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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1329
                           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.
        July 11, 2014           Pinchas           13 Tamuz, 5774

                  Metamorphosis: The Nature of Change

                           by Izzy Greenberg

I used to think that the Messianic era was all about spiritual utopia.
No more material worries. We'll all be free to pursue knowledge, peace,
love, happiness and all the other good things. As Maimonides writes, the
entire world will be busy with the awareness of the Creator, and there
will be no competition or rivalry. At the same time, the Talmud speaks
about all the wonders that will manifest within the natural world in the
Messianic era - like edible trees and cuddly lions. What doe these
physical transformations have to do with spiritual utopia?

The Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chasidic movement, was once asked a
similar question: "Why is it that Chasidim burst into song and dance at
the slightest provocation? Is this the behavior of a healthy, sane
individual? What's wrong with these people?"

The Baal Shem Tov responded with a story:

Once, a musician came to town - a musician of great but unknown talent.
He stood on a street corner and began to play.

Those who stopped to listen could not tear themselves away, and soon a
large crowd stood enthralled by the glorious music whose equal they had
never heard. Before long they were moving to its rhythm, and the entire
street was transformed into a dancing mass of humanity.

A deaf man walking by wondered: Has the world gone mad? Why are the
townspeople jumping up and down, waving their arms and turning in
circles in middle of the street?

"Chasidim," concluded the Baal Shem Tov, "are moved by the melody that
issues forth from every creature in G-d's creation. If this makes them
appear mad to those with less sensitive ears, should they therefore
cease to dance?"

When you meditate or think deeply about something, it affects your
entire being. If is a joyous thought, then you feel the joy not only in
your mind and your heart - it permeates your entire being. You can even
feel it in your toes. You might even get up and dance. The fact that the
thought made you get up and dance demonstrates that it was not merely an
intellectual concept, but something that touched the core of your being
and thereby affected you from head to toe.

That's what we will experience in the Messianic era. If it was just a
revelation of spiritual utopia, then our spirits alone would revel in
the experience. Moshiach is a revelation of the core of being - the core
of our own beings and of existence in general. Therefore, it will
permeate all of existence, both the spiritual and material aspects of
it, and everything in between. In a word, the whole world will be

    Izzy Greenberg, a writer, scholar and teacher, is the Creative
    Director of Tekiyah Creative.

This week's Torah reading, Pinchas, contains a passage that sheds unique
insight on the nature of Moses' leadership qualities. G-d tells Moses
that the time has come for him to pass away. Moses' response is not to
ask anything for himself or for his children. Instead, he asks G-d:
"G-d, L-rd of spirits, appoint a man over the assembly." At the moment
of truth, he shows no self concern. His attention is focused solely on
the welfare of his people.

This is the fundamental quality that distinguishes a Jewish leader. In
general, leadership involves identifying with ideals and principles that
transcend one's own self. If all a person is selling is his own self,
others will not identify with him so easily; for they are concerned with
their own selves. Why should they nullify themselves before the other

Yes, they can be forced to accept authority or they can be bribed. But
then, the person's authority will be dependent on the strength of the
stick or the flavor of the carrot. The people will have no inner
connection to him.

What will inspire a person to willingly accept the authority of another?
A purpose which both the leader and the follower recognize as greater
than his self. When the leader espouses and identifies with an ideal
that gives his life greater meaning and direction, he will be able to
share this ideal with people at large. For every person is ultimately
looking for something more in life than the fulfillment of his personal

A Jewish leader, a Moses, transcends himself to a greater degree. First
of all, he is not concerned with his own personal objectives - even as
an afterthought. Many leaders, though concerned with a purpose beyond
themselves, are still looking for their own payoff. They bear in mind
their own honor, wealth, or self-interest. A Moses is not looking for

But most of all, the purpose with which a worldly leader identifies is
still somewhat intertwined with his own self, for ultimately, what is a
leader looking for? To make the world a better place for all the people
living here. Although he is concerned for others besides himself, his
ultimate goal is how to make his own life better. He merely has the
vision to appreciate that his own life cannot be consummately good until
the lives of others are also improved.

A Moses, by contrast, is concerned with G-d's purpose, not man's. He
wants to make the world a dwelling for Him, not merely a pleasant abode
for mankind. Certainly, when G-d's dwelling is completed, it will also
be very comfortable for man to live in, but that is not his purpose. He
is concerned with G-d's objective, and the identification with that goal
takes him beyond his personal self entirely and makes him the ultimate
paradigm of leadership.

        From Keeping in Touch by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger, adapted from
         the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, published by Sichos In

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                     A Kid, a Yid, and What He Did
                        by Rabbi Mendy Lipskier

I'd like to share an experience that occurred in our family recently.
The "Kid and the Yid (Jew)" is our son Yossi, nine years old, an avid
baseball fan, and valuable team member on our local Little League team.
We recently dropped him off, "uniformed up" at "the diamond" for the
regular game. We do as all Little League parents normally do, sometimes
we stay...sometimes we drop off. Due to other commitments, this
particular day we dropped him off leaving him in his uniform with his
coach and teammates.

What happened next was the "foul ball." The game was going fine, with
Yossi (as always) very actively participating, and very much looking
forward to his "at bat." As he came up to bat, the umpire happened to
notice that Yossi wears two uniforms, his team uniform, and also the
fringe undergarment uniform of every male Jew....tzitzit.

What happened next is the "tipping point" of this story...The umpire
insisted that Yossi remove his tzitzit in that it could produce some
type of "interference or unfair advantage." Yossi (the only Jew, not
just on the team, but we think in the entire league) respectfully
explained to the umpire that he is wearing a religious undergarment and
had never had an issue with this previously. The umpire would not

What was Yossi to do??...disrespect the umpire (an adult) or disrespect
his religion? The choice was easy and clear. Yossi had "two feet on the
ground" in more ways than one. He walked off the field and would not

Why? He knew that the following Jewish precept trumps all:

"Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: They shall make for
themselves fringes on the corners of their garments...and this shall be
tzitzit for you, and when you see it, you will remember all the
commandments of G-d, and perform them" (Numbers 15:38-39).

What happened next?

The game stopped. Yossi's team also volunteered to walk off the field
and forfeit the game in its entirety. However, after a significant
"pow-wow" between the coaches and the umpire, Yossi was allowed to play,
"double uniforms" and all.

So what educational opportunity does this story lend itself to? Many,
but here's a short list:

 1. Tzitzit is a sign of Jewish pride. Jews have always had a way of
    dress to distinguish them from the people of the lands in which they
    lived - even when that meant exposing themselves to danger or
    bigotry. By the grace of Gd, today most of us live in lands where we
    are free to (and should) practice our religion without such fears.

 2. Religious tolerance means to refrain from discriminating against
    others who follow a different religious path.

 3. The freedom of individuals to believe in, practice, and promote
    their religion of choice without  interference, harassment, or other
    repercussions shall always prevail.

 4. Ignorance, unacceptance and religious intolerance still run rampant,
    and people exhibiting those traits might see Tzitzit as just part of
    a "fringe religion" however, we actually see it as a symbol of
    "forget-me-knots." Today whether it be a kippa or tzitzit (ideally
    both), as Yossi did, we should all wear our "Jewish uniform"
    unapologetically with pride and with our head's held high.

As we know, self-assertion often demands a lot of humility. Doing
something out of the ordinary requires putting our image on the line. It
means that I care more about my truth than what other people think about
me. This is self-esteem that is rooted in soul-consciousness.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught a powerful lesson gleaned from the location
G-d chose from where to give us His Torah.

The Midrash tells us that Gd chose Mt. Sinai, and not a more impressive
mountain, to teach us the value of humility. The question, of course, is
this: If humility is paramount, why did Gd give us the Torah on a
mountain at all? Why not a plain, or even a valley? The mere term "Mt.
Sinai" is an oxymoron. It's a mountain, towering and majestic. And it's
Sinai, meager compared to her sister mountains, humble. If humility is
paramount, why did Gd give us the Torah on a mountain at all?

When Gd gave us the Torah and inaugurated us into Jew-hood, He said,
"You are going to need to be real strong to be a Jew." Be a mountain.
Have a backbone. Be a charismatic light unto the nations, and don't give
a hoot if people laugh at you.

But be a humble mountain. Humble in your recognition that your strength
comes from Gd. Your life's value is not about your image, it's about
your higher calling. Don't measure yourself against the standards set by
your neighbors; measure yourself against your soul's potential.

There is a continuation to this story, and I hope  it doesn't end here.
When a fellow emissary in Kentucky related what transpired in his Chabad
House, five people committed to wearing tzitzit!

    Rabbi Mendy Lipskier and his wife Tzipi direct Chabad Lubavitch of
    Fountain Hills, Arizona.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                   Uncle Yossi's Big Book of Stories

Uncle Yossi's Big Book of Stories is the second volume of classic
stories brought to life in the unforgettable "Story-Time With Uncle
Yossi" tapes of yesteryear.Drawn from the midrash, Talmud, and Jewish
lore, these cherished stories instill a love of G-d, love of the Torah,
and love of the Jewish people, planting the seeds for fine character
development and personal refinement. Rabbi Yosef Goldstein of blessed
memory has inspired generations of children through his stories and
songs conveyed in a wholesome and captivating manner, teaching the
eternal ethics and morals of our people and heritage. Published by the
Jewish Learning Group.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                         24 Tammuz, 5726 (1966)

...With regard to the question about seeking psychiatric advice, judging
by the description of your mood, etc., it would seem advisable. However,
for reasons which need not be entered into here, most psychiatrists are
prejudiced in relation to parents, and in relation to G-d and religion.

One should, therefore, reckon with this, and more importantly, one
should try to find a psychiatrist who is free from such prejudices
through the recommendation of a doctor-friend, or by independent

Needless to say, it is most advisable for you to keep in contact with
the element (religious people) you mention as being new to you,
involving also the study of a field of knowledge which is entirely new
to you  Torah. For this would obviously broaden your horizons, in
addition to the essential aspect - the importance of the subject itself
for its own sake.

I trust, therefore, that you will continue along these lines, and, as in
all new ventures of this nature, it is necessary to apply yourself with
enthusiasm and gladness of heart, which the subject merits, and which
also is the way to ensure the utmost success of intensive and extensive

I was very much surprised to read in your letter, that by becoming
religious you would have to seclude yourself from the world.

This is diametrically contrary to the concept of the Jewish religion and
way of life, wherein, as you surely know, there is no such thing as
monasticism, celibacy, and the like.

It is even more foreign to the spirit and way of the teachings of
Chassidus which emphasizes that the purpose of every Jew is not only to
make himself personally a "vessel" for the Divine Presence, but also to
do his utmost to make his immediate surroundings (his share in the
world) a fitting abode for holiness.

This cannot be accomplished by secluding oneself from the world, or by
withdrawing from it, but rather by actively participating in,
contributing to it.

Of course, before this can be done, it is necessary to have the proper
preparation, in order to forestall any possibility of falling under the
influence of the material world with all its temptations and passions,
and to ensure that one will be master over it.

I would like to make a further observation in regard to the idea (which
I believe is not your own), that in order to acquire a particular system
or discipline, it is first necessary to acquaint oneself with all other
systems, to be able to judge and verify its truth, to the extent of
being noncommittal to any discipline, pending personal verification.

Such an idea is the best rationale and excuse that an individual can
find (while he still needs a rationale) to indulge fully in a licentious
life, and give free rein to his carnal appetites.

As I have often emphasized - if one will not accept the first two
Commandments, "I am G-d, your G-d," and "You shall have no other gods,"
one will inevitably break all other Commandments, including "You shall
not murder," "You shall not steal," not to mention "You shall not
covet," however self-evident these precepts may seem.

This has been amply demonstrated by Hitler and the German nation. All
the philosophies which the Germans had invented and expounded were of no
avail because they made the human mind the supreme and final judge,
creating the concept of a "superman," etc.

There is, obviously, quite a difference in a system which leads to human
perfection through stressing the Divine qualities in man, which can be
developed only through self-discipline and the curbing of natural
desires and propensities. There can be no relationship between the two
systems; they are diametrically contradictory.

This brings me to the final remark, which is actually the essential
point of the letter.

The problem in your case, as with others in similar situations, is the
lack of self-discipline, and it is due to the fact that it means curbing
one's desires and passions, and this lack of discipline, therefore,
extends itself also in other areas, such as regular study and daily
routine, so as not to have to think and decide each day what to do with

You should also bear in mind that the Yetzer Hora [the evil inclination]
will try to counteract this effort by causing a depressed mood and
planting the thought that by breaking the discipline, the mood will

The truth is, however, that even if momentarily there seems to be a
relief, it is only a fleeting one attained at the cost of a regulated
and orderly life which alone can assure success and contentment of a
lasting nature.

Much more could be said in regard to all the above, but I trust the
above lines will be adequate.

                              TODAY IS ...
                               15 Tammuz

My father writes in one of his maamarim: Fatness of the body can result
from the spiritual pleasure and delight derived from G-dliness. They say
of Rebbe Nachum of Chernobil that he became corpulent from answering
"amein y'hei sh'mei rabba."

                               16 Tammuz

The Baal Shem Tov's ahavat yisrael (love of fellow Jew) was beyond
imagination. The Maggid said: If only we could kiss a sefer-Torah with
the same love that my Master kissed the children when he took them to
cheder as a teacher's assistant!

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
In a letter of the Rebbe written at the conclusion of the "Three Weeks"
of mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temples, the Rebbe wrote:

"As mentioned in the well-known prayer [recited in the holiday Musaf
service] 'Umipnei chatoeinu,' the only cause of the sad events in the
past - the Destruction and Exile - was the neglect of Torah and mitzvot.
Therefore, through rectifying and removing the cause, the effect will
also be removed."

This coming Thursday (July 15) is the 17th of Tammuz, which begins the
period in the Jewish calendar known as the Three Weeks or "Bein
HaMeitzarim" ("Between the Straights").

During the Three Weeks, as we commemorate the destruction of the Holy
Temples and the beginning of our long and bitter exile, it is
appropriate and commendable to strengthen and increase our observance of
Torah and mitzvot (commandments).

But we should do this with a unique outlook. For, the Rebbe stated that
the Jewish people, as a whole, has already rectified the reason for the

The Rebbe explained that by enhancing our ahavat Yisrael - love of a
fellow Jew - we would experience a foretaste of the unity and ahavat
Yisrael that will be prevalent in the Messianic Era.

For, when Moshiach is revealed, the G-dly essence of everything will
also be revealed. Thus, we will experience the true appreciation of our
fellow Jew, and this will lead to true "love of a fellow Jew."

The Rebbe also declared that "Teshuva [repentance] has already been
done." We have repented of our transgressions, the reason for the exile,
and thus, at any moment, G-d can fulfill his long-overdue promise to the
Jewish people and the world at large and bring the true and everlasting

May our additional mitzvot and enhanced Jewish knowledge tip the
Heavenly scales and bring the Revelation of Moshiach now.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
The Torah portion of Pinchas

The Torah portions of Chukat and Balak are sometimes read together; so
are Matot and Masei. Pinchas, however, is always read alone. The Rebbe
Maharash (Rabbi Shmuel, fourth Chabad Rebbe) once jested as a child,
"That's because Pinchas is barbed (and no one wants to stand next to
him)!" [As is known, Pinchas slew Zimri and the Midianite woman with a
barbed spear.]

                                *  *  *

Of Ozni, the family of the Oznites (Num. 26:16)

The name Ozni is related to the Hebrew word for ear, ozen.
Interestingly, Rashi comments that this verse refers "to the family of
Etzbon" - which is related to the word etzba, finger. What is the
connection between the two? The reason, our Sages explained, that man's
fingers were created long and thin is to enable him to stick them in his
ears the moment he hears something he shouldn't...

                                (The Shaloh, Rabbi Yeshaya Hurvitz)

                                *  *  *

The land hall be divided by lot. (Num. 26:55)

In the land of Israel there are different kinds of areas: mountains,
valleys, fields, orchards, etc. When one received his share in the
mountains and another in a valley, or one received cornfields and
another orchards, this division of the physical land of Israel reflected
each one's individual relationship to the spiritual land of Israel. This
means that everyone has something unique that relates specifically to
him or her in his spiritual service.

                                                   (Likutei Sichot)

                                *  *  *

Who may go out before them, and who may go in before them, and who may
lead them out, and who may bring them in (Num. 27:17)

A true Jewish leader is one who does not alter his opinions according to
popular demand. Only a leader of such stature has the power to "lead the
Jewish people out" of all difficulties, and "bring them in" to the realm
of holiness.

                                                      (Even HaEzel)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
The illustrious scholar, Rabbi Akiva Eiger (1759-1837) was traveling to
Hungary for his daughter's marriage to the son of the Chatam Sofer
(Rabbi Moshe Sofer, 1762-1839). He announced his intention to stop in
Nikolsburg to pay his respects to the town's rabbi, Rav Mordechai Banet.
Word spread quickly through the streets of Nikolsburg and the entire
Jewish community thrilled at the news of a visit from perhaps the most
illustrious scholar of the day. The simple folk yearned to see the holy
visage of the great man; the town's scholars looked forward to hearing
his brilliant reflections on Torah.

The brief visit was a real occasion in Nikolsburg, and the townsfolk
spoke of it for months after. Rabbi Banet, however, was disappointed in
his meeting with the scholar. There had been no brilliant, novel insight
into some knotty passage of Talmud, no remarkable word to remember
forever. In fact, Rabbi Banet wondered where the greatness of Rabbi
Eiger lay after all. To his great disappointment, the conversation had
been quite ordinary.

Not long after, Rabbi Eiger had occasion to visit Nikolsburg again on a
matter of communal business. This time he made a totally different
impression on Rabbi Banet, and the local rabbi invited his esteemed
guest to address the congregation on Shabbat. During the speech Rabbi
Banet differed with Rabbi Eiger's opinions, and interrupted with his own
interpretation. Instead of arguing the point, as would be expected,
Rabbi Eiger descended from the bima and quietly returned to his seat.
Later in the day, Rabbi Banet reflected on the morning's events. Doubt,
and even guilt, crept into his mind. "Did I offend or anger the great
man, G-d forbid?" he wondered. He decided to visit Rabbi Eiger to make
amends. To his surprise, Rabbi Eiger was neither embarrassed nor angry.
But in a quiet manner, the scholar now embarked on a well-reasoned
defense of his earlier remarks. Rabbi Banet soon realized the error of
his position and apologized profusely.

"But, tell me, why did you not present your arguments at the time?"
Rabbi Banet inquired.

"I thought as follows: I am only a visitor who is passing through your
city," Rabbi Eiger explained. "There is no need for the townspeople to
respect or honor me, but you are the rabbi of the community, of the
whole country, in fact, and it is vital to the welfare of the community
that your honor be respected by the people. Therefore, I felt it would
be improper to contradict you in public."

Rabbi Banet was overwhelmed by these words and he wanted very much for
the truth to be publicized. Therefore, he called the whole community
together and explained to them what had happened. "Not only have I been
given an understanding of Rabbi Eiger's great scholarship, but I have
received an even greater insight into his sublime holiness and
righteousness. On his first visit to Nikolsburg, Rabbi Eiger concealed
his greatness from me, but this time, I have merited to learn from his
singular and awesome humility."

                                *  *  *

When he was already elderly, Rabbi Avraham Dov of Everitch settling in
the holy city of Safed. But although he had waited many years for the
opportunity to bask in the spiritual light of the Land of Israel, once
there he found life in the Holy Land too difficult to bear. The
hardships were all too apparent, while the holiness of the land was hard
to discern.

When he felt he could bear no more, Rabbi Avraham Dov began to think of
returning to his home in Everitch. "After all," he reasoned, "I left my
relatives and my students behind in order to live in the land, but it's
all to no avail, for I am suffering so bitterly. Let me return to
Everitch, and they will be happy to see me, and I will be glad as well."

When Rabbi Avraham Dov reached the decision to return home the rainy
season in Israel was approaching. One day, as he was walking to the
synagogue for the afternoon prayer, he heard noises coming from the
surrounding rooftops. He couldn't identify the strange sounds, and he
asked the people he passed, "What is happening? Where are these noises
coming from?" The people were amused that he didn't know.

"Here, in Safed," they explained, "we have the custom of performing
household chores on our flat roofs. We also use the roofs for storing
food and other household supplies. The noise you hear is caused by the
women scurrying about, removing all these things from the roofs."

"But why are they doing that?" Rabbi Avraham Dov asked.

"Why so that nothing gets ruined by the rain, of course," was the
incredulous reply. But Rabbi Avraham Dov was still confused. He looked
up at a sky as blue as the sea when there are no waves in sight.

"It certainly doesn't look like rain," he said, hoping for some further

"Surely you remember that tonight we say the prayer for rain. We beseech
G-d to remember us and send benign rains to water our crops and provide
water for us. Since we are sure that our Father in Heaven will hear our
prayers and will heed our request, we take precautions so that our
possessions won't be ruined when the rains come."

The unquestioning faith of the people affected the rabbi deeply.
Suddenly his eyes were opened and he saw the sublime heights of faith
achieved by the simple Jews of the Holy Land. His pain and
disappointment were replaced by a sense of awe at the holiness of the
land and its people. At that moment, he abandoned all thoughts of
returning to Everitch and began a new leg of his own spiritual journey
to the holiness the Holy Land.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
May it be G-d's will that our talking and importuning so much about the
coming of our righteous Moshiach will so disturb and nudge G-d that He
will have no choice (so to speak) but to bring the redemption. This is
particularly so since G-d Himself mightily wants the redemption, for
since the Divine Presence was exiled together with the Jews, the
redemption of the Jews means also G-d's redemption! The main thing is
that the "dream" I have about Moshiach's coming - which is really your
dream too - be translated into reality immediately, today, before the
Mincha prayer. And may the "dream of all dreams" also be realized, that
today we go "with the clouds of glory" to our holy land, and pray this
Shabbat's Mincha prayer in Jerusalem, in the third Holy Temple.

                                      (The Rebbe,  14 Tammuz, 1984)

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1329 - Pinchas 5774

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