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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1282
                           Copyright (c) 2013
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        August 2, 2013           Re'eh               26 Av, 5773

                          Metric, English, or?

Though most of the world operates on a metric system for weight, liquid,
cubic, square and linear measurements, the United States continues to
use a system still known as the English system, despite the fact that
the English switched to metric decades ago. Years back, it was expected
that Americans would gradually wean themselves off English and switch to
metric; thus products produced in the U.S., even those not manufactured
for export, carry both the metric and English measurements. Goods
imported into the U.S. from Israel and Europe carry both metric and
English designations. But for most American schoolchildren, their only
familiarity with the metric system is the knowledge that soft drinks
come in one, two or three liter bottles.

There is, however, another system of measurement, linear at least. And
it is called the "Jewish yardstick."

The Jewish yardstick is simple to use, and it doesn't interfere with any
other system of weight, liquid, cubic, square, or linear measurement.

The rules for using the Jewish yardstick are as follow: When measuring
up your neighbor, friend, co-worker, relative or any stranger, judge him
leniently and favorably. When measuring yourself and your
accomplishments, be stringent.

In Chasidic terminology one would say: Look at another with the "right
eye" - with kindness; look at yourself with the "left eye" - with
strictness or discipline.

Such an approach is based on the commandment to "Love your fellow as
yourself." Just as a per-son's intrinsic self-love allows him to
overlook his own faults, so too, must we overlook another's faults.

In regard to our personal conduct, we strive to both push away the
negative and to do good. When relating to another individual, however,
the Jewish yardstick's method is to channel our energies solely into the
positive path - "Do good."

Although there may be times when someone's conduct warrants reproof,
before criticizing - even before giving "positive criticism" - we should
question ourselves as to whether we are fit to be the one to administer
it. Furthermore, if reproof must be given, it should be offered gently,
which will obviously enable it to be accepted more readily than harsh
speech. Moreover, such words should be spoken only on select occasions.

The old saying, "Spare the rod and spoil the child," is a derivation of
the Biblical verse, "One who spares the rod hates his son." Judaism
indicates that rebuke and reprimand are not only important, but at
times, essential. However, admonishment may be given only when the
relationship between two individuals is like that between a father and
son: To give rebuke, one must love the other person just as a father
loves his child; additionally, the difference in level between the two
people must be as radical as that between a father and a son. Needless
to say, this does not apply in most cases.

Why is all this true? Because the ultimate value of every Jew is

This week's Torah portion, R'ei, opens with a verse that establishes a
foundation of the Jewish religion - free choice. G-d says to the Jewish
people, "Look, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse: the
blessing, that you will hearken to G-d's commandments...; and the curse,
if you will not hearken to G-d's commandments..." (Deut. 11:26-28)

Why did G-d create the world so as to necessitate blessings and curses?
Why did G-d create something to stand in the way of good, to make it
difficult for us to do what is appropriate and right?

Evil alternatives and negative opportunities exist to allow for free
choice. If there was only good in this world - no chance for a person to
behave in a questionable manner - a person could not freely choose to do
good; he would be forced to do good for lack of alternatives, by
default. In order to have options, there have to be at least two
different routes. Then, a person can use the power of free choice given
to him by G-d to choose the correct path.

Freedom to choose one path of action over another is a fundamental
principle of Judaism. It is at the very core of the advantages of a
human over other created beings. Other creatures do not have this option
of free choice; their actions are based on natural instincts and
environmental training. Only man has such an advantage.

The concept of reward and punishment revolves around free choice. If
there is no choice, there is no room for reward and punishment. A person
can only receive a reward for his good deeds because he has freedom of

It is therefore understood that the existence of the opportunity to do
"bad" is not to make a person evil, but the opposite. Wrong exists only
to allow a person to choose right.

The opportunity to do that which is not good, therefore, wasn't created
to prevent a person from accomplishing what he needs to. In fact, it is
to push the person toward the correct path, a path to be traveled on in
the midst of freedom of choice and desire.

Knowing that "bad" exists only to encourage us toward the good, also
gives us the ability and strength not to be intimidated or overwhelmed
by it.

                   Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                           Sparks Into Flames

    Vicky Blitshtein's speech at the 2013 CTeen Shabbaton
Hello, my name is Vicky Blitshtein. I'm 17 and live in Plano, Texas. I'm
here today to tell you about my journey through Chabad, CTeen, and

Growing up, I was never super religious. My parents were born and raised
in Russia where they didn't have much access to their religion.
Therefore I never knew much about Judaism.

I went to Chabad of Dallas as a child, and when I was seven, my parents
found out about Camp Gan Israel in Plano (a suburb of Dallas). They
registered me for camp. Walking into Chabad of Plano, where the camp was
held, I didn't know what to expect. But I never imagined how those first
few steps through the doors of Chabad of Plano would lead me here today
and change my life forever.

Every day and year in "Gan Izzy" Plano was a new adventure, whether it
was exciting activities, fun trips, learning about Judaism in general,
mitzvas like tzedaka (charity), tzniut (modesty), etc., or the
absolutely incredible new group of counselors from New York who flew in
every year. Though I only spent six weeks out of the year with them,
they became some of my absolute best friends. I loved it!

When I turned 13, I was old enough to be a junior counselor. With
growing trust from the rabbis and rebbitzons I took on more duties at
Chabad. On Thursday evenings, you could find me with the rebbetzins
cooking Shabbat dinners, Saturday mornings I was helping run kids
programs during Shabbat services, Saturday nights I was working on
Hebrew school and Mitzvah Club activities. Sunday mornings I was busy
with my "class" of the rabbis' and rebbetzins' 15 children ranging
between ages 6 months to 9 years old.

I became known as the "official" Chabad baby-sitter, summer and winter
camp counselor, childhood learning and programming volunteer and leader,
and Sunday school teacher. I spend countless hours at Chabad but it
never feels like work.

I get asked a lot, "Vicky why do you spend so much time at Chabad?" I
never had a definite answer; it was always just "I don't know - I love
it!" But when writing this speech, I realized why I love it so much. I'm
helping people; that's what I love to do. Knowing that I am helping
people learn and grow in their Judaism means so much to me. Spreading
the learning and growth to each individual who I may not even know, and
impacting them in such a way, is so much more rewarding then anything
else I could be doing in my free time. Which again is why I am here...

Growing like wild fire, the Chabad Teen Network is spreading Judaism and
friendship to Jewish teens across the world. It is unifying us not only
as a common generation, but THE generation - the next generation of Jews
who hold the power to change the world.

In Plano we have a CTeen group of about 20 teens which started when I
entered high school. We have many meaningful Shabbat dinners, Sunday
programs and community service work. With  each program that passes,
both our faith and friendships grow stronger and stronger.

Since the 9th grade, I have wanted to come to this Shabbaton, but it
wasn't easy convincing my parents who thought I was "too young." Five
weeks ago, one of my dearest camp counselors and friends, Itty Barber,
sent me a message about how I could win a trip to New York for this
year's CTeen Shabbaton. I was extremely excited. I cleared it with my
parents, who were, surprisingly, very willing to let me come.

It was the middle of week six of the contest giveaways when Itty
messaged me. I got everyone at school involved as well as my friends and
family. I came in third place. But I wasn't ready to give up so quickly.

Week seven's mission was to get friends on the CTeen Facebook Wall. This
time, my sister Stephanie gave it a shot and won!

Before week 8 we all got word that six more tickets were donated. I was
eager to get going! Sunday I tried and lost by one. But that didn't stop
me! Tuesday I wrote on every white board at my school. Even my teachers
encouraged everyone to post on my behalf. Tuesday night at 9 p.m. I was
the happiest person in the world!! I had won and would be spending my
birthday weekend, at the CTeen Shabbaton, in New York!

Announcing that I had won, CTeens' Facebook picture of the day was
"Never Give Up" with the explanation: "You tried once, came in 3rd
place. You tried again, and came in 2nd. You never gave up until you
reached your goal. Thank you Vicky for showing us what it means, 'If you
try hard you will succeed.' (Megilla, 6b)" Though no one at CTeen knew
me, they saw the work I had put into what I wanted and where it got me.
This achievement, of others seeing how hard I tried for a goal, was one
of the proudest moments of my life. That moment sparked yet another
flame within me, a flame we can all feel through accomplishments in
CTeen and the greater community.

I would like to pass on my tiny inner sparks that have grown into
achievements, and let them ignite your flames. Even if it is something
small - any little change you can make in your Jewish communities - I
highly encourage you to do it. Be the change you want to see in the
world. Become the outstanding leaders I know you can become!

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             New Emissaries

Rabbi Mendy and Sarah Rimler will be arriving in Tempe, Arizona, before
the start of the school year at the Rohr Chabad Jewish Student Center at
ASU. There are more than 4,000 Jewish students at Arizona State
University. Rabbi and Mrs. Boruch Farber are moving to Neve Daniel, Gush
Etzion, Israel.  They will be bolstering the work of the Chabad Center
that is already in existence there. Rabbi  Shimon and Mushkie Galperin
have just moved to Solon, Ohio to serve as Youth Directors at the Chabad
Jewish Center of Solon. Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok and Miriam Bryna Shuchat
will soon be moving to Las Vegas, Nevada. They are establishing Chabad
of Eastside Las Vegas and serving as rabbi and rebbetzin at the Or
Bamidbar Chabad Synagogue.

                               New Center

A new Chabad Center was dedicated in Burgas, Bulgaria, a year after a
terrorist attack took the lives of five Israeli tourists. A new Torah
scroll was welcomed to the Center, which will be open during the tourist

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                        15th of Av, 5720 [1960]

Greeting and Blessing:

After the very long interval, I received your letter of the 12th of
Menachem Av, in addition to the telephone message, to which you received
my reply. May G-d grant that you have good news to report about all the
things which you mentioned in your letter.

You can well understand my reaction to your writing that you have done
"very little" in your secular studies lately. Without entering upon a
discussion concerning the matter itself, the fact is that where there is
a sincere effort to do a thing efficiently and attain the objective
fully, one finds later the opportunity to utilize these efforts in many
ways. Above all, time is one of the most precious gifts which G-d has
given to the human being, and which should be used to the fullest
advantage, inasmuch as the loss of time cannot be retrieved. Although I
can well understand the reasons which you mention, which prevented you
from making better use of your time, nevertheless knowing you, knowing
also the encouragement that your wife surely gives you, you ought to
find the ways of overcoming all difficulties. Our Sages said, "One
should not bewail the past," for the important thing is to concentrate
on the future.

May G-d grant that you will fulfill the precept "Know Him in all your
ways," thus putting to good advantage also your secular studies in the
service of G-d. I need hardly point out to you the teachings of
Chassidus on the subject from the Baal Shem Tov, whose 200th anniversary
of the completion of his life's work we are observing this year, of the
Old Rebbe [Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism], and of my
father-in-law of saintly memory. I refer you, particularly, to the
Maamar [Chasidic discourse] b'laylo ha'hu, Purim 5700, end of par. 4.

You do not mention anything about your studies of the Torah, both Nigleh
and Chassidus, though I trust that you not only have regular study
periods, but that you also make efforts to increase them.

Hoping to hear good news from you in all above, and wishing you
especially a successful year in connection with your forthcoming

With blessing,

                                *  *  *

                      27th of Teveth, 5721 [1961]

Greeting and Blessing:

I received your letter and enclosures.

It is explained in many places in Chasidus, beginning with the Tanya
[the basic book of Chabad Chasidic philosophy], about the negative
aspects of all forms of sadness, depression, despondency, etc. It is
also clear from experience that these attitudes belong to the bag of
tricks of the Yetzer Hora [evil inclination] in order to distract the
Jew from serving G-d. To achieve this end the Yetzer Hora sometimes even
clothes itself in the mantle of piety.

The true test, however, is what the results are, whether these attitudes
actually bring about an improvement in, and a fuller measure of Torah
and Mitzvos, or the reverse. This should be easy to determine.

On the other hand we have been assured that "He who is determined to
purify himself receives Divine help." The road to purity and holiness,
however, is one that should be trodden step by step, and by gradual and
steady advancement.

Needless to say, the idea of your continuing at the Yeshivah for some
time is the right one. As for the question how and what to write to your
parents, I suggest that you consult with Rabbi Joseph Wineberg, who
knows them personally, and who could give you some useful suggestions.

Hoping to hear good news from you in all above,

With blessing,

                               WHO'S WHO
Onkelos was a famous Roman proselyte, the nephew of the Roman emperor
Hadrian, who became acquainted with Judaism through Jewish scholars who
travelled to and from Rome. He settled in the Holy Land, where he became
a disciple of Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus and Rabbi Yehoshua ben
Chananya. Onkelos is most famous for his Targum, the Aramaic translation
of the Torah. He feared that during the Babylonian exile many Jews had
forgotten Hebrew, since they had become accustomed to using Aramaic and
other dialects.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
There is a famous story from the Midrash that relates to this week's
Torah portion.

A very pious land-owner was punctilious about following the Torah's
commandment to give one-tenth of his produce to the priests. When this
righteous Jew saw his end approaching, he called his son and heir over
to him and cautioned, "The Almighty has always been generous with us. I
have always given 100 of our 1000 bushels to the priests. You must make
sure to do the same."

That year, at harvest-time, the son followed his father's wishes. He
gave 100 of the 1000 bushels as the tithe. The following year, however,
he decided to "save" a little, and gave only 90 bushels. The next year,
strangely enough, the fields only produced 900 bushels. Having incurred
such a tremendous loss, the son decided to only give 80 bushels that
year. And, low and behold, the following year the fields only produced
800 bushels.

Year after year, this scene repeated itself, until the once lush and
prosperous fields were only producing 100 bushels. The son had still not
gotten the message. His friends and relatives tried to intervene. They
went to visit the son dressed in festive clothes, bringing along food
and wine.

"We have come to celebrate your good fortune," they said.

"You mock me and my change of fate," he told them angrily.

"No," they contradicted him. "We have come to celebrate your elevated
state," they said somewhat sarcastically. "You see, in the past, your
father gave 10% of his produce, 100 bushels, to the priests, and the
rest remained for him. Now, it seems that G-d has elevated you to the
status of priest. He is giving you the 100 bushels and keeping the rest
for Himself."

No one ever became poor from giving charity. By giving charity we are
assured that G-d's blessings will also be bestowed upon us generously.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
You are the children of the L-rd your G-d (Deut. 14:1)

Just as the child is drawn down from the brain of the father, so are the
souls of the Jewish people drawn down from G-d's Supernal wisdom.
However, the connection between the Jew and G-d is even loftier than
that between an earthly father and son, for G-d's wisdom is not a
separate entity from Him, but "He and His wisdom are one."


                                *  *  *

See! This day I place before you a blessing (Deut. 11:26)

The blessing in this verse does not refer to anything specific; rather,
it is a comprehensive statement which includes all the blessings G-d
confers on every Jew. First and foremost, therefore, it refers to the
ultimate blessing of all - the complete Redemption through Moshiach. By
using the emphatic "See!" the Torah stresses that the Messianic
Redemption is not something theoretical or academic, but rather
something that will be evident with our eyes of flesh - and this very

                           (The Rebbe, Shabbat Parshat Re'eh, 5751)

                                *  *  *

Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse (Deut. 11:26)

"Behold" is in the singular tense, addressed to each of us as
individuals. Whenever a Jew is faced with a decision and must choose the
right path to follow, it doesn't matter what other people are doing. In
fact, the majority is usually on the wrong track...

                                                  (Gedolei HaMusar)

                                *  *  *

And are unable to carry it, because the place is too far from
you (Deut. 14:24)

If a Jew perceives his Jewishness as a burden, as a heavy yoke he is
forced to bear, it is a sure sign that he has strayed "too far" from
G-d. A believing Jew who fears G-d does not consider his Judaism an


                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Reb Zusha had gone to visit his teacher and Rebbe, the holy tzadik Reb
Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch. After a fulfilling stay, drinking in
his teacher's wisdom, Reb Zusha prepared to take his leave. When he went
into his Rebbe's study for a parting word, he mentioned to Reb Dov Ber
that he needed to marry off his daughter. Now, Reb Zusha was as poor as
could be, and to marry off a child required a considerable sum. Reb Dov
Ber immediately took a sum of three hundred rubles and pressed it into
his disciple's hand, wishing him mazal tov, and sending him happily on
his way.

Reb Zusha was greatly relieved. Now, his wife and daughter would be at
ease. Although he had taken money, which was not his habit or desire, it
was a necessary thing, he thought to himself.

The trip home took Reb Zusha through many towns and villages, and as he
passed through one tiny Jewish village he was startled by the sound of
bitter weeping coming from a small hut. The other villagers were going
about their business, and he stopped one and asked, "Who is that

"That is a poor widow who was about to marry off her daughter. But on
the way to the chupa she lost the entire dowry. Now, the wedding is off
because the groom and his family refuse to go on with it without the
dowry. And how will she ever amass three hundred rubles again?"

Reb Zusha's tender soul was pained for the poor woman. Then he suddenly
realized that three hundred rubles was exactly what he had with him. He
walked up to the door of the hut and knocked. "My good woman, I think I
may have found your money!" Her eyes widened in disbelief. "Can you tell
me if this money had any distinguishing marks?" asked Reb Zusha.

"Why yes," she replied. "The money was in a packet of two fifties, and
ten twenties, and it was tied with a red string."

"Yes, that's exactly what I found!" replied Reb Zusha. "I will go to the
inn and get the money and bring it right back."

Reb Zusha ran to the inn and changed his money for the denominations the
widow had described. Then he tied the bills together with a red string
and ran back to the widow's hut. By the time he returned the little
village was buzzing with the good news. The girl had changed into her
bridal dress, and the neighbors were bustling about preparing the
wedding feast. As Reb Zusha presented the widow with the money, he said,
"I am keeping one 20 ruble note for my trouble."

She looked at him as if he was speaking a foreign language. The others
who had overheard the remark stood with their mouths open. "What!"
screamed the widow. "How can you rob a poor widow of 20 rubles! And
after you have just performed a most wonderful and holy mitzva
(commandment)!" The others converged around Reb Zusha screaming and
yelling, "Thief! Stealing a widow's money! For shame!"

Reb Zusha, however, refused to budge. He clung to the 20 rubles as if to
dear life. "This money is mine as a reward, and for my troubles!"

Relatives, friends and other townspeople berated Reb Zusha, and soon it
seemed that they would tear him limb from limb to retrieve the money.
Finally someone piped up: "Let's go to the rabbi. He will be able to
settle this once and for all!"

Everyone agreed to follow the rabbi's ruling and they all trailed along
to the rabbi's house. The rabbi listened to each side and then ruled:
"Reb Zusha must give the widow the 20 rubles."

Still, Reb Zusha refused to give up the money. One young man put his
hand into Zusha pocket and extracted the bill. Then Zusha was escorted
to the edge of the village and unceremoniously kicked out.

Many months later the village rabbi happened to encounter Rabbi Dov Ber
and related to him the incident with his disciple, Reb Zusha.

The Maggid turned to the rabbi, "You must go to Reb Zusha and beg
forgiveness. That money didn't belong to the widow. I myself gave it to
Reb Zusha to marry off his own child! He demanded twenty rubles because
he wanted to avoid honor at any cost. He wanted this great mitzva to be
completely pure."

The rabbi was shocked and ashamed when he heard this. He went to Anipoli
to beg Reb Zusha's forgiveness. But Reb Zusha replied to him, "You don't
need my forgiveness because I never was angry. I do not hold my honor
high, but I will forget about the incident completely if you promise
never to reveal the truth to the widow. I never want her to suspect that
the money wasn't hers by right." The rabbi, of course, agreed and the
incident was never mentioned again.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev once asked his Chasidim, "Why did
Moshiach tell Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi that he was coming 'today'? Isn't
it written that G-d will send Elijah the Prophet before that awesome day
arrives?"  No one offered a response, so Rabbi Levi Yitzchok answered
himself: "Elijah the Prophet is due to come in order to raise everyone
out of their mundane concerns and prepare them for Moshiach. However,
'If you will listen to the voice of G-d' - that is, if we will wake up
on our own - then Moshiach will be able to come today, immediately,
without Elijah the Prophet having to come to forewarn us."

                      (Siftei Tzadikim B'haalotcha/Lma'an Yishme'u)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1282 - Re'eh 5773

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