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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1346
                           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.
        November 14, 2014     Chayei Sara      21 Cheshvan, 5775


Even before you know what's inside the gift you say "thank you." Before
you've tasted that heavenly-looking dessert the waiter brought, you
murmur, "thanks."

And before you start your day, as soon as you realize that you are no
longer in that delicious mode of sleep, you can say the Modeh Ani
prayer: "I give thanks to You, living and eternal King, for having
restored within me my soul, with mercy; great is Your trust."

Though we haven't rinsed our hands, washed our face, brushed our teeth
-proscribed preparations for prayer - we can say this prayer.

Because, as Chasidic thought teaches, the "Modeh Ani" of the Jew - a
Jew's very essence - is always pure and pristine.

The concept of expressing thanks to G-d is one of the fundamental
principles of Jewish life. Thus we begin each day with an expression of
thanks  Modeh Ani - in which we gratefully acknowledge that G-d returned
our soul. This, our first act of the day, serves as the foundation for
all of our subsequent conduct.

It teaches us to be grateful, to take nothing for granted, to appreciate
everything we have.

The Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chasidic movement, was renown for
spreading Jewish teachings even among small children. Before he became a
rebbe, he served as a teacher's helper.

In fact, when the story of the Baal Shem Tov's life is related - before
his scholarship, piety, unbounded love of all Jews, and miracles that he
wrought are recounted - it is first told that he began as a teacher's
helper. At that time, he would remind children to begin their day with
praise of and thanks to G-d, by reciting Modeh Ani.

Through starting one's day with Modeh Ani, a Jew acknowledges G-d's
sovereignty. In addition, it sets the tone for the whole day and for
one's entire life.

It teaches us to be grateful from our earliest moment in our lives at
the earliest moment in the day.

Jewish teachings explain that every night when one goes to sleep one's
soul returns to its Divine source and gives an account of its activities
that day.

In the prayer before going to bed we say, "Into Your hand I pledge my
soul; You have redeemed me, G-d of trust."

A pledge is something the debtor gives to the creditor as security that
the debt will be repaid. Usually the creditor will not return the pledge
as long as the debtor still owes him money. But G-d is merciful; though
every day we are indebted to Him, He returns our soul to us.

Our Sages also explain: When a person gives a pledge, even if it is a
new thing, it becomes old and used by the time it is returned. But G-d
returns our "pledge" new and polished even though it has been "used,"
and so it is written, "They are new every morning; great is Your trust."

The fact that we go to bed "dead tired" and wake up refreshed, returning
from the unconscious world of slumber, is similar to the "revival of the
dead" which will take place in the Messianic Era.

This daily experience strengthens our conviction in the "resurrection of
the Dead," one of the 13 principles of Judaism.

And this adds further meaning to the words, "Great is Your trust," for
we have absolute trust in G-d not only that He will return our soul in
the morning, but also will return our soul into our body at the end of
days, when all dead will arise from their "sleep."

Try getting into the habit of giving thanks, right from the very first
moment of the day. Gratefulness goes a long way.

                      Adapted from a talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

The end of this week's Torah portion, Chayei Sara, tells of the passing
of Abraham and the order of succession of his descendants: "And Abraham
gave all that he had to Isaac." Isaac, Abraham's only son from his
beloved wife Sara, was chosen to continue the new path he had forged in
the service of G-d. The children of Abraham's concubines, however,
received only a token of their father's wealth: "But to the sons of the
concubines...Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his
son."Isaac was designated his father's heir, despite being younger than
Ishmael and the others.

This week's Haftara contains a similar incident that occurred toward the
end of King David's life. When Adoniyahu, David's eldest son, sought to
usurp his father's throne, Batsheva reminded David of the oath he had
made that Solomon, the younger son, would reign. King David agreed to
honor the oath and Batsheva declared, "May my lord, the King David, live

What is the significance of both these choices? When Abraham designated
Isaac his heir, he thereby bestowed upon him the special relationship he
enjoyed with G-d, the essential "chosenness" he would pass on to his
children after him. Abraham's choice of Isaac allowed every Jew to
acquire that same eternal bond with G-d as his birthright, an immutable
bond that can never be severed.

Similarly, Batsheva's declaration, "May my lord, the King David, live
forever!" is an expression of G-d's promise that "the kingship will
never be cut off from the progeny of David." Dominion over the Jewish
people belongs solely to the descendents of King David through his son
Solomon, ultimately one of whom is King Moshiach.

The common thread between these two incidents is the underlying
principle that the actions of an immutable G-d are eternal and
unchanging. Just as G-d Himself experiences no change, so too are His
choices fixed and immutable. Batsheva's declaration, "May my lord, the
King David, live forever!" will find ultimate fulfillment when King
Moshiach arises and ushers in the Final Redemption.

Indeed, we find that the wholeness of the Jewish people is connected to
the concept of kingship, for it was only after King David's descendants
were chosen to rule that the Jewish nation was at peace, the Holy Temple
was built in Jerusalem and G-d's Divine Presence dwelt in the Holy
Temple. Likewise, the Final Redemption of the Jewish people will only
commence when the ultimate King of the House of David arises, to
initiate the Ingathering of the Exiles and build the final and
indestructible Third Holy Temple, speedily in our day.

                          Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                  From Eastern Europe to Owings Mills
                           by Allie Freedman

Rabbi Nachum Katsenelenbogen always knew his father was a hero. Arrested
by the NKVD, predecessor to the KGB, in 1950, Moshe Katsenelenbogen
spent seven-and-a-half years in a Soviet prison simply for being Jewish.
Once he was free, he poured his heart into instilling a strong love of
Judaism in his children.

As a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Owings Mills, Katsenelenbogen aims to
bring his father's teachings to his Baltimore-area friends, students and
congregants. When his father passed away on Sept. 3 at the age of 83,
the rabbi began to reflect on his father's sacrifices. By keeping his
faith under harsh circumstances, Katsenelenbogen believes his father
helped ensure the spread of Judaism for future generations.

"My whole life, I dreamed about being a Chabad rabbi because of my
father's unwavering commitment to Judaism," Katsenelenbogen, who directs
Chabad of Owings Mills, said last week. "I try to pass on the lessons he
taught me to the Baltimore Jewish community. He might be physically
gone, but his story lives on."

Later this year, the Chabad center will be dedicating a new Torah scroll
in honor of the late Katsenelenbogen, ensuring that his memory lives on
as inspiration for Jewish learning.

"My father did not die for Judaism," said his son. "He lived for

"My father was a walking, living Torah scroll," he continued. "When I
thought about how to commemorate his life, the Torah just seemed like
the most natural fit."

Katsenelenbogen's father devoted his life to defending his religion.
Born in the Former Soviet Union, Moshe was part of an underground
network of Jewish educators and activists coordinated by Chabad leaders.
Coming from a Lubavitch family, his own father, Rabbi Michoel
Katsenelenbogen, was one of the original students at Yeshivat Tomchei
Temimim, the movement's flagship educational institution.

When Moshe was just 6, his father was arrested by the secret police and
murdered shortly after. Despite his father's death, Moshe continued to
learn in the underground system.

"The Chabad movement taught my father the entire Jewish calendar by
heart," said Katsenelenbogen. "Many boys his age would learn arithmetic
by going to baseball games. My father studied Jewish law in secret. He
knew exactly [when Yom Kippur] fell, so he knew when to fast. He was
fluent in the Jewish code of law."

Moshe's mother helped forge passports and Polish documents to help
Jewish families escape from Russia. But his Jewish background and
beliefs would lead him to jail.

After his arrest for refusing to attend a Soviet school and not
testifying against his mother, he faced torture, physical abuse and
starvation in prison. His only crime was that he was a practicing Jew.

"They told my father he had 90 months, and my grandmother was sentenced
to death. They say 90 months rather than seven and a half years because
psychologically, it sounds longer," said Katsenelenbogen. "In jail, they
whipped him in front of his mother and gave him minimal food. They
wanted to break his spirit. Instead, they made him stronger."

After he was released from jail, Moshe left the Soviet Union in 1971.
Immigrating to London, he focused on igniting a passion for Judaism in
his five children.

"My father's stories about jail truly inspired me to pursue a career in
Jewish education," said Katsenelenbogen. "He used to share prison
stories with me all the time. One of my favorite tales is his Passover
story. In jail, they only feed you bread, sugar and water. Therefore, on
Passover, he did not eat for eight days. He simply said eating was not
an option. He was arrested for practicing Judaism, and there he is, in a
Soviet jail cell, observing Jewish holidays."

From donning tefillin under the blankets to creating his own candles on
Chanukah, Moshe created a portable Judaism. This Yom Kippur,
Katsenelenbogen plans to use his father's life lessons as the
inspiration for his High Holiday sermon.

"People do not want to hear a preacher, they want to hear a story," said
Katsenelenbogen. "My father's story is real, and I think the Baltimore
community can benefit from hearing about it. My father visited Owings
Mills many times in his life and loved the community. When he died,
thousands of Baltimoreans reached out to me. He might be one person, but
his courage has inspired thousands from Eastern Europe to London to

With the pressures and distractions of today's society, Katsenelenbogen
fears his father's generation may be forgotten.

"My father had such a strong perseverance," said Katsenelenbogen. "Even
though we are not being killed by Stalin, we still face peer pressure
every day. I take my [bar and bat mitzvah] students to meet Holocaust
survivors and physically see their numbers. The previous generation
fought so that we can celebrate Judaism freely. My father taught me
well, and I want to teach my students well."

    This article originally appeared in The Baltimore Jewish Times

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                            THE REBBE WRITES
                       7th of Teveth, 5722 [1962]

Greeting and Blessing:

Thank you for your letter of December 10th. I particularly appreciate
your candor, which indicates, I hope, a closeness as well as a
confidence, and at the same time enables me to reciprocate in kind. I
therefore hope that you will not take amiss my pursuing the subject of
our recent correspondence further, inasmuch as it is a matter of public
concern and of the highest order. After all, Jews are characterized as a
"stiff-necked " nation, which means that Jews have the gift of
perseverence and tenacity. Moreover, I feel that some points may not
have been adequately covered in my previous letters.

First, however, let me refer to the point which you make regarding the
apparent discrepancy between the ban on "graven images," and the
existence of the Cherubim, Lion, Ox, and other likenesses in the Beth
Hamikdosh [Holy Temple]. Surely, if there had been any discrepancy,
there would have been some reference on the spot, since the commandment
against graven images and likenesses, as well as the commandment to make
the Cherubim on the cover of the Holy Ark, are to be found in the very
same Book of Moses. Similarly, King Solomon, who built the Beth
Hamikdosh and included the said likenesses, could not have overlooked
the possibility of a discrepancy. Nor would the Jewish people have
accepted it, while at the same time carrying on a fight to eliminate the
influences of idolatry of their neighbors, a fight which they carried on
for hundreds of years after the erection of the Beth Hamikdosh. I cannot
go into the explanation of the apparent discrepancy which you question,
since the explanation can be found in the authoritative commentaries who
deal with it and adequately explain why the Cherubim, etc., did not
constitute any kind of conflict with the commandment against graven
images, etc.

The reason I brought up the point of Aelia Capitolina is because the
Roman Empire knew well that the most deadly blow it could deal to the
Jewish people was to convert Jerusalem into a Roman city of idols,
hoping that what they could not achieve even by the destruction of the
Beth Hamikdosh and the annihilation of hundreds of thousands of Jews,
they could accomplish by this measure aimed at the very heart of Jewish
belief and religion.

Needless to say, I fully agree with you that the Torah is not confined
to a body of laws and statutes, but contains also spiritual
enlightenment, etc. Indeed, as my father-in-law of saintly memory often
emphasized, the Torah embraces the whole life of the Jew, from the
moment of his birth to his last breath, and it is called Toras Chaim,
the Law of Life, in the sense that it is both a guide to the good life
and also the source of life and expression of the living Jewish spirit.
Within the framework of the Torah, therefore, there is ample room for
such expression. As a matter of fact, which I believe we touched upon in
our conversation, in the case of the majority of your works of art,
there is no conflict with the Second Commandment, since they express
symbolisms and ideas which are not incompatible with the Torah, and only
a small proportion of your sculptures are subject to question in the
light of the said Commandment.

The argument that the works of art represent a sublimity, etc., is
irrelevant in this case. I can only illustrate this by a hypothetical
case, such as if anyone would suggest to bring a Ballet into the
Synagogue on the day of Yom Kippur, just before Neilah, on the ground
that a Ballet is a source of sublime inspiration, etc. Whatever the
merits of the argument, the "incongruity" is all too obvious. For the
same reason (and others) even symbolique sculptures have no place in
Jerusalem, the only city called Ircha - Thy City.

I must apologize for repeating myself, but I cannot refrain from
emphasizing again the fact that the Holy Land is universally recognized
as Holy, even by non-Jews, and within the Holy Land, the City of
Jerusalem is called the Holy City. Millions of Jews still regard the
City as holy, and pray daily for the return of the Shechinah [Divine
Presence] to Jerusalem. This means that all these Jews are intimately
associated with Jerusalem and consider it their city and to have a
personal stake in it. Therefore, how can any individual, regardless of
his own personal feelings, completely disregard and hurt the feelings of
millions of others, all the more, in a matter which is of such sanctity
and of such vital concern, at least to them? Obviously, the fact that
the present government there endorses the project, does not in any way
change the situation, for Jerusalem is the property of all Jews
throughout the world, and no individual or group of individuals can
impost their will upon others in a matter of such vital importance,
regardless of the good intentions and motives. ...

I hope that you will reconsider your position in the light of the above,
and may G-d grant you many happy and healthy years to serve the cause of
traditional Judaism by using your Divinely given gifts to strengthen the
eternal values of our people, in full harmony with the Torah, along the
lines which we had occasion to discuss.

With kindest personal regards, and

                              TODAY IS ...
                              23 Cheshvan

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, known also as the Tzemach Tzedek was
arrested 22 times during the Rabbinical conference in Petersburg, in
1843, for opposing the demands of the government regarding changes in
education, etc. The minister in charge confronted him: "Is this not
rebellion against the government?!" The Tzemach Tzedek answered: "A
rebel against the government is liable to be punished by death of the
body; a rebel against the Kingdom of Heaven is punishable by death of
the soul. Now which is worse?"

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The Torah portion is Chayei Sara - the Life of Sara. Generally, the name
of the Torah portion is taken from the first few words of that portion,
and it reveals much about the content of the portion.

This week's portion, however, at first glance seems to be different. It
speaks of Sara's death and Abraham's purchase of a proper burial spot
for her. It also discusses that Abraham sent his trusted disciple
Eliezer on the mission of finding a wife for Isaac, and the subsequent
marriage of Isaac to Rebecca. Why, then, is this portion, which deals
not one iota with Sara's life here on earth, called the Life of Sara?

To this question the Rebbe brings the most exquisite answer. When
speaking about life, life in its truest sense, and certainly the life of
the first Matriarch of our people, we speak not of the transitory life
of this world. We are, rather, indicating eternal life.

When a child continues in the righteous ways of his parents, the
spiritual influence of the parents continues and endures forever, as the
Talmud teaches: "As long as the offspring are alive, he is alive." As
long as the offspring continue in the path of their parents, the parents
are alive.

Since Isaac and his wife Rebecca followed in the footsteps of Sara, Sara
truly remained "alive" in the most accurate sense.

May we all merit to have our children follow in the path of our
righteous Matriarch Sara, thus assuring eternal life for ourselves and
for them.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
G-d had blessed Abraham in all things. (Gen. 24:1)

There are those righteous people whose main goal in life is to be whole
and one with G-d. But this is not the way of the true tzadik. Indeed,
the way of Abraham was to concern himself with "all things." He did not
worry just about himself, but about others as well. And so he was
blessed in a like manner.

                                 (Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev)

                                *  *  *

The man took a gold earring, weighing a half-shekel and two bracelets.
(Gen 24:22)

The commentator Rashi explains that the half-shekel alludes to the
half-shekel that each Jew donated to the Holy Temple, while the two
bracelets allude to the two Tablets containing the Ten Commandments.
With these gifts, Eliezer implied that when establishing a Jewish home,
Torah and the performance of mitzvot form its pillars. The half- shekel
illustrates the mitzva of charity, while the two bracelets, symbolizing
the two Tablets, allude to the Torah itself which is included in the Ten

                                                   (Likutei Sichot)

                                *  *  *

And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebecca,
and she became his wife; and he loved her. (Gen. 24:67)

Rashi comments: "That is to say, 'And he brought her into the tent and,
behold, she was like Sarah, his mother.' While Sarah was alive her
Shabbat lights miraculously burned from one Friday to the next..." This
exact same phenomenon happened with Rebecca's Shabbat lights. Rebecca
was a minor when she married Isaac. She was therefore not obligated to
fulfill the mitzva of lighting the Shabbat candles, especially since
Abraham had been doing it since Sarah's death. However, Rebecca was not
satisfied participating in the candle- lighting of Abraham. She herself
lit the Shabbat candles. This is a clear indication to us that before
marriage, and even before bat mitzva - from the age of three years -
Jewish girls should light their own Shabbat candle.

                                                        (The Rebbe)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
One of the loyal chasidim of Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, who was
known as the Tzemach Tzedek, was a successful merchant in the city of
Petersburg. Every year he would travel to the great fair which was held
in Nizhni-Novgorod to make his purchases. He made it an annual practice
to first visit Lubavitch to see the Rebbe.

While in Lubavitch he drank in the vibrant atmosphere of the Rebbe's
court, and listened to words of Torah which would serve to enrich his
spiritual life for the rest of the year. Then, he would make a detour
and continue on to the town of Dobromishl. In that town lived the old
rabbi who had been his teacher many years before. This old rabbi looked
forward to the yearly visit of his former pupil, enjoying the lively
company and the stories his guest brought from the Rebbe's court. It
wasn't every day that he had guests, and it was a happy event in the old
man's life.

One year the merchant's plans for his yearly circuit through Lubavitch
were disrupted. One of his biggest customers had trouble raising the
money for his usual order, and the merchant was forced to postpone his
departure. Finally, he received payment, and with his business now in
order, he was able to set off. Even though the fair was well under way,
the merchant couldn't imagine missing his yearly visit to the Rebbe, and
he headed, as usual, to Lubavitch.

The merchant was invigorated by the time he spent with the Tzemach
Tzedek, and after a few days he prepared to continue on his trip. By
this time he was becoming concerned about the business days he had lost
at the fair, and he wondered if perhaps he should skip his usual visit
to his old teacher. He felt guilt about not seeing the old rabbi, but
figured that would be the only way to save time.

When he was about to take his leave from the Rebbe he consulted him
about his decision. The Tzemach Tzedek answered him, "Since it has
always been your custom to visit your teacher it is not proper to change

The merchant took his Rebbe's counsel to heart and headed immediately to
Dobromishl where he was warmly received by his old teacher. The old
man's joy couldn't be contained as he rushed about his tiny kitchen
heating up his samovar and setting out a plate of warm bread and butter.
The merchant begged his teacher not to bother, as he had to be on his
way after the afternoon prayers, but the old man would not forego this

As the merchant was completing his prayers, the sky darkened and soon
the village was pelted with a fierce downpour. His desire to finally get
to the Nizhni-Novgorod fair had become so intense that the merchant was
prepared to continue his journey in spite of the weather. The old rabbi
implored him to stay overnight, since the local roads became thick with
mud after a heavy rain. With one look outside, the merchant realized
that it would be impossible to continue and so, he reluctantly agreed to

A next day brought fair weather, but the merchant awoke feeling very
ill. His head throbbed and he felt as if a fire burned in his eyes. A
doctor was summoned from the nearby town of Orsha, and he diagnosed the
illness to be typhus. The old rebbe sent a message to the merchant's
family requesting help in caring for the sick man. And in addition, a
letter was sent to the Rebbe in Lubavitch, asking that he pray for the
merchant. The man lay ill in the old rabbi's house for close to two
months before he recovered enough to leave for home.

But first he went to Lubavitch to present the Tzemach Tzedek with his
grievance. With tears running from his eyes the merchant entered the
Rebbe's study and in a voice choked with emotion asked why the Rebbe had
advised him to go visit his old teacher. Why, if he hadn't gone there
and exposed himself to the terrible rain storm and caught a chill, he
wouldn't have become so dangerously ill. So why had the Rebbe given him
such advice?

The Rebbe looked at his distraught chasid and replied: "There is a
teaching in the Talmud which says that 'A man's legs may be depended
upon to take him wherever he is called to be.' This means that a man's
feet will carry him to that place where he is destined to die, no matter
where that is. But this verse may also be interpreted to mean that a
man's feet will carry him to a place where there is someone to pray for
him. Be grateful and know that your very life was saved by the prayers
of your old teacher who entreated G-d on your behalf. He was able to
intercede for you and save your life."

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
One day, when Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (later to become known
as the Tzemach Tzedek) was still a young man, he was sitting with a
group of Chasidim who were pondering the question, "Who knows when
Moshiach is going to come?" He commented: "This kind of talk recalls the
style of the gentile prophet Bilaam, who said (concerning the ultimate
Redemption of Israel), 'I see it, but not now; I perceive it, but not in
the near future' - as if the Redemption were far away. A Jew, though,
should hope and anticipate every day that Moshiach will come on that
very day."

                                         (From Exile to Redemption)

             END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1346 - Chayei Sara 5775

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