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Devarim Deutronomy

Breishis Genesis

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   1253: Shemos

1254: Vaera

1255: Bo

1256: Beshalach

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Devarim Deutronomy

L'Chaim
January 18, 2013 - 7 Shevat, 5773

1255: Bo

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Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


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  1254: Vaera1256: Beshalach  

Reach Out and Touch Someone  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
The Rebbe Writes  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count  |  It Once Happened
Moshiach Matters

Reach Out and Touch Someone

Rabbi Shimon Raichik, emissary of the Rebbe in Los Angeles, California, relates: "In 1976, right after the Entebbe rescue, my brother Yossi and another yeshiva student went to Japan and other nations of the Far East on 'Merkos Shlichut' (whereby pairs of young rabbinical students visit small and isolated Jewish communities around the world). He visited Bangkok, India, Iran, and other neighboring countries.

"One Friday in Japan, he helped the Israeli Ambassador put on tefilin and affixed a mezuza on the embassy door. He met a man in the embassy and asked him, 'Do you want to put on tefilin?'

"The man responded, 'After the Six Day War, I was at the Kotel (Western Wall) and I was asked to put on tefilin. I told them that I believe in the country and the history, but I'm not religious and I will not put on tefilin. Later I visited the U.S. and was on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. A fellow came out of a van and asked me to put on tefilin. I refused, saying that if I didn't put it on at the Kotel, do you think I'll put it on in New York? I traveled to Philadelphia and saw the Liberty Bell. While I was there, someone approached me and asked me to put on tefilin. I refused again. If I didn't put it on at the Kotel, do you think I would do so at the Liberty Bell?'

"The man then looked Yossi in the eye and said, 'If the Lubavitcher Rebbe sent you 10,000 miles away to Japan just to ask me to put on tefilin, could I still refuse? I'll put on tefilin.'

"This person," concludes Rabbi Raichik, "felt as though my brother's entire trip was for him. He felt how much the Rebbe cared for him as an individual, and that is why he was finally willing to put on tefilin. This is the Rebbe's ahavat Yisrael, love of a fellow Jew, shining through. When we reach out to another with this love, the person cannot refuse."

Rabbi Dovid Jaffe, emissary of the Rebbe in Manchester, England, relates: "In 1992, my brother-in-law Max Cohen, a Lubavitcher Chasid in Man-chester needed to travel to Bangladesh on business. Political unrest and a deathly cyclone had aborted his two previous trips. Although assured by his contacts there that it was now safe, he would go only with a blessing from the Rebbe.

"I went in line at 'Sunday Dollars' (when the Rebbe would distribute dollars for people to give to charity and have a momentary meeting with them). I apprised the Rebbe of the situation. The Rebbe handed me a dollar and blessed Max with a successful journey.

"The Rebbe then presented an additional dollar, saying, 'This is for the shaliach (emissary) in Bangladesh.'

"The Rebbe noticed my shock. It seemed inconceivable to me that amongst the 114 million Muslims in Bangladesh Max would find even one Jew, let alone a shaliach! The Rebbe clarified for me, "There is someone who is doing Lubavitch work there."

Explains Rabbi Jaffe: "I understood from the Rebbe's clarification that the person to whom he was referring did not wear a black hat or have a beard. Perhaps he was not even religiously observant. But to the Rebbe he was an emissary.

"Through a twist and turn of events that can only be called Providential, Max found Walter. Walter had once arranged Jewish materials for the child of a Jewish couple who were temporarily located in Bangladesh. The materials were sent to him by Rabbi Yoseph Groner, emissary of the Rebbe in North Carolina. Rabbi Groner had mentioned this to the Rebbe in a report three years earlier."

Concludes Rabbi Jaffe, "To the Rebbe everyone is a shaliach."

The Rebbe stated, "The numerical value of the word 'shaliach' is 348; add ten, corresponding to the 10 faculties of the soul, and you have 358, equaling the word 'Moshiach.' Every Jew is G-d's shaliach and has the task of building a home for G-d in the world. When the shaliach actually harnesses the 10 faculties of his soul toward the fulfillment of his task, he brings the world closer to the Messianic Era which is the ultimate goal of his mission.


Living with the Rebbe

In this week's Torah portion, Bo, we read of the Exodus from Egypt. Generally, it is explained that just prior to their departure from Egypt, the Jews eagerly circumcised themselves and offered the Paschal sacrifice. The Midrash Lekach Tov says otherwise. It explains that when Moses told the people to take a lamb and prepare to bring the Paschal sacrifice, his words fell on deaf ears.

The people simply were not interested. They were grateful to be freed from slavery, but leaving Egypt and going out into the desert did not allure them. On the fourteenth day of Nissan, Moses was the only one to bring a Paschal sacrifice.

So, why were the Jews redeemed? The Lekach Tov continues, stating that the savory aroma of Moses' sacrifice spread throughout the entire land of Goshen where the Jews lived. Slowly, somewhat shamefacedly, each one appeared at Moses' door, requesting: "Your roast smells so good. Can I have a piece?"

Moses told them to circumcise themselves. So anxious were they to taste the meat that they complied. He then explained that this was not simply a piece of roasted meat, it was a sacrifice to G-d. They nodded in agreement, recited the blessing, and with appetite partook of the sacrifice.

When there is a difference of opinion among the Rabbis, our Sages say: "These and these are the words of the living G-d." What that means is that both opinions have important lessons to teach us in our Divine service.

From the Lekach Tov we can learn that it was Moses - and only Moses - who was interested in redemption. The people at large had other concerns. What motivated them to seek redemption? Moses' influence.

Let's explain: Obviously, the people did not relish being slaves in Egypt. Nobody likes being compelled to perform labor by a taskmaster.

But the exile began well before they were slaves. When they lived as free men in Egypt, they were not upset. After all, Egypt was a nice country with a thriving economy. Would it be so bad if that situation continued forever?

Moses differed. He himself was never enslaved. Nevertheless, he wanted to lead the people out of Egypt because the whole motif of exile was foreign to him.

What's the difference between Egypt and the Holy Land? In Egypt (exile), the water supply is from the Nile, while in the Holy Land, it comes from rain. In Egypt, you think there is a natural source for maintaining your existence, and in the Holy Land, you must look heavenward.

Moses wanted the people to look beyond the Nile and realize that it and other "natural, dependable sources" of influence also come from G-d. So, Moses says, "Wake up and live with the truth. Don't let Egypt and its norms control the way you think!"

The people didn't listen to Moses because they didn't understand. After all, they were raised in Egypt and that setting defined their mentality. Moses was simply speaking about a completely different frame of reference. But Moses wanted and ultimately succeeded in getting them to accept his level of understanding. When this happened, they were redeemed.

Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger, reprinted from Keeping in Touch


A Slice of Life

The Rebbe and the Secret Service

In a speech and an interview in 2010, Mr. Yaakov Peri, told of a meeting that he had had with the Rebbe when he headed the Israeli Secret Service.

Rather than meet publicly with the Rebbe in at 770 Eastern Parkway, I was brought late at night to the Rebbe's home. I was struck at first by the Rebbe's shining face. His eyes, his look, these are things you never forget. I told the Rebbe my life story, and the Rebbe wanted to know my opinion of current conditions. He did not ask what the Service was doing or what we were focused on. I had the feeling that he knew what was going on in the Service, maybe better than I did, and he didn't need me to explain it to him.

What surprised me was that the Rebbe, who by nature was occupied with matters of religion, demonstrated such proficiency in the details.

He did not try to give me advice, rather this was a conversation that involved lots of listening, but each question he asked offered a direction and a way of looking at things. I felt a complete openness: that I was speaking to someone, who is not only a spiritual authority but who could be relied on totally. For someone in my position at that time, that was not insignificant.

I began to tell the Rebbe of my concerns at that time. I had assumed office six months before the start of the Intifada. The Security Service was and is structured to deal with terror, but the Intifada required us to change our methods. I began by trying to explain the projections and expectations of Shabak with regard to terrorism inside Israel and outside of Israel.

The Rebbe was very interested in the cooperation with foreign intelligence organizations, and especially the state of the cooperation between the Israeli intelligence services and those in the U.S. He asked if we find a receptive ear among our counterparts abroad.

About midway through the conversation, the Rebbe spoke for about 10 or 15 minutes during which he dissected - in a way that was more amazing than I had ever heard or could imagine - the geo-political situation of the nations of the world towards Israel.

The Rebbe spoke a lot about the international situation between the Eastern Bloc led by Russia and the Western Bloc led by the U.S. and even then he said that the situation between the blocs would be settled. Indeed, his predictions came true very soon afterwards. He spoke mainly of course about the fate of the Jewish people, the suffering. Many times he mentioned the Holocaust.

At a certain point the Rebbe shared with me what he saw as the common mission of those who serve the Jewish people.

He spoke of his predictions about terrorism - including global terrorism. He said that Islam is a religion that has no boundaries, and in the end that will be reflected in their terrorist activities. And later - it did not take long - it became clear that the predictions of the Rebbe were accurate and matched the views of the Intelligence and Security Agency and other bodies on the subject.

But the review of global terrorism that the Rebbe gave me towards the end of the conversation, I would say was one of the most precise intelligence analyses, more amazing and more accurate than I had been privileged to hear - and I was in security for over 30 years.

The Rebbe addressed the root causes and source of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and why in the end Islamic fundamentalism will increase and get involved in murderous terror. If I look back at that analysis and apply it to the World Trade Center bombing, carried out by Islamic terrorists, it is almost exact.

In the final moments of the meeting, the Rebbe said to me: "Whenever you come to the U.S. my home is open to you and all Chabad Chasidim are at your service, just as you and the Security Service are in the service of the Jewish people."

When I returned to Israel I called together the inner group that includes all the department heads and I told them what had transpired and presented to them the positions of Rebbe.


A Blessing from the Rebbe
by Rabbi Dovid Kievman

My wife's close friend and colleague was expecting. On one of her pre-natal visits, the doctor said she had a serious lack of amniotic fluid. He told her the baby would be endangering her life and suggested she abort. She called our home one evening and told me about her situation.

She asked if I would soon be visiting the Ohel - the resting place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe - and if so, would I please pray on her behalf. I told her I wouldn't be going for the next few days but I could immediately send her name and mother's name to someone at the Ohel, who would pray on her behalf.

After hanging up the phone and doing as I had promised, I paused for a few moments, pondering her predicament. I decided to write a letter to the Rebbe on her behalf. I described the situation, and asked the Rebbe for advice and a blessing. I took from the shelf one of many volumes of the Rebbe's Igrot Kodesh, a set of books of his correspondences. I placed the letter between the pages of this arbitrarily chosen volume, then recited a chapter of Psalms on her behalf.

Afterward, I opened the Igrot Kodesh to the page where I had placed my letter (Vol. 18, pg. 373, in Hebrew) and began to read: "In response to your letter, at an auspicious time, I will mention (in prayer) those about whom you write, at the gravesite of my holy father-in-law, the Rebbe - according to their needs, as you have written."

The letter concluded: "May G-d, blessed be His name, complete the days of your wife's pregnancy in a normal and easy manner. May she give birth to a living and healthy child at its appropriate time - (and may the birth occur) in a normal and easy manner. With blessings for good tidings in all the afore-mentioned."

At the end of the letter, there was a P.S.: "Pertaining to those pregnant women about whom you write, it would be proper that they inspect the mezuzas in their homes (if they have not been checked in the past 12 months), ascertaining that they are all kosher according to Jewish Law."

I called the woman back. I described to her what I had done, in addition to forwarding her name to the Ohel. I proceeded to read to her, verbatim, the Rebbe's letter.

When I concluded, she replied with emotion, "Thank you!" Then she asked, "Do you mean to say that you placed my letter into an arbitrary volume and page, and this is what that page said?"

I replied in the affirmative. "Didn't you first look in the index for letters regarding pregnancy?"

"No, I did not," I said. She asked me to repeat the Rebbe's answer, which I did.

The next day, she removed her mezuzas and brought them to a qualified scribe to be inspected. When she inquired about the results of the inspection, the scribe reported that the mezuza installed at the front door was invalid since it was filled with water. She made the connection in her mind between the water in the mezuza and the lack of fluid endangering her unborn child.

She quickly replaced the front door mezuza with a new, kosher mezuza. Also, the blessing of the Rebbe had infused her with the confidence to go back to her doctor and tell him that she was determined to continue with the pregnancy.

She remained under her doctor's care and the pregnancy concluded successfully. The healthy baby was born "in its proper time." Mazal tov!

From the forthcoming book by Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin.


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The Rebbe Writes

20 Adar 1, 5711 [1951]

Blessing and Greeting:

Your visit the other day gave me the pleasant opportunity of touching upon an important topic, which deserved more time than I had at my disposal. I trust that the next few lines may put the subject in bolder relief to make up for the unavoidable brevity.

Any thinking person must frequently ask himself, "What is my life's purpose?"

This question occurs more frequently and with greater force in the minds of the studying youth, who dedicate a number of their best years to study and preparation for their future life lying still fully ahead of them. Moreover, adolescents have untapped resources of energy and enthusiasm which they eagerly desire to put to good advantage. To them the question of their life's purpose is more urgent and vital than to people of mature years.

To us Jews - the People of the Book - this question is of still greater importance. The meaning of the epithet is not merely that we are a people of education and learning in general, for "The Book" refers to the Torah (Bible) with which we are identified. Torah means "instruction," "guidance," for the Torah is our guide in life. The Torah makes us constantly aware of our duties in life; it gives us a true definition of our life's purpose, and it shows us the ways and means of attaining this goal.

The life's purpose of every Jew, man or woman, has been clearly defined as far back as the Revelation at Mount Sinai more that 32 and a half centuries ago, when we received the Divine Torah and became a nation. We were then ordained as "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." This means that every one of us must be holy in our private life; and in our association with the outside world, every one of us, man or woman, must fulfill priestly functions. The priest's function is to "bring" G-d to the people, and to elevate the people to be nearer to G-d. Similarly, every Jew and Jewess fulfill their personal and "priestly" duties by living a life according to the Torah.

The extent of one's duty is in direct proportion to one's station in life. It is all the greater in the case of an individual who occupies a position of some prominence, which gives him, or her, an opportunity to exercise influence over others, especially over youths. Such persons must fully appreciate the privilege and responsibility which Divine Providence vested in them to spread the light of the Torah and to fight darkness wherever and in whatever form it may rear its head.

This is your duty and privilege as one of the student officers in relation to your coreligionist colleagues and student body in general. I should also like to convey this message to your colleagues in the JCF [Jewish Culture Foundation at New York University]. You are all no doubt aware of this, but perhaps there is room for added emphasis and the conviction that "it cannot be otherwise."

No Jewish individual ought to be satisfied with the fact that as far as he personally is concerned, he is doing his best to improve himself. He owes it to the next fellow to help him improve himself, too.

Nor should discouragement or a spirit of defeatism be permitted to creep into one's mind, such as "What can I do?" I am alone in the field," etc. Our father Abraham has taught us what one individual can achieve. For "One was Abraham, yet he inherited all the earth" (Ezekiel 33:24). Our age, which some people prefer to call the Atomic Age, has further demonstrated that in the minute quantity of matter tremendous stores of energy may be found. All that is necessary is to discover them, and then harness these stores of energy to constructive purposes, and not, G-d forbid, otherwise.

In the light of the motto, often used by my late father-in-law of saintly memory, that "A Jew neither desires, nor can he be severed from G-d," I feel sure that the thoughts expressed in the above brief lines will find their proper response in your heart and in the hearts of your colleagues and friends.

Needless to say, I shall always be glad to receive good news of your progress in that direction.

Cordially,


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

In a renowned letter, the Baal Shem Tov describes an elevation of his soul to the chamber of Moshiach at which time he asked Moshiach when he would come. "When your teachings will become widely known in the world, and your wellsprings will be disseminated outward," Moshiach answered.

Thus, from its very beginning, bringing Moshiach has been an integral goal of the Chasidic movement.

From his earliest childhood, Moshiach and the Redemption were uppermost in the Rebbe's mind, as he once wrote: "From the day I went to cheder and even before that, there began to form in my mind a picture of the future Redemption, the Redemption of the Jewish people from their final exile..." Even before the age of three the Rebbe's young mind was already occupied with the Redemption. And this has been the Rebbe's focus ever since.

Preparing the world for Moshiach is thus integral to the entire Chasidic movement, particularly to Chabad-Lubavitch. Thus, once the Rebbe accepted the enormous responsibility of the leadership of Chabad-Lubavitch, he stated in no uncertain terms the ultimate purpose of his leadership:

"This is what is demanded of each and every one of us of the seventh generation - and 'All those who are seventh are cherished': Although the fact that we are in the seventh generation is not the result of our own choosing and our own service, and indeed in certain ways perhaps contrary to our will, nevertheless 'All those who are seventh are cherished.' We are now very near the approaching footsteps of Moshiach, indeed, we are at the conclusion of this period, and our spiritual task is to complete the process of drawing down G-d's presence - moreover, the essence of G-d's presence - within specifically our lowly world."

These words were spoken in the Rebbe's first public discourse on the tenth of Shevat, 5711 (1951). The Rebbe completed the discourse by saying, "May we merit to see and be together with the Rebbe, down here in a physical body and within our reach, and he will redeem us."

So it should be with us.


Thoughts that Count

They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place (10:23)

The worst kind of darkness that can exist is when a person does not see his brother or extend his hand to help the needy. When one ignores his responsibilities and makes believe that the problems of others don't exist, the end result is that he himself will suffer and not be able to rise.

(Chidushei HaRim)


For I have hardened his heart (Ex. 10:1)

G-d "boasts" of the free will He has given man, one of the greatest mysteries of all creation, and a part of the Divine plan. Only man can take the life-force and blessings he receives from Above and use them in a manner totally contrary to G-d's will.

(Sefat Emet)


And the L-rd struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt (Ex. 12:29)

Comments Rashi: "Whenever the Torah states 'and the L-rd,' it refers to G-d and His heavenly court." When it comes to meting out punishment, G-d gives the decision over to the heavenly angels, who do not know the thoughts of man. (A Jew is not punished for negative thoughts, as it states, "A bad thought is not considered part of deed.") By contrast, when it comes to reward, G-d does not consult with His heavenly court, as "a good thought is considered part of deed," and only G-d knows our thoughts and intentions.

(Nezer HaKodesh)


It Once Happened

Kfar Chabad, the Chabad-Lubavitch village in Israel, was founded by the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, in 1949. By 1955, people who wanted to live in the village were being turned away as there were no more apartments available. On the Chabad Chasidic "New Year" - 19 Kislev in 1957, the Rebbe asked that at the farbrengen (Chasidic gathering) in Kfar Chabad it be announced that a new neighborhood in the village was being established.

At the farbrengen in New York with the Rebbe, a unique occurrence took place which had never happened before and was never to be repeated: The Rebbe decided how much money each Chasid should give toward the establishment of the new neighborhood. The Rebbe blessed whoever would give to receive G-d's blessings, saying, "If it seems to someone that he was told to give an amount that he is unable to give, the intention is so that G-d will give him at least four times that amount and therefore, when you add another $1000, G-d will give you $4000!"

Among the people sitting in the crowd was Naftali Dulitzky, a diamond dealer from Tel Aviv. Whenever he visited the Rebbe he brought a large sum of money with which he would buy diamonds at lower prices on the New York diamond exchange and sell for a nice profit in Israel and Europe.

Like everybody else there, Naftali handed a slip of paper to the Rebbe that included his name and the amount of money he would be giving. Naftali wrote down a large number, 20% of the money he had brought with him to New York to do business.

The Rebbe began reading the notes, telling each person how much to add, from double to 200 times the amount originally pledged. Naftali realized that he should at least double the amount he wrote, but did not imagine how much more would be asked of him. When his note was read by the Rebbe, the Rebbe announced: "Tula Dulitzky - five times more!"

Naftali looked stunned. The Rebbe had left him without a penny for his business transactions. However, as a loyal Chasid he did not ask questions, and as soon as the farbrengen was over he gave the full amount. Although he did not know what he would do the next day, a Chasid is not put off by such concerns.

The next part of the story, related by Naftali's daughter, was heard from Rabbi Chatzkel Besser of Agudath Israel, who knew Naftali for years and often went with him to the Rebbe's farbrengens.

"I was supposed to go to that farbrengen with Naftali, but I missed it. The next day, when I met Naftali in Manhattan, I asked him how the farbrengen was. He said, with a smile, that they had to give huge amounts of money. He confided that he had been instructed to give all the money he had brought with him for the new neighborhood in Kfar Chabad.

"I was a bit surprised. I knew him as a Chasid who would give everything to the Rebbe, but I did not understand why the Rebbe needed to take everything from him. We spoke for a few minutes and then parted. As far as I was concerned, the story was over.

"A little more than a year later, I was in Israel for some communal matter. I met Naftali while there. As we spoke I mentioned our previous conversation that took place in Manhattan. Naftali said, 'I'll tell you what happened later. A few days after the farbrengen, I boarded a ship back to Israel. My original plan was to stop for a few days in Europe to sell the diamonds I would have bought in the U.S. Although now I had no reason to waste time there, my ticket was already purchased.

" 'I arrived in the morning in Antwerp and went to the diamond exchange, where I was immediately greeted by an acquaintance, "Dulitzky, you don't know how happy I am to see you!" Understanding my surprise, he explained that he wanted to do a deal on large diamonds, which he knew to be my area of expertise.

" 'I explained to him that I did not have any money or diamonds for sale, but he insisted that I accompany him nonetheless. "At least come with me to see the diamonds," he begged.

" 'I tried to get out of it, but he was determined. I finally gave in on condition that I would be there only to advise him. I looked at the diamonds that he had been offered and recommended that he buy them. They were very nice and the price, relative to the quality, was quite reasonable. I figured that my job was done, but he thought otherwise.

" 'He wanted to make a partnership with me. As much as I tried to explain to him that I didn't have money to invest, he refused to hear it. He wanted a partnership, and honestly, I don't know why I agreed. But I signed a contract and promised to send him my share when I returned to Israel.

" 'When I returned to Israel, I sent him a letter asking for the details regarding the payment I owed him. He sent me back a telegram saying I didn't owe him anything.

" 'A few days later I received a letter from him in which he explained that he had been able to sell all the diamonds quickly and make a nice profit. He promised to send me my share of the money. When I read the next line I was flabbergasted. The sum was four times the amount I had donated on 19 Kislev! The Rebbe had stated at the farbrengen, "If it seems to someone that he was told to give an amount that he is unable to give, the intention is so that G-d will give him at least four times that amount..." ' "

Reprinted from Beis Moshiach Magazine


Moshiach Matters

Chief Sefardic Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe at 770 Eastern Parkway on 6 Cheshvan, 5752 (1991). In the course of the conversation, the Rebbe said to him, "The Redemption will not just come 'eventually'; it is already standing on the doorstep. It waits only for each and every one of us to open the door and drag the redemption inside." Rabbi Eliyahu responded, "We'll leave the door open!"


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