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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1189
                           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 23, 2011 Nitzavim-Vayeilech      24 Elul, 5771

                             Milk and Grain

There is a classic Chasidic story about the Selichot prayers that we
begin reciting this Saturday night and continue reciting until Rosh

Once, the chasid, Rabbi Shmuel Munkes, was traveling to Liozna to spend
the holiday of Rosh Hashana with his Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder
of Chabad Chasidism.

On the Shabbat before the holiday, Reb Shmuel lodged at the inn of an
elderly couple situated on the road. On Saturday night, the couple asked
him if he wanted to accompany them as they rode to the town.

"Why are you going?" asked Reb Shmuel.

"To recite Selichot," the woman answered.

"What are Selichot?" inquired Reb Shmuel feigning ignorance.

"Shame on you," scolded the woman. "An old Jew and one who looks like a
rabbi and you don't know what Selichot are. Selichot are when you ask
G-d for the cows to have milk and the grain to grow."

"Silly old folk," Reb Shmuel replied, "staying up in the middle of the
night to pray for some milk and grain."

When Rabbi Shneur Zalman heard about this interchange, he severely
reprimanded Reb Shmuel.

Why did Reb Shmuel make fun of his hosts' prayers? Because he wanted
them to realize that there is more to life than milk and grain. A person
should learn to look upward and focus his attention on the spiritual.

Why did the Rebbe reprimand Reb Shmuel? Because our awareness of the
spiritual should permeate the material. We are concerned with cows and
grain. No one should try to deny that. And because we are, G-d is. He is
the source for our prosperity and well-being and He seeks that we turn
to Him when requesting our needs.

                                *  *  *

Reciting Selichot is part of our preparation for the Days of Awe that
commence with Rosh Hashana.

A parable can help us better understand the uniqueness of Rosh Hashana.
A king gave an open invitation to all of his countrymen to visit him,
telling everyone that they could come into the throne room to speak to
him until noon.

He also put his palace treasures on display. Some of the countrymen
paused to gaze at the weaponry and they became so absorbed that they did
not see that time was passing. Others became fascinated by the jewels
and focused their attention on them. Still others stopped to take in the
beauty of the gardens and the trees, the artwork and sculptures.

Each of the subjects found something in the palace that interested him
and indeed, mesmerized him so much that he forgot about the king.

Among the subjects was a simple farmer. He did not understand weapons,
jewels, or gardens. But he was excited for the simplest reason; he had a
chance to see the king. He did not stop to marvel at any of the king's
possessions. Instead, he rushed straight to the throne room. And when
noon came, he was the only one of the subjects who had seen the king.

Rosh Hashana is a day when G-d reveals His Kingship. The palace is open.
Some seek wealth, some seek friendship, and some seek wisdom. And then
there are those who seek nothing else but the King.

Nor will seeking the King cause one to lose out on the other periphery
matters. Think for a second, when one comes face-to-face with the King,
isn't it logical to assume that the King will provide him or her with
everything they need?

      From Keeping in Touch by Rabbi E. Touger, published by Sichos
                                                        in English.

The opening verses of Nitzavim, the first of this week's two Torah
portions, begin: "You are standing this day, all of you, before the L-rd
your G-d, your heads, your tribes, your elders...all the men of
Israel...from the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water."

Concerning these verses, the Midrash states that the Jewish people is
likened to a bundle of straw. Each one individually is weak and can be
easily broken, but once the straw is gathered into a bundle it is
impossible to make it bend. So too is it with the Jewish people. When we
are bound together and stand united we are powerful in the face of our
enemies. Indeed, unity is the vessel for containing G-d's blessing, as
we say in our prayers, "Bless us, our Father, together as one."

In truth, there is no power in the world that can dominate the Jewish
people. But if such is the case, how is it possible for any bad to
befall them? This only occurs if the individual Jew causes a tiny rift
in his bond with G-d that allows external factors to enter. It is this
self-induced damage in the relationship between G-d and His people which
brings about a lack of unity and makes the Jews vulnerable to harm. When
peace and unity reign, the Jews are impervious to attack.

How does the tiny breach first emerge? When a Jew's attention to mitzvot
are gradually left by the wayside.

Thus the first step in fortifying our spiritual defenses is to make sure
that this initial fissure is never allowed to form. How? Through Jewish

Human nature is such that a person is often unaware of his own
shortcomings. "All sins are concealed by love." Indeed, our self-love
prevents us from being objective. We cannot perceive even great flaws,
how much more so the smaller ones. However, when Jews come together,
each one can see the shortcomings of his neighbor. A good friend's
gentle admonition can cause us to correct our ways, thereby
strengthening our fortifications against the Evil Inclination.

This is one of the reasons the Mitteler Rebbe (Rabbi Dov Ber, the second
Chabad Rebbe) encouraged his followers to acquire a friend for this
specific purpose: to encourage and inspire each other along the path of
Torah and mitzvot. He explained that when two Jews unite to improve
themselves and their relationship with G-d, their two G-dly souls are
fighting only one Evil Inclination, and it is far easier to emerge

If this was true generations ago, how much more so is it applicable in
our own times, when the darkness of exile has intensified.

By maintaining our Jewish unity we will remain invincible, as it states,
"You are standing this day, all of you."

              Adapted for Maayan Chai from Likutei Sichot, Volume 2

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                         Big Bang on Glenbrook
                             by Tzvi Jacobs

For ten years our front door was 35 feet from the busiest road leading
in and out of Morristown, New Jersey - Sussex Avenue. Zoom, zoom, zoom -
one car after another going 40 to 50 miles per hour, not only during the
morning and afternoon rush hours, but all week long. To say that we had
to shout at the top of our lungs to call our children to come inside was
no exaggeration.

It was a Friday afternoon shortly after we had moved into our home on
Sussex. It was rush hour, Shabbat would be starting soon, and the
incessant sound of cars racing by, rattled the walls. Then, the cars
were honking and they wouldn't stop. Finally we looked out the window
and saw that in both directions cars had come to a halt. My wife spotted
a colorful outfit and gave a shriek. She flew down two flights of stairs
and out the front door.  Our 16-month old son was sitting on the white
line in the middle of Sussex Avenue. How Mendel had made it between the
parked cars in front of our house into the middle of Sussex Avenue
during rush hour without G-d forbid... was a miracle.

Ten years later we moved to Monsey, New York. We turned down a good deal
for a well-built house on Route 306. Divine Providence led us to a
foreclosed house on Glenbrook Road in the Wesley Hills neighborhood of
Monsey. Sometimes one will see three cars travelling down the road at
the same time, but not too often. On Shabbos, a car going down Glenbrook
is a rare sight, maybe two or three during the entire 24 hours. But it's
not just the rarity of cars. The narrow forest of tall, mature, and
majestic trees running behind the homes on Glenbrook imbue the
neighborhood with an added aura of peace and quiet.

One of the most beautiful - and most memorable - days that I can
remember in our new neighborhood occurred on Friday, June 3, 2011.  The
air felt warm and dry, the sun shined softly, and the sky reflected a
gorgeous blue. What a contrast with the weather of May - weeks of heavy
rains, cloudy skies, strong winds, alternating days of chilly air and
muggy high heat, the threat of tornados, and worst of all, water in my

By 7 p.m. on that delicious Friday, the serenity had reached its peak.
Many of the men and boys had already gathered in shul.

My son Dovid and I were standing on our deck, cooking chicken on the
grill for the Shabbat meal. The fat from the chicken dripped and the
flames flared up with a sizzling crack and a pop. We still had an hour
until sunset when Shabbat would begin.  In the meantime, we were sharing
one of those rare "Kodak moments": In just four days Dovid would turn 13
and become a Bar Mitzva. Dovid's zaide, my father of blessed memory,
would have cherished being at his grandson's bar mitzva. However, that's
the way of life until death will be forever removed. In the meantime,
the old generation must eventually make room for the new generation.
Young trees cannot grow tall when overshadowed by the grand, old trees.
In such a peaceful neighborhood, it's easier to meditate on such

Holding the tongs, Dovid flipped over a grilled thigh of chicken.

Rrrripp! Bang!

We jumped. Lightning, thunder? No, the sky was all blue.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

"What was that?" I asked.

"Sounds like fireworks," Dovid said.

Jeff, the neighbor next door, called out from his yard, "Tzvi, did you
hear that?"

The three of us ran to the front. The road was clear - it wasn't a car
accident. We ran up Glenbrook. A group of women and girls were standing
in the driveway of the Epstein's house.

Their spacious green lawn had been overtaken by a jungle of leafy
branches rising 20 or so feet high. It was quite disconcerting.
Navigating along a narrow stretch of grass, we realized that one of
those majestic trees had crashed to the ground, splintering the swing
set into a pile of sticks.

"See, up there," said Jeff, pointing to the jagged top. "The top half of
that tree broke off."

But there was more. Behind the swing set, another tree laid like a
fallen soldier, pointing in the direction of the neighbor's yard. The
base of the tree with its roots exposed stood at least six feet high.

"Apparently, the weight of the first tree knocked toppled this tree,"
Jeff said.

Another tree, trapped under the second tree, brushed against the
trampoline. The second tree had knocked over this third tree.

On the other side of the trampoline the fourth tree was laid to rest.
Barely visible under verdant branches, three walls of the shed were
crushed to the ground. According to Jeff's theory, the third tree
knocked over the fourth tree. "Sometimes when a large old tree falls,
the ground loosens up and the tree next to it falls, too."

We finished our survey. The shocked mothers were still standing next to
their children in the driveway.

"Our children had been playing in our backyard," said the pale Rivkie
Epstein with a shaking voice, "but right before it happened, they ran
next door to play on the neighbor's swing set. Thank G-d."

Nearly two weeks later, on a Wednesday night, the moon shone brightly in
the clear night sky. The Epsteins' property still looked like a twister
had hit their back yard. Inside, Mrs. Epstein was hosting a "Chinese
Auction" event  to raise money for a yeshiva. The happy event had been
planned many weeks in advance.

Knowing their hostess's love for giving tzedaka (charity) and enabling
others to do so as well (hence the event), many guests mentioned the
quote from the Talmud: "Tzedaka saves one from death."

That's one perspective.

Mrs. Epstein said with a voice full of wonder, "All I can think is how
much G-d loves me."

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             New Facilities

The Chabad House of Chadera Industrial Zone,  Israel, recently found a
permanent home in the offices of the transportation company Atz-Tas,
where they were Chabad was allotted its own space for classes and
outreach activities. Friendship Circle of Cleveland just celebrated the
opening of its new 12,000-sq.-ft. facility in Pepper Pike, Ohio.

                               New Mikva

The Cambridge Mikva, a project of Chabad Lubavitch of Cambridge,
England, was opened with the participation of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                           Freely translated

                     Days of Selichos, 5715 [1954]

On the eve of Rosh Hashanah I extend my prayerful wishes to my brethren,
every Jew and Jewess in the midst of our people Israel, the time
hallowed traditional blessing of "Shono toivo umesuko" - a good and
sweet year.

The celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the year, has been
ordained by our Torah to take place on the anniversary of the Creation,
but not on the first day of Creation. It has been made to coincide with
the sixth day of Creation, the day when Man was created.

The significance of this day, and of this event, is not in the fact that
a new creature was added to Creation, a creature one plane higher than
the rest of the animal kingdom, as the animal is superior to plant, and
plant to mineral.

The significance lies in the fact that the new creature - Man - was
essentially different from the others.

For it was Man who recognized the Creator in and through Creation, and,
what is more, brought about the elevation of the entire Creation to that
recognition and thus to the fulfillment of its Divine design and

Since such recognition and appreciation of the Creator is the ultimate
purpose of the Creation.

                                *  *  *

One of the main distinguishing features which set Man apart from all
other creatures is the free choice of action which the Creator bestowed
upon him.

Man can use this special Divine gift in two opposing directions. He may,
G-d forbid, choose the way leading to self-destruction and the
destruction of everything around him; or, he can choose the right way of
life, which would elevate him and the Creation with him to the highest
possible perfection.

And to help us recognize and choose the right path, we were given the
Torah, which is Divine and eternal, hence, its teachings are valid for
all times and in all places.

                                *  *  *

It is not possible for man to make this choice unaided, merely by virtue
of his intellect, for the human intellect is limited. The intellect can
only serve to discover and bring forth that inner absolute intuition and
faith in things which lie beyond and above the realm of the intellect;
the faith and intuition which are the heritage of every Jew, therewith
to illuminate his entire being and to guide him in his daily living to a
life inspired by Torah and Mitzvoth [commandments].

                                *  *  *

On Rosh Hashanah man stands not only before the Divine Judgement, but
also before his own.

The verdict of his own judgement, with regard to the future, must be:
that he takes upon himself to fulfill his duty, that is, to work toward
the fulfillment - in himself and in his surroundings - of the call:

"Come, let us worship, bow down, and kneel before G-d our Maker," a call
for absolute submission to G-d was first sounded by the first man, Adam,
on the day of his creation, on the first Rosh Hashanah.

This can be attained only through a life inspired and guided by the

And that he must once and for all abandon the opposite road, which can
only lead to destruction and doom.

                                *  *  *

Let no one think: who am I and what am I to have such tremendous powers
of building or destruction.

For we have seen - to our sorrow - what even a small quantity of matter
can do in the way of destruction through the release of atomic energy.
If such power is concealed in a small quantity of matter - for
destructiveness, iin denial of the design and purpose of Creation, how
much greater is the creative power entrusted to every individual to work
in harmony with the Divine purpose, for in this case one is also given
special abilities and opportunities by Divine Providence to attain the
goal for which we have been created: the realization of a world in which

"Each creature shall recognize that Thou didst create him, and every
breathing soul shall declare: 'G-d, the G-d of Israel, is King, and His
reign is supreme over all.' "

With the blessing of Kesivo vachasimo toivo [written and sealed for

                            WHAT'S IN A NAME
OVED means "servant." Oved was a son of Ruth and Boaz. He was the father
of Jesse, who was the father of King David. (Ruth 4:17)

OFRA is a young mountain goat or young deer. In Chronicles (I 4:14) it
is used as a masculine name although currently it is used as a feminine

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This Shabbat is an auspicious one. It is the Shabbat before Rosh
Hashana, and therefore the last Shabbat of this year, 5771. The date of
this Shabbat is the 25th of Elul.

The 25th of Elul is the date of the first day of creation of the world.
The creation of the world is mentioned in the beginning of chapter 5 in
Ethics of the Fathers and at the end of chapter six. We complete our
study of Ethics for this year by studying both of these chapters this

The fifth chapter begins with a description of creation, as it says,
"The world was created by ten utterances." The sixth chapter ends with
the whole purpose of creation: "Everything which the Holy One, blessed
be He created was created for His glory."

From this we realize two things. First, we have a task set before us.
Each and every one of us was created for the purpose of glorifying and
sanctifying G-d. We do this by observing His Torah and mitzvot in a
public and open way.

The verse doesn't just say that man was created for this purpose, but
"everything which He created" was created for this purpose. Rabbi
Yisrael Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chasidic movement once stated
that we can learn a lesson on how to serve G-d from everything we
encounter. By realizing and understanding the lesson that has been set
before us, that which we have learned the lesson from has been elevated
because it has served its purpose on this earth. By teaching us a lesson
in Divine Service, it has played a part in the glorification of G-d.

As the year draws to a close, let us resolve in the coming year to open
our eyes, look around us, and reveal the hidden lessons that are all
around us, and at the time let us pray fervently for the time when all
G-dliness is revealed, with the coming of our righteous Moshiach. May it
be speedily in our days.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
It will come to pass, when all these things have come upon you, the
blessing and the curse...and you shall return to the L-rd (Deut. 30:1-2)

It is obvious that punishment and suffering can open a man's heart to
G-d, but how can blessing bring him to repentance? The Baal Shem Tov
offered an analogy: It happened once that a simple man rebelled against
the king. But instead of punishing him, the king took him into his
palace and appointed him to an important position. The more favor and
privilege that was lavished on him, the worse the man felt about having
rebelled. Thus we see that mercy and kindness can sometimes prompt a
person to repentance even more effectively than punishment.

                                *  *  *

Gather the people together, men, and women, and children...that they may
hear and learn and fear the L-rd your G-d, and take care to do all the
words of this Torah (Deut. 31:12)

According to the Minchat Chinuch, the commandment for all Jews to
assemble in Jerusalem on Sukkot following the Sabbatical year, to hear
the king recite the Book of Deuteronomy is incumbent on every Jew from
birth. From this we learn that a child's Jewish education must likewise
commence from birth.

                                                   (Likutei Sichot)

                                *  *  *

I will certainly hide (lit. "hide I will hide") My face on that day
(Deut. 31:18)

Commenting on the Torah's repetition of the word "hide," the Baal Shem
Tov said: There will come a time at the end of the exile when G-d's
concealment will be two-fold. Not only will He be "hidden" within the
physical world, but His concealment will be so great that people will
not even realize that anything is hidden! Nonetheless, there is no
concealment capable of separating the Jew from G-d. The same "I" Who
hides His face is the same "I" Who uttered the Ten Commandments, and
dwells in the heart of every Jew.

                                                   (Likutei Sichot)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
The time for morning prayers had passed, and all the other congregants
had filtered out of the shul, ready to begin their daily tasks. Only one
Jew lingered, wrapped in talit and tefilin, buried deep in his own
thoughts. In truth, he hadn't even begun the prayers, so entangled was
he in the doubts that had haunted him for months. Now, the black
depression - created by his own evil inclination - had so overtaken him,
that he couldn't extricate himself. His mind wandered from one question
to another; no foreign idea was barred entrance. And so, the morning
passed imperceptibly, and the Jew slid further and further into the dark
pit he had created for himself.

Suddenly he was roused from his trance by the touch of someone's hand on
his shoulder. He looked up, and to his utter surprise, the Baal Shem Tov
(known also as the "Besht") stood gazing down at him. "Do you think that
by thinking and questioning G-d's ways you will find the answers? Don't
you recall the words of King David who said, 'For I am ignorant and know
not; in simplicity I followed You and I am with You always.'

"A Jew must totally submit himself to G-d, serve Him and follow His
commandments, and for no other reason than because the orders come from
his Creator, not because of his own philosophical conclusions. When you
begin by accepting the 'yoke of Heaven,' then, and only then, will you
achieve true spiritual enlightenment. And you, too, will conclude as did
King David, 'I am with You always.' First perform the mitzvot, the
Divine instructions for life. Then you may think about them and delve
into them to the best of your limited human ability."

The Jew sat spellbound by the Baal Shem Tov's words, which entered and
cleansed his heart.

"This is my advice to you," the Besht continued. "Put aside your
intellect; forget it and just begin doing. Accept the fact that G-d is
our King and then put all of your strength into doing mitzvot - do them
without thinking too much. If you follow my instructions, I promise that
you will surely attain true wisdom and understanding."

As suddenly as he had appeared, the Baal Shem Tov disappeared and
returned home to Medzibozh. The startled Jew was trembling from head to
toe, but he lost no time in praying the morning service with a fervor
that he had never before experienced. The depressing thoughts and doubts
which had been his steady companions for months had vanished.

The Jew was left to puzzle the hows and whys of the Baal Shem Tov's
sudden appearance and equally abrupt disappearance. "How did the Besht
know exactly what I was thinking, exactly what was troubling me?" he
wondered. "It must be just as he told me, not everything is according to
human logic; there are many things which lie outside our ken. And
certainly the ways of G-d are among those things."

That same day the Jew packed his belongings and made the trek to
Medzibozh. There he became one of the Baal Shem Tov's devoted students.

                                *  *  *

Every night, after reciting the last blessing of the bedtime prayers,
the tzadik, Reb Yitzchak of Drohovitz, lay his head on his pillow,
closed his eyes, and fell fast asleep. Why was this night different? Why
did his soul refuse to ascend to the celestial realms? He couldn't
figure it out, but tossed and turned in his bed; sleep refusing to come
to him.

What is one to do in such a circumstance? Why, any pious Jew, and
certainly a tzadik like Reb Yitzchak of Drohovitz would take stock of
the day's events - an "accounting of one's soul" - for perhaps there was
something in his speech, his deed or even his thought which contained a
spiritual blemish. And so, Reb Yitzchak sat up in his bed and began
pondering his day, minute by minute, word by word and thought by
thought. And then, it came to him in a flash! Of course, that was it!

That afternoon, he had overheard a conversation in which the Baal Shem
Tov had been maligned by a certain Jew. Reb Yitzchak was about to
reprimand the speaker, but then, for some reason unclear to him now, he
refrained and was silent.

Reb Yitzchak knew what he must do. He quickly jumped from his bed and
put on his clothes. He saddled his horse and rode through the night,
never stopping until he dismounted in Medzibozh in front of the Baal
Shem Tov's shul.

As Reb Yitzchak entered the shul, the morning service was in progress.
He stood there for a few minutes contemplating the scene, when a strange
thing happened - someone called his name. He was being honored by being
called up to the Torah. "Funny," he thought, "no one knows me here, I
wonder why I am being called," but he stepped forward.

When the prayers ended, Reb Yitzchak had no chance to beg forgiveness.
The Baal Shem Tov strode up to him, hand extended and said quite simply,
"Yisrael forgives you from the bottom of his heart."

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
In time to come the Evil Inclination will cease to exist; as it is
written (Zechariah 13:2), "I shall remove the spirit of impurity from
the earth." Indeed, so manifest will the glory of G-d then be throughout
the entire world, that a mere fig will cry out in protest if it is about
to be picked on Shabbat. It is thus clear that it will be impossible to
sin in such circumstances, even unwittingly - just as a small child
never puts his hand into the fire, nor does an animal jump into a fire.

                                  (Likutei Sichot, Vol. 25, p. 263)

          END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1189 - Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5771

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