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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1306
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             THE WEEKLY PUBLICATION FOR EVERY JEWISH PERSON
   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
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        January 24, 2014       Mishpatim         23 Shevat, 5774
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                          Is Everybody Happy?

"Turn that frown upside down!"

"Don't get so upset."

"Put a smile on your face."

"Sha, sha. Don't cry. Everything will be okay."

It's hard to keep track of what the latest trend is in expressing or
suppressing one's feelings or how deep one should (or must) dig in order
to get to the essence of what one truly feels.

So what's a Jew to do when the Jewish month of Adar begins and we're
told that the standard "Serve G-d with joy" and "It is a great mitzva to
be continually joyous" is supposed to be intensified?

Pretend!

Yes, you read correctly. Pretend as if you are really happy. You'll be
amazed at the results.

A Chasid wrote to the Tzemach Tzedek (the third Rebbe of Chabad) and
told him that it was difficult for him to attain a level of "joy."

The Rebbe answered: "Thought, speech and action (the three 'garments' of
the soul-the way in which the soul expresses itself) are the three main
parts of a person's behavior. Each individual was given control over
what he thinks, speaks and does according to his desire.

"A person must guard what he thinks, thinking only thoughts that cause
joy; he must keep away from speaking about matters that are sad and
depressing; and he must act as if he has a full and joyous heart, to
show joyous mannerisms even if that is not how he feels at the moment.
Ultimately it will be this way in actuality."

In a similar vein, a Chasid came to the Alter Rebbe (Rabbi Shneur
Zalman, fouder of Chabad Chasidism), asking how he could help a fellow
Jew who acted as if he were pious when in reality he was actually quite
a sinner.

The Alter Rebbe declared: "May what the Talmud says happens to a person
who pretends to be a pauper but is not really poor, happen to him!"

The Chasid was taken aback. He had hoped for some practical and pleasant
advice. Not what seemed to be a curse!

Then the Alter Rebbe explained: "The person who pretends to be a pauper
but is not will ultimately become a pauper. So, too, this man who
pretends to be pious but is not should ultimately become pious!"

As indicated in both of these stories, the initial step to being happy
is even to go so far as to pretend we are happy even if we are not.
Eventually, the play-acting will no longer be acting but real.

This "put on a happy face" attitude encompasses our religious duties but
extends to our interaction with others, as well. Judaism teaches
"Receive all people happily" and "Receive all people with a cheerful
countenance." Receiving people happily is an inward expression of one's
feelings. Even if we aren't inwardly, genuinely happy to see someone, at
least we should greet him with a cheerful countenance, an external
expression of joy. "Even if your heart does not rejoice when someone
visits you, pretend to be cheerful when he arrives," a great Sage once
taught.

So be happy, it's Adar. And even if you don't feel happy, pretend until
you are!

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           LIVING WITH THE REBBE  -  THE WEEKLY TORAH PORTION
*********************************************************************
The Torah portion this week is Mishpatim - statutes. Included amongst
the many mitzvot (commandments) found in the portion is one which
discusses how to behave toward an enemy in distress. "When you see the
donkey of your enemy lying under its burden, you might want to refrain
from helping it, but you must make every effort to help him [unload
it]." (23:5)

The Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chasidic movement, translated and
explained this commandment in a unique way which makes it relevant to
each one of us. It is important to note that the Hebrew word for donkey
- chamor is similar to the word for materiality - chomer.

When you see a donkey - when you carefully examine your materiality,
your body, you will see...

your enemy - for your materiality hates your Divine soul since it is the
Divine soul which longs for G-dliness and spirituality. Furthermore, you
will see that it is...

lying under its burden - it is overwhelmed and overloaded with the
command placed upon it by G-d, namely, that it should become refined
through the study of Torah and performance of mitzvot. But, the body,
like a donkey, is lazy and stubborn to fulfill these commands. It may
then occur to you that...

you might want to refrain from helping it - to enable it to fulfill its
mission. And instead, you might follow the path of mortification of the
flesh to break down the body's crass materiality.

Hundreds of years ago, it was indeed considered proper to subordinate
the body through afflicting it with ascetic practices, but the Baal Shem
Tov rejected this path. He saw the body not as an obstacle to the
spirit, something intrinsically evil and ungodly, but as a potential
vehicle for the spiritual, a means for the soul to attain heights
otherwise inaccessible.

The light of Torah will not reside fully in this method. Rather...

You must make every effort to help it - purify the body, refine it, but
not to break it.

Thus the "enemy" is transformed into an ally, an instrument through
which to perform mitzvot. In great measure the mitzvot employ gross
physical matter to fulfill G-d's will, e.g. leather for tefilin thongs,
wool for tzitzit, etc. We must care for our physical selves in order to
fulfill G-d's commandments. Indeed, it is a commandment to watch over
the health of one's body.

       Adapted from Hayom Yom, compiled by the Rebbe from teachings
                                            of the previous Rebbes.

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                             SLICE OF LIFE
*********************************************************************
                            Sign of Wonders
                          by Rabbi Meir Kaplan

The following are from Rabbi Kaplan's blog on the Chabad of Vancouver
Island (British Columbia, Canada) website.

Once upon a time, our home was mostly the Chabad Centre in Victoria; the
shul (synagogue) was on the main floor, and the Preschool/Hebrew School
was in the basement. In between, there were living quarters for a young
couple with two babies.

Shortly after our arrival, we ordered a nice sign to be placed in our
front yard. "Chabad," read the sign in large letters.

Thank G-d, after a little while, the shul wasn't fitting into the living
room; the preschool became a full time licensed program, and our family
also started to occupy more space. What stayed the same was the Chabad
sign in front.

A few weeks ago, I realized that the sign had begun to fade away, and I
considered that it was time to remove it. Our home is now mostly our
family's residence, and we have acquired another space for Chabad. I
decided to speak to my wife Chani and let her have the last word.

That week, I got an email from Jonathan, a student who had just arrived
from Lyon, France. He wanted to know about Shabbat services and events,
and he possessed a strong desire to get involved in the community.

When I met Jonathan, he told me he attends Camosun College, and he rents
a room on Richmond Road close to his school. A few days after his
arrival, he took a walk in the neighborhood, and was stunned when he saw
the 'Chabad' sign. He found us online and got in touch.

When he told me his story, it reminded me of a wonder that this sign
created in our first year here:

A family from Toronto, that was considering a move to the Island, came
to visit Victoria to check out the city. At the time of their visit,
Chani and I were out of town, but we got to speak to the family on the
phone.

"We were taking a drive through the city", the man told me...."We were
pleased with much that we have seen, but we were still concerned about
how our children, who grew up in a Jewish environment, would be able to
stay connected in Victoria where the Jewish community is so small. As we
were driving through Lansdowne, we came across the Chabad sign. We had
no idea that Chabad was in Victoria! I turned to my wife and said, 'if
Chabad is here - our children will be OK."

We were blessed to have this family move to this city and enrich the
community. Their children are a source of Jewish pride to their family
and to us all.

If you happen to be driving on Lansdowne this afternoon, you may find me
standing on the corner of Aldridge. I'll be removing the 'Chabad' sign
in front of our house, to replace it with a new, fresh one.

And responses to the rabbi's blog:

Ruth wrote: I am so glad you are not removing the sign! I didn't know
there was Chabad in Victoria as I have lived on Pender Island for nine
years having moved from Montreal. One day, last year I was visiting my
daughter and I saw the Chabad sign in a drive way on the corner of
Aldridge; I couldn't believe my eyes! I was so excited.... Since then I
have made it to several events.

Malca wrote: Your family has had such an impact on this community. The
sign is just an example of how one doesn't really know the effect we can
have on others.

Faiga wrote: I'm glad you're keeping the sign. Even before I connected
with you, Chani and Chabad in 2005, the sign was a source of Jewish
pride for me. In a community where we blend so well with our neighbours
and co-workers, it can be easy to forget our heritage and purpose in the
world. For those of us who regularly drive by your home, it's a strong
reminder; for others who find it by happy-accident, it is an invitation
to connect and become a part of the Jewish Community. Todah Rabah!

                                *  *  *


It started like a fairly common story.  A mother wants her child to take
Bar Mitzva lessons and make this event special in his life and the life
of his family. However, the son gets nervous by the expectations, and is
afraid of the thought of learning a new language and being introduced to
concepts that weren't part of his life up to this point. He refuses to
cooperate.

As a last resort, I went for a home visit to try to break the ice
through casual conversation. At the scheduled time, I arrived at the
family home, parked my car, and started to walk to the door; but then
the garage door opened. I turned around. I thought that they wanted me
to come through the garage, but it didn't seem like anyone was greeting
me there, so I turned back to the front door.

I spent about two hours at the house. I had great conversations with the
family and the boy; we connected pretty well, and I felt that it was a
good beginning to assist the boy in reclaiming his heritage.

As I stood with the family by the doorway to the house, I got ready to
leave and clicked my remote to unlock the car; the garage door opened
instantly. I clicked the remote again, and the garage door stopped.
Turns out... my car remote opens and closes their garage door.

Standing there and watching it happen the boy seemed to think that I
have special powers; the mother took it as a clear sign from heaven that
this is the right path for her son... Without any doubt this incident
closed the deal!

When I got home and did my google research, I learned that there is an
extremely small chance that a random car remote will match the code of a
garage door. I was thinking - that my remote was able to open the garage
is perhaps a "special touch"; but that it was able to open the heart of
another - this is G-dly.

                    Reprinted with permission from www.chabadvi.org

*********************************************************************
                               WHAT'S NEW
*********************************************************************
                              New New New

A completion and welcoming of a new Torah scroll took place recently at
Chabad Lubavitch of Southwest Florida in Forth Myers, Florida.

A new, state-of-the-art mikva (ritual bath), has opened at Chabad of
Boca Raton, Florida.

A ground-breaking ceremony for a new Early Education Center under the
auspices Chabad of Ashkelon, Israel, took place recently. There are
currently four Chabad Houses and synagogues serving the city. In
addition, 19 pre-schools, a boys and a girls elementary school, a boys
and a girls high school, and a soup kitchen under the Chabad Ashkelon
network.

*********************************************************************
                            THE REBBE WRITES
*********************************************************************
                    Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5740 [1979]

Greeting and Blessing,

I am in receipt of your letter of Nov. 14th, in which you register a
complaint against two persons in your community.

I trust it is unnecessary to point out to you the rule of the Shulchan
Aruch [Code of Jewish Law], which is also an accepted principle in any
civilized society, and is also a matter of common sense, that one must
not pronounce judgment in a dispute, without hearing first both sides.
Besides, in the present case, I am confident that both parties involved
will readily submit to the judgment of a Rov [rabbi] before whom the
dispute can be submitted, and he will pronounce the proper judgment in
accordance with our Torah.

I will take the liberty to make a further remark, namely, that the above
ruling refers not only to a third party who must not make a judgment
without hearing both sides, but also to the involved parties themselves,
who must not prejudge their positions. For a person  cannot be objective
in a situation in which he is personally involved, and, therefore,
cannot make an objective judgment, not to mention an accusation, until
he has heard the objective opinion of a person not involved in the
situation who is fully knowledgeable of all facts from the viewpoint of
both parties to the dispute. And among Jews, a knowledgeable person in
such a situation is one who is not only aware of all the facts, but also
is knowledgeable in the Torah, which is called "Torah Or," [Torah of
Light] because it illuminates all things in their true light.

I trust you will not take amiss the above remarks, inasmuch as the
purpose is not to find fault or defend, but since by Hashgocho Protis
[Divine Providence] you brought the matter to my attention, I must state
to you what I think is the proper approach in such a situation.

May G-d grant that, together with your wife, you should bring up each
and all of your children to a life of Torah, Chuppah [wedding canopy]
and Good Deeds, and have real Torah Nachas [pride] from each and all of
them, in good health and happy circumstances.

With blessing,

                                *  *  *

                      17 Adar Rishon, 5744 [1984]


Greeting:

After reading your letter, my first reaction was to instruct my
secretary not to answer it. But then I remembered the exhortation of our
Sages of the Mishnah to judge everyone "in the scale of merit"; though,
frankly, I have difficulty in finding this in your letter - perhaps
because I am not accustomed to read letters of this kind of (pardon the
vulgar expression) "name - calling."

What would you think of a person (even not a Rabbi Emeritus) who had
"just read a report" of something happening thousands of miles away, in
a place and country equally far away in terms of the socio-spiritual
climate and mores prevailing there, accepts the report on its face
value, without appropriately taking the trouble to verify whether it is
perhaps biased, or a "slight" distortion of the actual facts, and
immediately comes to the conclusion to condemn the alleged "culprits"
and, by association, a host of other people, in a vehement and
unrestrained manner, using expressions and epithets such as in the above
mentioned letter.

What actually took place and the circumstances surrounding it, made me
wonder how many apologetic letters you would have to write to those whom
you've "misjudged", etc. in your "outburst."

In light of the above I trust you will understand my not signing this
letter. Though I dictated and read it.

With due respect,

*********************************************************************
                              TODAY IS ...
*********************************************************************
                               24 Shevat

If you only knew - the Tzemach Tzedek (Rabbi Menachem Mendel of
Lubavitch) said - the power of verses of  (Psalms) and their effect in
the highest Heavens, you would recite them constantly. Know that the
chapters of Tehillim shatter all barriers, they ascend higher and still
higher with no interference; they prostrate themselves in supplication
before the Master of all worlds, and they effect and accomplish with
kindness and compassion.

*********************************************************************
                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
*********************************************************************
This Shabbat we bless the new month of Adar Rishon - the "first" Adar.
Because this is a leap year, our calendar has thirteen months and it is
Adar, the month permeated with happiness, which is doubled.

We are constantly enjoined by the Torah and our Sages to be joyous.
"Serve G-d with joy" is a well-known maxim which indicates that joy and
happiness are an integral part of our Divine service. Sadness and
melancholy, we are told, can, G-d forbid, bring one to transgression.
And furthermore, the G-dly spirit only rests on a person when he is
filled with joy.

It is therefore very appropriate that it is the month of Adar which is
doubled. For about Adar it is stated, "When Adar begins, we increase our
joy." The holiday of Purim (which we celebrate in the "second" Adar) was
a time of true salvation for the Jewish people. The whole month, then,
remains an auspicious and festive month.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe stated that the only work left on our part to
bring Moshiach and the redemption (may it take place speedily in our
day) is that we permeate our every action with joy.

May we have the strength, especially in the upcoming days of the first
and second Adar, to fulfill this suggestion with a whole heart.

*********************************************************************
                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
*********************************************************************
If you lend money - kesef. (Ex. 22:24)

The Tzemach Tzedek, the third Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, explained that the
Hebrew word for "money," - kesef - comes from the root word meaning
"longing and yearning." The soul, he explained, always yearns to go
upward, attaining higher and higher levels of spirituality. "If you lend
money" - G-d "lends" the eternal soul to each of us for a certain period
of time, to dwell in a physical body in this world. It is up to the
individual to utilize that loan to the fullest, taking advantage of
every day that is granted on earth.

                                                        (Hayom Yom)

                                *  *  *


His master shall bore his ear through with an awl (martze'a) (Ex. 21:6)

Why a "martze'a?" Because its numerical equivalent is 400 - the same
number of years the Jewish people were originally supposed to be
enslaved in Egypt. When G-d took the Jews out of Egypt, He declared,
"The Children of Israel shall be servants unto Me." Subsequently, anyone
who willingly chooses to serve a human master rather than G-d deserves
to have his ear bored through...

                                                   (Daat Chachamim)

                                *  *  *


Keep far away from falsehood (Ex. 23:7)

A liar is more despicable than either a robber or a thief: The robber
steals only at night, for he worries about being discovered. The thief
steals by night and by day, but only from individuals, as he is afraid
to confront a larger group. The liar, however, lies by night and by day,
and spreads his falsehoods and gossip about everyone.

                                              (The Maggid of Kelem)

                                *  *  *


Do not glorify a destitute person in his grievance (Ex. 23:3)

Very often, the grievance of a poor person is that he feels that G-d
takes care of everyone else, but not him. When someone gives charity to
that poor person, he refutes the poor person's complaint, but if someone
refuses to give charity, he is confirming the poor man's grievance.

                                                      (Ohr Hachaim)

*********************************************************************
                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
*********************************************************************
This is the story of a remarkable man named Ovadia, who lived during one
of the worst periods in Jewish history - the Crusades. As during the
terrible Roman persecutions, the time of the Crusades saw a notable
number of men and women who risked their lives to become Jews. These
gentiles, often from the highest echelons of society, became converts to
Judaism out of love of the Torah and a desire to serve G-d according to
its holy precepts.

Johannes, who upon conversion took the name Ovadia (which means "servant
of G-d"), was one such man. He was a Norman nobleman and the son of a
Norman knight who took part in the First Crusade under the command of
Godfrey, the Duke of Lorraine.

The First Crusade, initiated by Pope Urban II, drew a motley crew of
noblemen, adventurers and rogues who left France in 1096, ostensibly to
free the Holy Land from the Moslem "infidels." Along the way, they
seized the opportunity to rid France and Germany of the local
"infidels," the Jews who lived peacefully in hundreds of communities
along the Loire Valley, throughout the Rhineland, in Bohemia and in
England. As the Crusaders passed through these lands they engaged in the
most fearsome wholesale slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent Jews
who happened to live in their path.

Johannes was introspective and scholarly, different from his brother,
Roger, who fought alongside his father in the Holy Land. It is unknown
whether or not Johannes also accompanied his father, but when Jerusalem
was conquered by Godfrey and all the Jews in the Holy City were
mercilessly slaughtered, he was living in Southern Italy and studying to
become a priest. At some point in his Bible study, Johannes came to the
conclusion that Judaism was the true faith, and he resolved to become a
Jew. It is possible that he was moved by the staunch adherence to their
faith displayed by countless thousands of Jews who chose to die horribly
rather than abandon their beliefs. It is also possible that he was
inspired by the conversion of another prominent gentile several years
earlier.

The conversion, in about the year 1094, of no less a personage than
Andreas, the Archbishop of Bari (Italy) created a great stir and caused
tremendous consternation within the ranks of the Church.

In his diary, Ovadia (Johannes) wrote of Andreas: "G-d put the love of
the Law of Moses into his heart. He left his country, his priesthood and
glory, and went to the land of Constantinople, where he underwent
circumcision. There he suffered great persecution and he had to run away
before the uncircumcised, who had tried to kill him. But others imitated
him and entered the Covenant of the Living G-d. And the man went to
Egypt and lived there until his death, while the leading churchmen were
downcast and bowed their heads in shame."

Upon his decision to convert, Johannes traveled to Aleppo, where he
sought the help of Rabbi Baruch ben Yitzchak. Johannes told the rabbi
that he came from a wealthy and powerful family, but he had decided to
abandon everything to become a Jew. This revelation was not only quite
astonishing, but frightening as well, since persecution was guaranteed
to follow and death was a very real possibility for any gentile who
risked conversion. Johannes replied that he was well aware of all the
repercussions of his actions, having made the decision thoughtfully over
many years. And so, convinced of Johannes's sincerity, Rabbi Baruch
accepted him as a righteous convert.

It was impossible to continue living in France, and so Ovadia moved to
the city of Bagdad, where life was far from easy, but there was more
religious freedom for Jews. Ovadia had managed to bring a considerable
part of his fortune with him, and in Bagdad he devoted himself to
helping his less fortunate Jewish brethren. He became distinguished for
his distribution of charity and was even appointed by the community to
be treasurer of the community chest.

Ovadia wrote a fascinating diary during these years. In approximately
1121, he decided to relocate to Fostat (old Cairo), which had a
flourishing Jewish community. He noted that while traveling, he met a
certain Karaite named Shlomo Hakohen, who claimed to be Moshiach. The
man tried to persuade Ovadia to become one of his adherents. Ovadia just
laughed at him, countering that Moshiach would be a descendant of King
David, not from the priestly tribe as was this Karaite.

Ovadia eventually settled in Egypt, where he wrote an autobiographical
memoir in the year 1241. The only fragments that remain were discovered
in the famous Cairo Geniza (a collection of ancient manuscripts
discovered in the Ezra Synagogue in Cairo). In this remarkable cache of
thousand-year-old documents were not only fragments of his memoirs, but
an inscription on his prayer book and a letter of recommendation given
to Ovadia by Rabbi Baruch ben Yitzchak. The bits and pieces which have
come down to us, provide us with a window into that time and a glimpse
into a remarkable life of faith, sacrifice and adventure.

                                       Adapted from Talks and Tales

*********************************************************************
                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
*********************************************************************
This week's portion states: You shall serve the L-rd your G-d (Ex.
23:25) According to Maimonides, we learn the positive mitzva
(commandment) of praying to G-d from this verse; "service" refers to
"the service of the heart," i.e., prayer. During the exile our prayers
must take the place of the sacrifices that were offered in the Holy
Temple. However, when the Temple stood, only kohanim (priests) were
allowed to actually bring the sacrifices; Levites and Israelites were
prohibited from doing so. Thus the exile has a certain advantage over
the time when the Holy Temple was in existence, for nowadays, every Jew
can fulfill the role of the greatest kohen just by calling upon his
Father in heaven.

                                                    (Peninei Geula)

*********************************************************************
              END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1306 - Mishpatim 5774
*********************************************************************

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