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It Once Happened | Moshiach Matters
A time-management professional is brought into a busy corporation for a lunch-time lecture. He starts by offering a visual portrayal of how to make the most of one's time.
He fills a jar with stones until no more fit in. "Is this jar full?" he asks the audience.
All heads nod in concurrence.
The speaker takes out a sack of pebbles and begins to pour them into the jar, shaking and shifting as he pours. Half the sack is now empty and no more pebbles will enter the jar. He asks the audience again, "Is this jar full?"
A few heads vigorously nod in agreement while a number of faces express uncertainty.
The speaker lifts a bag of sand and begins pouring it into the jar. The fine grains glide through the obstacle course of pebbles and stones. He continues to pour the sand until the jar can contain no more.
"Now is the jar full?" he asks.
Although nearly everyone is now certain that the jar is finally filled, only a few people sheepishly nod their heads.
Finally, the speaker reaches under the table and pulls out a bottle of water. He slowly pours the water into the jar. It passes over the small stones and pebbles and sand, settling in the bottom of the jar, then midway up, now at the top, and finally a few drops flow onto the table.
"Now is this jar full?" asks the speaker.
Hesitantly at first, and then more assuredly, the participants shake their heads in agreement.
"What do we learn from this little demonstration?" asks the time-management professional.
Instantly people raise their hands. The speaker calls on an enthusiastic-looking young man perched on the edge of his chair in the front row.
"We learn that no matter how full a person's schedule is, he can always squeeze more in," the young man says triumphantly.
"Wrong!" bellows the speaker.
The audience is taken aback. Isn't the lesson of the stones, pebbles, sand and water obvious?
"We learn from this little exercise," the expert says earnestly, "that first we must schedule into our days that which is most essential and significant. Afterwards, we can begin to pencil in the 'important' matters. We follow that up by adding to our schedules matters of lesser importance. And only after we have incorporated all of these into our days and weeks do we fill up the rest of our time with the inconsequential matters."
On Tuesday of this coming week (July 19 this year), we begin the three-week period of mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temples. The first Holy Temple was destroyed nearly 2,600 years ago. The Second Temple was destroyed nearly 2,000 years ago. And for all of these years we have been praying for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, the ingathering of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, and Moshiach.
The hope and prayers for the Redemption have always been part of the personal and collective jar of the Jewish people.
Before our jars get packed with time-wasters and energy-sappers, let's fill them with simple acts of goodness, dignified acts of kindness and the foundation stones of Torah study and mitzva (commandment) performance. Let's increase in acts of goodness and kindness, in Torah study and in holy deeds, as a preparation for the era that will be utterly good, kind and holy for the Jewish people and the world.
This week's Torah portion, Pinchas, describes the apportionment of the Land of Israel. The Torah states, "Through the lot shall the land be divided." The Talmud notes that the process by which the lots were drawn was neither arbitrary nor random; the miraculous Urim and Tumim, in the breastplate of the High Priest, guided the outcome. Rashi explains that not only was the portion of the Holy Land to be given to each tribe written on the lot picked for that tribe, but the lot itself spoke and announced the result. In other words, the division of the soon-to-be conquered Land of Israel was determined by G-d Himself.
The inheritance of the physical portion of land is symbolic of the spiritual inheritance of every Jew with which he is enjoined to fulfill his individual mission in life. Just as each of the Twelve Tribes was given a specific portion of land to live in and cultivate, every Jew is allotted his own spiritual realm to perfect.
Although a person might think he is free to choose his own spiritual portion, following whichever path in the service of G-d that appeals to his nature, the Torah teaches that this is not a matter of free will or logic, but is ordained by G-d.
Every Jewish soul has its own particular inclinations and disinclinations; some mitzvot (commandments) are easier to observe than others. The Talmud notes that many of our Sages were especially careful in their performance of one particular commandment. Although they certainly observed all 613 of the Torah's mitzvot, their performance of that one mitzva was especially praiseworthy. The exemplary observance of that one mitzva served as the conduit through which all other mitzvot flowed.
A person cannot choose his own spiritual bent; it is an integral part of his individual spiritual makeup. But how does one determine exactly which mitzvot are especially relevant to him? By objectively ascertaining those which he finds the hardest to do!
A person may safely assume that a given direction is his "inheritance" whenever the path seems strewn with obstacles and hindrances. In fact, the more important the mitzva, the harder the Evil Inclination tries to dissuade the person.
A lack of interest in a particular facet of Torah study or indifference to a certain mitzva indicates that it is precisely in these areas that special efforts must be made. In the merit of this effort, G-d grants the individual success in all other areas of his life as well.
Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
by Chava Tombosky
My parents, G-d bless them, gave me six names at birth. They gave me the obligated English name, the much anticipated middle name, the celebrated Hebrew name, and the unrelated Yiddish name. And so, my ketuba (Jewish marriage document) reads: Ava Floryn Chava Tziporah Chaya Feiga Shallman which is now written in full as: Ava Floryn Chava Tziporah Chaya Feiga Shallman-Tombosky
I am a small person, only five foot two. This is the sort of name you'd give to a tall woman with hair that reaches from a tower to the ground that would end with "The Eighth."
According to my mother, she originally wanted to name me one name, "Chava." But my grandfather protested saying kids would make fun of me and call me Chhha-va (emphasis on the Cha). Being my mother was enamored with movies, she acquiesced and named me after her favorite star- Ava Gardner.
She chose Floryn, cause she just "liked it." In all the years I've been alive, I have never, ever met anyone with that name before-which means she made it up.
I was named Chava at the Torah. But of course, if my English name had a middle name to follow, my parents had to give me a Hebrew middle name to follow as well. And they certainly weren't about to leave out bubby's mother tongue language in the mix, so Chaya Feiga, which is really part Hebrew part Yiddish, accompanied.
Plus Feiga was the only name that was actually after someone - my great-great-grandmother on my father's side.
I was in fourth grade when my teacher, Rabbi Richler, confronted me by saying, "You have a Jewish soul, therefore you will be called for now on by your Jewish name." As of that day I was known to the world as Chava. Oh the teasing and the constant anguish that came with those first two letters. CHHH - as if you were clearing your throat every time the name was uttered. Apparently, my grandfather was a prophet.
It would be many years before I learned to appreciate this gift my rabbi gave me or see the value in it becoming my calling card for life.
It is said that a Hebrew name is your spiritual call sign. The very link to your past signaling your soul to awaken your essence-your Jewish essence. It is the sound of your Jewish pride being announced. It embraces your legacy which states whom you're named for and what that person's spirit now embedded in you represents.
It would be a good 20 years before I would learn to appreciate this new title.
This year my fourth grade daughter begged me to attend a Jewish overnight camp in Running Springs known as Camp Gan Israel. She had been begging me ever since she came back from visiting her brother two years prior on visiting day. And like every good Jewish mother, I waited for the last minute to make the arrangements. Lucky for me, the director of the camp was my dear old teacher, Rabbi Richler and he was more than happy to accommodate his grand-student.
Rabbi Richler invited my family to join him for a beautiful weekend. With over 100 campers ranging from ages eight through 15, the place was bubbling with a diverse group of beautiful children. These campers came from as near as Los Angeles and as far as Arizona. Students of Jewish day schools, public schools, and Sunday schools all in for an experience to share together like one body sharing one heart.
The most inspiring and uplifting experience took place on Shabbat afternoon during the Torah reading service.
Rabbi Richler called on an eager camper who had never been formally given a Hebrew name to participate in the age-old tradition of receiving a Jewish name at the Torah. As Madelyn approached the bima timidly uttering her Jewish name to the rabbi, the entire camp sat with bated breath. Madelyn waited to hear her name articulated for the first time in front of the entire congregation. She beamed with pride upon hearing her new Jewish name said out loud for the very first time.
"Chasha Freida" the rabbi announced.
Poor kid. I knew what she was in for.
Although I never really bonded with the Feiga part, I later came to understand what my name means. It translates as "Living Bird."
Maybe my name is more then a fumble of colliding accidents. Maybe my name has been the biggest hint into who I am and what my main purpose in this world suggests.
I am obsessed with how ideas are born and with how to make life filled with purpose. I am also a free agent who cannot be tied down to only one agenda, point of view or idea. In fact in high school they used to call me the "idea girl."
Much like a bird, I need my wings to soar. And much like the very first female ever created (Chava) I am a mother to many. Just ask my three children and my six siblings.
Living with a Hebrew name means you honor the commitment to cherish G-d by becoming a person with Jewish purpose, identity and dignity.
A Jewish name states you are part of a communal and universal consciousness and a covenant that depicts the cherished Hebrew letters linking you to the greats like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sara, Rivka, Rachel, and Leah.
That Shabbat afternoon when Madelyn officially became "Chasha Freida," named for her maternal grandmother, she too became part of this everlasting chain. This, she innately knew with ever fiber of her being.
With great humility I finally understood this holy gift I was given at the tender age of nine to be branded with the name of the first woman in history: Chava means "Mother of all life."
I have the power and gift to awaken Chava's essence through my actions every time it is uttered, just by being.
Even if others will fumble with the CHHH, it is who I am. Thanks to the inspiration of Chasha Freida so eager to participate in this age-old tradition, and determined to wear her name with pride, like a badge of honor, was I awakened to the magic of my own Hebrew name.
New Torah Scrolls Dedicated
Congregation Ahavas Chesed in New London, Connecticut, welcomed a newly restored Torah to their congregation. Chabad of Sudbury, Massachusetts, celebrated the completion of a new Torah, donated in memory of Tzvi Hersch Liederman by his granddaughter Elisabeth, a Holocaust survivor. The Torah was read from the following day by Elisabeth's grandson. A new Torah was welcomed to the Mayan Yisroel congregation in Flatbush, Brooklyn. The central Chabad Synagogue in Rechovot, Israel, celebrated the completion of a new Torah. For the first time in 80 years a Torah scroll was welcomed into the Choral Synagogue in Tomsk, Russia.
21 Tammuz, 5710 (1950)
Greetings and blessings,
I received your letter. Thank you for the information contained therein.
May it be G-d's will that your stay - in a vacation spot together with your family - will lead to the desired benefit of enhancing the health of the body and strengthening it in an obvious manner, according to the adage of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, stated in the name of his father, the Rebbe Rashab [Rabbi Sholom Dovber]: "How dear is a Jewish body! For it, so much Torah is poured out!"
See Maimonides' Hilchos Deos (Laws of Knowledge), the beginning of ch. 4, "Maintaining a healthy and sound body is among the ways of G-d."
From this we can draw a most obvious inference to the importance of the health of the soul. If it is necessary to devote energy to this throughout the year, how much more so is it necessary to strengthen this endeavor with additional power during the time when we are occupied and showing interest in the health of the body. This is necessary lest one come to a situation where the strength of the body will lead to the weakness of the soul (Zohar I, p. 180b). See also Shabbos 147b with regard to "the waters of the Diomses."
I am not writing merely for the sake of rhetoric, but rather to arouse an undertaking, somewhat like is'hapcha [transformation], to use the days and the opportunity for restoring the health of the body for strengthening the soul, i.e., to add a fixed time for special study during this vacation period. Also, one should seek out opportunities to inspire others coming to vacation in your place or surroundings to Torah study, Divine service, and deeds of kindness, each person according to his own situation. Sometimes, it might be helpful to explain to them that we are not able to comprehend the secrets of the sublime providence. Perhaps the purpose they all came to this particular place was to add jewels to the crown of the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.
My revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, has already promised: "One can rest assured that no effort will go unrewarded." He is a faithful person upon whom one may rely.
With wishes for a healthy summer for both body and soul; with regards to all those who seek our welfare,
3 Menachem Av, 5710 (1950)
Greetings and blessings,
You have certainly received my letter from 6 Tammuz. I hope that you will answer the questions mentioned there.
Your son related to me that your daughter .... does not feel well from time to time.... Certainly, she has seen a doctor and is following his directives. Surely, she lights candles on the day preceding Shabbos and festivals. You should see to it that, at least until she is eighteen years old, she give at least three coins to tzedakah [charity] in a charity box designated for the charity fund of Rabbi Meir Baal HaNes before lighting candles. It would also be desirable for you to recite chapter 71 from Psalms [at that time, the previous Rebbe's chapter corresponding to his age] each day until Rosh HaShanah.
Your son also related that his aunt ... is not in the best of health. The above directive concerning obeying the instructions of a doctor, a specialist, should also be communicated to her. She should also give at least three coins to tzedakah in a charity box designated for the charity fund of Rabbi Meir Baal HaNes before lighting candles for Shabbos and festivals. And at least once a week she should provide food for a Jew (a guest or a poor man).
G-d is the One Who heals, but, to a certain extent, He acts through a doctor. Nevertheless, He established that the primary medicine for Jews is tzedakah, good deeds, and a chapter of Psalms. I hope to hear good news from you, that your health has improved and that everything has become better.
From I Will Write it in Their Hearts translated by Rabbi Eli Touger, published by Sichos in English
YERUCHAM means "may he be compassionate." Yerucham was the father of Elkana, grandfather of the prophet Samuel (I Samuel 1:1)
YEMIMA was the daughter of Job (Job 42:14). The name might possibly come from the Aramaic for "dove." The spelling in English would be Jemima.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This coming Tuesday is the 17th of Tammuz, when the ancient city of Jerusalem was assaulted by invading gentiles. Twenty-one days later, on the Ninth of Av (Tisha B'Av), the Holy Temple was set afire and razed.
The fact that this interval on the Jewish calendar is known as the "Three Weeks" and not the "Twenty-One Days" is not incidental. The number three alludes to the inner significance and function of the Three Weeks as a period of preparation for the Third Holy Temple.
On a superficial level the Three Weeks are a sad time, a period of mourning for the destruction of the Temple and the beginning of the Jewish people's current exile. But on a deeper level they contain a hidden good. Why? Everything that happens in the world is directed by G-d. G-d is the essence of good, and everything He does is good, even if it doesn't appear that way at first. Having come directly from G-d, there is no other possibility.
Accordingly, the Three Weeks, although superficially associated with sadness, contain a positive meaning: At the exact moment when the Second Holy Temple was destroyed, the Third and eternal Holy Temple was constructed up in heaven! In this light the entire destruction can be seen as nothing but a preparatory stage in the Redemptive process, a necessary step toward the Final Redemption with Moshiach, at which time the concept of exile will no longer exist.
At present, the good contained within the Three Weeks remains hidden. But reflecting upon its true, inner meaning hastens the day when its inner goodness will be revealed, when the Temple will be reestablished.
Let us therefore accustom ourselves to seeing the hidden good that exists in all things, thereby meriting the ultimate revelation of inner goodness with the revelation of Moshiach.
Rabbi Meir said: "Whoever occupies himself with the study of Torah for its own sake merits many things..." (Ethics 6:1)
The Hebrew word "osek," translated "occupies himself," related to the Hebrew word for businessman, ba'al esek. A person's occupation with the study of Torah must resemble a businessman's preoccupation with his commercial enterprise. Just as a businessman's attention is never totally diverted from his business, the Torah should always be the focus of our attention.
(Likutei Sichot, Vol. XVII)
Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi said: "Each and every day a Heavenly Voice goes forth from Mount Horeb..." (Ethics 6:2)
Our souls exist on several planes simultaneously. This Heavenly Voice reverberates, and is "heard" by our souls as they exist in the spiritual realms. And this causes our souls as they are enclothed within our bodies to be aroused to repentance.
(Likutei Sichot, Vol. IX)
Whatever the Holy One, Blessed be He, created in His world, He created only for His glory; as it says, "Everything that is called by My name, it is for My glory that I created it; have formed it, indeed, I have made it"; and it says, "The L-rd will reign for ever and ever." (Ethics 6:11)
Never fear, says our text: "The L-rd will reign for ever and ever." However dark and twisted the world seems today, however worse the mess and blunder of mankind seems to get, mankind moves on to its destiny. By a thousand ways we can hardly surmise, mankind inches forward to its "spiritual breakthrough," when "the L-rd will reign." That day will come. It is inherent in a creation that was wrought originally to bring Him glory.
(Ethics from Sinai, Rabbi Irving Bunim)
On the 17th of Tammuz Moses broke the first Tablets of Law which he had received on Mount Sinai; the daily sacrifice in the first Temple ceased; the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans; the wicked Apustumus burned the Torah and put an idol in the Temple. Because of all these tragedies, our Sages declared the 17th of Tammuz a fast day, which it remains until the Final Redemption wipes away all suffering forever.
The entire Jewish people had gathered around Mount Sinai to receive the Torah from the Creator. But after that awesome event, Moses again ascended the Mount to learn all the details contained in the Torah and to receive the Tablets of the Covenant. Before he left he instructed the people, "At the end of forty days, at the beginning of the sixth hour, I will return to you and bring you the Torah."
The people were very strongly attached to their leader, the faithful shepherd who had brought them out of Egypt and sustained them throughout all their travails. As soon as he left they began calculating his return. They assumed that the day on which he ascended the Mount was to be considered the first of the forty days. But, that day was actually to be considered only a partial day, with the full forty days ending only on the 17th of Tammuz.
When the 16th of Tammuz arrived Moses had not returned. The Evil Inclination came and asked, "Where is your teacher Moses?"
"He has ascended the mountain," they replied.
"No," said the Deceiver: "He is dead."
But they refused to pay any attention to him. He wouldn't desist, and tried another ploy: "Six hours have already passed," he taunted them. Still, they ignored him.
But when the Great Deceiver showed them an image of Moses lying on his death bed, they succumbed.
Since their faith in Moses was far deeper than anything they could perceive with their own intellect, they were completely shaken when it seemed that his words had not come true. Their attachment and love for Moses was so intense that they were unable to exist without him even for a short while. They ran to Aaron and cried, "Make us a god!"
How could people who had just witnessed the most stunning event in human history succumb to such a craze? How could the same people who had just witnessed Divine revelations and heard the Voice of G-d beg for an idol?
But the entire nation did not fall into this snare. They had split apart into numerous factions, each confident of its own viewpoint.
Aaron thought he would delay them. "Ask you wives for their gold jewelry, otherwise I cannot construct a calf," he told them.
But when the women heard the plans, they would have nothing to do with the idol. The men, however, were determined to proceed and donated all their gold.
Aaron dared not delay the mob any longer. The hotheads amongst them were becoming violently agitated, and nothing would stand in their way.
Aaron took the gold and threw it into the fire. To his surprise a golden calf leaped out, for sorcery was honed to a fine art in Egypt, and among the numerous Egyptians who had followed the Jews into the desert were expert practitioners of the black arts. When they saw the calf some found the attraction of idol worship too overwhelming to resist. After all, hadn't they been immersed in Egyptian "culture" for hundreds of years?
There was another faction which was mildly inclined to idol worship, but suppressed their desire for it after having witnessed the events at Sinai. They looked from the sidelines with vicarious pleasure as the others danced wildly around the calf.
Still others were shocked at what they saw. To them all the other factions seemed absurd, both those who worshiped the calf and those who merely watched on the sidelines. They said, "One faction is as evil as the other."
Yet, another group never lost faith. When they saw the actions of the other groups, they said, "They will never be able to repent. Let's divorce ourselves from them completely!" This attitude was in itself a sin, for they should not have abandoned all hope for their erring brethren.
The following day when Moses descended the mountain, bearing aloft the Tablets, what a scene met his eyes! Love of the Jews ever foremost in his mind, he immediately thought, "How can I give them the Law? It says 'Thou shalt have no other gods,' and now they will be subject to the death penalty.
When Moses turned around to leave, the holy letters on the Tablets flew away. When that happened, the weight of the stones became too great for him (for the words themselves had carried the Tablets), and he dropped them.
The Levites, the one group that had in no way taken part in the calf-worship, rallied to Moses like a loyal army.
Punishment was meted out to the guilty, but through this experience, the vast majority of the people became forever rooted in their belief and trust of Moses and G-d. The sin of the Golden Calf proved for all generations that repentance is always possible, for even the worshippers of the Golden Calf, in the end, returned to G-d.
The Torah has testified about... the King Moshiach. In the portion of Bilaam [commonly called "Balak"] mention was made of him, for there prophecy is made concerning two anointed kings. The first anointed king was David, who saved Israel from her enemies and the last anointed king is Mashiach who will arise from his sons and save Israel in the end of days.