Holidays   Shabbat   Chabad-houses   Chassidism   Subscribe   Calendar   Links B"H
The Weekly Publication for Every Jewish Person
Archives Current Issues Home Current Issue
                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1139
                           Copyright (c) 2010
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
                  Electronic version provided free at:
                  Palm-Pilot version provided free at:
                    To receive the L'CHAIM by e-mail
                  write to:
                              Subscribe W1
   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        October 1, 2010         Bereshis        23 Tishrei, 5771

                          The Soul of the Sole

Once, on the festival of Simchat Torah, the Baal Shem Tov (founder of
Chasidism) told his disciples the following:

"On Simchat Torah people generally oversleep a bit because of the late
festival meal and the dancing of the night before. But the angels do not
have this sort of schedule, so naturally, they 'wake' up on Simchat
Torah at the same time as usual. The angels want to begin chanting their
songs of praise to G-d, but they are not permitted to do so until the
Jews begin their prayers. So off they go to tidy up the Garden of

"Now, in the Garden of Eden, the angels find articles they have never
before encountered. What could these things be? The Garden is strewn
with soles of shoes! The angels are mystified. They are accustomed to
finding prayer books, Shabbat candles, coins for charity, tefilin, and
mezuzot in the Garden, but shoe soles?

Off the angels go to question the angel Michael*. The angel Michael
explains to them that this is his doing-these soles and slippers are the
result of Jews dancing with the Torah. Lovingly, the angel begins
collecting the soles. "These are from Kaminka and these from Mezeritch,"
and so on, he enumerates.

Then the angel Michael proudly insists that he is superior to the angel
who binds crowns for the Creator from the prayers of the Jewish people.
"The torn soles of Simchat Torah make a finer crown," he declares.

Many of us aren't gifted with a "good" head. Not everyone has a kind and
caring heart. But most everyone has feet with which to dance and hands
with which to clap.

And we all have voices with which to sing-though some of us are more in
tune than others.

The festival of Sukkot is referred to as the "Season of Our Rejoicing."
In addition to participating in the mitzvot (commandments) of eating in
a sukka, and shaking the lulav and etrog, we have been given the
additional mitzva to rejoice and be happy.

During Sukkot itself, in commemoration of a special service that used to
take place in the Holy Temple, celebrations take place in Jewish
communities all over the world. At these celebrations, known as Simchat
Beit HaSho'eiva, Jews celebrate in a manner in which all Jews are truly
equal, by rejoicing!

The dancing and festivities of Sukkot and Simchat Beit HaSho'eiva
culminate in the whirling and twirling and uninhibited exuberance of
Simchat Torah, when we rejoice equally with the Torah, not with heads
and hearts, nor with our wallets, but with feet and shoes and with the
soles that are later collected in the Garden of Eden and woven into a
most luminous and fine crown for the Creator.

Celebrate with your family, with friends and with your feet during the
upcoming "Season of Our Rejoicing." Get out there and exercise your
soles and your soul simultaneously!

* The angel Michael is the angel of loving-kindness. He is responsible
for bestowing upon the Jewish people blessings of children, health, and

We are commanded to rejoice during the festivals. The rejoicing during
the holiday of Sukkot reached its peak, in the times of the Holy Temple,
in the unbounded joy of the water-drawing celebrations (Simchat Beit

During the year, many offerings on the altar were accompanied by a
special pouring or libation of wine. On Sukkot, in addition to the
regular wine-offering, there was also a unique pouring of water. At that
time the assembled crowds broke into limitless, profound, ecstatic
rejoicing which continued for three days, and of which the Sages said,
"Whoever has not seen the rejoicing of the water-drawing has never in
his life seen true joy!"

The Sages chose their words with care. They are not merely telling a
story, but giving a valuable lesson - that if one has not seen the
rejoicing of the Water-drawing, although he may think he has at times
participated in unbounded rejoicing, he is in error. His joyous
experience was in fact a superficial one. For, since he has never
witnessed the water-drawing, he is incapable of experiencing true joy.
This is the full significance of the above statement.

What does true joy entail? It entails breaking one's own bounds and
inhibitions, exceeding one's own limitations. At the wedding of an only
child, a normally reticent and taciturn father may become a voluble and
loquacious speaker. If a person has a rational, intelligent reason to be
happy, then his happiness is limited by the extent of his understanding.
But when he receives a reward or a gift that is "beyond his wildest
dreams," that his intelligence could not possibly have foreseen, when he
is moved by a cause that stems not merely from his understanding, but
from his very essence and being... then the resultant joy is similarly

In Temple times, wine was used as a libation. It was water, though,
which was the main ingredient of the water-drawing ceremony. Wine has a
taste, a flavor; water has no intrinsic flavor. Wine and water have
their equivalents in spiritual life. When one is motivated to serve G-d
by intelligent reasoning and logic, such service is termed "wine"; one
savors the "taste" or "reason" for doing the mitzva (commandment).
Service impelled by a feeling of pure submissiveness to G-d, is called
"water"; one cannot relish the "flavor" of rationality in such service.

Truly limitless joy cannot come as a result of one's understanding and
intelligence - for they are limited. But when a person realizes that he
himself is limited, finite, he nullifies himself, he neutralizes his
ego. In a spirit of total submissiveness he becomes one with limitless
G-d through the union of the mitzva. Then he transcends his limitations
and can serve G-d with truly boundless joy.

Whoever has not seen the rejoicing of the water-drawing, has never in
his life seen true joy. Because the libation of water, as opposed to
wine, symbolizes the quality of submissiveness as opposed to the
intellect and rationality of wine.

                    Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                     The Case of the Missing Etrog
                            by Chaya Shuchat

It was the second day of Sukkot and my husband came home and cheerfully
informed me that his lulav and etrog were nowhere to be found. He had
given his set to a yeshiva student who was making rounds to hospitals
and nursing homes, to give patients the opportunity to fulfill this
important mitzva (commandment). The young man, in turn, had passed in on
to someone else who promised that he would personally return it. The
chain broke down at that point but it was clear that someone had my
husband's set of Four Species, and it was not him.

Unfortunately, I was unable to digest this news with the same equanimity
that my husband displayed. A lulav-and-etrog set is not cheap -
somewhere between $100 and $200 for a nicely grown, plump, unblemished
citron and a firm, straight-backed lulav branch. This is on top of all
the additional holiday expenses - new clothing and shoes for all the
children, festive meals nearly every night.

Before I reacted, though, I recalled a story that I heard in childhood,
of a poor rabbi who sold an heirloom set of tefilin, his only valuable
possession, in order to afford a beautiful etrog. His wife was so
incensed at what he had done that she grabbed the etrog and bit off its
tip, rendering it unfit for a blessing.

My sympathies at that moment were completely with the rebbetzin, and I
probably would have done worse things to the etrog, had it been in my
possession. But our precious set of Four Species was currently in the
hands of a well-meaning yeshiva student, who at the moment was trudging
around Brooklyn to find Jews who had not managed to acquire their own
set. This image calmed me down somewhat, at least enough to ask through
clenched teeth: "And if you must lend out your lulav and etrog, why
can't you at least buy a cheap set just for lending?"

"And why," my husband inquired patiently, "should a Jew in the street
make a blessing over a lulav and etrog less beautiful than the one I
choose for myself?"

I found it difficult to argue with his logic. People who spend over $100
on a set of fruit and branches will fall for a mystical argument

I reminded myself of another childhood story, of a different rabbi (or
maybe it was the same one?) who set out with the precious rubles he had
hoarded all year, to purchase a truly outstanding set of Four Species.
Along the way, he passed a poor coachman whose horse had just keeled
over and died. The poor man was now left without any means of support.
Without hesitation, the rabbi handed over the entire sum to the coachman
to purchase a new horse. After all, he reasoned, blessing the Four
Species is a mitzva, and charity is a mitzva, too. When everyone else in
the synagogue blesses the Four Species, he will say his blessing over a

Applying the rabbi's logic to my own situation, on the cosmic mitzva
scale there really is no difference if my husband makes a blessing over
his set, or if that same set is used by hundreds of other Jews on the
streets of Brooklyn. Mitzva = mitzva, right? Especially since the mitzva
is compounded many times over, by all the people using it.

I remembered one year when my husband's etrog had been returned to him
covered with brown splotches, testimony to the dozens of hands that had
gripped it. I had looked distastefully at the bruised etrog, thinking of
the many hours he had spent browsing the etrog market, trying to find
the most perfect, unblemished fruit. But my husband had seen it
differently: "All the hand-marks make the etrog more beautiful."

Putting the missing-etrog saga into perspective, I couldn't be too
angry. As the rabbi in the story had remarked to his etrog-chomping
wife, family harmony is also a mitzva, and if G-d had seen fit to
deprive them of one mitzva there was no reason not to have the other.
The rabbi kept his peace, and so did I. My husband mentally relinquished
all claim to his lulav and etrog, and gifted it with a full heart to the
student who had borrowed it.

We made do with borrowed etrogim for the duration of the holiday, as my
husband's set never was returned. I still wish he had found a more
reliable agent, but mess-ups do happen. As we say in Yiddish, "zol es
zain a kappara - let it be an atonement," and let our forgiving attitude
in this instance stand us in good stead the next time we inadvertently
lose or damage someone else's property.

I am writing this story nearly a year later. Looking back, I have to say
that G-d amply repaid us for the cost of the missing etrog. In fact, we
were able to set aside enough money to easily meet all of this year's
holiday expenses, including the most beautiful lulav and etrog that we
can find.

       Reprinted with permission of the author, originally appeared

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             Public Sukkot

If you're in Manhattan, visit one of the Lubavitch Youth Organization's
public sukkas during the intermediate days of the holiday. They will be
open Sun., Sept. 26 - Tues., Sept. 28, 10 am-6 pm, and Wed., Sept. 29,
10 am - 1 pm. The Sukkot are: the International Sukka in Ralph Bunch
Park, First Ave. and 42nd St. at the UN; the Garment Center Sukka in
Greely Square at Broadway and 33rd St.; the Wall Street Sukka in Battery
Park at Battery Place and State St. For more info call (718) 778-6000.
To find out about public sukkot in your area call your local
Chabad-Lubavitch Center.

                              Please Note

This issue of L'Chaim is for 16/23 Tishrei, 5771 - Sept. 24/Oct. 1,
2010. The next issue (1140) is for 30 Tishrei/Oct. 8, the Torah portion
of Noach.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                       18th of Elul, 5738  (1978)

                Excerpts from a freely translated letter

...It has often been pointed out that man's mission in life includes
also "elevating" the environment in which he lives, in accordance with
the Divine intent in the entire Creation and in all its particulars, by
infusing holiness and G-dliness into all the aspects of the physical
world within his reach - in the so-called "Four Kingdoms" - domeim,
tzome'ach, chai and medaber (inorganic matter, vegetable, animal, and

Significantly, this finds expression in the special mitzvoth
(commandments)  which are connected with the beginning of the year, by
way of introduction to the entire year - in the festivals of the month
of Tishrei:

The mitzvah of the sukkah, the Jew's house of dwelling during the seven
days of Sukkoth, where the walls of the sukkah represent the "inorganic

The mitzvah of the "four kinds" - esrog, lulav, myrtle and willow -
which come from the "vegetable kingdom";

The mitzvah of shofar on Rosh Hashanah, the shofar being a horn of an

And all of these things (by virtue of being Divine commandments,
mitzvoth) are elevated through the medaber, the "speaking" (human) being
- the person carrying out the said (and all other) mitzvoth, whereby he
elevates also himself and mankind - Both in the realm of doing as well
as that of not doing - the latter is represented in the mitzvah of the
fast on the Holy Day, the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.

Thus, through infusing holiness into all four kingdoms of the physical
world and making them into "vessels" (and instruments) of G-dliness in
carrying out G-d's command - a Jew elevates them to their true

It also follows that just as in regard to his personal perfection, which
is expected to rise in harmony with his rising state, so also in regard
to the four kingdoms he is expected (and given the ability) to raise,
from time to time, the state of perfection to which he elevates them (as
explained above) - both quantitatively and qualitatively - in the manner
of doing the mitzvoth (where there can be grades of performance, such as
acceptable post facto; good to begin with; according to unanimous
opinion; with enhancement, etc.) and their inner content.

Taking into account the assurance that G-d does not require of a human
being anything beyond his capacity, it is certain that, notwithstanding
the fact that only a few days remain until the conclusion of the year,
everyone, man or woman, can achieve utmost perfection in all the
aforesaid endeavors, according to the expression of our Sages of blessed
memory - "by one 'turn,' in one instant," since the person so resolved
receives aid from G-d, the absolute Ein Sof (Infinite), for Whom there
are no limitations.

May G-d grant that the efforts to achieve utmost perfection in the
outgoing year and the good resolutions to achieve perfection in all the
abovementioned matters each day of the coming year, should bring down
upon everyone G-d's blessings in all needs, material and spiritual, also
in complete measure - "Out of His full, open, holy, and ample Hand."

And - very soon indeed - the complete blessing given to all the Jewish
people and to each individual, "And (G-d's) Sukkah - the Holy Temple -
will be in Shalem" - the city complete with goodness and holiness,
Jerusalem, at the true and complete Redemption through our Righteous

                            WHAT'S IN A NAME
SHLOMO means "his peace."  King Shlomo was the son of King David and
Batsheva (II Samuel 12:24) renowned for his wisdom.  He is the author of
three books from the Bible:  The Song of Songs, Proverbs and
Ecclesiastes. King Shlomo organized the building of the first Holy
Temple in Jerusalem.

SHLOMIT means "peaceful."  She was the daughter of Divri from the tribe
on Dan (Leviticus 3:24).

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
A unique aspect of Sukkot that is not found in any other festival is the
"Ushpizin," the seven supernal guests that visit us in the sukka on each
night of the holiday.

While all of the Ushpizin (Aramaic for "guests") visit the sukka on each
of the seven nights of Sukkot, each supernal "guest" is specifically
associated with one of the holiday's seven days, and leads the other

We learn about the Ushpizin from the Zohar, the basic book of Kabala.
The Zohar explains that it is the "seven shepherds of the Jewish people"
who are the Ushpizin and that their order (of dominance) is as follows:
On the first night Abraham; the second night Isaac; the third night
Jacob: then Moses, Aaron, Joseph and on the final night David.

Each one of the seven shepherds is associated with one of the seven
Sefirot, or divine attributes, which are mirrored in the seven basic
human character traits.

As each supernal "guest" visits our sukka, he empowers us with the
quality that defines him. Abraham is chesed (kindness), Isaac is gevura
(strictness), Jacob is tiferet (beauty, or harmony), Moses is netzach
(victory), Aaron is hod (splendor), Joseph is yesod (foundation) and
David is malchut (sovereignty).

Why do the Ushpizin visit on Sukkot, and not any other holiday?

Sukkot, more than any other Jewish festival, is associated with Jewish
unity. In fact, in the Talmud it states, "It is fitting that all Jews
should sit in one sukka." Since, in practical terms, that's impossible,
as least in principle, we are expected on Sukkot to behave in a manner
that enhances Jewish unity.

And, in fact, one of the prime mitzvot (commandments) of Sukkot, making
a blessing over the "Four Species" (palm, etrog, willow and myrtle),
represents all kinds of Jews bound together as one!

So, the Ushpizin, join us and our earthly guests, on a holiday when we
try even harder to enhance Jewish unity.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
                          Decorating the Sukka

One year on the eve of Sukkot, Rabbi Chaim of Zanz told his sons that he
needed several thousand rubles. As soon as they brought him the money,
he distributed it to the needy. As he entered his sukka that evening he
said: "Some people decorate their sukka with all kinds of pretty
ornaments. But the decoration in this sukka is charity!

                                     (A Treasury of Chasidic Tales)

                                *  *  *


The gabbai (overseer) of the synagogue came up to the rebbe, Reb Shalom
Ber of Lubavitch, and invited him to begin the hakafot (circles around
the bima with the Torah scrolls). But the Rebbe just shrugged and said,
"I'm not ready yet." The Rebbe then walked over to a businessman who
worked on commission and asked him, "Tell me, how do you run your
business?" "It's easy," replied the merchant. "I bring in merchandise
from the market in the big city and I offer it to the small retailers.
To those who pay me for the goods I brought them before, I give more
merchandise on credit." Now, the word for credit is "hakafa," the same
word that signifies the circuits made around the bima with the Torah
scroll on Simchat Torah. The Rebbe explained to all those in the shul,
"After we have paid G-d in cash - the varied kinds of divine service of
the month of Elul, Rosh Hashana, the Ten Days of Repentance, Yom Kippur,
Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret - then He will give us a new consignment of
goods - blessings for the New Year - on credit. In full expectation of a
successful 'business deal' we will now begin the hakafot."

                                *  *  *

                             Last and First

The last letter of the Torah is "lamed" (in the word "Yisrael"). The
first letter of the Torah is "beit" in "B'Reishit - In the beginning."
These two letter together spell the word "lev - heart." The Torah is the
heart of the Jewish people and demands that we view each other as one
singular heart, pulsating, beating and bringing life to our world and
every one of its inhabitants.

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Sukkot, 1914. The effects of the World War II in Europe were being felt
as far away as the Holy Land. Many of the supply routes were closed and
provisions were scarce. The old Jewish settlement suffered numerous
losses, not only from the pervasive hunger but also from the contagious
illnesses that were taking their toll. Nonetheless, whenever holidays
rolled around the atmosphere was charged with spiritual exultation and

In those days, the sukka of the famous Reb Mottele of Chernobyl was a
major attraction. The tzadik had quickly become one of the most beloved
figures in Jerusalem ever since his arrival from Russia ten years

Everyone had been astounded that first year, when Reb Mottele had built
the most elaborate and beautiful sukka anyone had ever seen. Not only
had the tzadik put it up himself, but he had also decorated it with
considerable artistic skill. The sukka was made of the finest wood, with
ornate carvings on its panels depicting scenes relating to the holiday.

Reb Mottele had brought the seven heavy panels with him from Russia. As
he had once revealed, the amazing sukka had been inherited from his
father, who had inherited the family treasure from his own father. With
each succeeding generation, its wooden walls had absorbed additional
measures of holiness.

For ten years the Jews of Jerusalem had marveled at the sumptuous
structure, which was in striking contrast to their own humble booths.
Crowds of people would gather around it in awe. Indeed, many stories
were told about its powerful spiritual aura. It was even said that Rabbi
Dovid'l of Lelov had pronounced it "a likeness of the supernal sukka on

That particular year, however, when the residents of Jerusalem made
their annual trek to admire Reb Mottele's sukka, they got the shock of
their lives. Gone was the imposing, elaborately carved edifice; instead,
they found the tzadik sitting in a tiny, wobbly shack. Out of respect
for Reb Mottele they hid their astonishment and said nothing. But they
were naturally quite curious and could not help speculating as to what
had happened.

A number of theories were proposed. Someone suggested that perhaps the
terrible famine had forced Reb Mottele to sell the sukka, but this
explanation was rejected out of hand. Everyone remembered how several
years before a famous philanthropist had arrived in Jerusalem and
offered Reb Mottele a veritable fortune if he would sell it. Reb Mottele
had absolutely refused. No, there had to be another explanation. It was
simply impossible that Reb Mottele would willingly part from his beloved
sukka. But if so, where was it?

For the next few months the disappearance of Reb Mottele's sukka was the
talk of the town. Then one day the mystery was solved, from a completely
unexpected direction:

One evening during that particularly cold winter, a gathering was held
in a Jerusalem synagogue commemorating the passing of a tzadik from a
previous generation. Many of the most prominent figures in the holy city
attended, among them the elder Chasid Rabbi Yisrael Meir Gottlieb.

Suddenly, in the middle of the commemorative meal, Rabbi Yisrael Meir
stood up and requested the floor. The hall was immediately silent. "I
would like this occasion to also serve as an expression of my personal
thanksgiving," he stated. "It would have been fitting to arrange a
separate celebration, but unfortunately, times are such that it is
beyond my financial ability to do so.

"A few months ago my young grandson became very ill," he began. "His
condition worsened until the doctors said that the only way to save his
life would be to bathe him in warm water several times a day. You all
recognize what this meant at a time when it was impossible to obtain a
drop of kerosene or a lump of coal. How would we be able to heat the
water to give the lad even one bath a day?

"At that point I went to my Rebbe, Reb Mottele, and explained my
grandson's predicament. For a brief moment Reb Mottele was quiet. Then
he jumped up, grabbed my arm and led me to a storage shed in the back of
the house. Opening the door he pointed inside and said, 'Take wood from

"What can I say?" Rabbi Yisrael Meir shook his head in disbelief. "When
I saw that he was pointing to the panels of his sukka, my whole body
began to tremble. Surely I was hallucinating. But Reb Mottele would not
allow me to even think about it. 'You must take the wood. It is a case
of saving a life.'

"With a broken heart I followed his instructions, splitting the holy
panels into small pieces so they would catch fire and burn. My grandson
was bathed as per the doctors' orders, and thank G-d, last week he was
pronounced completely well. I would therefore like this meal to be
considered in honor of his recovery. To tell you the truth, I don't know
what is more impressive," he concluded, "the miracle of my grandson's
recovery, or the piety of Reb Mottele..."

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The etrog (citron) is a unique fruit in that it remains on the tree for
an entire year, thriving precisely on the changes in climate of the
different seasons. For this reason the etrog is symbolic of the Jew, the
eternal wanderer who must endure all kinds of trials and tribulations as
he suffers in exile. Yet like the etrog, the Jew will thrive even in the
most adverse conditions and emerge triumphant with the coming of

                                                      (Bait Yaakov)

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1139 - Bereshis 5771

  • Daily Lessons
  • Weekly Texts & Audio
  • Candle-Lighting times

    613 Commandments
  • 248 Positive
  • 365 Negative

  • BlackBerry
  • iPhone / iPod Touch
  • Java Phones
  • Palm Pilot
  • Palm Pre
  • Pocket PC
  • P800/P900
  • Moshiach
  • Resurrection
  • For children - part 1
  • For children - part 2

  • Jewish Women
  • Holiday guides
  • About Holidays
  • The Hebrew Alphabet
  • Hebrew/English Calendar
  • Glossary

  • by SIE
  • About
  • Chabad
  • The Baal Shem Tov
  • The Alter Rebbe
  • The Rebbe Maharash
  • The Previous Rebbe
  • The Rebbe
  • Mitzvah Campaign

    Children's Corner
  • Rabbi Riddle
  • Rebbetzin Riddle
  • Tzivos Hashem

  • © Copyright 1988-2009
    All Rights Reserved
    L'Chaim Weekly