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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1223
                           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.
        June 1, 2012             Nasso            11 Sivan, 5772

                      Pay Attention to the Details

"It's a game of inches." "Missed me by that much." "Close only counts in
horseshoes." We have many expressions and cliches that point out the
importance of the little things. Success or failure often turns on focus
- not just a split section recognition, but an awareness of where to

When musicians rehearse a song they've done a thousand times, a song
they can play in their sleep, it becomes clear how important the details
are: they'll go over a note or a pause multiple times, until it's at
just the right length and pitch. How many of us are expert enough to
detect the difference in a performance or a recording?

Teachers run into this problem all the time with students. It's not just
that students fade-out or day-dream. It's that students can get sloppy
about the little things. Who cares where the comma goes? Well, there's
the story of the panda in the restaurant. If it eats, shoots and leaves,
call the police; if it eats shoots and leaves, call the grocery store.
(Are "shoots and leaves" nouns or verbs?) How often do students get
simple directions wrong - name in the upper left hand corner, not the
bottom of the page - because they don't pay attention?

Yet when they start out, students are all about details. Watch a group
of kindergarten kids doing an art project. Everything has to be just
right. Their questions are all about the details. The slightest
deviation raises a firestorm. And babies are really into minutiae - just
watch one play with a piece of paper she found on the floor.

"It's all in the fine print." Somehow we've come to not just ignore the
details, but to distrust them. The contractor puts in a cabinet, and
covers up the quarter inch gap with an extra layer of putty. The credit
card company puts the details in a hard-to-read font to obscure how
unfair the terms are.

I suspect details have gone down the drain in part because of
multi-tasking. We think we can do multiple things at once. For some
things, we can - the things that don't require much attention, the
things that aren't important to relationships.

The multi-tasking theory of life coincides with what used to be called
rudeness, and probably now is just lack of awareness - lack of focus.
Call-waiting - it seems convenient, but it interferes with interaction -
the doctor's attention shifts; the multi-tasking, call-waiting approach
to life - glossing over details - deteriorates relationships.

Paying attention to the details is hard. We get metaphorically dirty.
Details mess things up, but they're the nitty-gritty. That's why when it
counts, we go into detail.

And that's why Judaism has so many details, pays so much attention to
the minutiae, the fine points. The details of halacha - Jewish law - are
not trivial; they're essential.

For when it comes to a relationship, no detail is too small. In fact, a
relationship is all about the little things. So, too, our relationship
with G-d depends upon the details. It's how we get close. It's how we
get things right. Yes, it matters if we light candles 18 minutes, not
17, before sunset. Yes, it matters if we use the meat spoon or the milk
fork. Yes, the particular words of prayer matter.

Details define our relationships - with each other, and with G-d. Where
are the details of your life?


In this week's portion, Nasso, we read about the census of the tribe of
Levi that was conducted in the desert by the sons of Gershon and Merari.
This tally was made only once, in the second year after the Exodus. In
the spiritual sense, however, the concept behind reckoning the number of
Levites has eternal significance for every Jew, in all times and places.
For, even if an event took place only once in history, or the Torah
speaks about something that no longer exists in the physical sense, it
is still relevant to us at the present time.

Following the sin of the 12 spies, G-d decreed that the Jewish people
would have to wait 40 years before entering Israel. The spies' sin was
that they did not want to enter Israel; their punishment was not being
allowed to do so. In truth, the Jewish people could have waited out
their punishment anywhere outside the borders of Israel. But as it
turned out, the 40 years were spent wandering through the desert.

There is great significance in the Jewish people's having wandered
through a desert. A desert is a place uninhabited by people. It is
desolate and uncultivated. The presence of the Jewish people transformed
the empty wilderness into "home" for a great multitude. Its stark
desolation was also relieved by the grass and trees that sprouted
wherever they went, thanks to the well that accompanied them in the
merit of Miriam. The desert, a place incompatible with human life, was
transformed in to a place that could support it.

Though this happened thousands of years ago, it has practical
significance for us today. For every Jew is obligated to transform his
desert-like surroundings into "cultivated land."

it sometimes happens that a Jew may look around and discover that he is
indeed in a "desert." He may feel himself alone in the world,
overwhelmed by a sense of being different. Nonetheless, we are not
permitted to simply leave, to run away and look for a better place to
live. Like our forefathers, we must turn our surroundings into habitable
land. This is accomplished by studying and sharing Torah, and bringing
everyone we meet under its influence.

Another "desert" may be a personal, spiritual one. For, if we have not
properly sown our environment with good deeds, our inner garden is
uncultivated. Yet, we always have the power to change! As we read in
this week's Torah portion, it was only upon attainment of the age of 30
that a Levite became eligible to carry the Sanctuary's components.
Similarly, if any Jew sincerely resolves to serve G-d properly,
regardless of age or past conduct, he will be given the strength from
Above to purify himself and amend his ways.

In this manner, both one's personal "desert" and the world at large will
be transformed into a flourishing "cultivated land."

                             Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Volume 13

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                      Simplest Solutions are Best
        by Izzy Kalman, Nationally Certified School Psychologist

I am a lover of simple solutions. While we tend to think that solutions
are difficult, this is usually wrong. It is problems that are difficult.
Usually when we find a solution that works, it turns out to be something
very simple.

Several years ago, a man in the audience of my Anger Control Made Easy
seminar in Manhattan stood out to me like a sore thumb. He sported a
long gray beard and wore a white shirt, black suit and the particular
style of black hat that comprise the unofficial uniform of Chabad

I was, in fact, very surprised that a Lubavitcher Chassid would attend
my secular seminar. I was even more surprised to see that this man
wanted to stay afterwards to talk to me. He introduced himself as
Avraham Frank, and he wanted more advice on how to apply my teachings in
his work. We ended up keeping up sporadic phone contact ever since.

Mr. Frank told me about a mission he had taken upon himself. On his own
time and expense, he'd been promoting a school program called A Moment
of Silence. He tries to convince schools to implement a minute or two of
silence every morning. This is not a new idea. There are several states
in the U.S. that have mandated A Moment of Silence for schools. But Mr.
Frank's version has a particular twist to it. The students are requested
to discuss with their parents what they should be contemplating during
the moment of silence in school. As I will be discussing shortly, this
may make all the difference.

Mr. Frank told me the results have been amazing. I was initially
skeptical, but when I looked at dozens of letters from kids and the
video testimonials from teachers, principals and parents, I was greatly
impressed - and curious.

Mr. Frank explained that he promotes the program because the late
Lubavitcher Rebbe had expressed the desire to see all schools
implementing A Moment of Silence.

Regardless of one's religious beliefs or lack of such, when a man like
the Lubavitcher Rebbe makes a recommendation for society, it would be
smart to give it consideration. In addition to being a Jewish scholar,
Rabbi Schneerson was a true genius and a profoundly wise man - and
wisdom is the solution to life's problems.

So I gave A Moment of Silence some consideration and for the past year
or so, have been mentioning it in my monthly Bullies to Buddies
newsletters. As a result, many schools throughout the world have adopted
A Moment of Silence and they love the results.

Why does A Moment of Silence work? I will do my best to offer some

One, it is a powerful experience. If you have ever participated in a
memorial service in which everyone is silent for a minute or two, you
probably know what it is like. Time seems to pass more slowly, as
everyone is united in a communal ceremony of thoughtful silence.

Two, it promotes self-control. It is not easy to be silent and still for
a full minute or two, and the younger the child is, the more difficult
it is. So when children practice silence for a minute or two every
school day, they attain self-control that can be available to them at
any time.

Three, when the Moment of Silence is conducted at the beginning of the
school day, it sets the mood for the rest of the day.

Four, it can serve as a form of meditation for kids. The benefits of
meditation have already been well established by scientific research.

And the fifth factor I will present is the one that has to do with the
particular component Rabbi Schneerson added: instructing kids to discuss
with their parents what they should think about. This factor is perhaps
the one most crucial for the success of the program.

Students are largely in a moral/spiritual limbo. Their home lives
revolve around homework and electronic devices, schools are college prep
factories, and parents are expected to pay the bills, drive the kids
around, bring them to play dates, make sure they do their homework, etc.

And that is where the Lubavitcher Rebbe's brilliance comes in. With his
version of the Moment of Silence, schools can restore to parents their
rightful role as the moral/spiritual authorities for their children. The
schools are in essence declaring to students, "Your parents are the ones
you need to look to for meaning in life."

It only takes minutes, but the children need to discuss with their
parents what they should be thinking about during the powerful Moment of
Silence in school. The kids are now expected to look up to their parents
as their moral/spiritual authorities. But consider also what it does for
the parents' self-esteem when the school officially recognizes them as
moral/spiritual authorities! And, in order to help their children think
of topics for Moment of Silence contemplation, the parents need to think
about it as well! And because parents care about their children more
than anyone else, they tend to take their role in A Moment of Silence

This simple activity completely avoids problems of conflicts between
school and parent over values because the parents are relied on for the
values - as they should be. The values can be religious or secular. And
if the kids prefer to spend their Moment of Silence fantasizing about
pleasures, thinking about how their parents' values are wrong, or
thinking about nothing at all, that is fine, too. No one knows the

Regardless of what any individual child is thinking during A Moment of
Silence, the majority are thinking positive things, and doing so at the
same time. Children are less likely to behave badly when they have begun
the day together silently contemplating, each in their own way, how to
improve their lives and the world. It should not be surprising that A
Moment of Silence is profoundly powerful and is almost universally loved
by the parents, staff and students of the schools that practice it

    This article was condensed from the Psychology Today blog. Read the
    entire article at Mr. Kalman's website, Learn
    more about A moment of Silence at

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             New Emissaries

Rabbi Nathan and Urit Zuckerman have moved to Berlin, Germany, where
they will open the Chabad House for Israelis  in the city. Rabbi Ephraim
and Mushky Zimmerman recently moved to Oro Valley, Arizona, to establish
a new Chabad House there. Rabbi Leibel and Musie Kesselman are moving to
Greenville, South Carolina, where they will establish  Chabad of the
Upstate region. Rabbi Yisroel and Mushkie Raskin are joining Chabad of
Melbourne CBD (Central Business District) as program directors. Rabbi
and Mrs. Menachem Gliss are joining Chabad of Dimona, Israel, where they
will focus on the neighborhoods of Chachmei Yisrael, Neve Choresh, and
Har Nof.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                          27 Elul 5717 [1957]

Blessing and Greeting:

I was pleased to receive your letter of September 17th, and was
particularly gratified with its contents, that you are well and happy,
and gradually taking over your routine activities.

There is a well-known saying to the effect that making a good start sets
off a good chain of reaction for continued success. This is especially
true in marriage, which begins a new life. Therefore it is important to
start it off well, to ensure continued happiness and contentment. May
G-d help that this be so in your case.

Most important of all is to start the new life in a way that corresponds
with the teachings of our Torah, the Law of Life, and then the going is
much easier than one anticipated.

This brings me to the next point. You write that you do not want to use
the expression of "promise to do," but would rather use the expression
"to try to do," as you are afraid to commit yourself, lest you would
find it difficult to live up to your promise. Experience has shown that
when a person makes a promise to do something, this very promise gives
him the strength to carry it out without hesitation, and with greater
ease. Whereas, when one does not commit himself, promising only "to
try," or "to do one's best," then, when the matter comes up, and there
is temptation not to do it, he is more likely to fail, saying to himself
that, after all, he did not promise to do it, but only "to try," and
therefore he is not breaking his word, and his conscience doesn't bother
him. That is why I think that you should be determined to observe the
laws, etc., and, knowing that you have made a promise to do so, will
give you not only greater strength, but also peace of mind, as it would
eliminate all doubts and hesitations.

Needless to say, if the things in question were impossible to carry out,
there would be no room for making a promise. However, in this case,
where it concerns the practical observance of the Divine Commandments,
given by G-d, the Creator, Who knows also the abilities of the human
beings, it is certain that He would not have commanded to do anything
which is beyond one's power to do, for G-d is the Essence of Goodness,
and does not impose a greater obligation that one is capable to fulfill.
Moreover, the laws that He commanded are not for His sake, inasmuch as
G-d is not deficient of anything, but they are for the good of the

You will recall what I said to you when you were here that, in regard to
the practical precepts, the less one debates with himself, but, rather,
fulfills them with simple faith in G-d, the easier and the more natural
life is, and the more harmony and happiness it brings. For one of the
essential aspects of the Torah is to serve G-d with joy. Such service is
carried out, not only through the act of fulfillment of a certain
precept, such as putting on tefillin, or the lighting of candles, etc.,
but every action, word, and thought, which are dedicated to G-d with a
spirit of joy of being able to serve the Creator, brings additional
light in one's world, and in the world at large....

Although you do not mention it, I trust that you duly received my two
previous letters. As for your question with regard to using certain
expressions, you may, of course, use the expression that best describes
your thoughts and feelings, and also in any language you find most

                               WHO'S WHO

Yitro (Jethro) was the father of Tzipora, Moses's wife. He was a priest
in the country of Midian. According to the commentator Rashi on the
verse, "And Yitro heard all that G-d had done ... " (Exodus 18:1), Yitro
had seven names: Reu'el, Yeter, Yitro, Chovav, Chever, Keini and
Puti'el. The Torah portion that contains the historic event of the Ten
Commandments is named, "Yitro."

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This week we return to Chapter 1 of Ethics of the Fathers: "Antigonus of
Socho...used to say: Do not be like servants who serve their master for
the sake of receiving a reward, but rather be like servants who serve
their master without the intent of receiving a reward; and let the fear
of Heaven be upon you."

Loving G-d and fearing G-d are "only" two of the 613 mitzvot. But
fulfilling them properly affects the quality and even the practical
observance of all of the Torah's commandments.

As explained in the Tanya, "Love [of G-d] is the root of all the 248
positive commands, all originating in it" and "fear is the root of the
365 prohibitive commands, fearing to rebel against the Supreme King of

What prompts a person to act: cold, rational intelligence, or emotion?
The Torah teaches that intellect, no matter how high the level of
understanding one has attained, may not necessarily be reflected in
behavior. By contrast, love and awe of G-d are the only true motivations
that can compel a Jew to Torah observance.

"A mitzva performed without the proper intent is like a body without a
soul," wrote the Arizal. Love and awe of G-d give our performance of
mitzvot their vitality and "staying power." Yes, a Jew can do a mitzva
by rote, simply to fulfill his obligation, but the mitzva won't be

There are many different levels of love and fear. A person may refrain
from sin because he's afraid of being punished, or afraid of the damage
it would do to his soul. Then there's a higher level of awe that is
closer to embarrassment, shame at the thought of going against G-d's

As for love, a Jew may be prompted to do a mitzva because of its
spiritual or physical benefits. A higher level is when one realizes that
even the greatest reward is only a token, and that "one cannot truly
cleave to Him except through the fulfillment" of His mitzvot.

May we all attain "a love that is completely independent" of all
self-interest, and serve G-d with the best and purest of our emotions.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
So shall you bless the Children of Israel (Num. 6:23)

The Torah's commandment to the kohanim (priests) was not meant as a
command to bless the Jewish people but as an instruction how, i.e., in
such and such a manner shall you bless them. For kohanim are by nature
loving and giving; there was no need to order them to bless, merely to
tell them what form it should take.

                                   (Rabbi Avraham Mordechai of Gur)

                                *  *  *

Before the kohanim recite the priestly blessing they say, "Who has
sanctified us through His mitzvot and commanded us to bless His people
Israel with love." On the most literal level this means that the kohanim
are to bestow their blessing out of a sense of love for their fellow
Jew. Yet on a deeper level it expresses the intent that the benediction
bring the Jewish people to love one another, rendering them a suitable
vessel for G-d's beneficence.

                            (Ta'amei HaMinhagim b'shem Torat Chaim)

                                *  *  *

Four of the wagons and eight of the oxen he gave to the sons of Merari
(Num. 7:8)

These wagons had to carry an enormously heavy load of materials for the
Sanctuary: huge planks, bolts, pillars, tent pegs, etc. Why, then, were
there only four wagons? Why wasn't the weight distributed on several
more? The answer is that if everything could be loaded onto four wagons,
no more were required. Every single object in the world must be used to
its full potential, as "G-d has created nothing superfluous in His

                                                        (The Rebbe)

                                *  *  *

And he who offered his offering the first day was Nachshon, the son of
Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah (Num. 7:12)

The order in which the leaders of the Twelve Tribes brought their
sacrifices teaches the proper order of our Divine service: First came
the tribe of Judah, from the Hebrew word meaning "to thank." This is
symbolic of the first step in worshipping G-d, humility and acceptance
of the yoke of Heaven. Next came the tribe of Issachar, whom the Torah
describes as "men of understanding." This alludes to the second step,
the study of Torah. The third tribe to make its offering was Zevulun,
about whom it states, "Rejoice Zevulun, in your going out." This is
symbolic of the third step, the practical performance of mitzvot.

                                         (Addendum to Ohr HaTorah))

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED

    The following story was recorded by the Chasid, Reb Dov Zev who
    witnessed the events with his own eyes.

More than 100 years ago there lived a Chasid by the name of Reb Chaim
Yehoshua. He had lived to the ripe age of 87, but although he was not
ill, he had a feeling that his days were drawing to a close. He summoned
the elders of the town to his bedside and in addition, a visiting
emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Reb Dov Zev.

"I have an important request to make of you," he said, "but before I do,
I want to tell you about something that happened to me many years ago.
Many years ago, I spent Chanuka at the court of the Tzemach Tzedek (the
third Lubavitcher Rebbe). During the course of the holiday, he spoke
about the self-sacrifice of the Maccabees in sanctifying the Name of
G-d. The words of the Rebbe made an enormous impression on me.

"After the holiday ended I returned to our farm. Our father, who was a
Chasid of the Alter Rebbe and the Mittler Rebbe after him had instilled
in his children a particular devotion to the mitzva of hospitality, so
when two frozen strangers appeared on our doorstep one cold snowy night,
we, of course, invited them in and served them a warm, hearty meal.

"I had retired to my own room when I heard the faintest whining sound. I
thought it was a cat and I listened carefully, straining my ears to make
out its source. As I followed the sound, it became obvious that it was
not a cat, but a child who was crying. I approached the spot from where
the cry came and to my utter shock, there in the wagon of the two
strangers lay two small children, one sleeping and the other crying,
both tied hand and foot. I knew at once that they were victims of
kidnappers, or "khappers," as they were known at the time. For then was
the height of the terror of child-kidnapping for the Czar's army. The
unfortunates were stolen from the bosom of their families, never to be
seen again, to serve in the army for twenty years and more.

"I took the two into my home and fed them and put them into a warm bed.
My brother confronted the kidnappers and in a frenzy of anger threatened
to give them a beating they would never forget. They, for their part,
feigned innocence. No, they were the wronged ones, they claimed. They
concocted a story about the children being mentally ill and being taken
to a famous doctor, but when they saw that we wouldn't buy their
ridiculous story, they disappeared as fast as their horses could gallop.

"When my brother next visited the Rebbe, he blessed us all and told us
to hide the children for a full year before returning them to their
families, and this we did. The event inspired in me a great desire to
continue in this mitzva of redeeming captives, and for a large part of
every year I traveled to different parts of the region, seeking out
these children, who were called Cantonists, and saving them.

"I continued this work for seven years, until I fell into a trap and
almost lost my life. I traveled to the Rebbe and he gave me a blessing
for long life and promised me that when it came my time to leave this
world, I would be 'with him in his abode.' And this leads me to tell you
why I have summoned all of you here today. I feel sure that my life is
about to end, and I am asking you to gather a minyan at my grave side
and say these words, 'Reb Menachem Mendel, son-in-law of Reb Dov Ber and
grandson of Reb Shneur Zalman! Your servant Chaim Yehoshua ben Esther is
dead. Before his passing, he appointed us to inform you of this and to
remind you that you promised him, that because of his mitzva of
ransoming captives, he would be with you, in your abode.' "

The Chasidim agreed to carry out his wish, and the following day, Reb
Chaim Yehoshua recited Shema Yisrael, and returned his soul to its
Maker. That same day, a minyan surrounded his grave and said the words
he had requested of them, reminding the Rebbe of his promise of long

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
A person who states, "I will become a nazir on the day the son of David
will come," must observe the nazir rites forever." For every day might
well be the day when, "the son of David comes." This implies that the
revelation of "the new [dimension of the] Torah which will emerge from
Me," should not be considered as an event of the future, but rather as a
present and immediate matter.

                       (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 13 Sivan, 5751-1991)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1223 - Nasso 5772

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