuka I went to Los Angeles and spent time with Nosson. There was a farbrengen (gathering) in honor of a student's birthday. While we were learning together, a student came up to Nosson and said, "Let's go to the farbrengen. You can learn later. It's a special night." I thought Nosson would suggest to continue later or even over the phone. His response: "You are right! It's a very special night - I'm learning with my good friend Darrin who always inspires me and we are going to finish and then join you, G-d willing." Nosson could have easily rescheduled the time with me so that he wouldn't miss the inspiration and camaraderie of the farbrengen. But he chose to learn with a Jew who is just barely beginning his journey. That's true love of a fellow Jew.
During Nosson's years in the yeshiva in Staten Island, his schedule was a full one, yet he'd have time for everyone, as if no one or nothing else existed. Whatever he did, whether davening (praying), learning, farbrengens, sports or socializing, he was there 100%. Nosson exemplified how one should celebrate life. Nosson had a special enthusiasm in studying about Moshiach and the Redemption. He lived every day and throughout each day.
by Meir Fellig
This year I had the privilege to be Nosson's "partner" on Fridays when we went out to encourage men to put on tefilin. Every Friday, Nosson would wake up all pumped up and excited to go. We would go into people's offices and Nosson would take a cup of coffee, sit down, and make himself at home. The people we visited loved it. One major thing I learned from Nosson was that he wasn't embarrassed to do anything as long as he knew it was the right thing.
by Yaakov Shemesh
Nosson introduced me to Chabad, he showed me what a true Chasid is - someone who cares for every Jew, who does everything for the sake of heaven, who shows a warm face to everyone, who has emuna (faith) in difficult times, who loves studying and teaching Torah and Chasidut, and much more. Nosson and I met in the Chabad Yeshiva in Staten Island around nine years ago. I studied with him every week.
I slept over his house one Shabbat; we had such a great time. I remember on the way to shul Friday night he recited parts of Tanya by heart and taught it to me, just so as not to waste time.
His warmth and kindness, representative of the Rebbe, will always remain in our minds.
by Velvel Lipskier
Last year, our students asked that we bring some senior students to the yeshiva to liven things up: "Bring Nosson Deitsch. He will make this a happening place." Nosson was a true example of bringing together heaven and earth. He was very religious, didn't waste any time, was very approachable, fun-loving and life-loving, always with an inspiring word or interesting story. My most vivid memory of him is every morning sitting at his place, earbuds in his ears, listening to classes by Chabad-Lubavitch scholars on his beloved Tanya. I know that he was truly connected to the Rebbe, writing letters to the Rebbe on a weekly basis.
by Levi Diskin
Nosson was very popular in school; people flocked to him yet he found it his mission to reach out to everyone to make them feel good. When I came in fourth grade, I didn't know anyone. He immediately helped me, making sure that I was included in class projects. He was able at such a young age to care about someone else, though it meant relinquishing his popularity. When the other children would look down at him for spending time with "the nerdy group" he didn't mind; making another happy was his priority. His signature saying: "You are awesome. I love you man. You are the best."
For a one year subscription send $38, payable to LYO ($42 Canada, $52 elsewhere) to L'CHAIM, 1408 President St., Bklyn, NY 11213
L'CHAIM ON THE INTERNET
LEARN ABOUT MOSHIACH
Visit www.moshiach.com or call (718) 953-6100
Synopsis of an interview with the Rebbe by College students from Hillel Foundations, 7 Adar, 5720 (March 6, 1960).
The Rebbe began with a statement:
The word "histalkus" does not mean death in the sense of coming to an end but rather an elevation from one level to another on a higher plane. When one has accomplished his mission in life, he is elevated to a higher plane. The significance of this for us is that everyone can now lift himself to a higher level by studying the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov and taking an example from his life.
From the very beginning, one of the first things the Baal Shem Tov did was to teach small children simple things such as bless-ings and to explain to them how they could be near to G-d Almighty - that G-d was very real for them and close to them and not far-removed in some "seventh heaven."
He worked not only with teenagers but even with six-and seven-year-old children, making them understand how G-d Almighty watches over them all the time - not only Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, but all the days of their life, and that by obeying G-d's will they would be assured of a happy and harmonious life, materially and spiritually.
The epoch of the Baal Shem Tov came after the Chmielnetzky pograms, which left the Jews in a state of dejection and despair. It was the aim of the Baal Shem Tov to encourage the Jews and to show them how they could meet the problems of their day while living a life of Torah and mitzvos (commandments).
Our present age is similar in many ways to the time of the Baal Shem Tov. One-third of the Jewish population has perished under Hitler and has been cut off from us. How great, then, is the obligation that lies upon each and every one of us to do as much as is within his power to spread the light of Torah and mitzvos in his own surroundings and throughout the world in general.
The Students then asked:
- What is the view of Chasidus concerning an after-life?
- As was explained earlier, death is not a cessation of life, but rather, one's spiritual life takes on a new dimension or is, as we said, elevated to a higher plane. This is logical and follows also from the principles of science which are consider ed to be the "absolute truth."
In science, the principle of the conservation of matter states that nothing physical can be annihilated. This table or a piece of iron can be cut up, burned etc., but in no case could the matter of the table or the iron be destroyed. It only takes on a different form.
So, likewise, on the spiritual level, our spiritual being - the soul - can never be destroyed. It only changes its form, or is elevated to a different plane.
- Is the after-life of a soul personal or impersonal?
- In conjunction with what was said before, the soul takes on a new and higher form. In this, the term "after-life" is inappropriate. Rather, it is a continuation of life. Until 120, life is experienced at one level, and at 121, 122 and 123, etc. it is carried on at another level, and thus we go higher and higher in the realm of the spirit.
- What is the role that the Baal Shem Tov played in the Chasidic movement.
- We can understand what the Baal Shem Tov did by the simile of the relation-ship of an electric power house with a lamp that is connected to it by a wire. In order to light his lamp, he must find the right switch, or push the correct button.
The soul of every Jew is a part and connected with G-d Almighty, but in order that one can enjoy the great benefits of it, the correct switch must be found for the proper button to pushed. It was the Baal Shem Tov's mission to explain and proclaim that every Jew without exception is connected with "the power house," and every one of them has a switch in his innermost, that will be found if searched for.
So also every one of us in our own work in strengthening Judaism, must try to find the switch in the soul of every Jew. One can never know what will make the connection, perhaps one word. But by this, you open up the well or inner fountain of his soul.
- What is the function of a Rebbe?
- As was said earlier, to find the switch in every Jew and help him become connected with the power house.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
"Gimmel" (the third of) Tammuz is a day destined for monumental events. Over 3,000 years ago. During Joshua's battle in Gibeon he commanded the sun to stand still until the Jewish people were successful in the fight against their enemies.
In the Book of Joshua we read: "Then Joshua spoke to the L-rd... and he said in the sight of Israel, 'Sun, stand still upon Gibeon; and moon, in the valley of Ayalon.' And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies... So the sun stood still in the middle of the sky, and hastened not to go down a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the L-rd hearkened to the voice of a man; for the L-rd fought for Israel."
The third of Tammuz is also the date, many years later, when the previous Rebbe (Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn) had his death sentence commuted and was released from imprisonment in Communist Russia to go into exile for three years, for his work in spreading the teachings of Judaism, in defiance of the authorities.
The Rebbe, quoting the Talmudic statement, "Auspicious things come to pass on an opportune day...," explains that as Joshua's command to the sun to stand still and the Previous Rebbe's release from imprisonment took place on the same day, albeit years apart, there must be a connection between the two events.
Thus, it is certain that there must be a connection between the third of Tammuz in Joshua's time and the third of Tammuz sixteen years ago, the day of the passing of the Rebbe.
On the third of Tammuz in Joshua's time, the sun remained in its place until it had fulfilled its mission: to unceasingly illuminate the world until the Jewish people had achieved victory.
The Rebbe defined his mission as the seventh Chabad Rebbe, the leader of the seventh generation: "This is what is demanded of each of us in the seventh generation - because 'All those who are the seventh are beloved'... Our divine mission is to complete the revelation of G-d's presence into its most exalted aspect specifically into this lowly world."
Simply stated, the mission of the Rebbe and of our generation is to bring about the actual revelation of Moshiach and the commencement of the Messianic Era.
It is far from coincidental that the Rebbe's passing was on the third of Tammuz. The Rebbe, like the sun, remains at his post, guiding us with his brilliant light, warming us with his wisdom, until we achieve victory in the final battle against the darkness of exile.
Moses became very angry (Num. 16:15)
The commentator Rashi translates the above as: "He was very upset." Even when Moses was attacked by two trouble-makers he was upset rather than angry. Chasidim relate that Rabbi Menachem Mendel, the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, was extremely careful not to become angry. On one occasion he was nearly provoked to anger. He asked for the Code of Jewish Law, noting that the Talmud compares anger to idolatry. "I am close to an offense which is similar to idolatry," he declared, "I will see first if my anger is permitted according to Jewish Law." By the time he had examined the question there was no more need for an answer.
And Korach gathered all the congregation against them (Num. 16:19)
When it comes to doing a mitzva (commandment), it isn't all that easy to find people who are interested. Unfortunately, however, when it comes to inciting controversy, everyone comes running.
by Rabbi Leibl Groner,
member of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's secretariat
A woman came to my office very distraught. She wanted to see the Rebbe immediately. She had just received a phone call from her sister in Israel. Her father had been diagnosed with a serious disease and the doctors wanted to operate immediately.
I told the woman that the Rebbe was not receiving people at that time. She said that it would be enough for her if the Rebbe would simply stand at his door and give her a blessing that her father would have a complete recovery. I repeated to the woman that I could not disturb the Rebbe now but would give over her message at the first opportunity. The woman was not happy with my response and knocked on the Rebbe's door herself. The Rebbe called me into his office and asked me to explain what was going on.
I told the Rebbe the entire story. The Rebbe said, "The woman knows that I am not a doctor. I assume that if she came to me for a blessing it is because she believes I have been given the ability to give blessings and advice. If she believes this, then she also needs to believe that now is not the time for me to receive people. In addition, it is not even necessary for me to stand at my door and say 'refua shleima (complete recovery)' because the doctors made a mistake and her father is not ill."
When I came out and told her what the Rebbe said, she was overjoyed.
A few days later the woman came back to my office. She had called her sister and had told her to tell the doctors not to operate because the Rebbe said their father was not ill. The doctors continued to pressure the sister until she agreed to the operation. What they found was only a small cyst.
My son, Mendy Groner, is a shaliach (emissary) of the Rebbe in Kiryat Gat, Israel. A supporter of the yeshiva there invests in foreign currency. He was heavily invested in a currency that had been going down for a while. At this rate, he could lose millions of dollars. He asked my son to have me ask the Rebbe if he should sell what's left or leave it in the hope that things would turn around and he would eventually recoup his losses.
I asked the Rebbe. The Rebbe told me to tell him to sell immediately and not wait. A few days later, another supporter, who was also heavily invested in that currency, asked my son if the answer to his friend applied to him also. My son asked me and I told my son to tell him that everyone has to ask the Rebbe independently. I asked the Rebbe on the second person's behalf and the Rebbe responded that he should not sell. He should hold onto the money.
"How could it be that the Rebbe is giving two different answers to the very same question?" the second supporter asked.
"The Rebbe knows what he's doing," I explained.
Four months later, Mendy called me to fill me in on what had happened. "The first supporter immediately sold. Right after that a good friend in America who had four successful businesses offered to sell him one of them. How much did he want for the business? The exact amount that the supporter had just gotten from selling the foreign currency! Not only did he make back all of the money he had lost when the currency started going down, but the new business is growing and he is seeing a sizable profit.
"The second supporter watched the currency continue to drop and he continued to lose money. He called me and asked, 'How is it possible that the Rebbe told my friend to sell and now he has cut his losses, and he told me to hold on. Probably your father did not give over the answer properly or he misunderstood it.' I assured him, 'My father told you exactly what the Rebbe told him to tell you. Have a little faith. You'll see.'
"About two months ago, the foreign currency started turning around. Today, he has recouped all of his losses and has made quite a bit of money as well," my son concluded.
A little while ago, a couple came into my office. The husband is running a Jewish organization in New York. On a recent trip to Israel, friends involved in a similar organization in Jerusalem suggested that he move to Israel and head the organization.
The man discussed the possibility with his wife. He felt that he could use his talents more by heading the organization in Israel. Both husband and wife were willing to move to Israel. They decided to ask the Rebbe. They came to my office with the letter that they had written to the Rebbe describing what they saw as the advantages of the husband taking the helm of the organization in Jerusalem. They also brought with them the volume of Igrot Kodesh (correspondence of the Rebbe) into which they had placed their letter at random. The Rebbe's letter that they opened to read: "Concerning what you write to me, that you've been offered a different position, you should continue in the place that you are now without making any changes."
The couple was confident that by staying in New York the husband would best use his considerable talents and energy in the organization that he is currently heading.
Recently, a non-Jewish couple came to the Ohel (the Rebbe's resting place). The woman was crying bitterly. Upon leaving the Ohel, a young man asked them if they would mind sharing why they had come. The woman explained, "Our son was in a serous motorcycle accident. The doctors are not sure that he will make it. So we came to the gravesite of the great rabbi to ask for a blessing that he live and have a full recovery."
Two weeks later, the same couple returned to the Ohel. This time, they both looked much more composed and at ease. The young man who had spoken to them two weeks earlier was at the Ohel as well. The young man asked about their son. "There was a sudden, miraculous change for the better," they said excitedly. "And just two days ago the doctors said that he is totally out of danger and they hope that he will be coming home soon. We came back to thank the rabbi for saving our son," the woman concluded.
A young man was travelling overseas and he went to the Lubavitcher Rebbe to ask for a bracha (blessing) for his trip. The Rebbe told him to take two copies of the book Tanya (the basic book of Chabad Chasidic philosophy) with him on the plane. Although he did not uderstand the reason, he was more than happy to comply with the Rebbe's request.
The man boarded the plane. After the seatbelt sign went off, he took his tefilin and looked around to see if there were any Jewish men who he could help put on tefilin. Walking up the aisle, he saw a Jew who had a concerned look on his face. "Would you like to put on tefilin?" asked the Lubavitcher.
"I put on tefilin every day," replied the gentleman.
"Can I do something to help? You look a bit upset."
"I will tell you the truth," said the gentleman. "I was once by the Lubavitcher Rebbe and he told me to take a Tanya with me whenever I travel. Since then I always travel with a Tanya but this time I was in a big rush and I forgot it so I am very upset.
The Lubavitcher went back to his seat and returned with a big smile. "The Rebbe took care of you!" he said. "Here is the Tanya that the Rebbe sent for you to have on the plane."
"For a small moment have I forsaken you, but with great compassion shall I gather you in." (Isaiah 54:7) When Moshiach comes and G-d's great compassion will become manifest, everyone will see how this entire lengthy exile was in fact "a small moment."
(From a Chasidic discourse of the Previous Rebbe)