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We want to fix the wrongs of the world, to abolish prejudice, to alleviate poverty, to wipe out war, to find cures for all illness and to give every person of any stripe or color the education they so rightfully deserve.
At the core of our very beings, we want a perfect world and we want to be a part of perfecting that world.
Sometimes, most of the time, we get so caught up in the rat-race of our day-to-day lives that we forget our desire - no, our need - for a perfect world. But the passion is always there, waiting until we reorient ourselves, re-prioritize our lives, reestablish our true goals.
This is the essence of the thousands year old desire for Moshiach.
As physical human beings, we are a fusion of body and soul. It is not enough for us to feel a need; we must act upon those feelings and perform concrete actions that will bring us ever closer to our goal. And we must use every fibre of our physical beings and even our possessions to reach our objective:
- A hand giving charity,
- Fingers striking a match to kindle Shabbat and holiday candles,
- A mouth speaking respectful words,
- Feet walking to visit the sick or elderly,
- A body immersing in the "living waters" of the mikva
- Knees bending, so as to see eye-to-eye with a child when imparting an ethical teaching
- A stomach digesting kosher food,
- Money purchasing Jewish books
- A mind comprehending a Torah thought,
- Eyes noticing a mezuza on the door post,
- An arm and head with tefilin wrapped around them
- A heart feeling love for another Jew,
The Rebbe said that we are on the threshold of a perfected world, a perfect world, the days of Moshiach. He enjoined every man, woman and child to do everything possible to hasten the eternal era of peace, prosperity, health, and knowledge that will commence with the Redemption.
Maimondes said that every person should view the entire world as balanced between good and evil. Each person's one good deed can tip the scale to the side of good and bring Redemption to himself and the entire world.
No one knows which person or what act will tip the scale. Let's all try.
This week's Torah portion, Korach, discusses Korach's controversy with Moses. Though bitter and unhappy that the priesthood was given to Aaron and his sons, and that he was not appointed as the head of his family, these reasons were not sufficient to incite Korach to war against Moses. Korach's rebellion came about only after the incident of the spies.
Why was this the final straw? The spies' claim was that in order to remain close to G-d it was necessary for the Jews to stay in the desert. They did not want to enter the Land because they feared that involvement in a physical lifestyle would be detrimental to their spirituality. Moses corrected them on this point, saying that "action is the most important thing." The goal is the performance of mitzvot (commandments), which could only be accomplished in the physical world of the Land of Israel, not the atmosphere enjoyed by the Jews in the desert.
Moses' answer is what caused Korach to openly rebel against him. Korach certainly knew that in both Torah learning and in spiritual stature Moses and Aaron stood head and shoulders above the rest of the congregation. But when Korach heard from Moses that the most important thing was not spiritual achievement but the deeds themselves, he said, "Why do you hold yourself above us? If action is the most important thing, then you and I and every single Jew - no matter who he may be - perform the same mitzvot! How are you any greater than we are, that you should be our leader?"
Thus, Korach's mistake was the same as that of the spies; both mistakes stemmed from a faulty understanding of the true nature of things. The spies erroneously stressed the importance of spirituality, to the exclusion of the physical, and Korach claimed that the physical performance of mitzvot took precedence and negated the necessity for spiritual involvement. Both Korach and the spies failed to see that the two aspects are important and dependent upon each other.
G-d wants us to have both; the proper spiritual intentions and the actual performance of the mitzva itself. Having the proper intentions infuses the mitzva with life and vitality. We must be spiritually connected to G-d and at the same time careful to keep all the minutest physical details of the commandments. These two aspects of religious observance comprise one unified whole in much the same way that human beings are comprised of both body and soul. One without the other is not enough.
The spies did not understand that spirituality must accompany the physical, and Korach's sin was that he did not understand that "a mitzva without the proper intention is like a body without a soul." The proper spiritual connection to G-d is an integral part of our performance of mitzvot.
Is this Correct?
by Yehudis Cohen
"My wife Rivky and I moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1994 as emissaries of the Rebbe," begins Rabbi Levi Klein. Rabbi Klein is relating a story that took place nearly a decade ago, but is as fresh in his mind today as if it happened just this morning.
"We had been living in Memphis for 13 years. Over the course of those year we had tried numerous times to purchase various properties to serve as the Chabad Center. I worked on seven or eight different projects, each one taking time, effort and money. But none of them came to fruition."
And then, a property came up that seemed to be very suitable. Some community members were more enthusiastic than others, especially since the location was not where they had hoped to make the Chabad Center, but to Rabbi Klein "the 6 acre property with an 11,000 square foot building itself was ideal."
"I was travelling to New York. Usually when I fly to New York I stop first at the Ohel (the Rebbe's resting place) and then afterwards I go to my parents' home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn." Rather than write a brief note once he had arrived at the Ohel, which is what Rabbi Klein usually does, this time he wrote a letter to the Rebbe during the long plane ride.
"I decided to pour out my heart to the Rebbe, which was uncharacteristic of me. I started the letter, 'It will soon be 13 years that we are in Memphis...' I shared with the Rebbe how much time, effort and money we had invested in building projects that had failed. I assured the Rebbe that I was ready to do it again with this newest property. But I was asking the Rebbe to send me a sign. I was sure that with the Rebbe's blessing everything would fall into place and the project would come to fruition. I closed with the question about purchasing the property, 'Is this the correct thing?' "
After arriving at the airport in New York, Rabbi Klein took a taxi to the Ohel. He read his letter, tore it up as is customary, and went on to Crown Heights.
"That night, I was sitting at the dinner table in my parents' home. My father jumped up from his seat and said suddenly, 'I have a tzetel ("note" in Yiddish) that I want to give to you.' And with that my father ran upstairs to get the note."
Rabbi Klein's father, Rabbi Benyomin Klein of blessed memory, was a member of the Rebbe's secretariat. "My father came down carrying a note that he had given to the Rebbe 27 years earlier. In the note, my father was asking the Rebbe when should be my Bar Mitzva celebration. My birthday was 13 Tammuz which was a Friday that year." The Jewish day starts at nightfall, so Levi would become a Bar Mitzva Thursday evening. Typically, the Bar Mitzva celebration would be made Thursday evening, but being that 12-13 Tammuz is the holiday of redemption of the Previous Rebbe from Czarist imprisonment, it would be marked by the Rebbe with a Chassidic gathering on Thursday night. So Rabbi Klein was suggesting that they make the celebration a few days later, on Sunday evening instead.
"My son will soon be 13 years" the note began. Rabbi Levi Klein was stunned. This note started out almost identically to the note he had written to the Rebbe hours earlier on the plane. Rabbi Klein read the brief note of just a few lines and was stunned again when he saw the question his father had posed at the end, identical to the question he had written just a short while ago: "Is this the correct thing?"
The Rebbe's response, written on the note that Rabbi Levi Klein now held in his hand, was a blessing. "May it take place in a good and auspicious time, I will mention it at the tziyon (resting place of the Previous Rebbe."
When Rabbi Klein returned to Memphis, he began negotiations for the property. With the Rebbe's clear blessings everything fell into place. The property was purchased, the building was renovated, and over the nine years it has become clear that the location is an excellent one; Chabad has thrived and grown!
by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger
Rabbi Avraham Gluck was a successful English lighting contractor with interests in many European countries. He was also a dedicated follower of the Rebbe. At a private audience, the Rebbe told him that every Jew is like a light bulb, waiting for another Jew to help him glow. His mission, the Rebbe emphasized, was to spread spiritual light as well as electric light throughout the continent. Rabbi Gluck dedicated himself to this purpose with self-sacrifice and as result there are Chabad Houses in Hungary, Germany, and Spain.
Once Rabbi Gluck found himself confronted by a particular difficulty. His natural reaction was to consult the Rebbe, and the Rebbe responded with a letter offering blessing and advice.
In addition to his business acumen, Rabbi Gluck was also a devoted father. He kept up a steady correspondence with his son Herschel who at the time was studying in France. One of the points he sought to share with him was an understanding of the Rebbe-chassid relationship and he wanted to show his son the letter the Rebbe had sent him.
He did not feel comfortable sending the Rebbe's letter by ordinary mail, so when a French yeshivah student appeared in England, he asked him to hand-deliver the letter to his son.
The yeshiva student agreed and took the letter. But as it happens, he did not have the opportunity to deliver the letter immediately. It was put aside, placed in a book and then forgotten.
Almost 20 years later, and about six years after Rabbi Gluck's passing, his son was troubled by the same difficulty. As a dedicated chassid, despite the fact that it is more than five years after the Rebbe's passing, he too wrote a letter to the Rebbe.
About that time, a French chassid was putting the books in his study in order. While doing so, he noticed a letter inserted between the pages.
On his next trip to England, he somewhat sheepishly made his way to the home of Rabbi Gluck's son. He knew of Rabbi Gluck's passing, but felt that his son would appreciate having the letter the Rebbe had sent his father.
He apologized profusely and gave Rabbi Gluck's son the letter. Rabbi Gluck's son accepted his apologies and thanked him. He then curiously opened the letter the Rebbe had sent his father. There was a blessing and advice that served as a most appropriate response to the letter he had so recently written.
There is no way we can fail to appreciate the working of G-d's hand, in this narrative. And one can only be amazed at how the Rebbe "answers" those who seek to connect to him.
After the passing of his father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe, the Rebbe urged the chassidim to continue writing to the Previous Rebbe as they had done before. "Don't worry," the Rebbe assured them, "the Previous Rebbe will find a way to answer."
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2 Tammuz, 5727 
Your letter reached me with some delay. In the meantime I was pleased to see your husband at the farbrengen [chasidic gathering] here.
As for the subject matter of your letter, you surely know that the Torah tells us that the conquest of the promised Holy Land was to take place by stages. The same applies, in a deeper sense, to the personal conquest of the self.
In other words, when it comes to personal advancement in matters of Yiddishkeit [Judaism], the best method is sometimes precisely in the way of a gradual conquest, step by step, and stage by stage, rather than by means of a drastic change.
Of course there are certain situations and matters where a drastic change may be necessary, but by and large steady progress is usually steadier than progress by fits and starts.
In light of the above, and in regard to the matter which you mentioned, it is possible that you may be pushing a little too hard. It is perhaps advisable that inasmuch as you have expressed your opinion, and it was not accepted, it is better to leave it alone until such time as the other party will himself come to the same conclusion. I trust that this will come to pass sooner than you anticipate.
I trust that you have begun your summer vacation in a suitable way, and may G-d grant that the vacation will generate new strength and power to be able to carry on all good activities with increased vigor.
Above all, I reiterate the central point, namely that you and your husband should together bring up your children in good health and happiness, materially and spiritually.
We have now entered the particularly auspicious month, the month of Tammuz, with the anniversary of the liberation of my father-in-law of saintly memory, the history of which is undoubtedly familiar to you.
This anniversary is not something which affected only the personal fate of my father-in-law of saintly memory, but was of far-reaching consequences for Russian Jewry and world Jewry as a whole.
Indeed, my father-in-law of saintly memory, referring to his miraculous geula [redemption], wrote explicitly to that effect, saying, "It was not me personally that G-d had saved, but it was a salvation for Yiddishkeit in general."
The anniversary therefore is an occasion for celebration and inspiration for each and every one of us every year at this time.
When it comes to personal advancement in matters of Judaism, the best method is sometimes precisely in the way of a gradual conquest, step by step, and stage by stage...
But this year is particularly significant inasmuch as it will mark the fortieth anniversary. As our Sages explained, the completion of forty years provides special understanding, appreciation and insight into the mind and personality of one's teacher.
I trust you will suitably observe this coming anniversary on the 12- 13th of Tammuz, and derive lasting inspiration from it.
The obvious lesson which we must draw from it is this:
If a Jew can accomplish so much for Yiddishkeit single-handedly, despite overwhelming odds and obstacles, how much must each and everyone one of us try to do our share, being fortunate in living under infinitely better circumstances, with complete freedom of action to strengthen and spread Torah-Yiddishkeit.
With regards to the whole family and with the blessing of Chag HaGeula [holiday of liberation],
We stand in the year of Hakhel which causes an elevation (ariber) in all of Israel, the men women and children, until the very infants, are all elevated by the ingathering of the exiles together, which has an affect on the very place where they gather (even at the time that the physical Temple is not yet standing), that the place should be a holy place [holy means above time and space, unified with G-d]..."
(The Rebbe, 13 Tishrei)
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
A Rebbe is a comprehensive soul, a soul that is connected to and understands every other soul. In the book Hayom Yom, compiled by the Rebbe from the teachings of the previous Rebbes, it says that when the Rebbe - the comprehensive soul - prays and there is an ascent of his soul on high, at that very moment he connects with every single Jew in the generation.
In Jewish law the needs of the community, supersede the needs of the individual. Thus, an individual must be willing to sacrifice for the community. How much more so does this apply to the Rebbe, a comprehensive soul. And even though the "private life" of the Rebbe is minimal, even though his needs are minimal, the needs of the community, of the world community, supersede the Rebbe's minimal needs.
On the third of Tammuz, 1958, the Rebbe stated about the Previous Rebbe: "In the case of a spiritual leader and shepherd of Israel, his entire raison d'etre is to promote the welfare of his contemporaries and to guide them. (His 'private' affairs are incomparably less important to him.) ...
"We don't understand why the Rebbe's physical life had to end, but it is the needs of the community that dictated it. In the case of a comprehensive soul, his private affairs are also relevant to all Israel."
What are the needs of the Rebbe? "I need my children [disciples]." These were the words with which Rabbi Yehuda the Prince left his children and disciples. These are the words which the Rebbe expounded upon after the passing of the Previous Rebbe. These are the Rebbe's needs.
What does the Rebbe "need his children" for? To actualize the Redemption!
We can accomplish this through fulfilling the Rebbe's directives: studying about Moshiach and the Redemption; increasing in acts of goodness and kindness; living with the daily reality of Moshiach; sharing this information with others.
And soon, as the Rebbe said, we will "merit to see and be together with the Rebbe... and he will redeem us."
The Torah portion of Korach
How is it possible that a portion of the Torah is named after a sinner as great as Korach? The Torah wants to emphasize that we can learn something constructive even from Korach's bitter controversy. Just as Korach wanted to be a High Priest, every Jew should similarly desire to draw near to G-d.
And Korach took [a bold step]...together with Datan and Aviram...and Ohn, the son of Pelet (Num. 16:1)
The Torah criticizes Datan and Aviram more than any other participants in Korach's rebellion as they mixed into a controversy that was none of their business. They weren't firstborn sons who might have resented having the priesthood taken away from them, nor were they even from the tribe of Levi. The priesthood was none of their concern.
And Moses sent to call Datan and Aviram (Num. 16:12)
It states in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 106): "From this we learn that one should not 'hold on' to controversy." Even if several attempts to make peace have been made without success, it is forbidden to throw up one's hands and assume that nothing more can be done. Rather, one must continue one's efforts until peace is attained. Thus despite the fact that Moses had already spoken to Datan and Aviram several times, he attempted one more time to dissuade them.
(Rabbi Yitzchak of Vorky)
And you shall give there of the heave-offering of the L-rd to Aaron the Priest (Num. 18:28)
If, as we read in the Torah, Aaron the Priest passed away in the desert before entering the Land of Israel, how would the Jews be able to fulfill this commandment? Rather, this is an allusion to a time after the Resurrection of the Dead, when Aaron will again be alive and able to receive his due.
In 1980, Russia was still under tyrannical Soviet rule. In spite of all the persecution, a religious awakening began among the Jews of the Soviet Union.
A special envoy of the Lubavitcher Rebbe arrived in the Soviet Union. He was surprised by the extreme devotion of the younger generation, which, despite the persecutions, had ignited the ember of Judaism. At the end of his visit, he told Dr. Yitzhak Kogan, one of the Chabad underground activists, that he would report back to the Rebbe what he had witnessed and ask him to especially bless Rabbi Yitzhak Kogan.
He was surprised to hear Rabbi Yitzhak ask that, instead of this, Rabbi Menachem Mendel should bless Yosef Mendelevich., a Prisoner of Zion who had been in prison already for ten years. Yosef had been arrested in the Leningrad Airport together with his friends for attempting to hijack a Soviet plan and flee to Israel.
"He has been on a hunger strike for 55 days, demanding to give him back the Chumash (Bible) and Siddur (prayerbook) they confiscated from him," said Yitzhak Kogan - "his physical condition is very bad. Please ask the Rebbe to pray for his immediate release from the prison."
The Rebbe's prayer was answered, and within a few months Yosef was flown to Israel. On a stopover in Vienna they brought the redeemed prisoner to the Israel Embassy in Austria.
"What is your first request," the ambassador asked him.
"I need a set of Tefillin to put on before sunset."
The Ambassador looked at his embassy staff members - Which of them would have Tefillin?
Suddenly there stepped forward Rabbi Israel Singer, the then director of the World Jewish Congress. "Very interesting," said Singer. "After hearing about the release of Mendelevich I was supposed to fly out to welcome him. Before that, I contacted the Lubavitcher Rebbe and asked him, what I should take for the freed Yosef?"
"Take him Tefillin," said the Rebbe.
"And here are the Tefillin I have brought you on the orders of the Rebbe." So, for the first time in his life, Yosef put on the Tefillin.
After he arrived in Israel, the Tefillin disappeared. Yosef was heartbroken.
Decades later, Avraham Yitzchak Rahamim Mendelevich - one of Yosef's sons, a student at the Carmiel Hesder Yeshiva, had been called up to serve in the IDF a year and eight months previously in an Armored Corps battalion.. The commanders thought that he was ideal officer material, and pressed him to continue to serve. But Avraham Yitzchak had other ideas. "I am going back to the yeshiva."
The day he was due to be released from the IDF, Operation Protective Edge began, and Avraham Yitzchak was sent to fight in Gaza. On the eve of the Three Weeks of mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple, the Tefillin which the Rebbe had ordered to be given to Yosef Mendelevich, were found. The moment Yosef Mendelevich received the Tefillin back, he began to think how to get them to Avraham Yitzhak and give him special protection. However, it was not possible to send the Tefillin to the battle area. G-d turns good intentions into deeds, and Yosef hoped that, thanks to all these things, the Tefillin would begin to perform their mission.
Contact with Avraham Yitzchak was very difficult. Avraham Yitzchak would contact his parents on the unit commander's phone. His mother asked her son to observe all the safety regulations and his father asked him to read Psalms every day.
In the neighborhood where Avraham Yitzchak's battalion was located, fierce battles were taking place. The terrorists were using anti-tank missiles as well as snipers and attacks from the tunnels. All of the Jewish People prayed for the success of the soldiers and their safe return.
Two weeks later, there was a powerful flash of light in the tank, followed by the sound of a huge explosion. The tank filled with smoke.
Avraham Yitzchak relates that his ears were deafened by the explosion. He didn't know whether he had been wounded and what had happened to his companions. A minute later he heard the commander shouting: "Are you all alive?" They were all alive. They received the order to return fire and they scored a direct hit.
Remembers Avraham Yitzchak, "There was a ceasefire, and we retreated to a safe position to rest. The commander gave us permission to leave the tank. We had spent 48 hours inside it; it was very hot, we were exhausted. But I remained in the tank. I had promised Father that I would read Psalms every day and I had not yet read the Psalms for Monday. Because I didn't go out, my fellow crew members also remained inside the tank.
"We were hidden in an olive grove, but we were spotted. They shot at us, apparently with an anti-tank missile; the missile struck the rear of the tank. At first, they thought that we had all been hit."
When the crew emerged from the tank, Avraham Yitzchak examined where they would have been standing had they gone out for the rest period. All the equipment was burnt. The missile had passed one meter from that spot and would have hit them had they been there.
At the thanksgiving meal that took place when he returned to his parents' home in Jerusalem, Avraham Yitzhak told about the miracle that had happened to him thanks to the Guardian of Israel, and thanks to the Psalms of King David. Then his father, Rabbi Yosef Mendelevich, stood up and told everyone about the Tefillin that the Rebbe had sent him 33 years previously, and how he believed the Tefilin helped guard Avraham Yitzchak.
Simply put, it must be proclaimed and publicized everywhere, using words from the heart, that G-d tells every single Jew (through His servants the prophets) 'Look! I am placing before you a blessing!' and that literally today we will see the blessing of the true and complete Redemption with our physical eyes... Even a person who has not fully internalized the concept of the Redemption in his own mind should make efforts to spread this concept to others, beginning with his own family and circle of acquaintances."
(The Rebbe, Shabbat Re'ei, 5751-1991)