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It'll never be one of the top ten songs of the year, but a ditty about charity is a favorite in many Hebrew schools, Sunday schools, camps and day schools. It was composed in the days when all pushkas (charity boxes) were the metal genre - with a keyhole on the bottom - and is accompanied by the shaking of the pushka as much or as little as the child wishes who is currently giving tzedaka (charity). It goes like this:
I'm a little hunk of tin
Every day a penny goes in
I go far and I go near
To help a poor Jew in despair
Clang, clang, jingle, jingle
The mitzva is done
Clang, clang jingle, jingle
Tzedaka is fun
Clang, clang, jingle, jingle
The mitzva is done
Clang, clang jingle, jingle
Tzedaka is fun
We're not going to have an English "lit" class on paper to discuss the song's timbre and rhythm, or the fact that "fun" is repeated and emphasized the last time, imprinting in one's mind the concept that tzedaka is fun. Nor will we bemoan the fact that most tzedaka boxes are no longer "hunks of tin" lessening the simple joy a child gets from shaking the pushka after putting in the tzedaka.
What we will consider, though, is the concept of a penny being able to help.
An organization called "Common Cents" created the idea of Penny Harvests which to date take place in 150 schools throughout the United States. In May they raised $27,518 and donated it to four organizations providing disaster relief in Haiti.
We all know that $27,518 won't save Haiti or stop world hunger. Nor is it enough to find the cure for even one cancer. And it won't pay the yearly operating costs of a women's shelter.
But $27,518 is a start. In fact, Since its inception in 1991, children between the ages of four and 14 have collected pennies and donated $7.7 million to community organizations through Penny Harvests! So, just as $27,518 is a start, so is a penny or a nickel, a dime or a quarter, in the pushka every day (except Shabbat and Jewish holidays).
Don't either belittle the actual deed of putting the coins in the pushka. For, although the amount in the tzedaka box is definitive, the ramifications and reward are unlimited.
Jewish teachings explain, "These are the precepts, the fruits of which man enjoys in this world, while the principal reward remains in the World to Come... performing deeds of kindness."
Knowing that there is a reward in the World to Come for deeds of kindness such as charity doesn't do it for most of us.
But how about the "fruits" in this world? They are unlimited.
Each time you give even one single penny you are: connecting with G-d; refining your character traits; becoming a kinder, more sensitive person; creating positive energy; and bringing non-material spirituality into our very material world.
Give tzedaka every day. Watch how the pennies grow and how you grow by doing this mitzva.
About the commandment of mezuza, which is found in this week's Torah portion, Eikev, the Talmud relates that Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi once sent a mezuza as a gift to Artaban, king of Persia, explaining that the small scroll would protect him from harm.
At first glance, Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi's gesture seems odd. The commandment to affix a mezuza upon one's door posts was given only to the Jewish nation. A non-Jewish king, therefore, would not be fulfilling a religious precept by possessing a mezuza. As such, he would also be ineligible for any reward resulting from the performance of a mitzva (commandment). Why then did Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi promise the gentile king that the mezuza would guard and protect him?
A similar question may also be asked about the common practice, dating back to the time of the Mishna, of inserting a mezuza scroll into one's walking stick, also done for the sake of the protection it afforded. A walking stick is certainly not included in the commandment of mezuza. If there is no commandment, there is certainly no reward. How then, did the mezuza afford protection?
A distinction must be made between the reward a person receives for performing a mitzva and the intrinsic attribute of the mitzva itself. When a person obeys G-d's command by fulfilling a mitzva, the reward he earns is a separate and distinct entity, additional to the essential nature of the mitzva. For example, the Torah states that the reward for the mitzva of mezuza is long life: "That your days be increased and the days of your children."
Yet besides the reward promised by the Torah, each mitzva has its own special attributes and characteristics that have nothing to do with reward, but are integral parts of the mitzva itself. The mezuza's attribute is protection. Our sages explained that when a kosher mezuza is affixed to the door post, G-d Himself watches over the occupants of the house, even when they are not at home. A mezuza is written solely for the purpose of protection, and, by its nature, it protects.
With this in mind, it becomes clear that even when no fulfillment of a religious precept is involved, a mezuza still possesses this attribute of protection, at least to some degree. It was for this reason that Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi sent the mezuza as a gift to the Persian king and that Jews took mezuzot with them wherever they went inside their walking sticks.
In a similar vein, speaking about and studying the laws of mezuza afford similar protection. The Talmud relates that in the house of one Jewish king a special sign was made on those door posts which were exempt from having a mezuza.
From this we learn the crucial importance of having kosher mezuzot.
The Jewish people, likened to "one sheep among 70 wolves," is always in need of special defense. Every additional mezuza affixed to a Jewish home extends G-d's Divine protection to the entire Jewish nation, for all Jews are ultimately responsible for one another.
Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Rejuvenating Jewish Life
Rabbi Shmuel and Chana Kaminetski are the Lubavitcher Rebbe's emissaries to Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. In the 20 years since they arrived in that city, together with the other couples that they have brought to Dnepropetrovsk, they have established an empire religious, social, educational, cultural and humanitarian organizations that serve the needs of the Jews of Dnepropetrovsk and its suburbs.
The Kaminetskis are part of a network of hundreds of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries in the former Soviet Union serving Jewish communities throughout the 15 countries of the CIS.
On their website (www.djc.com.ua) the Dnepropetrovsk Jewish Community lists as their founder Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, the father of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who was the Chief Rabbi of Dnepropetrovsk from 1907 to 1939. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak's outstanding scholarship, piety, and tireless efforts on behalf of the Jewish community were so renown that he was asked to be Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. But Rabbi Levi Yitzchak and his wife Rebbetzin Chana chose to remain in Dnepropetrovsk and lead the Jewish community there.
In 1939, the USSR census population took place. By that time, Communism had such a strong hold that Jews were afraid to state on the questionnaire that they were Jewish and many listed "none" as their religion. When Rabbi Levi Yitzchak learned about this he gave an inspired speech at the synagogue and persuaded Jews not to conceal their faith. The head of the Dnepropetrovsk NKVD heard about this and ordered Rabbi Levi Yitzchak to come to him and confirm that there was no discrimination in the city. The rabbi refused to lie after which it was resolved to arrest Rabbi Levi Yitzchak for "disseminating active anti-Soviet propaganda, and anti-Soviet agitation of slanderous and defeatist nature." Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was arrested the following day, an act that so shocked the Jewish community that two members of the synagogue board passed away suddenly.
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was released but re-arrested eight months later. He was sentenced by a special tribunal to five years of exile in Kazakhstan. He lived in the impoverished village of Tzili, bereft of community, family and even the most basic human needs. Two years later, Rebbetzin Chana joined him.
In April of 1944 the Schneersons were given permission to move to Almaty, a village with slightly better conditions than Tzili. But the hard life of exile had taken its toll. Four months later, during the night of 20 Av, 1944, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak awoke and asked for some water to wash his hands. When the water was brought to him, he said: "It's time to move to the other side..." These were his last words.
Fast forward five decades from Reb Levi Yitzchak's arrest and the slow-down and eventually demise of Jewish life in Dnepropetrovsk. In June 1990, Rabbi Shmuel and Chana Kaminetski were sent to the city by the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Starting from that moment, the renaissance of Jewish life in Dnepropetrovsk took off at a remarkable rate. In 1991 the Ohr Avner Levi Yitzchak Jewish day school, which quickly became the largest Jewish school in Europe, was opened. Charitable foundations and cultural organizations were opened that year, as well. In 1992, over 5,000 Jews took part in a grand Chanuka concert at the Meteor Ice Palace. A close relationship with the Jewish community of Boston was established, allowing for the opening of a women's clinic and a children's clinic in Dnepropetrovsk. The following years saw the establishment of: fund for loans to Jewish businesswomen; Big Sister/Big Brother program for children from single-parent families; a program for special needs children; Beit Baruch Assisted Living Facility for Seniors; the reconstruction of the Golden Rose Central Synagogue; the Beit Tzindlikht Children's Educational Center; Boys and Girls Children's Homes for orphans or children from dysfunctional homes; Soup kitchens and food pantries regularly aiding 6,000 needy families and elderly; Beit Chana Teacher's College... and this is a partial list! Today, construction is underway on the Menorah Center which, at 40,000 square meters will be the largest Jewish Community center in the world!
Rabbi Yudi and Chaya Zarchi will be moving to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where they will establish Chabad at Laureleaf, serving the Jewish community in the Bayview-Steeles vicinity.
Rabbi Chanoch and Leiky Gechtman will soon be heading to Mumbai, India, as its first permanent Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries since the terrorist attacks of November 2008 when Rabbi Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg, together with four other Jews, were killed in the Chabad House. Rabbi Gechtman spent time in Mumbai as a yeshiva student helping out the Holtzbergs at Chabad of Mumbai.
16th of Menachem Av, 5732 
I have just received a telephone report about the success of yesterday's event, at which you were not only the main speaker, but also the moving spirit. I was most gratified to be informed that the affair was a great success.
Although there is no need to express thanks for doing a mitzvah [commandment], for, as our Sages of the Mishnah declare, "the reward of a mitzvah is the mitzvah itself," I nevertheless want to express my gratification at receiving the above mentioned good report about the impact of your address on an audience which included Jews of considerable potential. It is good for people of their position and standing in the community to hear a presentation of Yiddishkeit [Judaism] in its true form, undiluted and uncompromised, especially, as I am told, that this was the first breakthrough into this circle. Furthermore, I am told that your address was received not only with an open mind and without prejudice, but also had an inspiring response.
There is the well known Talmudic parable about the person who enjoyed the full benefits of a fruitful tree and said to it: "Tree, oh tree, with what should I bless you?"
Similarly, the blessing that I wish to give you in connection with the above is that in your endeavors and accomplishments you should see the fulfillment of the saying of our Sages, "He who has 100, desires 200; and having attained 200, desires 400." This is to say that your hatzlochah [success] in inspiring Jewish souls and lighting them up with the light of "Torah-Or" [the Light of the Torah] should not only go from strength to strength, but should advance in geometrical progression, as indicated in the above saying. I also trust that the contacts you make in this way will be maintained and followed up, so that they may continue to enjoy your good influence. The Zechus Harabim [merit of the multitude] will surely stand you in good stead to receive G-d's blessings in similar growing proportions, both materially and spiritually.
The present days, especially now that we have passed the 15th of Av, are particularly auspicious for the study of the Torah and for all efforts to spread and strengthen Yiddishkeit in a growing measure. I trust this will be so with you, and that the concerted efforts by all who are aware of the significance of these days, will help to reverse the causes of the Churban [destruction of the Holy Temples] and Golus [Exile] ("Because of our sins we were exiled from our land"), and hasten the arrival of our righteous Moshiach, may he come speedily in our time.
13th of Cheshvan, 5734 
With further reference to our correspondence, I wish to emphasize here another point about the urgency and speed that should propel every activity for the strengthening of Yiddishkeit in general, and Torah Chinuch [education] in particular.
In normal times, steady, albeit slow, progress might be satisfactory, and sometimes steady progress and speed may not even be compatible. However, we live in "abnormal" times, when things move with whirlwind speed, and we must not lag behind the times in our method of tackling problems in the vital area of Torah and Chinuch. Indeed, in light of the Baal Shem Tov's teaching that a person must learn from everything around him how better to fulfill his purpose in life, especially in fundamental matters, the present jet age and supersonic speed should inspire the idea of time-saving in the spiritual realm. A distance that not so very long ago took days and weeks to cover, can now be spanned in a matter of hours, and a message that took as long to communicate can now be transmitted instantly. If this could be accomplished in the physical and material world, surely the same should be true in the spiritual realm, whether in the area of personal achievement, or in the area of effecting a change in the environment. To be satisfied with less in the realm of the spirit would be like arguing to return to the era of the horse and buggy on the ground that this was satisfactory in olden days, all the more so since spiritual matters have never been subject to the limitations of time and space.
If anyone may entertain any doubt about his ability to meet a challenge which Divine Providence has thrown into his lap, suffice it to remember that G-d does not act despotically or capriciously, and most certainly provides the necessary capacity to meet the challenge, and to do so joyously, which is the way of all Divine service, as it is written, "Serve G-d with joy," and which, incidentally, is a basic tenet of the Chassidic approach to all matters.
With all good wishes, and
ZECHARYA means "remembrance of the L-rd." Zecharya was one of the twelve Minor Prophets. One of the kings of Israel was also named Zecharya (Kings II 14:29).
ZEHAVA means "gold" or "golden." Golda is the German-Yiddish variation and Zlata is the Polish-Yiddish variation.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The first and second paragraphs after the recitation of Shema Yisrael in our daily prayers are from last week's and our present Torah portion (Eikev), respectively. Both paragraphs enjoin us to serve G-d devotedly, and command us to observe the mitzvot of tefilin, mezuza, and teaching Torah to children.
Where do these paragraphs differ, then? The first paragraph is written in the singular form, addressed to the individual. The second paragraph is written in the plural and is addressed to the community. In addition, the second paragraph also includes mention of the reward and punishment for keeping the above-mentioned and other mitzvot.
Our Sages also explain that because of the wording of the commandment to teach our children, we understand that one refers to a teacher's obligation toward his students while the other refers to a parent's obligation.
Concerning the mitzva of giving our children a proper Jewish education , the lesson from this week's and last week's portion is clear. Both the individual and the community are obligated to fulfill this mitzva.
Parents and teachers both share the responsibility. We can do it for altruistic reasons or we can ensure a proper Jewish education for fear of punishment or because of the reward - nachas from children, being honored at a dinner, etc. Whatever the reason, whoever the person, wherever the community, proper Jewish education for every Jewish child must be our number-one priority.
Surely this dedication to Jewish education will prepare us in an even greater manner for the imminent revelation of Moshiach.
And you shall eat and be sated. (Deut. 8:10)
The Maggid of Mezritch once asked a wealthy man what he eats every day. "Bread and salt, Rebbe, like a poor man," was his reply. The Maggid rebuked him and told him to eat meat and drink wine every day as wealthy men were accustomed to do. Later, when the Maggid's disciples asked for an explanation, he said: "If a rich man eats meat and drinks wine every day, then he will realize that a poor person needs at least bread and salt. If, however, he eats bread and salt, he will think that his poor neighbor can make do with stones!"
And to serve Him with all your heart (Deut. 11:13)
Rashi explains that this verse refers to the service of the heart, namely prayer. Reb Yisrael of Ruzhin used to take a long time over his prayers; Reb Shalom of Belz would recite his prayers hastily. On this, one of their contemporaries commented that both of them cherished every word of the prayers: the former loved them so much that he could not bring himself to part with them, while the latter - for the same reason - could not restrain his eagerness to make them his.
(A Treasury of Chasidic Tales)
A land whose stones are iron (Deut: 8:9)
Rabbi Abba said: A Torah scholar who is not as tough as iron is no Torah scholar, as it states, "whose stones are iron." Do not read "avaneha" (stones), but "boneha" (her builders). This Talmudic homily teaches us an important lesson in how to protect the land of Israel: Although it is certainly necessary to possess "iron" weapons in the literal sense - an army and ammunition to deter our enemies - we must always remember that the true "iron" and strength of the Jewish people is their Torah learning and observance of mitzvot (commandments).
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)
There was once a Jew who devoted himself to the holy work of performing brit milas (circumcisions) for Jewish infants, bringing them into the covenant of their forefather, Abraham. His honesty and wisdom came to the attention of the king and in addition to the Jew's sacred work, he was engaged by His Majesty to counsel him in the highest financial matters of the realm.
In his capacity of royal advisor, he was privy to the most secret activities of the monarch, and his loyalty was unassailable. However, one particular minister was devoured by his jealousy of the successful Jewish minister who was so beloved by the king. He devised a clever plot by which he would see his enemy's downfall.
The Jew had a loyal servant whom he trusted completely, even giving him access to the keys to the king's safe. With a bribe of several hundred pieces of gold, the vicious minister obtained the servant's complicity. He took his employer's keys and regularly ransacked the king's most private documents, bringing them to his new master.
One afternoon, when the minister had the ear of the king, he happened to mention some information which he could not possibly have known. "How do you know that!?" the king exclaimed in shock.
"Why, the Jew told me," the devious minister replied. The king's visage noticeably altered, his fury apparent. The Jew had betrayed his trust and he would pay dearly.
The very same day the Jew was summoned to the palace where the king handed him a letter. "This letter must be delivered by my most trusted servant to my general who is engaged in activities an eight-hour carriage journey from here. Please, deliver the letter yourself."
The Jew obeyed at once, and, together with his servant, set off on the long trip. Unknown to him, the letter contained these instructions to the general: "The bearer of this letter must be executed at once. Do not regard his protestations of innocence, but seize him and kill him without delay."
At mid-journey, nightfall came upon them, and the two stopped at a small village. A Jew recognized the renowned Jew and ran up to their coach.
"Shalom Aleichem, my master. It is only through the hand of G-d that you have arrived in our village today, for this is the eighth day after the birth of my son, and the day of his brit mila.
Unfortunately, the mohel has not yet arrived, and it seems he will not come. I beg you to remain here long enough to allow us to fulfill this precious mitzva on the proper day."
The Jew dismounted and walked to the man's home to examine the infant. The mother also entreated him to stay and perform the brit, and he agreed. The Jew summoned his servant and entrusted to him the king's letter, exhorting him to take the greatest care in carrying out the king's instructions. The servant continued on the garrison and presented the letter to the general.
The Jew remained with the new parents and participated in the festive meal, then he, too, continued on to the military headquarters. He was greeted with great honor by the general who knew of the great affection the king had for his Jewish ad visor.
"Why did your excellency trouble yourself to come all this way. I took care of the king's bidding, and your servant was executed as soon as I received the letter."
The Jew was speechless, realizing the great miracle that he had just experienced. The general continued, "I have some interesting news for you, for your servant confessed his crimes before he died. He was a traitor against both the king and you, his master. Your servant admitted accepting the bribes of Minister S. He was well-paid to steal the king's confidential documents and bring them to his new master.
Suddenly, the Jew understood the whole situation. Of course, the king considered him a traitor and a betrayer of his sacred trust. That is why the king sentenced him to a terrible death.
The Jew returned to the capital and appeared before a very surprised king. "How did you get here?" the king blurted out.
The Jew responded with a complete explanation. He told the king of his conversation with the general and related the plot hatched by Minister S., who had recruited his servant. And lastly, he told the king about the stolen documents. The king summoned his guards at once and the guilty minister was brought in chains to the royal palace. That very day he was executed in the courtyard of his own home.
The Jewish advisor regained the trust of his king, and was awarded an even greater position. The name of G-d was elevated before the king and his courtiers and the Jew gave thanks for his salvation.
A Jew's true inner nature stands above exile. Furthermore, the exile itself does not create a separation between a Jew and G-d. Though exile implies that we are not found in our natural place, we are "children who were exiled from their father's table," nevertheless, it was G-d's will that we were exiled. Thus, when a person realizes that the only reason he is in exile is G-d's will, he understands that his life in exile is also a fulfillment of G-d's will and by fulfilling G-d's will, he becomes united with G-d.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 20 Av, 1985)