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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1216
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             THE WEEKLY PUBLICATION FOR EVERY JEWISH PERSON
   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
*********************************************************************
        April 6, 2012           Passover          14 Nisan, 5772
*********************************************************************

                          Leave Egypt - Today!

                          by Rabbi Berel Bell

One of the central ideas of our reading of the Hagada at the Passover
Seder is that "in every generation, we are obligated to view ourselves
as if we personally came out of Egypt."

One obvious difficulty in fulfilling this obligation is the simple fact
that we did not come out of Egypt, never having been there in the first
place.

Furthermore, the Egyptian kingdom dissolved many years ago. Even had our
forefathers not been released from Egypt, we would still not be there
today!

The statement of the Hagada means, however, that we personally
experience the Exodus. How can this be possible?

The Hebrew word for Egypt is "Mitzrayim," literally "boundaries." In the
book Tanya, Rabbi Shneur Zalman explains the above obligation as a
commandment to free oneself of one's personal "Egypt" - to transcend the
many factors that constrict and prevent a person from achieving a more
holy way of life.

Personal difficulties - even the very coarseness of physical existence -
repress the soul and obstruct it from cleaving to its Divine source.
Thus we are given the command, and with it the ability, to break through
these barriers and attain a more holy existence.

The Torah therefore wants us to view ourselves as having personally come
out of Egypt - because we have actually done so in a spiritual sense.

The problem then arises: having already gone out of one's personal Egypt
today, how can one fulfill this command tomorrow? For each new day the
same obligation to leave one's "Egypt" applies, yet our state of
boundary was already left behind the day before!

A seeming state of liberation can in itself be imprisonment. This
concept can be understood by examining a prior bondage in Egypt,
occurring before that of the entire Jewish nation described in the book
of Exodus.

The Torah describes how Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and
later imprisoned. He was subsequently released and brought before
Pharaoh. Having found favor in Pharaoh's eyes, he was given royal status
and appointed second-in-command over Egypt.

When Joseph was taken out of the pit into which his brothers had put
him, he certainly was released from a severely restricted environment.
He came out of a personal "Egypt," so to speak. However, he was still in
a state of limitation. After all, he ended up in jail!

When designated second-in-command to Pharaoh, he went one step further
out of his limited state. However, he was still subject to Pharaoh's
orders. More so, he was still in Egypt, away from his family, and far
from the Holy Land where he wished to dwell.

Each step represented a stage of personal Exodus. When compared with a
higher level, though, this state of liber-ation was actually a state of
bondage.

When Joseph was freed from prison, he could be considered liberated. In
comparison with where he wanted to be, however, he was still in bondage.

The same applies to the ongoing spiritual Exodus referred to in the
Hagada.

When the soul is allowed to express itself through the unencumbered
pursuit of spiritual matters, it goes through a form of spiritual
Exodus. In comparison with a more complete level of spiritual
expression, however, it is still in "Egypt."

As long as the soul is here in the physical world, it is still subject
to limita-tion. The Jewish soul is a spark of G-dli-ness; a reflection
of its infinite source. As long as it is confined in a physical body, it
is still  in a kind of "Egypt."

We  must always strive to release ourselves from our limitations,
breaking away from the elements which restrain us from living holy
lives. However, we should not be disappointed to discover that our newly
attained spiritual liber-ation is still considered "bondage" when
compared with higher spiritual levels.

Our continued spiritual growth, the Hagada tells us, is to come every
day out of our personal "Egypt."

*********************************************************************
           LIVING WITH THE REBBE  -  THE WEEKLY TORAH PORTION
*********************************************************************
Passover is not only the first of the three major Jewish festivals, but
the foundation and root of all of them. The Exodus from Egypt prepared
the Jewish people for receiving the Torah on Shavuot. Sukkot, too, is
connected to Passover, in that it commemorates the booths (sukkot) that
the Children of Israel inhabited in the wilderness.

The main significance of Passover is that it is "the season of our
freedom," the time when the Jewish people went out of slavery and became
an independent nation. The Torah describes what happened as follows:
"G-d has ventured to go and take or Himself a nation from the midst of
another nation, by trials, by signs and by wonders... according to all
that G-d did for you in Egypt before your eyes." The keys words are "a
nation from the midst of another nation," which express the true
uniqueness of the event.

What does it mean that the Jews were "a nation in the midst of another
nation"? On the one hand it implies that the Children of Israel were
already a "people," in the sense that they spoke their own language,
lived in their own land (Goshen), and were careful to wear distinctive
Jewish dress. At the same time, they were subservient and dependent upon
the Egyptians.

Our Sages likened this situation to a fetus in its mother's womb. The
fetus is a separate entity from the mother, with its own head, hands,
legs and other limbs. Yet it is not a truly independent being, as it is
forced to go wherever the mother goes, derives its sustenance from
whatever she eats, etc. In truth, the fetus is completely dependent on
the mother.

This accurately describes the Jews' circumstances in Egypt: While
recognizable as a separate people, they were completely dependent on the
Egyptians - so much so that it appeared as if they, too, were tainted by
the Egyptians' idolatry.

The "umbilical cord" was severed when the Jews were commanded to
slaughter and eat the Pascal lamb, an animal that the Egyptians
worshiped. The courage and self-sacrifice it took to do this was the
first step in the Jewish people's liberation from Egypt and its
mentality.

This contains an eternal lesson: A person may think that he is free and
independent because he has his own thoughts and desires. Upon
reflection, however, he may discover that he is connected by an
invisible "umbilical cord" to his surroundings and that in reality, he
is a slave to whatever non-Jewish mores and conventions happen to be in
vogue. Worse still is that he thinks that this is the true meaning of
"freedom."

The holiday of Passover endows us with the strength to attain true
freedom. The first step is to "slaughter" any "idols" that might be
worshiped even subconsciously, and rid oneself of dependency on "what
the world thinks." For the Jewish people are servants of G-d and no one
else!

                      Adapted from the Rebbe's Hagada, 5751 edition

*********************************************************************
                             SLICE OF LIFE
*********************************************************************
                         by Rabbi Yossi Gordon

My father was the rabbi of a shul (synagogue) in Maplewood, New Jersey.
Originally the shul was in Newark and my parents lived there. When it
moved to Maplewood, they moved as well. On certain Shabbat and Yom Tov
(Jewish holiday) mornings, my father would walk the long, four miles to
immerse in the closest men's mikva, which was situated in Newark. He
would leave at 5:00  a.m. in order to be back in time for the Torah
class he taught at 8:00 a.m.

On the last day of his first Passover living in Maplewood, shortly after
the holiday meal, my father announced that he was making another
round-trip journey to Newark, despite already having done so in the
morning. My father explained that there was a bakery under the kosher
supervision of the local Vaad Harabonim (Council of Rabbis)  that he was
a member of. He felt a personal responsibility to ensure that the bakery
was closed for the entire duration of the Passover holiday, as required
by Jewish law. In previous years, when my father still lived in Newark,
the baker would not have dared to start baking chametz on Passover. But
now, with my father living many miles away, there was the concern that
the baker might take the chance.

Obviously, it would have been a lot more convenient for my father to
assume that the baker was not up to any trouble. In fact, my father's
position with the Vaad Harabonim did not even require him to be
personally involved with kosher supervision. However, kosher was of
paramount importance to him, and he was ready to greatly inconvenience
himself in order to ensure that all was as it should be.

My father set out for the bakery. Unfortunately, his worst suspicions
were confirmed. The baker had not been able to withstand the temptation,
and was hard at work in the bakery. Surprised at being caught
red-handed, he tried to convince my father that Passover really ends
right after Yizkor. Obviously, my father stood firm. He removed the Vaad
Harabonim's stamp of approval until the bakery agreed to hire a
permanent on-site supervisor.

                                *  *  *


My father began displaying signs of illness about a year before he
passed away. The extent of his illness could not be fully determined
without surgery, which was scheduled to take place in the Newark Beth
Israel Hospital, where he had served as the Jewish Chaplain for some 40
years.

On the day before his operation, my father arrived at the hospital quite
early, and made his usual hospital rounds, as if he didn't have a care
in the world. He went from room to room, bringing cheer and comfort to
many people. He put on Tefilin with a number of patients, visitors and
doctors. Finally, at noon, he presented himself to the admissions nurse.
Well known and deeply beloved and respected by the staff at Beth Israel,
he was treated like a VIP every step of the way.

Prior to the operation, the family met the surgeon, Dr. Donald Brief,
Chief Surgeon of Newark Beth Israel. He and my father had been very good
friends and professional colleagues for many years. Dr. Brief advised us
to hope for a long drawn out surgery. "The longer the procedure, the
greater the indication that things are going well," he told us. A quick
operation would suggest that the disease was inoperable.

Unfortunately, the procedure was very short, and it wasn't long before
Dr. Brief emerged from the operating room. He shook his head as his eyes
welled up with tears. "I am sorry. I am just so, so sorry." The tumor
was inoperable. Chemotherapy and radiation would be tried, but there was
little hope for success.

The entire medical team joined my family in the recovery room. Dr. Brief
turned to my father and said very softly: "Sholom, I am so very sorry.
If there is anything I can do - anything at all - to help you through
these trying days, please ask it of me. I am here for you."

My father looked up, and in a very calm and measured tone of voice, said
to Dr. Brief, "If you really want to do something to help me, I have
been asking you for about 25 years to put on Tefilin. You have
consistently declined. If you are serious and truly wish to help me, I
will ask my son to put on the Tefilin with you in my merit."

With tears streaming down his cheeks, Dr. Brief said, "Of course I will
put on Tefilin, my dear friend, Sholom." With the tears continuing to
flow, he performed the mitzva.

After my father's passing, on the last day of Passover, my brother Rabbi
Joshua B. Gordon and sister Chanie Friedman went to the Beth Israel
Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, to see the plaque that had been put up
in my father's memory. It was already late at night when they arrived
and the security guard refused to allow them to enter.

When my brother mentioned that they had come to see the plaque in memory
of Rabbi Sholom Gordon, suddenly the guard's demeanor changed
completely. The guard said, "Rabbi Gordon? You came to see Rabbi
Gordon's plaque? Of course, you can come in - you can come in 24 hours a
day! You see, when Rabbi Gordon came to the hospital every day to make
his rounds, he always noticed me. He always greeted me with a 'Good
morning' when he arrived, and a 'Good evening' when he left." My
father's simple and sincere gesture went a long way in touching this
security guard.

       Reprinted with permission from www.rabbinicalcollege.edu.au,
            the website of the Rabbinical College of Australia & NZ

*********************************************************************
                               WHAT'S NEW
*********************************************************************
                               Coming Up!

This issue of L'Chaim is for April 6/Nissan 14 and April 13/Nissan 21.
The next issue, 1217, will be for April 20/Nissan 28.

                           New Torah Scrolls


Nearly 1,000 people from all walks of life escorted a new Torah scroll
into the Rashbi Synagogue in Sunrise, Florida. A new Torah scroll was
paraded down the streets of Seoul, South Korea to the Chabad Jewish
Community Center - with great fanfare by hundreds of people. A Torah
scroll that was completed at Lubavitch World Headquarter, 770 Eastern
Parkway in Brooklyn, was donated to the renovated Tzemach Tzedek Shul in
Baltimore, Maryland. Chabad at Beekman-Sutton, in New York, New York,
paraded a new Torah scroll along Manhattan's Second Avenue along the way
to the Chabad Center. The Chabad Jewish Center at University of Illinois
& Champaign-Urbana, in Champaign, Illinois, recently welcomed a new
Torah scroll.

*********************************************************************
                            THE REBBE WRITES
*********************************************************************
          Freely translated and excerpted from a letter of the
              Rebbe dated Rosh Chodesh Nissan, 5743 (1983)


                      To the Sons and Daughters of
                     Our People Israel, Everywhere
                           G-d bless you all!

Greeting and Blessing:

The inner significance of Passover, which is also known as "the Festival
of Matzos" (Chag HaMatzos) is reflected in the two aspects of
observation: the obligation to eat Matza, and the prohibition against
eating Chometz (leaven), to the extent of it being "neither seen nor
present."

There is a significant difference in regard to this two-fold observance:

The obligation to eat Matza is limited in terms of the quantity of Matza
that has to be eaten, as well as in respect of time (one may fulfill the
obligation by eating Matza the size of two olives on each of the first
two nights of Pesach; the rest of the time one may eat any and all
Pesachdige foods, without Matza). However, the prohibition of Chometz is
absolute, even a minutest quantity, and it applies to each instant in
time of the entire festival.

Herein is to be found an allusion and instruction for the spiritual life
of the Jew, to be derived from the distinct natural characteristics of
Chometz and Matza respectively.

The nature of Chometz (leaven) is that the dough rises and expands more
and more; and this also provides the special taste of baked bread. Matza
is quite the opposite; the dough is not allowed to rise and expand at
all.

Thus it is explained in our holy sources that Chometz alludes to
haughtiness and arrogance, which (Heaven forbid) creep into the everyday
life. At the same time it is so explained that the trait of haughtiness
is the root of all undesirable aspects in human character and as is
written:  "Everyone who is arrogant at heart is an abomination to G-d."
So our Sages declare that G-d says of a person who is arrogant, "There
is no room for Me and him in the world," and more expressions in this
vein.

Hence, one of the reasons (although G-d's precepts have to be carried
out as Divine imperatives, and not for any other reason) why the
prohibition of Chometz applies even to the minutest quantity, thus
indicating that haughtiness and arrogance must be rejected completely.

Furthermore, inasmuch as people are involved with "Chometz" all year
round, in working for a livelihood ("six days you shall work"), in
non-spiritual circumstances and in a gross materialistic world, etc., it
is almost inevitable that some thought of self-importance, a trifle of
egotism, and the like, should not rear their ugly heads, and be prompted
further by the natural tendency to be prejudiced in one's own favor, as
mentioned above. Consequently, it is possible that the said attitude and
conduct may become not only a "second nature," but should also be
considered as "justified" and equitable," etc. Hence this must be ruled
out in the strongest possible terms.

Therefore, when Passover eve comes around, a Jew is required to carry
out a thorough "house-cleaning" - to search and eradicate the "Chometz"
that a accumulate in the course of the year, however minute it may be;
and from then on to guard himself and his entire household from the
least bit of Chometz during the entire week of Passover (with the extra
eighth day in countries outside the Holy Land); a period that includes
and represents all Sundays, Mondays, and all the other days of the week
throughout the year; keeping them free of Chometz to the extent that it
shall "neither be seen nor present."

All this, together with the obligation to eat Matza and all that it
teaches, instills into the Jew the strength to reject effectively all
mundane influences of the materialistic world, as well as to overcome
one's own unworthy tendencies, in order to identify with the Exodus from
Egypt in the fullest measure of personal cheirus as an everyday
experience.

May G-d grant that everyone of us should have a truly kosher Chag
HaMatzos materially and spiritually, and enjoy true liberation from all
matters that are not conducive to peace of the soul and "peace" of the
body.

And this should be a preparation for the imminent complete liberation
that the complete and true Redemption will bring to each and all Jews,
with the fulfillment of our fervent prayer: "Hasten and bring us in
peace to our land from the four corners of the earth ... and our eyes
will behold our Teacher"; when also all of the world will feel the
impact of the Redemption, in fulfillment of the prophecy; "And the
nations shall go by your light... and the glory of G-d shall be revealed
and all flesh shall see ... the awesome might of G-d and the splendor of
His majesty."

With esteem and blessing for a Kosher and joyful Pesach

*********************************************************************
                               WHO'S WHO
*********************************************************************
                           Daniel the Prophet

The prophet Daniel was a young man when he was brought as a captive to
the court of King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylonia. As a member of a princely
family, he was held in high esteem by Nebuchadnezzar for his unusual
intelligence. After Daniel interpreted the King's dream, he was
appointed to a high ministerial post. The Book of Daniel describes the
fall of the Babylonian Empire to the Persians. After Babylonia was
defeated by the Persians, Daniel remained a distinguished advisor to the
new Persian rulers.

*********************************************************************
                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
*********************************************************************
This Friday night, Jews around the world will sit down to celebrate the
first Passover seder. According to tradition, an unseen guest will also
grace the table, together with our relatives and friends: Elijah the
Prophet.

During his lifetime, Elijah refined his physical body to such an extent
that it accompanied him "in a tempest up to heaven" when he passed away.
Since then, Elijah visits every Jewish home during the Passover seder
and also attends every brit mila (circumcision) ceremony that is
performed. Although we cannot see his physical body, his spiritual
presence takes part in our celebrations at these special times.

Elijah the Prophet will also be the one to herald the Redemption, as the
Torah states, "For behold, I will send Elijah the Prophet to you, before
the coming of the great and awesome day of the L-rd."

As Jews, we anxiously await Moshiach's coming every day. But what about
Elijah the Prophet? How can we realistically expect Moshiach to come
today if Elijah did not come yesterday to announce his imminent arrival?

One of the answers to this question is that Elijah the Prophet is
supposed to precede Moshiach only if the Redemption comes about "in its
time" - in accordance with natural law. If, however, the Redemption
comes about in a manner in a miraculous way, transcending the laws of
nature, it is quite possible that Moshiach can actually arrive first.

So regardless of who will make the first appearance, let us all ponder
the Rebbe's words as we celebrate this festival of freedom: "It is
absolutely certain, with no doubt whatsoever, that the time for
Redemption has arrived. The only thing remaining for us to do is to
actually greet our Righteous Moshiach, so that he may fulfill his
mission and redeem the entire Jewish people from exile."

                      A kosher and happy Passover!

*********************************************************************
                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
*********************************************************************
                                Passover

The Torah commands us to be joyful on Shavuot - "You shall rejoice
before the L-rd your G-d," and on Sukkot - "You shall be joyful before
the L-rd your G-d," "You shall be happy" - but there is no specific
commandment for Passover. This is because an entire nation (Egypt) was
punished; G-d said, "My handiwork is drowning in the Sea." Thus our joy
on Passover is tinged with sadness and therefore incomplete.

                                                     (Tanya Rabati)

                                *  *  *

                               The Seder


The Hebrew word "seder" means "order," alluding to the fact that
everything that has ever happened to the Jewish people, from the Exodus
until today, has unfolded according to Divine plan. Nothing occurs by
accident, even if we don't always understand why an event must take
place.

                                                      (The Maharal)

                                *  *  *


Blessed is the Omnipresent One ("Makom," literally "Place")

Why is G-d referred to as "Place"? Because in truth, the world is
"located" in G-d; G-d is not merely "located" in the world...

                                                  (Bereishit Rabba)

                                *  *  *


The Seventh Day of Passover: the splitting of the Red Sea

During the festive meal of the Seventh Day of Passover 1843, the Tzemach
Tzedek (the third Chabad Rebbe), who had recently returned from a
mission to Petersburg to try to convince the Russian government to annul
its anti-Jewish decrees, declared: "The Seventh Day of Passover is the
Rosh Hashana of self-sacrifice. When Moses conveyed G-d's command -
'Speak to the Children of Israel that they should go forward' - Nachshon
ben Aminadav immediately jumped into the sea. This was a continuation of
the self-sacrifice shown by our forefather Abraham. On the Seventh Day
of Passover, each and every Jew can and must resolve to have
self-sacrifice for Torah and mitzvot and the service of the Creator
throughout the year."

                                              (Sefer HaSichot 5703)

*********************************************************************
                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
*********************************************************************
Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad Chasidism, attracted to
himself a circle of most distinguished disciples, each a great Talmudic
scholar in his own right. To this distinguished group, which was divided
into three groups, Rabbi Shneur Zalman taught his concepts of Chasidic
philosophy.

Many of these disciples had formerly been opponents of the new teaching,
but had been won over to it by the depth and profundity they found in
Chasidic philosophy and the evidence of its power to refine the Jew's
character.

One of these young men arrived in Liozna and soon made a name for
himself as a person who devoted every moment of his time to the study of
Torah. He spent hours immersed in meditation and contemplation and in a
relatively short amount of time he achieved a remarkable mastery of the
topics of Chasidic philosophy.

One evening, near the end of the fast of the Tenth of Tevet, he was
feeling the effects of the fast, and so, exhausted and weak, he decided
to retire earlier than usual. He prepared himself by washing his hands
and reciting the Shema, which is said before retiring. However, he did
not get a wink of sleep that night. Instead, he fell into a reverie of
mediation upon the mysteries of the Divine names which are woven into
the words of the Shema. Lost in thought, he remained standing by his
window until dawn filled the sky.

In those days, to have a private audience with the Rebbe was a rare
event, preceded by intense preparation and introspection. When the day
arrived for this particular young man to enter the Rebbe's study, he
asked the Rebbe: "What do I lack?" The Rebbe replied, "You lack nothing
in scholarship and fear of heaven. However, you must see to it that you
get rid of the "chametz" in your character, the leavened, the puffed up
nature of an inflated ego. The remedy for this is matza, a poor food
which symbolizes self-abnegation.

The Rebbe continued to speak to his young disciple in this vein,
explaining a certain Jewish law with which the young man was thoroughly
conversant. Now, however, the student understood not only the plain
meaning, but also the inner, esoteric meaning of the halacha (Jewish
law). The Rebbe explained, "If a kitchen utensil which is used for
Passover comes into contact with chametz (leavened), the law requires
that it be heated so intensely that it emits sparks or its outermost
part comes off."

The young man listened well to what the Rebbe told him, and when he left
the Rebbe's room he was a different person. Speaking of it to his
companions, he said, "The Rebbe taught me one of the laws of Passover as
it is learned in the Torah Academy in the next world. He has infused me
with the strength to work on my own character and to accomplish this law
in my own day to day life."

                                *  *  *


The wife of the Apta Rav, Rabbi Yehoshua Heschel, was busy finishing up
the last minute preparations for the Passover Seder when there was a
knock on the door. A servant opened the door, and there stood two
charity collectors who were making the rounds gathering matza for the
town's poor. The servant, seeing a stack of matzas wrapped in a napkin
on the table, took it and innocently gave it to the men.

When, a bit later, the rebbetzin entered the room and noticed the matza
missing, her heart fell, for this was no ordinary matza. They were the
meticulously-prepared and guarded matzas which her husband had baked
himself just before the holiday was ushered in.

She called in her household servants and soon discovered how it
happened, but there was nothing to be done about it. She couldn't bring
herself to disappoint her husband by telling him about the mistake, and
so, with a heavy heart, she wrapped some ordinary matzas in a napkin and
placed them on the table and said nothing about it.

Several days after Passover ended a young couple came to Rabbi Heschel
seeking a divorce. The Apta Rav asked the husband why he wanted a
divorce. He replied that his wife had refused to cook the Passover food
according to the custom requiring that no matza come in contact with
water.

The Rav called over his rebbetzin and asked, "Tell me, what kind of
matzas did we use for the Passover seder?"

His wife was startled by the question, and she was hesitant to respond.
The Rav encouraged her and calmed her fears, and she went on to explain
to her husband the entire episode that had transpired on the eve of the
holiday.

The Rav then turned to the young husband and said in a kind tone,
"Listen to me, son. On the first night of Passover I ate regular matza
and I pretended not to notice any difference. Why did I do this? I
didn't wish to bring about any hard feelings or anger, G-d forbid. And
you wish to divorce your wife over this Passover custom!!"

The young man immediately recognized his folly and the couple left
completely reconciled.

*********************************************************************
                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
*********************************************************************
The Talmud states: " 'All the days of your life' as including - le'havi
- the Era of Moshiach" Le'havi translated as "including" literally means
"to bring." Thus, this Talmudic passage, quoted in the Hagada, can be
interpreted as a directive: All the days of your life should be
permeated by a single intention: to bring about the coming of the Era of
Moshiach.

                                       (Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe)

*********************************************************************
               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1216 - Passover 5772
*********************************************************************

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