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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1251
                           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.
        December 21, 2012       Vayigash           8 Tevet, 5773

                    Don't Text & Drive - But Listen

It's become common enough that there are public service announcements
about it: don't text and drive. Why would anyone think they could do
that? Isn't "eyes on the road" the first rule of driving? (Well, maybe
put the key in the ignition comes first.)

Seriously, there are a lot of distractions when we drive. Not when we
start out. When we first learn to drive, it's both hands on the wheel,
radio off, adjust the mirrors, inch - jerk - the car forward, be made
more nervous by the faces the driving instructor (or parent) is making,
and finally get some experience.

Pretty soon, though, we're focusing on things other than the mechanics
of driving. That's too easy. So the radio's on. And we're eating a
sandwich. And we're talking on the phone.

And now there's texting. Some people say they have eyes in the back of
their heads, but they can't do two things at once. One hand on the wheel
and one hand on the keypad doesn't work. And ask any touch typist -
every once in a while you have to look at the keyboard or tyi wbs yo -
you end up - typing a letter off.

Along with the "don't text and drive" campaign, safety officials are
pushing another - don't talk on the phone while driving - get a
hands-free device.

This one may seem a bit much. What's the difference between an
earpiece/bluetooth/speaker phone and holding the cell phone to your ear?

And yet, we see people driving with phones to their ear who are almost
as distracted as the text-drivers. Strange, but bluetooth your
conversation, and you can focus on the road - just like talking to
someone in the next seat. Put the phone to your ear - you're in
distraction land.

Why? Because the hand and eye go together (hand-eye coordination we
practice as infants) and hearing stands alone.

There's a lesson here: What the eye sees, the hand takes. And the hand
is an extension of the heart. In the paragraphs after the central
"Shema" prayer we read, "don't go astray after your hearts and after
your eyes." Sight and touch are partners - for good or for the opposite.

Of course, hearing can be turned positive or negative as well: we can
listen to words of Torah or to gossip. We can hear the words of prayer
as we speak them aloud, softly to ourselves or we can hear the words of
quarrel as we shout and hurl them at another.

But there's a special connection between sight and touch. We spend a lot
of time as infants working on that connection. And it holds us in good
stead - not just having an "eye for the ball" - but on the road. How
many times have we avoided an accident by seeing the pothole in the
middle of the road and turning the wheel just enough to avoid hitting
the pothole, but not so much that we hit the cat - or car - on the other

There's also, of course, a positive side - "look and touch" - look at
the tefillin, and touch them; look at the mezuza, and touch it; light
the Shabbat candles, and look at them.

As we "drive through life," performing mitzvot (commandments), let's
keep our hands on the wheel of performing mitzvot and our eyes on the
road for opportunities to learn Torah. And on the journey, we can listen
to the words of prayer - without being distracted.

The Jewish people, descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are often
referred to by the name of another of our great forebears, Joseph.
"Listen, O Shepherd of Israel, You Who leads Joseph like a flock," sings
the Psalmist. Rashi explains that every Jew is called "Joseph," "because
he (Joseph) sustained and provided for them during the famine," a
narrative of which appears in this week's Torah portion, Vayigash.

At first glance, this seems to be an insufficient explanation. Why call
an entire nation after one individual, no matter how exalted, just
because he was instrumental in aiding the Jewish people during a certain
short period in their history?

Chasidic philosophy teaches that every phenomenon in the physical world
exists only because of its spiritual root above. Indeed, the physical
manifestation in this world is only a reflection of the true spiritual
reality. The fact that Joseph sustained the fledgling Jewish people with
food (as well as the rest of the known world at the time), reflects the
fact that it was he who imbued his people with the spiritual nourishment
and sustenance they needed to survive in exile, as well. The lack of
food, the famine which hit Egypt, was accompanied by a spiritual famine,
for the exile in Egypt was a time of great darkness and trouble for the
Jewish people. It was Joseph who gave his descendants the strength to
deal with the hardships and adversity of exile.

Joseph, in his role as second in command to Pharaoh, broke new ground
and paved an innovative path in the service of G-d. Joseph's brothers
were shepherds, an occupation which gave them plenty of time to pursue a
spiritual life. By contrast, Joseph lived a life of involvement in the
world, first as the manager of Potifar's household, later when he was in
charge of his fellow prisoners in jail, and finally, when he was
appointed second in command over all of Egypt. Although Joseph was
always intimately involved in the day-to-day details of the physical
world, as was dictated by his various positions, his greatness lies in
the fact that he never severed his spiritual connection to G-d, and in
fact, emerged even stronger in his service and commitment.

Much of Joseph's life was spent in exile, in the center of the most
cosmopolitan society of his time. Yet, he remained untouched by the lure
of the material world and unbowed in his religious faith.

Joseph therefore symbolizes, more than any of the Patriarchs or the rest
of the 12 tribes, the essence of the Jewish people. As we stand on the
threshold of the Messianic Era, we look back on the thousands of years
of Jewish exile spent under the dominion of the nations of the world.
Although we have, of necessity, concerned ourselves with the daily,
mundane details of our lives, our relationship with G-d has remained as
strong as ever. Indeed, our goal in life is not to withdraw from the
world to concentrate solely on the spiritual; a Jew's task is to combine
the two realms, imbuing the physical world with holiness. It is in our
forefather Joseph's merit that we have been given the power to withstand
any spiritual "famine" which could possibly threaten our existence as
"Joseph's flock."

                   Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                           Tefilin in Dachau
                         by Rabbi Yosef Wallis

While he was in Dachau, a Jew who was being taken to his death suddenly
flung a small bag at Judah Wallis. He caught it, thinking it might
contain a piece of bread. Upon opening it, however, he was disturbed to
discover a pair of tefilin. Judah was very frightened because he knew
that were he to be caught carrying tefilin, he would be put to death
instantly. So he hid the tefilin under his shirt and headed for his

In the morning, just before the roll call, while still in his bunkhouse,
he put on the tefilin. Unexpectedly, a German officer appeared. He
ordered him to remove the tefilin, noted the number on Judah's arm, and
ordered him to go straight to the roll call.

At the roll call, in front of thousands of silent Jews, the officer
called out Judah's number and he had no choice but to step forward. The
German officer waved the tefilin in the air and screamed, "Dog! I
sentence you to death by public hanging for wearing these!"

Judah was placed on a stool and a noose was placed around his neck.
Before he was hanged, the officer said in a mocking tone, "Dog, what is
your last wish?" "To wear my tefilin one last time," Judah replied.

The officer was dumbfounded. He handed Judah the tefilin. As Judah put
them on, he recited the verse that many say while winding the tefilin
around the fingers: "I will betroth you to me forever and I will betroth
you to me with righteousness, and with justice, and with kindness, and
with mercy, and I will betroth you to me with fidelity, and you shall
know G-d."

In silence, the entire camped looked on at the Jew with a noose around
his neck, and tefilin on his head and arm, awaiting his death for the
"crime" of observing this mitzva. Even women from the adjoining camp
were lined up at the barbed wire fence that separated them from the
men's camp, compelled to watch this ominous sight.

As Judah turned to the silent crowd, he saw tears in many people's eyes.
Even at that moment, as he was about to be hanged, he was shocked: Jews
were crying! How was it possible that they still had tears left to shed?
And for a stranger? Where were those tears coming from? Impulsively, in
Yiddish, he called out, "Yidden (Jews) , don't cry. With tefilin on, I
am the victor! Don't you understand? The victory is mine!"

The German officer understood the Yiddish and was infuriated. He said to
Judah, "You dog, you think you are the victor? Hanging is too good for
you. You are going to get another kind of death."

Judah, my father, was taken from the stool, and the noose was removed
from his neck. He was forced into a squatting position and two large
rocks were placed under his armpits. Then he was told that he would be
receiving 25 lashes to his head-the head on which he had dared to place
tefilin. The officer told him that if he dropped even one of the rocks
from his armpits, he would be shot immediately. In fact, because this
was such an extremely painful form of death, the officer advised him,
"Drop the rocks now. You will never survive the 25 lashes to the head.
Nobody ever does." "No," Judah responded, "I won't give you the

At the 25th lash, Judah lost consciousness and was left for dead. He was
about to be dragged to a pile of corpses, and then burned in a ditch,
when another Jew saw him, shoved him to the side, and covered his head
with a rag, so people wouldn't realize he was alive. Eventually, after
he recovered consciousness, he crawled to the nearest bunkhouse that was
on raised piles, and hid under it until he was strong enough to come out
under his own power. Two months later he was liberated.

During the hanging and beating episode, a 17-year-old girl had been
watching from the women's side of the fence. After the liberation, she
made her way to the men's camp and found Judah. She walked over to him
and said, "I've lost everyone. I don't want to be alone any more. I saw
what you did that day when the officer wanted to hang you. Will you
marry me?"

The rest is history. The couple walked over to the Klausenberger Rebbe
and requested that he perform the marriage ceremony. The Klausenberger
Rebbe, whose own kiddush Hashem is legendary, wrote out a ketuba
(marriage contract) by hand from memory and married them. I, Rabbi Yosef
Wallis, their son, keep and cherish that ketuba to this day.

                                *  *  *

After the above story appeared in "Sichat Hashavua," L'Chaim's  sister
publication in Israel,  a subscriber to the publication, called the
Sichat Hashavua office. Mr. Lasky, a 95-year-old man, asked for the
phone number of Judah Wallis's son, Rabbi Yosef Wallis, Director of
Arachim. When asked why he wanted the number, Mr. Lasky stated, "I was
in Dachau, together with this Judah Wallis. However, I never knew that
he survived the beating. I always wanted to thank him for letting me put
on his tefilin in Dachau. Now, at least, I can thank his son."

After receiving the phone call, Rabbi Wallis visited Mr. Lasky. Mr.
Lasky then thanked him for the tefilin his father had lent him.

"I am certain," said Mr. Lasky, "that the tefilin that I wore in Dachau
protected me in the camp and gave me long life and health."

Rabbi Wallis commented, "Until now, I never found anyone to validate my
father's story. Now I have an eye witness. The circle of history has now
come full circle."

       Reprinted with permission from the forthcoming book by Rabbi
                          Aaron L. Raskin, edited by Matthew Brown.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                            The Two Yaakovs

The Two Yaakovs is a compilation of fun-to-read and interesting Chasidic
stories. It begins with stories of the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of
Mezritch and then continues with Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the founder of
Chabad-Lubavitch up to and including the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The book has
an easy-to-read style and each story has a full-color illustration.
Written by Fradie Brod, published by BSD Publishing.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
             Continued from last week, from a letter dated

                       7th of Teves, 5740 [1979]

It is in this sense that I characterized the new Project as seemingly
"wild" - not only in the ordinary sense of being wild and far-fetched
from the viewpoint of practical consideration, but in the sense of being
extraordinary also from the viewpoint of sacred considerations. By this
I mean that, at first glance, considering our responsibilities to the
existing institutions, especially the educational institutions,
struggling with deficits and having to be not only maintained but also
expanded, for what could be more vital than Chinuch [Jewish education]?
- one would think that these institutions command top priority on all
our resources.

Yet, I am convinced that the present world situation, and the Jewish
situation in particular, is so extraordinary that ordinary means cannot
cope with it, and a "wild" approach is required. Hence the said Project,
as a first step.

It will reflect, emphasize and demonstrate in a concrete and tangible
way our profound bitachon [faith] and trust in the strength of
Yiddishkeit [Judaism] to overcome all difficulties, and in the wholeness
and inviolability of Eretz Yisroel [the Land of Israel] as the eternal
inheritance of our people, and of Jerusalem, our Holy City, which
belongs to all our Jewish people everywhere, with every Jew having a
share in it, as also emphasized by the fact that while the whole Land of
Israel was divided among the twelve tribes, Jerusalem was not divided
among the tribes, but every Jew has a share in it. And this we proclaim
not merely in words and protestations, but by concrete action, in a
manner which is understood by all, namely by the fact that American
Jews, especially successful businessmen, who are known for their acumen
and practical know-how in business affairs, are willing and ready, and
do indeed, invest substantial resources in building a Shikun
[neighborhood] for Jews permeated with Yiddishkeit precisely in
Jerusalem, our Holy City, in our Holy Land, thereby also involving the
cooperation of Governmental agencies in this "wild project," though the
Government has other vital projects connected with defense, which
ordinarily command top priority.

I trust, indeed I am quite confident, that this "wild" Project will
bring forth G-d's blessings in a correspondingly "wild" and
extraordinary measure, so that the Project will be implemented and
completed much sooner than expected, and that it will serve as a living
testimony to the vitality and strength of our Jewish people transcending
all limitations and bounds; living testimony to Jews and non-Jews alike.

I have not yet embarked on a public campaign for the said project for
various reasons, one of which being that I waited for a" Nachshon" -
like Nachshon ben Aminadav who at the crucial moment jumped into the Sea
and caused it to part asunder for all the Jews to follow.

It is your great zechus [merit] to be this Nachshon, and this zechus
will certainly stand you and your family in good stead in all your
needs, including the fulfillment of the prayerful and confident wish
that I expressed to you, that G-d should bless you and enable you to
double your contribution by next year, with joy and gladness of heart,
in happy circumstances of affluence both materially and spiritually.

And I do not mean "double" in the strict sense, but, as above, in the
sense of the symbolic number "eight", i.e., above all ordinary

May G-d grant that - as expressed during the farbrengen [Chasidic
gathering], that in the zechus of Chanukah and the lighting of the eight
Chanukah lights, symbolizing the light of the Torah and Mitzvos
[commandments], we should all be zoche [privileged] to see the Lights of
Zion in the third and eternal Beis Hamikdosh, at the complete and true
Geulah [redemption] through our righteous Moshiach.

With esteem and blessing,

P.S. I trust you understand why I constrained myself from taking
"public" note of your letter and enclosure when you handed it to me. I
was not sure whether those present with you knew of its content, or that
you wished it to be known, and thought it wiser to leave it to your own

                               WHO'S WHO
Yael lived at the time of the prophetess Devorah. She was the wife of
Heber, a descendent of Jethro, Moses's father-in-law. When the
Cannannite general, Sisera was fleeing from Barak's army, he sought
refuge in Yael's tent. Instead of protection, he found death at the
hands of the brave Yael who drove a tent stake through his temple as he
slept. When the Jewish general, Barak arrived at her door she announced,
"I will show you the man you seek" and led him to the dead general. She
is praised in the Song of Devorah: "Blessed above women shall Yael be."

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
We are currently in the month of Tevet. The word "Tevet" is related to
the Hebrew word "tov," meaning "good." Early on, it contains the happy
date of "Hei Tevet" when the ownership of the Lubavitch Library was
legally affirmed.

However, we also commemorate sad events, most especially the Tenth of
Tevet. The Tenth of Tevet (this year coinciding with January 23) is the
day on which the evil king Nebuchadnezar laid siege upon Jerusalem,
which eventually led to the destruction of the first Holy Temple, and
the Babylonian Exile. The tenth of Tevet is considered an especially
solemn day, because it is the first in a series of events which led to
the present exile. Therefore it is a day to reflect upon all of those
events and the actions that led to them, and to reflect upon which of
our own actions need improving in order hasten the end of exile and
prepare for the imminent Redemption.

And yet, as stated previously, Tevet is connected to good. We see from
this that we have the power to transform bad into good, sorrow into joy,
darkness into light, and exile into redemption. Since Tevet marks the
beginning of the calamitous events which befell our people, our Sages
named this month "Tevet" to inspire the positive energy that is within
every one of us.

Tevet has the added significance of being connected to the number ten,
as Tevet is the tenth month of the year. Additionally, we commemorate
the siege of Jerusalem on the tenth day of the tenth month.

Ten is a number of great power. Yom Kippur is on the tenth day of
Tishrei. G-d gave us ten commandments. The Torah mentions nine times
that the Jews sang to G-d and the tenth song will be song with the
coming of Moshiach.

We must harness this additional power to fulfill the service of Tevet,
which is to transform the darkness into light.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Then Joseph could not refrain himself...and he cried (Gen. 45:1)

Why was Joseph able to restrain his emotions till then, but at that
point found it impossible to hold them in check? The only reason Joseph
spoke so harshly to his brothers was to bring them to teshuva
(repentance), so that their remorse and sorrow would atone for having
sold him. When Judah declared his willingness to become Joseph's slave,
Joseph realized that they were truly broken-hearted, and he could not
contain himself.

                                                    (Shem MiShmuel)

                                *  *  *

And I will also surely bring you up again (literally, "I will bring you
up and also up") (Gen. 46:4)

The Torah's repetition of the word "up" is an allusion to the two
spiritual ascensions of the Jewish people. The first occurred with the
Exodus from Egypt; the second will take place with Moshiach and the
Final Redemption.

                                            (Sefer HaMaamarim 5709)

                                *  *  *

He sent Judah before him to Joseph, to direct him to Goshen (Gen. 46:28)

Our Sages explain that Judah was dispatched to Egypt before everyone
else "in order to establish a house of learning...that the tribes be
able to study Torah - Hogim baTorah." Jacob understood that their
sojourn in as corrupt a place as Egypt would pose a threat to the
spirituality of the Jewish people, and thus prepared the antidote before
their arrival. The word "hogim" implies a study so deep and
comprehensive that the Torah actually becomes part of the person.
Moshiach is therefore described as "hogeh baTorah," for the power to
redeem the Jewish people from exile can only come from one whose entire
existence is absolutely unified with the Torah itself.

                                                 (Hitvaaduyot 5750)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
One Friday night the Baal Shem Tov was about to make Kiddush on the wine
when he suddenly laughed out loud. In the middle of the Shabbat meal he
laughed again, and a few minutes later he laughed a third time. No one
dared inquire why, but immediately after Shabbat his disciples
approached Reb Zev Kitzes and begged him to find out what was going on.
(Reb Zev Kitzes used to sit with the Baal Shem Tov on Saturday nights
while he smoked his pipe.)

When Reb Zev Kitzes asked the Baal Shem Tov why he had laughed, the
tzadik (righteous person) replied that he would show him. He ordered his
driver to ready the horses and wagon, and the entire group of disciples
piled in for the ride. Throughout the night they traveled, without
knowing their destination. When dawn broke they saw that they had
arrived in the city of Kozhnitz.

After the morning service, the Baal Shem Tov asked that Reb Shabsai the
bookbinder be summoned before him. The head of the Jewish community was
very surprised by the tzadik's interest in this particular individual.
"What I mean to say," he explained, "is that I'm sure he's a fine and
honest man, but he's not exactly what one might call a Torah scholar. In
fact, he's a very simple person." Nonetheless, the Baal Shem Tov was
adamant about speaking to him. Reb Shabsai the bookbinder was summoned,
together with his wife.

When the two of them were standing before him the Baal Shem Tov said, "I
want you to tell me what you did on Shabbat. Tell me the truth, and do
not leave out any details."

"I will tell you everything," Reb Shabsai replied, "and if I've done
something wrong, I beg you to show me how to make amends. I am a simple
bookbinder," he began, "When I was younger and stronger I worked long
hours. My livelihood was plentiful, especially since - sad to say - we
were childless and did not have the expenses of raising a family. Every
Thursday I would buy the necessities for Shabbat, and on Friday mornings
close up shop at ten o'clock, in order to go to the synagogue to prepare
myself for the holy day. Now that I am older, however," he continued, "I
find that I cannot work so hard, and we have become quite poor. But I
refuse to relinquish my former habit.

"This past week, Friday morning rolled around and I did not even have
enough money to buy flour. But I decided that it would be better to
suffer in silence than ask for charity. I asked my wife to promise me
that even if the neighbors noticed we had no food, she would refuse to
take any gifts. Rather, we would willingly accept whatever had been
decreed from Above. Not having any other way to honor the Shabbat, my
wife set about sweeping our humble home with a broom, removing the dust
from every nook and cranny.

"That Friday night, instead of going home right after the evening
service, I remained in the synagogue until everyone was gone. I was
afraid someone might ask me why there weren't any candles burning in the

"Unbeknownst to me, while cleaning the house my wife had found an old
dress with silver buttons on the sleeves. Overjoyed at her find, she had
immediately sold them for enough money to provide a very sumptuous
Sabbath meal. When I came home and saw the house brightly lit and the
table fit for a king, I was very disappointed, assuming that she had
been unable to withstand the temptation of accepting charity.
Nevertheless, I decided to say nothing that would disturb the sanctity
of the Sabbath.

"I made Kiddush and we washed our hands for the challah, but after the
fish I couldn't control myself any longer. Very gently I chided her for
having accepted our neighbors' generosity, but before I could even
finish she told me what had happened. My eyes filled with tears of
happiness, and without even thinking I grabbed her arm and began to
dance with her around the table. After the soup I was again overcome
with joy, and we danced for a second time, and for a third time after
dessert. All in all, three times I was overwhelmed with gratefulness
that G-d had allowed me to rejoice in the Sabbath directly from His holy
hand. But Rebbe," he added worriedly, "If I've committed any sin, please
tell me how to correct it."

At that the Baal Shem Tov turned to his disciples and said, "I want you
to know that the entire entourage of heavenly angels was dancing and
rejoicing with Reb Shabsai and his wife. That is why I laughed aloud
those three times."

He then offered the couple a choice: Either they could live out their
days in honor and wealth, or they could be blessed with a son in their
old age . Reb Shabsai's wife immediately chose to have a child,
whereupon the Baal Shem promised she would give birth the following
year, to a boy they should name Yisrael (the Baal Shem Tov's own name).
He also asked to be invited to the brit, so he could serve as sandek and
hold the baby.

Indeed, the child grew up to be one of the greatest sages of his
generation, known as the Kozhnitzer Maggid.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
He is our G-d, He is our Father, He is our King, He is our Deliverer. He
will deliver and redeem us once again soon, and He in His mercy will let
us hear, in the presence of all the living, the following (Num. 15:41):
"Behold, I have redeemed you at the end as in the beginning, to be your
G-d. I am G-d your G-d."

                                         (Kedusha of Shabbat Musaf)

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1251 - Vayigash 5773

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