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Devarim Deutronomy

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   1162: Vayikra

1163: Tzav

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1167: Achrei Mos

1168: Kedoshim

1169: Emor

1170: Behar

1171: Bechukosai

Bamidbar Numbers

Devarim Deutronomy

April 29, 2011 - 25 Nisan, 5771

1168: Kedoshim

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Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.

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  1167: Achrei Mos1169: Emor  

Spiritual Therapy  |  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

Spiritual Therapy

by Naomi Zirkind

Physical therapy is used to restore function to limbs of the body that were injured or became impaired.

I've been doing physical therapy recently due to an injury. Throughout this experience I've come to realize that physical therapy closely parallels the "spiritual therapy" that we go through in our lives.

Here are some lessons I've learned from my physical therapy experience.

What's easy for me can be hard for someone else. Sometimes during therapy I would watch people with ankle injuries doing walking exercises. They seemed to be challenged by these exercises which looked so easy to me. By the same token, my weight lifting exercises for my shoulder prob-ably seemed very easy to the ankle patients. On the "spiritual therapy" level, we all have our limitations, and G-d continually gives us exercises to help us overcome these limitations. The thing to keep in mind is that all of us have different limitations, so even though some activity seems easy to us, it might be really difficult for someone else. Remembering this increases our compassion for others.

The challenges we face may be painful, but the pain indicates that we are pushing and extending our limits. Just as the stretching exercises are somewhat painful, but they increase the range of motion, so too, the challenges we face in life force us to utilize dormant capabilities that we may not have used before. Of course these exercises should be done in moderation, so as not to cause injury.

One must always strive for improvement. In physical therapy I didn't continue doing the same exercises to the same degree indefinitely. As soon as I mastered one level of exercise, the therapist had me go on to more difficult and challenging exercises. On the spiritual level, we must not be satisfied with whatever level we are at, but should continuously strive for higher levels, for increased capability.

A person's frame of mind has a strong effect on how he performs the exercises. While doing physical therapy, I often listened to music, particularly Chasidic niggunim (melodies). The music helped take my mind off of how difficult the exercises were. The happy tunes, especially, helped me perform the exercises more energetically. On the spiritual level, maintaining a happy frame of mind helps us meet our challenges and grow in our capabilities much more easily and pleasantly.

Variety is important in an exercise program. I had several different types of exercises to do, so when my muscles got tired from doing one exercise, I would start doing a different exercise. The new exercise felt easier than the previous exercise that made me tired. On the spiritual level, when challenges in one area of life make you weary, try shifting your energies to a different area of life for a while. After that, it will be easier to go back to tackle the original challenge - easier than just working continuously on the original challenge.

These are the lessons I've learned from physical therapy. By being open to the spiritual therapy opportunities constantly presented to us, we can take advantage of them to increase our flexibility and strength of character. We can also have more sympathy for the challenges other people are going through. And finally, if we remember to maintain a happy frame of mind, all of life's challenges will be much easier to overcome.

May G-d accept all the difficult and painful exercises the Jewish people have done throughout the ages and show us the positive result of all our efforts - Moshiach Now!

Living with the Rebbe

This week's Torah portion, Kedoshim, begins with G-d's command to Moses to tell the Jewish people, "You must be holy, since I am G-d your L-rd and I am holy." It contains a number of mitzvot (commandments) between a person and his fellow man, including the mitzva of ahavat Yisrael, loving your fellow Jew for no other reason than that he is Jewish. The Torah states, "And you shall love your fellow as yourself." This is one of the basic foundations of Chasidism, as established by the Baal Shem Tov. Every Jew is obligated to treat his fellow Jew with ahavat Yisrael, giving of himself to others and influencing them in a positive way.

When a Jew acts with ahavat Yisrael and draws his brother near, both parties derive benefit. The same relationship exists between the rich man who gives tzedaka (charity) and the poorer recipient. The poor man has profited in that he now has money, and the rich man has profited because G-d will surely grant him additional blessing. It "pays" for the wealthy man to observe the mitzva of tzedaka!

Yet this is also true when the wealth involved is spiritual, when a person who possesses knowledge and good character traits shares them with another Jew. For not only does the recipient derive benefit, but G-d will certainly provide the donor with all he is lacking.

How are we supposed to fulfill the commandment to love our fellow Jew? In the same way a clever merchant conducts his business. A successful merchant doesn't sit in his house and wait until the public hears he has something to sell. Rather, he opens a store in the best possible location and hangs up a big sign advertising his wares. But even that is not enough. The merchant then goes about promoting the quality of his merchandise and persuades people to become his customers. He tries very hard to interest them in buying large quantities of his product.

So too must be our involvement in the mitzva of ahavat Yisrael. We cannot sit and wait to see if an opportunity to fulfill this commandment comes our way. We mustn't idly bide our time until others seek our help. Like the successful merchant, we must go out into the world searching for "customers" and convince them to "buy." We must go out of our way to do a favor for a fellow Jew, explaining the importance of Torah and mitzvot and bringing him to the study of Chasidut.

But even that is insufficient! Our influence on our Jewish brethren must be so effective that they in turn begin to exert their own positive influence on others.

Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Volume 1

A Slice of Life

Talmud Study Now in South Korea
by Tsofia Hershfeld

Close to 50 million people live in South Korea, and almost everyone was taught the Talmud at home by their parents. "We tried to understand why the Jewish people are geniuses, and we think it is because they study Talmud," said the Korean ambassador to Israel, Mr. Young Sam Ma. And this is how "Rav Papa" became a more well-known scholar in Korea than in Israel.

It is doubtful if the Amoraic scholars Abbaye and Rava imagined their discussions of Jewish law in the Study Halls in Babylon would be taught hundreds of years later in East Asia. Yet it turns out that the laws of an "egg born on a holiday" is actually very interesting to the South Koreans who encourage Talmud study at home.

Almost every home in South Korea now contains a Korean-translated Talmud. But unlike in Israel, the Korean mothers teach the Talmud to their children. In a country of close to 49 million people who believe in Buddhism and Christianity, there are more people who read the Talmud - or at least own their own copy at home - more than in the Jewish state. Much more.

"So we too will to become geniuses."

"We were very curious about the high academic achievements of the Jewish people," explained the South Korean ambassador to Israel, who was hosted on the channel 1 TV program "Culture Today."

"Jews have a high percentage of Nobel laureates in all fields: literature, science and economics. This is a remarkable achievement. We tried to understand what is the secret of the Jewish people? How they - more than other peoples - are able to reach those impressive accomplishments? In our opinion, one of your secrets is that you study the Talmud."

"Jews study the Talmud at a young age, and it helps them, in our opinion, to develop mental capabilities. This understanding led us to teach our children as well at home. We believe that if we teach our children Talmud, they will also become geniuses. This is the rationality to make Talmud a part of home education in Korea."

Young says that he himself studied the Talmud at a very young age: "It is considered very significant study," he emphasized. The result is that more Koreans have Talmud sets in their homes than Jews in Israel.

Ambassador Ma says that he himself studied the Talmud at a very young age. "I, for example, have two editions of the Talmud: one my wife bought and the other I got from my mother-in-law."

Groupies of Jews

Koreans don't only like the Talmud because they see it as promoting genius, but because they found values that are close to their hearts.

"In the Jewish tradition, family values are important," explains the South Korean Ambassador.

"You see it even today, your practice of the Friday evening family meal. In my country we also focus on family values. The respect for adults, respect and appreciation for the elderly parallels the high esteem in my country for the elderly."

Another very significant issue is the respect for education. In the Jewish tradition parents have a duty to teach their children, and they devote to it lots of attention. For Korean parents, their children's education is a top priority.

Translated from Ynet by Reprinted with permission

What's New

By Divine Design

By Divine Design reads like a scholarly Torah discussion that is as impressive intellectually as it is full of heart. Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin takes his lifelong love of the Hebrew alphabet and analyzes the contextual anomalies; cites Midrashic, Talmudic, and Kabbalistic source texts; and peppers the Torah portions with warm Chassidic stories and insights that bring the letters' inner meanings to light. Published by Sichos in English.

The Rebbe Writes

20th of Iyar, 5726 [1966]

After not hearing from you for a very long time, I received your letter of May 6th, though in the meantime I inquired after you from time to time through our representatives in Philadelphia.

In your letter you ask my opinion as to whether a religious or charitable group may properly receive donations from a company which is conducting its business in an unethical way, at usurious rates of interest, etc.

Generally speaking, it is not my function to answer Shaalos [Jewish legal questions], for which there are special Rabbinical bodies in each city. Moreover, it would be impossible for me to give you a definitive answer to your particular question, in view of the fact that many important points of information are missing. For example, one essential factor is whether the acceptance of a donation from that company would be tantamount to an expression of approval of its methods, either explicitly or implied; or whether it can in no way be so mistaken by anyone, not even by the company itself, in which case it would be a question of in no way encouraging the policy of the company, but only giving it the Mitzvah of Tzedoko [commandment of charity], or withholding it. It is only after you have all these facts available and ready to be presented to a Rov [a rabbinic authority], that he would be able to give you his decision.

You do not mention anything about yourself and your affairs, from which I gather that all is in good order. And "in good order," insofar as a Jew is concerned, means that it is not stationary, but is progressing and advancing.

This brings me to the timely message of the present days of Sefira, the Counting of the Omer. It has been noted that in counting the Omer we use the cardinal numbers rather than the ordinal numbers. In other words, we say, for example, "Today is thirty-five days of the Omer, etc." rather than "Today is the thirty-fifth day of the Omer." This means that it is not a case where each day constitutes merely a single additional day, but each day constitutes a part of the whole and, in fact, complements the previous days. Considering that the counting of the Omer symbolizes the counting of the days of preparation for Shovuoth, the Festival of the Giving of the Torah, the lesson of the Counting of the Omer, and the significance of each day of this period, are obvious.

With blessing,

6th of Iyar, 5735 [1975]

I am in receipt of your letter of 2nd of Iyar, and was pleased to read the good news it contained. May G-d grant that you should have good news to report also in the other matters which you mentioned in your letter, and should go from strength to strength in all matters of goodness and holiness.

With regard to the problem of concentration in prayer, generally useful advice is to daven b'tzibbur [pray with the congregation], or at any rate at the time when the tzibbur davens [congregation prays]. It is also helpful to daven from the siddur [prayerbook], and even when one davens by heart - to keep the siddur open at the right place. Finally, it is good to follow the Shulchan Aruch's [Code of Jewish Law's] direction to give Tzedoko before davenning on weekdays - bli neder [without making a vow].

As we are now coming from the month of Nissan, the month of Geulo [Redemption], may G-d grant you a growing measure of Geulo from all distractions and hindrances.

Hoping to hear good news from you.

With blessing,

What's In A Name

MENASHE is from the Hebrew meaning "causing to forget." Menashe was the first-born son of Josef (Genesis 41:51). With the birth of his son, Menashe, Josef was able to "forget" his hard work in Egypt and the pain he experienced at not being in his father's home. In the traditional blessing with which a father blesses his son, we say "May G-d make you like Efrayim and Menashe."

MAZAL is Hebrew meaning "constell-ation." It also has the connotation of fortune or luck, as in the phrase "Mazal Tov" - congratulations.

A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

On the 28th of Nisan, 20 years ago, the Rebbe made a declaration that shocked his Chasidim:

"I have done everything I can. Now I am giving it over to each one of you. Do everything you can to bring Moshiach in actuality" the Rebbe stated.

Throughout the following 11 months, until his stroke, the Rebbe continued to speak numerous times each week about Moshiach and what each one of us can do to prepare for and hasten the Redemption.

The Rebbe, ever emphasizing our Sages' teaching that "deed is essential," has given concrete suggestions about how we can best do what we need to do to bring Moshiach:

Study Torah in general, and in particular, those parts of Torah that pertain to Moshiach and the Redemption. More specifically, study about Moshiach and Redemption as elucidated in the Rebbe's 32 volumes of "Collected Talks" (Likutei Sichot).

Live in a manner now that is a "dress rehearsal" for the Redemption, the time when there will no strife, no jealousy, world peace and inner harmony, and Divine knowledge will be within everyone's reach.

Give extra charity, keeping in mind the Talmud's teaching that charity hastens the Redemption.

Increase in acts of goodness and kindness. Every day, perhaps a number of times each day, do something kind for a neighbor, a friend, a co-worker, a family member, a stranger.

In this way, may we hasten the moment when all of our needs, spiritual and material, will be amply supplied in the ultimate Redemption.

Thoughts that Count

Shimon HaTzadik... used to say: "The world stands upon three things - upon Torah, upon Divine service and upon acts of kindness." (Ethics of the Fathers 1:2)

This Mishna refers to the author of its message as Shimon HaTzadik - the Righteous. A truly saintly, righteous person is not satisfied with working upon himself only, but makes an effort to influence the world as well, as the verse states, "G-d is righteous and loves righteousness."

(Biurim l'Pirkei Avot)

Yose ben Yoezer of Tzreida said: "Make your house a meeting place of the Sages; sit in the dust at their feet; and thirstily drink their words." (Ethics of the Fathers 1:4)

Whereas Yose ben Yoezer's teacher aimed at perfecting the person himself, Yose ben Yoezer instructed his disciples to aspire to an even higher level - he taught how a person is to permeate even his house with love and awe of G-d.

(The Maharal of Prague)

Yose ben Yochanan of Jerusalem said: "Let your house be wide open; treat the poor as members of your own family..." (Ethics of the Fathers 1:5)

Rabbi Yose ben Yochanan continues the theme of perfecting one's house. In order for holiness to permeate one's home, it is insufficient to merely love Torah. The love of Torah must be combined with the love of one's fellow Jew, expressed in acts of kindness. However, this must be done in such a way that one's hospitality will not result in undesirable negative consequences.

(The Maharal of Prague)

It Once Happened

Once the ruler of a village decreed that the Jews of his village be expelled. The Jews came to the Baal Shem Tov and begged him to pray on their behalf so that the decree would be rescinded, and they would not be forced to leave their homes and belongings, to wander in exile. The Baal Shem Tov advised them to find a certain old man by the name of Yaakov ben Baruch. He would present their situation in Petersburg, and the decree would be abolished.

The Jews did as they were told and found Yaakov ben Baruch. He was exceedingly old and reluctant to travel. But when he understood that the fate of all the Jews of the village was dependent on him, he disregarded his old age and the bother it would cause him, and traveled to Petersburg.

As soon as he arrived in Petersburg, he wrote a letter to the great minister in charge of all the villages, in which he complained about the ruler and asked that the decree of expulsion be revoked. He signed the letter, Yaakov ben Baruch.

In the normal course of events, under the prevailing conditions of the times, the chances were great that his letter would be thrown into the pile of papers before anyone would even look at the petition of some unfortunate Jew who dared to complain about the ruler of the village. But, in an unusual turn of events, when the minister received the letter, he invited the old man to personally meet with him!

With his heart trembling in fear, Yaakov went to meet the minister. He wondered and was quite apprehensive about how the minister would treat him. He knew that one word from the minister would be enough to send him to the gallows, Heaven forbid, without any trial at all, and with no one to protest.

When he entered the office, the minister gazed upon Yaakov for some time, without saying a word. Yaakov was wondering what was happening, when suddenly some brawny men entered and took him away. They locked him up in the dungeon.

Utterly frightened and unaware of what his "crime" could be, Yaakov sat in his cell and said viduy (confession of one's sins) and prepared nervously for what awaited him. Suddenly the door opened and a priest stood in the doorway. In one hand he held a cross and in the other, a spoon. He said, "You have a choice to either bow to the cross, or die when I pour the boiling lead in this spoon down your throat!"

"I am a Jew, and I will die a Jew," Yaakov said resolutely. He closed his eyes, said Shema with complete faith, and prepared to die al kiddush Hashem [to sanctify the name of G-d]. He opened his mouth and anticipated a quick journey to the next world.

The priest immediately emptied the contents of the spoon into his mouth, but to Yaakov's shock, he discovered that it wasn't boiling lead at all, but honey! Thoroughly confused, Yaakov was brought back to the minister's office. He was received graciously, and asked to sit down. The minister asked his pardon for scaring him nearly to death and explained his actions thus:

"When I was growing up, I lived in the home of a wealthy squire. From time to time, this squire would get drunk and then he would strike anybody who crossed his path. I ran away from the squire's house to the home of a Jew. A teacher sat there teaching his students. When the teacher saw me, he pitied me and treated me well. He gave me food and drink, and allowed me to warm up and rest. He took care of all my needs. I heard him explain to the children the greatness of giving up one's life for G-d, to be martyred for one's belief in G-d. He said there was no one greater or more fortunate than the one who merits this fate.

"I was always grateful to that teacher," continued the minister, "and I waited for the opportunity when I could repay him, though I never thought I'd meet him again. The name Yaakov ben Baruch was signed on the letter. It reminded me of that incident, which I recall as though it had just happened. That is why I invited you here.

"When I saw you today, I recognized you as that teacher from many years ago. I decided the time had come to repay you. Since I heard from you then how precious the mitzva (commandment) of self-sacrifice is, I wanted to give you the merit of that mitzva. I could think of no other way of doing it than the way I did. Now I ask for forgiveness, for I only did it for your benefit. And I will certainly fulfill your request and make sure that the decree of expulsion is rescinded immediately."

Moshiach Matters

The Talmud (Berachot 34b) states: "There will be no difference between the current age and the Era of Moshiach except [our emancipation from] subservience to the [gentile] kingdoms." Whoever does not believe in the involvement of Divine Providence in every aspect of this world, is enslaved to the shell which covers and conceals Divine Providence. This is the inner meaning of "subservience to the kingdoms." In the future, however, this Providence will become manifest; at that time, everyone will see how every single occurrence derives from G-d.

(Keser Shem Tov, sec. 607, From Exile to Redemption)

  1167: Achrei Mos1169: Emor  
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