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 # 1153
                           Copyright (c) 2011
                 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.
        January 7, 2011            Bo             2 Shevat, 5771

                          Starry, Starry Night

Just how many stars are there? And why does it matter?

Until recently astronomers thought there were 100 sextillion stars. But
now, according to a new study, there may be three times as many - 300
sextillion stars!

How did the scientists manage to overlook so many stars? It's not like
misplacing some grains of sand!

Here's how it happened: scientists looked at our galaxy, the Milky Way,
which is spiral-shaped, and assumed that all galaxies had the same ratio
of red dwarfs (the most common kind of star) as ours.

But a third of the galaxies are elliptical, not spiral. And elliptical
galaxies have more red dwarf stars than predicted, 10 or 20 times more.

Here's where the numbers get mind-boggling: Scientists estimate there
are 100 billion to a trillion galaxies in the universe; each, scientists
thought, had 100 billion stars - until they discovered all those red
dwarfs hiding in the ellipticals. They now think the ellipticals have as
many as 1 trillion to 10 trillion stars.

Crunch the numbers and you get about 300 sextillion stars.

One scientist discovered an interesting "coincidence." He looked up how
many cells are in the average human body: 50 trillion or so. He
multiplied that by the 6 billion people on Earth. Guess what the answer
was - 300 sextillion.

So the number of stars in the universe equals the number of cells in all
the people on Earth.

The scientist called it a "funny coincidence." Anyone who's studied
Chasidic teachings knows better.

Man is called a microcosm - a mini-universe. This is true of each
individual and it is true of humanity as a whole. Just as our physical
DNA replicates itself into a complete human being - each of our
individual 50 trillion and collective 300 hundred sextillion cells
having a specific function, gathering together into organs, organs into
systems, such as the digestive, respiratory, etc. (similar to the way
stars gather into galaxies and galaxies into clusters), so too our
spiritual DNA replicates itself - each mitzva, each positive commandment
and negative commandment - into the ethical structure of existence.

Jewish mysticism also explains the "coincidence" - correspondence,
really - of the number of human cells and the number of stars from a
different perspective, a perspective that also parallels the
galaxies-clusters/organs-systems corres-pondence. Jewish mysticism
explains that the process of Creation takes place by means of a
condensation of the Divine Life Force, through a series of four
spiritual worlds. From the last, G-dliness is so condensed, so
concealed, that this physical, finite realm can appear.

These four worlds - and thus all of existence are composed of 10
Emanations, each of which manifests a different aspect of Divine energy.
They are structured in parallel to human anatomy - a structure through
which we express our own intellectual and emotional attributes.

The bottom line? Though "the universe is more complicated than we
think," as one scientist put it, both we, as individuals - because G-d
created us - and each mitzva however trivial - because G-d commanded it
- have cosmic significance. It's in the stars.

At the close of this week's Torah portion, Bo, the Torah relates how the
oppression and suffering of the Israelites in Egypt reached its height.
So intense was the suffering of the Hebrews that Moses felt constrained
to exclaim to G-d: "Why have You dealt badly toward this people... and
You have not delivered Your people." Even Moses, who was utterly devoted
and faithful to G-d, could find no explanation for the extreme misery
and darkness of the Exile.

Soon, however a most remarkable turn of events took place. Immediately
after this darkest hour of the Egyptian exile, the process of the
redemption was set in motion by G-d. When all hope seemed to have been
lost, precisely then did the first rays of hope begin to shine for the

It is a well-known fact that the darkest part of the night is just
before dawn. Our Sages compare exile to night. So too, when the night of
the Egyptian exile seemed blackest, when the suffering of the Jews
reached such a degree that even Moses complained "Why have You dealt
badly...," it was then that the rays of deliverance began to shine.

The Talmud states that while the other nations of the earth calculate
the yearly cycle according to the rotation of the sun, the Jewish People
base their calendar on the rotation of the moon. For the Jews are
likened to the moon, whose light wanes and diminishes, and finally seems
to disappear. But it is precisely at that point that the new moon is
born, and begins to grow steadily. Jewish history throughout the ages
reflects the "lunar cycle." In the Egyptian exile, after reaching the
lowest depths of oppression, when the long night of exile seemed at its
very darkest, it was then that the deliverance and renewal of hope
began. Such was the case in each subsequent exile.

There is much inspiration and encouragement to be derived from the
above. There are times in one's life when it seems that the "wheel of
fortune" has reached the lowest point of its cycle for him. It appears
to him that his situation is beyond hope. Yet he should not lose faith
and fall into despair, but should bear in mind that the darkest hour of
exile - of our people as a whole, as well as, the "exile" of each
individual - comes just before the start of the redemption.

                   Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                           Discovering Chabad

           From a speech by Ian Wolf at the Chabad Center of
                Northwest New Jersey 23rd Annual Dinner

I live in Rockaway, New Jersey. I am a real estate agent, a father, a
son, and a husband. And this evening, I would like to talk to you
tonight about Jewish identity and a life with meaning.

My search for Jewish identity began at an early age. I never felt like I
had a very Jewish name and I always longed for one of the really Jewish
names of my friends. Wolf didn't sound Jewish and I always wanted
something like Goldstein, Farbman, Bergowitz.  I would've even taken a
Hebrew last name. Something like "chhhhh." Easy to remember, just
difficult to spell. My first name, Ian, is Scottish. And I am not sure
there are many Scottish Jews.

Despite my feelings about my name, I did the most important things a I
felt a Jew should do: I went to Synagogue on Yom Kippur, I didn't mix
milk and meat, and every Christmas Eve I ate Chinese food and went to
the movies.

In Some sense I think all of us struggle to find our Jewish identity.
Where do we fit in? What is the standard? What are we supposed to be

About six years ago I discovered Chabad. I always felt I was an unlikely
candidate for Chabad. I never considered myself very religious and I
could never really grow a beard.  I met Rabbi Herson, who is really so
much more than a Rabbi. He is a great community leader and more
importantly a trusted friend. He has not just taught me more about being
Jewish, but more about myself. Because of Rabbi Baumgarten, I have begun
studying Talmud, something I used to think only those in yeshiva could
do. And I have a new friend to discuss not just Judaism with but
politics, real estate, and life. What I have discovered in my journey
with Chabad is there is no judgment or distinction with regard to your
level of observance. Having a desire to learn more is all that is

Everyone is welcome at Chabad, and more importantly everyone feels
welcome. Chabad gives all Jews access to their Jewish identity. They
teach you about kosher, which these days can be confusing. All those
kosher symbols are like a new language: "O-U, Kaf-k, O-K, yippee ki
yay." It can be overwhelming. Chabad is there to help. Some think kosher
is limiting. Chabad shows you it is delicious and liberating. And a
round of applause please for the Crystal Plaza for proving how true this
is tonight.

A few weeks ago we read in the Torah about Abraham and Sarah and that
they are referred to as "coming into their days," an interesting phrase.
This is an important distinction, as most people find their days coming
into them. It is how we got phrases like "Thank Goodness it's Friday,"
and "Someone's got a case of the Mondays." Abraham and Sarah came into
their days. They welcomed each day and made each day special. Chabad
helps all to elevate the world around them and come into their days.
Tefilin used to be an unnecessary task to me, now tefilin is as
essential as a morning cup of coffee to me. Tefilin gives me that
morning pick-me-up and, of course, I take it black. Tefilin sets the
tone for my day, reminding me to love my fellow man as myself and to
have gratitude for all that is around me. Without Chabad, I would be
missing this essential component to my morning.

I give you one personal example, but the truth is, there are endless
examples of the ways Chabad elevates the world around them: the adult
education, the pre-school, the Hebrew school, the mikvah, the
celebrations, the support. We are all touched by Chabad on some level.
That is why this room is full this evening.

Chabad is timeless. There is no minimum age and there is no maximum. My
parents, my self and my wife, and my children all have deep connections
with Chabad. My children aren't just learning about being Jewish;
they're being given an opportunity to have a Jewish identity. All three
generations of my family are comfortable and able to thrive with the
home that Chabad provides to the Jewish community.

What is incredible to me is how far reaching Chabad is. I know people
who aren't even Jewish who are huge supporters of Chabad, who donate
money to Chabad, because of the way they have been touched by the
organization. Of course, you can't elevate the world around you if you
leave anyone out. I have traveled occasionally on business, and have
found my self in need of a place for a kosher Shabbat meal on Friday
night. Whether I was in Virginia or Texas there was a Chabad with open
doors and a home cooked meal. My parents were living in China for a time
and were even able to attend a Passover Seder there at Chabad. In fact,
recently while in Dallas, I had the first Shabbat meal I have ever eaten
under a deer antler chandelier. The rabbi claimed it was a shofar
chandelier. I am still suspect.

There is no need to travel for a Chabad, because Chabad comes to you.
Whether it is a knock on your door to shake a lulav on Sukkot, or on
Rosh Hashanah to hear the shofar, you can count on Chabad to ensure that
your Jewish identity remains in tact. The Sukka mobile even came to my
office. I was elated because, you can't beat cake and l'chaims with free

Chabad has not just elevated the world around them. They have allowed
countless others to come into their days, to add significance to their
daily routine, and they have made an impact that will not only last but
be carried on for generations. So many people spend decades searching
for more out of life, searching for meaning. But, really all you need to
search for is Chabad.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             New Emissaries

Rabbi Shmuel Sholom and Faiga Serebransky recently arrived in Eastern
Orange County, New York, where they run Chabad programs there. Rabbi
Chaim and Mushka Zaklos will be moving to Battery Park City, New York,
where will be establishing a Chabad House serving the needs of the
Jewish community.

                               New Center

The island of Florianopolis, in southern Brazil, now has its own Chabad
Center, opened this past month by Chabad of Parana.

                      Chabad Emissary Chief Rabbi

Rabbi Yoel Kaplan, the Lubavitcher Rebbe's emissary in Thessaloniki,
Greece, was appointed Chief Rabbi of Albania at a ceremony attended by
Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Rabbi Aryeh Goldberg, deputy
of the Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCE) and Rabbi Gershon Mendel
Garelik of Chabad in Milan, Italy, and co-founder of RCE. Albania's
Prime Minister, Salia Berisha, had met with the RCE and requested a
Chief Rabbi for the Jewish population.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
        Continued from previous issue, from a letter dated 10th
                         of Nissan, 5721 [1961]

(2) You ask, how can one accept the mishnah "All Israel have a portion
in the world to come" and how, by the widest stretch of the imagination,
can one believe that the worst apikores [heretic] will have a share in
the world to come?

The answer to your question may be found in various sources and is
especially illuminated in the sources of Chassidus at length.

The belief of our Jewish people in true Monotheism is, of course, the
very basis of our faith and way of life. This means not only that there
is only One G-d and none other beside Him, but "nothing else beside Him"
(ein od milvado). The whole Creation and all the worlds have no reality
of their own, for there is only one Reality - G-d, inasmuch as a spark
of G-dliness animates and keeps everything in existence, as it is
written, "By the word of G-d the heavens were created," etc. This "word"
of G-d is the essence and reality of everything.

Thus, the individual you call "apikores" is also animated by the "word"
of G-d, which is surely eternal, for that individual is also a part of
Creation and is animated and sustained in the same way. Except that it
was the will of the Creator that this individual, created by the word of
G-d, should have complete freedom to choose good or bad, life or death,
as it is written, "Behold, I place before you this day life and good,
and death and evil."

The individual who misuses this gift of freedom and chooses evil loses
and forfeits that part of this G-d-given energy which went into the
commission of the sin or omission of the mitzvah [commandment], which,
had he chosen otherwise, would have been imbued with an eternal quality.
However, the very essence of his reality, that is, that which has been
created and came into being by the word of G-d, cannot be destroyed, so
long as it retains its essential character. It can only be soiled and
stained by sin, G-d forbid.

But inasmuch as every individual Jew is a "whole world," as our Sages
said, and, moreover, the whole universe was created for his sake, and as
the Sages commented on the word Breishis [In the beginning] - for the
sake of Yisroel called "Reishis," [first] the Jew who sinned most
undergo various transformations and stages of purgatory to be cleansed
of the impurities which had attached themselves to his soul, which is
his essence, and which has a portion in the world to come because of its
eternal quality.

This is also what our Sages meant when they succinctly said - as they
often compress a far-reaching idea into a few concise words by way of
explanation immediately following the statement in the said mishnah of
Kol Yisroel: "For it is written, 'and Thy people are all righteous . . .
a branch of My planting, the work of My hand to be glorified (by
them).'" Because every Jew contains in him something which is like a
branch of the Divine Tree and the work of G-d's own hands, it is
eternal, and that is why "every Jew has a portion in the world to come."

I trust that in harmony with your search for knowledge which you display
in your letter, you have regular daily periods of study of the Torah and
the Torah view, and that is the kind of study which leads to action and
practice in the daily life, as our Sages emphasized that the essential
thing is the deed.

The enclosed message will surely be of interest to you.

Wishing you and your fellow students a kosher, happy and inspiring

With blessing,

                            WHAT'S IN A NAME
YONATAN means "gift of G-d."  Yonatan was the son of King Saul and the
best friend of King David. About their friendship it says, "...but if it
[love] is not dependant upon a specific consideration - it will never
cease...and one which is not dependant upon a specific thing? The love
of David and Yonatan." A variation is Yehonatan. The Ashkenazic
pronunciation is Yonason.

YOCHEVED means "G-d's glory." Yocheved (Exodus 6:20) was the mother of
Miriam, Aharon and Moshe. She, and her husband, Amram, were from the
tribe of Levi.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This Shabbat we read the Torah portion Bo, describing the Jewish
people's redemption from Egypt.

In many places it is explained that the first exile of the Jewish people
in Egypt, and their subsequent redemption, is the prototype of each
future exile and the ultimate redemption which we avidly await, may it
come now.

Just as in those days, we were brought out of Egypt with wonders and
miracles, so too, when we merit to witness the Final Redemption, will we
witness events and wondrous happenings that are miraculous beyond

But wait. Three times each day, in the special Amida prayer, we thank
G-d for His miracles that occur every day and His wonders and kindnesses
that occur each moment.

In truth, we don't need much of an imagination to realize that miracles
and wonders do happen to each one of us, every moment of every day. Now
more than ever, we need only open our eyes, open our hearts, open our
minds, and we will see that everything around us is truly miraculous,
especially that which we've come to take for granted.

A few cells are miraculously coded to grow into a baby. Scientific
breakthroughs allow billions to live without the fear of diseases which
only a century ago ravaged entire communities. We can fly anywhere in
the world, not necessarily on the wings of eagles but in the comfort and
relative safety of metal birds.

What seemed far-fetched and impossible, something which could only be
termed miraculous a few generations ago, has become commonplace. But
because many things have become mundane and routine they are no less
wondrous. Let's all open our eyes and see the miracles and wonders
happening all around us. Perhaps through this very special kind of
exercise we will merit to see the greatest miracle of all - the
revelation of Moshiach.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
We know not with what we must serve G-d, until we reach there (Ex.

While we yet live in this world, we cannot accurately assess the value
of our Torah learning and our performance of mitzvot, or even know if
they were done only for the sake of heaven. It is only after we have
reached the World to Come, the World of Truth, that we will know how
faithfully we fulfilled our tasks.

                                                  (Chidushai Harim)

                                *  *  *

And Moses said, With our young and with our old we will go (Exodus 10:9)

Moses mentioned the children before the elders as the need to remove
them from Egypt's corrupting influence was more urgent. The young were
in greater danger than the older generation, who were already firmly
rooted in their Judaism.

                                                   (Daat Chachamim)

                                *  *  *

This month shall be to you the first of months (Ex. 12:2)

The Talmud states (Sukka 29a): "Israel reckons [the months] according to
the moon; the nations of the world, according to the sun."
Metaphorically, this means that the gentile nations flourish only when
the "sun is shining," when things go well for them. As soon as the "sun"
goes down, they cease to exist. But the Jewish people is able to
flourish even in times of darkness, spreading the light of Torah and
illuminating the gloom.

                                                       (Sefat Emet)

                                *  *  *

And the L-rd struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt (Ex. 12:29)

Comments Rashi: "Whenever the Torah states 'and the L-rd,' it refers to
G-d and His heavenly court." When it comes to meting out punishment, G-d
gives the decision over to the heavenly angels, who do not know the
thoughts of man. (A Jew is not punished for negative thoughts, as it
states, "A bad thought is not considered part of deed.") By contrast,
when it comes to reward, G-d does not consult with His heavenly court,
as "a good thought is considered part of deed," and only G-d knows our
thoughts and intentions.

                                                   (Nezer HaKodesh)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
After the passing of his mother Devorah Leah, Menachem Mendel, who was
to become the third known as the Tzemach Tzedek, was raised by his
grandfather, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism, known as
the Alter Rebbe. They formed a special bond, a relationship so strong
that it was able to extend even beyond the bounds of space and time. For
even after his passing, the Alter Rebbe revealed himself to his grandson
in order to help him resolve certain difficult problems in halacha
(Jewish law) or other aspects of Torah study.

This phenomenon occurred so regularly that Reb Menachem Mendel came to
expect his grandfather to appear to him whenever he had the need of his
guidance. Once, he was dealing with a difficult and perplexing problem
and he had a strong desire for the help of his grandfather. Whereas
usually the Alter Rebbe would be revealed to him, this time, try as he
may, his grandfather failed to come. Several days passed and Reb
Menachem Mendel again tried to reach the Alter Rebbe. He davened and
meditated in the prescribed manner, but he was not rewarded with
success.  When, after waiting for a few days he failed to perceive the
spirit of his grandfather, Reb Menachem Mendel attempted to bring down
the holy soul by means of various Kabbalistic methods. When even these
strenuous efforts failed and he was deeply disappointed, he couldn't
understand why the Alter Rebbe would not appear to him anymore.

One day, soon after these events, Reb Menachem Mendel went to the
synagogue in Lubavitch to pray the early morning service. He took his
talit and placed it over his head in preparation for the morning prayer.
Suddenly, in rushed the butcher of the town. He ran over to  Reb
Menachem Mendel and said: "Please forgive me, Rabbi, for interrupting
you, but you know, this is market day and all the local farmers have
brought their livestock into town to sell. Since many of my customers
have not yet paid me, I don't have any money to buy animals, and unless
I can buy them now, I won't have any livelihood this week, and the
townspeople won't have any meat. Please, Rabbi, lend me the money just
for one week, and I'll be able to repay you on the next market day."

The Rabbi looked up at the butcher, "My friend, please don't worry. Of
course, you know I trust you completely, and I would be very happy to
lend you whatever you need. But, you see, I have already put on my talit
and begun my preparations for the morning prayer. I would like to finish
my prayers, and then when I am done in two or three hours, I will go
right home and get the money for you."

The butcher was relieved, but at the same time he was also disappointed,
for the market was in full swing now, and who knew what kind of animals
would be left when Reb Menachem Mendel finished his prayers in a couple
of hours. Still, the butcher had no choice, so he thanked Reb Menachem
Mendel, and made his way home, intending to return to the shul after the
morning service.

Reb Menachem Mendel was about to wrap himself in the voluminous folds of
his talit, when he suddenly realized what a mistake he had made. Why,
how could the butcher wait several hours to purchase his animals! In
that space of time it was possible that all the choice cows and sheep
would be bought already and he would have lost his livelihood for an
entire week. He quickly took off his talit and lay it on the table. Then
he rushed out of the shul and headed for his house. His amazed household
looked on as he wordlessly ran through the door, took his purse and
losing no time, left again. He quickly made his way to the home of the
butcher. The butcher was surprised to see the rabbi standing at his
door, money in hand. The man happily rushed out to the market and was
able to complete all of his business successfully, purchasing good
quality animals to supply the town of Lubavitch with meat. Reb Menachem
Mendel returned to shul ready to pray with an easy heart, happy in the
knowledge that he had helped the butcher in that crucial hour.

Reb Menachem Mendel picked up his talit, intending to resume where he
had left off, when he suddenly perceived quite near him, the spirit of
his grandfather, the Alter Rebbe. The Alter Rebbe spoke to him, saying,
"My son, know that the mitzva (commandment) which you just performed by
helping a fellow Jew is even greater than your most elevated prayers. In
the Upper Worlds as well as in the Lower Worlds the mitzva of ahavat
Yisrael (love of a fellow Jew) is precious." In the merit of this great
mitzva Reb Menachem Mendel was again  graced by his grandfather's
spiritual presence.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
In Exodus (12:2) we read: "This month [Nissan] will be for you the head
of the months. (Ex. 12:2) "For you" seems superfluous. Nissan was and
always will be month of miracles and redemption. By saying "for you" the
Torah is emphasizing that the ultimate redemption - the coming of
Moshiach - depends on you, the Torah study and good deeds of each every
individual Jew.

                                                     (Iturei Torah)

                  END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1153 - Bo 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