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1262: Vayakhel-Pekudei

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L'Chaim
March 8, 2013 - 26 Adar, 5773

1262: Vayakhel-Pekudei

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


Text VersionFor Palm Pilot
  1261: Ki Sisa1263: Vayikra  

A Rose is a Rose  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
The Rebbe Writes  |  Who's Who  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

A Rose is a Rose

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." "A rose is a rose is a rose." These two quotes are basically true, except when it comes to a rose, for instance, that somehow grows in the middle of a cornfield. For then, at least to the farmer, it's not a rose but a weed. And if it has lots of sharp, prickly thorns, it might be even worse than that!

The idea that something can be good, or positive, or appreciated in one situation but considered bad, or negative, or not respected in another is not only applicable to roses.

For instance, the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, made the following powerful statement: "In material matters one should always look at one whose situation is lower than one's own, and thank G-d for His kindness. In spiritual matters one should always look at one who is higher than oneself, and plead with G-d to grant him the intelligence to learn from the other, and the ability and strength to rise higher."

Sounds like something your mother told you when you were a kid and wanted everything you saw in the toy store, or at least the same bike your next-door-neighbor had: "You can look up or you can look down," she might have told you. Her admonition and the Previous Rebbe's advice are sane counsel for these days of consumerism and kids-who-have-everythingism, aren't they?

It's important, however, to notice the Rebbe's emphasis on when you look up and when you look down. In material matters you should look at those who have less, and then you will be satisfied with what you have. But in spiritual matters you should look for guidance and direction toward those who have managed to develop and refine themselves and their relationship with the Divine more than yourself.

These thoughts are echoed in the response of Rabbi Shneur Zalman - the founder of Chabad-Lubavitch philosophy - to a young genius, famed for his intellectual gifts. But he takes them one step further: "Spiritual and physical are antithetical in their very essence," he told the student. "A superior quality in the physical is a deficiency in the spiritual. In material matters, one who is "satisfied with his lot" is an individual of the highest quality. A person possessing this trait can attain the highest levels. In spiritual matters, however, to be satisfied with one's lot is the worst deficiency, and leads, G-d forbid, to descent and falling."

A rose is a rose is a rose, except when it's a weed.


Living with the Rebbe

There are 39 categories of "work" prohibited on Shabbat, derived from the 39 different types of labor that were required to build the Sanctuary. As every Jew is enjoined to erect a "Sanctuary" to G-d in the spiritual sense, these laws reveal many important lessons for our Divine service.

As we read in the first of this week's two Torah portions, Vayakhel, setting a fire is one of these prohibited labors, as it states, "You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Sabbath day." The strict definition of "setting a fire" for which a Jew is culpable requires that some sort of benefit be derived from the act: either illumination, heat, or for the purpose of producing ashes. Without the element of benefit, it is not considered "setting a fire." (However, by Rabbinic decree it is forbidden to set any kind of fire or engage in related activities on Shabbat.)

In spiritual terms, this means that "fire," in and of itself, is not considered an actual component of our Divine service unless it produces practical benefit. To explain:

"Fire" refers to the innate flame within the Jewish soul, as it states, "The candle of G-d is the soul of man." A Jew is required to kindle and encourage this inner fire, until his whole being is suffused with longing to reunite with its G-dly Source.

In Judaism, however, spiritual elevation is not an end it itself. The objective is not to feel elevated and close to G-d, to the extent that the physical, mundane world becomes unimportant.

On the contrary, the Torah teaches that this is not a true "fire," for although it is pure it is devoid of purpose. In order to build a genuine "Sanctuary," a Jew's fiery love for G-d must result in actual consequences and actions.

This is reflected in the physical phenomenon of ashes. Ashes are symbolic of the most intense level of corporeality, which is why they remain after other matter is completely burned and consumed. Indeed, the whole purpose of a Jew's "fire," i.e., spiritual arousal, is to produce "ashes" - permeate the very lowest levels of existence with Torah and mitzvot.

The refinement of the physical plane through Torah and mitzvot is the underlying objective of the world's creation. When a Jew utilizes physical objects for the sake of Heaven he attains the most elevated of spiritual heights and fulfills G-d's will, according to the dictum "Action is the main thing."

The service of every individual Jew elevating his own corner of the world will in turn lead to the ultimate elevation of creation: the coming of Moshiach and the Final Redemption.

Adapted from Vol. 36 of Likutei Sichot


A Slice of Life

And When You Walk
by Baila Olidort

He's the good looking, buoyant 12 year old Nepalese boy who greets visitors to Katmandu's Chabad House with a huge smile: "Hi I'm Bim, the boy from Beit Chabad," he offers. He's also quick to provide unsolicited bits of useful information, like candle-lighting time on Friday, or that Shabbat is not out until three stars are spotted in the sky.

Bim arrived at the Chabad House last year, naked but for a plastic bag that he used for some cover. One of hundreds of children exploited for profit on Kathmandu's dangerous streets, he fixed his eyes on a Chabad rabbinical student, and asked for help. He wouldn't leave go until the student brought him back to the Chabad House.

Chezki and Chani Lifshitz, Chabad representatives here have become beloved figures in Kathmandu, especially to thousands of Israeli backpackers who flock to the Himalayas after completing their service in the IDF. (The Lifshitzs were the inspiration for Kathmandu, a popular Israeli TV series based on their day-to-day lives as Chabad Shluchim (emissaries) in this third-world backwater.)

After 13 years of living here, the Lifshitzs have not become hardened to the poverty and the human suffering that are everywhere in this slum city. "My grandmother is a Holocaust survivor," Chani says. "I learned from her not to ignore the pleading eyes of a child in need. Bim was not going to survive-that much was obvious," she says.

The boy screamed in pain as Chani and Chezki gently washed his lacerated, severely malnourished body. Scars and bruises - from beatings by his traffickers disappointed in his take home after a day on the streets - were raw. They brought a doctor in to administer first aid. They cut his long, matted hair and uncovered a beautiful face. They fed him, clothed him and made him comfortable.

What made Bim know to ask for the Chabad House?

"He had heard of the Chabad House, the Jewish place where people find help," Chani explained in a phone conversation.

Bim had no normal socialization. "He was not raised as normal children are, and he had to learn basic behaviors." He also needed psychological therapy and professional help to wean him from a substance dependency (inhaling glue) that many of the street children cultivate in Kathmandu. Then his traffickers, unwilling to give Bim up as a source of income, began to harass and intimidate the Lifshitzs.

With five of their own young children, Chani and Chezki's days were already filled anticipating and answering the needs of an endless stream of visitors to their Chabad House. The go-to people for every exigency arising among young and restless Israelis traveling dangerously, and for their families abroad who depend on the Lifshitzs to help in emergencies, were Chezki and Chani getting in deeper than they meant to?

It was a question that surely crossed their minds during those first days with Bim. Adopting a Nepalese child is not exactly what they expected to be doing as Chabad Shluchim. "But we asked ourselves what the Rebbe would advise us to do," Chani says. "There's no question he'd tell us to do whatever we can to save his life."

Chezki and Chani paid Bim's handlers for his release, and gave him a new life in the bosom of their family. The Lifshitz children surrounded him with warmth and acceptance, and he integrated quickly. "My children have been amazing, full of love and appreciation for Bim. They've learned so much from him-gratitude for the things in life they never had to think about before . . . like having parents."

"Ima Chani" and "Abba Chezki" as Bim likes to call his adoptive parents, enrolled Bim in a private school where he is proving to be a fast learner and a high achiever. "Last year he did not know how to read or write. Now he's reading and writing in three languages. He's skipped two grades since he started formal schooling," says Chani, kvelling like any good Jewish mother. "He's incredibly bright."

Bim is not Jewish, but that's not relevant, Chani says, and converting him is not on the agenda. "We did not adopt him to make him Jewish. We adopted him to save his life, to give him the opportunity to grow intelligently, with happiness and love."

But Bim has something more in mind. Precocious and very proud of his adoptive Jewish family, he tells visitors that he'll be having a bar mitzvah next year just like his "older brother" did. He insists that his Jewish name is Binyamin. And he's learning Hebrew.

The Passover Seder in Kathmandu - with about 2,000 guests - is one of the largest and most popular worldwide. Chezki and Chani invest weeks of preparation. Speaking from Israel where she is adding Passover provisions to a shipping container that will arrive in Kathmandu for Passover, Chani is clearly the skilled multi-tasker. Back home, her husband is taking care of logistics at the Chabad House. Reservations for the legendary Seder are quickly filling up, and Bim and his siblings are pitching in as well.

The Lifshitzs never sought to publicize Bim's story. "Bim's been with us for a year and a half now," says Chani, and we never thought about bringing this to anyone's attention." But with so many visitors making their way to the Chabad House, the story about the Nepalese boy who seems to know more about Judaism than many of the Israeli travelers who come there, finally made Israeli news.

The story then garnered attention in Nepal as well. "We've had representatives of various agencies and organizations, most recently from the UN who come to our Chabad House wanting to learn more."

"I hope this will raise awareness of the plight of Nepal's street children," Chani says. "Imagine if more children like Bim would be saved."

Reprinted from Lubavitch.com. Baila Olidort is editor-in-chief of lubavitch.com/Lubavitch News Service.


What's New

Massive Shabbaton

Nine hundred people attended the fourth annual International Russian Shabbaton in at the Stamford Plaza Hotel in Connecticut this past month. The event was hosted and organized by Chamah International and the Lubavitch Youth Organization. Guests came from across the United States, Canada, and Ukraine; a group of 50 students from Moscow joined as well. Throughout the Shabbaton, lectures, panels and workshops simultaneously took place in Russian and English.

Torah Scrolls Welcomed

A restored Eastern European Torah scroll that was written in the 1860s was completed and welcomed to Chabad of South Palm Beach, Florida. The Torah is from the white Russian region of Smolensk. A new Torah scroll was welcomed to the Oholei Yosef Yitzchok synagogue in Natzeret Illit, Israel. A new Torah scroll was welcomed at the official opening of the new $5 million two-building campus facility on 10 Mile in Oak Park, Michigan.


The Rebbe Writes

Freely translated and adapted

25 Adar, 5742 [1982]
To the Sons and Daughters of Our People Israel, Everywhere, G-d bless you all!

Greeting and Blessing:

After Purim, we turn our attention to the preparations for Pesach [Passover]...

Our Sages of blessed memory connect the redemption of Purim with the redemption of Pesach (Passover), although the two deliverances were quite different. Yet the two also have certain features in common. One of them is the emphatic imperative to remember and observe these days to all posterity. Thus, in regard to Pesach the Torah declares (in Parshas HaChodesh): "And this day shall be unto you for a remembrance... unto your generations." Similarly, in regard to Purim it is written: "And these days shall be remembered and done in every generation and generation. "

It has often been emphasized that a remembrance in Torah, as in Jewish life in general, is not meant for the purpose of merely recalling an important event that happened in the past. Rather, the real purpose is to derive specific practical lessons for today and tomorrow.

We will focus here on one of the important points, common to Pesach and Purim.

The Passover sacrifice required that every man individually take a lamb (or kid) for an offering, for himself and his household. In complying with this Mitzva (commandment), each person, each family, each chavurah (group) acted as a separate entity, distinct from the whole Jewish people - each a world in itself. But at the same time they were all unified within "the whole congregation of Israel" which had received the same Divine commandment, to carry out the same Mitzva, at the same time, in the same manner, as emphasized in the verse: "The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel," all unified in the performance of a Mitzva that is connected with the Exodus from Egypt, when all Jews came out together triumphantly as one nation from the first exile, which is also the harbinger of the ultimate and complete redemption from the present and last exile.

Similarly it is underscored in the Megilah [Scroll of Esther], which tells the story of the Miracle and redemption of Purim, that even when Jews are in exile, "scattered and dispersed among the nations," - every Jew a world unto himself - they remain, nevertheless, "one people" and "their laws (of the Torah, their way of life) are different from those of all other nations."

And also in the observance of Purim there is a similarity to the Passover sacrifice, as noted above, requiring that every Jew, individually, hear the reading of the Megilah, send portions (mishlo'ach monos) "a man to his friend", and give "gifts to the poor", etc. But the intent (soul) of these Mitzvoth is to bring closer and unify all these individuals ("a man," and "his friend," "the poor") as well as - "young and old, infants and women" - so that everyone can see that they are one people, whose unity is emphasized also earlier in the Megilah, as the first step toward the Redemption: "Go assemble together all the Jews."

It is in this way that we achieve (while still in exile) the position that "For the Jews there is light, joy, gladness, and honor."[...]

There is a practical instruction that follows from the above that should permeate every detail of the daily life of every Jew, man and woman:

Every Jew is a complete world in himself and has a G-d given task from the Creator-of-man; a task that has to be carried out in the fullest measure according to the capacities that have been given him. This task has to be carried out by each person himself, individually, without relying on someone else, or on the community, to carry out his task for him.

On the other hand, he must know that he is a part of the one people, composed of millions and millions of Jews (may their numbers increase), a nation blessed "as the stars of heaven for multitude."

In a deeper sense, moreover, it is a "one people" that is composed of all generations of Jews, from the time the Torah was given to the end of time.

It is clear, therefore, that every individual's task is an integral part of the whole community of Israel; and the good of the community outweighs personal considerations and personal interests.

It also follows that when a Jew acts for the benefit of the community, for the good of the one people that embraces all generations, he draws strength from the inexhaustible wellspring of the eternal people, and he is bound to succeed in this effort, and thereby also in all in his personal affairs, both material and spiritual...


Who's Who

Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch, who was known as the Rebbe Rashab, was born in 1860 and passed away on the second of Nissan, in 1920. He was the son and successor of Rabbi Shmuel, the Rebbe Maharash, and was himself the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe. Because of his systematic, intellectual approach to the teaching of Chasidut, he became known as "the Rambam of Chasidut." He was the founder of the Lubavitcher Yeshiva, Tomchei Temimim.


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

This Shabbat we read a special Torah portion, Parshat HaChodesh, that speaks about the month of Nisan (which begins on Tuesday).

Our Sages argued over when the Final Redemption with Moshiach will occur. Some held that "In Nisan [our ancestors] were redeemed [from Egypt]; in Nisan [the Jewish people] will be redeemed in the future." Others insisted that the Final Redemption will take place in the month of Tishrei.

There are two reasons why Moshiach has to come. One is by virtue of the Jewish people's cumulative service of G-d over the last few thousand years. The other is simply G-d's promise to bring Moshiach.

According to Chasidic philosophy, the month of Nisan symbolizes the level of G-dliness that transcends our service. G-d took our forefathers out of Egypt on Passover despite the fact that they were spiritually degraded and unworthy. By contrast, Tishrei (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur), is a time for returning to G-d in repentance and prayer.

The Rabbis' disagreement over the most appropriate month for Redemption was based on whichever factor each considered more decisive. Those who believed that spiritual status is more important held that it will occur in Tishrei, insisting that the Jewish people must be aroused to increased observance of Torah and mitzvot in order for Moshiach to come. Those who believed that G-d's promise is the determining factor held it will occur in Nisan.

So how was it resolved? Actual halacha (Jewish law) rules that "in Nisan they will be redeemed" - that the overriding consideration is simply G-d's promise. But both sides had a valid point, for by the time Moshiach comes, the world will have already been transformed by our service into an appropriate vessel for G-dliness. Yet the revelation of holiness that will occur will far surpass any level man could have attained by his own efforts.

May it happen immediately.


Thoughts that Count

And Moses gathered together all the Congregation of the Children of Israel and said to them: "These are the things which G-d has commanded that you should do" (Ex. 35:1)

Every Jew approaches a mitzva (commandment) with his own personal thoughts and intentions, according to his intellect and level of understanding. Yet the physical performance of the mitzva is carried out in the same manner by all. Moses was able to assemble all the Jews together in true unity because the performance of mitzvot is common to all Jews, no matter what their other differences may be.

(Rebbe of Tshortkov)


On the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day (Ex. 35:2)

Rabbi Bunim once said: "There is no other mitzva as all-encompassing as that of the Sukka. A person actually enters the mitzva with his whole body, his clothes, and even his shoes." Rabbi Shlomo Leib of Lentashna responded: "The mitzva of Shabbat is even greater. One need not lift a finger to bring it on; Shabbat arrives by itself. And, the holiness of Shabbat totally encompasses everyone and everything for more than 24 hours."


All the wise-hearted among you shall come, and make all that G-d has commanded. (35:10)

When a person decides to do a mitzva, it is preferable to do it immediately, as the opportunity presents itself, and not procrastinate. Doing a mitzva with diligence and alacrity prevents all kinds of obstacles from arising to prevent the performance of the mitzva at a later time. That is why the verse says, "All the wise-hearted among you shall come" - one who is truly wise - "shall come"- without delay.

(HaDrash Vehaiyun)


And they beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires, to work it into the blue and into the purple (Ex. 39:3)

Rashi explains how this was done: "They used to spin the gold together with the threads...making them intertwined with every kind of material...the threads of all the kinds were six-fold, and the gold was the seventh thread." This teaches that people whom G-d has blessed with gold and riches should not hold themselves apart from their poorer brethren. Rather, they should act humbly and freely "mix" themselves with the more common threads.

(Siftei Tzadik)


It Once Happened

1918. Civil war raged between the Reds and the Whites in Russia. After a few months of bitter street fighting, the Reds finally took the upper hand. That is when the Communists began forcibly ruling over the millions of Russian citizens.

In order to firmly establish their position, the Communists compiled a long list of rules to regulate the lives of the citizens. They couldn't congregate in the evening, and even during the daytime no more than a few people were allowed to gather, lest they attempt to conspire against the government.

Beginning in 1919, the government cracked down harder and harder. They established laws limiting the activities and authority of religious institutions. They began to dog the footsteps of rabbanim and often conducted searches in their homes for possible proof of rebellion.

One day they came to the home of Rabbi Sholom Dovber of Lubavitch, the Rebbe Rashab, in Rostov. A group of soldiers armed with rifles broke into the Rebbe's home to search for anti-revolutionary material. The members of the household were ordered not to move from their places. The sight of the armed soldiers was terribly frightening, and the Rebbe remarked to those standing around him that it would only be right if the soldiers at least removed the bayonets from their rifles.

Those who had come to the house stood in terror, watching silently as the soldiers turned the house over in their search. None of them dared repeat to the soldiers what the Rebbe said. Another moment went by, and then Rabbi Yaakov Landau, the young rabbi who was a household member in the Rebbe's home, courageously spoke to the commanding officer and asked him to consider the Rebbe's honor and remove the bayonets.

The officer could have easily ordered that the young man be beaten for his nerve, yet amazingly, the officer told his soldiers to respect the Rebbe's wishes.

But the search was not over. The soldiers continued looking, and one of them found a box of tobacco the Rebbe used on Passover. The soldier wanted the box and put it in his pocket. The Rebbe observed the theft and moaned, telling those around him that the box was precious to him, and that he was willing to redeem the Passover snuff box, which was made of tin, for a different one made of silver.

The household members standing around thought it wasn't an auspicious time to get into an argument with soldiers over something so insignificant. Again it was Rabbi Yaakov Landau who put his life on the line, and as a loyal Chasid he acceded to the Rebbe's request. He turned to the officer again and asked him to tell the soldier to return the box.

Again those present were certain that the officer, a wicked man whose hatred for the Jews burned in his eyes, would order Rabbi Landau's arrest, but incredibly, he turned to the soldiers, red-faced with anger, and said that whoever stole the box had to remove it from his pocket at once and put it on the table, otherwise he would be sorry. Within seconds one of the soldiers grudgingly removed the box from his pocket and placed it on the table.

The Rebbe looked pleased until he noticed that the box cover had been opened. His face was downcast again and he said that since the box had been opened he didn't need it anymore, since the soldier might possibly have had a drop of chametz in his pocket.

King David said in Psalms, "You recompense a man according to his deeds." As the soldiers left the house, a bullet from one of the soldier's rifles accidentally shot the soldier who had stolen the box, and killed him on the spot!

This difficult episode left its mark on the Rebbe Rashab, who said that he could not continue to live with the Communists. Shortly thereafter, on the second of Nissan, 1920, the Rebbe Rashab passed away.

From Beis Moshiach Magazine


Moshiach Matters

The Talmud (Sanhedrin 92b) states: "This world exists for 6,000 years, and then one of desolation."  Rabbi Sholom Dovber of Lubavitch, the Rebbe Rashab, explains: '"One of desolation' means that in the 7th millennium it will be desolate and empty from physicality." The physical aspect of the world will pass away, but the Divine vitality within it will continue to exist and in fact be elevated: "In truth what is stated 'one [millennium] of desolation' is not really disappearance, but rather elevation to a higher level, and all that will be lost is the physicality. This does not mean that they will be nullified completely...[for the Divine vitality which] keeps them in existence now is unchanging," for the truth of the world endures eternally.

(Moshiachindepth.wordpress.com)


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