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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1186
                           Copyright (c) 2011
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        September 2, 2011       Shoftim             3 Elul, 5771

                              Sticky Notes

Sticky Notes. You see them everywhere: Refrigerators, desks, desktops,
dashboards, kitchen counters, walls, books, on clothes, on the phone, in
your pocket-book or wallet.

What's on these ubiquitous sticky notes? Nothing and everything. Some
are used as placeholders, reminders, memory joggers, mnemonic aids,
prompts. Sticky notes are a way to bookmark our lives.

Some contain the briefest information. A phone number. A web address. An
email. A date.

Some are for lists: Hair cut @ 3, Kids @ Hebrew School til 4; Shabbat
Shopping - challah, candles, chumus, wine; Need batteries and cord.
Sticky notes are the shorthand of our lives.

Some become mini-dissertations. Ideas for stories. Quotes we want to
remember. Recipes. Notes from a lecture. Lengthy references and

And we've even got sticky notes for the computer, more stuff to crowd
the desktop.

How many sticky notes do we write, place or jot on, and then lose,
forget or can't read?

What are the sticky notes of our Jewish lives?

Sometimes we encounter a Torah thought for a brief moment. Something to
think about. A reminder that jogs our minds. The refrain from a song
that we learned in Hebrew school that evokes a fond memory. We hear
about an act of dedication - preserving a post-Holocaust cemetery or
synagogue - that reminds us of the timeless significance of being a Jew.
An aphorism that touches our hearts. A Torah story that strengthens our

Sometimes our Jewish sticky note is a list: a grocery list or a to-do
list of mitzvot: Rosh Hashana is coming: apples & honey, charitable
donations, get mezuzas checked. Check out kosher: look for kosher
symbols on labels, modify recipes, call local Chabad to learn more.

And sometimes our Jewish sticky note is a dissertation: We sign up for a
weekly class, some in-depth study of Talmud or Chasidic philosophy. And
of course we take notes. We become heavily involved in an important
project, such as planning the community Chanuka event. And of course we
take notes. How do we reach the unaffiliated? Do we have enough candles
and menoras for those who need them? We commit to a higher level of
observance. We learn about the Laws of Jewish Family life. And of course
we take notes.

Just as in our everyday lives, where we need reminders, lists and
references - all accessible through sticky notes because they're made
with a "reusable pressure sensitive adhesive" - so, too, in our
spiritual lives. We need reminders, lists and references. Judaism
"sticks" to us because Torah is reusable - it's eternal; Torah is
pressure-sensitive - it responds to the slightest touch, for if we put a
little finger under the boulder blocking our spiritual path, G-d will,
assist us and remove the barrier completely; and Torah is adhesive -
it's rooted to our souls and cleaves to our very essence.

This week's Torah reading, Shoftim, contains the commandment: "By the
mouth of two witnesses or three witnesses shall he who deserves death be
put to death." Our Sages learned from this that a minimum of two
witnesses is required to impose capital punishment or flogging. Even if
a person admits his crime, it is considered insufficient evidence for
these forms of punishment.

Maimonides explains: "It is a textual decree that the Jewish court
cannot put a person to death or flog him as a result of his confession.
Two witnesses are necessary to do so." This law applies only to capital
punishment and flogging; when it comes to financial matters, a person's
word is decisive, and "admission is worth a hundred witnesses."

Maimonides characterized this law as "a textual decree," but other
commentators have added a possible explanation: A human being, they
maintain, may be master over his wealth and property, but he can never
be the ultimate master over his body. Because money is subject to his
control, his word carries weight; because the body does not really
belong to him, he does not have the right to inflict harm.

A person's body and soul are not really his; they are only lent to him
by G-d as collateral. In fact, we are obligated to take care of our
bodies throughout our entire lives. Jewish law states that "An
individual is not permitted to hurt his body." For the body he inhabits
isn't really his; it belongs to G-d. And what right does one have to
damage something that doesn't belong to him?

Of course, it is also true that everything in the whole world belongs to
G-d, as it states in the Torah, "The earth and everything within it is
the L-rd's." Even a person's money isn't ultimately his, as it states
elsewhere, "The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine."

But if everything is really G-d's, what is the difference between a
person's money and his body?

The answer lies in the degree of control G-d allows us. Yes, everything
belongs to Him, but He permits us to decide what to do with our money.
By contrast, the body is purely collateral, and we cannot do whatever we
want with it. It is simply not in our power to self-impose capital

At the same time G-d allows us a certain autonomy over money, we must
also recognize that He alone controls reality. The story is told about a
chasid who wrote at the end of his balance book: "There is nothing but

In fact, "there is nothing but Him" expresses the true reality, which
everyone will come to perceive in the Messianic era, may it commence at

                               Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Vol. 34

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                            A Life's Mission
                         by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton

The following story, which I heard recently, took place in New York.

The phone rang one evening in the home of an observant Jewish family
with sad news. The matriarch of the family, a woman in her 90s who had
been living in a home for the aged, passed away quietly in her sleep.

The next of kin met with the home's management, funeral arrangements
were made, and the next day family and friends gathered to pay their
last respects and bring their beloved relative and friend to her final

The first few days of shiva (the seven days of mourning) were very busy.
The house was filled with visitors and those who were not able to come
called, sent cards or emails. But on the third day they received a
strange phone call.

One of the adult grandchildren answered the phone. The voice on the
other end was an elderly woman. "Hello! Is everything all right? Are
your mother or father there? What do you mean who is it? Don't you
recognize your grandmother's voice? Let me talk to your father. Why
hasn't anyone come to visit me for the past three days?"

The son got on the phone and....hesitantly asked, "Mom, is it you?"

"Of course it is!" She replied, "Why doesn't anyone come to visit me? Is
everything all right?"

Mom was alive! He burst out crying and turned to everyone else "She's on
the phone... She's alive!"

He told her they were on their way to visit her and in no time they were
by her side explaining  that there had obviously been a terrible

And then suddenly it dawned on them. They had made a funeral and buried
someone. Who was that someone? And who were her relatives?

Moments later they were in the office of the director of the facility.
Within a short time the mystery was solved.

In the same facility there was another resident with the same name as
their mother and grandmother. Both were holocaust survivors, both were
in their 90s and both were very similar in build. The director assured
them that this had never happened before. The director apologized
profusely. Of course they would pay for the funeral, lost pay, etc. And
then he set to finding the relatives of the deceased woman.

After a short investigation they discovered that she had only one
relative; a son who lived not far away. The director asked the family if
they would be willing to deliver the bitter news. He reasoned that the
son would most likely be shocked, upset and angry that he had missed his
own mother's funeral. They could calm him down by assuring him that she
had been given the utmost honor and respect and that everything had been
done according to Jewish law.

When the son picked up the phone and heard that they were calling from
the nursing home and that they would like to visit him, he cut them
short: "Get to the point," he said. "If you're calling to say Mom died,
you don't need to come all the way here. Just cremate her and send me
the bill."

The family on the other end was shocked. They had never experienced such
callousness! Such a lack of feeling for another person, let alone a
relative. And not just any relative but a mother!

After they got over their shock, they asked if they could come speak to
him anyway and he agreed. A half hour later they were sitting in his
home trying to explain to him that cremation is forbidden according to
Jewish law and that there must be a proper Jewish burial. They spoke
about the resurrection of the dead in the Messianic Era and the
importance of treating a Jewish body that housed a precious soul with

The son would hear nothing of it. On principle he opposed burial.
Cremation is realistic! All this about souls, G-d, Judaism, the
resurrection of the dead, was nonsense.

They saw they were getting nowhere and told him the truth: His mother
had died several days ago. By mistake they were told it was their own
mother. Every detail of a proper Jewish burial was accorded her: her
body was 'watched' from her passing until her burial and someone recited
Psalms next to her the entire time. She was ritually washed, dressed in
simple shrouds and buried in a plain pine coffin. They had said kaddish
for her soul three times each day.

"What!?" he cried out, his tough exterior crumbling. "Buried? Mom was

The son had a stunned look on his face. Suddenly he burst out crying and
covered his eyes with his hands. "Mom was buried," he mumbled
repeatedly. Eventually he  calmed down. In a quiet voice he told the

"My mother was a holocaust survivor. Her entire family, as well as my
father and his entire family, were killed by the Nazis. I was just a
young child when we moved to America. After everything that happened to
her, my mom still believed in G-d, she was even religious!

"As a teenager I rebelled. I was not interested in being different from
everyone around me. I dropped Judaism. I steered clear of anything to do
with G-d and spirituality.

"We used to have big arguments. I told her there is no such thing as G-d
or an afterlife or souls  and when I die I'm going to be cremated. And
if I have my way, that's what I'll do with her body when she dies, too.
Maybe it sounds cruel, but it was my way of trying to shock her into
leaving behind all of her 'bubbe mayses' and superstitions, and live in
the real world. I even legally arranged to have her cremated.

"Whenever the topic would come up, I would confidently tell her, 'Pray
to G-d. If He exists, then He'll see to it that you get a Jewish burial
with all the trimmings.' I was 100% sure what the outcome would be.

"Now I see I was wrong! All this time she was right! Do you understand?
G-d listened to her prayers! She was right!" He began weeping anew.

The son agreed sit shiva for her in the house of the previous "mourners"
and to begin learning about Judaism.

                                   Reprinted from

                               WHAT'S NEW
                            The Divine Prism

The Divine Prism presents a varied range of insights into the weekly
Torah readings from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. This first
volume in the series is on Devarim (Deuteronomy). The insights empower
and train the reader to think creatively and in that way discover
insights that enable him to see how the Torah`s eternal truths can be
applied in and in that way, enrich his day-to-day experience. Published
by Heichel Menachem, translated from the Hebrew by Rabbis Eliyahu Touger
and Sholom Ber Wineberg.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                          In the Month of Elul
             Chodesh Horachamim [the month of mercy], 5733
                      To the Boys and to the Girls
             Participants in the Tzedoko [charity] Campaign
                             G-d bless you

Greeting and Blessing:

I was pleased to be informed that you fulfilled my request to act as my
agents in the Mitzvah [commandment] of Tzedoko [charity] connecting it
with a word of Torah, and adding to it your own Tzedoko.

Needless to say, in every case of doing a Mitzvah there is no place for
a "Thank you" from a human being, since doing the Mitzvah in fulfillment
of G-d's will is itself the greatest reward and truest happiness, and as
our Sages of blessed memory declared: "The Reward of a Mitzvah is the
Mitzvah itself."

However, it is in order to express thanks for acting as my agents in
this joint effort and for this I say: Thank you very much to each and
every one of you.

I also take this opportunity, as we have entered the month of Elul, to
remind you of the special significance of the month, the Month of Divine
Grace in preparation for Rosh Hashonoh and for the entire coming year,
may it be a good one for all of us.

The Alter Rebbe [Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism]
explains the special significance of this month by means of the
well-known parable of a "King in the field;"

"When a King approaches the city of his royal residence the people of
the city go out to welcome the king in the field. Then everyone who
wishes is permitted to come and greet the king and he receives everybody
graciously and with a smiling face. But after he enters his Royal Palace
special permission is required to see the king and this also is the
privilege of a chosen few."

This, then, is the significance of the whole month of Elul, when the
King of Kings, the Holy One Blessed be He, makes known that He is "in
the field" and everyone - man, woman, boy and girl can come to Him
without difficulties, or special introductions.

But - one may ask - what is the meaning of approaching the King in the
field, since G-d has no likeness of a body, nor a body and as the Torah
warns, "You have not seen any image (of G-d)?"

Therefore the Alter Rebbe goes on to explain that this approach has to
do with prayer, for prayer in general and in the days of Elul in
particular is an occasion concerning which is written, "May G-d cause
His face to shine upon thee" - face to face - the person praying
standing directly in the presence of the King, as in the parable above.

And the Alter Rebbe adds, that in order that such closeness be truly
meaningful in a lasting and tangible way, it must be followed by actual
study of Torah, by Tzedoko and Good Deeds.

May G-d grant that each and every one of you should go from strength to
strength in all matters of Goodness and Holiness, Torah and Mitzvos, and
be a source of pride and true Nachas [pride] to your parents and
teachers, and may you make fullest use of the auspicious days of this
month and be inscribed for a good and sweet year materially and

With the blessing of kesivo vechasima tovah [may you be written and
sealed for good],

                            WHAT'S IN A NAME
MISHAEL means "borrowed." Mishael was an uncle of Moses (Exodus 6:22). A
later Mishael (Daniel 1:6) was a contemporary of Daniel the prophet. He
was amongst the four young men brought into Nebuchadnezzer"s palace when
the Jews were exiled to Babylon. According to the Talmud, Mishael was
completely righteous.

MARA means bitterness. In the book of Ruth, Naomi said: "Do not call me
Naomi [which means pleasant] but Mara [bitterness] for the L-rd has sent
me a bitter lot." (Ruth 1:20)

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
What is teshuva, and how does it work? How can a single turn in the
right direction "erase the slate" and eradicate years of ingrained

Chasidic philosophy explains this by comparing the Jew's relationship
with G-d to a fire, based on the verse "For the L-rd your G-d is a
consuming fire." In the same way a physical fire requires certain
conditions in order to burn, so too does the Jew's connection to G-d
depend on several conditions in order to thrive.

A physical flame must meet two requirements in order to be sustained: it
must be given a sufficient amount of material to burn, and avoid any
substances that can extinguish it. A fire that isn't fed or is doused
with water will eventually sputter and go out.

Likewise, there are two requirements for nurturing the spiritual "flame"
that symbolizes the Jew's relationship with G-d: It must have sufficient
"food" to sustain it (Torah study and the performance of positive
mitzvot), and avoid any substances that can extinguish it (those things
that the Torah has forbidden).

When a Jew observes positive mitzvot and is careful not to transgress
the Torah's prohibitions, his "flame" flourishes and burns brightly. If
he is lax about meeting the flame's requirements, the fire will sputter
and grow dim.

When a person does teshuva, he is merely "re-igniting" a flame that
wasn't properly tended. To do so, he must bring a fire from another
source, one that has never been allowed to go out. This fire, which is
completely impervious to being extinguished, exists in the innermost
recesses of every Jew's heart. Like the flint rock that can always give
off a spark after years of being submerged in water, the potential for a
"fiery" and all-consuming relationship with G-d always exists.

When a Jew sincerely regrets his distance from G-d and contemplates his
innate love for Him, he accesses this inner and eternal "fire." Teshuva,
then, is the "match" that can rekindle even the tiniest flame, and cause
it to burst into a giant conflagration.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Justice, justice you shall follow (Deut. 16:20)

Contrary to popular opinion, the end never justifies the means, no
matter how noble or virtuous. Even the pursuit of justice must be
carried out in a just and honest manner.

                                                  (Rebbe Reb Bunim)

                                *  *  *

For man is like a tree of the field (Deut. 20:19)

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad Chasidism, once remarked
to a Torah scholar during his first private audience: "The Torah states,
'For man is like a tree of the field.' A tree that does not bear fruit
is a barren tree. A person can be fluent in the entire Talmud and still
be 'barren,' G-d forbid. A Jew must produce 'fruit.' For what benefit is
there in your learning and Divine service if you do not bear 'fruit' -
if you do not cause your light to shine upon another Jew?"

                                *  *  *

You shall prepare the way... that every slayer may flee there (Deut.

Rashi explains that at each intersection was a sign directing "refuge,
refuge." Cities of Refuge were established to save from revenge those
who unintentionally killed another. Each of us must stand at the
crossroads, wherever Jews are found, to point them to the path of Torah.
Torah is the spiritual refuge from the "blood avenger," the evil
inclination, that causes us to sin and prosecutes us. The Rabbis say in
the Talmud (Makkot 10): "The words of Torah are a refuge."

                                          (Likutei Sichot, Vol. II)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
The great Maharal of Prague became famous throughout the Jewish world
for his wealth of Torah knowledge and saintliness. His father-in-law, R.
Shmuel Reich, had close contacts with royalty. The ruler of Prague at
that time was Ferdinand I.

Shmuel Reich was a favorite of his, because of his intelligence and
great ability. This aroused much jealousy and hate among the courtiers,
who could not bear to see a Jew attain so high a position.

King Ferdinand was a devout Catholic, and if, at first, this did not
influence him against his friendship to Shmuel Reich, there came a time
when the king's mind, too, was poisoned against Jews.

In the year 1556, the Catholics in Rome experienced their "victory" over
the Jews by publicly burning their treasures of literature, their
precious books. When this inquisition triumphed, its spirit spread even
into the court of King Ferdinand in Prague.

The king announced to the leaders of the Jewish community that he could
no longer afford them his protection. It was therefore in their own
interests to leave Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia.

Shmuel Reich knew that the courtiers were vulnerable to accepting
bribes, and he was willing to give away his entire fortune to save the
Jews from being driven out of their homes. However, when he discussed
this idea with his brilliant son-in-law, the Maharal, the latter advised
against such a plan, fearing it would provoke similar measures

At that time, Prince Ferdinand of Bohemia, the son of the king, paid a
visit to Prince Johann of Moravia. They were both deeply interested in
astronomy and came upon a problem which seemed unsolvable. The two made
a bet that the first to find the solution to the problem within six
months would become the "spiritual master" of the other, who would
become his "spiritual slave."

After the bet had been made, Prince Ferdinand visited some properties of
his which were managed by a Jew, Moshe Yitzchak Sobel. In the course of
their conversation, the prince mentioned the bet.

"I understand that you have discussed the problem with your scholars,
but have you approached Jewish scholars?"

The prince scoffed at the suggestion. "What do Jews know about such
subjects? All they can do is wail about the destruction of their Holy
Temple and dream about some miraculous redemption," he retorted

Moshe Yitzchak Sobel had known the prince since he was a child, and so
he took the opportunity to speak to him frankly: "You have a completely
erroneous conception of Jews, and of course the fault lies with the one
who has been responsible for your training. If you wish to hear the
opinion of a great scholar, why, you have one right nearby, in the
person of the Rabbi of Prague. There is not a science of which he has
not the most expert knowledge!" exclaimed Moshe Yitzchak.

"If you really believe that the Rabbi of Prague can solve my problem,
then bring him to me," said the prince. "But arrange the matter
secretly. It must not become known that Ferdinand has need to resort to
such a low people as the Jews to help solve a scientific problem. I
would be a complete laughingstock."

Although the prince uttered these words in a friendly tone, Moshe
Yitzchak was deeply hurt. He spoke at great length to the prince,
refuting his appraisal of the Jewish people. Moshe Yitzchak's words made
a profound impression upon Prince Ferdinand. He had known for some time
of the palace intrigues against the Jews at the hands of the priests,
but his father, the king, was helpless to combat their incitement.

A few days later, the prince called Moshe Yitzchak and asked him to
arrange that the Maharal visit the palace. The Maharal agreed to visit
the prince and at their meeting the prince told of the problem which no
one had been able to solve. To the great delight and surprise of the
prince, the Maharal wrote out the solution without hesitation! The
prince wanted to reward the Maharal. But the Maharal declined, saying
that it is an accepted custom among Jews, since the time of Moses, to
impart knowledge to others without remuneration, the only exception
being when people did this as a means of earning their living.

The prince took a great liking to this remarkable Jew who seemed to know
so much about every conceivable subject. The Maharal stayed about a week
at the castle, or rather at the house of Moshe Yitzchak Sobel, visiting
the prince at the castle every day and spending several hours discussing
all sorts of scientific matters with him.

The prince took the opportunity of learning all he could about Jews,
their mode of living, their belief and faith, their history, etc. The
prince was astonished at the great breadth of knowledge displayed by the
Maharal. "How is it that you know so much about natural science?" he
once asked the Maharal. The Maharal explained to him that actually all
these sciences can be learned in our Torah, and in order to be a good
Jew, one has to study them all. He further explained to the prince that
it was a Jewish tradition to hand down, from generation to generation,
the Torah and everything connected with it.

                         Adapted from Memoirs of the Previous Rebbe

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The Talmud lists a number of signs for the approaching redemption and
concludes that the most manifest sign is when "You, mountains of Israel,
you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit..." (Ezekiel
36:8) To be like the trees of the field, that "the shoots taken from you
will be like unto you," to blossom and cause a chain-reaction of self
perpetuating fruits of Torah and mitzvot (commandments) in oneself and
others, is an assured way to bring about the speedy coming of Moshiach.

                      (From Living with Moshiach, by J.I. Schochet)

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1186 - Shoftim 5771

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