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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1238
                           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.
        September 14, 2012      Nitzavim           27 Elul, 5772

                     Two Heads Are Better Than One

As we approach Rosh Hashana, the "head" of the year, we are reminded of
the adage "two heads are better than one." We're not referring to the
fact that the Jewish New Year is celebrated for two days. Rather, as
this is the season when Jews customarily greet each other with good
wishes for the coming year, two heads - people - extending blessings are
surely better than one.

"Have a good, sweet year," "Shana Tova," "May you be blessed with a
healthy, happy year." These sentiments are offered when we bump into an
acquaintance, call a relative or send New Year's cards. Judaism
encourages us to keep those blessings coming not only before, during and
immediately after Rosh Hashana, but throughout the entire year, as well.

How important the concept is of blessing others can be learned from the
beginning of the Torah. The first letter of the first word of the Torah
is the Hebrew letter "beit." Would it not have been more appropriate,
one might ask, for the Torah to begin with the first letter of the
Hebrew alphabet, "alef"? However, to emphasize the importance of the
concept of blessing, the Torah begins with the letter "beit," the first
letter of the word "bracha," or blessing.

Just as the Torah begins with the letter beit, signifying blessing, so
too, should a Jew - a living Torah - "begin with a blessing." Simply
stated this means that we should try to begin or at least incorporate
into our conversations and correspondence good wishes and blessings to

The Chasidic masters used to say, "When two Jews meet, their meeting
should provide a benefit for a third Jew." As stated before, "two heads
are better than one!" It can and should be part of our routine, in these
days before Rosh Hashana and throughout the year, that when we encounter
a friend or acquaintance, we figure out how our meeting can assist a
third person. Perhaps you know someone who needs a job and I know of a
job opening. Maybe I have a friend who is not feeling well and to my,
"May so-and-so have a speedy recovery," you can answer a hearty "Amen."
Or you just might know a nice (single) Jewish man and you can ask me if
I possibly know Ms. Right.

Let no one underestimate his or her ability to so profoundly help
another person while expending so little effort. For, as we approach the
New Year for the world and the anniversary of the creation of humankind
on Rosh Hashana, we are reminded that each person is obligated to say,
"The world was created for me." Far from being a call to selfishness and
egotism, the obligation to view the world as being created "for me,"
sensitizes us to the far-reaching affects that our conduct can have and
that our deeds will affect the entire world.

May we all be blessed materially and spiritually, and may we usher in
the ultimate Redemption, NOW!

The Torah portion of Nitzavim is always read on the Shabbat before Rosh

It begins: "You are standing this day, all of you, before the L-rd your
G-d, your heads, your tribes, your elders... all the men of Israel, your
children and your wives ... that you should enter into the covenant of
the L-rd your G-d."

With these words, Moses brought the Jewish people into a state of
collective and mutual surety. Indeed, our Sages declared, "All Jews are
guarantors for one another."

Let us examine the concept of surety more closely.

What exactly is a guarantor, and who is eligible to act as one?
According to logic, only a person who is superior to another in a
certain respect can provide a guarantee. Consider the example of the
poor man who has requested a loan. The lender cannot rely on the poor
man's ability to pay him back, so he asks for a wealthy guarantor as
collateral. This way, the lender is assured that he will be repaid.

Conversely, it would be illogical to expect a poor man to act as
guarantor for a rich man's loan. This would not make sense, as the poor
man has less money to begin with.

What, then, are we to make of the fact that "All Jews are guarantors for
one another"? How is it possible that even the lowliest individual can
act as guarantor for the greatest?

Commenting on the verse "You are standing this day, all of you," Rabbi
Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidut, explained that Jews comprise
a single entity. Metaphorically speaking, the Jewish people form one
body, with each individual Jew being an integral part of the whole.

A physical body is composed of many organs and limbs, each one of which
serves its own unique function. That the head is superior to the foot is
obvious, but without the foot, the body is incomplete. A defect in the
foot affects the entire person; the head suffers if any of the body's
limbs are flawed. In order to exist as a healthy entity, the body
requires all of its organs to be in prime condition and to work in

So too is it in regard to the Jewish people. There are many different
types and categories of Jews. Some are on the level of "head," while
others may be said to be the "feet." Nonetheless, each and every Jew is
of inestimable value, an essential part of the Jewish people without
whom the "body" of Jews would be incomplete. For this reason, all Jews
are "guarantors for one another," as each individual possesses unique
qualities which are necessary for the health and integrity of the whole.

True unity is only possible when all Jews stand together as one. Not
only does this require the participation of our "heads," "tribes" and
"elders," but the "hewers of our wood" and "drawers of our water" are no
less important.

                              Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Volume 4

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                            The Shofar's Cry
                            by Yehudis Cohen

Imagine... You are sitting in a large amphitheater in Smolensk, Russia,
on Rosh Hashana, a hall that used to be a popular location for Red Party
lectures during the Communist regime. The young rabbi raises the ancient
instrument to his lips. Triumph! The shofar's strong but primitive notes
remind everyone that no forces in the world can destroy the indomitable
spirit of the Jewish people.

"It was just a few months after I moved to Smolensk," recalls Rabbi Levi
Mondshine, the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS
representative, an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and today the
Chief Rabbi of Smolensk. "We were preparing for the first official Rosh
Hashana services in over 75 years!

"There were so many details to take care of, from renting a venue that
would fit all of the people we were expecting down to finding the
traditional Rosh Hashana foods that were out-of-season. My wife Chana
and I spent days contacting hundreds of Jewish families, most of whom
didn't know anything about the High Holidays, to invite them to
celebrate with us. Yuri was one of the people we called. He told me that
he and his friends have their own Jewish New Year celebration. 'Rabbi,
I'll come join you at the services and afterwards you can celebrate with
me and my friends!' he offered.

The first day of Rosh Hashana arrived. The hall was hushed, the air
thick with anticipation. Rabbi Mondshine lifted the shofar to his lips.
As the first notes broke the heavy silence, sobs mingled with the
shofar's cry. Seven decades of longing to hear the shofar's declaration
of freedom and fortitude had finally been realized.

The shofar's cry of return pierced the hearts of everyone in the hall;
the tears that cascaded down the cheeks of young and old healed the
broken hearts and emboldened the broken spirits.

Much later that afternoon, Rabbi Mondshine showed up at Yuri's and his
friends' "celebration." There was disco music, an open bar, and
fireworks! Yuri called for silence and Rabbi Mondshine began to speak:

"The sound of the shofar is a wake-up call to us to return to our Jewish
roots. It is also a declaration of our freedom and proof of the eternal
nature of the Jewish people." And then, Rabbi Mondshine lifted the
shofar to his lips and blew it.

Amazingly, at that Jewish New Year party, just like at the services
earlier in the day, the same scene repeated itself! Sobs mingled with
the shofar's cry... tears cascaded down cheeks... broken hearts healed
and broken spirits strengthened.

That year, hundreds of Jews in Smolensk heard the blowing of the shofar.
And they heard the message of Jewish survival and pride that the shofar

Today, hundreds of thousands of Jews in Smolensk, Russia... Yerevan,
Armenia... Minsk, Belarus... Tbilisi, Georgia... Almaty, Kazakhstan...
Bishkek, Krygyzstan... Kishinev, Moldava... Kiev, Ukraine... Samarkand,
Uzbekistan... Talinn, Estonia... Riga, Latvia... Vilnius, Lithuania...
and 442 other cities throughout the FSU hear the blowing of the shofar
each year on Rosh Hashana. They hear the shofar's message of Jewish
survival and pride. And they marvel at the rejuvenation of Jewish life
that the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS and its
representatives is bringing about in the former Soviet Union.

Andrei is one of the people Rabbi Mondshine had personally called to
come to services that first year in Smolensk. But Andrei didn't show up
at the synagogue - not for the services or for the meal or for the
special shofar blowing ceremony.

"As we were walking home at the end of the day, Andrei drove by,"
recalls Rabbi Mondshine. "When he saw us, he pulled over. He wished us a
'Happy New Year.' I offered to blow the shofar for him. He looked around
a bit nervously but agreed and got out of his car. As I blew the shofar,
I heard Andrei choking back tears. When I finished he thanked me

"Three weeks later Andrei came to celebrate Simchat Torah with us. Since
then, each year on Rosh Hashana, Andrei comes to services and brings his
elderly grandfather with him. He thanks me for his private shofar
blowing ceremony on a street in Smolensk: 'Rabbi, that one shofar blast
...' and then Andrei's voice trails off.  Andrei has become an active
member of the Jewish community. He is involved with the new JCC and
synagogue that is under construction. This year, our holiday food
package distribution and Rosh Hashana programs will be taking place in
our own synagogue!" concludes Rabbi Mondshine.

    Ed.'s note: Since this story took place, a state-of-the-art mikva
    and a specially comissioned Torah scroll have been dedicated at the
    Jewish Community Center of Smolensk. For more updates on Smolensk or
    other news about what is happening in the former Soviet Union visit

                               WHAT'S NEW
                          High Holiday Hoopla

Wondering what to do or where to go during the upcoming Jewish holidays?
Your Chabad-Lubavitch Center has services, classes, meals, and numerous
other events scheduled for the flurry of festivals in the upcoming
weeks. To find out what is taking place in your area, including times
for special services to hear the shofar, call your local
Chabad-Lubavitch Center.

                        Have Shofar Will Travel

As in years past, the Lubavitch Youth Organization has arranged for
volunteers to walk to hospitals and nursing homes throughout the New
York Metro area on Rosh Hashana so that those who are unable to attend
synagogue services will still be able to fulfill the "mitzva of the day"
- listening to the sounding of the shofar.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                    Free translation from the Hebrew

                  In the Days of Selichos, 5723 (1962)
              To my Brethren, Everywhere G-d bless you all

Greeting and Blessing:

The days of Rosh Hashana, the Days of Awe, which usher in the New Year
(may it be a happy and blessed one for all of us), fill every Jewish
heart with a sense of holiness.

The feeling which the Days of Awe inspire goes deeper than a sense of
apprehension in the face of Divine judgment. It is a feeling of Yiras
HaRomemus - a sense of awe and trepidation that is inspired by the
consciousness of the unfolding event of the "coronation" of the Supreme
King of kings, blessed be He; a coronation in which every individual Jew
participates. For this is the essence of Rosh Hashana.

The "coronation" of the Creator of the Universe as the "King over all
the Earth," for which we pray and which we actually carry out on Rosh
Hashana, renews the personal union of each Jew with G-d: it is the
direct and inward union of each individual as an individual, and not
merely as a part of the community or people as a whole.

The "coronation" is accompanied by the personal petition of each and
every one of us that the Almighty accept his coronation, whereby the
mutual union of "We are Your people and You are our King" is created.

The idea and experience of this "coronation" are expressed in the
prayer: O, our G-d and G-d of our fathers, establish Your glorious reign
over all the world... that every creature shall know that You did create
him... and every living soul shall declare: the L-rd G-d of Israel is
King, and His Kingdom reigns everywhere: the whole of Creation, and
especially the human being endowed with a soul, recognizes and submits
to the Sovereignty of G-d.

This prayer accentuates the feeling of awe and trepidation and, at the
same time, the inevitable consequence thereof - the compelling readiness
and longing to obey the commandments of the King.

Hence, notwithstanding the fact that Rosh Hashana ushers in the Ten Days
of Return (Aseres Yemei Teshuva) and is part of them, there is no
recital of tachanun (prayers of supplication), nor any confession of
sin, during Rosh Hashana. For the feeling of oneness with the Almighty,
which is evoked by the coronation, so permeates our heart and mind, that
however great may be our sorrow over the deeds of the past, it is
completely "dissolved" in the overwhelming experience of awe and

As a matter of fact, teshuva itself - in its deeper concept as the
"return (to the source)" - is in complete harmony with the essential
content of Rosh Hashana, namely, the event of the Divine Coronation.

Only after Rosh Hashana do the further aspects of teshuva come into
their own, such as repentance of the past and resolution for the future,
with confession of sin, supplication of forgiveness, etc., as the
necessary effects of the Coronation of Rosh Hashana. For the
consciousness of the renewed and strengthened union with the King, and
the feeling of oneness with Him, must create in the subject the will and
determination to be worthy of this exalted relationship.

This, in turn, must induce every effort to remove anything that
interferes with, or hinders, the consummation of this union, namely all
sins, whether committed rebelliously, knowingly, or even inadvertently.

...An indication as to the proper use of the spirit of these holy days
is to be found in the details prescribed for the mitzvah (commandment)
of sounding the shofar, the only special mitzvah of Rosh Hashana. This
commandment does not prescribe the use of an ensemble of instruments,
but only one; and that also not a delicate instrument producing
extraordinary musical compositions.

The insistence is that the shofar be a plain horn of an animal, and "all
sounds are proper in a shofar." Thus, the shofar emphasizes that the
orientation should be, first and foremost, on the individual self, with
the accent on the duty to introduce sanctity even into the ordinary and
commonplace of the daily life of the individual, and then into the
social life of the individual as a member of the community, and so

...May the spiritual awakening and inspiration of these days illuminate
and permeate every day of the year, so as to intensify the union between
each Jew and G-d into a profound attachment that will express itself in
the daily life according to, and in harmony with, the Divine Torah and
Divine commandments. Surely, the change for the better in the spiritual
life will bring a change for the better in the material life, and the
next year will be a blessed one in every respect.

With prayerful wishes for a Kesiva Vechasima Tova - to be inscribed and
sealed for good, for a good and sweet year, good that is evident and

                               WHO'S WHO
Shmuel (Samuel) the Prophet was the first of a group of leaders who
comprised the Era of the Prophets. Samuel was the child of Elkanah and
Chana. Chana, a prophetess, was childless for many years and prayed for
a child on Rosh Hashana in the Sanctuary. Her prayers were answered and
Shmuel was born in 931 b.c.e. At a very young age he was apprenticed to
the High Priest Eli. Shmuel wrote the biblical books Judges, Ruth and
Samuel. He anointed King Saul and then afterward King David. In Psalms,
King David equates Shmuel with Moses and Aaron (99:6)

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
On the eve of this new year, 5773, we would like to wish the entire
Jewish People our sincerest blessings for a k'siva vachasima tova,
l'shana tova u'msuka - to be inscribed and sealed for a good, sweet
year, with blessings from every letter of the Hebrew Alef-Beis. May this
year be:

A year of "Arise and have mercy on Zion,"... uplifted in matters of
Moshiach and the Redemption... faith in G-d and Moses His servant...
traveling with the Heavenly clouds... Revealed Wonders; Wonders in
Everything... the building of the Holy Temple... trust; Great wonders...
the true and complete Redemption; Dignified Wonders... victory... the
seventh generation is the generation of Redemption...King David lives
and is eternal; "Those who rest in the dust will arise and sing and he
will lead them"... Moshiach is coming and he has already come... the
revelation of Moshiach; "He will redeem us"... "And they believed in G-d
and in Moses His servant"; "This one will comfort us"; the wonders of
true freedom... a new song; an abundance of good (Rambam); the king
shall live; inscribed and sealed for a good year... the harp of
Moshiach; learning Moshiach's teachings; the coming of Menachem who will
comfort us... the King Moshiach; wonders... revealed miracles... a
double portion; treasures... the completion and end of exile... the
revelation of the Infinite Divine Light; "Humble ones, the time of your
Redemption has arrived," wealth, materially and spiritually; "Jerusalem
will dwell in open space," paratzta - 770; Your servant David will go
forth; the ingathering of the exiles... acceptance of his sovereignty by
the people; Rebbe - Rosh B'nei Yisrael; peace... a new song...
Moshiach's shofar... unity of the Torah, unity of the Jewish people,
unity of the land of Israel; Resurrection of the Dead... "A new Torah
will come from Me"

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
You are standing this day, all of you (Deut. 29:9)

You are standing - enduring and upright - and not the nations of the
world. What is this likened to? A giant boulder that has rolled down and
imbedded itself in the middle of the road. When a passerby who thinks he
is strong and mighty tries to move it out of the way, the boulder ends
up rolling over and killing him. After all his efforts, the rock is
still stuck in the middle of the road! So do the nations of the world
try to oppress the Jews, but they endure eternally.


                                *  *  *

That you should enter into the covenant of G-d and into His oath (Deut.

The purpose of a covenant is to ensure that the love and respect which
exist between two parties continue. We learn this from the way this
ceremony was performed in ancient times. The two parties would split an
animal in half and pass between the two sections (symbolizing that they,
too, were both halves of the same entity). Just as a person has
self-love, a love independent of any outside force and not governed by
logic and reason, so too should such a love between the two parties
continue and never cease. This is the eternal bond which exists between
G-d and the Jewish People.

                                                (Lubavitcher Rebbe)

                                *  *  *

The secret things belong to G-d, but those things which are revealed
belong to us and to our children (Deut. 29:28)

There are Jews who conceal their Jewish faith and belief from the world,
till G-d alone is the only one who knows of it. But this is not the
right way to behave. We must take into consideration that "those things
which are revealed belong to us and to our children" - our Jewishness
should be open and apparent at home, in the street, and most
importantly, to our children.

                                                 (Otzrenu Hayashan)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
The Baal Shem Tov once asked his disciple, Rabbi Zev Kitzis, to blow the
shofar on Rosh Hashana. Eager to do a good job, he studied all the
proper meditations and wrote them down on a slip of paper. This
displeased the Baal Shem Tov, and G-d caused the paper to fall out of
Rabbi's Zev's pocket. On Rosh Hashana, when he realized that it was
gone, he was broken-hearted and burst into tears. Having no choice, he
blew the shofar without referring to his notes. The Baal Shem Tov later
explained: There are many different chambers and rooms in the King's
palace; each meditation is the key to opening a particular door. But a
broken heart is the "axe" with which all doors can be broken down and
entry gained...

                                *  *  *

It was Rosh Hashana in the synagogue of the Baal Shem Tov. In the middle
of the prayers, a snuffbox accidentally dropped from the pocket of one
of the Chasidim. He bent down to pick it up, and unthinking, he took a
pinch of snuff and inhaled it. The man who was sitting next to him saw
the little episode and an accusatory thought passed through his mind:
"How could he have done such a mundane thing here in the Baal Shem Tov's
shul (synagogue) and on this, such a holy day!?"

Through his holy intuition, the Baal Shem Tov perceived this thought,
and he understood the repercussions this thought would have Above for
the man who had taken the snuff. Throughout the remainder of Rosh
Hashana the Baal Shem Tov tried his best to annul the effects of the
thought, but to no avail. The man stood accused before the Heavenly
Court all through the holy month of Tishrei.

Finally, during the evening prayers of the last day of Sukkot (Hoshana
Rabba), the Baal Shem Tov managed to strike a deal for the accused. If
the accuser would himself, find some merit in the snuff-taker, the
snuff-taker would be forgiven. The only catch was this was not to be
disclosed to either man.

When the Baal Shem Tov entered the shul that night he noticed that the
Chasid who had had the critical thought was preparing to pray, but he
seemed unable to concentrate his thoughts and he paced back and forth.
He was thinking, "I wonder why tobacco, which is something people like
to smoke and inhale, was introduced to the world. I suppose it is
because there is some benefit to be had from it." As soon as that
rationale entered his mind, he felt a rush of guilt and sadness at
having judged his friend's actions so critically on Rosh Hashana.

On Hoshana Rabba it was customary for the Baal Shem Tov to make himself
available to answer the questions of his Chasidim, which they would
prepare in advance. That night, the accusing Chasid came to him with the
question, "Is there any benefit to be had from tobacco and snuff?"

The Baal Shem Tov responded with his own question: "What are your
thoughts on the matter?" The Chasid proceeded to tell the Rebbe his
thoughts of the previous night, that there must be some benefit in these

"I have a feeling there is more than you are telling me," replied the
Baal Shem Tov. "Tell me what else you are thinking."

At the Baal Shem Tov's prompting the Chasid related the entire incident
of the snuff which had occurred on Rosh Hashana. "When I saw my friend
take so much enjoyment from the pinch of snuff on such a holy day, I
immediately condemned him, thinking he must be a very coarse individual.
But then, last night, I started thinking there was probably some
redeeming quality about snuff, and I began to regret my negative

The Baal Shem Tov was then free to tell him what reaction his judgmental
thoughts had caused in the Heavens. "Your thoughts aroused quite a stir
Above, and a serious charge was lodged against your companion.
Fortunately, your change of heart has reversed that ruling, but you must
resolve to guard your thoughts carefully in the future."

                                *  *  *

A Jew once came to the saintly Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin and cried,
"Rebbe! I am a very great sinner and I want to repent." "So why don't
you repent?" the Rabbi asked him. "I don't know how," he replied. "Where
did you learn how to sin?" the Rabbi asked. "First I sinned, and only
afterward did I learn that it was a sin," he explained. "In that case,
you already know how to proceed," the Rabbi said. "All you have to do is
repent. Afterwards you'll see that you did it properly!"

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
We sound the shofar twice on Rosh Hashana "to confuse the Satan." The
first time, the Satan is worried that he is hearing the shofar of
Moshiach. When he hears the shofar again, he is sure Moshiach has come!
He becomes confused and doesn't make any accusations against the Jews.
But the Satan is not a fool, he knows about Rosh Hashana! Why would he
think Moshiach has come? However, the shofar inspires us to repent, and
repentance brings the Redemption. After the shofar is blown the first
time, the Satan is worried that our repentance has brought Moshiach. By
the second time, he is sure that our repentance has brought Moshiach!

                                                        (Meam Loez)

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1238 - Nitzavim 5772

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