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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1244
                           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.
        November 2, 2012         Vayera        17 Cheshvan, 5773

                             Changing Times

Time. In many countries around the world, times are changing. That is to
say, the time on the clock, at least. "Spring ahead, Fall back" we
mutter to ourselves, in an attempt to remember whether we're "losing" or
"gaining" an hour and which way to adjust our clocks to "standard time."

How long is a standard hour? Perhaps that depends on whether it's an
hour that has stretched on endlessly or has passed by in the blink of an
eye. Is it an hour that has been "blessed" and in which we have
accomplished so much or is it an hour when everything that could have
gone wrong went wrong and it was totally wasted.

When it comes to time, many of us think not only in terms of hours,
minutes and seconds, but of "quality time" as well. And quality time is
anything but standard, because it's usually time that we set aside to be
with family, good friends, or in worthwhile and meaningful pursuits.

Is there such a thing as a "Jewish standard hour" or "Jewish quality

In Talmudic times, a Jew whose performance of mitzvot (commandments) was
typified by going above and beyond the letter of the law was referred to
as "chasid." These (pre-modern) Chasidim used to spend tremendous
amounts of time in prayer and only a few hours a day in Torah study.
But, the amount of Torah knowledge they gained in those few hours of
study was inordinately greater than what the average person would have
gained in the same amount of time spent in intensive study. The reward
for their intensive prayer schedule was that the time spent studying
Torah became "quality time" and their studies were blessed.

The mitzva of Torah study is incumbent upon us at all times. In fact,
according to the Talmud, if a person wastes even one minute that he
could have spent studying, it's as if he belittled the entire Torah.
Yet, the Talmud also states that someone who is involved in helping the
community has fulfilled the commandment to study Torah by simply saying
one verse from the Shema in the morning and in the evening. Quality

In the Mishna (Avot) Rabbi Yaakov says that one hour of repentance and
good deeds in this world is greater than the entire time one will live
in the World to Come.

What does this mean? On the simplest level, Rabbi Yaakov is telling us
that quality time counts. Through spending even just one hour in teshuva
- returning to and reconnecting with G-d - and the performance of good
deeds, we will appreciate awesome revelations of G-dliness in the
Messianic Era. In fact, all the G-dliness we will experience in the
times of Moshiach can be acquired through making every second and minute
of a Jewish hour count here and now.

How do we accomplish this? The Hebrew word for hour, "sha-ah," also
means bending. By bending ourselves in this world - not remaining rigid
or stuck in our ways - and setting aside an hour regularly for teshuva
and good deeds, we are adjusting our clocks to the ultimate standard
time - the Messianic Era, may it commence now!

This week's Torah portion, Vayeira, relates the story of the akeida, the
Binding of Isaac. G-d said to Abraham, "Please take your son...and offer
him there for a burnt offering." Abraham was tested by G-d ten times.
The akeida was the tenth and final test.

The Talmud explains that G-d's request - "Please take your son" - was an
entreaty to express His wish that Abraham withstand the trial. "I have
tried you many times, and each time you passed the test," G-d said.
"Would that you pass this test as well, that people not say the first
ones were without substance."

Why was it so important for Abraham to pass the final test, and how
would his failure to do so have invalidated the success of the previous
nine? The akeida was certainly the most difficult trial, but even had
Abraham not withstood it, why would the previous ones have been
considered to be in vain?

Another question: The first test was when Abraham was thrown into the
fiery furnace after destroying his father's idols. Wasn't this test just
as critical as the tenth one?

The answer is: Sometimes, when a Jew is willing to give up his life for
the sake of G-d, it is hard to distinguish if he is doing so solely
because G-d wants him to, or because he himself understands that an act
of self-sacrifice is required.

For example, the argument could be made that because Abraham understood
the necessity of spreading awareness of the one G-d throughout the
world, he was willing to allow himself to be burned. In other words,
self-sacrifice was a logical conclusion, arrived at by Abraham's own

The trial of the akeida, however, was entirely different. Withstanding
the trial would not result in the public recognition of G-d's Name, as
no one else was present except for Abraham and Isaac. On the contrary,
G-d's request seemed to defy logic. Abraham wanted his son to continue
spreading the belief in G-d after he was gone, yet here G-d was asking
him to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering! If Isaac were sacrificed,
who would be left to continue his path?

Thus the akeida constituted a test of Abraham's willingness for
self-sacrifice in a situation in which his own intellect led him to the
opposite conclusion. His ability to withstand the tenth test thereby
demonstrated that the first nine were not in vain, as it proved that he
had acted out of love of G-d and not merely because his intellect
compelled him to obey.

This contains a lesson for each of us, Abraham's descendants, in how to
serve G-d. Rabbi Shneur Zalman writes: "It is good to recite the chapter
of the akeida each order to subjugate the [evil] inclination
and serve G-d." The power to do so comes to us from Abraham, the first
to show us how.

             Adapted for Maayan Chai from Likutei Sichot, Volume 20

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                           Shabbat Wherever!

    The Traveling Rabbi (Binyamin Tanny, whose experiences are featured
    in L'Chaim 1180, 1190 and 1201) is now married and joined in his
    travels by his wife Rachel (Feltman) Tanny and more recently their
    baby Akiva. Below Rachel's posts about their stay in Nepal.

I loved Pokhara. It is a special place - peaceful, serene, beautiful. We
had a cute but spartan room with a stunning view overlooking Phewa Lake.
Nothing but a green field of grazing water buffalo to block our view.
Surrounding the lake we could see Himalayan peaks rising up, the tallest
among them tipped in white.

It was a perfect place to spend Shabbat. And indeed, we ended up
spending several Shabbatot  (Sabbaths) there. However, the first few
that we spent there, the local Chabad House had not yet opened up. We
had been counting on it for our Shabbat meals and companionship. That
meant that, as with many other Shabbatot during our journeys, we were on
our own.

The stunning surroundings in no way made preparing for Shabbat any
easier. To my surprise, I discovered that most of Nepal was on
electricity rationing. We would only have about seven hours of
electricity on any given day, split between two sessions, one of which
always seemed to fall in the middle of the night.

Preparing for Shabbat during travel can be challenging under the best of
circumstances, but without electricity, we would be unable to boil the
eggs and potatoes that were staple foods for us during our travels.

But that's not all - after sunset on Friday night, there would be no
electricity, no light to read by. The Chabad House would have had a
generator available, but not our guest-house. The guest-house's policy
on this was that guests should use a candle or two, or a flashlight. But
after lighting Shabbat candles, we would be unable to light any further
candles. Once our Shabbat candles finished, we would be plunged into
complete darkness.

I think most readers would find this a challenging situation to be in,
week after week, during the entire month and a half that we spent in
Nepal. And it's true, these situations did present challenges. But I
don't think it is anything particularly extraordinary. After all,
electricity is still a relatively recent invention.

Rabbi Ben and I took our small Shabbat meal (I did manage to boil eggs
and potatoes, and even steam some peas, during the few short hours of
electricity - careful planning!) and we sat on our porch. We watched as
the springtime sun descended behind the lake, colors painting layers of
rainbow behind the Himalayan peaks. The guest-house owner came by and
placed a single candle in front of us without us saying a word to him.
(Asking a non-Jew to do this on Shabbat could be very problematic
according to Jewish law, so we couldn't ask him for it.) We enjoyed our
meal and the incredible scenery. It was easy to connect to G-d in such

When we returned to our room, my Shabbat candles were still burning. We
sat and read by their flickering light, enjoying them fully. In our
modern lives, we often fail to really appreciate and use the light cast
by the Shabbat candles, as we truly are meant to. But in this small town
in Nepal, we were able to use our Shabbat candles for the purpose they
were originally intended - to bring shalom bayit - peace in the home.

                                *  *  *

Thus it was that seven months after we were married, we officially
hosted our first Shabbat guest as a married couple! Most couples start
building a home when they first get married. They can start inviting
Shabbat guests as soon as the table and chairs move in. But for Ben and
I, since we are always traveling, inviting Shabbat guests is more
difficult. If we're in an area with lots of Jews, there's usually a
Chabad House and we'll eat there. And if there's no Chabad House, it is
very rare to find other Jews wandering around.

We both love hosting guests, but often it's just not possible for us. On
the Friday of our first Shabbat in Pokhara, Ben was walking down the
main street and he met a Jewish man, Tomer. It's normal to see lots of
Israelis in Nepal, but in Pokhara, the Chabad House hadn't opened yet,
so not many Israelis were about.

Ben invited him for Shabbat dinner, but he already had plans. When Ben
came back to the guest-house and told me that perhaps Tomer would join
us for Shabbat lunch, I was so excited that we might have a guest.

After we davened (prayed) Shabbat morning, Ben went out to look for
Tomer while I made salads. We had the boiled eggs and steamed peas I had
made the day before and I also made a delicious potato salad as well as
enormous salads full of fresh vegetables.

We sat on the porch of our lovely guest-house and really enjoyed the
meal. We had a perfect view of the lake and the Himalayas. It was an
ideal setting where we could sit for hours and talk about our travels
and discuss thoughts from the Torah portion. But the best part of
hosting our first Shabbat guest on the go in Nepal was making a new

The Shabbatot we spent in Pokhara are some of my most cherished
memories. I remember the feeling of warmth the Shabbat candles brought
in our relationship. I remember the sight of those glorious mountains
and the lake that G-d Himself made for us to appreciate. I remember how
a simple salad of potatoes, or eggs, or fresh vegetables, seasoned with
nothing more than oil and a pinch of salt, could taste so wonderful,
could have the flavor of Shabbat.

To me, this is what it truly means to keep Shabbat. It means to put our
worries and cares aside. Not simply that we "not do any work" - but that
we should not even think any work. Even if we are in a place where it is
challenging to keep Shabbat, it is a time to reconnect, both with G-d
and with one another.

     Reprinted with permission.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             New Emissaries

Rabbi Ilan and Sarah Fuchs have opened a new Chabad House at Brandeis
University in Waltham, Massachusetts, to accommodate the overflow crowd
at the original Chabad House opened 11 years ago. Sarah was president of
Chabad at Brandeis during her studies there and graduated in '05. Rabbi
Mordechai and Nomi Leimdorfer are moving soon to Harrisonburg, Virginia,
where they will open a Chabad House serving James Madison University and
the Virginia Shenandoah Valley. Rabbi Levi and Chayale Wilhelm have
arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada to establish a new Chabad House in the
Southwest part of Las Vegas. Rabbi Shmuel and Batya Chitrik moved to S.
Petersburg, Russia to serve emissaries in the Moskovsky District.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                       26th of Teves, 5742 (1982)

Greeting and Blessing:

This is my first opportunity to acknowledge receipt of your letter of
Dec. 15, 1981. In it, after kindly paying tribute to the work of the
Lubavitch movement, you express your reservations about the "Tzivos
HaShem" [lit. "G-d's Army] Campaign, on the ground that it in based "on
the glorification of the military and an aggrandizement of arms, war,
and battlefields."

A letter is hardly the proper medium to explain fully the reasons that
impelled us to introduce the establishment of the Tzivos HaShem
organization, the purpose of which is to bring young Jewish children
closer to Torah and Mitzvoth [commandments], as I am glad to note you
fully recognize. Needless to say, it was done only after due
deliberation, which I can only briefly outline in this letter.

To begin with, "Tzivos HaShem" - as you surely know - is not a "foreign"
idea. It is first mentioned in the Torah in reference to "G-d's Hosts"
who were liberated from Egyptian bondage. The term is clearly not used
in the strict military sense. Rather it indicates that the Hosts who had
been enslaved to Pharaoh to serve him, were now G-d's Hosts, free to
serve G-d, and G-d alone.

Of course, the Torah does not glorify militarism, war, and the like. On
the contrary, "Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are
peace." And, as our Sages declare, "the Torah was given to bring peace
into the world," and "there to no greater Divine blessing than peace,"
and much more in this vein.

Parenthetically, with all the emphasis on pacifism, the Torah (from the
root Hora'ah [guidance]) also provides guidance in situations where
military action is necessary, and prescribes the laws of warfare, as you
are, of course, aware. To be sure, Rabbi Akiva's fame rests on his
spiritual contribution, but there was a time when he found it necessary
to be Bar Kochba's "arms-bearer," as the Rambam notes in his Code
(Hil[chos] Mlochim 11:2).

When the "Tzivos HaShem" was instituted recently, careful consideration
was given to using a minimum of military trappings, and only such as
would be consistent with the spirit of the Torah. For example, "spying
missions," which you mention in your letter as one of your objections,
was categorically excluded. Furthermore, the whole Campaign is limited
to children of pre-Bar Mitzvah and pre-Bat Mitzvah age. The idea is that
reaching that age they become full-fledged Jews, and by then they will
have had the benefit of the experience, and will realize that it had
served its purpose for them.

The question is: Since the term "Tzivos HaShem" would seem to some
people to smack of "militarism," what were the overriding reasons that
out weighed such reservations as you expressed in your letter? Could not
the same results be achieved through other means or other methods?

This brings us to the core of the problem.

As an educator, you know that children need activation, but that is only
one aspect of the problem. The most important aspect, in my opinion, in
this day and age, is the lack of Kabolas Ol [accepting the yoke], not
only of Malchus Shomayim [the kingdom of Heaven] but also general
insubmission to authority, including the authority of parents at home
and of teachers in school, and the authority of law and order in the
street. There remains only the fear of punishment as a deterrent, but
that fear has been reduced to a minimum because there has in recent
years been what amounts to a breakdown of law enforcement, for reasons
which need not be discussed here.

On the other hand, American children have been brought up on the spirit
of independence and freedom, and on the glorification of personal
prowess and smartness. It has cultivated a sense of cockiness and
self-assurance to the extent that one who is bent on mischief or
anti-social activity, feels that one can outsmart a cop on the beat, and
even a judge on the bench; and, in any event, there is little to fear in
the way of punishment.
                        continued in next issue

                               WHO'S WHO
Eliezer was the trusted servant of Abraham, given to him by King Nimrod.
Eliezer resembled Abraham physically, though they were not related, and
he was in charge of Abraham's household and wealth. He was sent by
Abraham to find a wife for Isaac from relatives in Charan. He arrived in
a miraculously short amount of time. Also, when he prayed to G-d that he
find a fitting wife for Isaac, Rebecca appeared even before he had
finished praying. Many years later, Eliezer and his son Alinos helped
Jacob prepare for possible battle against his Esau.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

    This Monday, the 20th of Marcheshvan, is the birthday of the Rebbe
    Rashab, fifth in the Chabad dynasty. The following incident took
    place shortly after he became Rebbe in 1883:

A Jew once came to the Rebbe and begged him for a blessing. Faced with a
difficult problem, he was troubled and distraught. But the Rebbe refused
to help. "There is nothing I can do," the Rebbe said. "I cannot help

The man left the Rebbe's chamber and burst into tears. At that moment
the Rebbe's brother, Reb Zalman Aaron, passed by, and asked him what was
the matter. The Jew poured out his heart and told him what the Rebbe had

Reb Zalman Aaron immediately went and confronted his brother. "Is that
how you treat someone who comes to you for help?" he asked him. "A Jew
asks for a blessing, and you tell him you can do nothing? Why, even now
that man is sitting outside your door, weeping in agony and distress."

At that the Rebbe Rashab put on his gartel and asked for the man to be
led into his room a second time. The Rebbe gave him his blessing, and he
was delivered from his terrible predicament.

It sometimes happens that a person may not yet be worthy of receiving
G-d's blessings. When the Rebbe Rashab told the man that he couldn't
help him, his words were so painful that his spirit was shattered. With
a broken heart he called out to G-d, and was thus transformed into a
suitable vessel. The Rebbe could then bless him, and his blessing was

Every Jew is good in his innermost core, wishing sincerely to fulfill
G-d's command. However, if he stumbles and transgresses, he is no longer
worthy. Pride and ego can then cover up his true self, causing him to
overlook his shortcomings.

When a Jew is in pain his pride disappears, and his inner, essential
goodness is allowed to resurface. In this way he becomes an appropriate
vessel to contain all of G-d's abundant blessings.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Let a little water be fetched, I pray you, and wash your feet (Gen.

At first glance it seems odd that Abraham, who personally provided every
amenity for his guests, should ask them to fetch their own water to wash
their feet. But as Rashi explains, in those days the Arabs who traveled
the desert worshiped the dust. Abraham, whose mission was to teach
people about G-d, did not want even a trace of idolatry tracked into his
tent. Had Abraham brought the water (or performed any other action to
nullify their idolatry), it would not have been considered a true
nullification, as the concept of idolatry is already completely alien to
the Jew. His Arab guests had to do it themselves, thereby sanctifying
G-d's Name even more.

                                                     (Eil HaMiluim)

                                *  *  *

And when he saw them, he ran to meet them (Gen. 18:2)

"Receive every person with a cheerful countenance," declared Shammai,
the great Torah Sage. Even if one bestows all the treasures in the world
on another, if his face is angry, it is considered as if he gave him
nothing. On the other hand, if a person greets his fellow in a friendly
manner, even if he gives him nothing it is considered as if he gave him
a great fortune.

                                *  *  *

And Abraham drew near (Gen. 18:3)

Rashi notes that Abraham approached G-d "to speak [with Him] in a harsh
manner," to plead that He change His mind and not destroy Sodom.
Abraham, the epitome of loving-kindness, saw fit to go against his
natural inclination and "speak harshly" with G-d! We learn from this
that when it comes to saving lives, either literally or in the spiritual
sense, a Jew must pull out all the stops and do all in his power, even
if it goes against his very nature.

                                                   (Likrat Shabbat)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Rabbi Sholom Dovber, the fifth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, known as the
Rebbe Rashab, once was travelling to Petersburg by train. When he
reached his destination he claimed all of his baggage except one valise
which was nowhere to be found. His attendants searched the entire train
station, but that suitcase which contained several important books was

Several days later the Rebbe was visited by a young man named Reb
Avrohom Eliyahu Guarary. The young man was newly married and had
invested his considerable dowry in a business which had unfortunately
failed. Now, he was left with only one thousand rubles and had come to
seek the Rebbe's advice.

No sooner had he entered the room when the Rebbe said, "Ah, Reb Avrohom
Eliyahu will bring me back my suitcase from the train station!" He
handed the young man the claim and sent him off, unaware that the case
was missing.

The train station was deserted and Reb Avrohom stopped to have a smoke.
He noticed a man watching him and staring at his pack of cigarettes. "Do
You smoke?" Reb Avrohom asked the man.

"Yes," he replied.

The young chasid offered the gentile a cigarette and they were sharing a
smoke together when the man asked, "What are you doing here at such an

Reb Avrohom replied affably, "There is a rabbi by the name of
Schneersohn visiting, and I am here to pick up his suitcase."

"That's a handy coincidence. You see, I'm the warehouse manager. Why
don't you give me your baggage ticket and let me see if I can find your

The manager went into the large warehouse and instructed his workers to
bring him the suitcase, but to his consternation, they couldn't find it.
He ordered them to check each piece of baggage carefully. Sure enough,
they found the valise lying behind a large crate. Reb Avrohom thanked
the man profusely and returned to the Rebbe, valise in hand.

The Rebbe was very happy to receive his lost suitcase and said to the
young man, "I am now in your debt. How can I help you?"

Reb Avrohom poured out his whole story of the ten thousand ruble dowry
which he had lost in an unsuccessful business. Now he had only one
thousand rubles and wanted to know how to make the most of it. The Rebbe
advised him, "Go to the city of Koritz and there G-d will provide you
with a livelihood. Just make sure that you bring along food for the

Reb Avrohom returned to his wife and told her what the Rebbe had said.
His wife baked and cooked all kinds of delicious foods for his journey,
and they chatted excitedly about the success they faithfully

Reb Avrohom arrived in Koritz on a hot, humid day. He decided to cool
off by taking a swim in the Korchyck River. After the refreshing swim,
he sat down to eat some of the delicious food his wife had packed. He
noticed another Jew nearby and Reb Avrohom, being a friendly type,
offered him some of his wife's food. They struck up a conversation and
Avrohom told the stranger the story of his failed business and the
blessing he had received from the Rebbe.

"I would like to help you," said the man. "Come back here tomorrow. I'm
going to bring a friend with me. Perhaps between the two of us, we can
figure out a way to help you out. But don't forget to bring along some
of your wife's great cooking," the man added, smiling.

The next day the three men met and concluded a deal. "I have decided to
sell you my entire shipment of cigarette papers for a thousand rubles,"
said the friend. "I hope you are successful and make a big profit from
it." They shook hands, and went their separate ways. Reb Avrohom headed
for the town of Kremenchug to claim his goods. That town was a center of
cigarette manufacturing and there he would be able to sell the papers.
He headed for the factory of a certain Reb Tzvi and made him a proposal:
"I will sell you my entire stock for 10,000 rubles," he said.

"What! The paper is worth 2,000 at the very most."

"No," replied Reb Avrohom, "I want to recover my whole loss. I will take
ten thousand or nothing." And it was impossible to move him.

Reb Tzvi listened to the young man's whole story and decided he would go
to Koritz himself and try to make a similar purchase. But when he
arrived he was disappointed to find that there was no cigarette paper to
be had. In fact, there was a severe shortage in the whole city. The
seller had given Reb Avrohom his last lot for the thousand rubles out of
pity for the young man.

Reb Tzvi lost no time. He telegrammed Reb Avrohom, requesting him not to
sell his supply of cigarette papers to anyone else. He then rushed back
to Kremenchug and paid the asking price of 10,000 rubles.

Having recovered his loss, Reb Avrohom returned to the Rebbe for further

"But, Reb Avrohom Eliyahu," said the Rebbe this time, "my debt to you is
already repaid!"

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
When Abraham was on his way to sacrifice Isaac, he told those who had
accompanied him: "Stay here with the donkey...We will worship and then
return to you." (Gen. 22:5) The words "Stay here - shvu lachem po" can
also be translated as "you will return." Abraham saw that the Holy
Temple would be built and then destroyed, after which we would be
exiled. He also saw that Moshiach would bring us back and rebuild the
Holy Temple. Abraham told them "you will return" to rebuild the Temple.
"With the donkey" refers to Moshiach, who is described as "a humble
person riding on a donkey."

                        (Bereishit Rabba 56:2 in Discover Moshiach)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1244 - Vayera 5773

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