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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1133
                           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.
        August 13, 2010         Shoftim             3 Elul, 5770

                         Precision Measurements

Have you ever tried to build a bookcase? What about put a bike together?
Maybe you're trying to replace some widget in an appliance. Hang
wallpaper or retile a room. Maybe you're more ambitious, and you're
putting an addition on your house.

Whatever you're building or repairing, you know that to build or
construct properly, you need to measure precisely. Very precisely. If
the measurements are off even a fraction of an inch, a smidgen of a
millimeter, the whole project could fall apart.

Edges have to match; nuts-washers-screws have to be the same size and
the right size. A misaligned window, even slightly, and all sorts of
leaks can start.

In a sense, every Jew is a master builder, and a precision engineer. For
we are commanded "build Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them."
Just as the sanctuary made of stone and other material had to be built
to the exact measurements and specific detail, so too each of us must
build our "mini-Sanctuary" - our lives and our section of the world
according to the specifications in our "instruction manual," the Torah.

For a builder, the tape measure is critical; so too when we are building
G-dliness and goodness into the world, we must use the tape measure of
the soul.

What does this mean? It means we have to be careful with our abilities
and talents, to be conscientious with our opportunities, not to waste
the smallest particular of who we are and what we can do. We must use
what G-d has given us in the fullest measure, to the last iota, and for
the G-d given purpose of serving the Creator.

When fulfilling a mitzva (commandment), it must be done down to the last
detail, going the extra step ( known as hiddur, or beautifying, the

The same precise measurements apply to our use of time - whatever we're
doing, we can use every moment to serve G-d. We can conduct our business
in an ethical manner, we can converse without speaking badly of another
person, we can eat and drink kosher food after having recited a blessing
over the food. We can relax and sleep knowing that after resting we will
be reinvigorated to serve G-d in a complete and precise manner.

If we've measured out our activities for twenty three hours and
fifty-nine minutes - allotting exactly the right portion of it to
prayer, to study, to mitzvos, to work, to eating, sleeping and relaxing,
as necessary - we still can't allow ourselves to waste that last minute.

This applies not only to ourselves, but to our part of the world, our
sphere of influence and contact with others, and our activity with and
use of the material of the earth.

When each of use uses our G-d-given abilities precisely and accu-rately,
to elevate ourselves and our surroundings, so that no speck or scrap is
left over, superfluous, extra or unused, then we, and others, and the
world itself fulfill the mission and task of creation, to transform the
world into a dwelling place - a properly and precisely built dwelling
place - for G-dliness.

This week's Torah portion, Shoftim, speaks about the cities of refuge a
person would flee to if he accidentally killed someone. There, the
unintentional killer would dwell, protected from the wrath of the
victim's relatives, until the High Priest who served in the Holy Temple
passed away.

But not only unintentional killers sought refuge in these cities; even
someone who committed murder intentionally was expected to flee there as
well. The court would then convene and issue its ruling on the death.
The cities of refuge offered protection, if only temporarily in some
cases, to anyone who had caused a loss of life.

After the destruction of the Holy Temple and the dispersion of the
Jewish people, the cities of refuge ceased to exist in the physical
sense. Yet the Torah is eternal, and its lessons apply in every
generation. In our times, therefore, the concept of "cities of refuge"
finds expression in the spiritual dimension.

Our Sages taught that "the words of Torah absorb." In other words, the
Torah itself is the refuge in which all may seek asylum. In the
spiritual sense, "killing" symbolizes the act of committing a sin,
causing a spiritual death to the G-dly soul, for the Torah's 613
commandments are the "ropes" that bind the soul to G-d. Transgressing
the Torah's commandments damages those ties and threatens to cut the
soul off from its G-dly source.

We learn from this week's Torah portion that it is never too late to
repent, no matter how grave a transgression has been committed. Even the
person who deliberately sinned can do teshuva (repentance) and seek
protection in the refuge of Torah.

In one sense, nowadays we have a distinct advantage over our forefathers
who lived during the times of the Holy Temple. In those days, repentance
alone was not enough to atone for a sin. The unintentional killer had to
remain exiled in the city of refuge until the death of the High Priest,
and the intentional murderer (as defined by the Torah) received capital
punishment. Yet after the destruction of the Temple, teshuva alone can
atone for even the gravest sin.

Years ago, when Jewish courts had ultimate authority, a judge could only
rule on what he himself had seen. G-d, however, can look into the heart
of man and judge whether or not his repentance is sincere.

In the same way, the month of Elul, during which we take account of our
actions of the previous year, is a "city of refuge" in time, offering us
the same opportunity to clear the slate and merit a good and sweet year
to come.

                Adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                           From Soup to Nuts
                             by Adela Renna

In early October, my husband and I attended a Shabbat meal in
Washington, D.C., hosted by a lovely couple. We were joined by a few old
friends from the community, a couple who just moved in a few months ago
and some visitors participating in the shul's hospitality program. As
everyone was introduced, our turn came.

"We are in the Foreign Service and are moving to the Congo." The Foreign
Service is the Corps of U.S. Diplomats appointed by the President, with
the advice and consent of the Senate, to implement the President's
foreign policy in embassies and consulates overseas.

"So, you're from Slovakia? How did you and Daniel meet?"

Daniel received a master's degree in international affairs from George
Washington University. After passing the Foreign Service exam, he began
working for the United States Department of State in 2000. Daniel was
chosen to serve in the position of vice consul in Bratislava, Slovakia,
my hometown.

Bratislava is a city with a rich Jewish past. In German it is called
Pressburg and currently has a modest Jewish community with active Chabad
Shluchim (emissaries), Rabbi Baruch and Chanie Myers, at the helm of its
religious life. Daniel, a 28-year-old religious American diplomat, began
working at the U.S. Embassy, adjudicating visas for Slovaks who wanted
to travel to the U.S. and assisting American citizens in trouble. A week
after he started work, we met after services in the Bratislava
synagogue. I was a 23-year-old Slovak about to graduate from university.
By September 2002 we were engaged. I was thrilled to embark on an
adventurous life, while Daniel was amazed to have found his bashert, who
was willing to share the jet-setting lifestyle his career required.

Before our wedding, we received the news that Daniel's next diplomatic
position was to be in Banjul, The Gambia. The Gambia is a small sliver
of a country, the smallest on the African continent along the Atlantic
coast. Daniel and I, being the atypical couple that we are, began
brainstorming. We gathered as much information about The Gambia as was
available online and from the State Department's resources. We planned
how we would tackle the most challenging aspects of observing Shabbat,
eating kosher, and keeping the laws of Family Purity in the middle of
nowhere. With the guidance and wisdom of Rabbi Dr. Barry Freundel, the
Rav of our "home" shul of Kesher Israel in Washington, D.C. we were able
to face the tests that our lifestyle often throws at us.

While we were serving in The Gambia, where I was able to work in one of
the Embassy jobs reserved for diplomatic spouses, the use of the
diplomatic pouch was a lifesaver. We can order items - with certain
restrictions - and have them mailed to an American address, and the
packages reach us between two to six weeks later.

While in Armenia, our third posting, we took advantage of another State
Department privilege granted to those stationed at posts where it is
prohibitively expensive or simply impossible to obtain certain grocery
and toiletry items. The U.S. government will pay shipping costs of a
certain amount of non-perishable items that will be consumed during the
tour of duty. Before leaving the U.S., we rented a ten-foot truck and
loaded up huge quantities of products. We unpacked it three months later
in Yerevan, Armenia.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of keeping kosher overseas is
obtaining meat, cheese and grape products. In Slovakia, we were only a
45-minute drive to one of Vienna's kosher shops. In The Gambia, the
situation was more dire. Googling "kosher meat in Africa," we were
directed to the website of Rabbi Shlomo Bentolila, the pioneering Chabad
emissary in the Congo, which informed us of a company in South Africa
that ships kosher meat, cheese and wine to anywhere within Africa. The
minimum the company would ship to us was 660 pounds, and the supply
lasted us for about a year.

Back at the Shabbat dinner, one of the interested guests turns to me
intently and inquires, "Have you had any problems observing Shabbat
where you've lived?"

My answer is both explanatory and deeply introspective. Often we don't
realize the uniqueness of our own experiences until faced with people
who have never experienced what we have. Each Shabbat as we celebrate
the creation, Daniel and I are compelled to reaffirm our commitment to
Torah and mitzvot (commandments). We are often alone, the singular Jews
observing Shabbat in the neighborhood, the country or even the entire
region. While it may be more difficult to do so than within a thriving,
populous Jewish community, being observant is possible anywhere. The key
is to be knowledgeable, committed and consistent.

By the time we finish dessert, I explain that in each of the places
Daniel and I have lived, we have attempted to be a "light unto the
nations" for our non-Jewish friends, colleagues and strangers. For this
reason, we often invited people to our home in The Gambia, where we
proudly recite the blessings on our food to show them how we thank G-d
for our food. They gained a new respect for, and understanding of, the
ways of the Torah. We see our professional opportunities not merely as a
chance to represent the United States and its people, but to sanctify
G-d's name and benefit the Jewish people as a whole.

By the time we have finished the meal, other guests have had a glimpse
of our lives. We tell them that just after Passover, we will begin a
three-year tour in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of
the Congo. It's a tough assignment for anyone, not least a couple of
Orthodox Jews. We eagerly await new and interesting episodes, which will
doubtless be the subject of conversation at future Shabbat meals.

Reprinted with permission from the N'Shei Chabad Newsletter

                               WHAT'S NEW
                              New Centers

Chabad on Campus UK just held their dedication ceremony of their new
Bloomsbury Center in the heart of London. Chabad on Campuses throughout
the world serve Jewish students 7 days a week with an open home away
from home, classes, Friday night Shabbat dinners and a vibrant social
place for Jewish students to meet.

On the streets of Barcelona, Spain's call, is a new Chabad Center where
tourists can relax over a cup of coffee, use free Internet access, drop
off their luggage for pickup after a day of touring, and attend daily
Torah classes and prayer services. The center also has a full line of
Jewish books and a selection of kosher wines for purchase.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                       14th of Elul, 5727 [1967]

Greeting and Blessing:

I duly received your correspondence, and may G-d grant that you should
have good news to report in regard to the contents of your letters.

No doubt you remember the Alter Rebbe's [Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of
Chasidism] explanation of the significance of the month of Elul, in
terms of the following analogy: There are times when a king leaves his
palace and goes out to meet his subjects in the field, when everyone,
regardless of his state and station, can approach the king, and the king
receives everyone graciously and fulfills their petitions. The days of
Elul are such a period when the King of Kings is, as it were, "in the
field." This is, therefore, the proper time to strengthen the adherence
to the commandments of the King, and to receive a greater measure of the
King's blessings.

Wishing you and yours a Kesivo vaChasimo Tovo [to be written and sealed
for good],

With blessing,

P.S. With regard to the question of Moshiach which you raise in your
letter - I refer you to the Rambam, Hilchos Melochim, Chaps. 11-12
[Maimonides, Laws of Kings].

Enclosed is a copy of the general Rosh Hashono message, which you will
surely put to good advantage.

                                *  *  *

                        9th of Elul, 5718 [1958]

Greeting and Blessing:

I received your letter of August 14th, containing the good news that you
are pleased with the outcome of the court case so far, and, what is even
more important, with the progress tat you and your wife have been making
towards complete recovery.

You do not mention anything about your business and your public work,
which I take it as an indication that all is well in those departments.

Now that we have entered the month of Elul, when we say twice daily in
our prayers Psalm 27, "G-d is my light and my salvation," etc., I truth
that you will become increasingly aware that this is so in your case.

Wishing you and yours a Kesivo Vachasimo Toivo,

With blessing,

                                *  *  *

                       20th of Elul, 5720 [1960]

Greeting and Blessing:

I received your two letter of August 22nd and 26th.

With regard to the question of the Rabbi who has left, and you ask my
opinion about the candidacy of Rabbi [...], generally speaking, it seems
that he is a suitable candidate. As for particulars, it depends what his
duties would be, but surely everything could be arranged with the help
of Anash.

With regard to the question of the merger between the two Shuls
[synagogues], I do not think that this is a good idea. For one thing,
there is the question of Nusach [prayer rite], and for another, this is
the time when the number of Shuls should be increased rather than
decreased. Furthermore, you write that the other congregation is
"small-minded," etc., which seems to indicate that there would be room
for friction, etc.

On the question of arranging an affair in behalf of the activities of
Lubavitch, I do not see why people want to postpone it until Purim
inasmuch as time is of the essence and the activities demand support and
expansion all the time. Therefore, it seems to me that the sooner the
affair is arranged, the better it would be. Even if it has to be
connected with a festival day, surely Chanukah comes earlier, and, being
for eight days, it offers an opportunity to select the most suitable day
of the week for this purpose.

In this connection I might again recall to your mind the story of the
fundraiser, who, on receiving a check to cover a pledge, rebuked the
donor. When the surprised donor asked him why he deserved the rebuke,
the fundraiser answered, "had you brought it earlier, I could have had
another pledge from you since then."

As for your daughter's training to become a Hebrew teacher, you do not
write how well this fits in with her studies at present. But the very
fact that you ask my opinion on the advisability of her training for a
Hebrew teach at this time, suggests that it can be arranged so that her
present studies would not be affected, and if so, it would be advisable.

To conclude on a word of thanks, I recently had the opportunity to view
the film of the Lag B'Omer parade in London which you were kind enough
to send me. It gave me much pleasure, and thank you very much.

Hoping to hear good news from you, and wishing you again a Kesivo
vachasimo, toivo, including, of course, a greater improvement in your
business affairs,

With blessing,

                            WHAT'S IN A NAME
CHAIM means "life." The name is often given as an additional name to one
who is critically ill. The feminine version is "Chaya."

CHAVA means "mother of all living."  She was the first woman, mother of
all humanity, the wife of Adam (Genesis 2:23).

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
"There is a time and season for everything," King Solomon taught in the
book of Ecclesiastes. According to Jewish tradition, there are various
times throughout the day, week, month and year that are most appropriate
for reflection and personal accounting: Each evening before retiring is
the time to consider ones actions throughout the day. Every Thursday
night one should reflect on the week that has passed. On the eve of
every new (Jewish) month, one reviews the month and in the last month of
the Jewish year one evaluates the entire year.

We have just entered that final month, Elul.

Elul is the time when we look over our deeds of the previous year and
make a reckoning and appraisal of our personal growth and development.

There are many customs associated with the month of Elul. During Elul it
is customary to have one's mezuzot and tefilin checked by an expert
scribe (sofer). One is also enjoined to be more careful in the area of
the Jewish dietary laws (kashrut).

From the very beginning of the month we greet friends and sign letters
with the wish that we should be "written and sealed for good" and that
we should have a "good and sweet year."

In addition, we add Psalm 27 to our daily prayers as well as increasing
our recitation of Psalms in general.

With all of this, it is good to keep in mind the analogy of Rabbi Shneur
Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism, that during the month of Elul "the
King is in the field." This means that although at any time of year G-d
is surely approachable by each and each one of us, He is even closer to
us in the month of Elul.

As we are merely at the beginning of the month, let's not waste a
moment. Let's get to work so that we will all truly have a good and
sweet year, with the ultimate good of Moshiach NOW!

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
You shall be perfect with the L-rd your G-d (Deut. 18:13)

Just as it is important to safeguard one's physical health, a Jew must
take steps to ensure that his soul is whole and that all his spiritual
"limbs" are healthy. For just as there are 613 components in the human
body - 248 limbs and 365 sinews - so too are there 613 parts of the
Jewish soul whose state of perfection is dependent on observing the 613
commandments of the Torah.

                                                   (Likrat Shabbat)

                                *  *  *

In many prayer books, the words "I hereby accept upon myself the
positive commandment of 'And you shall love your fellow as yourself'"
preface the prayers themselves. One reason for this is that because our
prayers are offered instead of sacrifices (which have to be whole and
unblemished), so too must the entire "body" of the Jewish people (each
one of whom is considered a limb) be perfect and complete, united with
love for one another, before we approach our Creator.

                                            (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

                                *  *  *

You shall appoint a king over yourself (Deut. 17:15)

The inner intent of this commandment is to instill in the Jewish people
a sense of nullification before G-d and acceptance of the yoke of
heaven. For a Jewish king is completely nullified before G-d; submitting
to his sovereignty contains an element of nullification before G-d as

                                               (Derech Mitzvotecha)

                                *  *  *

And this is the case of the slayer...whoever unwittingly kills his
neighbor...he shall flee to one of those cities, and live (Deut. 19:4,5)

The Torah designates six cities of refuge to which a person who has
inadvertently killed can flee and atone for his deed. When Moshiach
comes and the borders of Israel are expanded to include the territory of
the Kini, Kenizi and Kadmoni, three more cities of refuge will be
established. But why will additional cities be necessary in the
Messianic Era? In that time, peace will reign supreme and there will be
no violence between men. What purpose, then, will these cities of refuge
serve? Although no new acts of violence will occur, the cities of refuge
will allow those Jews who accidentally killed someone throughout the
centuries of exile to seek atonement and be worthy of the Messianic Era.

                              (Hitvaaduyot, Rosh Chodesh Elul 5746)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Reb Nachum and Reb Gedalya were the two wealthiest citizens in their
respective counties. Thus, when a match was arranged between the two
families it was the talk of the town.

Several weeks passed as preparations were made for the celebration, an
event that was already being referred to as "the" social event of the
year if not the decade. Then, all of a sudden, a rumor began to
circulate that Reb Nachum, the father of the bride, had lost his

Eventually the bitter truth came out: Reb Nachum had been forced to
declare bankruptcy. Not only had he lost his personal wealth but he had
even had to sell his house to appease his creditors. With nowhere else
to go the family moved into a tiny apartment paid for by the community.

When Reb Gedalya heard the news he immediately sent a messenger to Reb
Nachum with a letter expressing his sympathy. Reb Nachum's reversal of
fortune sincerely touched his heart. At the same time, it was obvious to
him that the match between their children could no longer take place; it
was simply a mistake to be remedied as soon as possible.

However, what was obvious to Reb Gedalya was not all that obvious to Reb
Nachum. "A match is a match," he insisted, refusing to back out of the
agreement. "It should have nothing at all to do with financial

When the messenger returned to Reb Gedalya with Reb Nachum's reply his
compassion quickly turned to anger. Without a moment's delay he set out
for Reb Nachum's house, taking with him all of his son's engagement
gifts so he could return them.

Reb Nachum, however, was equally adamant in person about refusing to
annul the match. "It's not my fault I lost all my money!" he exclaimed.
" 'A person who sinned under compulsion, G-d exempts from punishment.' "

Reb Gedalya thought long and hard about his frustrating dilemma; then an
idea occurred to him. "How about a third party making the decision?" he
asked. "The famous tzadik, Rebbe Chaim of Sanz, lives not far from here.
Let us go to him together, tell him what happened and follow his

Reb Nachum was unmoved. "I am not calling off the match under any
circumstances. It would never have been agreed to if it were not decreed
from on high. If you want to go to the tzadik, fine. But I'm not going
anywhere." Annoyed, Reb Gedalya had no choice but to make the trip

It was late Friday afternoon when he arrived in Sanz. Although the Rebbe
did not usually receive visitors so close to Shabbat, an exception was
made for Reb Gedalya, whose acts of charity were legendary.

It is most likely that the tzadik was already aware of Reb Gedalya's
story, as there was almost no one in the region who hadn't heard it.
Nonetheless, he listened attentively as Reb Gedalya poured out his tale
of woe.

The Rebbe was silent for a few minutes before responding. "You are very
lucky to have come here," he finally said. "However, as it is almost
Shabbat, it is too late now to discuss it any further. Why don't you
stay here as my guest, and after Shabbat we will continue this

Reb Gedalya left the Rebbe's presence greatly encouraged and in a
hopeful mood. The tzadik had listened to his every word and seemed to
agree with him. Surely he would rule in his favor; hadn't he told him
that he was "very lucky"? Reb Gedalya spent a delightful Shabbat in the
Sanzer Rebbe's courtyard.

Right after Havdala, Reb Gedalya was again admitted into the tzadik's
chamber. With awe and trepidation he awaited the Rebbe's pronouncement.

"Reb Gedalya," the Sanzer Rebbe told him, "I want you to leave
immediately for Reb Nachum's house and deliver the following message:

Tell him that although he agreed to pay for half of the wedding, as he
does not have even a penny left to his name, you, Reb Gedalya, will be
happy to pay for the entire celebration, which will take place on the
date already agreed upon."

After Reb Gedalya had recovered from his shock he surprised himself by
daring to ask for an explanation. "But Rebbe!" he stammered. "I don't
understand. Didn't you tell me that I was 'very lucky'?"

The Rebbe looked directly into Reb Gedalya's eyes and smiled. "I guess
you didn't understand my intention," he said. "I meant that you are very
lucky that it is you who has come to me and not your future in-law, Reb
Nachum. Can you imagine how you would feel if it were the other way
around, if the wheel of fortune had turned for you instead of him?"

Indeed, Reb Gedalya's son and Reb Nachum's daughter were wed. And the
Sanzer Rebbe himself conducted the ceremony.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The ascent to be achieved through the Messianic redemption will be great
enough to make the time we spend in exile worthwhile. There is no other
means for us to reach this high rung. Were we able to make this ascent
without going through the pains of exile, G-d surely would not have
exposed us to them.

                          (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 20 Av, 5745-1985)

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1133 - Shoftim 5770

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