Holidays   Shabbat   Chabad-houses   Chassidism   Subscribe   Calendar   Links B"H
The Weekly Publication for Every Jewish Person
Archives Current Issues Home Current Issue
                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1411
                           Copyright (c) 2016
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
                  Electronic version provided free at:
                  Palm-Pilot version provided free at:
                    To receive the L'CHAIM by e-mail
                  write to:
                              Subscribe W1
   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        February 26, 2016       Ki Sisa          17 Adar I, 5776

                           The Fire of Youth

Think back to the time when you first understood the sheer power of
fire: It both amazed and frightened you.

When it is under control, fire betters our life in countless ways, many
of which we have come to take for granted.

But when we don't have it under control, a raging fire destroys
everything in its path.

A young person is like fire. With direction and guidance, he or she can
change the very shape of the world. Without direction, the fires of
youth are wasted at best, while at worst can become a dangerous and
destructive force.

To lead a meaningful life means harnessing the fires of youth. To do so,
we must first understand the purpose of youth itself; for all G-d
creates is with profound intent.

The period of youth is an odd one by nature, nestled between childhood
and adulthood. A teenager is no longer content to play like a child but
doesn't have the knowledge and experience to fully engage in adult

Young people begin to experience many of the frustrations and yearnings
of an adult, but may lack the maturity to deal with them.

Teenagers have plenty of time on their hands, yet contemporary society
is far better at providing ways to waste this time than spend it

Youth is one of the most precious periods in a person's life, and yet
one of the most difficult.

These various tensions within young people create a unique, untamed
energy, the energy of life itself.

Young people are not looking for comfort, they are seeking a meaningful
cause. They are overflowing with a mixture of adrenaline and confidence
- "I want to change the way the world works" "I can change the world"
young people often think.

Adults, burdened with the pressures of everyday life, may resign
themselves to the world the way it is, but young people unhindered by
the realities of adulthood, do not tolerate such resignation. This often
causes conflict between the two groups: Young people abhor the status
quo while adults' lives revolve around it.

So what we have here, in the most general terms, is either energy
without sufficient direction or direction without sufficient energy.

Many adults simply throw up their hands, writing off youth as a
rebellious period that a person outgrows. Young people, meanwhile, often
think that adults have forgotten how to appreciate the very meaning and
thrill of life.

Youth are rebellious, and adults see the rebellion as an aberration, or
even one step short of a crime. But rebellion is not the crime; the
crime occurs when the rebellion has no healthy outlet.

Rebellion, in fact, can be the healthiest thing for a human being - an
undiluted energy that inspires a person to not give up easily, to refuse
to tolerate injustice, to not go along with an idea just because
everyone else is thinking it.

Depriving a young person of an outlet to release this energy can cause
deep pain and anxiety. Think about the steam that builds up in a turbine
- without a safety valve, it is bound to explode sooner or later.

The worst thing we can do with a young person's spiritual or
psychological energy is to bottle it up; in fact, we must do everything
we can to tap this energy, to focus it and channel it properly.

     From the book Toward a Meaningful Life by Rabbi Simon Jacobson
             of the Meaningful Life Center.

The Torah portion of Ki Tisa contains the commandment of the
half-shekel, symbolic of the mitzva of tzedaka (charity).

There are several ways in which an individual can give tzedaka. The
first is when a person is kindly and giving by nature, or when he
understands intellectually the need to help his fellow man. This is,
however, considered to be the lowest level of giving tzedaka.

A higher level is when a person gives tzedaka because G-d has commanded
him to. In this instance the incentive is not personal, but stems from
the desire to obey G-d's will. A mitzva is an absolute that is not
subject to intellectual or emotional considerations. Thus, when a person
gives tzedaka out of a sense of obedience, his action is imbued with
greater power. Yet even here there can be personal motivations mixed in,
such as the fear of punishment or the desire to receive reward (material
or spiritual) in this world or the next.

Above these two levels is the giving of tzedaka "without the intent of
receiving a reward." In this instance, the mitzva (commandment) is
fulfilled out of pure and simple obedience to G-d, without any thought
of recompense whatsoever. The person wants to fulfill G-d's will and
enjoys doing so.

The mitzva of the half-shekel, however, represents the very highest
category of giving tzedaka. On the verse in this week's portion, "This
shall they give...a offering to G-d" (the commandment
for every Jew to give the half-shekel), the Jerusalem Talmud comments:
"G-d removed a coin of fire from under the Throne of Glory and showed it
to Moses, saying, 'This shall they give.' " Indeed, the "secret" of the
half-shekel is related to the idea of "a coin of fire."

The nature of fire is to always ascend upward; it has no "weight" or
fixed, definable form. Similarly, the optimal way to give tzedaka is
with a fiery "flame" and enthusiasm, without any personal considerations
or motives. In this scenario, the Jew just naturally desires to fulfill
G-d's will, and doesn't even look for other reasons or justifications.

Nonetheless, it is significant that G-d showed Moses a "coin of fire,"
rather than just a flame. When a person gives tzedaka (or does any other
mitzva, for that matter), theoretical abstracts are not enough. The
point is to bring down that fiery enthusiasm to where it can actually
help someone, and express it in the realm of concrete action.

When the mitzva of tzedaka is done in this manner, a Jew will give
unconditionally, without waiting for specific times and without waiting
to be asked. His inner "fire" will prompt him to seek out those in need,
and he will give repeatedly, over and over again.

                           Adapted from Sefer HaSichot 5749, Vol. 1

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                           A Life for Others
                           by Tzippy Clapman

When I was a child, my mother's youngest sister, Shaina Esther Szmerkes,
lived near us in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn with her husband,
Irving and their three sons. With my mother's influence and gentle
guidance, she became Torah observant, she kept strictly kosher, observed
Shabbat, and carefully kept the laws of mikva. She sent her three sons
to the Mesivta Tiferes Jerusalem on the Lower East Side. Her husband
worked as a driver for a kosher catering establishment.

My aunt had no need to work in those years, and she decided to make a
difference in the community. She realized how the elderly Jewish
American women, mostly widowed and living alone, needed some assistance
in their daily needs. Some were homebound, with help from
government-sponsored home health aides, in and out of their homes a few
times a week. Most of this population had children out-of-town who could
not assist them in their daily needs.

Most of the government health aides were lazy. They would come, watch
television and eat. They were known to neglect and sometimes even
mistreat their patients. My aunt decided to make it her mission to visit
these homebound Jewish women on a daily basis, to look in on the
treatment they were receiving and the health aides. This kept the
workers on their toes, as they knew someone was coming to check on them
who cared.

Shaina Esther knew the needs of each of her "clients," and she turned
their needs into her personal responsibilities. One needed help with
banking, as her Social Security check had to be cashed and bills had to
be paid. My aunt would make sure her rent, grocery accounts, telephone,
electric, gas, and other bills were paid on a monthly basis. One women
liked fresh bread or rolls, daily. Others needed her to accompany them
to their medical appointments. A few of her clients were totally
non-mobile and bed-ridden. My aunt would make sure to be there for their
daily bath, to assist the home attendant in washing, drying, lifting,
turning. Because of my aunt's presence, the bathing and dressing were
done gently and lovingly, under her watchful eyes.

Any time we would sit in the park near the housing projects, we would
see my aunt rushing through the streets, coming and going from one
apartment to another. She was always schlepping a bag of groceries or a
stack of envelopes.

There was a mentally disturbed older woman in our community who suffered
from severe anxiety issues. She was divorced and had a child who was
taken away from her due to her lack of childcare skills and resources.
Her pain was great. Without proper medical attention for herself, she
would run through the neighborhood screaming and shouting. Naturally,
most people avoided her. My aunt knew her situation and would greet her
daily with hugs and kisses. She would calm her down, find out what issue
was bothering her at the time and work on resolving it. Whether she
needed to go to the doctor's office or re-apply for her medical
benefits, rent subsidies, etc., my aunt would escort her to the various
offices all over town with no hesitation.

Shaina Esther had three children. Her oldest, Shmuel, was diagnosed with
Hodgkin's disease in his teens. Thank G-d, he was successfully treated
at the time and grew up to be a fine religious young man. Like his
mother, he was kind, giving, helpful and loved by all his friends and
co-workers. Later, he had a recurrence of his disease, from which he did
not recover. My aunt was heartbroken, but after shiva she ran out doing
her mitzvot with more vim and vigor than before.

Her other two sons never married, so my aunt was left without any
grandchildren at all. However, she would not allow this situation to
take over her life. She kept busier than ever helping people in need,
people nobody else wanted to deal with.

My aunt also regularly visited her mentally challenged brother, Chaskel
Zelig, in the Group Home where he was a resident. She always came with
her sons, and took him out to his favorite restaurants. She made sure he
had anything he wanted that was within her power to provide.

In her 70s, my aunt lost her devoted husband. A lone survivor of the
Holocaust, he was never a very happy man, but he was very supportive of
his wife's activities and he always worked hard to support her and care
for his family. After his death, once more my dear Tanta Shaina Esther
picked herself up from her sadness and went back to all the people who
needed her.

Over the years my aunt always partook in our family simchas and she
would visit with us on special occasions. But we knew that she was
always on call and in high demand in her community mitzvot. She never
had fancy clothing or expensive jewelry, as these things were totally
worthless to her. Her apartment had only basic furniture as she had no
use for material goods. Accumulating them was not her goal. Caring for
and comforting people in need was all she needed, to be content.

Three years ago my aunt suffered a heart attack and spent a year in and
out of the hospital. I spoke with her almost daily and often visited
with her during that year. She kept saying that it wasn't her own pain
or discomfort that bothered her. What caused her the most pain and
regret were the lonely women who needed her and all the mitzvot she was
missing out on. A year after her heart attack, her holy soul left us.

Shaina Esther lost a child, a husband, had no grandchildren, so little
in worldly good but never stopped caring, loving, and giving.

       Reprinted from the N'Shei Chabad Newsletter. Tzippy Clapman,
        RN, MS, FNP, lives in Crown Heights with her husband, Rabbi
       Yehuda Clapman, a certified sofer. Formerly a NICU nurse and
                             now a provider in school-based clinics

                               WHAT'S NEW
                     First Mikva in Western Africa

The very first Mikva to be built in all of Western Africa is currently
being constructed by Chabad and is set to be completed within 3 months.
Rabbi Israel and Haya Uzan, of Chabad-Lubavitch of Nigeria, undertook
this project.  The Mikva will be available for the more than 70 Jewish
families from Abuja and Lagos, amongst them 10 whom have already
undertaken to use the Mikva regularly.

                   Sole Synagogue Under Construction

Of the more than 40 synagogues that had onced served the Jewish
community of Zhitomir, Ukraine, only one remains, though it had been
confiscated and shut down. In 1990 the building was returned to the
Jewish community. Due to structural decay the building was not usuable.
Recently it started undergoing a gut renovation. The completed building
will house a modern JCC, a soup kitchen, home, communal offices,
classrooms, a library and a state of the art Mikva.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
           Between Purim Kotton And Purim Godol, 5736 [1976]

This is to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence and photo, and may
G-d grant that you should have good news to report in all matters about
which you wrote.

Especially as we are now in the auspicious days between Purim Kotton and
Purim Godol, the festive days of the two Mazeldike [auspicious] months
of Adar of this Jewish Leap Year, the highlight of which is, in the
words of the Megillah [Book of Esther], "For the Jews there was light,
joy, gladness and honor." As our Sages explain these words, they have in
addition to their plain meaning also the inner meaning of "Light - this
is Torah . . . Honor - this is Tefillin," Tefillin being symbolic of all
the Mitzvos [commandments]. May this be so also in your case.

Included is, of course, also the Mitzvo of V'Ohavto L'Reacho Komocho
["You shall love your neighbor as yourself"], the great principle of our
Torah, which makes it the duty and privilege of every Jew to spread the
light of the Torah and Mitzvos in his surroundings. And while all this
is a must for its own sake, this is also the way to receive G-d's
blessings in all needs, materially and spiritually.

Wishing you and yours a truly happy and inspiring Purim,

With blessing,

                                *  *  *

                        Purim-Koton, 5725 [1965]

Blessing and Greeting:

I am pleased to be informed about your forthcoming convention, which is
taking place in the period between the two Purims. This auspicious
circumstance, coupled with the fact that the Jewish women had a
prominent part in the Miracle of Purim, will surely add a significant
dimension to your convention.

While on the subject of the two Purims, it is appropriate to mention a
further point: The occurrence of two Purims as this year, is due to the
fact that our unique Hebrew Calendar requires a periodic adjustment
between the lunar and solar years. The extra month in our Leap Year
makes up the deficiency in the lunar year as compared with the solar
year. But since the deficiency is only close to 11 days, whereas the
extra month consists of 30 days, it is clear the extra month makes good
the deficiency of several years.

In accordance with the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov [founder of
Chasidism], to the effect that every experience should serve as a lesson
toward better service of G-d, the Leap Year serves to remind us that
everyone has an opportunity to make up for any deficiency in the past,
and sometimes even to accumulate a little reserve for the future, as in
the case of our Leap Year.

By very definition Chassidus is a way of life that demands a little more
effort than in the line of duty - a little more dedication, a little
more depth, a little more enthusiasm.

Chabad Chassidus emphasizes this point in a very basic manner, since by
very definition Chassidus is a way of life that demands a little more
effort than in the line of duty - a little more dedication, a little
more depth, a little more enthusiasm; and enthusiasm itself provides a
breakthrough in overcoming limitations. Fortunately, Jewish women are
blessed with a goodly measure of enthusiasm, which should only be
channeled in the right direction - to strengthen and spread Torah and
Mitzvoth as they are illuminated with the light and warmth of Chassidus.

May G-d grant Hatzlocho [success] to your convention to accomplish its
goals, and more, with practical and fruitful results.

With blessing,

While the lack of the Temple today precludes us from fulfilling the
mitzva of Hakhel literally, its significance and intent - like all
aspects of Torah - are timeless. As a people and a nation we need to be
aware of the special mission G-d has charged us with. Inhabiting a land
and developing a culture that is focused on mere physical survival, even
when we are spectacularly successful at it, is not the object of this
mission. The Torah calls us a "holy nation" - a nation focused on a
higher purpose in life, a nation in the direct service of G-d.

                              (Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan, Jerusalem Post)

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This year is a leap year in the Jewish calendar. Thus, there are two
months of Adar this year, known as Adar Rishon (the first Adar) and Adar
Sheini (the second Adar). All special dates that occurred in a "regular"
year that did not have an extra Adar are celebrated in Adar Sheini.

Our Sages teach, "With the beginning of Adar, rejoicing is increased."
Every day we are enjoined to serve G-d with joy. But when the month of
Adar begins, we are told to increase that joy.

In a leap year such as our current year, for two entire months we are
expected to behave in a more joyful manner for, just as we read in the
Megilla on Purim, "the month was changed for them from sorrow to joy."

What was so special about the joy of Purim that we should be expected to
be joyful for an entire month? By way of analogy, light always seems
brighter when it comes after darkness. In a room full of light, the
flame of one candle seems insignificant. But, in a pitch-black room,
even the light from one small candle can help to illuminate the entire
room. Imagine, then, the impact of a spotlight in a lightless room.

Joy is similar to light. The sorrow, fear and mourning of the Jews when
they thought that Haman would be able to carry out his evil plan was
immense. They were in a state of total darkness. The joy that they
experienced when Haman's plan was foiled was phenomenal. But is was all
the more incredible for having been preceded by such darkness.

On the holiday of Purim, we recite the blessing "Sheh asa nissim - Who
has performed miracles for us." In this season of miracles, may we
experience the ultimate miracle, which will be to us like the brightest
spot-light in Jewish history, the arrival of Moshiach, NOW!

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
Half a shekel, after the shekel of the Sanctuary (Ex. 30:13)

A Jew is only "half" an entity in two senses, attaining completion and
wholeness by uniting with G-d, or alternately, with another Jew. Yet
these explanations are interrelated, for when a person helps his fellow
Jew and unites with him, he simultaneously merits G-d's blessing and
draws closer to Him.

                                           (Likutei Sichot, Vol. 3)

This verse contains an allusion to the commandment of charity for the
word "shekel" has the same numerical equivalent as nefesh, soul (430).
This teaches that giving charity has the power to effect atonement for
the soul.

                                                     (Baal HaTurim)

The commandment to give a half-shekel was "to make an atonement for your
souls," to atone for the Jewish people's sins. The amount was therefore
set at precisely half a coin, to show that G-d Himself is responsible
for the other half. Had He not created the Evil Impulse to tempt us in
the first place, we would never transgress.

                                                 (Reb Simcha Bunim)

The Children of Israel shall keep - veshamru - the Shabbat (Ex. 31:16)

Keeping Shabbat means much more than just refraining from certain kinds
of work; the Hebrew root shin-mem-reish also implies waiting in
anticipation and looking forward to something. The Torah teaches that
rather than being considered a burden, Shabbat should be eagerly awaited
and longed for each day of the week.

                                                      (Ohr HaChaim)

                                *  *  *

When you will take the sum (lit., the head) of the Children of Israel...
then they will give every man... (Ex. 30:12)

When the time will come for you to appoint a "head" - a leader of the
Jewish people - make sure it is one who is willing to give up his very
soul on behalf of his brethren; only one such as this is worthy.


                                *  *  *

Everyone who sought G-d went out to the Tabernacle of Meeting, which was
outside the camp (Ex. 30:7)

They were actually looking for Moses, yet the Torah states that they
were seeking G-d. We thus learn that receiving the leader of the
generation is the same as receiving G-d Himself.

                                         (Jerusalem Talmud, Eruvin)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
In the year 1648 the Jewish people were overtaken by terrible and
overwhelming tragedy. In that black year the Ukrainian Cossack BoG-dan
Chmielnicki and his vicious hordes rampaged through the countryside
murdering and pillaging the unfortunate Jewish villages in their wake.

A young girl was living in a small Polish village together with her
widowed mother and small brothers and sisters at the time of great
upheaval. When word spread of the approach of the murderers, the Jews
fled wherever they could; this girl was separated from her family. She
wandered the countryside with a group of destitute Jews, begging for

After some weeks of wandering, the group of refugees came to Vilna where
they found a community shelter. The wife of the shelter manager took a
special liking to the girl and offered to help her establish herself in
Vilna, reasoning that in a large city, she would more easily find her

The girl, for her part, was grateful for the woman's friendship, and
when she was offered a job in a Jewish house, she accepted happily. "My
son-in-law," explained the lady of the house, "is a great Torah scholar
and studies every night until midnight, at which time he is served his
dinner. Up until now my daughter and I have had the honor of serving
him, but it is difficult for us to keep such late hours and also manage
the house during the day. You will have the duty and privilege of
serving my son-in-law." The girl accepted the job happily.

The first night as she sat outside the door of the scholar, listening to
the haunting sing-song melodies of the Talmud, the girl was transported
back many years. It was as if she was listening to her father's voice
rehearsing the ancient texts in just the same melodious voice. With
these memories filling her mind, tears suddenly began to flow down her
cheeks, as she sobbed quietly.

A moment later the door opened and in an annoyed tone of voice the young
man said to her, "Please stop that noise. You are disturbing my
concentration." Frightened to lose her job, the girl was quieted at

The following night as she sat by the closed door listening to the
ancient melodies, the girl was again moved to tears, and she couldn't
control her weeping. When the young scholar opened the door, he saw at
once that something serious was grieving the girl. His patient questions
yielded from the girl an account of her sad tale. She told him about her
beloved father, Meir who had passed away many years ago and about her
mother and siblings lost in the terrible upheaval. She also told him
about her older brother who had been sent away to study after his
bar-mitzvah and whom she had never seen again.

The young man, Rabbi Shabetai Cohen, (later known as the ShaCh), quickly
realized that he knew the girl's family and the whereabouts of one of
her relatives, for he, in fact, was her long-lost brother. He did not
disclose this information to her, though, for he had his reasons for
withholding that wonderful news. Meanwhile, things continued as before,
except that Rabbi Shabetai requested that the girl be relieved of her
duties, remaining in the house with the status of a family-member.

About half a year later, the lady of the house took ill and the girl
took upon herself the care of the invalid as well as assuming most of
the household responsibilities. The illness was a prolonged one, and
finally the lady passed away, deeply mourned by the whole family.

Not too long passed before matchmakers approached the wealthy widower
with suggestions of matches. Uncertain about what to do, the widower
consulted his learned son-in-law. Rabbi Shabetai replied that he should
postpone any action in the matter, and should wait another year.

After a year passed the marriage brokers returned, and the widower
consulted his son-in-law again. This time he offered this advice:
"Disregard all the suggestions of the matchmakers, for the best and most
suitable match is right here, the young woman you have 'adopted' into
your family. Set the earliest possible date for the marriage. After the
chupa I will tell you the true identity of the girl."

The young woman was happy and honored to accept the proposal, and the
marriage was celebrated joyously. Rabbi Shabetai now revealed to his
father-in-law that his bride was none other than his own long-lost
sister. He added: "As a wedding gift, I promise that you will be blessed
with a son. You will name him Meir, after my saintly father, and he will
enlighten the Jewish world with his Torah knowledge and wisdom." This
indeed came to pass.

           Adapted from The Storyteller., Kehot Publication Society

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
In This week's portion we read, "And to the children of Israel you shall
speak, saying: 'This shall be oil of holy anointment to Me for your
generations."  The oil of anointment (Shemen Hamishcha) was used to
anoint the High Priests and the Kings of the House of David. Moses
prepared only 12 Lug (about two gallons) of this oil. Miraculously it
was enough for all past generations and all future generations. It was
still used in the second Holy Temple, and was hidden when the Holy
Temple was destroyed. When Moshiach is revealed, it will be returned to

                 (Discover Moshiach, Rashi 30:31. Talmud Krisus 5b)

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1411 - Ki Sisa 5776

  • Daily Lessons
  • Weekly Texts & Audio
  • Candle-Lighting times

    613 Commandments
  • 248 Positive
  • 365 Negative

  • BlackBerry
  • iPhone / iPod Touch
  • Java Phones
  • Palm Pilot
  • Palm Pre
  • Pocket PC
  • P800/P900
  • Moshiach
  • Resurrection
  • For children - part 1
  • For children - part 2

  • Jewish Women
  • Holiday guides
  • About Holidays
  • The Hebrew Alphabet
  • Hebrew/English Calendar
  • Glossary

  • by SIE
  • About
  • Chabad
  • The Baal Shem Tov
  • The Alter Rebbe
  • The Rebbe Maharash
  • The Previous Rebbe
  • The Rebbe
  • Mitzvah Campaign

    Children's Corner
  • Rabbi Riddle
  • Rebbetzin Riddle
  • Tzivos Hashem

  • © Copyright 1988-2009
    All Rights Reserved
    L'Chaim Weekly