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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1435
                           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.
        August 19, 2016        Vaeschanan            15 Av, 5776

                         No Greater, No Lesser

"Moses, our teacher, is very, very great. But he is no greater than a
Jew. At the same time, the simplest Jew is very simple, but he is no
lesser than a Jew."

This was a favorite saying of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, Jewish
leader, scholar, Kabalist, and father of the Rebbe, whose anniversary of
passing occurs this week.

As certain as Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was that every Jew is equal in G-d's
eyes, that is how fearless he was in defending every Jew and the Torah's
laws in the face of government or other intimidation.

To illustrate:  It was in the early years of the Soviet regime, when all
commerce and business throughout the country had already been

All of the mills and matza bakeries were run by the government. When it
was time to ship the wheat for the matza and they needed a certifying
rabbi, the government asked Rabbi Levi Yitzchak as they had in previous

However, that year,  the government representatives explained that if
any  of flour would not be allowed because it did not meet his approval,
there would be a monetary loss to the government and it would be
interpreted as a declaration of war against the state.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was unbending. If they allowed him to hire people
whose instructions would be strictly obeyed, he would certify the flour.
And if not, he would not comply. And not only that, he would make sure
to publicize that it was not under his supervision.

The government representatives threatened Rabbi Levi Yitzchak who
declared that he was ready to travel to Moscow and meet with the
president of the Soviet Union to discuss the matter. But he absolutely
refused to put his name on something that did not deserve it, as it was
against Jewish law and against G-d.

The matter was referred to the highest authorities. In the end, the
government representatives were told that  everything Rabbi Levi
Yitzchak said must be followed to the letter.

And that is what happened that year, and the next year and the next. In
all of the government-sponsored matza bakeries throughout the Soviet
Union, only the flour approved by Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was used.

In retelling this story about his father, the Rebbe shared the
life-lesson that can be gained from it. "When a Jew stands firm and
declares that he cannot act contrary to G-d's command, nor is he willing
to do anything against Jewish law, he will ultimately succeed.

"Of course, not everyone can demonstrate such strength. But it is also
true that not everyone must oppose an entire government ruling over 200
million people. All that most of us need to do is to take a stand
against our own evil inclination."

May we all have the strength to take a stand wherever and whenever we
need to!

In this week's Torah portion, VaEtchanan, we read about Moses' powerful
description of the Exodus from Egypt and the Giving of the Torah as
unprecedented events. "Has any god performed miracles to come and take
him a nation from the midst of another nation, with trials, with signs,
and with wonders, and with war and with a strong hand, and with an
outstretched arm, and with great awesome deeds, as all that the L-rd
your G-d did for you in Egypt before your eyes?"

Why is it important for us to know that G-d took for Himself  "a nation
from midst of another nation?" What lesson can we learn from here that
we can apply in our personal lives?

The Hebrew word for "Egypt" is "Mitzrayim" from the word "maytzar,"
meaning "constraint" or "limitations." When G-d took us out of Egypt, He
removed us from all constraints -physical, psychological and spiritual.
When we cleave to G-d and His Torah we are open and free. The only
constraints we have are the ones we accept upon ourselves.

In every situation we have the ability to be free. Even in this exile
when the world seems against us. Even in our personal lives, when we
have difficulties, suffering, and pain.

Our choices express our free nature, not our predicaments. In every
situation we can find a way to free our essence, our Jewishness.

Today this seems harder than ever, as there is a strong pull to be like
the rest of the world and blend in. But we have been there before; if we
try, G-d will surely help each one of us free ourselves from our
personal Egypts.

On a deeper level, each of us have the ability to free ourselves from
our current status, standards and stations and reach higher heights.
Yesterday's freedom is today's Egypt. If you are not growing you are not
free. If you can will yourself: How can I improve myself? How can I get
closer to G-d? Then you are free.

Finally, realize, that to get closer to G-d, you need to love His
children, and see them as "us."

Loving each other is the key to our redemption, it is how we break the
chains of this exile. Perhaps that is why it is so difficult,
nevertheless, we will overcome this as well. May it happen soon.

           Adapted by Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz from the teachings of the
            Rebbe, Rabbi Hurwitz, who is
       battling ALS, and his wife Dina, are emissaries of the Rebbe
                                                   in Temecula, Ca.

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                           Rehab for the Soul
                             By Faye Kranz

Yankees fans were ecstatic. Lefty Gomez and Joe DiMaggio had just helped
their team sweep the Cincinnati Reds to win the 1939 World Series.

In Newark, N.J., 12 year-old Bill Shank was happily anticipating his
forthcoming bar mitzvah. Studying with the cantor at B'nei Abraham
Synagogue, he was almost ready for his big day.

But he didn't get the chance to show off his newly acquired skills; he
never made it to his own bar mitzva. The celebration was canceled
because he suddenly developed a severe case of pneumonia. The young boy
languished in pain for months because the new "miracle" drug -penicillin
- was not yet in widespread use. The bar mitzva was forgotten in the
wake of his illness.

Fast-forward to Shabbat, July 23, 2016. The place is the Burke
Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains, N.Y., a highly reputed facility
entirely dedicated to rehabilitation medicine.

Mendel Brikman, 43, a Chabad rabbi and businessman, had recently been
accepted to Burke. Diagnosed with cancer in 2011, he underwent surgery
that successfully removed the tumor, but made it difficult for him to
breathe. The husband and father of six has been in and out of hospitals
for the past few years, battling his illness and overcoming the enormous
challenges placed on him and his family.

Remarkably, Brikman remains the same outgoing, upbeat, personable fellow
he always was. Quick with a joke and easy to talk to, he has become
known for his ability to listen and dispense practical advice.

Last week he was enjoying the company of his friend Chaim Marcus, who
had come to spend Shabbat with him. They were sitting in his room at
Burke discussing whether he had the strength to participate in his
scheduled rehab session. Although exhausted, Brikman decided to go ahead
with the therapy.

In the rehab room, they found a few other patients already there,
including an elderly gentleman who turned to them and said, "Shabbat
Shalom." It turned out that their Sabbath greeter was none other than
Bill Shank, professor emeritus and the former music librarian at the
CUNY Graduate Center, and that his Hebrew name was (you guessed it!)

During their conversation, Shank told them about his canceled bar
mitzva, that he had never put on tefillin and was scheduled to leave
Burke on Monday.

So what's a good Chabadnik to do?

"We are all raised on the idea that every Jew is infinitely precious,
and that every mitzvah has cosmic importance, especially tefillin," said
Marcus. "For a Chabadnik, the words 'I've never put on tefillin' trigger
something akin to an adrenaline rush. Like my friend David Suissa says,
'Chabadniks have one global model, and it's called, 'We want you to do a
mitzvah because the world needs it.' That is the essential lesson we
learned from the Lubavitcher Rebbe: Helping a Jew do a mitzva is the
best way to say 'I love you.' "

"Mr. Shank, it's never too late. How about we make you a bar mitzva

"Let me think about it," he replied. "I'll discuss it with my daughter,
and I'll let you know."

Later that night, the nonagenarian enthusiastically agreed and even
invited his daughter, who was visiting from Norway, and a number of
friends to join in the celebration. As is typical in the Chabad world,
it turned out that Shank's daughter knows Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries
Rabbi Shaul and Esther Wilhelm in Oslo.

By Sunday morning, the guest list had grown to include Brikman's wife,
Toby; their youngest son, Zalman; and Shank's roommate at the hospital,
Ralph Ziskind. They also extended an invitation to Rabbi Shmuel
Greenberg of Young Israel of White Plains and the chaplain at Burke.

It turns out that you don't need a DJ, caterer, centerpieces or flowers
to have a meaningful bar mitzva.

"Everything is Divinely orchestrated, but it's particularly gratifying
when the Almighty gives us an opportunity like today," said Brikman, "to
be able to come together 77 years after your bar mitzva and celebrate
this occasion with you."

Speaking about the mitzva of tefillin, Brikman pointed out that tefillin
is a testament to our love for the Almighty and His love for the Jewish
people. "What is written in G-d's tefillin?" asked Brikman. "The Torah
tells us that in G-d's tefillin, it speaks of the special love that G-d
has for the Jewish people." Several of the guests had never even seen a
pair of tefillin before, so Rabbi Greenberg explained what they are,
what is written in them and why Jews wear tefillin on the weaker arm
(for which he used a baseball analogy).

There was some spirited singing as Shank unwrapped his presents, which
included the Chabad classic books, Daily Wisdom and Towards a Meaningful
Life; a CD of Chassidic recording artist Avraham Fried; and a kipah with
the words "Bill" and "Mendel" embroidered in both Hebrew and English.

Shirley Miller, a longtime friend of the Shanks, was visibly moved, and
told Mendel that "this has been one of the most meaningful and beautiful
events I have ever participated in."

Brikman spoke movingly about what he has been through and shared a
personal story about a former Israeli soldier that had moved away from
Judaism because his friend was killed during the 1982 Lebanon war. After
befriending Brikman and forming a close bond, the former soldier decided
that although many years elapsed, he would begin putting on tefillin

The bar mitzva "boy" shared his own story and emotionally wrapped
tefillin for the first time. "I want to say this is a very proud moment
of my life at age 90. I'm very honored and very happy that I have my
good friends and my daughter here with me, and I'm very proud to be able
to say that I've now finally been bar mitzvahed."

                               WHAT'S NEW
                             New Emissaries

Rabbi Yossi and Leah Cohen recently arrived in Rochester, New York,
where they will establish a new Chabad on Campus at Rochester Institute
of Technology. Rabbi Yossi and Raizel Nissim recently moved within the
hottest NYC borough to establish Chabad of North Brooklyn. Shabbat
dinners, holiday programs, classes, a summer camp and lots more action
are happening at Chabad of North Brooklyn.

                      Newly Renovated and Expanded

Chabad of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, recently resettled in
their newly removated and expanded Chabad House. The 100 year-old
building underwent an intensive renovation under the directorship of
Rabbi Shmuly and Rashi Weiss. There is now a large multi purpose social
hall which doubles as the Chabad House Shul, a beautiful café/lounge, a
hospitality suite and an extensive two-level library and study area, as
well as a commercial kitchen that will be linked to a kosher restaurant.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                           12 Av, 5737 [1977]

I received some information about the relationship at home, but I do not
know to what extent it reflects the actual situation. Hence I want to
convey to you some thoughts in light of what the relationship should be
according to the Shulchan Aruch [Code of Jewish Law] - the Jew's
practical guide in life. If the relationship is, indeed, in keeping with
it, the purpose of this letter will be to strengthen and deepen it, as
there is always room for improvement in all matters of goodness and
holiness, Torah and mitzvoth [commandments]. On the other hand, if it is
not quite what it should be, I trust that, since the Torah is surely "a
lamp unto your feet," you will bring it up to the desired level, and you
will do it with joy and gladness of heart.

The central aspect in the manner of conducting a Jewish home and family
life is that it has to be based on the way of the Torah, "whose ways are
ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace." If this rule applies
to all activities of a Jew, even outside the home, how much more so does
it apply within the home itself!

Of course, since G-d has created human beings with minds and feelings of
their own and these are not uniform in all people, peace and harmony can
be achieved only on the basis of "give and take," that is, meeting each
other half way. For a husband and wife to make concessions to each other
is not, and should not be considered, a sacrifice, G-d forbid. On the
contrary, this is what the Torah teaches and expects, for we are talking
about concessions that do not involve compromise in regard to the
fulfillment of mitzvoth, and both of you are of the same mind that the
laws of the Shulchan Aruch must not be compromised.

Furthermore, to achieve true peace and harmony calls for making such
concessions willingly and graciously - not grudgingly, as if it were a
sacrifice, as mentioned above, but in the realization that it is for the
benefit of one's self and one's partner in life, and for one's self
perhaps even more, since it is made in fulfillment of G-d's Will. And if
our Sages exhort every Jew "to receive every person with a friendly
face," certainly it applies to one's wife or husband.

There are many sayings of our Sages, as well as those of our Rebbes,
urging husband and wife always to discuss matters of mutual concern, and
to give patient attention to the opinion of the other and then act in
mutual agreement. It is also very desirable that they should have at
least one regular study period in a section of Torah which is of
interest to both, such as the weekly Torah portion, or a timely subject
connected with a particular season or festival.

While the major obligation to study Torah is incumbent on men, it has
been emphasized that women, too, have to fulfill the mitzvah of Torah
study in areas where they are directly involved, as explained in the
laws of Torah study. All the more so in the present day and age when
women have the possibility - hence the obligation - to do their share of
spreading Judaism no less than men.

It may sometimes appear difficult for the husband to take time out from
his preoccupations in order to discuss mutual problems with his wife, or
study Torah with her, but he should not look at it as a sacrifice. On
the contrary, he should do it eagerly in fulfillment of a most important
mitzvah - sholom bayis - peace in the home. And if any mitzvah has to be
carried out with joy, how much more so such a fundamental mitzvah.

Finally, I would like to add that of the mitzvah campaigns which have
been emphasized in recent years, special attention has been focused on
the mitzvah of ahavas Yisroel [the love of a fellow Jew], which embraces
every Jew, even a stranger; how much more so a near and dear one.

I hope and pray that each of you will make every effort in the direction
outlined above and will do so with real joy and gladness of heart, and
may G-d grant that you should have true nachas [joy] - which is Torah
nachas, from each other and jointly from your offspring, in happy
circumstances materially and spiritually.

                              ALL TOGETHER
Although Hakhel in its original form can only be fulfilled in the Holy
Temple, nevertheless, the spiritual role of Hakhel applies now also even
more strongly. The women assume the major mission, to effect the
spiritual theme of Hakhel in their own private Holy Temple. For in her
house each woman is the foundation of the home and she makes that home a
holy Sanctuary. Then, her husband and children will listen and observe
all the words of the Torah.

                                         (The Rebbe, 22 Elul, 1987)

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This coming Shabbat, the Shabbat after Tisha B'Av, is known as Shabbat
Nachamu for the Haftorah portion we read which begins, "Nachamu, Nachamu
Ami - Comfort, I will comfort My People."

Our Sages have pointed out that the word "Nachamu" is stated twice for
with the building of the Third Holy Temple, G-d will comfort us doubly
for the destruction of the first and second Temples.

Jewish teachings further explain that the repetition of words in the
Torah points to the unlimited quality of the matter being discussed.

Thus, the comfort that G-d offers us through his prophet in this week's
Haftorah does not point to just a limited consolation for the
destruction of the First and Second Temples; G-d is telling us that with
the building of the Third Holy Temple in the Messianic Era, we will be
comforted in a totally unlimited manner, when the revelation of
G-dliness and Divine Knowledge will likewise be totally unlimited.

This Shabbat is also Tu B'Av, the 15th of the Hebrew month of Av, a day
when many positive things occurred throughout Jewish history. The 15th
of Av is also the day on which we are encouraged to begin increasing in
our Torah study, since, on the 15th of Av the nights become longer -
nights which can be used for Torah study.

In a talk on Shabbat Nachamu, the Rebbe once emphasized what form this
Torah study should take:

"In general, the study of Chasidut is associated with the Redemption...
in particular the function of this study as a catalyst for the
Redemption is more powerful when the subject studied concerns that
matter itself," i.e., matters concerning Moshiach and the Redemption.

May G-d comfort us not only doubly but in an infinite and unlimited
manner with the revelation of Moshiach and the building of the Third
Holy Temple, immediately.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
In the heavens above, and on the earth below (Deut. 4:39)

"In the heavens above" - in matters of the spirit - a person should
always look to those who are on a higher, more advanced level, and
strive to emulate them. As for material concerns ("on the earth below"),
one should always look to those who have less, and be grateful and happy
with what he already possesses.

                                                        (The Rebbe)

                                *  *  *

I stand between you and G-d (Deut. 5:5)

While this verse in Torah is a direct quote from Moses, the early
Chasidim used to interpret it allegorically as follows: It is the "I" -
man's ego and sense of self - that erects the barrier that separates him
from G-d...

                                *  *  *

There are those who ask, "Why is it necessary to have a Rebbe? Can't one
maintain his relationship with G-d independent of an intermediary?" The
answer is that ever since the Giving of the Torah, it is necessary to
have an intermediary like Moses, as the verse says, "I stand between you
and G-d ," - and this must be through a rebbe. If not. . . our Sages
tell us (Sanhedrin 110a) that whoever is "cholek" (contends) against his
rebbe is as if he is "cholek" against the Divine Presence ["cholek " in
Hebrew also means to separate]. If one does not have a connection to his
rebbe, he not only separates himself from his rebbe, he is then not only
lacking a component, but he also separates himself from the Divine
Presence. And this is the same in every generation. There is a Moses in
every generation, and by connecting to him we connect to the Divine

                              (Sichat Shabbat Parshat Shemini 5726)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
A young girl approached the rabbi of her village. With tears in her eyes
she described her situation to the kindhearted rabbi. She was engaged,
but her joy in her upcoming wedding was marred by the fact that she was
an impoverished orphan, and her intended was also very poor. There was
no money for a wedding gown or even a proper wedding feast.

The rabbi turned to her and said, "Don't worry, my child. With G-d's
help we'll celebrate a fine wedding." The young girl went home,
comforted by the rabbi's optimistic words.

No sooner had she left when the rabbi immediately donned his coat and
set off to visit some of the wealthier members of the community to
attempt to raise money for the wedding.

His first stop was at the home of a very wealthy and generous man, and
the rabbi felt confident that he would find success there. When he
arrived, the wealthy man greeted him warmly.

"Peace unto you, Rabbi," he said. "I am greatly honored by your visit.
Please allow me to fulfill the mitzva of welcoming guests properly."
With that, he offered the rabbi a seat and served him some fruit.

The rabbi pointed to the fruit and said, "While I enjoy the fruit that
you have so kindly offered me, I want you to enjoy the fruit that I have

The man looked puzzled, and the rabbi went on to explain:

"As we say in our morning prayers, 'These are the things, the fruits of
which a man enjoys in this world and the remainder is held for him in
the World to Come: Honoring one's father and mother, giving charity,
hospitality, visiting the sick, endowering a bride...'

"You see, my friend, I am collecting money to enable a poor orphaned
girl to get married, and I have come to offer you a chance to partake in
this great mitzva (commandment) of endowering a bride."

His host smiled at him and replied, "If you will stay and enjoy some
refreshments, I will take upon myself the full expense of the wedding,
And if your time permits, I would like to tell you a story which will
explain why I'm so eager to fulfill the mitzva of endowering a bride."

The rabbi was indeed curious to know what motivated his host to make
such a generous offer, settled himself comfortably and listened intently
to the man's story.

"This happened soon after my own wedding had taken place. It was my
first time heading out to the market to seek my fortune. I had a
substantial amount of money in my pocket, and I was eager to get
involved in the noise and excitement of trading in the marketplace.

"As I was about to get started, I noticed a poor woman standing off to
the side, crying quietly. I was greatly affected by her obvious
distress, and went over to her to uncover the cause of her sorrow. When
I inquired as to what was wrong, she informed me that her daughter was
to be married shortly, and she had no money to cover the expenses, and
both she and her daughter were heartbroken.

"At that moment, the bundle of money in my pocket began to feel like a
heavy burden. I took it out and handed it to the woman without saying a
word, and then I left quickly before the woman could even thank me.

"I had no choice but to return home, as I had no money to purchase goods
in the marketplace. As I made my way home, a stranger stopped me and
greeted me warmly, and then he offered me some diamonds for sale. As my
father had been a diamond merchant, I was able to examine the stones
competently, and I judged them to be beautiful stones offered at a fair
price. I told the stranger that I would be happy to purchase them, but I
had no money.

"The stranger didn't seem surprised by that, and he said, 'I knew your
father, and I know you to be an honest man. Take them on credit, and
when you resell them you can pay me back. You will be able to find me in
the study hall.'

"I had no problem selling the stones at a substantial profit. At the end
of the day I hurried to the study hall to pay back my debt. I searched
the study hall, but the stranger was nowhere to be found. When I arrived
home, I calculated my earnings, and they were ten times what I had given
that poor woman. I put the money aside, but I have not seen him since.
Since then, I have, thank G-d, been very successful, and I have always
been aware of the importance of this mitzva. Permit me then, rabbi, to
arrange the wedding of the orphaned bride in my home."

With that, the wealthy man handed the rabbi an additional sum of money
to pay for the wedding gown and to cover additional expenses of setting
up a home.

The wedding was celebrated amidst great joy and festivity, and the young
couple was able to set up a true Jewish home which was the pride of the

Reprinted from Talks and Tales, published by Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
"I besought G-d at that time, saying... 'Let me go over, I pray You,
that I may see the good land' " (Deut. 3:23-25) Why did Moses so desire
to enter the land? The Jewish people have been given many commandments
that can only be done in the Land of Israel. Let me therefore enter the
land so that they can all be performed through me," he reasoned, as
related in the Talmud. Moses' motivation was not personal. Rather, had
Moses merited to accompany the Jewish people into Israel, the final
Redemption would have occurred immediately, without the necessity of
having to endure subsequent exiles and wait several thousand more years
for Moshiach.

                                                  (The Rebbe, 1986)

              END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1435 - Vaeschanan 5776

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