Holidays   Shabbat   Chabad-houses   Chassidism   Subscribe   Calendar   Links B"H
The Weekly Publication for Every Jewish Person
Archives Current Issues Home Current Issue
                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1224
                           Copyright (c) 2012
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
                  Electronic version provided free at:
                  Palm-Pilot version provided free at:
                    To receive the L'CHAIM by e-mail
                  write to:
                              Subscribe W1
   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        June 8, 2012          Beha'aloscha        18 Sivan, 5772


There's a paradox: being humble requires an ego. Let me explain. We're
all familiar with the phrase, "The 'meek' shall inherit the earth"
(Psalms 37:11). But "meek" is a bad translation. Meek means submissive,
easily imposed on. The Hebrew word is "anav" - humble. How are we to
understand this word? For it is used to describe Moses - the redeemer,
the law-giver, the greatest of prophets. Moses is described as the most
humble - anav - of all.

Yet when we consider how Moses stood before Pharaoh, how he led the
people and railed at their complaints and cowardice, how he destroyed
the tablets, etc., we would hardly describe him as "meek." And another
point: Moses had to know who he was. He couldn't lie to himself and say
he wasn't a prophet, that he didn't speak to G-d directly, etc. So how
does all this work?

The Talmud offers an insight: to be an anav, to be humble, you first
have to be honest. Honest with yourself. You have to assess your
strengths and weaknesses, acknowledge your accomplishments as well as
your failures. In other words, you have to have an ego - a sense of
self. You have to know who you are.

But then must come a recognition: if someone else had been given the
opportunities and talent that I have, would they not have accomplished
more, failed less?

This is not a false humility, an ego-game play. It can be, of course.
But if the self-examination is honest, then so is the recognition: each
of us has a Divine mission, a unique task. We each have a segment of the
world to transform, through acts of goodness and kindness.

When we make a difference, when we transform someone else's life for the
better, even a little, spiritually or materially, we naturally feel good
about ourselves. And that's when we need to become humble, become an
anav. For really, we've only done our job, we've only completed a small
part of the task entrusted to us. And there's so much more we could have
done, and so much more we still need to do.

And if you're going to transform your part of the world, you can't be
meek about performing acts of goodness and kindness. In fact, there's
another Talmudic statement: "Yehuda ben Taima said, be bold as a
leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and strong as a lion to do
the will of your Father in Heaven." (Ethics 5:20)

How does this work? How can one be "bold as a leopard...strong as a
lion" if one is also supposed to be humble? The answer lies in the rest
of the statement: to do the will of your Father in Heaven.

The doing has to be with boldness, strength and energy. And the doing
has to be done with a total dedication to the Will of your Father in
Heaven - a single-minded focus, a total concentration.

The ego, the sense of self, the self-assessment - that happens
afterward. And that's when humility becomes part of the job description.


In the very beginning of this week's Torah portion, Behaalotcha, we read
the command to Aaron, "When you light the lamps..." This is a clear
instruction that a Jew has to "kindle lights" to illuminate the
surroundings. In this, too, a Jew has to emulate, so to speak, the
Creator, Who, immediately after creating Heaven and earth, gave the
order, "Let there be light!"

The essential thing about a candle (in the ordinary sense) is that it
should give forth light and illuminate its surroundings. An unlit, or
extinguished candle brings no benefit and has no meaning in that state
per se. Only when it gives light and shines does it fulfill its purpose,
which is to serve man by enabling him to see by its light everything
around him. In this way it illuminates his way so that he will not
stumble in darkness, and generally helps him to do and accomplish what
he must.

The nature of a candle is that when one puts a flame to its wick, even a
small flame - so long as he does it effectively - the flame catches on,
and then it continues to give off light on its own. This, too, is
indicated in the text, as our Sages comment: When you light the lamps
[of the menora] - "[light them so] that the flame goes up on its own."

The instruction is thus:

G-d has endowed the human being with a soul, a Divine "lamp," as it is
written, "The soul of man is the lamp of G-d" - to illuminate his or her
path in life, and to illuminate the world. But this soul-lamp, or
candle, has first to be ignited with the flame of Torah in order that it
should shine forth with its true light, the light of "a mitzva is a
candle and the Torah is light." (Proverbs)

And this is the task and purpose of every Jew: to be a brightly shining
lamp and to kindle, or add brightness to every Divine "lamp" - Jewish
soul - with which he or she comes in contact. And one must do this to
completeness, in a way that the lamps they light likewise continue to
shine brightly on their own, and also become "lamp-lighters," kindling
other souls, "from candle to candle," in a continuous chain.

Needless to say, though the instruction to light the menora was given to
Aaron the Priest, it includes all Jews, in their spiritual life, since
every Jew is a member of the "Kingdom of Priests." Moreover, there is
the exhortation: "Be of the disciples of Aaron...loving the creatures
and bringing them closer to Torah." To be a disciple of Aaron one must
be permeated with love for every Jew and one must be involved in
transmitting Judaism.

                   Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                         Singing Bestowed Life

If someone were to tell the life story of Rabbi Akiva Greenberg it would
be colorful with many interesting turns and unique twists. And it would
surely be accompanied by a Chasidic niggun (melody).

"My Zeidy passed away and perhaps, people out of the family circle would
find it strange that I am humming a tune instead of crying. But with his
singing he bestowed us true life." explained one of Rabbi Greenberg's
100 grandchildren after his passing last month.

Akiva Greenberg was born in 1933 in Canada. As a teenager he was
introduced to yeshiva when he studied at Torah VeDaas in Brooklyn. What
he remembered most from those years was visiting the various Chasidic
Rebbes in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. And what attracted
the attention of Akiva the most were the niggunim, the Chasidic
melodies. Some of the melodies were happy, others thought-provoking; all
touched the soul. For Akiva, they were transformational; they taught him
that he had to find a new self.

With that purpose in mind, Akiva went to Israel. On the plane, he met a
Viznitzer Chasid and soon afterwards, he became attached to the
Viznitzer Rebbe, who had established a Chasidic community in B'nei Brak.

At that time, there lived in B'nei Brak a Chasid who had lost his family
in WWII. Though he lived alone, he was full of happiness. His face would
glow with joy. Akiva would visit him from time to time, help with
household chores, and drink in the spiritual vitality the Chasid had
brought with him from Eastern Europe.

One day, Akiva was feeling more than a little bit down when he came to
visit the elderly Chasid. As he walked in, the chasid asked, "Please
make some soup for me." Akiva soon brought a cup of fresh soup to the
chasid. The latter looked at Akiva, took one spoon of it, and then spit
it out: "Melancholy soup," he cried out. "Akiva, you have to happy
before you make soup." And the chasid started doing pantomimes, the kind
of stuff that made you laugh from the inside out. Then he began to sing
and then to dance, and he dragged Akiva to dance with him. The feelings
that had burdened Akiva were soon gone. He too was dancing with genuine
happiness. Then the chasid stopped. "Okay, now make some soup."

After immersing himself in this special environment for quite a while,
Akiva felt he had to share what he had learned. He returned to America
and began teaching and running summer camps.

A son-in-law of Akiva explains, "In America Akiva connected with
Lubavitch. He realized that for an American Jewish youth to develop a
connection with the inner depth, joy, vitality, and purpose that the
Baal Shem Tov had taught there was only one path: Lubavitch. He never
saw himself as a Lubavitcher Chasid; he had his Rebbe in Viznitz. But
his students - those who were inspired by his teachings, his songs, and
his stories - he sent to Lubavitch."

After marrying his life-partner Hadassah, they moved from city to city;
Hebrew school teachers struggled to make a living in those days and so
they moved from Toronto, to Detroit, Chicago, and back to Detroit.
Wherever he went, he touched his students' lives forever. One of his
very first students remembered: "I was so fortunate to have been his
student in Toronto when he first started teaching in the Eitz Chaim
school and continued in Camp Gan Yisrael. It was an unbelievable
experience for all of us. He had a huge, everlasting influence till this
day, beloved by everyone he touched."

The late 60s and the early 70s produced a seismic change in the Jewish
world. Jewish youth began searching for a spiritual identity. The
Greenbergs were in the forefront of the efforts to inspire Jews to find
the truths for which they were searching in their own heritage. To quote
one of his former students: "Akiva and Hadassah Greenberg were my first
teachers and inspirations. They were selfless and pure conduits to my
entry into Chabad and many subsequent years of spiritual growth and
fulfillment. Akiva was a treasury of niggunim and inspiring stories, but
more than that he represented sensitivity and intellectual honesty
coupled with the most divine Chasidic focus. My children called him

For the last several decades of his life, Rabbi Greenberg served as a
professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Touro College. In fact, even
as his health and strength steadily declined, he continued to teach,
sometimes even travelling straight from chemotherapy to give a lecture.

Professor Mervin Verbit, the Chair of the Sociology Department at Touro
College remembers, "One of the nicest things that happened to me when I
joined the Touro faculty was that I got to know Professor Akiva
Greenberg.  Whenever I met with him, I came away feeling better - with
more understanding, a deeper perspective, a stronger appreciation of the
possibilities of human goodness, and a sense of confidence and joy.  On
the one hand, I hated to bother Akiva and take his time from the
teaching that he loved, but on the other hand I wanted to explore ideas
with him and to hear his wisdom on the issues that confront us. His
smile, his courage, and his unfailing willingness to help were,
literally, inspiring. When he taught he made events, ideas, and people
come alive. As chair of his department, I had the privilege to observe
Akiva teach. He was dealing that day with one of the founding thinkers
of sociology, and, although I long knew that theorist's work, Akiva
added to my appreciation.  He gave the theorist a personality, infused
his life with depth, and showed how his thought developed.  Akiva gave
his students a personal introduction to a thinker long gone, and his
students responded by engaging, through Akiva, that thinker. It was a
brilliant display of good teaching, and the respect and concern of
teacher and students for each other was obvious. The world has lost a
thinker, a scholar, a teacher, a mentor, a mentsch.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                     Yossi and Laibel Learn to Help

Adapted from Hot on the Trail, Yossi and Laibel Learn to Help is a
Hachai Publishing classic title made shorter and simpler for the very
young. As Yossi and Laibel learn the value of helping others, your child
can learn, too! Like its predecessor, this board is written by Dina
Rosenfeld, illustrated by Nochum Nodel.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                2nd Day Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, 5715 [1955]
               To the Conference of Religious Physicians

Greeting and Blessing:

I was pleased to be informed of your conference, designed to create an
organized body of Jewish religious physicians. Unification of religious
forces was always desirable, especially in our generation, a generation
confused and perplexed by the shattering events of recent years, as a
result of which many thinking people have become completely
disillusioned in the false ideas and ideologies which they had held in
the past, and are now earnestly searching for the truth.

An organized body of religious physicians could make its influence to be
felt in these circles through a declaration of its authoritative opinion
on several issues, which have been the subject of confused and
misleading controversy.

Such a declaration should, first of all, do away with the misconception
about any conflict between science and religion. True science, the
object of which is the truth and nothing but the truth, can lead to no
conclusions which are contrary to our Torah, "the law of Truth." On the
contrary, the more deeply one delves into science, the stronger must
grow the recognition of the truth of the fundamental principles, as well
as the ramifications, of our Jewish religion.

As physicians, in particular, you are in a position to refute decisively
the materialistic philosophy, as is demonstrated by the fact that so
much of physical health depends on spiritual health. If in olden days
emphasis was placed on mens sana in corpore sana [healthy mind in a
healthy body], in our days it is a matter of general conviction that
even a small defect spiritually causes a grievous defect physically; and
the healthier the spirit and the greater its prepon-derance over the
physical body - the greater its ability to correct or overcome physical
shortcomings; so much so, that in many cases even physical treatments,
prescriptions and drugs are considerably more effective if they are
accompanied by the patient's strong will and determination to cooperate.

This principle of "mind over matter," i.e. of quality over quantity, is
further emphasized by the fact, which is continually gaining
recognition, that the vital functions of the organism do not depend on
quantity, inasmuch as the glands, and the hormones, vitamins, etc.,
which they produce, are quite minute quantitatively.

Parenthetically: It is written in our holy Scrip-tures, "From my flesh I
visualize G-d." Recognizing the preponderance of the soul in the
physical body (the microcosm), there remains but a small step to the
recognition of G-d, the "Soul" of the Universe (the macrocosm). And in
the words of our Sages: "As the soul fills the body, vivifies it, sees,
but is not seen - so the Holy One, blessed be He, fills the world,
vivifies it, sees, but it not seen."

So much, speaking in general terms. Specifically many are the questions
directly relating to the practice of the physician, some of them of
practical and immediate importance, on which your voice should be heard.
To mention but a few:

To declare the paramount importance of the observance of the laws of
Taharas ha-Mishpocho [family purity]; The observance of the dietary
laws; Circumcision.

With regard to the genital organs, elimination of treatment likely to
cause sterility, and substituting for it other forms of treatment;
particularly in connection with surgery on the prostate.

Prescriptions and drugs: many of them could be made in compliance with
the laws of kashrut [kosher], and only through indifference or
carelessness it is not done so.

Post-mortem: for purposes of study of anatomy, etc., surely it is
possible to use artificial forms and models. For purposes of
ascertaining the cause of death - in many cases it is not essential;
where it may be of immediate necessity to save a life (as in the case of
an accusation of poisoning, etc.) - mutilation of the body should be
reduced to the essential minimum, and the parts should be buried
afterwards. And so on.

Needless to say, what has been mentioned above about pointing out the
health benefits that are derived from the observance of the religious
precepts should not be understood as an attempt to explain the precepts
by their utilitarian value. For it is a dogma of our faith that the
Divine precepts must be observed because they are the command and will
of our Creator, and "the reward of a mitzvah [commandment] is the
mitzvah itself," for "this is the whole purpose of man" - to commune and
unite with his Maker, through the fulfillment of His commands.

However, for the benefit of those who, by reason of spiritual
"sickness," cannot be induced to observe the precepts except by making
them aware of their utilitarian value, we must do everything possible to
urge them to observe the mitzvoth in daily life, even if we have to
rationalize about the Divine commands, and emphasize their physical

I conclude with extending to you my prayerful wishes that your
conference reflect the Scriptural words, "Then conferred with one
another they who fear G-d," and may your good aspirations materialize
successfully and lead to practical accomplishments; and, as the
Scriptural passage just quoted concludes, "and it was recorded in a
memorial book, for remembrance before G-d," so may your accomplishments
have lasting benefits for the many - your great privilege.

Respectfully, and with blessings for success,

                               WHO'S WHO

The prophet Yechezkel (Ezekiel) was one of the greatest leaders of the
Babylonian exile period. Born of a priestly family in Jerusalem, he was
amongst the first of the exiles to Babylonia by King Nebuchadnezzar.
Yechezkel prophesied the destruction of the First Temple and promised
his brethren that they would return to the Holy Land. Perhaps his most
famous prophecy is that of the Valley of Dry Bones, when he saw that the
piles of dried bones rose and were vivified by G-d. In this way, he
reassured his fellow Jews that Israel would enjoy new life and glory
after the destruction.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
"Do not separate yourself from the community," the great Sage Hillel
counsels us in Chapter 2 of Ethics of the Fathers. The Jewish concept of
community (tzibur) is unique for when a minyan of Jews (ten) comes
together, a new entity is formed that did not previously exist: a

A tzibur is more than the sum of its parts. The spiritual power of a
Jewish community is infinitely greater than our power as individuals -
which is why we assemble in groups to pray, learn Torah and observe
other mitzvot. The measure of sanctity brought down into the world by a
community engaged in a holy pursuit is much greater than that which even
many individual Jews can effect.

Take a look in our siddur (prayer book) and you will find that most of
our service of G-d is communal. Reciting prayers and benedictions in the
plural binds the individual Jew to the Jewish people as a whole, and
gives our acts of devotion an added "punch."

In truth, a Jew needs to identify himself with the larger Jewish
community in order to be complete. This implies certain
responsibilities, such as supporting and participating in Jewish
communal efforts.

Furthermore, the actions of a single Jew have a ripple effect throughout
the community. Whenever a Jew publicly increases his observance of Torah
and mitzvot, it imbues others with the strength and resolve to follow
his example.

It states in Proverbs, "In the multitude of people is the King's glory."
May we all come together in true Jewish unity and merit G-d's ultimate
blessing - the revelation of Moshiach and the Messianic era.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
And the men said to him, "We are defiled by the dead body of a man. Why
should we be kept back?" (Num. 9:7)

We do not find in the Torah any other instance where a mitzva
(commandment) that must be done at a specific time can be completed at a
later date. Only the Passover sacrifice is permitted to be fulfilled one
month later. Why is this case special? There were many Jews who tried or
wanted to bring the sacrifice at the correct time but for various
reasons could not. They pleaded not to be excluded. In the merit of
their requests, a later date was given to them. The future Redemption
will also come about in the same manner. If we will stubbornly do all in
our mean to end our own exile, and beg and plead with G-d with all our
heart and soul, the Redemption will come.

                                    (Rabbi Shlomo Cohen of Radomsk)

                                *  *  *

And G-d's anger was kindled greatly, and in the eyes of Moses it was
also displeasing (Num. 11:10)

Why was G-d angered? Because "in the eyes of Moses it was also
displeasing": in this instance, Moses hadn't tried to justify the Jews'
behavior or find an excuse for them. From this we learn that when a
tzadik (righteous person) finds merit for the Jewish people, it stills
any accusations from Above.

                                (Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev)

                                *  *  *

Have I conceived all these people? Have I given birth to them? (Num.

Moses said to G-d: "I'm not the one who must suffer because of the Jews.
You are responsible." A parent must share the suffering and distress of
his children and have mercy on them, for good and for bad.

                                               (Rabbi Simcha Bunim)

                                *  *  *

And the likeness of G-d does he behold (Num. 12:8)

The "likeness of G-d" - these are the attributes of the Holy One,
blessed be He. Our Sages said, "Just as He is merciful shall you be
merciful; just as He is gracious shall you be gracious." These G-dly
attributes were brought down by Moses our Teacher and instilled in the
heart of every single Jew.

                                   (Rabbi Avraham Mordechai of Gur)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
It was at a routine meeting in the Polish royal palace when one of the
noblemen revealed an appalling bit of news: A Christian girl had
recently disappeared from one of the villages. As the girl had vanished
just before Passover, there was no doubt that she had been murdered by
the Jews in order to use her blood for their religious rituals.

"The Jewish problem must be solved once and for all," declared another
nobleman, as all nodded their heads in agreement. It wasn't long until a
proposal was formulated to expel all the Jews from Poland.

Now, the king who ruled over Poland at the time, secretly appreciated
the Jews for the benefit they brought to his land. At the same time, he
tended to be unduly influenced by the people around him. Given the
anti-Semitic views of the wealthy landowners, he decided to choose the
course of least resistance and remain silent. An official order of
expulsion was written up and passed around the table for everyone to

When the document reached Vladek, the most senior of the king's
advisors, he was about to affix his signature when suddenly, his hand
froze in mid-air. His entire arm felt as if it had turned to stone. In
fact, Vladek himself felt rather peculiar. His voice shook as he spoke.

"Gentlemen," he announced, "I cannot in good faith sign this document,
when I know for a fact that it is based on untruth. As you all know, I
am Jewish by birth, and despite my having renounced my faith I am well
aware of the Jewish prohibition against ingesting blood. Under no
circumstances will I sign this order of expulsion."

Everyone was surprised by Vladek's firm stance, as he had never before
refused to sign an anti-Jewish edict. What was different now?

The king, who had been less than enthusiastic about the plan, was
actually quite happy with Vladek's refusal. The proposal was dropped.

From that day on Vladek underwent a profound change. His mind was
flooded by memories from his childhood. He remembered learning in
yeshiva, playing with his friends, and basking in the glow of his
mother's Shabbat candles. Indeed, after many years in yeshiva, little
Velvel had grown up, married a Jewish woman, and become a successful
businessman. But the more he mixed amongst the Polish noblemen, the more
estranged he had become from Judaism. Eventually, he abandoned his wife
and married the young widow of a Polish count. The transformation was
complete when "Velvel" renounced his faith and became "Vladek," the
Polish nobleman.

Vladek's mind allowed him no rest. After many sleepless nights he
decided to return to Judaism, despite the fact that Polish law forbade a
Christian to convert. It was a very dangerous plan, as his actions could
endanger the entire Jewish community if they became public.

A few nights later Velvel left his mansion and made his way to a certain
village where a famous rabbi lived. The rabbi was surprised when he
opened his door to find a Polish nobleman standing on his threshold.

"I am a Jew!" Velvel cried as tears ran down his cheeks. "I want to
return to Judaism." In a few short sentences he related his life story.

The rabbi, grasping the implications of such a request, was immediately
suspicious. "I don't think it's a good idea," he tried to dissuade him.
"You will only cause trouble for yourself and for other Jews."

But Velvel was adamant. "I will do anything you tell me - anything at
all!" he insisted. "Just guide me along the right path."

At that point the rabbi, who was still unconvinced that the nobleman's
intentions were pure, replied, "I'll believe you when my walking stick
sprouts buds and starts to grow!"

A deep sigh escaped from Velvel's throat. With a feeling of despair he
glanced at the rabbi's walking stick propped up in the corner - and
nearly fainted. All he could do was point with his finger. The rabbi
turned around and could not believe what he was seeing. The walking
stick had sprouted a number of tiny green buds. A miracle from heaven!

The rabbi took him under his wing and devised a plan that would not
place any Jews in danger. He also gave him his blessing for success. A
few days later "Vladek" went on a hunting expedition in the forest from
which he never returned. When the horse he had been riding returned home
without its owner, everyone assumed that Vladek had been killed by wild

The former Polish nobleman became a poor Jewish wanderer. Traveling from
town to town and from country to country, he eventually made his way to
Holland and settled in Amsterdam. For the rest of his days Velvel lived
a life of Torah in anonymity.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
G-d will press for the coming of the Messianic redemption. The Jews are
tired of exile. Furthermore, since "I am with them in difficulty," i.e.,
G-d empathizes with the Jews and shares their suffering in exile, as it
were, He also cannot bear the exile any longer. Particularly after the
sufferings of the last generation - May they never be repeated - it is
time for the Jews, together with G-d Himself, to demand the coming of
Moshiach. May it be in the immediate future.

                       (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 16 Sivan, 5750-1990)

             END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1224 - Beha'aloscha 5772

  • Daily Lessons
  • Weekly Texts & Audio
  • Candle-Lighting times

    613 Commandments
  • 248 Positive
  • 365 Negative

  • BlackBerry
  • iPhone / iPod Touch
  • Java Phones
  • Palm Pilot
  • Palm Pre
  • Pocket PC
  • P800/P900
  • Moshiach
  • Resurrection
  • For children - part 1
  • For children - part 2

  • Jewish Women
  • Holiday guides
  • About Holidays
  • The Hebrew Alphabet
  • Hebrew/English Calendar
  • Glossary

  • by SIE
  • About
  • Chabad
  • The Baal Shem Tov
  • The Alter Rebbe
  • The Rebbe Maharash
  • The Previous Rebbe
  • The Rebbe
  • Mitzvah Campaign

    Children's Corner
  • Rabbi Riddle
  • Rebbetzin Riddle
  • Tzivos Hashem

  • © Copyright 1988-2009
    All Rights Reserved
    L'Chaim Weekly