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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1278
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                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        July 5, 2013          Matos-Masei         27 Tamuz, 5773

                             Talking Rocks

Games using stones or rocks as the playing pieces, such as Mancala and
Five Stones have been around for a few thousand years.

But did you know that pet rocks were the rage in the 70s? And why not?
You could take your pet rock anywhere and not have to worry about it
disturbing anyone. There weren't any expenses involved once you'd
purchased your pet rock-no food, no kitty litter, no license, just you
and your pet rock. And, even better than a virtual pet, you could forget
about your pet rock for weeks or even months, and it would still be
there for you when you decided to renew the relationship.

There was only one drawback with pet rocks. They never responded to
their owners' outpouring of love and attention. Pet rocks simply had
hearts of stone!

Perhaps, though, in the Pet Rock Era, we were the ones with hearts of
stone. Perhaps the pet rocks, and any rocks for that matter, did respond
but we just didn't hear them!

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the Previous Rebbe, taught: "Walking
in the street one must think words of Torah. When someone goes about not
occupied with Torah words, then the stone he treads on exclaims: 'Clod!
How dare you trample on me! How are you any higher than I am?'"

In the Messianic Era, however, we will have no such problems of not
being able to hear these declarations. The Prophet Habukuk said
concerning that time: "A stone in the wall will cry out and a beam from
the tree will respond." Chasidic philosophy explains that this means
that although at present, inert creations are mute and though trodden
upon remain silent, in the Messianic Era they will speak. For, at that
time, the G-dly energy within everything will be revealed and
actualized. Then, a rock or stone in the ground will cry out: "If a
person was walking along without thinking or speaking words of Torah,
why did he trample upon me?"

Chasidut goes on to explain that this patch of earth had been waiting
for millennia, ever since the Six Days of Creation, for its special
moment. All types of living beings have been treading upon it all this
time, but it is waiting for someone to walk on it while discussing
Torah. If they do not say words of Torah, the earth will protest: "You
too are just like an animal."

The Midrash explains that in the Messianic Era, stones in walls and
house beams will also no longer be mute. They will reveal all that they
heard and saw.

At first glance this might seem a bit far-fetched. However, one need not
look any further than forensic science to realize how credible the above
scenario truly is.

At the scene of a crime, detectives may dust for fingerprints. Even the
cleanest fingers leave traces. The fingerprints are there but we don't
see them. At least not until the environment is changed which allows the
fingerprints to be revealed.

Similarly, our actions - good or otherwise - leave spiritual prints, so
to speak. Though we can't see them, they are there. Today, a fingerprint
on an object "talks" when dusted with a special powder. In the Messianic
Era, the prints left on rocks, beams and walls will talk as the G-dly
energy within everything is revealed. May it take place immediately.

This week, we read two portions from the Torah, Matot and Masei. In the
opening verses of Matot, we encounter the laws of making and annulling a
vow. Whereas a person cannot release himself from his pledges, in
certain cases, others can do it for him.

Masei begins with an account of the 42 journeys by which the Israelites
left Egypt and came to the borders of the Chosen Land. The opening
verse, however, suggests that all 42 of the journeys were an exodus from
Egypt; whereas in fact only the first journey was, when the Jews
literally left the land. To understand this seeming contradiction, we
must recognize that Egypt is not only a place but also a state of mind.
"Mitzrayim," the Hebrew word for Egypt, also means "confinement"; which
is an obvious contrast with the land of Israel, which is called the
"good and spacious land."

In fact, the entire time that the Israelites were not in their Land,
they were in confinement; each journey was, in reality, leaving the
"confinement" of Egypt. Yesterday's freedom can be confining today. A
servant who is allowed to start work at 5:00 a.m. rather than 4:00 a.m.
feels a sense of freedom. Tomorrow, however, or the next day, when he
becomes used to the later hour, he will consider 5:00 a.m. to be early.

The Torah portions of Matot and Masei are always read during the period
of the three weeks between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av. They
are set in this time of bitter confinement, between the first breach in
the walls of Jerusalem (the 17th of Tammuz) and the Temple's destruction
(the 9th of Av, 70 CE).

The significance of this timing, especially that of Masei, is that these
portions convey to us, at a time when we most need reminding of it, the
concept of "destroying in order to rebuild." Destruction may be for the
sake of replacing a building with a better and stronger one. The Baal
Shem Tov taught that salvation is not something which simply follows
trouble: it is an implicit component of it. Just as the portion of Masei
combines two conflicting concepts; here, too, we find the fusion of two
opposites - destroying and rebuilding, affliction and salvation - which
comes only when we leave the confinements of human reasoning and journey
towards the all-encompassing expanses of faith. At this level,
everything is drawn into our faith.

Seen from the eyes of a son, punishment is an evil. In the eyes of his
father, it is for his son's own good. Our goal is to see history through
the eyes of G-d. And by so doing we are able to turn G-d's hidden mercy
into open kindness, and change the darkness of exile into the light of
the Time to Come.

       From Torah Studies by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, adapted from the
                                    works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                       What Happens When We Fall?
                            by Dina Hurwitz

Ten years ago, I was in Israel for my sister's wedding. While I was
there, I went to the Dead Sea.

Walking into the Dead Sea, I am waiting for the magic. Nothing happens.
All of a sudden, I lose my balance and begin to fall. At that very
moment the miracle strikes. G-d catches me and I float, not just float,
but can't sink if I tried. The miracles G-d put in nature are the most
mind blowing. I remember thinking at that time that if all I leave here
with is this lesson it would be enough. We think we are in control, and
the minute we realize that we are not, G-d catches us.

Many years pass, and every once in a while I remember how incredible it
felt to be caught, then forget again. Until now. A month ago, my best
friend, my rock, my husband was diagnosed with ALS. The illusion of
control was lost completely.

My husband the singer, storyteller, jokester, could not speak clearly
anymore. Everything changed in an instant. Priorities took on a
completely different flavor. Dreams needed to be turned into reality.
All the "if onlys" had to happen now. Now is all we know.

Just as our family lost our footing we were caught by hundreds of
brothers and sisters, many of whom we have never met. The love that we
have been showered with at this time can only be described as G-d
catching us and cradling us through His thousands of representatives on
His beautiful earth.

As difficult as this time in our lives is, that is nothing compared to
how beautiful it is. The amount of joy, love, support, and unity we have
been privileged to experience makes me think I understand why G-d
created this world. What good He felt His creations can accomplish, and
for what. We've never done anything that comes close to deserving this,
yet here it is.

We have been blessed (understatement) to find out who catches us when we
fall. In other words, we cannot fall, there is a beautiful net of love
surrounding us.

                                *  *  *

Dear G-d,

Last week was our son Eli Chaim's Bar Mitzva. We had many celebrations
in many different locations with many different people. I have never
witnessed more kindness, love, joy, unity and faith. Some by friends,
some by family, and some by strangers who are now friends and family -
all by Your children.

For whatever reason, You have chosen my husband and our family to be a
magnet to bring people together. I can understand a small part of it. My
husband has always been the happiest person I know, and that hasn't
changed one bit. His joy and faith and love for all people has inspired
many people and continues to do so. Our children, thanks to You, are
remarkable. They are strong and trust in You that You will take care of
all of us.

We feel a closeness to You that we have never felt before, and we are
grateful that You let us know it in little messages that You are
listening and watching over us. It is comforting knowing You are with
us. Thousands of people have taken upon themselves to say extra prayers
or do extra mitzvot (commandments) in the merit of my husband. The world
is changing for the better. There is so much goodness and beauty all
around. If I can see it from my little corner, I cannot begin to imagine
what it must look like to You.

I feel as if I am experiencing a taste of Moshiach. The brotherhood,
love, joy, faith and hope was touchable. How blessed we are that You
have showered Your kindness and miracles on us. I just have one
question. What else are You waiting for if not this?

The past month and a half have been quite challenging. All of the
excitement of the Bar Mitzva are wonderful memories, family has gone
home, and we are trying to get back to normal. Actually, we are trying
to figure out what normal is right now. As of now there is no known cure
for ALS, but there are many clinical trials and research that G-d
willing will bring a cure.

So we wait, we pray, we hope, and we cry (or maybe that's just me). Some
days are good days. The kids are happy, Yitzi is feeling well, an
atmosphere of joy and excitement permeates our home. We know people
around the world are doing extra mitzvot on Yitzi's behalf and many are
praying for us. We can feel a miracle just around the corner. I love
these days and cherish them. I even answer my phone on happy days.

Some days are downright bad days. The fear is so all consuming I cannot
breath. It is like ice has begun to form deep in my soul and is
spreading from there outward. Just waiting, frozen in my grief while the
one I love continues to get harder to understand. Sometimes for a
second, I forget. He looks the same, still has the same smile and
twinkle in his eyes, and then he tells me he is going to record his
words, so in the future he can communicate with his own voice through a
computer. I am surprised that the tears do not come out frozen.

These days are followed by shame. Shame that I do not have enough faith
and belief in G-d. Shame that although I know the Rebbe is rooting for
us and guarding us from above, I am still terrified. Shame that people
think I'm a lot stronger then I am. I know G-d makes miracles all of the
time, some cloaked in nature and others quite obvious. I also know that
not every person gets one. That is what turns my heart to ice.

Most of my days fall somewhere between these two. Moments of joy and
hope, and moments of fear and dread, and of course hours of laundry.

Then the sun comes out again, and I remember a family trip to Big Bear
Lake. After watching the kids play in the lake for two days, I decided
to jump in. I was fully dressed, and jumped into the lake, while my
husband stood on the dock laughing at me. The water was incredible and
very refreshing until my legs got caught in my long skirt and I started
to panic. My husband very calmly said, "put your legs straight down."
The water was so shallow that my head and shoulders were completely out
of the water. Aside from feeling foolish, I learned a very valuable
lesson: it is possible to drown in three feet of water.

Right now, I am standing in murky water, where the bottom is not visible
to my eye. That does not mean it is not right under my feet, but I
surely won't find it in my state of panic. I think G-d does this
purposefully, to see how we behave, and what we reflect, when we
recognize our vulnerabilities. Do we look for help, or drown in our own
panic in three feet of water.

Every day we wake up with the belief that today is the day Moshiach will
come. The next day we have the absolute same belief, for thousands of

Every day I wake up thinking today a miracle will occur. At the end of
the day I feel a little less certain, yet the next morning I will wake
up with the same belief.

        From Yitzi and Dina
       Hurwitz are emissaries of the Rebbe in Temecula, California.
                              To do a mitzva in Yitzi's honor visit
                 To donate visit

                               WHAT'S NEW
                               New Center

Lubavitch of Indiana, in Indianapolis, recently broke  ground for a
brand new 13,000 square foot state-of-the-art Chabad Center for Jewish
Life. The new facility will have synagogue, social hall, kitchen,
classrooms and offices. In the N'urim neighborhood of Rishon Letzion,
Israel, a ground-breaking took place for a new Chabad Center. The
building is being designed to look like Lubavitch World Headquarters,
"770" Eastern Parkway, in Brooklyn, New York.

                              New Facility

The city commission approved the Mesivta of Coral Springs, Florida to
lease a property for the boys' Yeshiva High School. Formerly an animal
hospital, the Mesivta will be moving in before the start of the upcoming
school year. The school first opened in 2008 on the campus of the Coral
Springs Chabad Lubavitch Center but quickly outgrew the available space

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                      18th of Tammuz, 5714 [1954]

Sholom U'Brocho [Peace and Blessing]:

I have received your letter of June 13th, in which, after a brief
biographical outline of yourself, you present your problem, namely that
you recently became aware of a feeling of apathy and indifference to the
religious rites and practices, due to a perplexing doubt as to the
authenticity of the Jewish Tradition, by which you undoubtedly mean the
Torah and Mitzvos [commandments], and you wonder how their authenticity
may logically be proved.

I hope this is indeed the only difficulty which has weakened your
observance of the practical precepts in daily life; in most cases the
true reason is the desire to make it easy for oneself and avoid a
"burden"; one later seeks to justify this attitude on philosophical
grounds. If this is the case the problem is more complicated. In the
hope that you belong to the minority, I will briefly state here the
logical basis of the Truth that the Torah and Mitzvos were given to us
Jews by Divine Revelation.

This is not very difficult to prove, since the proof is the same as all
other evidence that we have of historic events in past generations, only
much more forcefully and convincingly.

By way of illustration: if you are asked, how do you know that there
existed such a person as Maimonides, whom you mention in your letter,
you would surely reply that you are certain about his existence from the
books he has written. Although Rambam (Maimonides) lived some 800 years
ago, his works now in print have been reprinted from earlier editions,
and those from earlier ones still, uninterruptedly, going back to the
very manuscript which Rambam wrote in his own hand. This is considered
sufficient proof even in the face of discrepancies or contradictions
from one book of Rambam to another. Such contradictions do not demolish
the above proof; rather efforts are made to reconcile them, in the
certainty that both have been written by the same author.

The same kind of proof substantiates any historic past, which we
ourselves have not witnessed, and all normal people accept them without
question, except those who for some reason are interested in

In many cases the authenticity of an historic event is based on the
evidence of a limited group of people, where there is room to suspect
that the witnesses were, perhaps, not quite disinterested. Nonetheless,
because there is nothing to compel us to be suspicious, and especially
if we can check the evidence and counter-check it, it is accepted as a

From the above point of view, any doubts you may have about the
authenticity of the Jewish Tradition should be quickly dispelled.

Millions of Jews have always known and still know that G-d is the author
of the Torah Shebiksav (written Torah) and the Torah Shebe'al Peh, (oral
tradition) which He gave to His people Israel not only to study but to
observe in practice in daily life. The Al-mighty made it a condition of
the existence and welfare of our people as a whole, and of the true
happiness of every individual member of our nation.

How do these millions of individuals know, and how did they know in the
past, that the Torah is true? Simply because they have it on the
evidence of their fathers, millions of Jews that preceded them, and
these in turn from their fathers, and so on, uninterruptedly back to the
millions of Jews (if we include women and children, and those above and
below the age range of the 600,000 male adults) who witnessed the Divine
Revelation at Sinai. Throughout all these generations, the very same
content has been traditionally handed down, not by a single group, but
by a people of many millions, of different mentalities, walks of life,
interests, under the most varying circumstances, places and times, etc.
etc. Such evidence cannot be disputed.

It is difficult, in the course of a letter, to elaborate, but I am sure
that even the brief above analysis should dispel any of your doubts (if
indeed you had any serious doubts) as to the authenticity of our
Tradition. I trust you will from now on not permit anything to weaken
your observance of the Mitzvos, whose very observance of itself
illumines the mind and soul more than any philosophic book can ever do.
I shall be glad to hear good news from you, and I wish you success.

With blessing,

                               WHO'S WHO
Elisha the prophet, was the disciple of Elijah. When Elijah went to
Heaven alive in a fiery chariot, Elisha merited to see the miraculous
event occur. Elisha performed 16 miracles, among them: splitting the
Jordan; purifying the waters around Jericho; filling the vessels of the
widow of Obadiah with oil; blessing the Shunemite woman with a son and
restoring him to life when he died. Elisha had so many disciples that
special quarters were built to house them in Samaria. He prophesied for
over 65 years, fulfilling his mission fearlessly as had Elijah.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
One of the special haftorahs of the "Three Weeks" is an excerpt from the
Book of Jeremiah in which the prophet relates how G-d instructed him to
foretell of the destruction of the Holy Temple.

Jeremiah lived in a time when many Jews were attracted to paganism; his
function as a prophet was to arouse them to repentance. Fearful of
undertaking such a responsibility, G-d encouraged Jeremiah with the
following words: "Before I formed you in the belly I knew you; and
before you came out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a
prophet to the nations." When Jeremiah countered that he was only a
"child," G-d replied, "Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to
save you."

In essence, Jeremiah's mission is the mission of every Jewish soul,
which is forced to abandon its G-dly Source and descend into the
physical world. The soul becomes frightened at the prospect; how can it
possibly contend with all the difficulties it will encounter?

G-d immediately reassures the soul and tells her not to be afraid:
"Before I formed you in the belly I knew you." Every Jew has a Divine
soul, "a veritable part of G-d Above" that transcends the physical world
and the difficulties of the exile. Moreover, "before you came out of the
womb I sanctified you": every Jew is prepared ahead of time by having
been taught the entire Torah before he was born.

This, however, is not enough to assuage the soul's fears. "But I am only
a child!" it counters. "From where will I get the strength to be a
prophet to the nations?" i.e., to refine and elevate the physical plane
of reality?

"Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to save you," G-d promises.
In addition to the innate powers you acquired in the womb, I will give
you special strengths and abilities to be able to fulfill your mission

May we immediately merit to attain the ultimate goal of all of our
Divine service, the coming of Moshiach and the Final Redemption.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
He must not break his word; he must do all that he expressed verbally
(Num. 30:3)

When a person is faithful to his every utterance and lives up to his
word, he merits that G-d will "do all that he expressed verbally," as
the saying goes: "The righteous man decrees, and the Holy One fulfills

                                                    (Kedushat Levi)

                                *  *  *

These are the journeys of the Children of Israel (Num. 33:1)

Moses documented all the journeys of the Children of Israel through the
desert; this record then became part and parcel of the Torah. Similarly,
all the wanderings and misfortunes of the Jewish people during the
present exile are being recorded; when Moshiach comes, they will
constitute a book from which all will learn.

                                             (Rabbi David of Lelov)

                                *  *  *

Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes... "when a man utters an oath"
(Num. 30:2-3)

The word used here for tribes is "matot," which is a derivative of the
word for "staff," denoting strength and firmness. In order to fulfill an
oath, which means separating oneself and refraining from things which
the Torah otherwise permits, we need the strength of a staff.

                                                   (Tzemach Tzedek)

                                *  *  *

He shall not profane his words; everything that leaves his mouth he
shall do (Num. 30:3).

Whoever is careful never to profane his words, and is particular to
fulfill his commitments, to him is the verse applied, "Everything which
leaves his mouth he shall do." That is, "He"- G-d will fulfill his every
blessing and utterance. "The righteous decree and the Alm-ghty

                                                   (Avodat Yisrael)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Many of the vessels which were used in the First and Second Holy Temples
were those made under the supervision of Moses when the Jews constructed
the Sanctuary in the desert. Others were made by King Solomon, who built
the First Holy Temple.

The ark, which stood in the Holy of Holies and housed the Tablets (of
the Ten Commandments), in the First Temple was absent from the Second
Temple. King Solomon knew, by way of prophecy, that both Temples were
destined to be destroyed, and he constructed a hiding place for the Ark
deep in the foundations of the Temple. It was there that King Yoshiyahu
concealed the Ark and there it awaits the rebuilding of the Third Holy

When the Ark was in the Holy of Holies, it took up no physical space.
That is to say, although the entire area of the Holy of Holies measured
20 cubits, the space on each side of the Ark was 10 cubits.

During the time the Jews wandered through the desert, sparks would shoot
out from the poles of the Ark, destroying poisonous snakes and scorpions
which lurked before it.

When the Jews entered the Holy Land and were about to cross the Jordan
River, the water parted at the feet of the kohanim (priests) who were
bearing the Ark and the entire Jewish people passed on dry ground. Not
until the kohanim reached the other bank did the river begin to flow

On the two sides of the Ark were the keruvim (cherubs). These were two
figures in the form of angels with the faces of children, a boy and a
girl, with wings that extended over the Ark. There were also miracles
associated with the keruvim. When the Jewish people conducted themselves
according to the will of G-d, the two figures faced one another, but
when G-d was displeased with His people, they turned in opposite
directions. In addition, when G-d spoke to Moses in the Holy of Holies,
the voice seemed to emanate from between the two angelic figures.

The golden Menora, or candelabra, which stood in the Holy Temple was
made of one solid block of gold, but was intricately decorated. Each
night it was kindled with pure olive oil, and it burned throughout the
night. Many miracles occurred in connection with its lighting. For
instance, one of its lights did not go out, even though all the other
lights which contained the same amount of oil went out. At times, this
light, when lit on Rosh Hashana, did not go out until just prior to the
following Rosh Hashana.

Another of the articles in the Temple was the Shulchan, the Table, upon
which were laid the 12 show-breads that were the spiritual source of
bounty and blessing for the Jewish people. These challot were arranged
on the Table every Shabbat when the challot from the previous week were
removed. One of the miracles was that when they were replaced with fresh
ones the following week, they were still warm. The Table which Moses
made was also used in the First Temple.

The Altar on which the incense was burned was placed between the Menora
and the Shulchan, and incense was burned on it twice a day. The Altar,
which was made of acacia wood plated with gold, was also miraculous, for
although it was burned with fire for many years, it was never scorched
or damaged by the heat.

It is related in the Midrash that when Moses questioned how it could be
that the wood would not be burned by the fire, G-d replied that the
nature of Divine fire is unlike that of earthly fire, for although it
burns, it does not consume.

There were many other vessels used in the Temples. The Kiyor, the
Wash-basin which was used for washing the hands and feet of the kohanim,
was made from the mirrors of the women who used them to beautify
themselves while in Egyptian bondage in order to cheer their downtrodden
husbands. This act was valued so highly by G-d, that Moses was commanded
to construct the basin from the copper, even though it isn't a precious

The Temple service was conducted with enormous grandeur. The kohanim
used 93 types of gold and silver vessels in their service, in addition
to many beautiful and varied musical instruments which the Levites used
to produce their exquisite music.

During the destruction of the First Temple, the Babylonian king
Nebuchadnezzar plundered the wealth of the Temple and took all the
vessels to Babylonia. When he had the effrontery to exhibit and use them
in a great feast, he met his death the same night.

When the Babylonian exiles returned to rebuild the land under Zerubavel,
King Cyrus released 5,400 vessels to be returned to the Temple.

Then, when Titus destroyed the Second Temple, the vessels were again
looted and, this time, brought to Rome. We await the day when they are
returned to their rightful place in the Third Holy Temple, and may that
day come immediately.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The theme of the Shabbat that blesses the new month of Av is to transmit
a very lofty blessing that will have the power to transform the negative
aspects of Av into a time of joy and festivity. This concept is
encapsulated in the special word used when announcing the new month, for
we refer to the new month as  "Menachem Av," "menachem" for the
"comforter." When blessing the new month, we ask that it should be "for
deliverance and for consolation." This "deliverance" refers to the true
and complete redemption, while the "consolation" refers to the
consolation of Zion and Jerusalem. The Shabbat that blesses Menachem Av
radiates the awesome power of converting destruction to redemption.

                (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, parshiot Matot-Masei, 1987)

             END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1278 - Matos-Masei 5773

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