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How many friends can you have? According to some recent research 50 is about the maximum. As far as a larger social network - acquaintances, casual contacts, occasional business - the limit seems to be about 150.
And with the explosion of "online relationships," how well do we know our friends? We follow on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, and friend on Facebook. But does that celebrity on twitter read our tweets, or think we're just twits? How much business concatenates from the links in a chain? And who is that person writing on my wall? "Being friends" used to mean sharing and trusting, not putting up announcements and making a billboard of our lives.
What does it mean to be a friend? Or have a relationship?
Has the digital age changed the nature of a friend or the meaning of a relationship?
The answer is, how we make friends or relate has changed, but what it means to be a friend, to have a relationship, hasn't.
These "social networks" exist because we have an innate need to communicate, to connect, to influence, to be influenced, to share. We have a need to matter, to care, to be responsible.
And we never know. That 51st friend might be just the one whose shoulder we need. That 151st member of our social network might contact us directly one night because we can help.
The idea of an ever-widening circle, of a ripple-effect of goodness and kindness, is something that Chasidic philosophy has talked about for years.
There's a Chasidic saying that sometimes a soul comes into this world and labors for 70 or 80 years, just to do a favor for another - to help someone, and perhaps without ever meeting that person or realizing the nature of the spiritual mission.
Another teaching: when two Jews meet, they should not part without a word of Torah and without doing something practical to help another. Indeed, when two people meet in general, the result should be a practical benefit for a third person in need.
In other words, our mitzvot (commandments) and our acts of goodness and kindness, create a spiritual "facebook," and send the angels - the heavenly forces - a "twitter" with the news, with the spiritual effects of our actions. And by doing mitzvot, by helping others with acts of goodness and kindness, we're "linking-in" to the Divine plan, networking the world into an awareness of the G-dliness that penetrates and surrounds all of existence.
And when the whole world is filled with the knowledge of G-dliness, as the waters cover the ocean bed, then the question "how many friends can you have" will be irrelevant. For the answer will be - in the era of Redemption, we will "friend" every one we meet - virtually and literally.
In this week's Torah portion, Korach, Korach and his band of rebels sought to undermine Moses' authority. According to the Midrash, one of the taunts with which they challenged him was the following question, which they assumed was merely rhetorical: "Is a house full of Torah scrolls exempt from the requirement of affixing a mezuza to the door post?" A house full of Torah scrolls would obviously contain many repetitions of the required chapters - the "Shema" and the "And it will be, if you will obey My commandments" - that are written on a mezuza. Much to his surprise, however, Korach was informed by Moses that even this house would need a mezuza.
"How can two small paragraphs on a mezuza be more important than the entire Torah?" Korach sneered. Korach fully expected Moses to answer that a house full of Torahs is exempt. His complaint against Moses was that every Jew is a "Torah" - as inherently holy as a house full of scrolls. Why then, do we need a "mezuza" - the office of the priesthood, with the extra authority it affords Aaron, the high priest, and his sons?
Although Korach's argument, that every Jew is holy, is certainly correct, G-d also wanted priests, symbolized by the mezuza, who would serve Him in the Holy Temple. The mezuza is attached to the door post at the entrance of the home and faces outward, into the street. Its holiness radiates and protects the dwelling's inhabitants, not only when they are at home, but also, when they go outside. The holiness of a house full of Torah scrolls which does not have a mezuza is liable to remain inside, removed from the mundane details of daily life. When a Jew, however, affixes a mezuza to his door, he makes a public statement that his is a Jewish home, subservient to "the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One." Its inhabitants recognize that G-d's Torah and mitzvot apply equally in the home and in the street.
This is also symbolic of the role of the priests. Their task is to help the inherent holiness of every Jew reveal itself and have lasting influence in the physical world. The priests, through their service in the Temple, assist the entire Jewish nation in its task of transforming the world into a dwelling place for G-d.
Korach insisted that the measure of holiness within every Jew was sufficient, but Moses corrected him. The holiness within must be carried outside, into the street, as well.
This principle may also be applied to our daily lives. It is not enough for a Jew to feel a special connection to G-d at certain times - during prayers, while learning Torah or on Shabbat. The Jew must nurture that special relationship with G-d until he is aware of it every minute of the day, even when occupied with more mundane tasks. We must therefore affix a mezuza in the spiritual sense as well, setting before ourselves the constant knowledge that "the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One," which will bring down G-d's blessing and constant protection.
Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Inspired by Two Women
by Gabrielle Dakteris
From a speech at the annual Lubavitch Women's Organization Convention
Growing up, my mother was told by her parents that she was Jewish and that belief in G-d is important, but nothing more about our religion. As a teenager, she became curious about Judaism, and in her adult life chose the Conservative movement as her home, attending synagogue regularly and observing the laws of kosher and the Jewish holidays to the best of her knowledge and ability. She decided that her children would grow up differently, that they would be educated about Judaism from the beginning both in school and at home, that G-d and Torah would be the foundation of their upbringing.
I went to our Conservative synagogue's preschool and then attended a Jewish day school 30 miles from our home through high school. We ate only vegetarian foods out, buying strictly kosher meat to eat at home, and had separate dishes for Passover. We also lit candles and went to services every Shabbat, although we drove.
From Reconstructionist to Orthodox, I attended every type of Jewish Shabbat service. Naturally, I felt most comfortable in the Conservative movement. For my Bat Mitzva, I memorized my Haftarah, as well as four Torah portions, and reviewed the familiar melodies and words to the prayers I would be leading. My mom, always the force behind my connection to Judaism, coached me.
I graduated high school having studied Jewish history, Mishna, and Tanach (Bible), in addition to a general Jewish thought course taught by a Breslover Chasid in my senior year.
Upon entering college at the University of California, Berkeley, I chose to stick close to my roots, attending Hillel and Chabad events often. I was drawn more to the welcoming atmosphere and homey feel of the Chabad House, not to mention their five-course gourmet Shabbat meals. At the first Friday night, I met Rebbetzin Bracha Sara Leeds.
A molecular cell biology major and Broadway baby, Bracha was unlike any other woman I had ever met who identified as Orthodox. She remembered my name after only meeting me once, and the way she balanced taking care of a baby while running a home with an open-door-at-all-times policy, all at the ripe age of 24 impressed me. I soon became a regular at Rabbi Gil and Bracha's Chabad House, attending almost every program. I started designing their brochures and helping with the cooking and babysitting, and by my third year, became president of the student board. The more time I spent around Bracha and her family, the more I wanted to understand why they chose an Orthodox lifestyle.
Bracha had simple, sure, but deep answers to my questions. Over time I started to hear not prohibitions or restrictions but a way of connecting to G-d according to His terms - the ones He gave us in the Torah I was brought up to follow and respect. Watching how much joy and meaning observing Judaism in this way gave Bracha and her family and realizing that they performed every mitzva not only in the exact way the Torah specified, but in the best - the most beautiful and joyful way - encouraged me to do more myself.
In addition to my involvement in Chabad, I was also an executive and co-founder of a pro-Israel group. Protected from anti-Semitism and pro-Palestinian politics in right-wing Orange County where I had grown up, I was soundly unprepared for the accusations of apartheid, genocide, illegal occupation, and war and humanitarian crimes against the Jewish state made by student groups on campus. I viewed Berkeley's blatantly false depiction of Israel as a personal attack, and I felt an immediate desire and obligation to present the facts and effect change by becoming a leader in this pro-Israel group. Through organizing speakers, rallies, film screenings, and cultural events, I felt we were making a difference. We were never able to move any ground, however, in regard to the anti-Israel Jews. We even witnessed some Jews who started out on our side join anti-Israel groups.
Jews speaking openly about Israel in such a despicable way made me feel betrayed, pained, and angry. I did not know how to deal with my feelings towards them. In my last months at Berkeley, Rabbi Gil and Bracha organized a class on chapter 32 of Tanya, about love of a fellow Jew. They invited Jews representative of the entire political spectrum on campus in regard to Israel, from those who considered it to be an apartheid state to those who believed all of Israel to be Jewish land. Tanya explains every Jewish soul comes from the same source, that everyone is on a different level which we cannot determine, and that we are not permitted to judge someone unless they are on exactly our level. These lessons humbled me and gave me a framework for accepting the Jews at the table whom I had previously felt animosity towards. Moreover, the Tanya lesson gave me a way to love them - to connect to them. I was reminded that we had our heritage, our religion, and our blood in common - that the most important thing was that we were all Jewish. That week, I started keeping Shabbat, and a few months after graduating, I decided to attend Machon Chana Women's Yeshiva.
When I told my mother that I wanted to study at Machon Chana, she was happy and supportive. Having become more religious than her mother, she was open to the idea that her daughter would do the same, and she was proud that I wanted to dedicate time to studying Torah.
My year at Machon Chana has not only provided me with invaluable knowledge, but has given me the confidence and skills to study on my own. I'm leaving Machon Chana a better, more refined person, prepared and excited to lead a Torah-life imbued with Chasidic teachings that will, with G-d's help, inspire other Jewish women to do the same.
The Divine Code
The Divine Code by Rabbi Moshe Weiner, explores the Seven Eternal Command-ments that were given to humankind. G-d gave freedom of choice to people, along with a Divine moral code with universal benefit for every society. These precepts command the establishment of courts of justice and prohibit idolatry, blasphemy, homicide, incestuous relations, robbery, and eating flesh taken from a live animal.Volume I covers the fundamentals of faith, and the prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy and eating flesh from a live animal
WHY DID G-D PERMIT THE HOLOCAUST?
- Part II -
23 Shevat, 5744 
In the Torah, called Toras Chaim ("instruction of living"), G-d has revealed what the purpose of Creation is, and provided all the knowledge necessary for a human being, particularly a Jew, to carry it out in life. Having designated the Jewish people as a "Kingdom of Kohanim [priests] and a holy nation," a Jew is required to live up to all the Divine precepts in the Torah. Gentiles are required to keep only the Seven Basic Moral Laws - the so called Seven Noachide Laws with all their ramifications - which must be the basis of any and every human society, if it is to be human in accordance with the will and design of the Creator.
One of the basic elements of the Divine Design, as revealed in the Torah, is that G-d desires it to be carried out by choice and not out of compulsion. Every human being has, therefore, the free will to live in accordance with G-d's Will, or in defiance of it.
With all the above in mind, let us return to your question, which is one that has been on the minds of many: Why did G-d permit the Holocaust?
The only answer we can give is: only G-d knows.
However, the very fact that there is no answer to this question is, in itself, proof that one is not required to know the answer, or understand it, in order to fulfill one's purpose in life. Despite the lack of satisfactory answer to the awesome and tremendous "Why?" - one can, and must, carry on a meaningful and productive life, promote justice and kindness in one's surroundings, and indeed, help create a world where there should be no room for any holocaust, or for any kind of man's inhumanity to man.
As a matter of fact, in the above there is an answer to an unspoken question: "What should my reaction be?" The answer to this question is certain: It must be seen as a challenge to every Jew - because Jews were the principal victims of the Holocaust - a challenge that should be met head-on, with all resolve and determination, namely, that regardless how long it will take the world to repent for the Holocaust and make the world a fitting place to live in for all human beings - I, for one, will not slacken in my determination to carry out my purpose in life, which is to serve G-d, wholeheartedly and with joy, and make this world a fitting abode - not only for humans, but also for the Shechina, the Divine Presence itself.
Of course, much more could be said on the subject, but why dwell on such a painful matter, when there is so much good to be done?
P.S. Needless to say, the above may be accepted intellectually, and it may ease the mind, but it cannot assuage the pain and upheaval, especially of one who has been directly victimized by the Holocaust.
Thus, in this day and age of rampant suspicion, etc., especially when one is not known personally, one may perhaps say - "Well, it is easy for one who is not emotionally involved to give an 'intellectual' explanation. . ."
So, I ought perhaps, to add that I, too, lost in the Holocaust very close and dear relatives such as a grandmother, brother, cousins and others (G-d should avenge their blood). But, life according to G-d's command, must go on, and the sign of life is in growth and creativity.
ZALMAN is the Yiddish form of the name Solomon - Shlomo in Hebrew. Shlomo is from the word meaning "peace."
ZISSE means "sweet" in Yiddish. Varient forms of the name are Zissel, Zissy and Sosha.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The 28th of Sivan (June 30 this year) is the anniversary of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin coming to the United States.
The Rebbe and Rebbetzin had been in France during the early years of World War II.
In 1941, with tremendous effort on the part of the Previous Rebbe - who was already in the United States - the Rebbe and Rebbetzin were able to travel to Portugal, and from there to Barcelona. In Barcelona they boarded a ship to the United States.
The trip itself was quite dangerous, with the ship being stopped numerous times en route by Nazis.
On the 28th of Sivan (June 23 that year), 1941, the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin arrived on the shores of New York.
The Previous Rebbe, who, because of ill health, was unable to greet his daughter and son-in-law personally, sent four of his most eminent Chasidim to greet the Rebbe.
The Previous Rebbe informed them, "I am selecting you as my emissaries to go and welcome my son-in-law, who is arriving tomorrow. I will reveal to you who he is: Every night he says the Tikkun Chatzot prayer over the destruction of the Holy Temple; he knows by heart the entire Babylonian Talmud with the commentaries of the 'Ran,' the 'Rosh' and the 'Rif'; he knows by heart the Jerusalem Talmud, Maimonides' Mishne Torah and Likutei Torah with its commentaries. Go and greet him!"
The 28th of Sivan was established as a day of rejoicing and thanksgiving for the rescue of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin from the fires that raged in Europe.
It also marks the beginning a new era in Chabad outreach with the establishment by the Previous Rebbe of the Lubavitch publishing house, the educational branch of Lubavitch and Machne Israel. All three vital organizations were under the directorship of the Rebbe.
May the 28th of Sivan this year be the ultimate day of rejoicing and thanksgiving for the rescue of the Rebbe and the entire Jewish people from these last moments of exile, may G-d send the redemption NOW!
Know...before whom you are destined to give an accounting (literally, "judgement" and "reckoning") (Ethics of the Fathers, 3:1)
Why does the word "judgement" come before the word "reckoning"? Doesn't "reckoning" always precede judgement or punishment for misdeeds? The Baal Shem Tov taught that in reality, "judgement" always comes first. A person may think he is pronouncing judgement on others, but whatever sentence he decides on will be later applied to him as well. When a person is judgmental, condemning his fellow man for transgressing, G-d uses the same standards to judge him.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)
If two sit together, and there are no words of Torah between them (Ethics 3:2)
When two Jews sit together, in true unity and brotherhood, and there is "nothing" between them, no enmity or ill-will, they themselves are considered to be "words of Torah."
(Rabbi Yitzchak of Vorki)
Anyone with whom his fellow men are not pleased, G-d is not pleased with him (Ethics 3:10)
If a person ignores the commandments between man and his fellow man, his outward trappings of religious piety are scorned by G-d. For the greater his show of religious observance, the greater the desecration of G-d's name.
Anyone whose wisdom exceeds his good deeds, to what can he be compared? (Ethics 3:17)
Good deeds without wisdom are like a foot without a shoe; wisdom without good deeds is like a shoe without a foot.
(Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Gabirol)
A follower of the great tzadik Rabbi Aryeh Leib of Shpole, known as the Shpoler Zeide, came to him weeping bitterly. "Rebbe," he cried, "what am I to do? Stolen property was found in my courtyard, and I am being accused of being a thief. My lawyer tells me that I will not escape with less than three months in prison."
The Shpoler Zeide, listened and replied, "I will be a better lawyer for you, and you will receive only one month in prison."
"But, Rebbe," the man continued, plaintively, "I am an innocent man. Why must I be punished for a month?"
"I will tell you a tale of a similar incident which occurred to me, and you will understand. Once I was staying at the home of a very hospitable Jewish customs officer. I became friendly with another guest there, and when Shabbat ended, we made plans to continue our journey together. Unbeknownst to me, the other man had stolen some valuable pieces of silver from the house.
"As we proceeded down the road, we heard the sounds of a carriage approaching very fast. The man asked me to watch his pack for a moment and he disappeared in the mass of trees. The carriage stopped in front of me and I recognized the customs officer and a gentile officer.
"'Seize him,'" the Jew cried. "'He is the thief!'
"And before I knew what was happening they threw me into the back of the carriage and we drove away. When I recovered from the initial shock, I tried to explain that it was not I, but the other man who had stolen the silver, but they scorned my words. It was obviously nothing would avail, and I accepted it as the will of Heaven.
"I was thrown into a cell full of frightening criminals who found my appearance an occasion for great mirth. They pulled at my sidelocks and beard, and I could only entreat the One Above to rescue me from their evil clutches. They tried to extort money from me, but when they saw I had none, they set out to beat me.
"The first one laid into me as two others held me down. As soon as his hand touched me, he cried out in pain. His hand swelled and gushed with blood. The thieves and murderers who surrounded me took conference with one another. One said I was a sorcerer, another claimed I was a saint; regardless of their opinion, they all agreed to leave me alone.
"When the immediate danger had passed, I looked around at the other prisoners. One, called "Gypsy" turned out to be, instead, a Polish Jew who had been imprisoned for horse-stealing. I realized that I had been incarcerated precisely in order to help this pathetic man repent. Little by little we spoke and I gained his trust. He related a sad tale of being orphaned and then falling in with a band of Gypsies, whose ways he adopted.
"One morning the man came to me in a state of terror. He had dreamed of his dead parents who told him to do whatever I would instruct him. They said if he refused, he would die in his sleep. From that moment on he was the most willing penitent.
"Slowly, I instructed him in the Jewish religion. He stopped eating forbidden food, began to recite prayers, and begged the Al-mighty to forgive his errant ways. After several weeks passed, he even began sleeping near me and became completely attached to me in word and deed.
"A few days later I dreamed that Elijah the Prophet told me to flee from that place and go to the town of Zlotopoli where I would be offered the position of beadle of the town. But then I remembered the "Gypsy," and my promise not to abandon him. But, I reasoned, if a miracle could come about for me, it could come about for him, too.
"I told the repentant man to follow me. When we came to the first door, we saw it was open. He held my belt and we passed through the door together, and continued into the black night, with no thought as to where we were going. Many hours later, we stopped at the house of a Jew who told us that we had found the path to Zlotopoli.
"Three days later, we arrived in the town, and I was appointed to the position of beadle. So you see, don't complain about the judgements of G-d, for they are very deep and beyond the understanding of men. Just be strong in your faith, for I can assure you that everything that happens, no matter how it appears, is only for the good. And, as I promised, you will sit in prison no more than one month."
A Jew must be aware that although he is found in exile, he is above exile. He does not, in essence, belong there and was sent into exile by G-d to fulfill a mission. Therefore, "a person's agent is like the person himself," and "the servant of a king is a king;" i.e., a Jew like G-d stands above the exile and it has no effect on him.
(The Lubavticher Rebbe, Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, 5750-1990)