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Nothing happens by chance. Whether you choose your own number for your lottery ticket or let the computer do it for you, the fact that you won (or most likely didn't win!) didn't happen by chance. It's all part of G-d's Divine plan.
The idea that nothing happens by chance is a primary teaching of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of Chasidism. He goes even further and says that everything that happens in the world is for a purpose. The Baal Shem Tov's most famous example of this precept is a leaf that falls from a tree in order to shade an ant from the beating sun.
If this is true of a leaf falling from a tree, a blade of grass swaying in the wind, a bird flying through the air, how much more so is it true of the movement of the planets and stars in the constellations which affect the lives of hundreds of billions of people and an almost unlimited number of creatures.
The Jewish calendar is reckoned according to the lunar cycle. It is not by chance that 15 is a "winning number" in the Jewish calendar, i.e., the day on which many of our Jewish holidays fall. On the fifteenth day of the month, the moon is whole. It "shines" at its fullest potential. And for the Jewish people, who are likened to the moon which waxes and wanes, the wholeness of the moon is very significant:
G-d has implanted a soul within each one of us. Chasidic philosophy defines the soul as "an actual part of G-d." We are expected to help our souls shine brightly, to their fullest potential, thereby lighting up our surroundings.
The full moon on the fifteenth of the month teaches us that it's not enough if only a part of us, half or three-quarters, shines. We must illuminate fully and perfectly.
And the light we give off must shine in every way possible - through luminous thoughts, with bright words, and by way of shining actions. Our "moon-shine" should light up our homes, offices, communities, until we light up the whole world.
We are now in the Jewish month of Av. From the fifteenth day of Av on, the nights become longer. Jewish teachings explain that the longer evenings should be used to delve into Torah. G-d even gives us an incentive to study more Torah beginning on the fifteenth of Av, saying that if we pursue Torah studies at night, G-d will "add on to our lives"; He will give us more energy and enthusiasm than we had before.
Nothing happens by chance. The seasons change and the nights become longer for a reason: so that we can become more involved in Jewish pursuits; so that we can learn how to help our soul shine; so that we can get closer to G-d.
Pick a winning number this month by participating in an evening Torah study class. Or log into torahcafe.com for an at-home audio lecture, lchaimweekly.org or chabad.org for edifying Torah articles, sichosinenglish.org for books on-line, or just old-fashioned open a Jewish book!
In this week's Torah portion, Va'etchanan, Moses recounts the great revelation of G-dliness that occurred at Mount Sinai. Recalling the momentous event, Moses describes G-d's voice, heard by the entire Jewish people, as "a great voice which did not cease."
The Midrash explains these words as follows: G-d's voice was "divided into seven voices, which were then divided into the 70 languages of the world."
Furthermore, this Divine voice did not cease - it continues to be heard in every generation through our Sages and prophets.
What are we to learn from the Torah's choice of the words "a great voice which did not cease"?
The Talmud explains that the revelation at Mount Sinai was unique because of its sublime degree of G-dly manifestation. The Talmud points out that the Hebrew letters of the very first word of the Ten Commandments, "Anochi" - "I" - stands for "Ana nafshi katvit yahavit" - "I have written down My essence and given it." G-d's very essence, as it were, was revealed when He gave the Torah at Sinai.
Yet one must not mistakenly conclude that this intense revelation was a one-time event, and that all subsequent revelations through our prophets are only second-best. For every word uttered by our leaders is Divinely-inspired - "the spirit of G-d speaks through them, and His word is on their lips" - and expresses the same manifestation of G-d's essence as did His utterances at Sinai.
"A great voice which did not cease" - G-d's message to mankind is continually revealed in every generation, in all parts of the Torah, not just the Ten Commandments.
Every ritual law, every Jewish custom established by our sages, is a continuation of the revelation of G-dliness that was begun at Mount Sinai, and is equivalent to G-d's having expressed His will to us directly.
In His Divine wisdom, G-d decreed that certain aspects of Torah be revealed only in later generations, but the "great voice" that issues forth is always the same.
Additionally, the "70 languages" is also an allusion to our exile, when Jews will be dispersed all over the world and speak every known tongue.
The inner purpose behind this is the sanctification of the world through our usage of those languages, and the elevation of the hidden sparks of holiness that are scattered throughout creation.
For no matter the language a Jew speaks, when his speech is in keeping with Torah and for the sake of heaven, he too is imbued with the power of the "great voice," and he helps make this world into a "dwelling place for G-d" - the ultimate completion of which will take place in the Messianic Era.
Adapted from Likutei Sichot of the Rebbe, Vol. IV
When Rabbi Leibel Alevsky and his wife, Devorah, were sent to Cleveland in 1972 by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson to establish the first Chabad house in Cleveland and eastern Ohio, they could not have imagined how the movement would grow regionally under their leadership.
Today, in addition to the Waxman Chabad Center in Beachwood, there are eight Chabad branches in Northeast Ohio.
Rabbi Alevsky said the goal for all of these Chabad houses is the same: "To reach out to Jews young and old, to welcome them warmly without judgment and to expose them to Jewish values."
The Chabad torch was passed to the Alevskys by Devorah Alevsky's parents, Rabbi Zalman and Rebbetzin Shula Kazen, who started the movement locally when they moved to Cleveland from Paris in 1953. The Kazens operated out of Congregation Zemach Zedek in Cleveland Heights, where Rabbi Kazen served as spiritual leader for more than 50 years.
"We have 10 children, and all of them are involved in the Chabad movement," Devorah Alevsky said.
Four of the children are Chabad shluchim in Greater Cleveland, and a fifth helps lead a Chabad in Akron-Canton. The remaining five children work in the movement elsewhere, including sites in New York; Maale Efraim, Israel; London; Shanghai, China; and Argentina.
Rabbi Leibel Alevsky was 33 and his wife was 28 when they arrived in Cleveland. "We started our activities that summer at the Case Western Reserve Hillel House," Rabbi Alevsky said. "Mrs. Kazen had arranged with Hillel that I would address a group of students interested in Judaism once a week for 13 weeks, and we would answer their questions."
The classes started with four or five students per class. But within a couple weeks, 80 to 90 students were flocking to the class, Rabbi Alevsky said.
"The program was called 'Stump the Rabbi,'" he said with a smile. "Kids could ask anything they wanted. They sat from 9 p.m. until (sometimes) 3 a.m. with us."
The Alevskys were living with the Kazens in Cleveland Heights at the time, and on days when class was not held, many students would come over to them and ask more questions, Rabbi Alevsky said.
Irving Stone, a former CEO of American Greetings known for his philanthropy, saw the Alevskys in action and "was very impressed," Rabbi Alevsky said.
"He said he wanted to open a Chabad house," he said. "I said, 'If you're willing to underwrite the salary and expenses of the program, I will bring you someone here.' I was not thinking of myself. I had an important position in New York; I was national director of the central Lubavitch youth organization."
Stone, a former Beachwood resident who died in 2000, offered to underwrite the entire budget for the first three years of Chabad of Cleveland, but under one condition: that the Alevskys move to Cleveland and run the program.
So Rabbi Alevsky consulted with Rabbi Schneerson, "and he told me to come to Cleveland to open a Chabad."
In 1981, Rabbi Alevsky decided the Chabad House needed a pulpit rabbi, as the community had grown to more than 50 people. So Rabbi Sholom Ber Chaikin was brought in from London to serve as the Chabad's spiritual leader and halachic authority - a position he still holds.
Rabbi Zushe and Miriam Greenberg launched the Chabad Jewish Center of Solon in 1991. The Greenbergs met in Brooklyn, N.Y. Zushe Greenberg, who grew up in the Tel Aviv area of Israel, arrived there at age 19 to study under Rabbi Schneerson at the Lubavitcher Yeshiva.
"I was with the Rebbe every day, three services a day ... it was the best six years of my life," Zushe Greenberg said. "Being around the Rebbe felt like being in a different atmosphere. The Rebbe constantly spoke about wanting all the students to go out and share their Judaism with other Jews," he added.
"The Rebbe said we cannot afford in our generation just to stay in yeshiva forever and study Torah," he said. "We must go out and reach out to other Jews. The Rebbe's love for every Jew rubbed off on us, and I hope that I'm at least a little bit of a reflection of the Rebbe's love for another person."
"My father-in-law (Rabbi Leibel Alevsky) told me there is a place called Solon with a lot of young Jewish families moving in, and no Jewish presence, so it would be a good idea to start a Chabad there," Zushe Greenberg said. "Before we moved, I asked for the Rebbe's approval and blessing, and he gave me the blessing that the move should be in a good and auspicious time. Since then, every day in Solon is a good, auspicious time."
A year ago, the Greenbergs' daughter, Mushkie and her husband, Rabbi Shimon Galperin, were hired to coordinate youth programming at Solon Chabad.
The Chabad Family Center in Lyndhurst, established in January, operates out of the home of Rabbi Mendy Freedman and his wife, Chaya.Freedman, who was raised in Argentina as a child of Chabad emissaries, said he learned from a young age to devote his life to spreading Judaism and helping all Jews. His mother, Sarah Freedman ¬ Rabbi Leibel and Devorah Alevskys' oldest daughter - helps run a Chabad house in Argentina with her husband, Rabbi Moshe Freedman.
"During my last years at the yeshiva in Israel, I started doing my own outreach at other Chabad centers (around the world)," Mendy Freedman said. "I really loved doing this outreach work. It all comes from what the Lubavitcher Rebbe taught us: love your fellow Jew as yourself, the unconditional love he gave out to every single person."
Rabbi Leibel Alevsky said Chabad of Cleveland looks forward to more growth in the future.
Excerpted with permission from The Cleveland Jewish News.
New Facilities Dedicated
A sprawling 15,000 square feet facility, Beth Menachem-Chabad, was recently dedicated in Newton, Massachusetts. The center includes a beautiful synagogue sanctuary and function hall, library, men and women's mikvaot (ritual baths) and a large number of classrooms.
The Chabad Jewish Center of Chengdu, China, the capital of the Sichuan province in Southwest China, has inaugurated its new and more central location to better serve its regulars and visitors. The Chabad center has gained a reputation as an address for all things Jewish in the providence known as the "Heaven State."
European C-Teen Shabbat
Two hundred teens from 12 cities across Europe gathered in London, England recently for a C-Teen Shabbaton. The common language at the Chabad teen youth movement event was Jewish pride and friendship!
5 Kislev 5729 
Blessing and Greeting:
I duly received your letter postmarked November 20th, as well as your previous letter.
In reply to your correspondence, and pursuant to our conversation during your visit here, I want to reiterate that every person, in order to be able to express himself fully and be successful in his work, must have a certain measure of independence. This is particularly true in the case of a person whose main activity is intellectual and spiritual, especially in the field of research, where independence of thought and decision is a basic condition of the scientific approach. And inasmuch as a human being is a single entity, it is inevitable that inhibition in one area is bound to have an effect on other areas of one's activity.
The above does not imply that a wife should completely withhold her opinions or suggestions which she considers it her duty to express to her husband. On the contrary, no person should withhold any idea that can be beneficial to any Jew, not to mention when it concerns the best interests of husband and wife, both of whom are like one entity. Nevertheless, you ought to leave your husband a considerable measure of independence in making final decisions. And knowing you and him, I am certain that the proper decisions will be made.
I am gratified to note from your writing that your husband has resumed his research in earnest, and may G-d grant that it be with much hatzlocha [success].
As for the question of taking time out as a consultant, etc., it is my opinion, as I mentioned in our conversation, that if this will not interfere with his research work, it would be all right. For, as I have emphasized, his essential work lies in the field of research, and it should have primary attention, all the more so since there has been a considerable interruption.
With regard to the question of stocks, my opinion is that they should not be sold if there would be a loss, G-d forbid. Otherwise stocks should be sold on the advice of an experienced broker at such time the broker thinks is right for the particular stock.
Generally speaking, I have no right to withhold my general opinion that it is not a good idea to invest in stocks the major part of one's savings. In addition to the consideration that such an investment would be of questionable financial prudence, there is also the factor of the nervous strain that the stock market fluctuations cause to the investor. Also because such a situation is completely independent of the investor's intelligence and judgment, or at any rate, largely so. Finally, the present day and age is full of unpredictable developments, and the market is highly sensitive to national and international events. In view of all this, those who ask my advice with regard to the stock market, my usual advice is to rather forgo a percentage of dividends, and invest in more secure and suitable investments.
I emphasize "those who ask my advice." However, since you have not asked my advice, I will not say that you should necessarily act accordingly. May G-d grant that whatever you decide should be with hatzlocha to enjoy your parnosah [livelihood], and to use your earnings on good, wholesome, and happy things, especially in the advancement in matters of Yiddishkeit [Judaism] in general, and the Torah-true education of the children in particular, and that you and your husband should bring them up to a life of Torah, chuppah [marriage], and good deeds, in good health and ample sustenance.
May G-d grant that you should have good news to report, including also good news about having been successful in finding a suitable apartment in a desirable neighborhood, as you mention in your letter.
P.S. While the letter was addressed to you, since it is in reply to your letter, it goes without saying that you may show it to your husband, and convey to him my best regards at the same time.
12 Menachem Av
Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad Chasidic philosophy, repeated what the Mezritcher Maggid said quoting the Baal Shem Tov: "Love your fellow like yourself" is an interpretation of and commentary on "Love Hashem your G-d." He who loves his fellow-Jew loves G-d, because the Jew has with in himself a "part of G-d Above." Therefore, when one loves the Jew - i.e. his inner essence - one loves G-d.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
In Judaism, each and every Jew is important, and all of his actions are significant in the absolute sense. What a Jew does matters - a point that is underscored this coming Monday, the Fifteenth of Av (Tu B'Av).
It states in the Talmud (Taanit) that, beginning from the Fifteenth of Av, a Jew should increase the time he devotes to nighttime Torah study. To reward us for our additional learning, G-d extends our lives and grants us additional years. Our Sages explained that Tu B'Av is the date on which we can see the nights begin to be longer and the days shorter. Generally speaking, the daylight hours are reserved for work, whereas at night, people have more free time to spend as they please. The shorter the day, the more hours are left over at night - and nighttime is especially conducive to learning Torah.
Of course, the length of the days and nights on earth is variable, changing according to the movement of the sun. On the Fifteenth of Av, the sun begins to experience a change in orbit.
Now, the world might think that there's a perfectly "natural" explanation for this, but the Talmud provides us with the true reason for this planetary phenomenon: to enable the Jew to spend more time learning Torah! For the sake of the Jew, G-d actually alters the course of the sun in the sky - a cosmological change of fantastic proportions!
Just think about how important it must be to G-d that we study His Torah, to the point that He literally moves heaven and earth on our behalf!
In fact, the entire universe is orchestrated by G-d for our sake, that we learn His Torah with eagerness and enthusiasm, and express it in actual deed. So if G-d can move the stars and planets for our sake, certainly we can "move" ourselves to learn a little more Torah each evening!
Hear O Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One (Deut. 6:4)
Our Rabbis said: "Hear - in every language." One can accept the yoke of heaven in any language, not just in the Hebrew tongue. Likewise, in every object that a person sees and every sound which reaches his ears he must strive to see that "the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One." We can find G-d's greatness and absolute unity reflected in every single thing which occurs in the world.
And these words which I command you this day shall be in your heart (Deut. 6:6)
"These words" of Torah should be always at the ready; all one must do is open up one's heart for a second and they will enter.
(Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk)
And you shall teach them to your children..."(Deut. 6:7)
It is the duty of Jewish educators to remove from the child any vestige of inferiority complex about his Jewishness in a predominantly non-Jewish environment, until he understands that democracy and freedom are not cauldrons of assimilation, but rather the contrary; they offer everyone the privilege to have his place, to enjoy his rights, and to live according to his faith without compromise, the opportunity for the Jew to fulfill his life's destiny.
And He repays those who hate Him to their face (Deut. 7:10)
G-d repays the wicked in their lifetime for any good they have done, thereby depriving them of the spiritual rewards in the World to Come.
Napoleon personally commanded his mighty army in order to realize his dream of capturing India and other lands in the Far East. He captured Egypt and from there marched into the Land of Israel.
About the same time, in the year 1798, a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Nachman, arrived in Israel. His hope was to quench his thirst for Torah from the great saintly Sages living in the ancient city of Safed.
Once, after concluding his prayers with great concentration and devotion, he lay down on the grass to rest and fell asleep. Suddenly, in his dream, he beheld an old man who told him to go to Tiberias where he had an important mission to carry out on the banks of Lake Kinneret.
Reb Nachman wasted not a moment. He gathered his things and hurried off toward Tiberias. There, he rented a room in the house of a fisherman. Napoleon, in the meantime, had made his headquarters on the east bank of Lake Kinneret. He was receiving reports that there was much unrest in France, and that his opponents were seeking an opportunity to dethrone him. In this unsettling atmosphere, it was not easy for Napoleon to maintain the strict military discipline upon which the success of his armies depended.
One day, a thieving band of soldiers set out on a rampage, raiding the homes of the poor fishermen near Lake Kinneret. Three soldiers dashed into the home where Reb Nachman lived and demanded from the old Jewish fisherman all his money.
"I am too old to go fishing anymore and my only son supports me," explained the elderly man. "I have no money."
The disappointed soldiers began beating the old Jew mercilessly. Reb Nachman heard the commotion from his attic room and hurried to the rescue. "Leave the old man alone!" Reb Nachman called out in a commanding tone.
The soldiers let go of their victim. But seeing the intruder was a thin, pale, young Jew, they turned their attention on him. "So, you would like to have a taste of this beating?" one of the soldiers called out contemptuously. He took off his belt and approached Reb Nachman.
Rabbi Nachman shot a piercing glance at the soldier who remained standing with his arm paralyzed in the air. The two other soldiers tried to help their friend, but they, too, were quickly made helpless by the sharp look of Reb Nachman.
Reb Nachman ordered them to put the old man on his bed and ask his forgiveness. "Now, get out of here at once and don't let your foot enter any Jewish home if you value your lives," he warned the soldiers.
Terrified and in deadly silence, the soldiers ran out. Arriving at their barracks, they told their friends about the terrible experience with the holy young Jew who had magical powers.
The story spread throughout the entire French Army camp until it reached Napoleon. Napoleon had the soldiers brought to him. He questioned them and then decided to meet this unusual rabbi, who might be able to foretell what the future had in store for him.
"That is the man," Reb Nachman heard a familiar-looking soldier say.
As Napoleon approached Reb Nachman, the rabbi rose and greeted him with great respect, saying, "Good evening, your Majesty. Blessed are you in your coming."
Amazed, Napoleon asked, "How do you know who I am?"
"Our Torah enlightens the eyes of those who follow its teachings," Reb Nachman replied.
As they talked, Napoleon realized that he was conversing with a distinguished spiritual personality, who also had a deep understanding of worldly problems and events.
"Do you think I should continue my military expedition through the countries of the Middle East to reach India, or should we return to France?" he asked Reb Nachman.
Reb Nachman pondered the matter for a while then said, "The Creator has blessed you with exceptional qualities which you should use for the benefit of mankind. The way to achieve this is not through wars and bloodshed. Do not allow your military victories to mislead you. They will not bring peace to the world, and without peace you have nothing. Return home and help to create in your own country an exemplary order of justice and righteousness."
Napoleon shook his head and said, "Such a mission is not for me. I would rather live a short life full of triumph and power than a long life without them."
"Everyone has freedom of choice in the way he wishes to live," said Rabbi Nachman respectfully.
Napoleon invited Reb Nachman to accompany him as his adviser, despite the fact that he hadn't followed Reb Nachman's advice.
But Reb Nachman demurred the honor, saying, "My only wish is to serve the Alm-ghty with all my heart and with all my soul."
Our Sages said, "The Jews never had festivals like the 15th of Av and Yom Kippur." The 15th of Av, this reflects the transformation of darkness into light. It reflects the fullness of the moon of Av, the time when the positive intent hidden within the negative factors of that month will be revealed. This is emphasized by our Sages' statement that the Holy Temple was destroyed in Av "so that" it be rebuilt in Av.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Shabbat Nachamu, 5749-1989)