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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1214
                           Copyright (c) 2012
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        March 23, 2012          Vayikra            29 Adar, 5772

                          Fantasy or Reality?

                          by Rabbi Berel Bell

On the whole, throughout history, neither Jewish nor non-Jewish
philosophers have ever seriously doubted the existence of an Infinite
Primary Cause of the creation.  If the world was just a fantasy, neither
your boss nor the IRS nor those thugs down the street would seem so
threatening.  There is, in fact, a branch of philosophy that proposes
just that.  Rather than a flimsy excuse to escape the demands of
reality, it originally represented a valiant but mistaken attempt to
solve one of the heady problems of existence.

On the whole, throughout history, neither Jewish nor non-Jewish
philosophers have ever seriously doubted the existence of G-d.  What
they have grappled with, though, is a foreboding paradox:  one does not
immediately perceive this All-powerful Creator in the physical universe.
"If He's all that great," the philosophical voice queries, "why don't I
see Him?"

The easiest solution is to blame everything on the power of imagination.
Dreamers who hold onto the idea that the universe is imaginary may bring
a concept from the Torah to their defense. The concept "ain od milvado"
("there is nothing other than Him") is a basic one in Jewish thought.
However, it means more than just that there is no god aside from Him.
It means that there is no existence other than Him.  If so, perhaps the
universe really is one a fantasy!

Maimonides, in his explanation and enumeration of the mitzvot
(commandment), clears the air by illustrating how G-d's existence is
different from that of the universe.  In the fourth of his six
statements regarding understanding G-d, he says, "ain od milvado: this
means that He is the only true existence."

When the Torah refers to something as being "true" (emet) it means that
it does not change under any conditions.  For this reason, a river that
occasionally dries up is called by the Mishna a "false" river.

So, too, the universe is bound both in the past and in the future.  It
exists now, but there was a point at which it did not.  And in the
Messianic Age, the universe as it is now will cease to exist.
Therefore, the Torah cannot call it a "true" existence, as its existence
is only temporary.  Rather, ain od milvado; G-d is the only existence
which the Torah can call "true."

We see from this that the universe definitely does exist, and is not
just a product of the mind.  On the other hand, though, it is not a
"true" existence as is that of G-d.  His existence is independent of any
other; G-d alone has no prior source or starting point.

Pondering these concepts, we fulfill the commandment of "knowing" G-d.
Moreover, it greatly enhances our perspectives on all of the mitzvot.

The purpose of performing mitzvot with physical objects is to purify and
elevate the physical world.  Knowing that the world is not just an
illusion or figment of the imagination is fundamental to this idea.  In
an imaginary universe there would be no need to do mitzvot.  Doing a
mitzva effects a real change in a real world.

On the other hand, knowing that the world is not a true existence as

G-d's existence is - eternal and unchanging - gives one the strength and
conviction to overcome its whimsical trials. Everyday obstacles are not
quite as real and absolute as they might seem.  There is another
Existence whose Will and Wisdom overshadow them.

This Shabbat is unique as reflected by the fact that three scrolls are
taken out for the Torah reading. We read the weekly portion, Vayikra,
from one scroll, the Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) reading from another, and
the special "Hachodesh" reading from the third scroll.

This is a rare phenomenon. There are many occasions when two Torah
scrolls are taken out, but taking out three scrolls is extremely

Significantly, each of the readings concerns the first of the month of
Nissan, the date of this Shabbat. The portion of Vayikra was
communicated to Moses on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the day the Sanctuary was
erected. The Hachodesh reading was also communicated to Moses on Rosh
Chodesh Nissan (a year previously). Furthermore, it relates the
commandment of sanctifying the months and thus shows a special
connection between the ordinary Rosh Chodesh passage and Rosh Chodesh

Surely we can derive a lesson in the service of G-d from the above

The prayer recited when a Torah scroll is removed from the ark begins,
"Whenever the ark set out, Moses would say, 'Arise, O L-rd, and Your
enemies will be dispersed; Your foes will flee before You.'"

This verse is relevant to every Jew, even in the present era, for every
Jew possesses a spark of Moses within his soul. This spark brings about
"Arise O L-rd," an increase in the service of holiness, and "Your
enemies will be dispersed," the nullification of undesirable influences.
Thus, taking out the Torah scrolls reflects both services of "turn away
from evil" and "do good," the two prongs of our service of G-d, and
endows that service with new strength and vigor.

Taking out three Torah scrolls represents a "chazaka," a strengthening
and reinforcement in regard to our service which is above the ordinary,
the revelation of a miraculous pattern of conduct. Furthermore, the
chazaka established by the three Torah scrolls on Rosh Chodesh Nissan
does not relate to a miraculous sequence of events as it exists above
the worldly plane, but rather to the service of drawing this miraculous
source of influence into contact with the natural order, elevating our
ordinary conduct.

This week's three readings can thus be seen as a progression. The
Hachodesh portion introduces the concept of a miraculous order of
conduct. The Rosh Chodesh reading describes how this miraculous order of
conduct can influence our ordinary lives, and Vayikra reveals how this
fusion of the supra-natural with the natural can become a permanent and
fixed dimension of our existence.

May this chazaka lead to our service in the Third Holy Temple, where "we
will give thanks to You with a new song for our redemption and for the
deliverance of our souls."

                From a talk of the Rebbe, Parshat Vayikra 5751-1991

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                     Estate Sales and Opportunities
                          by Zalman Goldstein

It was a sunny February Friday morning in Monsey, New York. A friend
invited me to attend an Estate Sale. I've never been to an Estate Sale
and was not even sure what one is. For some reason I decided to join
along. Perhaps because he said it was just a few minutes' drive from
where we were and it wouldn't take much time.

"Here's to new experiences," I thought, and hopped into his car.

We arrived at the advertised address. We parked in front and went
inside. The house was small and cozy. People were milling about picking
up knick-knacks asking for prices, a dollar fifty for this, four dollars
for that, said a good natured middle-aged man.

The owner was an elderly woman and her daughter and son were handling
the logistics of the sale, haggling and making small talk with the slow
moving crowed filing through the house.

Deeper in the house I saw a dining room table stacked with all kinds of
effects for sale. In the middle was a ceramic Matza dish and two brass
candlesticks. I didn't pay much attention to them at the time. Not
really interested, I thought.

Being my first Estate Sale experience, I noticed I was feeling some
sadness seeing 50-60 years of memories laid out bare, with people buying
bits and pieces of that life. Yet the family seemed cheerful enough
which helped me feel better about the whole thing.

At the end my friend and I both found something to buy costing just a
few dollars, if just to make the owners happy.

On the way out, the older woman said to us "Good Shabbos." We wished her
a "Good Shabbos" and left.

Driving away, the image of the candlesticks for sale on that dining room
table stayed in my mind like a super-imposed image that doesn't fade
easily. Why am I still thinking about them? I thought. Soon I felt more
clarity - they had a mission I was to do for them and I completely
missed the opportunity.

                                *  *  *

It was close to noon, time to pick up the children from school. On the
way, the candlesticks spoke louder. I felt I understood their plan. I
wasn't going to let them down this time.

I stopped by a bakery and picked up a fresh Challa, the plan becoming
more alive, then, after collecting the kids from school and cluing them
in on our mission, I stopped off at home to pick up two candles and the
accompanying glass holders that sit atop candlesticks, and my book, The
Shabbat Table Companion.

We wound our way back to the woman's house all the while hoping the
candlesticks weren't sold in the meantime.

The plan was now in full motion. I was excited. As were the kids.

We parked in the same spot, piled out of the van and filed inside.

Yes, the candlesticks were still there!

I searched out the older woman and asked her if the candlesticks were
for sale.

"Yes," she replied, going to search for her son to give us a price.

"Eight dollars for the pair," he said.

"Deal," I said while pulling out my wallet and giving him the money.

The mother went to the table, took the candlesticks and put them in my
hands. "Here!"

I held them, my kids watching my every move. I then looked her gently in
the eye and spoke. "You know why I came all the way back and bought
these candlesticks?"

"No. Not particularly."

"I came back together with my children to buy them so we can gift them
back to you, so that these candlesticks can stay in your dining room,
continuing to illuminate your home every Friday and holiday night."

Tears welled up in her eyes. My eyes soon became misty as well.

Our daughter Hindy gave her the bag with the candles and glass holders.
Moishy gave her the Challa. Chana gave her The Shabbat Table Companion.

Her son came over to see what was transpiring, her daughter following
close behind. She told them what we had done, choking up and
unsuccessfully fighting her tears.

It was a very emotionally laden moment.

There were hugs and tears between them. Even the eyes of the strangers
who were there rummaging through the estate items - Jews and non-Jews -
stopped to stare as if overcome by the outpouring of G-dly light
radiating from the Jewish souls of this beautiful family.

The mother finally spoke and told us her Hebrew name is Tziporah. She
had gone to Hebrew school as a child but not much followed. She said she
warmly accepts our gift and "already knows the brochos (blessings)...".

On our way out her son said to me, "Just as you offered Mom a gift, we
want to give you a gift. Take the money back as our gift to you."

I declined and asked instead that they share  part of the merit of the
mitzva (commandment) of lighting Shabbat and Holiday candles with my

"Agreed!" he said. Mom and daughter also nodding their heads.

We left as we came, the way back traveling on spiritual clouds - that
sense of being part of something bigger. Something raw and deep
connected our Jewish souls so quickly, so deeply and so profoundly. It
was this feeling that kept us warm on the winter day as we got ready for

Above everything else, I am glad our children got to experience our
unique "transaction." I hope the experience planted the seeds to have
"Mitzva Eyes" - seeing an opportunity where there isn't one apparent at
first glance.

    Zalman Goldstein is the founder of The Jewish Learning Group,
    publisher of the popular Shabbat Table Companion, Going Kosher in 30
    Days, and nearly a dozen Jewish educational books; he is also the
    producer of the Chabad Classics music series. He can be reached at

                               WHAT'S NEW
                   Finding the Joy in Everyday Living

Finding the Joy in Everyday Living by Rabbi Pesach Scheiner, has the
potential to make a real change for the good in your life. It provides
concrete answers, through inspiring stories and simple messages, for the
difficult challenges we all face. The path it suggests requires more
effort than the quick-fix formulas, but the results are tangible and
real. It is built on the premise that happiness does not come by finding
what is missing in your life, but by appreciating and maximizing the
blessings you already have in all aspects of your life. Delve into this
little book and see if you don't find yourself smiling... and doing
things a little differently.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                      22nd of Adar II, 5733 [1973]

...First of all, I want to express my gratification at your response to
the suggestions which I proposed to you during your visit here. It was,
of course, a pleasure to make your personal acquaintance.

Frankly, I had wondered what your reactions might be to my "un-American"
manner of welcoming you. For, the accepted American way, if I am not
mistaken, is to greet one with a shower of compliments and praise even
if not always fully merited.

In your case, of course, it would have been very well deserved credit,
for I was fully aware of your accomplishments and generosity on behalf
of the Lubavitch work in your community, given in the best tradition of
inspiration and dedication, even to the extent of getting your friends
involved in it. Yet, instead of verbalizing my appreciation at length, I
glossed over it briefly, and immediately challenged you with new and
formidable projects.

However, the fact is that I felt impelled to use the precious time at
our disposal to discuss with you those matters which, in my estimation,
are of vital importance, namely the expansion of our program in Miami
and also the project in our Holy Land, knowing that however much we
could extend the late hour, the time would still be too short to discuss
the vital need of these matters in all their ramifications.

My guiding principle in this case, as when meeting with people in
general, is the bon mot I heard from my father-in-law of saintly memory:
"When two Jews meet, they should not be content with the benefit that
the meeting brings to each of them, but they should immediately be
concerned with the prospect of bringing a benefit to a third Jew, a
fourth, and to as many Jews as possible."

Moreover, I was hopeful that you would accept my suggestions in the
right spirit, precisely because you have already made a magnificent
start. And as I wrote to you in my previous letter, quoting our Sages of
blessed memory, "He who has 100 desires 200," etc., or, in other words,
since achievement is the greatest incentive to further and more
ambitious achievement, I had reason to believe that your achievement in
the past will widen your horizons and intensify your desire for even
greater things. Hence, without losing time, I embarked upon the
practical aspects of our meeting for the benefit of so many of our
fellow Jews. This, I felt, would ensure also our share of the benefit,
yours and mine, and yours even more than mine, since the actual
implementation of these projects is something which Divine Providence
has entrusted in your hands...

In the light of all that has been said above, you can well understand
that your letter has greatly relieved my mind, for you have indeed shown
yourself big enough to overlook the scanty praise and to give serious
and favorable attention to the tasks at hand. I feel certain that the
Zechus [merit] of your good deeds already accomplished has stood you in
good stead...

Finally, with reference to the conclusion of your letter, on the subject
of ritual observance, I need not emphasize to you, a successful
businessman, that although knowledge and motivation etc. are very
desirable things, the essential thing, after all, is the actual deed.

As for the "disappointment" at the lack of greater progress, I would
like to cite a basic Chasidic principle, actually deriving from the
Alter Rebbe [Rabbi Shneur Zalman], in his classical work, the Tanya.

It is to the effect that inasmuch as a Jew must utilize to the full all
his capacities towards increasing the good and the holy within himself
and the environment, "disappointment" (which usually is a negative
factor, being closely linked with discouragement) can also be converted
into a positive force, to redouble one's efforts in the right direction.
Indeed, it can be made into a springboard for an even greater
accomplishment, as in the case of a person who has to make a wide leap,
which he can do only by going back - in his feelings of satisfaction
not, G-d forbid, in doing Mitzvos [commandments] - a few steps in order
to gain momentum for that extra leap.

May G-d grant that your hope for complete observance will be realized
even sooner than you expect, and the Zechus Horabim (the benefit for
many) will help you, since your way of life and conduct will surely be
an inspiration to many.

With esteem and with blessings for good tidings...

                               WHO'S WHO
                     Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneerson

Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneerson of Lubavitch, who was known by the
acronym, the Rebbe Rashab, was born in 1860 and passed away in 1920. He
was the son and successor of Rabbi Shmuel, the Rebbe Maharash, and was
himself the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe. Because of his systematic,
intellectual approach to the teaching of Chasidut, he became known as
"the Maimonides of Chasidut." He was the founder of the Lubavitcher
Yeshiva, Tomchei Temimim

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The second of Nissan is the anniversary of the passing in 1920 of the
fifth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Dovber, known as the Rebbe Rashab.

Before his passing, the Rebbe Rashab told his son and successor, Rabbi
Yosef Yitzchok (the sixth and Previous Rebbe), "I am going up to heaven;
my writings I am leaving for you."

A scant perusal of the Rebbe Rashab's writings brings to light the
following gems:

"A single act is better than a thousand groans. Our G-d lives, and Torah
and mitzvot (commandments) are eternal; quit the groaning and work hard
in actual spiritual work, and G-d will be gracious to you."

"Cherish criticism, for it will place you on the true heights."

"When Moshiach will come, then we will really long for the days of
exile. Then we will truly feel distress at our having neglected our
avoda (spiritual work); then will we indeed feel the deep pain caused by
our lack of avoda. These days of exile are the days of avoda, to prepare
ourselves for the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our time, amen."

"And this is the main thing in these last moments before Moshiach, that
we don't go according to our intellect and our reasoning. Rather, we
should fulfill Torah and mitzvot above and beyond what reason dictates."

"The avoda of serving G-d according to Chasidut comprises all kinds of
levels... the level of "corpse" does not need much elaboration; but,
thank G-d, there is also "revival of the dead" in spiritual work. A
corpse is cold; there is nothing as frigid as natural intellect, human
intellect. When one's natural intelligence comprehends a G-dly concept,
and the emotions latent in intellect are enthused and moved by the
pleasure-within-intellect-that is true revival of the dead."

May we immediately merit the Final Redemption, when all righteous Jews
(and all Jews are considered righteous!) will be resurrected with the
Revival of the Dead.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
And the L-rd called ("Vayikra") to Moses (Lev. 1:1)

The word "vayikra" is written in this verse with an alef smaller than
the other letters of that word. This alludes to Moses' great humility,
for "vayikra" with an alef indicates that G-d called Moses with an extra
measure of love. The Torah tells us that "the skin of Moses's face
shone" with a special radiance. According to the Midrash, when Moses was
writing the Torah, he took some extra ink and rubbed it on his forehead,
causing his skin to glow. This extra ink was left over from the alef of
"Vayikra": G-d had wanted Moses to write it with a regular-sized alef,
whereas Moses didn't want to write it at all. As a compromise, Moses
made the alef tiny, and thus had a small amount of ink left over from
the exact amount G-d gave him.

                                *  *  *

Every one of your meal-offerings shall you season with salt (Lev. 2:13)

The world is divided into three parts: 1/3 desert, 1/3 inhabited land,
and 1/3 sea. The Midrash relates, the sea rose up in protest. "Master of
the Universe!" it cried, "the Torah was given in the desert, and the
Holy Temple was built on land. What are You going to give to me?" "Do
not worry," G-d replied. "All the sacrifices that will be brought by the
Jewish people upon the altar will be 'seasoned with salt' [which comes
from the sea]."

                                                  (Yalkut Reuveini)

                                *  *  *

If any person sin, because he hears the voice of adjuration (Lev. 5:1)

If a Jew sees someone committing a certain transgression, it is a sure
sign that the same sin exists within him. The reason G-d caused him to
witness this is so that he will be able to correct his own flaw.

                                                (The Baal Shem Tov)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
In years gone by, it was not unusual for Chasidim to spend extended
periods of time in their rebbe's presence, where they would fine-tune
their own character traits and learn a path of spiritual service that
would become the basis for their own spiritual endeavors.

Once, the tzadik, Reb Michel of Zlotchov, sent one of his Chasidim to
another town to learn the attribute of trust in G-d from a simple,
unlearned Jew. The Chasid remained in that town for many weeks,
observing that individual and learning how to perfect his trust in the

Finally, when the time came to leave, the Chasid made his way home,
pondering the lessons he had learned. He was walking down the road lost
in thought, when he was shaken by the cries and screams of women and
children. The Chasid looked up to see two Jewish women, bound in chains,
being dragged down the road by two large, muscular gentile guards. He
ran after the party and asked the women, "What has happened to you?"

The weeping women replied to him, "Our husbands leased the inn which
belongs to the master of the village and they owe him a lot of rent.
When they couldn't pay the rent, the master took us and he says he will
kill us!"

The Chasid told the guards, "I will go to your master and I will pay the
entire debt." They all went to the house of the master of the village,
but instead of finding him, they found the manager of the estate. When
the Chasid explained his intention to repay the debt, the manager was
very willing to make the deal.

"Here is 150 rubles and I will sign a note for the balance," the Chasid
said. "You don't know my master," said the manager. "He's not the type
to settle for less than the whole amount. He's waited a long time for
these Jews to pay up! Either you produce the whole amount, or the deal
is off!"

The Chasid had no choice but to comply, for the fate of two Jewish
families was at stake. He laid all his money on the table, but was still
short. Then he went and pawned whatever possessions he had to amass the
entire sum of money. The manager took the money and released the

The Chasid continued on his journey home, giving thanks to the Creator
for having given him the privilege of performing the exalted mitzva
(commandment) of redeeming captives. Before dark, the Chasid stopped at
an inn to rest for the night. He soon fell into conversation with
another Jewish traveler, who, by the look of his clothing, was a wealthy

The wealthy Jew asked him many questions. It so happened that the two
men came from the same town. They passed the entire evening in
conver-sation, until the dawn broke and it was time to recite the
morning prayer.

The Chasid mentioned to his new acquaintance the names of the towns he
intended to pass through on his trip home. "I have a relative living in
the town of R--, not far from the road you will be taking. For some time
I have been looking for a trustworthy messenger with whom I could send
him inheritance money. Perhaps you would agree to do this favor for me?"

The Chasid agreed at once. He wouldn't have to go far out of his way,
and he was happy to be able to do yet another favor for a fellow Jew. He
took the money and carefully sewed it into the lining of his jacket. The
wealthy merchant thanked him warmly and offered to compensate him for
his trouble, but the Chasid refused, saying, "It is really no trouble
for me to make a short detour, and I'm glad to be able to help you out."

But the merchant persisted, saying, "I promise you that your mitzva will
stand intact, even though you accept this small gift from me." At last
the Chasid agreed to take the money, for indeed, he had not even enough
to pay for his night's stay at the inn. The two men shook hands and went
their separate ways.

The Chasid finally came to the little town and asked around for the man,
but no one recognized the name or the description. He was puzzled, for
the merchant had entrusted him with an enormous sum of money. He
certainly must have known that his relative lived in that town. Perhaps
he was a recluse, or lived on the outskirts of the town. The Chasid
decided to spend a few days in the town in the hope that he would
discover the whereabouts of the lost relative, but all his searching was
in vain.

It was a very downhearted man who returned to Zlotchov, to the court of
Reb Michel. The Chasid went into the room of his rebbe and related to
him all he had learned about his service to the Al-mighty; how he had
learned to put his trust entirely in his Creator with a pure and simple
belief. He also told the rebbe about his encounter with the two women
and how he had ransomed them from their cruel captors.

Finally, he told the tzadik about his meeting with the wealthy merchant
who had entrusted him to deliver the inheritance to the relative who
could not be found. "Rebbe," said the man, sadly, "In this last mission
which was entrusted to me I regret that I have failed, and now, I have a
great sum of money which I cannot deliver to its rightful owner."

Reb Michel smiled at him and replied, "Let me offer you the explanation
of what you experienced. In the merit of the great mitzva of redeeming
the two Jewish women, angels were created as your advocates in the
Heavenly Court. The man you took for a wealthy merchant was really an
angel which was created by your merciful deed, and the money he gave you
is for you to make use of with a happy and peaceful heart."

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The revelations of Moshiach in this world will be after the ingathering
of the exiles... after the exiles will be gathered by Moshiach then he
can be a king over them...and then the revelations of Moshiach will

                                (From a letter of the Rebbe Rashab)

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1214 - Vayikra 5772

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