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 # 1236
                           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.
        August 31, 2012        Ki Seitzei          13 Elul, 5772

                         Birthday Celebrations

Would you consider turning your yard into a petting zoo complete with a
camel, a draft horse, a bull, ponies, two llamas, a yak, a goat, a
chicken, a turtle and a boa constrictor?

One grandmother in the mid-West did, for the joint first birthday
cele-bration of her two granddaughters. The $1,200 price tag included
entertainment, gifts and decorations.

Or maybe your child would prefer a catered birthday party with a clown,
pony rides, a horse and a fountain spewing applejuice?

These are just two examples of birthday parties that, as one
psychologist notes, "set up lifelong expectations that might be
unrealistic. It is important during birthdays to help a child avoid
valuing materialism over family and friends."

In a drive to reinstate good, old-fashioned values and, at the same
time, keep expenditures down, many parents are opting to get off the
birthday bandwagon while they still can.

Two decades ago, the Lubavitcher Rebbe started an innovative campaign to
make birthdays meaningful for both children and adults.

The Rebbe encouraged people to celebrate their birthdays in the
traditional Jewish manner.

Jewish teachings explain that a birthday is a time when mazalo gover -
the particular spiritual source of a person's soul shines most
powerfully. The Divine energy that was present at the time of your birth
is once more present and dynamic on the anniversary of your birth each

Therefore, your birthday is a perfect time to enhance the quality of
your life in the year to come. Things you can do on your birthday to get
the most out of your soul-power. These include spending time in
self-evaluation, making a positive resolution for the coming year,
giving charity, studying Torah, and organizing a birthday party with
friends and family. At the gathering make sure to share with friends
some of what you learned on your birthday.

After hearing about the Rebbe's suggestions for birthdays, one public
school teacher was so taken with this meaningful way to celebrate that
she incorporated some of these recommendations into her students'
classroom birthday parties. She asked each child to make a positive
resolution and to share with the other students something meaningful and
valuable they had recently learned.

This coming Wednesday (September 5) is the 18th of the month of Elul,
the birthdays of Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov - founder of Chasidism in
general, and Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi - founder of the
Chabad-Lubavitch Chasidic philosophy.

On this day, their spiritual sources shine powerfully. We, today, can
key into the extra measure and quality of Divine energy that is present
on the 18th of Elul.

Consider taking advantage of that energy this year by increasing in
Torah study and mitzvot.

To find out when your birthday falls on the Jewish calendar, visit the
Hebrew/English calendar at or call 718-467-7800 (the
"Tzivos Hashem Superphone").

Celebrate your birthday in a traditional Jewish manner, concentrating
instead on family, friends and spiritual growth.

In the Torah portion of Ki Teitzei we learn: "When you build a new home,
you must place a guard-rail around your roof." The purpose of the
guard-rail, as the Torah itself goes on to say, is to protect people
from falling off an un-enclosed roof.

In a spiritual context, the meaning of this commandment is as follows:

At times, man's body is referred to as his "home." In terms of man's
spiritual service, this alludes to the general service of birurim,
wherein man seeks to purify and elevate his physical body and his
portion in the physical world.

The service of purifying and elevating one's physical body is denoted as
a "new home," for prior to the soul's descent into this world it has no
conception of the physical world and the spiritual service which it

Furthermore, the service of purifying and uplifting this physical world
and transforming it into spirituality is truly something novel and new.
When a Jew serves G-d in this manner the world itself becomes a home and
an abode for G-d.

Understandably, building such important new edifices has a tremendous
impact upon their builder, the person himself. He, too, is refined and
uplifted in a "new" and infinitely greater manner - to a point which is
much higher even than the lofty state of existence the soul enjoyed
prior to its descent within a body.

Through self-nullification the person creates a vessel which allows him
to serve as a receptacle to this new level. For the only way one can
attain a degree of infinite elevation is to totally nullify oneself
before G-d, thereby freeing oneself from the limitations of one's
previous degree and level.

This, then, is the inner meaning of a guard-rail. The protective and
preventative measures that a person undertakes in the course of his
spiritual service are an expression of his self-abnegation and
acceptance of the heavenly Yoke. Thus, they form a "guard-rail" which
ensures his spiritual ascent, and enables him to be a fit vessel - the
"new home."

There is a practical lesson in this for us all: A person should not shut
himself off from the rest of the world; he must build a "home," a
dwelling place, for G-d in this nethermost world. For, it is only
through the descent within this world that the ultimate and truly new
ascent is accomplished both Above as well as below.

On the other hand, one must know that in order to transform the physical
into a vessel for G-dliness the person must make a guard-rail - he must
remain apart from the physical world's grossness and corporeality. While
it is true that he must busy himself with physical things, nevertheless,
in and of themselves, they should remain insignificant to him; he knows
and feels that the only reason he occupies himself with corporeality is
in order to fulfill the Divine intent of transforming this world into a
new home for G-d.

         Adapted from a talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe by Rabbi S.B.
                      Wineberg in From the Wellsprings of Chasidus.

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                         Lots of Happy Campers

The Lubavitch network of day and overnight summer camps was established
in 1956 by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Today, the largest camp network in the
world spans 40 countries. In the former Soviet Union alone there are 40
camps attended by nearly 9,000 children. "Friendship Circle" camps, for
special needs children, are often run in tandem with the local
Chabad-Lubavitch camp or are sometimes a special division in the camp.
We present you with a small sampling of some of the Chabad-Lubavitch
affiliate summer camps world-wide.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                         L'CHAIM SUBSCRIPTIONS

For a one year subscription send $38, payable to LYO ($42 Canada, $52
elsewhere) to L'CHAIM, 1408 President St., Bklyn, NY 11213

                        L'CHAIM ON THE INTERNET

           Current issues and archives:

                          LEARN ABOUT MOSHIACH

             Visit or call (718) 953-6100

                            THE REBBE WRITES
    Continued from last week, from freely translated letter dated -

                 In the days of Selichoth, 5717 (1957)

An objective, unprejudiced survey of the long history of our people will
at once bring to light the fact that it was not material wealth, nor
physical strength, that helped us to survive. Even during the most
prosperous times under the united monarchy of King Solomon, the Jewish
people and state were materially insignificant by comparison with such
contemporary world empires as Egypt, Assyria and Babylonia. That it was
not statehood or homeland - is clear from the fact that most of the
time, by far, our people possessed no independent state and has lived in
the diaspora. That it was not the language, is likewise clear from the
fact that even in Biblical times Aramaic began to supplant the Holy
Tongue as the spoken language; parts of the Scripture and almost all of
our Babylonian Talmud, the Zohar, etc., are written in that language. In
the days of Saadia and Maimonides, Arabic was the spoken language of
most Jews, while, later, Yiddish and other languages. Nor was it any
common secular culture that preserved our people, since that changed
radically from one year to another.

The one and only common factor which has been present with Jews
throughout the ages, in all lands, and under all circumstances, is the
Torah and Mitzvoth [commandments], which Jews have observed tenaciously
in their daily life.

To be sure, there arose occasionally dissident groups that attempted to
break away from true Judaism, such as the idolatry movements during the
first Beth Hamikdosh [Holy Temple], the Hellenists during the second,
Alexandrian assimilationists, Karaites, etc., but they have disappeared.
Considered without prejudice, the Torah and Mitzvoth must be recognized
as the essential thing and essential function of our people, whether for
the individual Jew, or in relation of the Jewish people to humanity as a

Hence the logical conclusion: The policy of imitating the other nations,
far from helping preserve the Jewish people, rather endangers its very
existence, and instead of gaining their favor will only intensify their
antagonism. In like manner, those Jews who court the favor of the
non-religious groups by concession and compromise in matters of Torah
and Mitzvoth, not only undermine their own existence and that of our
people as a whole - for the Torah and Mitzvoth are our very life, but
they defeat even their immediate aim, for such a policy can evoke only
derision and contempt; and justifiably so, for a minor concession today
leads to a major one tomorrow, and an evasion of duty towards G-d leads
to an evasion of duty towards man, and who is to say where this
downsliding is to stop?

At this time, standing as we are on the threshold of the New Year, a
time propitious for earnest introspection and stock-taking, I earnestly
hope that my brethren everywhere, both as individuals and as groups (and
the larger the group, the greater its potentialities and
responsibilities), will recognize the Reality and Truth:

The essential factor of our existence and survival is our adherence to
the Torah and the practice of its precepts in our every-day life. Let no
one delude himself by taking the easier way out, nor be bribed by any
temporary advantages and illusory gains.

The secret of our existence is in our being "a people that dwell alone"
(Num. 23:9), every one of us, man or woman, believing in the One G-d,
leading a life according to the one Torah, which is eternal and
unchangeable. Our 'otherness' and independence of thought and conduct
are not our weakness but our strength. Only in this way can we fulfill
our function imposed on us by the Creator, to be unto G-d a "kingdom of
priests and a holy nation," thereby being also a "segulah" for all

With prayerful wishes for a Kesivo vachasimo toivo, for a good and
pleasant year, 'good' as defined by our Torah, which is truly good, both
materially and spiritually.

With blessing

                               WHO'S WHO
Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg, known as the Maharam (1215-1293), was the
greatest authority in Jewish law of his time. Born in Worms, Germany, to
a distinguished rabbinical family, he headed a yeshiva that produced
Jewish leaders for all the surrounding lands. A spiritual giant, he was
widely consulted on an enormous range of questions whose responsa have
formed the basis of Ashkenazic practice to our day. While at the head of
a large group of Jews attempting to flee German persecution by going to
Israel, he was recognized by an informer. He was imprisoned and held for
a huge ransom. He refused to allow the exorbitant sum to be paid, for
fear that the practice of imprisoning rabbis would be repeated. He died
in prison.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The 18th of Elul (Wednesday, September 5 this year) is the birthday of
Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the general Chasidic
movement. It is also the birthday of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, one
of the foremost disciples of the Baal Shem Tov's successor and the
founder of Chabad-Lubavitch Chasidic philosophy.

One of the main teachings of the Baal Shem Tov was to always remember
G-d and to mention His name constantly. The obligation to remember G-d
constantly and thank Him begins as soon as a Jew wakes up in the
morning. Before he does anything else, he must say "Modeh Ani - I give
thanks before You, Living and Eternal King, for having mercifully
returned my soul to me. Your faithfulness is great."

The lesson of Modeh Ani, that everything we have comes from G-d and we
must constantly thank Him, is connected to another important teaching of
the Baal Shem Tov: G-d did not merely create the world once, thousands
of years ago. He constantly recreates everything anew, every single
moment, and gives it new life.

The purpose of this "continual creation" is to allow us to appreciate
G-d's kindness. G-d "takes the trouble" so to speak, to constantly
recreate each one of us. When a person realizes that G-d is giving him
life and everything he has, every moment, he will want to constantly
thank Him.

The above teachings have a special connection not only to the Baal Shem
Tov but to his birthday on the 18th day of Elul as well. For the Hebrew
word "chai-life" equals 18. Thus, the 18th of Elul, Chai Elul, helps us
add "life" and enthusiasm to our appreciation of and feelings of thanks
for our Creator.

May we merit this very Chai Elul to experience true and eternal life as
G-d intended it to be with the complete revelation of Moshiach and the
commencement of the Redemption.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
When you go forth to war against your enemies...and have taken them
captive (Deut. 21:10)

In the spiritual "war" against the Evil Inclination, it isn't enough to
merely subdue it; it must also be "taken captive" and utilized in our
Divine service. There are many lessons to be derived from the Evil
Inclination, among them alacrity and devotion. In the same way the Evil
Inclination is completely dedicated to fulfilling its mission to cause
us to sin, so too should we show the same commitment and enthusiasm in
serving G-d.

                                                (The Baal Shem Tov)

                                *  *  *

And the firstborn son is hers who was hated (Deut. 21:15)

The "firstborn son" is an allusion to Moshiach and his ultimate
sovereignty in the Messianic era, as it states in Psalms, "I have found
David My servant...also I will make him my firstborn," while "hers who
was hated" refers to Leah, the mother of Judah, from whom Moshiach is
descended: "When G-d saw that Leah was hated, He opened her womb."

                                                      (Ohr HaTorah)

                                *  *  *

But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated as the firstborn, by
giving him a double portion (Deut. 21:17)

The "son of the beloved" is symbolic of the first Tablets of the Ten
Commandments, which G-d gave to Moses before the Jewish people sinned
with the Golden Calf. The "son of the hated" refers to the second set of
Tablets, which were given after the Jews repented and became baalei
teshuva. The first set of Tablets contained only the Ten Commandments,
but the second set contained a "double portion" - not only the Ten
Commandments, but all of the minutiae of halacha (Jewish law), Midrash
and Aggada.

                                                      (Ohr HaTorah)

                                *  *  *

You shall not watch your brother's ox or his sheep go astray... you
shall surely help him to lift them up again (Deut. 22:1-4)

When a person helps his neighbor and returns something the other has
lost (either physical or spiritual) the benefit is mutual, as our Sages
stated: "The advantage extended to the benefactor by the poor man is
greater than the advantage extended to the poor man by the benefactor.

                                                       (Sefat Emet)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
When the tailor died at a ripe old age, his passing didn't attract any
special attention. Yet his funeral was most unusual for an ordinary
tailor, for the Chief Rabbi of Lemberg himself led the funeral
procession all the way to the cemetery. And of course, as the Chief
Rabbi led the procession all the Jews of the town joined in giving the
final honors to the deceased. The result was a funeral the likes of
which is normally reserved for great rabbis or extremely righteous

The Jews of Lemberg had no doubt that the tailor had been a person of
extraordinary merit, and they waited anxiously to hear what a wonderful
eulogy the Chief Rabbi would give at the funeral.They were not
disappointed when the rabbi told them the following tale:

Many years before, the rabbi had spent Shabbat at a village inn. The
innkeeper related a story about a Jewish jester who lived in the mansion
of the local poretz, the landowner of all the surrounding area. This
jester had once been a simple, but G-d-fearing Jew, who by profession
was a tailor. On a number of occasions he had done work for the poretz,
and as he was an entertaining man with a beautiful singing voice, and
very funny, the poretz and his family became very fond of his company.
They finally asked him to join their household in the capacity of a
jester, which was common in those days. He accepted, and slowly began to
neglect his Jewish observance, until he no longer conducted himself as a
Jew at all. The innkeeper felt very sorry for this Jew, and both he and
the rabbi expressed their deep wishes for his return to the fold.

That Friday afternoon, just before Shabbat a man came galloping up to
the inn and requested to spend the Shabbat there. To their surprise the
horseman was none other than the Jewish jester, who explained that he
had come in order to gather material for his jokes and spoofs.

The innkeeper was afraid to refuse, and so agreed to have the jester as
a guest. At the Shabbat table the rabbi spoke about the Torah portion
and described how both Terach, Abraham's idol-worshipping father, and
Ishmael, Abraham's unruly son, repented and were forgiven by G-d.

"Words that come from the heart penetrate the heart," is the saying, and
the words of the rabbi affected the Jewish jester, who became more and
more thoughtful as Shabbat progressed. By Saturday night the jester so
deeply regretted his life, that he approached the rabbi, and asked how
he could do penance. The rabbi told him to leave his position with the
poretz and withdraw for a time into a life of prayer, meditation and
fasting. He should maintain this regimen until such time when he would
receive a sign from heaven that his repentance was accepted.

The jester accepted this advice wholeheartedly. He went to Lemberg where
he entered a large synagogue and made an arrangement with the caretaker.
According to their deal he would be locked in a small room where he
would spend the entire day in prayer. At night before locking up, the
caretaker would release him so that he might eat a little and stretch
out for the night on a bench. Only on Friday night in honor of the
Shabbat would he leave the synagogue to spend the day more comfortably.

This routine continued for many weeks until one Friday night the
caretaker forgot to release him. The heartbroken tailor was now sure
that G-d had forsaken him, and he wept bitterly. Hungry and tired, he
fell into a deep sleep and dreamt. In the dream an old man appeared to
him, and told him, "I am Elijah the Prophet, and I came to tell you that
your teshuva has been accepted. Fast no longer. Every night I will come
and teach you Torah, Torah such as only the righteous merit to learn."

The tailor opened a small shop and made a modest living. Late one night
the Chief Rabbi passed his home and saw a bright light coming from the
window. But when he entered, he saw only the tailor working by the light
of a small candle. This happened two more times, and each time the rabbi
found only a small candle illuminating the tailor's room.

The third time the rabbi pressed the tailor for an explanation, and was
told all that had transpired since they had met at the village inn. The
tailor also related that the prophet had told him that no inhabitant of
the village would die as long as he lived.

The following day the rabbi instructed the local burial society to
inform him every time there was a death in the city. True to the
prophesy, each time there was a death, the deceased was not a resident,
but someone who happened to be passing through. The rabbi concluded his
strange tale, admonishing the townspeople that the power of repentance
is unlimited, and no matter what, G-d is always waiting for His children
to return.

                     Adapted from the Storyteller, by Nissen Mindel

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
In these times, when the approaching footsteps of Moshiach are close
upon us, the principal service of G-d is the service of charity. As our
Sages, of blessed memory, said: "Israel will be redeemed only through
charity."...there is no way of truly cleaving unto it [G-d's Divine
Presence] and transforming the darkness of the world into its light,
except through a corresponding category of action, and not through
intellect and speech alone, as in Torah study, namely, the act of

                               (Iggeret HaKodesh, end of Epistle 9)

              END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1236 - Ki Seitzei 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