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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1427
                           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.
        June 24, 2016         Beha'aloscha        18 Sivan, 5776

                           Fast-Food Judaism

Long before (non-kosher) fast-food emporiums dotted the landscape like
mushrooms after a rain, our Sages suggested we implement the fast-food
mentality into our lives, though with a Jewish twist, of course. "Grab
and eat, grab and drink," Rabbi Shmuel told his student Rabbi Yehuda
Shenina (as recorded in the Talmud). "For life is like a party which
will soon be over."

Far from being a fatalistic outlook, or one that places the emphasis on
physicality, Rabbi Shmuel's words teach us how to define our goals and
motivate ourselves Jewishly.

Mitzvot (commandments) are likened to food and the Torah is likened to
water, in Chasidic philosophy. "Do mitzvot, study Torah," Rabbi Shmuel
taught. "For life - in this world - will soon be over and in the World
to Come those same opportunities to do mitzvot and study Torah will no
longer be available."

Picture yourself in a fast-food line. Are you going to stand there
leisurely contemplating the menu as you would in a fine restaurant,
discussing it with the people joining you, maybe even asking what the
restaurant suggests, what is the soup de jour, the house specialty? Or
would you order quickly from the list on the wall and hungrily gobble it
down? Most likely you would do the latter, since expedience and
swiftness are major reasons for your choice of restaurant styles.

Similarly, Chasidut explains that since we are getting closer every day
to Moshiach, we shouldn't spend time contemplating a menu of mitzvot. We
don't have time any longer to sit and relax at a fine restaurant,
dillydallying until we make our choice. Action is the main thing. Grab
and eat, grab and drink. Whatever mitzva comes your way, do it.
Whichever Jewish learning opportunity is available, benefit from it.
We're living life in the fast-lane, traveling on the express train.

A Jewish fast-food mentality means taking hold of our every opportunity
to do a mitzva, regardless of whether or not we think it should be the
next one in our repertoire. There's no time for, "How can I light
Shabbat candles if on Saturday I ..." Or, "Why put on tefillin if I
don't..." Or, "How can I attend a Jewish mysticism/Chasidic philosophy
class if I don't even know the Hebrew alphabet?"

Grab and eat, grab and drink means that these last few moments before
the Messianic Era need to be filled with action not contemplation, deeds
not meditations. Soon the party will be over, or will it just be

What are the properties of a well?

A well's water gushes spontaneously from its source without waiting for
the thirsty person to come and drink. Likewise, its waters flow far and
wide, saturating everything with which they come in contact.

In a similar vein, when the objective is bringing the waters of Torah to
other Jews, we cannot wait until they come and ask to drink its
knowledge. The Torah, the sustenance of life itself, must be brought to
wherever Jews are found.

This approach originated with Aaron the High Priest, who "loved peace
and pursued peace, loved his fellow creatures and brought them nearer to
Torah." Aaron did not wait until others took the first step, but went
"outside" to draw them closer to Judaism.

Significantly, Aaron "brought them nearer to Torah," and not the other
way around. The Torah's principles were never altered or compromised to
fit a given situation. Rather, each individual Jew was brought to the
Torah, the same true and eternal Torah that has stood immutable for
thousands of years.

This characteristic service of Aaron is alluded to in this week's Torah
portion, Beha'alosecha -- literally, "When you light the lamps."

As High Priest, Aaron's job entailed kindling the menora in the

A candle is symbolic of the Jewish soul, as it states, "the candle of
G-d is the soul of man." Aaron's function was to light the candle, i.e.,
ignite the soul of every Jew, for every Jew possesses a G-dly soul, no
matter how concealed it may be. By lighting this "candle," Aaron
revealed the flame that burns inside each and every one of us.

Furthermore, Aaron made sure that the candle would continue to burn
without his assistance. It is not enough to uncover the G-dly soul that
exists in the recesses of every Jewish heart; the soul must be so
aroused that it continues to burn with love of G-d and perpetually seeks
to reunite with its Source Above.

Thus, "spreading the wellsprings outward" requires that we go "outside,"
beyond our own "space" to awaken the hidden spark of G-d that is the
birthright of every Jew. For no matter how hidden it may seem to be, all
that is necessary is that we find it and fan its flame until, like a
candle after the match which lit it has been removed, it continues to
burn by itself.

                   Adapted from Likutei Sichot of the Rebbe, Vol. 2

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                         New Heights for Tanya

Two Lubavitcher Chasidim - Meir Alfasi of Rechovot, Israel, and Shmuly
Levitin of Brooklyn, New York, trekked for two weeks up to the top of
the world's tallest mountain to print the Tanya, the fundamental book of
Chabad Chasidic philosophy.

Setting out with two Sherpas, 10 cans of tuna, matzot, a package of
paper and a printer, the duo climbed Mt. Everest in Nepal.

The unique mission was undertaken in response to the Rebbe's request in
1984 that the Tanya be printed in every place where Jews are found.

And with the number of tourists who trek all over Nepal, Jews surely
frequent Mr. Everest.

Previously, Alfasi had printed a copy of the Tanya in Antarctica. He
told the newspaper Yisrael Hayom, "I had a dream that I couldn't shake
off to print the Tanya on Mount Everest."

Although Alfasi and Levitin bundled up in thermal clothes, Alfasi wore
traditional Chabad Chasidic dress as well, especially the black hat
associated with Chabad.

"It was so the Jews would see me and know that I am Jewish," he said.
"One of the Israelis [traveling there] told me that it was nice to see a
kipa on the mountain."

"You walk 18 hours a day," he said. "I lost 10 kilograms [22 pounds]
during the trek, so now I need to switch out my entire wardrobe."

His efforts paid off when he reached the upper Everest Base Camp, where
he achieved his goal.

"We went to the base there and asked them for electricity so we could
print the Tanya," he said. "They agreed and helped us print the book for
the first time ever on the highest mountain on earth."

All photos by Meir Alfasi and Shmuely Levitin

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             New Emissaries

Rabbi Zushe and Yaeli Neimark recently moved to Cyprus to bolster the
Chabad of Cyprus activities there.

                               Last Bell

Chabad's 124 Or Avner educational institutions,  schools and
kindergartens throughout the Former Soviet Union (FSU) celebrated the
end of the school year with a "Last Bell" ceremony. The occasion marks
the students' achievements throughout the year. From Tajikistan to
Belarus, the end of the year was celebrated with concerts and festive

                               New Torah

Beth Habad Francophone NY/Centre Culturel Juif Francais welcomed a new
Torah scroll to their Manhattan Center.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
           Continued from last week - a discussion about the
                     commandment to wipe out Amalek

As a matter of fact, we have in this particular subject under discussion
an historic confirmation of precisely the kind of eventuality we have in
mind. In the Torah she-be'l-Peh [the Oral Torah] (which I also include
in our "common ground", since you quote from the Talmud), we are told in
commentary on the Torah shebiksav, what were the consequences of
disregarding the said commandment. King Saul, after defeating Amalek and
capturing the Amalekite king Agag alive, had compassion on him and did
not execute him at once, in contravention of the Prophet Samuel's
instructions based on the commandment which we are discussing. The
result of this misplaced clemency, which extended Agag's life for one
day, was that during the night he was able to impregnate a woman, and of
this seed, many generations later, came forth Haman his ten sons, who
plotted the complete annihilation of the Jewish people in one day.
Fortunately, the situation was miraculously reversed, and Haman and his
sons were hanged. Unfortunately, in self defense, the Jews were
compelled to take up arms and kill 75,000 enemies, as related in the
Book of Esther. Obviously, had Saul carried out the command fully and
promptly, the Jewish people would have been spared the terrorism and
agony caused by Haman the Agagite, and there would have been no need for
all that bloodshed which was forced upon the Jews in self-defense. And
all these tragic consequences came to pass because Saul had attempted to
inject his personal feelings and reasons into what was a clear, Divine

One more observation is called for, however. It so happens that the
commandment under discussion has a logical explanation, which, moreover,
is borne out by historical experience in a most striking manner. But
this does not mean that when G-d gave us the Torah He necessarily had to
provide a humanly acceptable explanation, within grasp of each and every
individual, for each and every commandment which He ordained in His
Torah. Obviously, the human intellect is limited, like all human
capabilities, and a human being is further limited in time and place,
whereas the Divine commandments are, by definition, infinite and
timeless. Surely, no individual, however wise, can logically challenge
the wisdom of the Torah or any particular of it. Jews have always taken
the Divine Torah in this spirit and recognized it for what it is - a
Toras Chessed [Torah of Truth] and Toras Emet [Torah of Truth], in
addition to the other epithets by which the Torah is characterized - and
time and again, throughout our long history, chose martyrdom rather than
betray it.

The human intellect is limited, like all human capabilities... whereas
the Divine commandments are, by definition, infinite and timeless.

I trust the above has shed some light on the "problem" and, by
extension, on similar problems.

With blessing,

P.S. It surprises me, in view of your background as a Professor of Law
that you formulated the problem on moral grounds (the horror of
genocide), whereas it would seemingly be more forceful to challenge it
on legal grounds, namely, the apparent contradiction in the same codex.
From the viewpoint of Law, it would surely be a more effective argument
to say: how can you reconcile such an apparently "cruel" decree with the
very nature of Torah, as a Toras Chessed, given by a compassionate and
merciful G-d? All the more so, when compassion is demanded even toward
the lower species, as understood in the episode about Rabbi Judah the
Prince who, for not showing adequate compassion for a calf led to the
slaughter, suffered years of painful ill health. (B.M. 85a), although
from the practical point of view, the case was inconsequential.

   From, The Letter and the Spirit

                              ALL TOGETHER
Hakhel represented the complete equalization of the Jewish people.
Something similar was accomplished by the times the Jewish people were
counted, since then every individual counted the same, regardless of
status, intelligence, etc. Nevertheless, only men were counted, and only
those who had reached a certain age. During Hakhel, however, even the
tiniest babies were included. And even those who had no knowledge of
Hebrew, and were therefore unable to understand what the king was
reading, still were affected with an intense awe which inspired them the
rest of their lives.

                                         (The Rebbe, 29 Elul, 1987)

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
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 (commandments), swim in the deep pool of Torah

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

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
When you light the lamps, then shall the seven lamps give light toward
the body of the candlestick (Num. 8:2)

The seven branches of the menora are symbolic of the seven branches of
secular wisdom; the body of the menora is symbolic of the G-dly wisdom
of Torah. All knowledge of the natural, physical world should be used to
"give light toward the body of the candlestick" - enhance our
understanding of Torah - thereby enabling secular wisdom to truly

                                              (Melechet Machshevet)

                                *  *  *

And if they blow with but one [trumpet], then shall the princes assemble
themselves to you (Num. 10:4)

If genuine Jewish unity is the goal, "then shall the princes assemble
themselves" - there must first be true unity among our leaders, who must
cease infighting and provide a proper example for others. Only then can
they demand unity from the rest of the people.

                                                    (Olelot Efraim)

                                *  *  *

For G-d has spoken good upon Israel (Num. 10:29)

The words "spoken good" occur only twice in our Scriptures, here and in
Megilat Esther, where we find the phrase "spoken good for the king."
According to our commentators this is an allusion to G-d: When a person
speaks well of his fellow Jew, it is considered as if he spoke well of
the Master of the world.

                                                      (Igra D'Kala)

                                *  *  *

And G-d's anger was kindled greatly, and in the eyes of Moses it was
also displeasing (Num. 11:10)

Why was G-d angered? Because "in the eyes of Moses it was also
displeasing": in this instance, Moses hadn't tried to justify the Jews'
behavior or find an excuse for them. From this we learn that when a
tzadik (righteous person) finds merit for the Jewish people, it stills
any accusations from Above.

                                (Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
In the olden days, the Jews of Germany were known for their highly
organized social and community structure. Being chosen for a post in one
of these communities was a badge of honor, as it signified having been
approved by several screening committees. And once a candidate was
selected, his authority and influence over communal life was

The selection process for religious leaders was equally stringent. Being
the rabbi of a German Jewish community was a prestigious position, and
there was much competition.

Rabbi Refael Cohen, the Rav of Pinsk, was one of the leading Torah
authorities of his generation. At the age of ten he had been accepted
into the famous yeshiva of the "She'agat Aryeh," and at 19 he already
headed the yeshiva. Before Pinsk, he had served as Rav in Posna and
Minsk. It was therefore not surprising when he was asked to serve as
rabbi of Hamburg, one of the most important Jewish communities in
Germany. The rabbi set off for Hamburg to meet with its leaders and
begin the official process of appointment.

By that time, the winds of the Enlightenment had already begun to blow
across Germany. The stated aim of its proponents was the "modernization"
of Judaism, while retaining its age-old traditions. In fact, however,
its underlying goal was the removal of all barriers separating Jew and
non-Jew, and the ultimate assimilation of the Jewish people into the
family of nations. Rabbi Refael, who hailed from the "backwaters" of
Lithuania, had never met any Maskilim, as they were called, and the
whole idea was foreign to him.

Moses Mendelssohn was one of the main proponents of the Enlightenment
then living in Berlin. To many German Jews, he was a visionary whose
opinions and "Weltanschauung" greatly influenced their own. Among those
who regarded him in this light were several of the community leaders of
Hamburg, who were now in charge of appointing a rabbi. Their ideal
candidate would be knowledgeable in Torah, yet "progressive" enough to
keep up with current fashions and trends.

When Rabbi Refael appeared before the selection committee they were
impressed by his obvious scholarship and wisdom. His personal views and
beliefs, however, remained unknown. The board decided that the best
person to judge Rabbi Refael's character would be Moses Mendelssohn

Rabbi Refael was told only that if he wished to conclude the appointment
process as quickly as possible, he must travel to Berlin to meet with
one of the greatest Jewish thinkers of all time, Moses Mendelssohn. If
he received his recommendation, the position of Rabbi was his.

Rabbi Refael, in his na´vetÚ, assumed that he was going to meet a Torah
sage, and set off for Berlin. In the meantime, the board sent an urgent
letter to Moses Mendelssohn explaining the situation and asking him to
assess the moral fiber of the Lithuanian rabbi. Was he truly qualified
to be Rav of the "progressive" community of Hamburg?

Rabbi Refael walked into Moses Mendelssohn's home and saw the "Torah
Sage" sitting at his desk with his head uncovered, rifling through a
Hebrew Bible. He was so astonished that he was momentarily speechless.
In addition to his shock, he also felt as if he had been deliberately
deceived and misled.

When Mendelssohn looked up and greeted his visitor with "Shalom," Rabbi
Refael responded with a quote from Isaiah, " 'There is no peace, says
the L-rd.' How could they have sent me to a heretic?" he thundered. "I
would rather be reduced to begging than have to obtain the
recommendation of someone who sits and learns our holy Torah with an
uncovered head!" With that, he turned on his heels and left.

Before he got back to Hamburg, however, a letter arrived from Moses
Mendelssohn apprising the board of his findings: "I did not have time to
assess the character of the Lithuanian rabbi," he wrote, "for as soon as
he saw me he called me a heretic and stormed out. Why? Because my head
was uncovered as I was looking into a Bible. He refused to accept any
recommendation from me, and declared that he'd rather be a beggar than
need my approval."

The members of the board assumed that Moses Mendelssohn was telling them
that Rabbi Refael was obviously unqualified for the position. But no!
The end of the letter contained a surprise: "I therefore recommend that
you appoint him as Rav, for he is a man of truth. I am sure that such a
person would never be anything less than completely impartial, even if a
sword were suspended over his throat..."

In the end Rabbi Refael was appointed as Rav of Hamburg, and served in
that capacity for many years. Throughout his life he continued to be a
staunch opponent of the Enlightenment and of Mendelssohn himself, whose
recommendation secured his job in the first place.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
In our present time, we are not experiencing persecution, G-d forbid,
and we are living in affluence. This can sometimes be an even greater
test - will we remain loyal to G-d even when living in physical comfort?
However, the fact that in these times our Divine service is more
difficult, proves that we were empowered and have the ability to
overcome all obstacles, because G-d does not make unreasonable demands
of His creations.  Because of our tenacity in fulfilling G-d's will even
though our spiritual awareness is very limited, we will merit the
immediate redemption.

                          (Sefer HaMaamarim-Kuntreisim v. 1 p. 106)

             END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1427 - Beha'aloscha 5776

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