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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1414
                           Copyright (c) 2016
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        March 18, 2016          Vayikra          8 Adar II, 5776

                         Purim Points to Ponder
                         by Rabbi Yisroel Rubin

Although the hamantash has been around for years, it was considered a
moot point in higher academic circles. Scientists found nothing in the
hamantash but poppy, prune and other kinds of jam. Unfortunately, the
hamantash's association with Purim prevented it from being studied

New research, however, has recently discovered heretofore unknown angles
of the hamantash. A comparative study on Food Design showed that there
was no point at all in eating many of the foods around. Eggs, falafel,
latkas, matza balls, burgers and meat balls are all round. If there is
no point in eating, the appetites of four point two billion people on
earth would be affected.

The quest of the proper food pointed researchers in the direction of the
hamantash. It surpassed all of their expectations. Not only did the
hamantash have a point, it has a 200% increase of points-all at no extra
cost. Three for the price of one! Among all food known to man, only the
hamantash is endowed with this unique configuration.

There is more than one side to the hamantash, but let's not go off on a

Psychologists have found that life is one long series of appointments
and disappointments. Disappointments in turn, are caused by going around
in circles, the result of which is that people fail to see any point in
life. Without a point in life, people wander aimlessly. This in turn
leads some to contemplate points of no return.

The hamantash poignantly demonstrates that there is a point to life. It
points us toward a definite aim and goal. It drives the point home,
providing us with a sense of purpose and direction. Then there is also a
very fine point, which psychologists refer to as the point of
pointlessness. As the Talmud points out, "A person should rejoice on
Purim to the point of not knowing the difference between Haman and

You might be wondering, "So, what is the point of all this nonsense?
Isn't this stretching the point a little far?"

You have a very good point there. But we are not here just to score
points. The primary point of this treatise is to point out the main
point of hamantashen - to use them in the Purim observance of "Mishloach
Manot" - sending food gifts to friends. This is such an important
mitzva, that we have no alternative but to stress the point over and
over again.

So without belaboring the point any further, let us give it to you point
blank: Share the holiday spirit and promote Jewish unity by sending a
food gift of at least two edibles, preferably including a hamantash, on
the day of Purim.

    Rabbi Rubin is director of Chabad of the Capital District in Albany,
    New York

This week we begin reading from the Book of Vayikra (Leviticus), which
deals primarily with the laws of sacrifices. In connection to the
sacrifices, the Torah repeatedly uses the phrase "rei'ach nichoach
la'Hashem," generally translated as "a pleasing fragrance to G-d."

Rashi, the foremost Torah commentator, interprets the word "nichoach" in
the sense of "nachat ruach," pleasure or contentment. "It is a source of
contentment to Me, that I said [to bring the offering] and My will was

Some commentators (the Mizrachi, for one) explain Rashi's comment as
intending to repudiate the mistaken notion that G-d enjoys the odor of
the burning sacrifices. For this reason, Rashi emphasizes that G-d
derives pleasure not from the odor, but from the fact that His will is

However, if that were Rashi's intent, the above-mentioned comment would
have been made the first time the phrase "rei'ach nichoach" appears in
the Torah - back in the Book of Genesis, when Noah offered a sacrifice
after the Great Flood: "And G-d smelled the pleasing fragrance." In that
instance, Rashi offers no comment at all!

Accordingly, we must conclude that Rashi is not repudiating something
that is so self-evident, i.e., that G-d does not enjoy the physical
aroma of the sacrifices. What possible enjoyment could be derived from
the smell of an ani-mal burning, an odor that even humans consider

It is therefore obvious that the contentment being derived is spiritual,
from the fact that the Jewish people are fulfilling G-d's will. In
truth, Rashi's comment is intended to explain why G-d derives pleasure
from the sacrifices, as opposed to any other of the Torah's

The difference between the sacrifices and all other mitzvot is that all
other commandments contain an element of reason or benefit. Even the
super-rational mitzvot, such as the red heifer, while we do not
understand them intellectually, serve to strengthen a Jew's acceptance
of the yoke of Heaven.

By contrast, the sacrifices (and particularly the olah offering, which
was completely burnt) do not have any perceptible "reason" in human
terms. On the contrary, they seem completely illogical: Why "waste"
one's hard-earned money in such a fashion?

Rashi consequently stresses that G-d's pleasure is derived from the
fulfillment of His will. A Jew brings sacrifices only because G-d wants
him to. The sacrifices are thus the purest form of obedience to G-d,
without regard for personal benefit or other considerations. And the
highest expression of this is the olah, which was completely consumed.

From this we learn that the greatest pleasure a Jew can bring G-d is to
obey Him, purely and simply.

                             Adapted from Vol. 32 of Likutei Sichot

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                            Breaking Through

In 1961, the Rebbe had established the Purim Campaign to insure that
Jews of all ages, wherever they were found, would fulfill two of the
easiest but oft neglected Purim commandments: Mishloach Manot - gifts of
food to friends, and Matanyot L'Evyonim - monetary gifts to the poor.

Ten years later, in 1971, the Rebbe issued a special call to reach out
to the soldiers of the IDF throughout the day of Purim and to assist
them with the mitzvot of the day. The Rebbe also requested that
Mishloach Manot be given on his behalf to the widows and children of
fallen Israeli soldiers. The Rebbe personally covered the expenses for
those Mishloach Manot. The Rebbe also added a personal message the
Mishloach Manot that the Chasidim would be delivering: "To every single
one of them: happy Purim. May the verse [in the Megilla] be fulfilled
for us: 'For the Jews there was light and happiness, joy and glory.'"

In 1976, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Gurevitz, then a yeshiva student, together
with other students and young couples, was sent by the Rebbe as a
Shaliach (emissary) to Israel. Some were sent to Jerusalem while others
to Tzfat (Safed). Rabbi Gurevitz, who lives today in Migdal Ha'emek in
the north of Israel, was amongst those sent to Jerusalem

"A few weeks before we left, when  speaking at a public gathering about
the emissaries who would be leaving soon to the Land of Israel, the
Rebbe said: 'I accept upon myself the responsibility for their trip.'"

Rabbi Gurevitz continues, "When Purim arrived, the Lubavitch Youth
Organization in Israel coordinated a massive Purim Campaign for the
soldiers, with Chassidim branching out to army bases all over the Land
of Israel.

"I was directed to an army base near Shechem. Together with several
other Lubavitchers, a driver from the IDF, and another soldier, we
entered an army truck and traveled the twisted, curvy roads on the way
to our destination. Suddenly, we came to a shrieking halt. After a
moment of deadly silence, a cacophony of ominous voices was heard
outside the truck. The smell of fire filled the air, and black smoke
began seeping in. We were sitting in the back and were oblivious as to
what was going on outside.

"A roadblock was barring the way, and crowds of Arab youth holding
stones were standing nearby. 'We have no choice, we have to turn back,'
the driver said, his face white as chalk. I turned to the driver and
said, 'We are not going back, we must continue on!' The driver looked at
me as if I fell off the moon. 'We are turning around,' he repeated. 'I
am responsible for your safety!' But I didn't give in. 'If you turn
around, I'm getting off right here!' The soldier couldn't understand.
Why would I want to go on in the face of obvious danger?

"I am a shaliach of the Rebbe," I said. "The Rebbe said that the
responsibility for the shluchim is on his shoulders. We have no reason
to be afraid."

" 'Do you really believe so strongly in your Rebbe?'' the driver asked

"Yes," I replied. "We have nothing to be afraid of." Hearing my strong
reply, he finally gave in. The driver backed up the truck, and went full
speed ahead straight into the roadblock of stones, wood, burning
objects. The truck rocked back and forth and almost flipped over. We
drove directly through the crowd of Arabs, as they threw heavy stones on
the truck. The soldier fired a warning shot in the air, but the Arabs
didn't disperse. Finally, we got out to the open; the danger had passed.

"When we arrived at the army base, the commander had already heard the
story and the courage we had displayed. The commander told me that there
were 300 soldiers on the base and he wanted me to tell all of them my
story. 'I want them to hear about the Rebbe's assurance. And how it gave
you the courage to continue and not to turn back.'

"I remember how excited the soldiers were when I told the story. We gave
them Mishloach Manot, we danced with them. They were overjoyed. Many of
them rolling up their sleeves to put on tefillin.

"That night, when we returned to Jerusalem, someone told me I must let
the Rebbe know about what happened. I immediately called one of the
Rebbe's secretaries, Rabbi Binyomin Klein, and told him all the details
of the story, which he passed on to the Rebbe.

"At 4:30 a.m. Israel time, the Rebbe's Purim gathering began in
Brooklyn. At one point, the Rebbe related, 'I would like to share
something which took place, just a short while ago. A message arrived
from the Land of Israel about an episode that shows that when a Jew
stands strong for Judaism, and doesn't think twice about it - rather he
does what he has to do - he is successful without getting hurt and
without hurting others."

"There was a request to bring Mishloach Manot and lift the spirits of
those Jews who are privileged to guard the Land of Israel. I was
notified that a group of emissaries went to visit the soldiers near the
city of Shechem. When they neared Shechem, they found that the road was
blocked.  But they were not deterred. 'We were charged with a mission to
encourage other Jews in rejoicing in the festivities of Purim,' they
explained.... Although the Arabs threw stones, no one was hurt, neither
Jews nor Arabs. This is something that just happened now, Purim 1976.

"The Rebbe concluded with an important lesson that one need not be
intimidated by the non-Jews around him and to stand up with pride in his

                     Adapted from Der Chassidishe Derher

                               WHAT'S NEW
                    JNet Celebrates 8,000 Chavrusas

Over 200 people joined together for an evening of inspiration at the
Third Annual JNet Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. The theme of the event,
Soul Connections, captured the unity that JNet's volunteers have created
through their study-partners in the past year.  New this year,
volunteers from around the world were also able to participate via live
stream. To get a JNet Study Partner visit

                          New Torah in Tunisia

A year after the terrorist attack at Hyper Cacher in France, a new Torah
was donated to the Chabad Institutions in Tunisia in memory of Yoav
Khattab (may G-d avenge his blood),  son of the Rebbe's emissaries in

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                       28th of Adar, 5721 [1961]

....The unity of the material and spiritual, to which I referred above,
is also one of the features of Purim. For Haman's decree began with an
attack on the spiritual freedom of the Jews, as our Sages explain the
verse "But Mordechai did not bend his knee nor bow down to Haman," who
wished to impose his idolatry upon all, and indeed succeeded, except for
Mordechai. But then his decree extended to the physical annihilation of
all the Jews, young and old, children and women.

That is why the miracle of Purim is observed both spiritually and
materially, with light, and gladness, and joy and glory, which our Sages
explained in a spiritual sense - Light that is the Torah, etc., and at
the same with a Seudah [meal], with wine, etc.

Indeed, the principle of unity is the essence of Judaism, since Abraham
first proclaimed Monotheism in a world of idolatry, which came to full
fruition at the Revelation at Mount Sinai. For true Monotheism as
professed by us and as explained in the Jewish religion is not only the
truth that there is only One G-d and none with Him, but that there
nothing besides (Ein Od), that is the denial of the existence of any
reality but G-d's, the denial of pluralism and dualism even the
separation between the material and spiritual.

It is interesting to note that the more the physical sciences advance,
the closer one approaches the principle of unity even in the world of
matter. For, whereas formerly it was the accepted opinion that the
plurality and compositeness in the material world can be reduced to some
100 odd basic elements and entities, and physical forces and laws were
regarded as being separate and independent, not to mention the dichotomy
between matter and energy. But in recent years, with the advancement of
science, the basic elements themselves were reduced to several more
elementary components of the atoms, viz. electrons, protons and
neutrons, and even these were immediately qualified as not the ultimate
blocks of matter, until the discovery was made that matter and energy
are reducible and convertible one into the other.

It is well known that the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Chassidus,
taught, and the Alter Rebbe [Rabbi Shneur Zalman], the founder of
Chabad, explained and amplified, that every detail in human experience
is an instruction in man's service to His Maker. Thus, what has been
said above about the advancement of science, exemplifies also the
progress of human advancement in the service of G-d.

Man possesses two apparently contradictory elements, no less
incompatible than the incompatibility of matter and spirit, the
counterpart of which in the physical world is matter and energy. I refer
to the Divine soul and animal soul, or, on a lower level, the Yetzer Tov
[good inclination] and Yetzer Horah [evil inclination]. But this
incompatibility is evident only in the infantile stage of progress in
Divine service, comparable to the plurality of elements and forces which
were presumed to exist in physical Nature. But just as the appreciation
of the underlying unity of Nature grew with the advancement of science,
so does perfection in the Divine service lead to the realization of the
essential unity in human nature, to the point where the Yetzer Tov and
Yetzer Horah become one, through the transformation of the Yetzer Horah
by and into the Yetzer Tov, for otherwise, of course, there can be no
unity and harmony, since all that is holy and positive and creative
could never make peace and be subservient to the unholy, negative and
destructive. And in this attained unity the Jew proclaims, Hear, O
Israel, G-d our G-d, G-d is one.

This is also what our Sages meant, when they succinctly said as they
often compress far-reaching ideas in a few concise words - that the
words "And thou shalt love G-d, thy G-d, with all thy heart" which
immediately follow Shema Yisroel, mean: with both your Yetzorim
[inclinations], with the Yetzer Horah, as with the Yetzer Tov.

With blessing

Every event within a Hakhel year is influenced by the Hakhel spirit
including Purim. In the Megilla we read: " order that they
hear, and in order that they learn...and they will observe to do all the
words of this Torah." Purim and Hakhel are not only connected by virtue
of them both being about conscious commitment to the Torah. More than
that, our Purim is affected by the general spirit of the Hakhel Year,
making this year's willing rededication that much stronger.

                                            (The Rebbe, Purim 1967)

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The holiday of Purim (which we will celebrate  Wednesday night, March 23
- Thursday, March 24) is connected to three ideas: shleimut ha'am (the
complete Jewish people); shleimut haTorah (the complete Torah); and
shleimut ha'aretz (the complete Land of Israel).

The "complete Jewish people" means the recognition that we are one
nation. Haman's decree was directed against all Jews, "from young to
old, men, women and children." By coming together in true unity, Haman's
evil decree was nullified.

The "complete Torah" means the whole Torah - every single part of it. In
the Megilla, Mordechai is referred to as "Mordechai Hayehudi,"
"Mordechai the Jew." The term "Yehudi" implies the rejection of idol
worship. When a Jew rejects idolatry, he is declaring that the entire
Torah is true. In the days of Mordechai the Jewish people were called
"Yehudim" because they clung to the totality of Torah, every single
detail, without compromise.

The "complete Land of Israel" means that all of the Holy Land belongs to
the Jewish people. The events of Purim occurred during the 70 years
between the First and the Second Holy Temples. Although by that time
work had already begun on the new Temple, it was interrupted by order of
the Persian King. Mordechai knew that learning the laws connected to the
Temple would nullify the decree to stop building. He gathered the Jewish
children together and studied these laws, and his efforts were
successful. The Temple was completed, and the Land of Israel was in
Jewish hands.

As we celebrate the holiday of Purim, let us ponder the fact that all of
the Holy Land was given to every single Jew by G-d Himself. We must
therefore behave in a way that makes us worthy of the name "Yehudim,"
declaring the truth of our whole Torah, and remain strong in our faith
in G-d. Doing so will win the respect of the nations and bring true
peace, culminating in the Final Redemption with Moshiach, speedily in
our day.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
And He called to Moses (Lev. 1:1)

Of all the righteous people who lived in that generation - Aaron, the
Seventy Elders, Betzalel and Chur - why did G-d call only to Moses?
Because Moses was a person who "fled from power," as our Sages stated:
"He who pursues authority and power, authority and power flee from him;
he who flees authority and power, authority and power pursue him."


                                *  *  *

If his offering be from cattle (Lev. 1:3)

Three types of burnt-offerings may be brought on the altar: cattle,
sheep, and fowl. A wealthy person is self-assured and prideful, and
therefore most likely to sin. For this reason he must bring the largest
and most expensive offering, "from the cattle." A less affluent person,
less likely to sin, fulfills his obligation by offering a sheep. But the
poor man, who is already humbled by his poverty, need only bring "of the
fowl," the least costly type of offering.


                                *  *  *

You shall burn no leaven (chametz), nor any honey, in any offering of
the L-rd made by fire (Lev. 2:11)

"Leaven" is symbolic of the kind of person who is angry at the world.
Morning or evening, Shabbat or a regular weekday, he is always sour -
"chamutz," (from the same Hebrew root as chametz). "Honey," by contrast,
alludes to a person who is affable by nature. No matter what happens, he
remains buoyant. The Torah teaches, however, that a person must learn to
control his emotions, even positive ones. For there are times when it is
appropriate to be "leaven," and times when it is appropriate to be

                                        (Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch)

                                *  *  *

"Leaven" and "honey" are two extremes; by taste and attributes, they are
opposites of each other. The Torah teaches that any kind of extreme
should be avoided. A Jew must always seek the middle road, "the golden

                                      (Rabbi Yosef Shaul Nathanson)

                                *  *  *

When a person will sin unintentionally from among all the commandments
of G-d that may not be done...for his sin that he committed he shall
bring...a sin-offering (Lev. 4:2-3)

Why should a person be expected to bring an offering for a sin he
committed accidentally, i.e., without prior intent? The answer is that
had he not already committed the same sin deliberately, G-d would have
prevented him from being in a situation where he repeated it
unintentionally. This is alluded to by the text itself: "When a person
will sin unintentionally...for his sin that he committed."

                                              (Rabbi Moses Alshich)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
The last rays of the sun had already disappeared, marking the end of the
"Fast of Esther,'' and the beginning of the holiday of Purim. The
synagogue of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berdichev was filled to overflowing.
Everyone waited quietly as Rabbi Levi Yitzchok ascended the bima to
begin the evening service and then the reading of the Megilla (Scroll of
Esther). The sexton approached Reb Levi Yitzchok and whispered something
in his ear. The Rebbe immediately went out from the synagogue into an
adjoining room.

There, a poor women was standing with a chicken. She had come to ask the
Rebbe if it was kosher. Rabbi Levi Yitzchok examined the chicken and
found it to be not kosher. "Oy, what will I do, my husband is sick and
my children are starving. I spent my last few pennies on this chicken,
hoping the soup would help my husband and satisfy  my children. What
shall I do?" the woman sobbed.

"Do not worry, my daughter. G-d helps everyone and will certainly help
you, too," said Rabbi Levi Yitzchok compassionately. "Now go to the
synagogue and listen to the Megilla," he added.

When the woman had left, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok put on his overcoat and
went quickly to his home. There he gathered up everything his wife had
prepared for the Purim feast; fresh hamentashen, fish, chicken, soup,
challah, and all kinds of delicacies. He tied it securely in a large,
white tablecloth and made his way to the home of the poor woman.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok entered the house and immediately heard the voice of
the sick husband. "Is that you Sarale? What happened with the chicken?"
he asked in a weak voice.

"A good Purim, happy Purim," answered Rabbi Levi Yitzchok. "G-d has sent
you Mishlaoch Manot (gifts of food) for Purim." The Rebbe set the table
neatly and then hurried back to the synagogue. The prayers and Megilla
reading had not continued without him; despite the late hour, no one
wished to miss hearing Rabbi Levi Yitzchok read the Megilla.

That year, the Megilla reading seemed to take on new meaning for those
gathered in the synagogue, especially when the Rebbe read the words
about sending Mishloach Manot to one's friends and giving gifts of
charity to the poor (Matanot L'Evyonim). Everyone understood the
implications of love and unity that were inherent in these special
holiday commandments.

When Rabbi Levi Yitzchok's wife returned home, she was more than a
little surprised to find that everything she had prepared for the Purim
meal was missing! She entered her husband's study, but found him deeply
immersed in a book, his face aglow. The Rebbetzin intuitively understood
what had happened. She managed to pull together a suitable meal from
leftovers here and there.

When the poor family told the town excitedly that Elijah the Prophet had
visited their house and brought "Mishloach Manot from G-d" the
townspeople also understood where their Rebbe had been. He had
substituted for Elijah.

That year, the always generous people of Berdichev were even more
generous. They sent food in abundance to Rabbi Levi Yitzchok for his
Purim meal, and extra food and charity to all the poor of the city.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The Purim Megila states: "Mordechai was sitting at the king's gate."
Although the Jews were in exile, Mordechai sat at the king's gate,
eventually becoming the king's viceroy. Mordechai was in a position to
influence the entire world. This teaches a Jew that even in exile, we
can fulfill all mitzvot fully and even "sit at the king's gate." "King"
here refers to G-d, "the King of the world." In addition, one must
realize that if he has a position of power and influence, it is for the
purpose of utilizing that position to do good in the area of his
influence, be it his family, neighborhood, city or country. Conduct in
this manner will immediately bring the redemption, at which time we will
be together with Moshiach.

                                 (The Rebbe, Shabbat Acharei, 1986)

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1414 - Vayikra 5776

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