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Devarim Deutronomy

L'Chaim
June 22, 2012 - 2 Tamuz, 5772

1226: Korach

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Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


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  1225: Sh'lach1227: Chukas  

When the Sun Stands Still  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
The Rebbe Writes  |  Who's Who  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

When the Sun Stands Still

On the Third of Tammuz, Joshua ordered the sun to stand still - be silent - so that he could continue the battle, leading to the conquest of the land of Israel.

On the Third of Tammuz, the Previous Rebbe's death sentence was commuted - leading to his release and the continuation of his work of preserving, teaching and spreading Judaism, underground in the Soviet Union, openly in the United States and elsewhere around the world.

On the Third of Tammuz, an era began, where we can no longer see the Rebbe's physical presence. What this will lead to, must lead to, is nothing less than the era of Redemption and the coming of Moshiach.

Statements are easy to make, easy to read. Observations of history require no special insight - the records are there to be read. Coming to terms with what something means, however, requires thought, discussion, and reflection. It's not a simple task.

Recently, the world was abuzz with news of the transit of Venus - when Venus passed directly between the earth and the sun. It's like a lunar eclipse, except that because of the distances, Venus obscure only a small fraction of the sun's disk.

A transit of Venus is very rare - over 100 years between them - but it's used to measure the size of our solar system, and it's how we find planets around other stars.

From facts to understanding: The sun's light is obscured, almost completely by an eclipse, in a miniscule amount by a Venus transit. But the sun's light is still there, and the temporary obscuring provides us with insights and opportunity's.

From understanding to action: What we have learned about the sun, the solar system, celestial mechanics - this is not just abstract knowledge, this is not just interesting stuff. We have built much of our world - the way we live, the things we use, even how we communicate and thus interact - from our understanding of the principles of the cosmos.

And so it is with Gimmel (the third day of) Tammuz. "The Torah is truth and Moses - the faithful shepherd - is true." "David Melech Yisrael Chai V'Kayam - David, the King of Israel, lives and is eternal." "Jacob our forefather did not die." These words express the continuing influence of our teachers, our leaders, our parents and forebears.

It has been eighteen years since the first Gimmel Tammuz - 18, the numerical equivalent of life. The influence, the spiritual presence, of the Rebbe, continues to infuse us with inspiration, with Torah, with calls to action - thousands of Jews learning a bit more Torah, doing another mitzva (commandment), millions of people throughout the world increasing, just a little, their acts of goodness and kindness.

The sun stands still, still pouring forth energy which is converted into life. There is a transit that temporarily obscures, and from it all our commitment increases and our connection to the Rebbe, and what he demands from each of us, deepens.


Living with the Rebbe

The controversy between Korach (the leader of the rebellion and the name of this week's Torah portion) and Moses was coming to a head. On one side stood Moses, leader of the Jewish people, on the other was Korach and his 250 followers.

G-d told Moses to tell the Jews, "Get away from about the dwelling of Korach, Datan and Aviram." G-d had issued His warning; in a few minutes the earth would split open and swallow up Korach and his entire group.

The Torah describes Moses' actions immediately upon hearing this command. "And Moses rose up and went to Datan and Aviram, and after him went the elders of Israel."

The reaction of Moses was curious. He had already spoken previously to Datan and Aviram and had exhausted every prior opportunity to make peace.

Why did he return? Wasn't it already too late? G-d had issued His decree; their fate was sealed. And if Moses' intent was to bring Datan and Aviram to repentance, why doesn't the Torah say that he spoke to them? Why are we are told only that Moses "rose up and went"?

Rashi, the great commentator, explains that Moses was sure that Datan and Aviram would receive him favorably. Though G-d had already rendered judgment, Moses' great love for his fellow Jews, even evildoers like Datan and Aviram, prompted him to try once more to set things right.

Mere words may have failed, but Moses tried one more approach to move Datan and Aviram to repentance - utilizing his status as leader of the Jewish people.

"Moses rose up" - in full kingly splendor, Moses returned to Datan and Aviram, hopeful that they would repent and avert their bitter fate when they beheld his glory. In this light, the rest of the verse - "and after him went the elders of Israel" - is also understood. The regal appearance of Moses, resplendent in his full spiritual stature as king, was so powerful a sight that the elders were inspired to accompany him.

Unfortunately, however, Korach and his followers were not similarly affected, and their punishment was meted out as planned.

This episode serves to underscore the depth of Moses' love for his fellow Jew and the great lengths to which he was willing to go to bring a Jew back from the brink.

Even after G-d had pronounced judgment and locked the very gates of repentance, Moses, as leader and shepherd, would not give up.

If Moses could feel this way toward such evil people, how much more so must we emulate his behavior today!

In our time, if someone acts inappropriately, it is largely out of a lack of knowledge, not because he is an evil person. Thus, how much more so must we all do everything in our power to bring every Jew close and love him wholeheartedly.

Adapted from Likutei Sichot of the Rebbe, Vol. 28


A Slice of Life

Together

by Yehudis Cohen

"About two and a half years ago, I started going to the Ohel of the Lubavitcher Rebbe," begins Naftali Fruchter, a Viznitzer Chasid. "I would go on or around the eve of Rosh Chodesh (the new month) as Jewish teachings explain that this is a special time to pray at kivrei tzadikim (the resting places of the righteous).

"After Passover of last year, I met with a certain Lubavitcher chasid who asked me if I would be willing to work for him in his seasonal business. I told him that in principle I was interested, as I had the specific skills he was looking for. However, I had a number of conditions that would need to be met in order for me to work for him. In addition, I said that I would not consider taking the position unless I was certain that his previous employee was not interested in having the job back.

"My father," explains Mr. Fruchter, "always taught me 'Don't touch what doesn't belong to you.' I would not take the job if the previous employee wanted it. 'Until you have an answer from the other person, there's nothing to talk about,' I told the Lubavitcher chasid."

Mr. Fruchter decided that he would wait until mid-summer (Rosh Chodesh Av) for an answer regarding the position. If he didn't hear back from the prospective employer by then, he would assume that the previous worker was rehired.

As was his custom, Mr. Fruchter went to the Ohel before Rosh Chodesh Av. He had called the Lubavitcher the week before to ask if there was an answer yet. But the would-be employer was out-of-town and wouldn't be back for a week. "I wrote to the Rebbe that I hoped 'the business matter should conclude for good for both sides.' I said Tehillim (Psalms), put my letter at the Ohel, and left. When I got home, I told my wife, 'The Lubavitcher didn't call me. That means that I don't have the job. I'll look for something else.'

"The next day was Friday. Late in the afternoon, I get a phone call from the Lubavitcher. He goes to the Ohel every Friday. As he was leaving the Ohel, he suddenly remembered that he had never called me regarding the job. 'I don't know why, but it popped into my head that I need to call you,' he explained to me.

"It's funny, just yesterday I mentioned by the Rebbe that we have to conclude something with the job!" I shared with him. He assured me that he would call me on Sunday to finalize everything and, in fact, we concluded for good for both sides!"

Before finishing, I asked Mr. Fruchter, "You're a Vizhnitzer chasid, what brings you to the Lubavitcher Rebbe?"

In true Jewish fashion of answering a question with a question, he asked, "I have to explain to you why I go to the Lubavitcher Rebbe? To you I have to explain?"


by Chabakuk Elisha

When my third son was born, a rebbe that I was close to was going to be the sandek (who holds the baby) at his brit and I planned to name my son Moshe after one of the sandek's ancestors. The brit, however, would take place on 24 Tevet, the yahrzeit (anniversary of the passing) of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidut, and I felt that it would be more appropriate to name our son Shneur Zalman.

The primary problem was that this rebbe was not so happy about my interest in Chabad, and since he was sandek, I felt that I should stick with the name Moshe. I considered combining the two names, but the custom in Chabad is not to mix names of Rebbes with other people, so I was hesitant to do that. I would probably have just wimped out and named him Moshe, but my wife wouldn't hear of it - she was adamant that the name include Shneur Zalman.

I was a bit torn, but I had a week to figure out what to do. Thy days went by and the big day got closer, so with two days to go my wife said that we should open a book of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's letters (Igrot Kodesh) and see if the Rebbe could guide us to a proper resolution. I was hesitant, but after thinking about the reality that I had no way to resolve this, I agreed. The letter that we opened to basically read:

"Regarding your question about what language to use on the tombstone, my opinion is that you should combine the Lubavitcher nusach (version) and your own community nusach so that the best of both will be included. Furthermore, you should never feel ashamed of your connection with Lubavitch, and there is no reason why you can't be proud of all your affiliations."

My wife felt that this was a clear answer to name our son Moshe Shneur Zalman, and I pretty much agreed - but was still a little hesitant. The next day (the day before the brit) I was up early. Before beginning my morning prayers, I took a volume of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's collected talks (Likutei Sichot) off the shelf in order to study the talk relating to 24 Tevet. I opened it up, and wouldn't you know it! The entire talk was about the connection of the name Shneur Zalman and Moshe. I was blown away, and today that's my son's name.


by Erez Navon

When I was nine-years-old, my father (Yitzchak Navon) was serving as president of the State of Israel. A few days before Rosh Hashana, I decided to write New Year's greetings to several prominent people with whom I was acquainted. Among them were then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and many others of great stature whom I knew during the time I lived in the presidential residence. When Rabbi Shloimke Maidanchik, who was a also regular visitor to our house, saw that I was writing New Year's cards, he suggested: 'Why don't you send New Year's greetings to the Lubavitcher Rebbe? I'll make certain to bring it to the Rebbe in New York.'

I happily agreed, and a short while later, I placed the letter to the Rebbe in Rabbi Shloimke's hands. I eventually received a correspondence from the Rebbe in reply. As a young boy, I was very moved by the letter the Rebbe sent me in return. To this day, the letter has helped me on numerous occasions regarding a variety of issues. Here is an example of one such incident:

When I started my real estate work in Panama, I wanted to bring another entrepreneur into the picture. This led me to a certain wealthy businessman, a Torah observant Jew who lived in one of the capitals of Europe. Today, he is one of my closest and most loyal friends. After knowing him for several years, I decided to show him the Rebbe's letter.

My partner was equally enthused by the letter, and it forever changed the nature of our professional discussions. The official business-like distance was gone, suspicions faded away, and the rapport between us grew, in light of the intense love he displayed for the Rebbe when I showed him the correspondence.

He was amazed as he looked at the letter, reading it over and over again. He too had received several letters from the Rebbe, and he had even experienced his own amazing miracle, when the Rebbe virtually saved his life.


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The Rebbe Writes

Translated from letters of the Rebbe

3 Tammuz, 5710 (1950)

...Many are seeking an explanation of the characteristic greatness of the Chabad leaders in general, and the leader of our generation, my father-in-law, of blessed memory, in particular, in terms of the following designations:

The paradigm of self-sacrifice, a gaon [great Torah scholar], a man of exemplary character traits, a tzaddik, an individual endowed with divine inspiration, an individual accustomed to performing miracles, and so on. These praises gain even greater significance as they are defined by the teachings of Chasidus.

Yet in all this, the main point is absent.

Furthermore (and this is essentially the main point), the Rebbe's special greatness is by virtue of his unique relationship with us, his congregation of Chasidim, and with those who are connected to him. And this is because he is the Nasi - the leader of Chabad.

For in general, the Nasi is called "the head of the community of Israel": in relation to them, he is their head and brain; it is through him that they derive their vitality. By cleaving to the Nasi, they connect and unite themselves with their Source above.

There are several types of Nesi'im: those whose influence is in the sphere of penimiyus [inwardness], and those whose influence is in the realm of makif [surrounding].

Within these distinctions are further divisions: those whose primary effect was in the realm of the revealed Torah, or the esoteric part of the Torah, or in both together; those who taught a path in Divine service and in Chasidus; those whose influence extended into the material realm etc.

There are also those who combined several of the above attributes, or even all of them.

Chabad leaders up until the present time, from the Alter Rebbe to my father-in-law, have included all of the above characteristics and distinctions:

Their influence was both internal and external, in Torah, Divine service and good deeds, in both the spiritual and material realms. Consequently, their connection to those who belonged to them extended to all 613 limbs of the body and soul.

Each and every one of us should know, that is, he should study and fix in his mind, that the Rebbe is the Nasi and the head, it is from him and through him that everything both physical and spiritual flows, and it is through connecting oneself with him ([the Rebbe] has already indicated in his letters how to do this) that one connects and unites oneself with one's source, and the Source of Sources, ever higher and higher.


18 Shvat, 5710 [1950]

...My late revered father-in-law, the [Previous] Rebbe, in one of his letters after the passing of his father [Rabbi Sholom Dovber, known as the Rebbe Rashab], writes as follows concerning tzaddikim [the righteous], who protect the world: Even after their passing, "not only are they not separated from the flock whose shepherd they have been, but they lovingly present themselves before the footstool of the heavenly throne and take up their place before the splendor of the exalted and sublime G-d, in order to protect the people of Yeshurun [Israel]."

All this is also true of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed memory.

We, however, for our part, should hold on and strengthen our bond with him ever more intensely - by studying his discourses, talks and letters, and by thinking deeply upon the directives to be found in them, as well as upon the directives given to various individuals. And then, we will proceed "in a straight path, in one of his paths that he has shown us, and we will walk in his ways forevermore."


Who's Who

Korach

Korach was one of the leaders of the tribe of Levi. He initiated a rebellion against Moses and Aaron, and induced 250 leaders of the tribes to join him. The following day, when the opposing sides offered incense to G-d, the earth suddenly rent apart at the feet of the rebel leaders, and they were swallowed up alive. The other 250 rebels were devoured by a fire that descended from Heaven. This miracle made it abundantly clear that Moses and Aaron were the Divinely appointed leaders.


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

In the end of the summer of 1990, clearly and unmistakably, the Lubavitcher Rebbe announced that "The time for your Redemption has arrived." The Rebbe explained that that this statement was being made through the gift of prophecy and should be disseminated throughout the world. The world was now ready for the Redemption.

What role are we to play? The Rebbe stated this clearly, as well. Our primary task, he said, is to study and teach about Moshiach, to live with the idea of Moshiach, to make essential changes in our way of looking at life, and to publicize the prophecy that Redemption was imminent, and that everyone should be actively preparing to greet Moshiach.

The Rebbe's most recent talks, from 1991 and 1992, consistently communicated the news that the time of the Redemption has arrived and that every individual can and must play an active role in hastening the Redemption. One of the ways this can be done, the Rebbe explained, is by permeating our lives with the awareness of the imminent Redemption.

By attending classes at your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center, by listening to Torah classes over the phone, by studying and reading the Rebbe's published talks and essays (available in many languages), you will connect to the Rebbe and everything he personifies.

As we approach Gimmel Tammuz, the pain has not lessened. But there is no room for despair. For, as each moment passes, we are one moment closer to seeing in a revealed manner that, to quote the Rebbe, "Moshiach is coming," and "he has already come." We are one moment closer to recognizing that "the world is ready for Moshiach" and that "the time of the Redemption has arrived." We are one moment closer to being reunited with the Rebbe, and "he will redeem us."


Thoughts that Count

Korach, the son of Yitzhar, the son of Kehot, the son of Levi, separated himself, with Datan and Aviram, sons of Eliav, and On son of Pelet, the offspring of Reuben (Num 16:1)

A distinguished lineage is meaningful only when it brings a person to feel humbled in the face of his illustrious ancestors. Unfortunately, however, it sometimes has the opposite effect, resulting in baseless pride and arrogance. Korach is a prime example of the latter; too much self-esteem allowed him to rebel against Moses.

(Rabbi Naftali of Ropshitz)


The Torah criticizes Datan and Aviram more than any other participants in Korach's rebellion as they mixed into a controversy that was none of their business. They weren't firstborn sons who might have resented having the priesthood taken away from them, nor were they even from the tribe of Levi. The priesthood was none of their concern.

(Machane Belula)


That the earth open its mouth and swallow them up...and they go down alive into the pit (Num. 16:30)

A person can only avail himself of repentance while he yet lives. Korach and his followers, swallowed up by the earth alive because of their sins, were granted the opportunity to repent and atone for their transgressions.

(Lubavitcher Rebbe)


It Once Happened

As told by Rabbi Laibl Groner of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's secretariat.
Two Lubavitcher yeshiva students were flying back from "Merkos Shlichus"[1] in Central America to New York. As Lubavitchers are wont to do, they asked Jewish male passengers if they wanted to put on tefilin.

A man whom they approached was sitting with his wife and young daughter. "Would you like to put on tefilin?" they inquired. The man shook his head "no." One of the students noted a concerned look on the man's face and asked, "Is there anything we can do to help? You look very worried!"

The father unburdened himself, "This little girl is our daughter. When she was born, she was able to see perfectly. But two years ago her eyesight began to fail and now she is totally blind. We have been to all of the eye specialists in Central America and none of them could help us. We were told of a place in Boston where perhaps they will be able to help. We are on our way there."

"Do you plan on being in New York at all during your visit to the United States?" the Lubavitchers asked.

"No, not really," the man answered.

"There is a very great rabbi, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who is available each Sunday for anyone to approach him and ask for a blessing and receive a dollar for charity..."

Try as they might, the man was not interested in putting New York on his itinerary. "Please give us your daughter's Hebrew name and her mother's name. We will ask the Rebbe for a blessing on her behalf."

The students wrote down the names, as well as the family's home address in Central America. They also exchanged telephone numbers.

When the Lubavitchers arrived in New York they gave the information about the girl, as well as the family's address, to the Rebbe's secretariat.

Two months later, one of the yeshiva students received a surprise phone call from the father. "I have to tell you something! After thorough examinations and reviewing our daughter's files, the doctors in Boston said there is nothing that they can do. We returned home utterly dejected. One day when my wife brought in the mail there was a letter addressed to us with the return address of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. 'It is probably an appeal letter,' I told my wife. 'Just tear it up and throw it out.'

"My wife insisted on opening the letter. It was written in Hebrew and we do not understand Hebrew. But our next-door neighbor is Israeli. We went over to his house and asked him to translate it for us.

"'The Rebbe acknowledges receiving your request for a blessing,' the neighbor began. 'He writes that it will be a good idea if your daughter and your wife both start lighting candles for Shabbat each week.'

"'We're not really interested in these kinds of things,' I told our neighbor.

"'But it is not such a big thing to do,' the neighbor countered. 'You want the Rebbe's blessing! I'll bring you the candles. All they'll have to do is light them and then we will see what happens!'

"The second week, when my daughter uncovered her eyes after lighting the candles, she said, 'I see a flame!'

"'What do you mean you see a flame?' we asked in shock.

"My daughter pointed to the place where the flame was. 'Do you see anything else?' we asked her. 'No,' she answered.

"The following week, my daughter and wife lit the candles for Shabbat again. This time, my daughter called out, 'I see a clock on the wall.' And she told us what time it was!

"After six weeks of lighting Shabbat candles, my daughter had regained her full eyesight!"

A husband and wife who had been married a number of years but had no children had a private audience with the Rebbe. The Rebbe asked the husband, "Were you dating someone else before you married your wife?"

The husband acknowledged that he had dated someone else previously. The Rebbe asked how serious things had become.

"We were actually speaking about getting married but in the end we broke things off."

The Rebbe continued, "Did you ask forgiveness from this young woman?" The husband admitted that he had not asked forgiveness (for any hurt feelings, misunderstandings, etc.)

"Is there a way for you to contact her now to ask forgiveness?"

"Yes, I know her brother and we are in touch," the husband replied.

"Contact her brother. Through him, tell her that I asked that she should give you a note of forgiveness signed by her and another person, or that she should verbally state in front of two people that she forgives you. Tell her that in the merit of this forgiveness, G-d will hasten her finding her husband."

The husband called the young woman's brother and conveyed everything the Rebbe had told him. "Amazing," said the brother, "my sister is actually here right now because she is staying with us for Shabbat!"

After a few minutes the brother came back on the phone. "My sister said that she forgives you, and she said this in front of my wife and me."

A month later, the husband got a call from the young woman's brother. "I just want you to know that my sister has been dating someone and they expect to get engaged in a few weeks." And, as you might have imagined, a few months later the couple was eagerly expecting their first child.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Merkos Shlichus is an outreach program whereby Yeshiva students volunteer each summer to visit remote Jewish communities in order to raise awareness of Torah, mitzva observance and Judaism.


Moshiach Matters

Although a Jew is found in exile, he is above exile. He does not, in essence, belong there and was sent into exile by G-d to fulfill a mission. Therefore, "a person's agent is like the person himself," and "the servant of a king is a king;" i.e., a Jew like G-d stands above the exile and it has no effect on him.

(The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, 5750-1990)


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