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by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger
One Saturday night, shortly after the conclusion of the Sabbath, the phone rang in the home of Rabbi Laibl Groner, of the Rebbe's secretariat. An elderly Chasid was on the line asking for a blessing for his wife. She had been in the hospital for several days, and her condition was critical.
Rabbi Groner offered some words of reassurance to the Chasid but told him that it was often difficult to contact the Rebbe after Shabbat. He would try, but if it was not possible, he would communicate the message Sunday morning.
Rabbi Groner was, in fact, unable to reach the Rebbe that night. As soon as the Rebbe came to 770 Sunday morning, Rabbi Groner told him of the Chasid's wife. The Rebbe listened and told Rabbi Groner to call Rabbi Chodakov, the Rebbe's senior aide.
After speaking to the Rebbe, Rabbi Chodakov told Rabbi Groner to call the Chasid so that he, Rabbi Chodakov, could communicate a message from the Rebbe.
Several moments after Rabbi Chodakov spoke to the Chasid, the elder man called Rabbi Groner back and told him the entire story.
His wife had been severely ill for several days. On Friday night, her condition had become so desperate that the doctors abandoned all hope. Early Shabbat morning, however, her condition took a sharp turn for the better. Nevertheless, since it was still serious, as soon as Shabbat ended, the Chasid had called Rabbi Groner to ask for the Rebbe's blessing. During the interim, her condition continued to improve, and now the doctors were confident that she would recover.
"The Rebbe had instructed Rabbi Chodakov to tell me that my wife's condition had begun to improve about 5:00 a.m. on Shabbat. He emphasized that, in case I might think this was due to other factors, the Rebbe told me to tell you her recovery came about because she had been brought to mind at that time," [i.e., the Rebbe had thought about her].
On that Shabbat morning, no one had told the Rebbe about the woman's condition. There was no way the information could have been given to him, and yet he had sensed the woman's need.
Not only could he sense her predicament, his positive thinking was able to bring about her recovery.
The above story is not an isolated phenomenon. Documented evidence has forced even the most hardened skeptics to admit that the childless were blessed with progeny, the ill with health, and that fortunes were made and/or saved because of the Rebbe's blessings.
What does this mean to us today?
First of all, the Rebbe has never stopped keeping people in mind. After the passing of his father-in-law and predecessor, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the Rebbe told the Chasidim to continue writing to him and he would find a way to answer. As countless stories indicate, even in the present years, the Rebbe himself has found a way to answer those who seek his blessings.
But more importantly, the Rebbe's greatest miracles are in the realm of ideas. He provided us with clarity and insight, an awareness of who we are and where we are going that rings true and empowers. Each person whose life he has touched has become deeper and richer and a source of inspiration for others. The chain reaction that this dynamic initiated continues to produce change in many people's lives.
Yud-Alef (11) Nissan, this Friday, is the Rebbe's birthday. Our Sages teach us that on a person's birthday, his or her spiritual potentials and goals are given additional power. This is the day when the Rebbe's goals and purposes are highlighted and given greater expression.
In one of his letters, the Rebbe writes that from his earliest childhood, he would picture the future Redemption in his mind. Perhaps the most appropriate birthday present we could give to the Rebbe is to do something to advance that purpose, and the Rebbe has told us exactly what he would like us to do:
Learn about the era of G-dly knowledge, peace, and cooperation that Moshiach will initiate, and share that awareness with others; and
Be proactive by reaching out to the people around you with deeds of love and kindness.
By living with the Redemption, anticipating the knowledge, harmony, health and peace of that era in our day-to-day lives, we can precipitate the time when these values will spread through the entire world with the coming of Moshiach.
From Keeping in Touch, published by Sichos in English
On the verse "He tells His words to Jacob, His laws and ordinances to Israel" our Sages comment: "That which G-d does, He tells Israel to do." Conversely, G-d himself fulfills the same precepts He commands the Jewish people to fulfill. It follows, then, that on the night of the Passover seder G-d "reads" the Hagada along with us, albeit in a higher, more spiritual sense.
The Hagada begins with the words "This is the bread of affliction." This opening section makes three points:
- This is the bread of affliction (matza) that our forefathers ate in Egypt.
- Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat; whoever is in need, let him come and conduct the Passover seder.
- This year we are here; next year in the land of Israel. This year we are slaves, next year we will be free people.
The Jewish people are not alone in their exile; G-d is in exile with them. The inner meaning of exile and "affliction" is a lack of understanding and perception of G-dliness; indeed, the entire concept of exile is none other than the concealment of the true G-dliness that sustains the world.
G-d fills the entire universe; the reason we cannot see this openly is because the Divine Presence is in exile. Thus, "This is the bread of affliction" refers to the phenomenon of exile, "which our forefathers (avot - symbolic, in Chasidic philosophy, of human understanding and intellect) ate in the land of Egypt." (Mitzrayim - from the Hebrew meaning limitation, i.e., within the limitations imposed by the physical world.)
Next, G-d gives us His "recipe" for redemption: "Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat." I promise, G-d declares, that whoever is hungry for the truth, for the light of My holy Torah, will have his spiritual hunger sated.
"Whoever is in need, let him come." Even a person who is already knowledgeable and well-versed in Jewish teachings will be blessed with a richness of understanding, just as the Paschal sacrifice was eaten only after the meal, on a full stomach.
This "richness" leads to the third point: Even though we are now "here," in exile, "next year in the land of Israel" - we will be in a state of redemption. Not that we will have to wait an entire year for Moshiach to come, G-d forbid, but the Redemption will occur "in the blink of an eye," and by this time next year we will have long since been "in the land of Israel."
"This year we are slaves, next year we will be free people." In the Messianic Era we will experience the ultimate liberation, for Moshiach will uncover the true and inner essence of every Jew, and the entire world will attain its ultimate freedom.
Adapted from Likutei Sichot of the Rebbe, Vol. 3
All it Takes is Matza and a Dream
by Shai Gefen
In 2001, Rabbi Yossi Freiman, emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Zichron Yaakov, Israel, went to a brit mila (circumcision), of the eight-day-old son of Menachem Ashuach, a former Israeli Air Force pilot. To Rabbi Freiman's surprise, when he arrived, the Ashuach family gave him the honor of being the sandak.
At the meal following the brit, Rabbi Freiman learned that this simcha (happy occasion) was the final event in a series of miracles that led the Ashuach family to become closer to Judaism and Chabad.
Rabbi Freiman explained how this came to be: "The Ashuach family had lived on one of the northern kibbutzim until they moved to Zichron Yaakov. At a certain point, they had become interested in learning more about their Jewish heritage. Being very intelligent, sophisticated people, they were cautious and methodical about every step they took in incorporating Jewish teachings and observance into their lives. When they moved to Zichron Yaakov, they began attending the classes at the Chabad House. Both husband and wife were regular participants."
It was shortly before Passover 1999. Rabbi Freiman was busy distributing packages of three shmura matza, hand-made matza. He gave the Ashuach family the three matzas to use at the Seder, along with an explanation about the importance of eating shmura matza at the Seder in particular, as it is made with the express intention of fulfilling the commandment to eat matza. The rabbi reminded them to sell their chametz, said a warm goodbye, and went on his way.
The phone rang early the next morning in the Freiman home. It was an emotional Mrs. Ashuach who asked the rabbi to give her enough shmura matza for every member of her family to have an entire piece. "I could not understand what had prompted this urgent call," recalls Rabbi Freiman. "I asked her, 'I was at your home yesterday and you didn't mention anything then. What changed overnight, and why the urgency?' "
Mrs. Ashuach told Rabbi Freiman, "I had a dream about the Lubavitcher Rebbe last night. In the dream the Rebbe said that Rabbi Freiman had come to give us matzas not only because he knew us, but because he is an emissary of the Rebbe. I dreamt that the Rebbe gave me a pen and said: 'Today you will find the apartment you want to buy in Jerusalem.' "
Rabbi Freiman explains, "I understood the reference to an apartment since I knew that they had been looking for a long time for an apartment in Jerusalem, but hadn't found anything suitable. How did I know this? A few months earlier, at a gathering at the Chabad House, Mr. Ashuach had written a letter to the Rebbe asking for a blessing to find an apartment in Jerusalem. He had put the letter in a volume of Igrot Kodesh (correspondence of the Rebbe) and had opened it at random to a page with three short letters about the special quality of matza which is called 'food of faith.' Now I understood that the Rebbe's answer from then - together with her dream of the night before - was the reason Mrs. Ashuach was requesting matza for her entire family. "
Continues Rabbi Freiman, "She was very emotional. I said I would be happy to provide them with more matza. I suggested she stop by the Chabad House that evening. She showed up that night and was even more excited than she was in the morning, for her dream had come true that very day!"
" 'This afternoon,' Mrs. Ashuach related to me, 'a real estate agent called my husband to suggest an apartment in Jerusalem After inquiring about the details and the price, it sounded like this was the exact apartment we had been looking for all this time. My husband called to discuss it with me and I told him this is definitely our apartment after the Rebbe said so in my dream.' The contract was signed the very same day.
"A year passed. The day before Passover in 2000, to my great surprise, the Ashuachs showed up at my house. 'We came to get shmura matza again this year.' I couldn't help but ask them, 'Last year you lived in Zichron Yaakov, but this year you live in Jerusalem! Is there no shmura matza in Jerusalem that you had to come all the way to Zichron Yaakov to get shmura matza?!'" Mrs. Ashuach explained, 'The Rebbe told me in the dream that you are his emssary and so we came to get matza from you. Although we don't live in Zichron Yaakov anymore, we feel you are still the emissary of the Rebbe to us.'"
Nine months later, the Ashuachs called Rabbi Freiman to tell him about the birth of their son and when the brit would take place. Rabbi Freiman said he would happily attend. At the festive meal following the brit, Mr. Ashuach told Rabbi Freiman in front of the guests: "For many years we wanted more children. Before Pesach last year we decided to get shmura matza from you, which is why we came all the way to Zichron Yaakov. We were sure that in the merit of the matza that the Rebbe's emissary gives, we will be blessed with a child. Indeed, nine months passed since that Pesach and now we are celebrating our son's brit."
Reprinted from Beis Moshiach Magazine
Nearly 700 Chabad-Lubavitch yeshiva students have travelled to destinations around the world where they will be conducting public Passover Seders under the auspices of "Merkos Shlichus." They have been sent to towns and cities with small Jewish communities or tourist spots that do not have permanent emissaries. Chabad-Lubavitch Centers world-wide will be hosting public Seders. To find out about the Seder location closest to you call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center or visit chabad.org.
Don't Blame the Post Office
This issue of L'Chaim is for this Shabbat (11 Nissan/March 22) and next Shabbat (18 Nissan/March 29). The next issue, 1265, will be for Nissan 25/April 5.
11th of Nissan, 5719 
To my Brethren, Everywhere
G-d bless you!
Sholom u'Brocho [Peace and Blessing]:
Approaching the Feast of Matzos, the Season of Our Liberation, I send my prayerful blessing to my brethren everywhere that the festival instill into the daily life of every Jew and Jewess true and complete liberation from all anxiety and adversity, both material and spiritual, so as to rise to the inner meaning of Yetzias Mitzrayim [the Exodus from Egypt], the prelude to Receiving the Torah, and to fulfill the Divine promise: "When you will bring out the people from Mitzrayim you will serve G-d on this Mount (Sinai)."
Matters connected with Torah and Mitzvos [commandments] are, of course, infinite and eternal, as G-d Himself Who has ordained them; so are also their instructive teachings, which are valid for all times and places, and can and must be applied in daily life. Even more so in the case of such a comprehensive matter as the Yom Tov [holiday] of Pesach [Passover], of Yetzias Mitzrayim, which we are enjoined to remember every day.
One of the instructive messages of the Yom Tov of Pesach is that a Jew has the inner capacity and actual ability to transform himself, in a short time, from one extreme to the opposite. Our Holy Scriptures and Rabbinic sources describe in detail the bitterness of the enslavement in Egypt and the nadir of spiritual depravity to which the enslaved Jews had sunken in those days.
Enslaved in a country from which even a single slave could not escape; completely in the power of a Pharaoh who bathed in the blood of Jewish children; in utmost destitution; broken in body and spirit by the meanest kind of forced labor - suddenly Pharaoh's power is broken; the entire people is liberated; the erstwhile slaves emerge from bondage as free men, bold and dignified "with an outstretched arm" and "with great wealth."
Likewise is their spiritual liberation in a manner that bespeaks a complete transformation. After having sunk to the 49th degree of unholiness, to the point of pagan idolatry - they suddenly behold G-d revealed in His full Glory, and only a few weeks later they all stand at the foot of Mount Sinai on the highest level of holiness and prophecy, and G-d speaks to each one of them individually, without any intermediary, not even that of Moses, and declares: "I am G-d, thy G-d!"
The lesson is highly instructive:
No matter what the status of the Jew is, individually or collectively; no matter how gloomy the position appears to be in the light of human appraisal, the Jew must remind himself every day of Yetzias Mitzrayim - and strive effectively towards complete liberation and freedom, in a bold manner ("with an outstretched arm") and to the fullest attainment ("with great wealth"): freedom from all shackles and obstacles in escape from his "Mitzrayim," in order to reach the height of "priestly kingdom and holy nationhood," through Receiving the Torah in all respects "as in the days of your liberation from Mitzrayim."
There must be no pause and no hesitation on this road; there must be no resting on one's initial accomplishments; one must go on and on, higher and higher, until one apprehends and experiences the call: "I am G-d, thy G-d!"
This message of Pesach is especially urgent and timely in our present time and age, when Jews as individuals and in groups have bestirred themselves to seek for a way of liberation from their spiritual bondage, and to set foot on the road of true freedom of the spirit; above all to completely free themselves from the fear of "What will the non-Jew say?"
The "non-Jew" of every description, including the non-Jewish prodding of misguided Jews, and the "non-Jew" within one's self, the Yetzer Hora [Evil Inclination]. To these, especially, Pesach calls: Do not stop; go further rise higher, "with an outstretched arm!" Your liberation will then be complete and certain, "with the young and the old, the sons and the daughters," and with great wealth.
With blessing for a kosher and happy Pesach, and may the Prophetic promise, "as in the days of thy liberation from Egypt will I show him wonders," through our righteous Moshiach, be soon fulfilled in our own time.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (1789-1866), the third leader of Chabad-Lubavitch, was known as the "Tzemach Tzedek" after the title of a collection of response he authored. He was the son-in-law and successor of Rebbe Dovber of Lubavitch. After the passing of his mother at age three, he was raised by his illustrious grandfather, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad-Lubavitch. He passed away on 13 Nissan.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
It is an ancient Jewish custom to say daily the chapter of Psalms associated with the number of one's years. Chasidim and followers of the Rebbe also recite daily the Rebbe's chapter.
The 11th of Nissan (this year Friday, March 22) marks the Rebbe's 111th birthday, and so, we begin reciting chapter 112.
This short chapter is only 10 verses long, however, it teaches the proper ethics with which one should conduct his life, and speaks of giving charity - through which a person will not need to rely upon others.
In verse five we read: "Good is the man who is gracious [to the poor] and lends, but ponders his own affairs in judgement. According to the commentary Metzudat David, this verse is referring to the person who lends graciously to others, but wisely judges what is necessary for himself. Another commentator, Radak, explains: The true philanthropist is highly sensitive to the feelings of his beneficiaries. Realizing that some needy people are too proud to accept charity, he compassionately offers them an opportunity for financial rehabilitation by lending funds.
In verse nine we read: "He has distributed, giving to the needy; his righteousness will endure forever, his horn (his strength) will be exalted with honor. Chasidic teachings explain the verse thus: when one gives charity in a manner of distributing - the Hebrew word "pizar" is used here which more literally means "to scatter" rather than to give carefully, without any limitations - the affects of the charity are limitless - it endures forever. This infinite affect will be seen at the time of the final redemption, when his horn - the horn of Moshiach - will be exalted with honor.
According to Maimonides, "a small action, repeated often, forms a strong habit, whereas a major act, performed but once, leaves no lasting trace on one's personality. If a person gives a pauper a single present of one thousand gold pieces, this act will not make the donor into a generous person. But if a man gives one gold coin apiece to one thousand paupers, he repeatedly stirs his heart to compassion and generosity; then the quality of generosity will become well-rooted in his character.
Our Sages state, "Great is charity for it brings the Redemption closer." May we merit to celebrate the Rebbe's birthday with him in the third Holy Temple and may it happen NOW!
This is the law of the burnt-offering...that the L-rd commanded Moses on Mount Sinai, on the day that He commanded the Children of Israel to offer their sacrifices (Lev. 7:37-8)
From these verses, Maimonides concludes that the proper time for bringing sacrifices is during the day. Nonetheless, he continues, it is permissible to burn any portions of the animal that were not consumed during the daytime throughout the night. Similarly, the Jew's mission in life is to "sacrifice" his animal soul - his desire for physical pleasures - and transform it into holiness. Optimally, this type of service is to be done "in the daytime," when the Jew's connection to G-d is fully revealed. Nonetheless, if our sins have caused us to enter a state of spiritual "night," our service of G-d must continue, for this in itself will dispel the darkness and transform it into light.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Bechukotai, 5749)
And the priest shall put on his linen garment (Lev. 6:3)
Rashi comments, "His garment (mado) should befit his stature (midato)." The service of the high priest who performs his duties while wearing the garment of an ordinary priest is invalid. A person must always behave in a manner befitting his stature. The higher up one is, the more is required of him.
This is the law...and of the sacrifice of the peace offerings (Lev. 7:37)
The Rebbe of Lublin used to say: It is far better to have an imperfect peace than a perfect controversy. It is preferable to live in peace with one's neighbor, even if that peace is only superficial and not with a full heart, than to engage in controversy, however well intended.
Why is the chapter "Where were the places of sacrifice in the Holy Temple" included in our daily liturgy? One of the most important things we pray for is peace, and this chapter is the only one in the Mishna in which there is no controversy between the Sages.
by Rabbi Laibl Groner, of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's secretariat
One year, just a few days before Pesach (Passover), I called one of the Rebbe's emissaries in Europe with a message from the Rebbe. The emissary was being instructed to visit a certain city and give assistance to a Jewish resident there. The Rebbe did not specify who this Jew was or what type of help he was supposed to provide.
"Reb Laibl," the emissary said. "It's a few days before Pesach. I'm expecting 400 people for the Seder. How can I drop everything and travel four hours there and four hours back?"
"Listen," I told him, "are you a shliach (emissary) of the Rebbe or not? The Rebbe knows that it's right before Pesach. Drop everything and go immediately to that city. Don't waste any time."
The shliach called me after Pesach: "Let me tell you what happened. I came to that city, but there was not a single Jew - no synagogue, no nothing. I went around asking the local residents if there were any Jews in the city. No one knew of any Jews living there. I went to the city hall and asked to check the lists of people who live in the city, but there were no records of any Jews in town. I thought that maybe I had made a mistake (there were no cell phones in those days), and so I prepared to head back home. I would call you to say what happened.
"Before leaving the city, I stopped at a gas station. The attendant came out and asked me, 'What's a Jew with a beard doing in a city where there are no Jewish people?'
"'Are you sure that there's not even one Jew in this town?' I asked the man. The attendant thought for a moment and then said, 'Now that you mention it, there's a butcher shop about half an hour away from here, and I'm almost sure that the owner of that butcher shop is a Jew.' He gave me the directions, and I arrived there at around a quarter to six in the evening.
"I opened the door of the butcher shop, and when the owner saw me, he literally fainted! What had I done to him? I picked him up, revived him, brought him to a chair, and gave him a cup of cold water. When I asked him what had caused such a strong reaction, he told me the following:
"'My wife, my two children, and I are the only Jewish people in this town. The local minister comes from time to time and tries to convince us to convert. "Why does your family have to be alone?" he asks. I would always tell him that rather than renounce our religion, Jews preferred martyrdom, to be burnt in auto de fés...
"Recently, the minister came again,. But this time he told him he wasn't going to leave the store unless I would agree to do what he asked. I told him I needed a week to decide. When he left my shop, I turned to G-d and said, 'I need a sign from You that I should not agree to his request.' A whole week passed without any sign from Above. At 5:30 this afternoon, a half hour before the minister was supposed to return for my final decision, I said to G-d, 'He is coming at 6. If You don't send me a sign I will agree.' Fifteen minutes later, out of nowhere, you entered my shop. I realized this was the sign I was waiting for and that was why I fainted."
The shliach told the butcher, "Passover is in another few days. I'm inviting you, your wife, and your two children to spend the holiday with us." The man happily agreed.
Two years later, the shliach called me again. "There is a postscript to the story. While the family was staying with us for Pesach, we invited them to stay a little while longer. Their stay lasted for about six weeks during which time we shared with them the basics of how to lead a Jewish life.
"Last week, I was visiting Jerusalem and I went to pray at the Western Wall. Suddenly, I felt someone tapping my shoulder. I turned around and saw a bearded young man standing with his children.
"'Do you recognize me?' he asked. When I said 'no,' he replied, 'Look into my eyes.' I took a closer look at him. 'You're the butcher from that town!' I cried. 'What happened? What are you doing here?'
"'When we returned home after spending those six weeks in your house,' he replied, 'my wife told me, "Listen, if we're Jewish then we have to live amongst other Jews. What are we doing here? We have to close the shop, pack our things, and make aliya to go live in Israel." That's exactly what we did. Since arriving here in Israel, we have become closer and closer to our Jewish roots and you can see for yourself how we've progressed...'"
We can see from this story how the Rebbe's foresight led to this family becoming a vibrant part of the Jewish people for generations to come. The Rebbe is sitting in Brooklyn, and he sees a family in need somewhere else in the world. To save them from, G-d forbid, doing something disastrous, the Rebbe makes sure that someone who can help them goes out there and takes care of the matter.
Reprinted from Beis Moshiach Magazine
The last day of Passover is celebrated by eating a special, festive meal called Moshiach's seuda, a custom initiated by the Baal Shem Tov. The Tzemach Tzedek explained the connection: "The last day of Passover is the conclusion of what began on the first night of Passover. The first night of Passover commemorates our redemption from Egypt by G-d. It was the first redemption, carried out through Moses, who was the first redeemer; it was the beginning. The last day of Passover commemorates the final redemption, when G-d will redeem us from the last exile through Moshiach, who is the final redeemer. The first day of Passover is Moses's festival; the last is Moshiach's festival." The two are intimately connected, the beginning and end of one process.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)