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Before Tisha B'av (this year from Monday evening, July 19 through Tuesday night, July 20), when we commemorate the destruction of both the first and second Holy Temples, it is the perfect time to talk about love.
We are told that the reason for the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was because of "sinat chinam," literally "free hatred" of one Jew toward another. The antidote to this unwarranted hatred, explain our Sages, is "ahavat chinam-free love."
Ahavat chinam is so important that even if it doesn't come "freely," even if one has to work at it, we are required to extend ourselves and toil away until we are successful.
Rabbi Gamliel (the son of Rabbi Judah the Prince) taught, "It is good to combine the study of Torah with an occupation, for the effort required by them both keeps sin out of mind; while all Torah study that is not combined with work will ultimately cease and will lead to sin."
The obvious meaning of the term "work" is actual labor. However, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev quoted the Baal Shem Tov as explaining that in this context, "work" refers to ahavat Yisrael ("love of a fellow Jew") - our efforts to establish bonds of love with other Jews. According to this interpretation, in order for Torah study to be perpetuated, it must be coupled with love toward our brethren.
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, who was known as the consummate "lover of Israel," explained that it was this teaching that brought about a fundamental change in his life, motivating him to dedicate himself to the welfare of his fellow Jews.
Ahavat Yisrael is referred to here as "work" to teach us that we must work at extending ourselves in this area to include even those whom we have no inclination to love. And we must use every means possible to reach out to them.
It's easy to act lovingly toward our fellow Jew. It can be as simple as (but certainly not limited to) greeting a person properly. Said the Sage Shammai, "Receive every person with a cheerful countenance." "Every person" means just that, everyone, even someone we might not otherwise want to greet pleasantly!
Stated slightly differently, Rabbi Yishmael, a high priest, taught, "Receive every person cheerfully." Despite his high office and standing, he was prepared to show respect and warmth to "every person."
Finally, Rabbi Matya (son of Charash) said, "Be the first to extend greetings to anyone you meet." Again, the common thread of being pleasant to "anyone" or "everyone" runs through Rabbi Matya's teaching.
But it's not enough for us to just "study" about loving our fellow Jew. Let's stop talking and start rebuilding the Holy Temple now, by reaching out to someone else with true love and respect uppermost in our minds.
- (Back to text) When speaking of the love that each Jew is expected to have toward every other Jew, the term "free" love. is more accurate than "unwarranted" love, for every Jew deserves to be loved by his fellow due to the mere fact that he/she is a Jew, part of the Jewish nation, inse-parable from G-d and the Jewish people.
This week's Torah reading, Devarim, is the first portion in the fifth and last book of the Torah, Devarim (Deuteronomy). The entire book was related to the Jewish people in their 40th year in the desert. By that time, the majority of the Jews who had left Egypt were no longer alive; only those who would enter the land of Israel remained. The messages in this book were intended as a preparation to help them make this transition.
Devarim begins by noting the location of the Jews' final encampment before entering Israel. "These are the words that Moses spoke...on this side of the Jordan." At the end of Bamidbar (Numbers), however, this same place is referred to as "the plains of Moab, by the Jordan opposite Jericho."
"The plains of Moab" and "this side of the Jordan" are both names that describe the same physical location. And yet, each name has a different connotation:
"The plains of Moab" identifies the location by its connection to the land of Moab. "This side of the Jordan," by contrast, associates it with the land of Israel, identifying it as lying on the eastern shore of the Jordan river, with the rest of the land of Israel lying toward the west.
What are we to learn from the Torah's usage of two names for the same place? The answer is in the name of each of the two books, Bamidbar (literally "in the desert") and Devarim (meaning "the words"). Bamidbar relates the various encounters and experiences of the Jewish people during their 40 years in the desert, while Devarim, relates Moses' exhortations to the generation that was about to enter Israel, as preparation for the new lives they would be leading there.
At the end of the book of Bamidbar, the site of the Jews' encampment is referred to as "the plains of Moab," as it expressed their connection to a land whose status was non-Jewish territory.
In Devarim, however, it is referred to as "this side of the Jordan," for at that time, the Jewish people were focused on their imminent entry into the land of Israel.
We find ourselves now in the last minutes of exile, poised on the brink of the Final Redemption. Our present era is analogous to the one we read about this week.
"The plains of Moab" is symbolic of the exile and its completion; "this side of the Jordan" is symbolic of our preparation for Moshiach's imminent arrival. Indeed, "this side of the Jordan" is a most appropriate name with which to characterize our present transitional period, for it corresponds to the Jews' heightened state of anticipation in the 40th year of their going out of Egypt.
Moshiach's coming is imminent. We must prepare to greet him. May it happen now.
Adapted for Maayan Chai from Likutei Sichot, Volume 2
The Rebbe and the Child
by Nechamie Margolis
"Mommy, why is that lady over there crying?"
My mother put her finger to her lips. "Shh Nechamie, not so loud. If anyone can help her stop crying, it will be the Rebbe."
I was glad I was wearing my nicest Shabbos dress with the pink flowers and lace. The girl in front of me was wearing a denim skirt, with clunky purple earrings hanging to her shoulders. I guessed her mother hadn't told her that she must wear her nicest clothing to the Rebbe. I looked at the hundreds of people standing in a line that took up the whole block, and felt like yelling out, "It's my birthday. I'm going to be six today!"
It felt like forever, but the line slowly moved forward. As we got closer, Mommy started telling me what to say. "Nechamie, tell the Rebbe that 'heint is mine yom huledes.'" The words sounded strange on my tongue. We never spoke Yiddish at home. "Ma, why can't I just tell the Rebbe that today is my birthday in English. It's too hard for me to say."
"Just try. I'll practice with you." She said, patting my hand reassuringly. "Now after you tell the Rebbe that it's your birthday, he will probably give you a bracha (blessing) in Yiddish. Even if you don't understand, just say 'Amein'."
As the line snaked slowly towards 770, I practiced the unfamiliar Yiddish words over and over again. "Heint is my yom holedes." I didn't want to mess up. As I hopped from one foot to another, I chanted to myself, "Just say Amein, just say Amein."
Finally we arrived at the big ornate brown door, and walked down a long hallway. "It's so quiet." I whispered to my mother.
I craned my neck to look ahead. There was a man videoing everyone who went by and someone snapping pictures with his camera. A big lady with a curly brown wig and big green glasses, was quickly pushing people along. I was glad that I was too short for them to reach me. I didn't want to be pushed.
I stared at the Rebbe as I approached. He had a white square beard. I didn't know anyone with such a white beard. My father's beard was black and my grandpa didn't have a beard. I wondered how the Rebbe could stand so many hours. My feet were already hurting and pinched from the patent leather shoes I was wearing.
I stared at the Rebbe's face curiously. He must have been very old, but he didn't have any wrinkles like my grandma had. He had such nice blue eyes. I liked his eyes. Mine were plain and boring brown.
Finally it was my turn. I stood in front of the Rebbe. He handed me a dollar in my right hand, and then he looked straight at me, and listened as I pronounced the words I had practiced so carefully. "Heint is mine yom huledes." The Rebbe bent down, so he could look me in the eye.
"Are you making a party?" he asked in his thick Yiddish accent.
"Amein," I said, as I looked proudly at my mother for approval. She tried signaling something to me, but I didn't understand what she wanted.
The Rebbe bent down and repeated the question another two times. "Are you making a party?"
"Amein!" I spoke a little louder this time, thinking that the Rebbe hadn't heard me.
The Rebbe bent down a little lower.
"Are you making a party? He repeated patiently.
This time I heard the words. "Yes, yes," I said, happily, pigtails bouncing. "I'm making a big party for all my friends."
The Rebbe smiled, and handed me another dollar. I smiled back, staring at those wonderful blue eyes, before I was swept away by the big lady wearing the curly wig and big green glasses.
A new Chabad House was dedicated in the Israeli city of Maaleh Adumim. The new Chabad Center is located in the local shopping mall and is directed by Rabbi and Mrs. Shmuel Dudisko. A beautiful new, state-of-the art Mikva is currently under construction in the eastern French city of Dijon, France.
In Hudson Valley, New York, 250 Chabad rabbis and rebbetzins who serve on college and university campuses throughout the world, attended the ninth annual Chabad on Campus convention. Also at the convention were 300 children of the couples, who attended a specially run camp to keep them occupied while their parents were at workshops and lectures. In S. Petersburg, Russia, over 150 Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis from across the CIS convened for a two-day conference. International experts in Jewish law ran workshops throughout the conference.
Three young couples were welcomed recently to the Chabad House in Ramle, Israel. Rabbi and Mrs. Chaim Vaknin, Rabbi and Mrs. Eliyahu Koenig, and Rabbi and Mrs. Menachem Krotman. The town of Ramle is adjacent to Lod and has a joint Arab and Jewish population. Rabbi Arele and Mushka Teleshevsky arrived recently in Brentwood, California where they will serve as the youth directors of the Chabad House there.
Rabbi Yaakov and Rivky Greenberg have moved to Long Branch, New Jersey to serve as youth directors at the Chabad House in that city. Rabbi Motti and Rochel Flikshtein will be moving to Wilmington, Delaware, to take the position of Program Directors in the new Chabad Center for Jewish Life. Rabbi Mendy and Faigy Bitton will be arriving soon in Sarcelles, France where they will join the existing Chabad Center focusing primarily on adult education.
26 of Tammuz, 5743 
Greeting and Blessing:
I received your correspondence.
In general, I have already expressed my opinion on the matters about which you wrote, and will again remember you in prayer for the fulfillment of your heart's desires for good.
Now that we are in the period of the Three Weeks, commemorating the sad events which led to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh [Holy Temple] and the dispersement of our people, we are reminded that every one of us has to do all in our power to minimize and eventually eliminate the cause that brought about the Destruction and Exile. The only cause of it is clearly spelled out in our Mussaf [additional prayer on holidays] Prayer: "Because of our sins we have been exiled from our land."
If alienation from the Jewish way of life, the way of the Torah and Mitzvos [commandments] has been the cause of the Golus [exile], every one of us must work all the harder to bring Jews closer to the Torah and Mitzvos. Thus, every effort in this direction brings all the nearer the appearance of Moshiach Tzidkeinu [our righteous Redeemer], who will usher in the true and complete Geulah [Redemption]. May it come speedily in our days.
15th of Menachem Av, 5730 
The Campers and Counselors
Greenfield Park, N.Y.
Greeting and Blessing:
I was pleased to receive a report about your life and activities in the camp through Rabbi J. J. Hecht. He also turned in your Tzedoko [charity] collection of Tisha B'Av.
As I mentioned on the Shabbos before Tisha B'Av, which no doubt was conveyed also to you, Tzedoko is particularly important in connection with the day of Tisha B'Av to hasten the Geulo in accordance with the prophecy, "Zion will be redeemed through justice, and all that return to her - through Tzedoko." Especially significant is the Tzedoko before the afternoon prayer, when the prayer "Nacheim" is said.
May G-d grant that in the Zechus [merit] of your Tzedoko in connection with the above, and the Tzedoko of all Jews, together with the Zechus of the Torah, which is indicated in the beginning of the verse mentioned above (in the word Mishpot - "justice"), that is to say, the daily life in accordance with the Torah and Mitzvos - should speedily bring the Nechama [consolation]. Then you, with all other Jewish children as well as adults, will come out to meet our righteous Moshiach, and the days of sadness will be turned into days of gladness, as promised by our holy Prophets in the holy Torah.
5th of Menachem Av, 5735 
To All Participants in the
Bais Chana Scholarship Dinner and
Dedication of Boschwitz Hall at Lubavitch House
Greeting and Blessing:
In these days deprived of joy in commemoration of the Destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh, it is particularly gratifying to receive the good news of your constructive efforts and accomplishments for Torah Judaism in general and Torah education of our youths in particular.
The sacred activities of Torah and Tefiloh (Prayer) give the Lubavitch House the status of a Bais Knesses [synagogue] and Bais Medrash [House of Study], hence of a Mikdosh Me'at ("Small Sanctuary" - a replica of the Bais Hamikdosh), and according to the Zohar (III, 126a) of a Mikdosh.
This is most significant in these days, for it is through such activities as you are gathered to celebrate that the cause of the Destruction is gradually eliminated, and with it the effect, or, in the words of the familiar prayer, umipnai chatoeinu golinu me'artzeinu - "because of our sins we have been exiled from our land..." Thus every effort to strengthen Torah and Mitzvos hastens the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu and the Geuloh shleimo [complete Redemption].
The most desirable wish and blessing that can be offered on such an occasion is that the present beautiful facilities should soon prove inadequate for the expanded Torah activities of Lubavitch in Minnesota and bring about even greater and more extensive facilities of this kind.
May we all soon see the fulfillment of the prophecy that these days of sadness shall be transformed into days of rejoicing, gladness and festivity - especially as your celebration is taking place on the auspicious day of the 15th of Av.
With blessing for Hatzlocho [success] and good tidings,
MENACHEM means "comforter" or "consoler." The Hebrew month of Av, in which the Holy Temple was destroyed, is often called "Menachem Av." The Yiddish derivation is Mendel.
MALKA means queen. Famous among the Jewish queens were Esther and Shlometzion, who succeeded her husband and ruled Judea from 76 to 67 B.C.E.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This Shabbat, the Sabbath before Tisha B'Av, is know as Shabbat Chazon. The saintly Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev used to point out that the name Shabbat Chazon is from the word machazeh, meaning "vision," for "on that day everyone is shown a vision of the future Holy Temple."
What is the point of this vision? It is to inspire a Jew and encourage him: having caught a glimpse of the Third Holy Temple in all its heavenly perfection, all that is left for him to do is to bring it down to this world.
But surely not everyone "sees" this vision to the same extent! Some great people literally see a vision with their fleshly eyes, but as for others? So then, what is the point?
The Rebbe explains that this situation can be compared to an episode that took place to the Biblical Daniel. "I Daniel alone saw the vision [of a fearsome man]; the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them...."
Our Sages ask: "If they did not see the apparition, why the dread?"
And they answer: "Though they did not see it, their souls saw it."
In the same way, on Shabbat Chazon, the soul does see the future Holy Temple; moreover, this perception leaves an imprint on the individual, on his body and on his soul.
The question has similarly been asked: What is the point of the proclamations of Heavenly voices of which the Sages sometimes speak? Who hears them?
Chasidic teachings explain as above, that the transcendent mazal hears the voice, and relays it soundlessly into the nether reaches of the soul that are garbed in the body.
Behold, I have set the land before you...to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give it to them (Deut. 1:8)
This verse does not say that the land will be given "to you," but "to them" - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - an allusion to the resurrection of the dead.
How can I by myself alone bear your trouble, and your burden, and your strife? (Deut. 1:12)
Rashi comments: "And your burden" - this teaches that the Children of Israel were skeptics and heretics. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov used to say: The heaviest burden a man can endure is that of skepticism. The heart of the true believer is much lighter than that of the heretic, who is always weighed down by the yoke of his doubts.
You shall not show favor (lit. "recognize") in judgment (Deut. 1:17)
This admonition cautions a judge to be fair and impartial, even if he is personally acquainted with one of the parties brought before him for judgment; he must not allow himself to be swayed by his prior association. Rather, both sides in the dispute must be treated as if he had never seen them before.
For unto Esau have I given Mount Seir as a possession (Deut. 2:5)
Although the Children of Israel fulfilled an express command of G-d when they took over the land Canaan, G-d warned them that their desire to conquer territory should not extend beyond those lands He had explicitly promised to them.
(Rabbi Shimshon Refael Hirsch)
May the L-rd G-d of your fathers make you a thousand times as many as you are (Deut. 1:11)
When will this blessing be fulfilled? In the World to Come, when, as the Prophet Isaiah states, "The least one shall become a thousand, and the smallest a great nation." The Jewish people, the "least" and "smallest," will multiply one thousand times in number, in fulfillment of Moses' blessing.
The town was buzzing with the great news of the impending visit of the tzadik (righteous person). Reb Yossele, the son of Reb Mordechai of Neshchitz, couldn't rest from the moment he heard that the tzadik Reb Yaakov Yitzchak, the famous "Seer" or "Chozeh" of Lublin would be passing through his town. He had heard many awesome reports about this holy man and he burned with the desire to meet him and glean some insight from him.
So intent was he to host the great tzadik that he commissioned a local carpenter to build a bed especially for the Chozeh. He undertook this extraordinary preparation because he had heard it said that when the "Seer" travelled and had to sleep in a strange bed, he would sometimes be heard to cry out, "It's prickly! It's prickly!" Wanting to avoid any possible discomfort for the tzadik, he decided to provide a brand-new bed for him, and thus eliminate any possible problem.
Reb Yossele was very exacting in his instructions to the carpenter. First of all, he was careful to choose a workman who was known to be a G-d-fearing man; second, he instructed the carpenter to immerse himself in the mikva before beginning his work, and to very carefully guard himself from impure thoughts while he was working.
For his part, the carpenter was not anxious to accept this complicated assignment. He was particularly unwilling since the work would have to commence during the first week of the month of Av, the intense mourning period for the Holy Temple. However, since his rebbe had made the request of him, he couldn't bring himself to refuse. He undertook the job in a depressed frame of mind, feeling spiritually unworthy of the task ahead. Despite his unwillingness, he worked well and completed his task successfully and in good time.
When the bed was finished, Reb Yossele placed it in a specially prepared room. He covered the bed with fresh, new bedclothes, and put next to it a small table, a lamp and a chair. Satisfied that his preparations would ensure the comfort of the Chozeh, he then closed and locked the door to guarantee that the bed would be untouched by anyone except the tzadik himself.
A few days later, when the Chozeh arrived in the town, Reb Yossele went out to meet him. His joy was complete when the tzadik accepted the invitation to be his guest. Reb Yossele happily escorted his honored guest into the newly appointed room. He proudly showed the Chozeh the bed, explaining that a G-d-fearing carpenter constructed it especially for the tzadik's use. Tired from his long journey, the tzadik lay down to rest.
After only a few moments had passed Reb Yossele heard the Chozeh exclaiming, "Prickly, help, it's prickly!"
Reb Yossele was astonished. What could these cries mean? He quickly went to the tzadik's room and not knowing what else to do, offered him the use of his own bed, hoping it would prove more comfortable. The Chozeh gladly accepted Reb Yossele's offer, and all was quiet. Reb Yossele, however, suffered a sleepless night wondering if the tzadik's rest would be disturbed by some spiritual unworthiness in his house. When morning came the Chozeh awoke refreshed and happy. He remarked to Reb Yossele, "Thank you so much, I had an excellent rest. Your hospitality has revived me!"
Reb Yossele was gratified by the tzadik's words, but still, he couldn't understand the Chozeh's initial reaction to the new bed, and he questioned him about it.
"Don't worry about it at all. The bed is perfect and kosher in every respect," the tzadik assured him. "The reason I couldn't sleep in it was because it had a certain smell of sadness about it since it was built during the Nine Days preceding Tisha B'Av. The carpenter, being a pious man, was mourning the destruction of the Holy Temple while he was building it, and the spiritual residue of his grief adhered to the bed."
Our Sages (Jerusalem Talmud Berachos 2:4) tell us that Moshiach was "born" on Tisha B'Av. This is repeated and reenacted on Tisha B'Av every year. The prayer of Nacheim ("Console...") is recited in the Shemoneh Esreh of the Tisha B'Av afternoon service because the afternoon is the time of the birth of Moshiach, whose name is Menachem, meaning "consoler."