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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1228
                           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.
        July 6, 2012             Balak            16 Tamuz, 5772

                            Don't Put It Off

A goal-oriented person, especially when lecturing a procrastinator,
quotes the golden rule, "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do

A procrastinator, however, will cite the principle, "Don't do today what
you can put off until tomorrow. For tomorrow you might not need to do it

Although neither of these cliches is a perfect fit for the Jewish
experience of this coming Shabbat and Sunday, if we had to choose one
over the other to describe the 17th of Tammuz this year, we'd side with
the procrastinator.

For, even though 17 Tammuz is traditionally a fast day and a day of
mourning, this year it will be a day of joy and pleasure. How can this
be? The 17 Tammuz this year occurs on Shabbat, and thus, the fasting and
mourning are pushed off until Sunday.

The 17 Tammuz is the date nearly 2,000 years ago when the wall
surrounding the holy city of Jerusalem was breached by the Roman army.
This initial cracking and breaching of the wall allowed for the eventual
destruction of the Holy Temple which took place three weeks later, on
the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av.

A discussion about what to do when the 9th of Av falls on Shabbat is
recorded in the Talmud. The esteemed Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi ("the prince")
opines that being that the fast is postponed until Sunday (for Shabbat
is a day of pleasure and enjoyment, and we must not mourn or afflict
ourselves on Shabbat), it should be altogether cancelled.

Although the ruling was ultimately decided according to a differing
opinion, the concept of "If it's being put off until tomorrow, don't do
it altogether" does have validity.

For certainly, when we consider that the sad three-week period
inaugurated by the 17 Tammuz (and concluded on the 9 Av) is actually a
preparatory stage for - and thus part of - the ultimate Redemption,
there is the real hope that the Redemption will come before the
postponed fast can be observed.

Jewish mysticism explains that although outwardly, the fasts associated
with the destruction of the Holy Temple and the subsequent exile of the
Jewish people from our land seems to be entirely negative, in fact, the
essence of these fasts is positive, since they are entirely connected to
the Redemption. For the whole purpose of the destruction of the Holy
Temple and our people's exile is solely to reach the pinnacle of
existence which will take place in the Era of Moshiach.

The 17 Tammuz is the beginning of this ultimate era. It is when the
cracks and crevices were first created in the wall.

Quoting a verse in Song of Songs, "Behold, he stands behind our wall, he
looks in at the windows; he peers through the crevices," the Rebbe
brings the opinion that this verse refers to Moshiach: "Moshiach is
standing on the other side of a wall that is already cracked and
crumbling... Moshiach is watching and waiting in anticipation: When are
we finally going to finish off our sundry outstanding task, and complete
the final sorting out that needs to be done to refine and elevate the
world? If we do not see him, it is because it is our wall that is
standing in the way."

Celebrate Shabbat this week, for in general, Shabbat is a taste of the
World to Come. And particularly this Shabbat of the 17 Tammuz, which is
essentially and intrinsically connected to the Redemption. And as we
celebrate and delight in Shabbat, let's contemplate which spiritually
refining and elevating tasks we need to do (that should not be pushed
off to tomorrow!) so that our wall no longer obstructs Moshiach's
presence but reveals him entirely.

This week we read the Torah portion of Balak. In the portion, it is
related that when King Balak asked Bilaam to curse the Jewish people,
Bilaam responded by uttering several prophecies. The first one
established that it was impossible to curse the Jews, as they are
especially beloved by G-d. "How shall I curse whom G-d has not cursed?
And how shall I execrate whom the L-rd has not execrated?" he said.
Bilaam's second prophecy went even further: Not only is it impossible to
curse the Jewish people, but they deserve special blessing because of
their good deeds: "Behold, I have received [the word] to bless; and when
He has blessed, I cannot call it back."

Bilaam then cites one of the special qualities of the Jews: "Behold, it
is a people that shall rise up as a lioness, and as a lion shall it
raise itself." As Rashi explains, this means that "when [the Jews]
awaken from their sleep in the morning, they show the strength of a lion
to seize the commandments - to put on tzitzit (fringes), to recite the
Shema, and to don tefilin."

According to Rashi, whose explanation is based on a Midrash, the main
reason G-d loves the Jews so much is their willingness to "seize the
commandments." Not satisfied to merely observe mitzvot (commandments) in
a routine manner, they "seize" and "grab" them as an expression of their

Reaching out to grab something is an indication of how much a person
wants to possess a particular object. If he is not that interested in
the object, he will not stick out his hand or rush to take it.

In fact, the Jewish people love G-d's mitzvot so much that immediately
upon arising, they "attack" them with the forcefulness of a lion. As
soon as they regain consciousness they "put on tzitzit, recite the
Shema, don tefilin, etc."

On a deeper level, the act of "seizing" indicates an action that
transcends logic. In the service of G-d, this is the level of mesirut
nefesh, self-sacrifice, the "illogical" willingness of the Jew to give
up his life for the sake of G-d. When we say that a Jew "seizes" the
commandments, it means that he observes mitzvot with a sense of mesirut

This brings to mind a statement of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef
Yitzchak Schneersohn, who encouraged his Chasidim to actively
demonstrate self-sacrifice in the face of Communist oppression: "Jews,
you must grab mesirut nefesh now. Grab it! Because the time for mesirut
nefesh is about to end. The day is coming very soon when there will be
complete religious freedom; you will look for mesirut nefesh but will
not find any."

Indeed, in the merit of the Jewish people's self-sacrifice throughout
the generations, we will very soon merit the fulfillment of the rest of
Bilaam's prophecy - "a scepter shall arise out of Israel" - the coming
of Moshiach, speedily.

                               Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Vol. 33

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                    Today I Fall, Tomorrow I Get Up
                         by Rabbi Uriel Vigler

Belev Echad  hosted 10 severely wounded female Israeli soldiers and
victims of terror. Chani Avramov, shared her story:

"I served in the Border Guard, in a unit that works to capture
terrorists attempting to enter Israel. On the day of the attack, several
members of my unit were preparing to drive to Tulkarem, to go about
regular army activities.

"We piled into an army jeep and drove off. I was sitting at the very
back of the vehicle, and I noticed a car driving behind us. I didn't
give it much thought, but when I turned around I saw four rifles
sticking out of the car, pointed at me.

"I froze. Almost before I had time to react, a burst of gunfire began. I
was severely injured. One bullet lodged in my leg, and as I screamed a
second bullet landed in my jaw. Part of my jaw fell onto the ground as
well as part of my tongue.

"Trying to escape as fast as he could, the driver sped up, and I fell
out of the jeep onto the ground. It was a miracle that the terrorists
did not come back to make sure I was dead. I remember no more from that

"I found out afterwards that it took three attempts to resuscitate me.
When I reached the hospital, the doctors predicted I would not survive
the night. In fact, they were so sure I was going to die, that my family
was initially told I was already dead. But I pulled through. My body did
not let me down and I survived seven hours of surgery.

"My physical recovery started that day, and more than ten years and 15
surgeries later I still have a long list of operations that I need.

"My mental recovery was even more challenging. Those two bullets stole
my two biggest loves: singing and dancing. The first bullet stole my
voice; the second changed me from a promising young dancer to someone
who walks with difficulty."

I looked around as Chani spoke at our dinner honoring these heroes. I
have never seen 500 people listen to a speaker so silently. Chani's
story had touched each and every person present. And then she shared
something even more personal.

"I had never seen my father cry. Until I was injured. I remember lying
in the ICU, falling in and out of consciousness, and I saw my father
holding my hand and crying. This was something I had never seen before,
and even in my semi-conscious state, unable to speak, I motioned for a
pen and paper and wrote, 'Father, don't cry. Today I am falling,
tomorrow I will get up.'"

A chill went down my spine when she uttered these words. What powerful
words from such a courageous young woman. It's unfathomable. Still in
the ICU, condition unstable, Chani was already giving hope and strength
to those around her.

The truth of her words still resonates, "Today I am falling, tomorrow I
will get up." On a personal level, Chani has indeed managed to "get up",
to heal, to carve out a new life for herself. And on a communal level,
her words speak the fate of our nation. For millennia we have faced
persecution, torture and suffering. But time and again we pull through,
strong in our faith and our community. We have suffered so much in this
current exile - more than 2000 years - but we know the time will come
when we will get up. We will be redeemed.

Tzippy Bloomberg also bravely shared her story. "I was just a teenager -
only 14 years old - living with my family in Karnei Shomrom. On the day
that would forever alter the course of my life, May 8th, 2001, I was in
the car together with my family and another passenger. We were heading
home, happy and calm, when traffic began to slow. My family and I were
in one of several cars stuck behind a very slow-moving vehicle.

"The car slowing us all down had Palestinian license plates. The car
directly in front of us tried to overtake the car. Suddenly, a spray of
gunfire erupted from the Palestinian car. Bullets flew in every
direction. The family in the first car managed to escape unscathed, but
our car was hit.

"My mother, in her fourth month of pregnancy, was killed instantly. My
father was critically injured and remains paralyzed and confined to a
wheelchair . I was severely injured with gunshots to my spine and

"I was hospitalized for nine months and underwent three long and
difficult operations. More than ten years later, I still attend daily
physiotherapy. Nevertheless, I remain paralyzed; a constant reminder of
the traumatic day which ripped my family and my childhood apart."

Tzippy said that the hardest part of her ordeal was not the physical
pain. It wasn't the countless surgeries or finding out she would never
walk again. Tzippy continues to suffer severe pain to her entire body.
She has a device which she can switch on to provide some relief, but it
is unreliable. During the trip it worked, which was why she was able to
smile throughout the visit.

But even that was not the hardest part. No. Tzippy confided that the
most difficult part for her, lying in the hospital bed, was having no
one to hug her. Nobody to hold her hand and reassure her. Her mother was
killed in the attack, and her father was in his own hospital bed,
dealing with his own pain and paralysis. Her very aloneness in the
hospital brought her to tears, day after day.

But now, said Tzippy, she no longer feels so alone. She is happy despite
her pain. Happy to be alive, and happy to be in New York. In fact, I
kept on noticing Tzippy's brilliant smile. How can someone in so much
pain keep smiling?

When Tzippy finished talking, I was left with one thought: I need to
learn from Tzippy. If she can find a way to be happy despite her
tremendous ordeal, surely we can too. Let's give it a try!

    Belev Echad, sponsored and run by Chabad Israel Center of the Upper
    East Side (NY) aims to create golden memories for severely wounded
    IDF soldiers and victims of terror, flying them to NY for ten
    trouble-free, worry-free days. In addition, Belev Echad unites the
    Upper East Side Jewish community together with our beloved soldiers,
    educating us regarding daily life on the forefront of our battles.
    For more info visit

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             New Emissaries

Rabbi Yehuda and Batsheva Glick will be moving to Germantown, Maryland,
to direct the activities of Chabad there. Rabbi Leibel and Mussie
Kesselman moved to Greenville, South Carolina, to serve the Jews of
Greenville and the Upstate. Rabbi Reuven and Mushka Ouanounou moved to
the Magnan neighborhood in Nice, France, to serve the Jewish population
there. Rabbi Shlomo and Mushka Zalmanov are moving to Budapest. Hungary,
to teach in the local Jewish educational institutions. Rabbi Berel and
Goldie Paltiel are moving to Edmonds, Washington, to direct Chabad of
Snohomish County. Rabbi Boruch Sholom and Mushkie Wolf moved to New Hyde
Park, New York, to serve the North Shore-Long Island Jewish medical
centers in the area.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
         Freely translated from a letter of the Rebbe addressed
         to "all campers in summer camps, everywhere," written
                three months before the Yom Kippur War.

                              Tammuz 5733

I hope and pray that you are making the fullest use of the present
summer days to gain new strength and strengthen your health - both the
health of the body and the health of the soul, which are closely linked
together. And since the health of the soul is bound up with the Torah,
which is "our very life and the length of our days," and with its
mitzvos (commandments), "by which the Jew lives," you are surely doing
your utmost in regard to Torah study and the observance of the mitzvot;
in which case you may be certain for the fulfillment of the promise -
"Try hard, and you will succeed."

I wish to emphasize one point in particular, in connection with the
forthcoming "Three Weeks." You are, no doubt, familiar with the events
and significance of these days. The point is this:

I want you to consider carefully the special merit which Jewish children
have, a privilege which affects our entire Jewish people, to which King
David refers in the following words: "Out of the mouths of babes and
infants You have ordained strength - still the enemy and
avenger" - including also the enemy that has caused the "Three Weeks"
and still seeks vengeance to this day. In other words, the way to
vanquish and silence the enemy is through the study of the Torah, called
"strength" (oz), by the mouths of young children. Indeed, so great is
their power, that our Sages of blessed memory declare: "The whole world
exists only by virtue of the breath of little Jewish children, whose
breath is pure and free of sin," referring to children who have not yet
reached the age of responsibility for wrongdoing, that is, boys and
girls of pre-Bar/Bat Mitzva age.

In this connection it is necessary to bear in mind the words of our
Prophet Isaiah (in the first chapter): "Zion will be redeemed through
justice (mishpat) and her returnees through righteousness (tzedaka)."
"Mishpat," here, means that through the study of the Torah and the
observance of its mitzvos, especially the mitzva of tzedaka, the
Redemption is brought closer. And tzedaka - in the light of what has
been said in the beginning of this letter - includes both tzedaka for
the body and tzedaka for the soul. Tzedaka for the body is, simply,
giving tzedaka to a poor man, or putting money in a tzedaka box. Tzedaka
for the soul is done by helping one's classmates and friends spiritually
- that is, to encourage them in matters of Torah and mitzvos, through
showing them a living example of how Jewish boys and girls should
conduct themselves, and also by talking to them about these things.

Since it is my strong wish, and also great pleasure, to be your partner
in this tzedaka activity, I have sent out instructions to give each and
every one of you a token amount of money in the currency of your
country, which is to be my participation in the said tzedaka campaign.

May G-d bless each and every one of you and grant you success in all the
above, especially in your Torah learning and practice of tzedaka, in a
steadily growing measure, so that even when you return home from camp
and throughout the next school-year (may it be a good one for all of us)
you will - with renewed vigor and in good health, in body as well as in
soul - go from strength to strength in your study of Torah with
diligence and devotion, and that your studies be translated into deeds -
in the practice of mitzvos with beauty; and all this should be carried
out with joy and gladness of heart.

And may we all very soon, together with all our Jewish brethren, merit
the fulfillment of the prophecy that these days of the Three Weeks be
transformed from sadness into gladness and joy.

With the true and complete Redemption through our righteous Moshiach,
"who will reign from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the
earth...and all the earth will be filled with G-d's Glory."

                               WHO'S WHO
RABBI YOCHANAN BEN ZAKKAI lived at the time of the destruction of the
Second Temple. Before the actual fall of Jerusalem he hid himself in a
coffin and was smuggled out of the city. He made and was granted three
requests of the Roman commander Vespasian: the city of Yavneh to
establish a yeshiva; the life of the Davidic heir to the monarchy; a
physician to cure Rabbi Tzadok who had fasted 40 years to save Jerusalem
from destruction. The establishment of Yavneh as a Torah center set the
stage for the spiritual rebirth of the Jewish people despite the
destruction of its physical base.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This Shabbat is the 17th of Tammuz and the fast usually commemorated on
this date is postponed until Sunday. The Rebbe explained that there are
two ways of explaining the fact that the fast is put off:

a. It is forbidden to fast on Shabbat, because no element of sadness
should be associated with this day. In particular, this applies in
regard to those fasts that commemorate national calamities.

b. The postponement serves as a foretaste of the revelation of the true
nature of the date of the fast that will surface in the Era of the
Redemption when, as Maimonides writes, "all the fasts will be
nullified... and will be transformed into festivals and days of joy and

On an overt level, a fast day is obviously undesirable. The suffering
endured on a fast is surely not pleasurable, nor appreciated.
Never-theless, the inner dimension of a fast is good, as the prophet
states, "It is a day of will to G-d."

This contrast is openly expressed in regard to the 17th of Tammuz. On an
obvious level it is associated with negative factors, the breaching of
the walls of Jerusalem, which led to the destruction of the Holy Temple.
Nevertheless, its inner, essential quality is good. This is even alluded
to in the date itself, for 17 is numerically equivalent to the word
"tov." This points to the intent of the exile, that it should lead the
Jews to the Era of the Redemption.

The connection to the Redemption also relates to Shabbat which is a
foretaste of "the era which is all Shabbat and rest for eternity."
Moreover, the mitzva of delighting in the Shabbat by partaking of
material delicacies is also paralleled by "the feast that G-d will make
for the righteous in that future era." That feast will be an actual
physical meal. For, as Chasidut explains, the ultimate reward of the
Messianic Era will be experienced in this material world, as the souls
are enclothed within the body.

May this take place immediately!

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
He has not beheld any wrong in Jacob; the L-rd his G-d is with him (Num.

Even the "animal soul" of the Jew is ultimately transformed into good,
by virtue of the fact that every Jew possesses a Jewish soul - "a
veritable part of G-d Above" - giving him the power to effect this

                                                    (Sichot Kodesh)

                                *  *  *

He couches down, he lies down as a lion (Num. 24:9)

Even when the Jew is "asleep" in exile he is considered "as a lion," for
his heart is always "awake" to G-d, to Torah and to mitzvot

                                                      (Ohr HaTorah)

                                *  *  *

And now come, I pray you, and curse me this people (Num. 22:4)

It is interesting to note the language Balak used when he asked Bilaam
to curse the Jewish people: "Curse me" he said, words which can also be
interpreted to mean that he himself should be cursed, which is exactly
what eventually happened. One must always think before speaking and pay
attention to the words we use.

                                                  (Shaloh Hakadosh)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Our Sages said that whoever has not seen the Second Holy Temple has
never seen a beautiful building. The fabulous restoration and
enlargement of the Holy Temple was undertaken by King Herod as an act of
atonement for his murderous savagery. Herod was an Edomite slave owned
by the Hasmonian royal family. With the complicity of the Roman rulers
he seized the throne and proceeded to completely wipe out all the
remaining descendants of the Hasmonian dynasty, eventually even his own
queen, Mariamne. He ruled, unchallenged for 33 years, and was a cruel
and savage despot who bitterly oppressed his Jewish subjects.

The Torah Sages were the particular victims of his hatred, and he had
most of the Sages murdered. Only Bava ben Buta was allowed to live,
albeit blinded, in order that the king might avail himself of the
rabbi's wisdom. How then can we understand why this cruel butcher took
it upon himself to engage in the holy work of beautifying the Holy

According to the Sages, Bava ben Buta was responsible for giving the
king this advice. One day Herod went to visit Bava ben Buta. The king
disguised his voice and his identity went undetected by the rabbi, who
took him to be an ordinary visitor. The king initiated the conversation
with Ben Buta saying, "It seems to me that Herod is nothing more than a
wicked slave! Just look at all the evil he has done!"

Ben Buta replied only, "What can I do about it?"

The king answered, "Why don't you curse him, then?"

"Does it not say in the Torah, 'Thou shalt not curse a king?'" Ben Buta
replied. He then continued explaining, "Even if he were not the king,
but merely a prince, it would be forbidden to curse him, for it also
says, 'A prince in your nation, you must not curse.' And even if he were
merely a wealthy man, it would not be permissible, since it is written,
'Do not curse the rich man, even in the privacy of your bedroom.' "

But Herod replied, "This refers to a prince who acts like one of you,
like a Jew. But Herod does not even stem from the Jewish nation and
certainly does not act like a Jew!"

To this Ben Buta replied, "But I am very much afraid of him."

Herod answered, "There are only the two of us here. There is no one to
report to him what we are saying." But Ben Buta replied by quoting a
verse from Ecclesiastes, "Even the birds of the sky will carry the

When he heard this reply, the king became angry, and blurted out "I am
Herod! Had I known how careful the Torah Sages were in their speech and
actions, as I have now seen, I would not have had them killed. But now
that the deed has been done, what can I do to atone for it?"

Bava ben Buta answered him, "When you killed the Torah Sages, you
extinguished the light of the world, as it says, 'For a mitzva
(commandment) is like a candle and the Torah is light.' Go now, and
occupy yourself with the light of the world. Go, rebuild the Holy Temple
anew in greater majesty and splendor, for it, too, illuminates the
world, as it says, 'And all the gentiles shall stream to it.'"

In return for this act of piety, Herod would be able to attain some
degree of atonement for his sins. When Herod heard this advice, he
wanted to follow it, but was afraid of the reaction of the Roman Empire.

To this, Ben Buta answered, "Send a special messenger to Rome asking for
permission. This messenger will travel for a year's time, will stay in
Rome for another year, and will return only after a third year. In this
time you can demolish the old building and rebuild it."

Herod accepted this suggestion, and proceeded with the project.
Addressing his subjects, Herod promised to rebuild the Temple according
to its original splendor which had been prevented before because of the
domination of foreign kings. The people, however, were not happy with
Herod's proposal. On the contrary, they were frightened, fearing that
Herod would demolish the existing structure and then never rebuild.
Herod reassured them, promising that he would gather all the necessary
building supplies before pulling down the existing Temple. True to his
words, he collected a thousand wagons for transporting materials and
recruited ten thousand skilled carpenters and craftsmen. Ninety thousand
woodcutters and 30,000 stonecutters were employed. Fifteen hundred
priests and Levites took part in the construction. In all, 181,500 men
were employed in the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. [Josephus] All
expenses were covered from the king's personal fortune. As Herod had
promised, all preparations were firmly in place before he began the

It happened as Ben Buta had said. After three years the messenger
returned with this reply, "If you have not demolished the old building
yet, do not do so. If you have already demolished it, do not rebuild it.
If, however, you have already done it, you are no better than any other
willful slave who first does what he wants and then asks permission. You
may flaunt your power, but we know what you are! You are neither a king
nor the son of a king, but a lowly slave who freed himself!" But, by the
time the reply was received, the work was under way and could not be

Construction continued for eight years. The newly rebuilt Holy Temple
was completed in the year 3738 (22 b.c.e.) and stood for 90 years, until
the ninth of Av, 3828 (68 c.e.).

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
And the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the
sea, which shall neither be measured nor counted; and it shall come to
pass that, instead of saying to them, "You are not My people," it shall
be said to them, "The children of the living G-d... And I will betroth
you to Me forever, and I will betroth you to Me with righteousness and
with justice and with loving-kindness and with mercy. And I will betroth
you to Me with faith, and you shall know the Lord.

                                                 (Hosea 2:1, 21-22)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1228 - Balak 5772

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