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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1303
                           Copyright (c) 2014
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        January 3, 2014            Bo             2 Shevat, 5774

                               Idle Time

What do you do when stuck in traffic? Listen to music, perhaps. Or maybe
you listen to "talk radio." (Politics, left or right. Advice. All-news.
All-sports.) Maybe you talk on the cell-phone. (Conducting business,
making plans, talking to the kids, calling ahead, ordering, reporting
the breakdown that's got traffic backed up just before the exit in front
of you, which you can't get to anyway because you're in the far left
lane.) Or maybe you just sit there, daydreaming at first, but slowly
getting more and more frustrated, then more and more angry.

What about when you're stuck in a doctor's office? (Actually, the
question applies to any office we're stuck in - government, business,
legal - but surely the most notorious office to be stuck in is a
doctor's.) Do you read the magazines (out-of-date, already read, too
technical, too popular, boring subjects - and always missing the last
page of the story)? Do you watch the fish in the aquarium? Or do you try
to fall asleep (usually half-eavesdropping on the three conversations
around you)?

What do you do when stuck in a line? (You knew that one was coming.) Do
you bring a book wherever you go, just in case (standing in line at the
bank, at the check-out, at the service desk, for a driver's license and
of course at the post office)? Do you bring an ipod, ipad, iphone? Do
you stare around the room, counting this (How many ceiling tiles) or
that (How many phone calls will the clerk take before taking a
customer?) to pass the time? Do you try talking to the person ahead of
you, behind you or last in line? Or do you stand there, daydreaming at
first, but slowly getting more and more frustrated, then more and more
angry that after each customer the clerk disappears for five minutes.

We spend a lot of time waiting, a lot of time put on hold (now don't get
me started about phone calls), a lot of time stuck in idle - like a car
with the engine on but the gears disengaged. The minutes come, the
minutes go, the minutes pass.

Sometimes we use them well, sometimes not. But idle time need not be
futile time, empty time - or even business time. There's a way to make
idle time Jewish time.

Read a chapter of Psalms. They're short. They're translated. And every
verse reverberates throughout the spiritual realms.

Read a mishna or two. They've also been translated. With commentary.
When do we start saying Shema in the evening? Who is wise? If two people
find a tallit, both grab it and claim they found it, who gets it? How
does one greet another person?

Read a Jewish law from the Mishneh Torah. Maimonides makes scholars of
us all.

Read a bit of Tanya. Download an app onto your phone. Learn about your
two souls, what it means to love your fellow Jew as yourself, how to
fight laziness or depression. Discover the anatomy of the soul.

Call it one minute Judaism. Or, Judasim To Go.

The Torah portion we read this week, Bo, contains the commandments  not
to eat chametz (leaven) and to eat matzot on Passover. These Biblical
obligations apply on Passover in our times as well.

How are chametz and matza different? Both contain flour and water, so
what makes matza unique? What can we learn from the mitzva to eat matza
on Passover and the prohibition against eating chametz?

Chametz is dough that was allowed to rise and grow in bulk. Matza is
dough that is thin and flat; even after it is baked it remains the same
height as before.

Chametz is symbolic of pride and elevation, of arrogance and an inflated
sense of self. It is symbolic of a person who considers himself superior
to everyone else around him.

Matza, by contrast, is symbolic of humility and self-abnegation. Its
flat dough symbolizes a person who is completely nullified to others -
the exact opposite of chametz.

The Hebrew letters of the words chametz ( chet,  mem,  tzadik) and
matza ( mem,  tzadik,  hei) are almost identical. The only difference
between them is one letter (i.e., one word contains a chet, the other a
hei). Furthermore, the chet and the hei are almost the same shape; both
are formed with three lines and have an opening at the bottom.

This opening at the bottom alludes to the verse in the Torah "sin lies
at the opening" - the space through which sin can intrude upon an
individual and cause him to transgress.

Here we see the important distinction between chametz and matza: The
chet in chametz is completely closed at the top. The sin that has
entered cannot escape; it remains inside and can't get out. The person
who has committed a sin finds it difficult to let go, to abandon his
wrongdoing and distance himself from transgression.

The hei in matza, however, has a small opening at the top - the opening
through which a person can repent and return to G-d. Yes, it's only a
small opening, but all that is necessary is one small move in the right
direction, and G-d accepts our repentance and helps us return.

Chametz is symbolic of a person swollen by his own self-importance. If
he sins it is very difficult for him to admit having made a mistake. He
will always find excuses to justify his actions. A person like this is
trapped within the "chet" and cannot find his way out.

Matza, on the other hand, alludes to a person who is modest and humble.
If he sins, he doesn't try to justify what he's done, but is immediately
sorry and regretful. His heart is broken, and he is aroused to
repentance. Through the tiny opening in the hei he draws nearer to G-d;
he corrects his behavior and returns to Him with a full heart.

                              Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Volume 1

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                              Three Photos
                         By Rabbi Shmully Hecht

This past summer I was asked to officiate at the wedding of a young man
who is a fighter pilot and commands one of Israel's elite F16 squadrons.
For security purposes I would rather not mention his name.

I met this man last year at Yale and we have since become personal
friends. Along with his lovely wife we have spent many hundreds of hours
together in meaningful dialogue, Torah study, dinners in our home and
Jewish celebrations at the institutions we are involved with at Yale.

At his wedding in Israel I met his parents, both in their 70s, and both
Holocaust survivors. While sitting and conversing at the wedding his dad
mentioned that he was so happy his son had met me at Yale and that we
had become friends.

Although the family didn't consider themselves by any means observant,
he mentioned that he had already had a long relationship with Chabad.

This connection was solely by virtue of having carried a picture of the
Rebbe in his wallet for many years. He carried the photo despite never
having actually met the Rebbe, didn't believe in miracles, was by no
means observant, and made sure to remind me that the sound of the
Israeli Airforce over the skies of Israel were the guarantee that the
Nazis had lost and the Jewish people were destined to survive.

I asked him why a self proclaimed non-believer would carry around a
photo of a holy and righteous man and what value this could possibly
have. He told me that he had been in the hospital many years back for a
procedure that was extremely risky and the doctors were not sure if he
would survive.

Interestingly, when he woke up from the surgery he found a photo of the
Rebbe on his bed that seemingly someone had left for him. He had no idea
nor did he ever find out who that person may have been.

While recovering from surgery he looked at the photo and assumed his
survival was somewhat connected to this holy man, ultimately realizing
it was the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and despite not knowing who had left it,
he put it in his pocket and never left home without it since.

Sitting at the wedding he then took the picture of the Rebbe out of his
pocket and showed it to me and then the groom as he explained that he
had never told anyone, including his children, the story and that he
carried this photo with him every day.

A few weeks ago, the young man emailed me that his father's wallet was
misplaced and asked me to send him another photo to forward to his dad.
I told him that I was returning to Israel for yet another wedding and it
would be my honor to visit his father again and personally give him a
photo of the Rebbe.

On the last day of my trip, I went to this man's house to visit him and
deliver the photo of the Rebbe. I knew this would be a great opportunity
to ask him to do a mitzva (commandment) and while sitting in his living
room I started a conversation about putting on Tefilin.

We talked for quite a while and I listened to him explain that he was a
historical, philosophical, intellectual, Jew but by no means a religious
or observant one and had no reason or intent in performing a religious
ritual with me.

I then asked him to repeat the story of the Rebbe's picture and
challenged his agnosticism and refusal to put on Tefilin by virtue of
his need to have a photo of the Rebbe in his wallet.

But then he told me that the story in the hospital actually happened
three times. Yes, three times he had been at the hospital for serious
procedures and each time someone had left a photo of the Rebbe at his
bed. And so he felt compelled to get the new photo. He then told me that
there was one other reason he could not put on Tefilin with me.

While holding back his tears this distinguished looking man with silver
white hair began to speak in a broken voice and old European Yiddish
accent. He leaned back on his couch and gazed at the ceiling as my
brother sitting to my right, the taxi driver to my left and his wife
across the coffee table all leaned forward to listen to why he had no
reason to pray to G-d. And then he said.

On the eve of Yom Kippur 1973, he had gone to shul (synagogue) in Tel
Aviv for Kol Nidrei. The rabbi got up at the pulpit and declared that
there was going to be a terrible war the following day and that everyone
should prepare. He was sitting in the synagogue that Yom Kippur eve with
three friends, each of whom had an only child, all of whom were young
men. And then he stared into my eyes and softly whispered that those
three sons never came back from the battlefield.

I felt the power of this amazing man, amazing father, amazing Jew,
challenge me with the type of question we often have no answers for. But
then I said: "Reb Yid, when I went to the store on Friday to buy you the
one picture of the Rebbe you asked your son to have me buy, I couldn't
decide which one you would like, so I actually bought you three. G-d
saved you three times and these three young men gave their lives for Am
Yisrael." I put my hand into the bag and showed him the three photos. He
rolled up his sleeve. We put on Tefilin. He prayed. The taxi driver
rolled up his sleeve, put on Tefilin and he prayed. We all cried and
hugged and then we said goodbye.

    Rabbi Shmully Hecht is the founder of the Eliezer Society at Yale
    and Chabad at Yale

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             New Synagogues

Three new synagogues were dedicated in Moscow, Russia, this past month
signaling the continued exponential growth of the Russian Jewish
community. The locations of the synagogues are 1) in the Butirski Prison
in Central Moscow, in the city's Lubertzi neighborhood, in the Veikovski
neighborhood. The new synagogues bring to a total 30 synagogues under
the auspices of Chabad-Lubavich in Moscow.

                            New Torah Scroll

A new Torah scroll was completed and welcomed into the Chabad House
Bowery in New York City. Chabad House Bowery serves students at NYU and
neighboring schools.

                               New Center

Rabbi Yisrael and Devorah Leah Pinson are opening Chabad of Downtown

                            THE REBBE WRITES
           Continued from previous issue, from a letter dated

                         5 Shevat, 5736 (1976)

Now a word about my Ayeka [lit. "where are you" in accomplishing your
life's mission], to which you refer at the end of your letter. Certainly
it includes all that has been said above, and more. I wonder what were
the "practical" results of our meeting and discussion, with you and your
wife, when I was not only a listener but also a speaker. My Ayeka makes
me ponder to what extent were my words effective - not in terms of
pleasant recollections, but in terms of maase eikar [the essential thing
is the practice of commandments]. I will not dwell on this point, not
out of any apprehension that it may embarrass you, but because there is
no need to elaborate on it to you.

But I do wish to mention another pertinent point, though I may have
mentioned it in the course of our conversation. I have in mind the
matter of devarim biteilim, "useless words," which, like all expressions
of our Sages, is a precise and meaningful term. Whenever we come across
this term in Halalcha [Jewish Law], and even more so in Pnimius haTorah
[the inner aspects of Torah], it is of course in a rather negative and
reprehensible sense, and in some respects it has to do with kedushas
haloshon, the sanctity of language. At first glance, a more appropriate
expression would seem to be devarim asurim, "forbidden words," or
devarim miusim, "obscene words," or some similar term as "unbecoming
language," and the like. But this is precisely where the meaning of
devarim biteilim comes in, namely, that it refers not to the quality of
the word, but to their effect, whether they are useful or useless. One
may speak good words, even quoting words of Torah, but if they do not
impress the listener and do not affect him in terms of maase eikar, the
deed is primary, then they are devarim biteilim. The blame must be
placed on the speaker, since we have the rule that "words coming from
the heart penetrate the heart and are eventually effective."

I trust that this letter finds you and your family in good health. If
you should think it worthwhile to convey some points of my letter to
your wife, I would be gratified, of course.

With blessing,

P.S. After writing the above, I now just received your telephone message
about the medical treatment suggested by your doctors and your request
for my advice.

It is well known that in a case of ulcer a very important factor is
peace of mind; and this is mainly up to the patient. I therefore suggest
that you should strengthen your Bitochon (real trust) in G-d, the Healer
of All Flesh Who Works Wondrously. And the way to do it is by reviewing
appropriate texts on this subject, such as for example, Shaar Habitochon
in Ibn Pakuda's Duties of the Heart, and the like, and reflect deeply on
this subject.

In addition, it is also well known that a suitable diet is helpful in
such a condition, and I believe helpful in all cases, the difference
being only in degree.

Hence, inasmuch as the condition has been with you for some time, I
suggest that you should first give a try to the above two remedies and
see to what extent they can relieve the situation.

In any case, the auspicious month of Adar is only three weeks away, and
in the meantime you can observe the results of the two measures
suggested above.

To ease your anxiety sooner, this letter is being dispatched by S. D.
[special delivery]

Incidentally, the content of the above letter, though dictated before
your telephone message, may well be the "Pre-emptive cure." For
everything is by Hashgocho Protis [Divine providence], and among human
beings - even non-Jews - there is something that is called
"Premonition," or, what our Sages describe as tchb vn gsh tku tchb ["He
prophecized without realizing it."]

                               WHO'S WHO
                                4 Shevat

Mitzrayim (Egypt) expresses constriction, limitation. The spiritual
Egyptian exile is the animal soul's restricting and concealing the G-dly
soul so severely that the G-dly soul is compressed to the degree that it
is diminished and obscured. "Exodus from Egypt" is the removal of the
constriction and bounds; i.e. the intellect in the brain illuminates the
heart, bringing about fine character traits translated into actual

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This Shabbat we read the Torah portion Bo, describing the Jewish
people's redemption from Egypt.

In many places it is explained that the first exile of the Jewish people
in Egypt, and their subsequent redemption, is the prototype of each
future exile and the ultimate redemption which we avidly await, may it
come now.

Just as in those days, we were brought out of Egypt with wonders and
miracles, so too, when we merit to witness the Final Redemption, will we
witness events and wondrous happenings that are miraculous beyond

But wait. Three times each day, in the special Amida prayer, we thank
G-d for His miracles that occur every day and His wonders and kindnesses
that occur each moment.

In truth, we don't need much of an imagination to realize that miracles
and wonders do happen to each one of us, every moment of every day. Now
more than ever, we need only open our eyes, open our hearts, open our
minds, and we will see that everything around us is truly miraculous,
especially that which we've come to take for granted.

A few cells are miraculously coded to grow into a baby. Scientific
breakthroughs allow billions to live without the fear of diseases which
only a century ago ravaged entire communities. We can fly anywhere in
the world, not necessarily on the wings of eagles but in the comfort and
relative safety of metal birds.

What seemed far-fetched and impossible, something which could only be
termed miraculous a few generations ago, has become commonplace. But
because many things have become mundane and routine they are no less
wondrous. Let's all open our eyes and see the miracles and wonders
happening all around us. Perhaps through this very special kind of
exercise we will merit to see the greatest miracle of all - the
revelation of Moshiach.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
And let them ask every man of his neighbor and every woman of her
neighbor...and G-d gave the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians
(Ex. 11:2-3)

When Jews are helpful to one another - offering assistance in times of
need, acting kindly and loaning things to each other - G-d grants them
favor even in the eyes of their enemies, and showers them with abundance
and good fortune.

                                                      (Toldot Adam)

                                *  *  *

Draw out and take for yourselves lambs...and kill the Passover sacrifice
(Ex. 12:21)

The Children of Israel were commanded to purchase these lambs for the
Passover sacrifice from the Egyptians. Because the Egyptians worshipped
the lamb as a deity, it was disqualified for use as an offering. Buying
it from them, however, would remove this taint and make it permissible,
according to the law: "An object of idolatry sold by a non-Jew nullifies
its status."

                                          (The Rebbe of Sochotshov)

                                *  *  *

Remember this day, on which you went out from Egypt (Ex. 13:3)

Why is the Exodus from Egypt so central to Judaism, considering that the
Jewish people were later subjugated to other nations at other times in
history? The answer is that the Exodus forever changed the nature of the
Jew's soul. By virtue of the Exodus, every Jew became "free" on the
ultimate, objective level, making it impossible to enslave his essence.

                                            (The Maharal of Prague)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
The great scholar Rabbi Yonatan Eibeshutz (1695-1764) was known far and
wide for his enormous erudition and remarkably sharp wit. The governor
of the city of Metz took great pleasure in testing the rabbi's
intellect. He would make a decree against the Jewish residents, knowing
full well that Rabbi Eibeshutz would dash to his palace to intercede for
his brethren. Then, the governor would pose some difficult puzzle or
riddle to attempt to stump the great scholar. As history records it,
fortunately, Rabbi Eibeshutz always succeeded in besting his foe and
having the evil decree nullified.

Once the governor issued a decree proclaiming that the Jews of Metz
would be given a deadline by which they would all be required to submit
to baptism. If they refused, which he knew they would, they would be
forced from their homes into exile. The governor also knew from his past
experience that Rabbi Eibeshutz would present himself at the governor's
palace in order to plead for his people. Then, he would snare the rabbi
in his plot, for this time, the rabbi would surely fail.

The Jews of Metz were thrown into turmoil. None would consider
conversion, but what were they to do, where could they turn? Rabbi
Eibeshutz immediately went to the governor. "Your excellency," he began,
"how can you punish an entire community of innocent souls. I beg of you
not to inflict this terrible suffering upon innocent women and babies."

A cold smile passed across the governor's face. "On the contrary, my
dear rabbi, I am merely helping to fulfill a prophecy which is stated in
scripture: 'A great trouble will ensue, so terrible as never before
experienced and never to be repeated again.' This passage is interpreted
to refer to the Jews. I consider it my great privilege to help bring it

Now came the moment the governor had waited for with such delight. With
suppressed glee he turned to Rabbi Eibeshutz and continued: "But, my
dear friend, I will give you the opportunity of nullifying my decree."

"And how may I do that," the rabbi asked.

"All you have to do is to answer a few questions which I will pose to
you. Are you agreeable to this arrangement?" asked the governor.

"Yes, what are the questions?"

"First, tell me immediately and without hesitation how many letters
there are in the [Hebrew] sentence I just quoted to you?"

With not even a pause, Rabbi Eibeshutz replied, "There are the same
number as the years of your life, 60."

The governor was astounded, but not deterred. He continued with his next
question: "Now, how many words did the same sentence contain?"

The rabbi answered with the same swiftness, "There are 17 words - the
same as in our famous saying, 'The people of Israel lives forever - Am
Yisrael Chai L'Olmai Ad.' "

The governor couldn't contain his admiration. "Wonderful! Now, tell me
how many Jews live in Metz and its surrounding areas?"

Again Rabbi Eibeshutz didn't hesitate: "There are 45,760 Jews in the
city of Metz and all of its suburbs, Your Excellency."

The governor was momentarily thrown off guard by the rabbi's brilliant
answers. But he soon regained his bearings and threw out the last, and
impossible demand. "I want you to write 'Israel lives forever' 45,760
times, on a parchment no larger than the ones you use for your mezuza
scrolls." This time he knew he had won and he smirked with satisfaction.

Rabbi Eibeshutz paled when he heard this absurd and impossible order.
"How long do I have to fulfill your command," he asked.

"I give you one hour," was the triumphant reply. "And remember that the
fate of your unfortunate brethren is in your hands."

Rabbi Eibeshutz disappeared, but when one hour had elapsed he presented
himself at the governor's palace.

"Your Honor, I have in my hand a parchment with the dimensions of 2" by
4". On it is written an anagram with the solution to your puzzle. My
drawing contains 15 Hebrew letters across and 19 letters down."

The governor couldn't believe his ears. He reached out his hand to take
the parchment from Rabbi Eibeshutz. As he stared at it, uncomprehending,
the rabbi continued to explain:

"When you read this you will see the words, 'Am Yisroel Chai L'Olmai
Ad,' written in every direction. It is spelled out 45,760 different

The governor was too shocked to reply, and the rabbi continued. "I
request of Your Honor to cancel the decree pending your deciphering this
code, since it may take you some time to work it out."

The governor agreed. It is said that the governor worked at Rabbi
Eibeshutz's anagram a full year before he was able to decipher all the
combinations of words. When he completed his study of it, the governor
summoned the rabbi to his palace. He embraced the scholar and said, "I
can truly see that your G-d has imparted His wisdom to his followers."
The governor no longer tormented the Jews of his city and until the end
of his life held Rabbi Eibeshutz in the highest esteem.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
In this week's portion we read: "There was light in their dwellings of
all the Children of Israel" (Ex. 10:23) This unique light not only
illuminated their own homes, but accompanied the Jews wherever they went
- even when visiting their neighboring Egyptians. Exile is a time of
spiritual darkness that intensifies the closer we get to Moshiach's
revelation. Nonetheless, just as our ancestors enjoyed "light in their
dwellings" even before their redemption from exile, so too does every
Jew possess an aura of holiness now, just prior to the Final Redemption,
which accompanies him wherever he goes.

                                 (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 5751-1991)

                  END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1303 - Bo 5774

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