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Devarim Deutronomy

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   1151: Shemos

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1155: Yisro

1156: Mishpatim

1157: Terumah

1158: Tetzaveh

1159: Ki Sisa

1160: Vayakhel

1161: Pekudei

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Devarim Deutronomy

February 11, 2011 - 7 Adar I, 5771

1158: Tetzaveh

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  1157: Terumah1159: Ki Sisa  

Job Hunting  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
The Rebbe Writes  |  What's In A Name  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

Job Hunting

Job Hunting is stressful and nerve-wracking. It's full of uncertainty.

But there are two kinds of stress. There's a general stress - will I get a job, any job? Will I be able to pay the bills this month? At this level, when we're job hunting, we send out resumes in a scattering, to all corners and whichever way the wind blows. And at this level we are often emotionally scattered, not focused.

Then there's a specific stress. We're "in the running" for a position. Someone likes my resume, the work I've done. I'm going in with a strong, personal recommendation. I have an interview.

When this happens, we gather in our forces, so to speak. We focus our stress and our nervousness. We practice our answers, prepare for the interview. We still stress out, but we've changed. We have more confidence, we feel more in control.

We have more trust in the situation, in the outcome - in ourselves.

What's changed? The situation - our condition - has gotten specific. There's something concrete in front of us. It's not just "I need a job - any job" - it's "I have a chance at this job, and there are specific, concrete things I can do to increase my chances of getting it."

In a way, this describes our relationship with G-d. We're not only "job-hunting," we're "G-d-hunting," as it were - looking for ways to actualize our relationship with G-d.

When we say we "believe" in G-d or have "faith" in G-d, it's like job-hunting on a general level. We have skills - maybe we're fast typists, or good with our hands, or experts in whatever field, and we're looking for work. Whatever comes our way. So we pursue the job hunt in a general way.

And we "believe" in G-d in a general way. He's there, of course, guiding the world, but in the meantime, how come... and where... and all the questions about day-to-day life here in the "real" world.

When we "trust" in G-d it's more specific, it means we rely on Him; we expect Him to come through for us. We know things will happen the way they're supposed to, maybe not when or how we expect them to, but the way G-d ordains for our ultimate good.

It's like "job hunting" for a specific employment. We rely on the recommendation, or our latest project or publication, or our ability to demonstrate a skill. Instead of just being anxious, we anxiously await.

Trusting in G-d doesn't mean we can sit back and do nothing.We have to do our part. It doesn't mean that appearances can't deceive - what we see or experience in the immediacy of the now may not match our expectations. It doesn't mean there won't be difficulties or hardships along the way.

It does mean that we approach the "job hunt" with a different mindset. As Rabbeinu Bachya writes in Duties of the Heart: trust is a sense of security, knowing - being sure - that the person you trust will act on your behalf - and has the ability to get the job done.

Living with the Rebbe

This week's Torah portion, Tetzaveh, describes the special clothing worn by the High Priest and the other priests as well as the consecration of the priests and the altar. Among the vestments of the High Priest was the ephod, an apron-like garment. On the ephod were two stones, concerning which the Torah states: "You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the Children of Israel [the Twelve Tribes]. Six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, according to their birth."

The Torah emphasizes that the names must be engraved in correct birth order. However, Rashi and Maimonides disagree on what this means. Rashi opines that the Tribes were listed according to the order they were born to their father Jacob. But according to Maimonides, they were engraved in the order they were born to their respective mothers: first the sons of Leah, then the sons of Bilha, then Zilpa's sons and finally Rachel's.

In order to understand the crux of Rashi's and Maimonides' disagreement, we must understand why the names were engraved on the ephod in the first place. The two onyx stones were intended to be a "remembrance" before G-d: "Aaron shall bear their names before the L-rd upon his two shoulders as a memorial." When G-d would see the names of the Twelve Tribes, it would remind Him of their righteousness, as it were.

This righteousness depended on the Tribes' unity. When the Jewish people are united in brotherly love into a single entity, they are deserving of G-d's blessing. When, G-d forbid, there is dissension and strife among Jews, G-d withholds His blessing. The names of the Twelve Tribes were engraved on the ephod to express the Jewish people's unity.

However, there are two different kinds of unity. When the Tribes are counted according to the chronological order of their birth, without regard for who their mothers were, it indicates a level of unity that supersedes individual differences or groupings. All the Tribes were the sons of Jacob. When they are counted according to their mothers, they are unified, albeit divided into disparate groups.

The unity of the Jewish people exists on both of these levels. On one level, we are unified because all Jewish souls have a common Source. On another level, we unite into a single entity - the Jewish people - as disparate, diverse individuals.

Thus Rashi's opinion reflects the first level of unity, whereas Maimonides' opinion expresses the second. For Jewish unity exists on both planes simultaneously.

Adapted from Vol. 36 of Likutei Sichot

A Slice of Life

The Rancher and the Chasid
by Dvora Lakein

Rabbi Michoel Harari has been taking teenagers on strength-building outdoor adventures in North America for the last five years. Thus far, the camp has trekked through 16 states and two Canadian provinces. The boys don't merely hike the land; they learn practical and outdoor survival skills at each stop, even earning their international sailing licenses.

At "Camp Yeshiva Outdoor Adventures" this past summer, campers spent three days working a real cattle drive, including riding horseback, herding the cattle, and caring for the animals. Rabbi Harari, together with 26 campers and five staff members, shepherded 200 hefty cows to new pastures 15,000 acres away.

Some say the skills learned are not useful once yeshiva starts in autumn, but Rabbi Harari disagrees. This camp is "not like going to Six Flags and having fun. We encounter challenges and victories here. If the boys feel capable and accomplished at the end of the summer, they will hopefully accomplish even more when they go back to yeshiva."

This past summer's itinerary included adventures in Wyoming, Washington, and Idaho. It was in Idaho, in a place so remote it merits scant mention on a map, that the camp operated the cattle drive on a 4th-generation Mormon ranch. The owners had never met a Jew before; when Rabbi Harari called, they were so impressed to be speaking with a New Yorker that they passed the phone around the office for everyone to get a chance to speak with him. The campers earned a free night, as the first New Yorkers ever to stay on the ranch.

The life of a cattle farmer is anything but lazy, but even so, the proprietors were duly impressed that the boys woke up extra early (before 4 a.m.) to study Torah and pray. After completing their prayers, the boys herded the cows, on horseback, through the back country of Idaho. Cows are moved to cooler spots in the summer for their own wellbeing and in order to give the land a rest. In a horseshoe formation, the campers moved the cattle until they showed signs of tiredness - cows don't sweat, so if they overheat, they die. During the heat of the day, the boys tended the animals' needs before pitching their own tents and preparing their meals.

The campers' Jewish observances attracted a lot of attention. From mikva (ritual bathing before prayer), to eating kosher and Chasidic gatherings under the stars, the campers had a lot of explaining to do. Even their mundane actions gave a positive impression of Jews and Judaism: "From your waking moment, your day involves G-d," the rancher told the boys.

Before camp began, Rabbi Harari and his staff drove their big yellow bus from Seattle to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a distance of 1500 miles. They stopped for gas somewhere near the Oregon border.

Taylor, a 60-something-year-old gas station attendant sporting a long ponytail, started to fill the tank, and turning to Rabbi Harari, he commented, "You're cultured. It's good."

Taylor soon shared that after his father's passing, his mother had revealed that they were Jewish. For Taylor's Bar Mitzva, she took him to the local temple, where he was told that people don't put on tefilin anymore. And so, Taylor had never performed this special commandment.

That is, until YOA arrived at the gas station.

Rabbi Harari assured Taylor that tefilin are still worn, and offered to help him fulfill the mitzva (commandment). "His face lit up, he just about jumped into the air," describes Rabbi Harari.

They went into the big YOA bus, where for the first time in his life Taylor wrapped the tefilin and said the Shema. "My grandmother is so happy for me right now," Taylor said as looked up to the sky. He promised to call his mother right after his shift to tell her about his "Bar Mitzva." And then he asked, "Isn't there a song we are supposed to sing now?" Together, the men danced and sang "Siman Tov u'Mazel Tov" in celebration.

Rabbi Harari promised to return the following week to complete the celebration, with 26 kids and a birthday cake. But when they arrived, they discovered that Taylor was off for the next three days.

Disappointed, the camp director prepared to fill up and pull out. That's when a Harley roared into the spot next to him. Turns out the biker, James, was Jewish. Though he had put on tefilin 23 years earlier with a Rabbinical student, he hadn't laid eyes on a pair since moving from Chicago over two decades earlier. Now a police officer, James donned the rabbi's pair under the hot, clear sky.

"G-d sends us where and when we are needed," sums up Rabbi Harari.

According to that view, then, they were clearly needed on Mount Rainier; at over 14,000 feet, it is the most prominent mountain in the contiguous United States. The boys climbed the mountain over a three-day period which included Rosh Chodesh (the beginning) of the month of Elul. Naturally, they needed to carry a Torah scroll with them on the climb as the Torah is read on Mondays, Thursdays (and Shabbat) as well Rosh Chodesh and all Jewish holidays.

Four young men carried poles attached to an airtight, waterproof insulated cooler which held the precious Torah. "Wherever we are," says Rabbi Harari, "we take the Torah with us. Quite literally. To climb such a mountain is a daunting task, which requires an uncanny amount of luck, physical ability, and logistics. But to take a Torah along was like climbing straight up to heaven."

While climbing, the teens met another climber, David from Israel. When they asked him to don tefilin, he stubbornly refused. But when he saw the Torah scroll, he immediately rolled up his sleeve and asked to perform the mitzva. "How can I be on a mountain with a Torah scroll and not put on tefilin?" he asked.

Reprinted with permission from the N'Shei Chabad Newsletter

What's New

New Emissaries

Rabbi Menachem and Miri Lipskier recently moved literally halfway around the world to Melbourne, Australia, where they will serve as youth directors of Chabad Youth.

Rabbi Levi and Leah Neubort, directors of Anshei Lubavitch, are new emissaries in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.

Rabbi Leib and Sara Rojtenberg have moved to Brasilia, Brazil. Brasilia is the seat of all three branches of the Brazilian government.

Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in Israel announced that in total 53 new couples have become emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Israel, bringing the total number of couples/families of emissaries in Israel to 679.

The Rebbe Writes

Erev Lag B'Omer, 5729 [1969]

...With regard to the idea of taking leave of absence in order to devote the time to visits in England, the European continent, etc., generally speaking, judging by your description of the project, it would be advisable to implement it and make the most of it. On the other hand, this is contingent on being quite certain that it would in no way jeopardize the security of your present position. For, undoubtedly, there are quite a few aspirants who would like to step into the vacancy. It would therefore be necessary to make quite certain that your leave of absence would in no way jeopardize the security and tenure of your position.

Needless to say, there is also the consideration that your visits to foreign countries could be used in a manner that would actually strengthen your position. It is for this reason that my first thought was that it would be a very good idea. I do hope that the apprehension I mentioned earlier is groundless, or you could in any case make sure that it would remain groundless. Whatever your decision in this matter, may G-d grant that your decision be the proper one, and be with Hatzlocho [success] in every detail, all the more so since your Hatzlocho means a benefit for many through enjoying your good influence in an increased measure.

I was particularly interested to note the enclosure reflecting the response to your article which originally appeared in the London Jewish Chronicle. In view of the fact that a part of your article was regrettably omitted in its original publication, I trust that you will find an opportunity to have the article republished in full in other media. And since people prefer something new, it does not mean that the article should be presented in exactly the same form as before, but it can externally be changed and recast, for the important thing is the content and the thoughts expressed, that they should be conducive and stimulate the reader towards authentic Yiddishkeit [Judaism] without compromise. Also, a new addition to the article could serve your experiences and activities in spreading Yiddishkeit among faculty and students. No doubt this point occurred to you also, and it could fit in very well with the general tenor of your published article.

With personal regards, and with blessing,

P.S. I am usually very reluctant to express my view on matters which lie outside my field of competence. However, having "glanced" through the detailed research program which you enclosed in your letter, I decided to make an observation: I fail to find among the itemized points of study one aspect which, in my humble opinion, should have been of particular interest. I am referring to the recognition that certain microbes and infections may be germane to hospitals-a view which, I believe, has received some attention in pertinent literature.

I am not familiar with the details of this problem, but I believe it has to do with the ability of bacteria to develop immunity to antibiotics, as has been established in the case of penicillin, etc. Hence, it is very possible that methods of infection control which are effective elsewhere may lose their effectiveness because of continued and consistent application in hospitals, or because the hospital environment has produced certain strains of certain bacteria which has given them a measure of immunity in that specific environment.

I do not know whether the omission of this aspect from your project is due to the circumstance that a three month study period would not be sufficient to include an investigation into this area, since, undoubtedly, it would entail the problem of distinguishing "immunized" from "non-immunized" bacteria, etc., as well as the problems of changing methods of sterilization and infection control and clinical observation, etc. Or, simply, because this question is outside your present work. Yet, it seems to me that this is a question of practical importance and should be well within your field of interest.

As in all matters, where the physical reflects the spiritual, there is a didactic relevance in the above-mentioned subject, reflected in Jewish ethics and in Halachah [Jewish law]. The point is dealt with conspicuously in the Tanya, and is related to the Talmudic saying that a person studying the same subject 101 times attains an excellence quite out of proportion over the person who studies only 100 times.

At first glance this is puzzling. However, the Baal Hatanya [Rabbi Shneur Zalman] explains it by reason of the fact that it was customary in those days to review a subject 100 times; hence it was no special accomplishment. On the other hand, the one who did it 101 times went beyond his habit and accustomed practice, resulting in an extraordinary accomplishment both quantitatively and qualitatively. Indeed, the Baal Hatanya goes on to define the latter "eved Hashem" [a servant of G-d] and the other "asher lo avodo" [(one) who does not serve G-d] (Ch. 15).

To translate it into terms of "infection control," the person who develops good habits becomes immune to the Yetzer Hora [evil inclination], but by the same token he does not merit reward, since no effort is required here. Similarly, in regard to transgression, as explained in Iggeres Hateshuvah, where the difference between committing a transgression a second time and a third time is a difference in kind and not merely in degree. This should be discussed at greater length, but not here.

What's In A Name

YOMTOV is from the Hebrew meaning "good day." In the Yiddish form, yuntif means "holiday." A famous rabbi, Yomtov Lipman, was a student of the Maharal of Prague and lived in the 16th century. He was a well-known scholar and prolific author.

CHAGIT is from the Aramaic, meaning "feast," or "festival." In the Bible (II Samuel 3:4) Chagit was one of King David's wives.

A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

In this week's Torah portion, Teruma, we read that the Jewish people were commanded to bring pure olive oil to Moses for the Menora.

Why were the Jews commanded to bring the oil to Moses if Aaron was to kindle the Menora?

Our Sages explain that oil represents the innate spiritual potential of every Jew. Just as oil must be lit in order for it to actualize its potential, so too must a Jew do whatever is necessary to activate his potential.

This is why the oil had to be brought to Moses. Moses was the leader of the Jewish people. But he was not just a leader who taught the Jewish people. Moses "spoke to G-d face to face." Moses' whole existence was G-dliness and he embodied G-dliness.

When people connected with Moses, G-dliness became real to them and they were inspired to live in a more G-dly manner. Being in contact with Moses enabled a Jew to reveal his innate spiritual potential.

In every generation there is a Moses, a leader who inspires us to ignite our oil, to reveal and reach our spiritual potential. When we come in contact with such a leader, we cannot help but become more G-dly and more connected to G-dliness.

This is why we must bring the oil to Moses. It is not enough to have the oil, which each one of most certainly does have. We have to assure that the oil reaches its potential.

Thoughts that Count

I will dwell among the Children of Israel, and I will be to them G-d (Ex. 29:45)

Rabbi Henoch of Alexander once said: "When I was young I spent much time near a person whom everyone considered to be very great. But the longer I knew him, the more I noticed his faults and shortcomings. Later, when I was a little older, I traveled to Kotzsk and attached myself to the Rebbe there. I found the exact opposite to be true. The longer I was in his presence, the more I came to appreciate his greatness." This is what is meant by the verse, "I will dwell among the Children of Israel and I will be to them G-d." The closer one draws near to G-dliness, the stronger the desire to cleave to Him. An older chasid once posed a question to Rabbi Naftali of Ropshitz, while he was still a young boy: "I'll give you this gold coin if you can tell me where G-d can be found," he said. The youngster responded by saying, "I'll give you two gold coins if you can tell me where He is not found!"

And you shall bring near to you Aaron your brother (Ex. 28:1)

Moses and Aaron were of entirely different natures. Moses was given to seclusion and contemplation, as it states, "And Moses took his tent and went outside the camp," whereas Aaron was a social being, involved with his fellow man and pursuing peace. G-d's directive to Moses implied that he should emulate his brother's ways, for a true Jewish leader cannot remain apart from his people.

(Rabbi Meir of Premishlan)

And his sound shall be heard when he goes into the holy place (Ex. 28:35)

In general, the Torah always emphasizes the importance of being humble and modest. If this is true for every Jew, how much more so does it apply to our Sages, who must set a good example by their behavior. Nonetheless, when it comes to preserving the sanctity of the Jewish people, our Rabbis must not be shy and are in fact obligated to speak out in a loud voice.

(Chatam Sofer)

It Once Happened

Many years ago, in the time when the Holy Temple stood, there lived in Jerusalem two storekeepers named Rabbi Elazar ben Tzadok and Abba Shaul ben Botnit.

The two men were neighbors and friends and had known each other most of their lives. But in addition to being friends, they shared a wonderful and rare character trait - absolute and strict honesty.

It is related in the Talmud that as a favor to their fellow Jews, these two men would prepare stores of wine and oil before every holiday so that the people of Jerusalem would have what they needed to celebrate the holidays properly.

Tens of thousands of Jews would stream into Jerusalem for the holidays and would be welcomed into homes throughout the city. With so many guests, it was no wonder that their gracious hosts would sometimes run out of oil or wine during a festival.

Whenever that happened, they could go to Rabbi Elazar or Abba Shaul and take what they needed. Of course, no money would pass hands on a festival, but there would be no lack of those two necessities to prepare for the festive meals.

Even during the intermediate days of the pilgrimage festivals of Sukkot and Passover, the two generous merchants would prepare in advance and make their goods available to those in need so that they could spend their time studying Torah.

Not only did they practice these deeds of great kindness, but even on regular workdays they were outstanding in their adherence to the mitzva (commandment) of honesty. When they would finish pouring the contents of one of their containers into a customer's container, they would sit their container on top of that of the customer and allow the dregs of the jug to drip into the customer's receptacle. Only then were they sure that they had given the customer everything that was due him.

Despite their stringencies, the two rabbis feared that a bit of oil and wine would still cling to the edges of the jugs. So what did they do? Each man had a special container into which he would pour the last tiny drops. Over many years, they accumulated three hundred barrels of oil and three hundred barrels of wine.

One day, they decided to bring all of these barrels to the Holy Temple. After all, they did not consider it their property, yet they could not give it to the customers either. They decided to consecrate it to the Holy Temple. When the porters arrived, they were met by the treasurers of the Temple.

"What have you brought?" they asked.

"We have brought three hundred barrels of wine and three hundred barrels of oil for use in the Holy Temple. It has taken us many years to accumulate it, allowing it to drip from the sides of our jugs. We did not want to benefit from anything which does not belong to us, and we couldn't give it to our customers."

"It was certainly not necessary to collect those small leftovers," remarked the treasurers. "Your customers understand that tiny drops adhere to the sides of your jugs, and they expect there to be some waste."

"Nevertheless," the men continued, "We don't want anything that is not rightfully ours."

"Since you wish to keep such a high standard, we will accept your offering. The oil and wine will be used for the good of the community. We will sell them and from the profits we will dig wells for the pilgrims to have water on the festivals. The residents of the city will also be able to use them. So you see, even your own customers will benefit from your offering, and your own minds can be at ease."

The two merchants left the precincts of the Holy Temple with hearts full of joy, knowing that they never departed from their customs of strict honesty and kindness.

Moshiach Matters

The Egyptian exile, with its backbreaking labor, was the crucible of fire that refined the Jewish people, transforming them into a proper vessel to contain the illumination of the revelation of Torah on Mount Sinai. So it is with our present exile as well, when we find ourselves "pounded" by the harshness of the exile. But it is precisely this "pounding" that will bring us to the "light" of Moshiach and the Messianic Era, as our Sages commented, "It is only when the olive is crushed that the oil can emerge."

(Peninei HaGeula)

  1157: Terumah1159: Ki Sisa  
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