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"You didn't buy a house!" That's the home-grown wisdom one Yiddishe Mama dispenses to her adult children when they purchase an item that they later decide is not to their liking. It wasn't such a big investment of time and money that you have to lose sleep over it, she is counseling her offspring.
But once you've purchased that house, or even if you're not yet up to buying a house but simply want to make your rented quarters homey, what furnishings should it contain?
Jewish teachings suggest that we furnish our homes, first and foremost, with people.
Rabbi Yosay ben Yoezer from Tzrayda taught that our homes should be a meeting place for Jewish scholars. His colleague, Rabbi Yosay ben Yochanan of Jerusalem said that our homes should be wide open for guests and that the poor should be treated as members of one's household.
Taking this advice from our Sages gives a special ambiance to our homes even before we've decided on the decor.
But what of the furniture, fixtures, appliances, gadgets, rugs and art? When purchased with the right attitude, these can all be within the spirit of Judaism.
Such an attitude is aptly represented by a story of Reb Pinchas Reizes, a famous chasid of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the first Chabad Rebbe.
Reb Pinchas was fabulously wealthy. And yet, when he mentioned to Rabbi Shneur Zalman his plans to build himself a beautiful, brick mansion, the Rebbe asked him, "Pinchas, why do you need such a mansion?"
As most of the other houses in his city were made of wood, his home would stand out and could be construed as an ostentatious sign of wealth and pretentiousness.
"Rebbe, believe me," explained Reb Pinchas, "when I think about building my house, I shed more tears than there will be bricks. I keep reminding myself, 'Do I need a brick mansion?'
"But, because I will have a mansion, important community meetings will take place in 'Pinchas' mansion.' Since the meeting is taking place in 'Pinchas' mansion,' Pinchas has a say. Once Pinchas has a say...!
"Now, if Pinchas doesn't have a mansion, the meeting won't be taking place by Pinchas. Then Pinchas won't have a say...."
Rabbi Shneur Zalman responded, "You are right, it is a proper thing for you." (Early Chassidic Personalities by Rabbi S. B. Avtzon)
Some people chose to tailor their home's furnishings to the guests that will fill their homes. This might preclude white sofas or carpeting, expensive antiques or collectables within reach of small children, or other items one must ponder before purchasing if one's home will be filled with guests of all shapes, sizes and age.
To make a dwelling into a "home," a home in which one's family and friends can truly feel "at home," the advice of Jewish teachings is the best decorator around.
In this week's parsha, Pinchas, we read about the regular sacrifices brought on the Temple altar. There were daily, Shabbat, new month and festival offerings.
Every day two yearling lambs were brought as "constant burnt offerings. The first you should do in the morning, and the second you should do in the afternoon".
What is the significance of bringing one in the "morning" and one in the "afternoon"? What lessons could we take from this constant burnt offering, for our relationship with Hashem, and for our personal relationships?
The Hebrew word for sacrifice is "korban" which comes from the word karov, close. The idea here it to bring yourself closer, strengthen your connection with Hashem.
This must be "constant". Hashem wants us to work on developing our relationship with Him every day.
How do you get closer to Hashem? By being a "burnt offering". Burnt offerings were unique, whereas other sacrifices, only parts were burnt on the altar, the burnt offering was entirely consumed. Hashem wants us to give our total self to him. To be open and vulnerable and to allow our entire self to be consumed, becoming one with Hashem.
"Morning" is symbolic of the good times, when the light of Hashem shines bright. At these times things are easy, there are no obstacles to overcome. "Afternoon" is the hard times, when the sun is going down, obstacles make Hashem seem distant. Even in these dark times of exile we need to come closer. The darker it is, the greater the effort we need to give to connect. The bond we forge in these dark times, is beyond anything we could have created in times of light.
Ultimately the light will return but because of the closeness we have developed, the light will be greater than anything we could have imagined.
Same is true for personal relationships. To get closer you must be "constant", you must work on your relationship every day. Give your entire self to your other, allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable. This is easy when things are fine. However, it is the persistence and effort in times of difficulty that will take your relationship to a whole new level. Deeper, stronger and more wonderful than anything you could have imagined.
Adapted by Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz from the teachings of the Rebbe, yitzihurwitz.blogspot.com. Rabbi Hurwitz, who is battling ALS, and his wife Dina, are emissaries of the Rebbe in Temecula, Ca.
Zaidy Pinchas' Torah
by Chana Wiesberg
This is the story of a very special Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll), purchased shortly after the Second World War by my maternal zaidy (grandfather), Rabbi Pinchas Sudak, when he and his family were on their dangerous trek escaping Communist Russia.
Unlike most Jews living under the Communist Soviet regime, Zaidy Pinchas did not really lack for anything. He had an underground knitting factory and was a relatively wealthy man. He also managed to sustain a Jewish, Torah-observant life for himself and his family. When he escaped from Russia in the summer of 1946, at the age of thirty-eight, it was not because of any material or even spiritual need. On the contrary, Zaidy Pinchas risked being shot at the border for trying to escape. Nor did he do it for the spiritual future of his children. He did it for his grandchildren.
My mother, Batsheva - the oldest of Zaidy Pinchas' three children - grew up in a home where commitment to Judaism was a way of life. As a young girl she would ride alone on a donkey for several miles through the desert to bring home the necessary wheat to be later ground and prepared under exacting supervision for the Passover matza. That was her task because, as a child, she was not as subject to questioning by the authorities.
Nor was it an unusual sight in my mother's home for music books to be swiftly spread over the piano as soon as a stranger entered their home, hiding the religious books nesting beneath. In this way, my mother was able to pursue her Jewish studies with her "piano teacher."
Zaidy Pinchas recognized that his children, raised to fight for the preservation of their faith, would gain inordinate strength and faith to persevere in following the path of their tradition -- no matter what the circumstances. "I am not leaving Russia for my own children," he said. "They will always know that they are Jews and will remain loyal to their faith. But what will become of my children's children? That I do not know. It is for them that I must leave the clutches of this regime."
Fortunate to have crossed the Russian border alive, the Sudak family found themselves in Cracow with a group of forty-six other Lubavitcher Chassidim escaping the Stalinist dictatorship, with their final destination unknown. Included in this group was the Lubavitcher Rebbe's mother, Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson.
There, in Cracow, Zaidy Pinchas met a Polish Jew who was offering a Torah scroll for sale, and resolved immediately to purchase the Torah. He then had a heavy wooden box fashioned to carry and protect it.
"Wherever this journey may lead us," said Zaidy Pinchas, "how can so large a group of Jews travel without a Sefer Torah in their midst?"
It was time for the group to move onwards, walking through Steczen, to cross the Czechoslovakian border on their way to Prague. They left late at night. Each could carry only their most basic necessities; all other worldly possessions were abandoned. Zaidy Pinchas had diamonds sewn into the soles of his family's shoes.
In the blackness of the night, Zaidy Pinchas and Batya Sudak and their three children, each grasping a coarse rope to keep them together, trekked silently through a dense forest. Zaidy Pinchas clutched his beloved Sefer Torah as he marched behind Bubby Batya, who carried their youngest child, Bracha. As time progressed, Bubby Batya grew weary and motioned to her husband that she could no longer carry Bracha.
With tears in his eyes, Zaidy Pinchas took his Sefer Torah out of its wooden case, and silently mouthed an apology. "My priceless Torah, you know that it is for you that I have left Russia. I would not have left to an unknown future for myself. Nor for my children. I am fleeing to ensure that my children's children will know you and live with you. Forgive me, dear Torah, for betraying you now. It is either you or my child. I part with you now, so that my children and children's children should live a life where you are a real and meaningful part."
Zaidy embraced the Torah for the last time and gently laid it, in its case, under a tree. He lifted his young child in his arms and journeyed forward.
Eventually, Zaidy Pinchas and his family reached the free shores of Israel. His children, Batsheva, Nachman and Bracha, each grew up to become Rabbis or Rebbetzins serving their respective communities and promulgating faith in Torah.
A few years ago, my mother, Rebbetzin Batsheva Schochet, was visiting in California where she was invited to the home of Mrs. Faigy Estulin, a friend of my sister's. Faigy was describing her own father's exodus from Russia - several weeks after my grandparents' escape - and attributed his longevity and robust health to an incident that happened over more than 50 years ago.
He and his wife were escaping Russia on a dark night. Along the way, their five year old daughter wandered away from them and was momentarily lost. Frantically, the parents searched for her, crawling on their hands and knees through the forest.
Suddenly Rabbi Gurevitch felt a hard surface. Upon further investigation, he opened a wooden box to discover a Sefer Torah. Next to the wooden box sat his young child. Kissing both passionately, he took the Torah from its box, unraveled it and wrapped it around his body, tying it with his gartel (prayer belt). Eventually, that Torah scroll made its way to its current home, in a shul in New York City.
Mrs. Estulin ended by crediting her grandfather's long and healthy life to the merit of this significant act.
Concluding her story, she looked up at my mother and couldn't fathom why my mother's face had gone completely ashen and tears were streaming from her eyes.
The legacy of Zaidy's precious Sefer Torah had come full circle.
Originally published on chabad.org. Chana Weisberg is the editor of theJewishWoman.org and an inspirational lecturer.
Rabbi Eliahu Nochum and Chaya Mushke Eilfort will be arriving in Encinitas, California before the start of the new school year and High Holidays to establish Chabad of Encinitas. Until now, the Encinitas Jewish community was served by nearby Chabad of Carlsbad. Rabbi Shmulik and Yael Moscowitz have moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, where they will be establishing a Chabad Center to serve the community and tourists heading to the Grand Canyon.
Chabad of Great Neck, New York, recently celebrated the opening of its 23,500 square-foot building. The new facility was built on the 8.7-acre waterfront property that Chabad of Great Neck purchased 22 years ago. The new Center includes classrooms, a library, a commercial kitchen and large open spaces for Shabbatons, holidays and Jewish life cycle celebrations. The original two-story house where Chabad activiites took place until now will continue to be used for smaller programs so that Chabad can continue to offer the home away from home feeling people enjoy.
19th of Tammuz, 5720 
Greeting and Blessing:
I received your letter of the 8th of Tammuz, with the enclosures for which you will find receipt herewith.
As requested, I will remember you and your wife in prayer when visiting the holy resting place of my father-in-law of saintly memory, in accordance with the contents of your letter.
Needless to say, one must have absolute faith in G-d, while at the same time providing the channels and vessels in the natural way to receive G-d's blessings, and the greater the faith in G-d, the sooner and in a larger measure one sees the fulfillment of G-d's blessings.
With regard to the matter of the observance of the laws of Taharas Hamishpocho [family purity], and that there are some doctors who suggest that the period of abstention required by these laws might interfere with the period of ovulation, I need hardly say that the ruling of the Rov [Rabbinic authority] is, nevertheless, quite binding. Moreover, inasmuch as these laws are part of our Torah, which is called Toras Chaim, being the guide in life, it is impossible that the observance of the Torah, especially such a basic law as Taharas Hamishpocho, should interfere with another law, especially such a basic mitzvah [commandment] as procreation, which is the first mitzvah in the Torah.
As a matter of fact, I would like to call your attention to the fact, which I am sure also your doctor will substantiate, that there are many medical authorities who do not accept the whole theory regarding the period of ovulation with absolute certainty.
Furthermore, the number of medical authorities subscribing to this latter view is increasing. But even those who do attach importance to this theory, do not claim that the period of ovulation could be so carefully narrowed down as to make a day or two significant. Finally, there are various methods and treatments which help to postpone the period of ovulation and which have been applied to good advantage.
May G-d, whose benevolent Providence extends to everyone individually, fulfill your heart's desire to be blessed with healthy offspring.
Hoping to hear good news from you,
It would be advisable to ascertain if, at the time of your marriage, either you or your wife might have been involved in hurting the feelings of a man or woman through a previous broken engagement or promise, and the like, in which case a Mechila [asking forgiveness] might be necessary.
Ed.'s note: Eleven months after the Rebbe wrote this letter of advice and blessing to the childless couple he wrote another letter wishing them mazel tov on the birth of their first child
16th of Adar I, 5725 
I was pleased to receive your letter of the 15th of Shevat, in which you write about the successful initial meeting on Taharas Hamishpocho, and the fruitful beginnings.
It is, of course, unnecessary to emphasize to you the paramount importance of this cause. Nor do I think that it would require a great deal of persuasion to convince the other participants in the meeting of the vital importance of Taharas Hamishpocho.
Suffice it to say that even where a person may not be so meticulous insofar as he or she is concerned, yet there is no limit to the love and devotion of parents to their children, their readiness to spare no sacrifice for their benefit.
Even if the observance of the laws and regulations of Taharas Hamishpocho entailed a certain effort or even sacrifice on the part of the parents, surely it would be done eagerly, knowing that in addition to the essential thing of the need of observing G-d's commands for their own sake, these observances have a direct influence on children, and through them on grandchildren and so on. Of what account, therefore, is a temporary inconvenience or effort by comparison to the everlasting benefit in terms of good health, physical and spiritual, and true Nachas, etc. All the more so since the inconvenience or effort are smaller than imagined.
May G-d grant that this vital activity of Taharas Hamishpocho in your community should grow and expand, bringing even more and more members and participants, and may the observance of this essential law and regulation stimulate also the general observance of the Torah and Mitzvos, where there is always room for improvement.
Hakhel causes the Jewish people to, in the Torah's words, "Fear the Lrd... as long as you live on the earth." This is a unique phenomenon. Chassidus explains that each festival had a continuing influence which lasted until the next festival, or more particularly till the original festival is celebrated again in the year to come. Hakhel is different. After seven years another Hakhel assembly will be held, however, the affects of the first assembly continued "all the days which you will live on the earth."
(The Rebbe, 3 Tishrei 1980)
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
We are now in the Three Weeks which commenced with the 17th of Tammuz - the day on which the wall surrounding the Temple was destroyed. It is the time when we begin a special period of intensified mourning for the the Holy Temple.
It is, however, not only a time to mourn the Holy Temple, but also to reflect even more deeply on its rebuilding. It is for this reason that at this time of year the Rebbe emphasized the importance of studying the special laws which relate to the Beit HaBechira - G-d's Chosen House.
Concerning the destruction of Jerusalem it says, "Everyone who mourns for the destruction of Jerusalem will be privileged to see its rebuilding." We are not discussing here the obligation of the community at large, but rather the obligation of each and every individual. Each one of us has to mourn Jerusalem. And, although we have been promised that the Holy Temple will be rebuilt, we are obligated to help rebuild it.
The completion of this task requires not only the participation of the community in general, but the participation of each individual in particular.
The Rebbe said that in order to aid in the rebuilding of Jerusalem and bring Moshiach closer, every individual must increase in Torah study, prayer and charity. An increase in charity is especially appropriate at this time since we are told that charity brings the final redemption closer, and "Zion will be redeemed through... tzedaka - charity."
May each and every one of us draw on that inner strength bestowed upon every Jew which will enable us to increase in all of the above-mentioned matters, bringing about the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the complete and Final Redemption through Moshiach NOW!
Pinchas ...was the one who zealously took up My cause (literally "was jealous with My jealousy") (Num. 25:11)
The motivation behind Pinchas' deed was completely pure and for the sake of heaven, without any personal desire for vengeance. This is similar to G-d's "jealousy," for He has mercy on all His creations and chastises those whom He loves. Pinchas was therefore "jealous with My jealousy," i.e., without personal motivation or consideration.
(Rabbi Yehoshua of Kutna)
My offering, My bread (Num. 28:2)
Why are the sacrifices likened to bread? Just as bread enlivens the physical body with sustenance, so do the sacrifices bring a G-dly vitality and abundance into the physical world.
A continual burnt-offering (Num. 28:3)
The "tamid" (perpetual) offering, symbolic of all the sacrifices, was totally consumed on the holy altar, affording neither the person who brought it nor the priests who served in the Holy Temple any benefit from its flesh. We learn from this that a person who sincerely desires to draw near to G-d must serve Him without regard for any benefit it may bring him.
And on the beginnings of your months (Num. 28:11)
Eleven sacrifices were offered in the Holy Temple on Rosh Chodesh, (the new moon): two cows, seven sheep, one ram and one goat, thus balancing the solar calendar with the Jewish lunar system (the solar year is 11 days longer than the lunar).
From all over Europe, thousands of Jews used to come to visit Reb Yisroel, the holy Rabbi of Ruzhin. For little Pesach, the orphan who had been taken in by the Rebbe's family, it was an amazing sight which he never became accustomed to -- so many people with so many kinds of troubles -- each with his own hopes for a better future.
"The Rebbe is a holy man," he was told. "All these people come to him for a blessing. When he gives it, he can see what will happen to them many years from now."
One day the Rebbe called Pesach aside and told him, "A time will come when you will have to go away. You will study medicine and become a doctor. Then you shall go to the Holy Land. There is your place. And there you will save many lives." Pesach burst into tears. "Must I leave, Rebbe?" he cried.
"Don't be upset," the Rebbe said. "My thoughts will always be with you."
And so it was that Pesach grew up and became a doctor -- taking the family name of his beloved Rebbe, Friedman -- and settling in Israel in the town of Tzefat in the Galilee.
One day a regal carriage stopped in front of his house, and an important looking man stepped out. "I am looking for Dr. Friedman," he announced.
When Dr. Friedman came to the door he was told, "The Princess of Prussia is visiting Tzefat and she is extremely ill. One minute she is burning with fever, the next moment she is shivering with cold. You must come at once. Her father, the Kaiser, is anxious that you come at once."
Dr. Friedman hurried to the princess's bedside. He examined her and diagnosed malaria. "Take this medicine for three days. If we are fortunate, the disease has been caught in time for a cure."
Three days later the princess's fever broke and it could be seen that she was on her way to recovery. After three weeks Dr. Friedman was summoned again. "The Princess will be resuming her trip, however she still feels weak and has begged that you come with her."
Dr. Friedman explained, "Your Highness, it is difficult for me to fulfill your request. As a Jew I must pray three times a day with ten men, and I may eat only kosher food. The trip to Jerusalem is a long one."
The Kaiser replied, "Spare no expense. Bring along ten men and whatever food you require. Only come."
Dr. Friedman joined the traveling party for the long, arduous journey. When he finally returned home, his wife asked, "Did they reward you for saving the life of the princess?"
"Not really, but they said the Kaiser would be in my debt. True, it was very difficult, but for me it is enough that I saved her life."
Many months passed and no more was heard from the princess or her father. The land of Israel was beset by problems and the interesting episode of the princess was forgotten as everyone was consumed with a different worry -- the safety of their children. The government of Turkey, which then ruled the Holy Land, was demanding that young Jewish men serve in its army. Not only was it impossible to observe the Torah in the army, it was also highly dangerous. The only alternative was prison. Then, out of the blue, came a telegram for Dr. Friedman from the Kaiser of Prussia.
The brief cable stated that by the grace of His Royal Highness, the King of Prussia, Dr. Pesach Friedman had been appointed Consular Agent in Tzefat for the government of Prussia, with full authority to issue passports, visas, and any other such papers to citizens of Prussia.
Dr. Friedman was silent for a long while, as he read and reread the telegram. Then, he remembered the words of his Rebbe, as if they had just been spoken, "There you will save many lives."
Hastily, he called a meeting of the communal leaders.
"Gentlemen," he announced, holding up the telegram, "here is the answer to our troubles. By this document I have been given the right to issue passports to citizens of Prussia. Do you realize what this means? No longer will the Turks have power over us. If any young men are threatened, let them come to me. I'll issue them a Prussian passport that will save them! With these papers they'll become citizens of Prussia, and won't have to serve in the Turkish army!"
And so, the words of Reb Yisroel of Ruzhin came true over and over again!
Adapted with permission from The Story Hour, Ed. Dr. D.S. Pape
In this week's Torah portion we read, "My sacrifice...you shall keep to offer to Me in its season" (Num. 28:2) Keeping something, as in "you shall keep," implies waiting for or anticipating something. Thus, are we able to keep the commandments of the sacrifices even in exile, after the Holy Temple has been destroyed. We "keep" the laws associated with the Holy Temple by anticipating its rebuilding. Through our great longing for the Temple, we have a part in the sacrifices that were brought in those times.