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Devarim Deutronomy

Breishis Genesis

Shemos Exodus

Vayikra Leviticus

Bamidbar Numbers

   1372: Bamidbar

1373: Nasso

1374: Beha'aloscha

1375: Sh'lach

1376: Korach

1377: Chukas

1378: Balak

1379: Pinchas

1380: Matos-Masei

Devarim Deutronomy

L'Chaim
May 29, 2015 - 11 Sivan, 5775

1373: Nasso

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The Weekly Publication For Every Jewish Person
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


Text VersionFor Palm Pilot
  1372: Bamidbar1374: Beha'aloscha  

Judgment Call  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
The Rebbe Writes  |  Teachings  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

Judgment Call

The dictionary defines judgment as, "The forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion, as from circumstances presented to the mind." Forming judgments is basic to the very fabric of human existence. We are called upon to "judge" or evaluate people and situations every day. And yet, aphorisms aboudn about how unwise it is to judge our fellow man. We are told: "Don't be judgmental," "Don't judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes," "Don't judge a book by its cover."

Who could imagine that judging another favorably brings great benefit to the "judge"?

The Talmud teaches that "He who judges his fellow man favorably, is himself judged favorably." (Shabbat 127b) This means that on a Divine level, G-d will also judge the person in a favorable manner.

In connection to this concept is a Jewish teaching that explains that after 120 years, when a person enters the World of Truth, he is shown a "video" (on youtube? vimeo? break?) of the deeds and actions of another person and is told to pass judgment. Then, he is shown a "video" of his own life. Voila, he realizes that he performed the same deeds and actions committed in the first "video"; the judgment previously passed on the other person is his own.

Judaism does not tell us to be non-judgmental. We are encouraged to BE judgmental, but to judge favorably. At every opportunity we should judge - favorably. Rabbi S.R. Hirsch declared: "Better that a hundred should be judged too favorably than that one should be wronged in judgment."

The famous codifier of Jewish law, Rabbi Moses Maimonides, goes one step further. He states: "If there is a person you do not know to be either righteous or wicked, and you see him doing or saying something which might be interpreted either favorably or unfavorably, interpret his action favorably and do not suspect him of evil."

Though coming to these types of conclusions might seem more than a little difficult, our Sages offer us practical advice on how to implement this plan of positive action. "Judge every person - kol adam - on the scale of merit," the Mishna (Avot 1:6) teaches.

"Kol Adam" can be interpreted also as "the whole person" i.e., "Judge the whole person on the scale of merit." Do not see only his faults, but look at the whole person and you will surely find good in him to judge him favorably. (Sfat Emet)

When confronted with another person's seeming reprehensible action or deed, consider the entire person. Certainly he has redeeming qualities; assuredly there is a reason for this lapse; or possibly it is not a faux pas after all, but rather the observer's lack of omniscience.


Living with the Rebbe

In this week's Torah portion, Nasso, we read of the offering brought by the princes of each tribe of Israel upon the completion of the Tabernacle: "And it came to pass on the day that Moses had finished setting up the Tabernacle...that the nesi'im (princes) of Israel brought their offering...six covered wagons and 12 oxen, a wagon for two of the princes, and for each one an ox."

The contribution of the nesi'im, the leaders of each tribe, consisted of the wagons that were to carry the Tabernacle and the oxen that pulled them. The 12 nesi'im contributed six oxen; that is to say, each nasi contributed half an ox.

At first glance this seems like a small contribution. Why weren't the nesi'im more generous with their offerings? The Tabernacle was an extremely heavy structure consisting of numerous large and varied components. Why then were they content to offer just half an ox each?

To explain:

The Tabernacle was built according to strict specifications. No element of the entire Sanctuary - not even the smallest detail - was superfluous. Every item served a distinct function, including the wagons that transported it from place to place. Thus, because the number of wagons required to carry the Tabernacle was specifically six, no more than that number could be contributed by the nesi'im. Furthermore, the wagons had to conform to an exact set of dimensions, no more and no less.

Our Sages declared: "Nothing created by the Holy One, Blessed Be He, in His world was created in vain" - a principle that applies in every time and in every place. Every detail in the vast universe has a specific function, and not one element has been created without a purpose.

Just as every part of the Tabernacle was necessary and played an integral role, so too must every aspect of our inner "Sanctuaries" - our own individual talents and abilities - be fully utilized and taken advantage of. All of a Jew's inner strengths and capacities must be used to fulfill his Divine mission in life. After all, G-d does not endow us with these talents for nothing.

Time, too, is something we must utilize properly.

Each and every moment we are granted is precious. Even if 23 hours and 59 minutes of the day have passed and only one minute remains, it too must not be wasted. For time itself falls into the category of things we are obligated to use the fullest.

Adapted for Maayan Chai from Likutei Sichot, Volume 28


A Slice of Life

Meeting an Angel
by Rabbi Yitzi and Dina Hurwitz

This week our special friend Chaya Spalter passed away. She was one of the most incredible people I have had the pleasure of knowing. She touched more people in her 11 years then most could. We loved her and we will miss her terribly.

Here I sit with my pen and paper, trying to put a broken heart to words. We moved into an apartment in Los Angeles just under two years ago. Right across the hall from Chaya and her family. Chaya and my daughter Chava became friends rather quickly.

They got that life is full of challenges and there was no pretending here. They also got that being happy and positive made everything better and more meaningful. Chaya came over every Shabbos and became part of our family.

When Yitzi came home from the hospital he was hooked up to a ventilator 24/7. Most of the kids were quite intimidated by this. Not Chaya, she just marched in with her beautiful smile to visit him. She came every Shabbos and together with my daughter sang songs and made dances for Yitzi.

They called it their "show." Sometimes other little girls would join in, but always Chaya and my daughter Chava. When my daughters were not in the mood of entertaining my husband, Chaya would jump up and say, "Let's do a show!" She saw how tired I was and made it easy for the girls to spend time entertaining.

When we had to put my husband's beard in a pony to keep away from the tubes, Chaya walks in and takes one look. With a twinkle in her eye, she says "Rockin beard." Yitzi twinkles right back at her. Chaya was not just my daughters' friend, she was my husband's friend and we all loved her for it.

For the past month, my kids have had the Chicken pox. I kept them inside so nobody else would get it and in the process, they couldn't see Chaya. We had no idea how bad things were.

When we heard that Chaya had returned to the world of truth, we all cried bitterly. But no one as hard as Yitzi. He cried for hours and days. He cried out to G-d "How could this happen? Why Does G-d continuously break us?"

I don't have words of strength or inspiration. I am heartbroken. But I am also so grateful. We got to know an angel.

by Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz

This past Sunday, G-d took Chaya Spalter, a very special young girl from this world. When I heard the news I felt broken. My first thought was, "My heart is broken, I just can't understand. I don't want to understand. Why G-d do you continually break us?"

We became the Spalter's neighbors two years ago. I would see Chaya smiling despite her pain and suffering and it gave me strength. Her parents ability to be positive with all they were going through helped me stay positive.

Shabbos is difficult for me because I don't use my eye gaze computer, and being unable to move or speak it can get boring.

On Shabbos afternoon Chaya would take my daughters and other girls in our building. They would rehearse songs and create dances to go with them. She would bring them to my room and entertain me.

I am trying to find some meaning in this tragedy. If somehow we could learn to be more like Chaya, good, happy, strong, love for G-d, positive, fearless, kind and beautiful within and without, perhaps then we can turn our pain into a sanctification of G-d's name.

May we merit the coming of Moshiach very soon, and an end to this bitter exile.

Dedicated to the memory of Chaya Spalter - Chaya Mushka bas Rabbi Menachem Mendel - May you "entertain" us again, very soon.

Dina's blog: thecaffeinatedthinker.blogspot.com
Rabbi Hurwitz's blog: yitzihurwitz.blogspot.com


What's New

New Emissaries

Rabbi Yisroel and Tzipora Labkowski are establishing a new Chabad House in Lafayette, California. The new center will serve the needs of the local Jewish community in Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda - collectively known as Lamorinda, an area within Contra Costa County.

Rabbi Yossi and Malki Rodal are now the Rebbe's emissaries in "RARA," Rural and Regional Australia. They will be coordinating the daily and seasonal activities in rural and regional towns and cities around Australia. With the assistance of tens of Rabbis and couples throughout the year, RARA coordinates Sedorim, High Holiday Services, events for Yomim Tovim, Home visits, pastoral care, Hebrew School, online classes, and any other service that is required.

Rabbi Mendy and Chaya Singer recently arrived in Bristol, England. They are opening a Chabad on Campus at the University of Bristol, serving students and Jews in the surrounding communities. For the time being they will be living near "Jacob's Well," believed to date back to 1085 and considered the oldest medieval Jewish structure in the United Kingdom.


The Rebbe Writes

10th of Sivan, 5712 [1952]

I trust that the Festival of Shavuoth, the Season of Our Receiving the Torah, gave you welcome opportunities to reflect upon the profoundness of the Torah and what its dissemination means to Jews in particular and to humanity at large.

I trust also that there were moments of particular inspiration in recalling the various thoughts which you and I had been privileged to hear from my father-in-law of sainted memory.

It has been my custom to convey to you a thought apropos of the festival, and I am taking the liberty of doing so again.

There is a statement in the Midrash to the effect that "If anyone tells you there is science among certain non-Jews, you may believe it; but if one tells you that there is Torah among them, do not believe it."

This terse statement contains an indication of the radical difference between general science and the Jewish religion which, to be sure, is also a profound science, though "partly" in the realm of the unfathomable.

The cardinal difference is this: Science in general has two weak points. First, it is based on certain postulates which science cannot substantiate or prove satisfactorily, and which, consequently, may be accepted, rejected, or substituted by contrary postulates.

In other words, the entire structure of science rests at bottom on unscientific principles, or, better, on premises which cannot be scientifically substantiated.

Second, science in substance is a theory declaring that if there is Cause A, there must follow Effect B, and if Effect B is to be prevented, Cause A must first be eliminated (that is assuming the postulates in question to be true).

In other words, science can never tell us, "Do this," or "Do not do that." It can only maintain that if we desire to attain B, we must first accomplish A, and if B is undesirable then A should be avoided.

That science in subject to the above mentioned two limitations is understandable, science being the product of the human intellect; for since man's abilities are limited, he cannot devise anything Absolute.

This explains weakness One. As for weakness number Two, inasmuch as all men enjoy equal rights, science cannot a priori dictate any course of human conduct. The most it can do in this respect is to predict, on the basis of the experience and knowledge at its command, that a certain chain of reactions or effects is likely to follow from a given cause. Here men of science enjoy a certain advantage over the less experienced or initiated.

The said two weaknesses of science make the cardinal superiority of the Torah plainly evident.

The very word "Torah" - meaning teaching, instruction - indicates it. For the ultimate purpose of the Torah is not to increase man's knowledge per se, but to instruct him to conduct his life to the fullest advantage of himself and the community at large. As a matter of course it provides all the knowledge necessary for the attainment of this ultimate purpose.

Inasmuch as the Torah is not the product of man but Divinely revealed at Sinai, a fact which is substantiated by undeniable multiple evidence which must be fully accepted even on scientific grounds, i.e. being given by G-d the Absolute, its foundations are likewise absolute truths, not mere supposition.

Furthermore, since G-d is the Creator of the universe and of mankind, He is not limited to the process of cause and effect, but stipulates a positive and absolute system of human conduct, of definite do's and definite don'ts.

That is why the Torah is called Toras Emes, the Law of Truth, for its teachings are absolute and its foundations are not postulates but absolute truths, hence its consequence must also be absolute truths.

It is also called Toras Chaim, the Law of Life, to show that it is not just a science whose application is arbitrary, but a system of obligatory daily living.

This is why the dissemination of the Torah is so vital. For in the final analysis the important thing is not the amount of knowledge man acquires for its own sake. To insure that man acts consistently in the best interests of himself and society, or else grope in darkness, confused by conflicting ideas and theories around him and perplexed also by conflicting emotions and instincts within him, inherent in all human beings - this is the question, and the Torah is the answer.

May we all, you and myself included among the rest of our people, be receptive to the Divine influences emanating from the Torah and mitzvoth [commandments], in the true spirit of Shavuoth, the festival of our Receiving the Torah from G-d at Sinai.


Teachings

[Hillel] used to say: If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? (Ch. 1:14)

In many areas of Jewish life the individual and the community are completely integrated and harmonized, with equal emphasis on both.

Hence, "If I am not for myself" expresses the importance of the individual. At the same time, each person is part of the whole Jewish community, and if he is not, i.e., "if I am only for myself," isolated from the community, what is the individual truly worth? (Likutei Sichot Vol. 18)


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

Summer is right around the corner. Many of us are already involved in making plans for the summer. We consider the weather, prices, accommodations, attractions.

But, there should be many other concerns on our list of considerations. If we're away over Shabbat, is there a place we can hook up with that will allow us to celebrate Shabbat in the proper spirit? Will there be kosher food for body and soul?

When we look for a day camp or overnight camp for our children, we must make sure to check into the atmosphere of the camp. A Jewish camp run on authentic Jewish ideals can not only fill our children's hours with healthy activities for their bodies and minds, but for their souls as well. At a Jewish camp, run on Torah ideals, a Jewish child can learn to be proud of and love his heritage in a positive, hands-on environment.

Unencumbered by books and desks and black-boards, Judaism literally comes to life through stories, songs, activities and practical mitzvot.

Vacation time is the perfect time to check out the really important "attractions" in life. Experience a traditional Shabbat, bask in the sunlight of mitzvot, swim in the deep pool of Torah study.

Include Torah and mitzvot at the top of your list of considerations this summer for you and your family.


Thoughts that Count

This is the service of the families of the sons of Gershon... their charge shall be under the supervision of Itamar, son of Aaron the priest (Numbers 4:28)

The name "Gershon" is derived from the word meaning "to expel," alluding to the expulsion of evil. "Itamar" is related to the word for speech, alluding to words of Torah. The juxtaposition of the two names teaches that speaking words of Torah severs evil from good and expels it.

(Ohr HaTorah)


And he shall atone for him, because he sinned against the soul (Num. 6:11)

The Rebbe of Sadigora used to say: Just as in the World-to-Come a Jew will have to account for how he neglected his soul and how he caused it pain, so will he have to defend himself to G-d for having brought pain and suffering to his body.


The princes of Israel brought their offerings, the heads of their fathers' houses... they brought their offerings before the L-rd (Num. 7:2.3)

Twelve times the Torah repeats this phrase, detailing the identical offerings brought by each of the princes of the twelve tribes. Why the repetition? These offerings were the same only externally; in actuality, each prince brought his offering in a different manner, a manner corresponding to the tribe's spiritual source in Heaven.

(Likutei Torah)


It Once Happened

Izik was one of the outstanding scholars of Mezhibuzh and his pleasant demeanor endeared him to everyone. One day, Izik became sick. His illness worsened day by day. He tossed in bed, writhing in pain. His teachers went to visit him in fulfillment of the mitzva (commandment) to visit the sick. At one point he moaned, "Oy, if only the Baal Shem would could visit me ..."

They knew he was referring to the famous Baal Shem who had come to Mezhibuzh not long ago and was known as a healer and wonder worker. Izak's teachers were not pleased with this sentiment. They believed in the power of prayer and a chapter of Psalms said wholeheartedly, not in amulets by a Baal Shem who may or may not have been legitimate.

Izik tried to convince them otherwise. Only when they saw how much it meant to him, and when they heard that the doctor was very concerned about his condition, did they reluctantly agree to a meeting between their sick student and the Baal Shem.

"However," they said, setting this condition, "whatever he tells you, you must tell us."

The Baal Shem Tov's noble appearance immediately impressed Izik when he entered the house. The Baal Shem Tov entered the room and began speaking to him. A few moments earlier, one of the boys in the house had hidden under the bed in order to hear what would be said.

As they spoke, Izik understood that his days were numbered and that the Baal Shem Tov could not intercede Above on his behalf. The Baal Shem Tov did not speak of death but about rectifying his life. "Although you have many fine qualities, this matter (and the Baal Shem Tov specified what it was) has not yet been corrected."

Izik turned pale for only he knew about that matter that needed correction. He realized that his life history was known to the Baal Shem Tov and nothing was a secret. "For a long time, I sought an opportunity to rectify the matter," said Izik, "and now, as I am on the threshold of the world to come, what should I do?"

The Baal Shem Tov thought for a moment and then said, "Don't worry Izik'l. I will see to it that this matter won't hold you up. I promise you that you will enter the Garden of Eden."

The Baal Shem Tov said this in a confident tone and Izik looked pleased. He accepted the judgment lovingly. Before the Baal Shem Tov left the room, he ordered him not to tell anyone what they had spoken about.

A few hours later, his teachers visited him in order to hear about the visit. They wanted to hear firsthand whether the rumors about his segulos were true. Izik did as he had been told and did not say a word. "I promised to keep it a secret," he said. This made them even more suspicious.

At that moment, the boy who had hidden under the bed made an appearance. He told them what had transpired, leaving out nothing of the conversation. The rabbis looked at Izik in astonishment. They had never heard a conversation like that in their lives!

"Is what he says correct?" Izik nodded.

In case they thought the boy had fabricated a story, now they knew that the wondrous conversation had, indeed, taken place. On the one hand, they were impressed by the Baal Shem Tov's confidence, with his promise uttered like someone before whom the pathways of heaven are visible. What person has knowledge of who will live and who will die, who will enter Gan Eden and who will not?

What could they say? They decided to ask Izik to swear that he would come after his death and tell them what had happened to him, so they would know whether the Baal Shem Tov's words had materialized.

Not long afterward, the Jews of Mezhibuzh followed Izik's casket, as the young man was laid to rest. A few days went by before Izik came in a dream to each of his teachers. His face was shining. He told them that he had risen to the supernal chambers and his fate was quickly determined to be Garden of Eden, for he had spent all his life on Torah, prayer and fear of heaven. Two angels escorted him into the Garden of Eden with great respect.

"Since the angels did not show me to my place, I began to wander here and there, from place to place within the Garden of Eden. I looked for and found an empty place to sit but I was quickly moved from there, because it was reserved for one of the righteous. I kept wandering and as time passed I became bothered and ill at ease.

"Then, I saw that everyone was heading to a different heavenly chamber. I joined them. Since I was feeling upset, as soon as I entered the new chamber I went ahead and sat down next to a large table, but even here, I was pushed out of my seat. I was greatly distressed.

"Suddenly, I saw the Baal Shem Tov sitting there and teaching deep concepts in Torah. He asked a difficult question to the heavenly yeshiva who tried to answer it but were unable to do so. He finally gave an amazing answer himself," and Izik repeated the question that had been posed in Garden of Eden and the answer.

"Then everybody returned to their original places and I remained alone with the Baal Shem Tov. I bitterly asked him why I had been brought into the Garden of Eden and not given a place. He said, 'Because you gave your word and did not keep it.' I immediately remembered that I had promised you that I would come and tell you what happened to me up above. So I have come to you in a dream."

That Shabbat, two new guests attended the Shabbat meal in the Baal Shem Tov's study hall. The Baal Shem Tov sat and his face shone with holiness. Around him sat the leading members of the holy brotherhood. There were also ordinary residents of the town.

The Baal Shem Tov asked a difficult, scholarly question. Since the two guests were familiar with the question, the same one that had been asked in the Garden of Eden, as Izik had related to them, they knew the answer and they said it out loud.

The tzaddik looked at them and said, "I know that the deceased Izik told you what happened." From that point on, Reb Zev Wolf Kitzes and Reb Dovid Furkas - who had previously opposed the Baal Shem Tov - became two of the Baal Shem Tov's closest disciples.

Told By Menachem Zeiglebaum, reprinted from Beis Moshiach


Moshiach Matters

Rabbi Yosei ben Kisma's students asked him when Moshiach would arrive. He answered by quoting the verse, "This is the law of the burnt-offering" (6:2). We can understand this in light of our Sages' statement that one who studies the law of the sacrifices is considered having brought the actual offerings in the beis hamikdash. Our Sages also state that Moshiach's arrival depends on teshuvah. We can therefore appreciate that the study of the sacrificial laws plays a significance role in Moshiach's arrival, for they complete our atonement as if we had offered the required sacrifices.

(Kedushas Yom Tov/Yalkut Moshiach uGeulah al HaTorah)


  1372: Bamidbar1374: Beha'aloscha  
   
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