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Devarim Deutronomy

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Devarim Deutronomy

November 4, 2016 - 3 Cheshvan, 5777

1445: Noach

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The Weekly Publication For Every Jewish Person
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.

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  1444: Bereshis1446: Lech-Lecha  

Eyes that See  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
The Rebbe Writes  |  All Together  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

Eyes that See

by Rabbi David Y.B. Kaufmann

In the past 120 years we've gained a lot of insights about our health and lifestyle because we're able to see inside the body. It began in 1895 when Wilhelm Roentgen discovered that "x-rays" could take "pictures" of the bones. Suddenly doctors could see from the outset what and where the problem was; even the initial incisions were more efficient, not to mention the increased effectiveness of the whole surgical procedure.

Still, X-rays were only able to give the outline of bones and the larger organs. But there have been a lot of refinements. Sonograms, for instance, reveal a lot of the body's internal dynamics.

Other devices let scientists and doctors stare into the deepest layers of our existence. CT scans and magnetic resonance imaging reveal how the blood flows, how the brain reacts. They reveal small problems, G-d forbid, before they begin to enlarge. With these devices doctors can not only see inside bones, the heart and the lungs, they can see inside blood vessels and operate "in miniature" on veins and nerves.

Is such seeing artificial? No more so than microscopes, telescopes - or glasses. X-rays, CT scans, MRIs allow us to see an inner reality. They extend our vision, giving us a deeper perception of the magnitude, the complexity, the order and beauty of the world. When we look through their lenses, what we see is truly there. We have gained new insight.

Our spiritual vision can also be extended. As we mature, experience the world, encounter goodness, kindness, holiness and wisdom, our insight into the nature of nature and of humankind expands, changes and deepens. We see relationships and inter-relationships, causes and effects, interactions and catalysts in a whole new "light."

When looking through a CT scan or an MRI we can see how tenuous are the barriers between a cell wall and the bloodstream, between a nerve cell and its muscle. That which is distinct on one level, at one magnification, becomes blurred and interwoven on the next. Discrete entities become auras or fields, interchanging elements at the edges.

So, too, when we become more spiritually sensitive we recognize an interdependence with others that transcends individual significance or accomplishment.

The advent of modern technology parallels and foreshadows Isaiah's pro-phecy that "Is it not a little while . . . and the eyes of the blind shall see?" (29:17-18). After all, the physical simply reflects and expresses the spiritual, as words express thoughts and our external appearance reflects the complex of motions, systems and biochemical reactions that compose our true, invisible selves.

Is it not a little while until the "technology" of Torah and mitzvot (commandments), of acts of goodness and kindness will enable us to see truly, to perceive the inner G-dliness within ourselves, within each other, indeed, within all of existence? For when Moshiach comes, we won't need CT scans or MRIs because "then the eyes of the blind shall be opened" (Isaiah 35:5) when (as we pray thrice daily) "our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy."

Rabbi Kaufmann is the author Two Minutes for Torah, a collection of short 50 essays on Torah topics. He is also the author of three novels, available on his website

Living with the Rebbe

In this week's Torah portion, Noach, we read that G-d instructed Noach, the only righteous person in his generation, to build an ark. The ark would save and house Noach, his family and a whole menagerie of animals during the impending world flood.

The torrential rains descended as G-d had warned, and continued for 40 days and 40 nights.

After the flood waters receded, Noach exited the ark at G-d's behest. Noach offered sacrifices to G-d. He then planted a vineyard and made wine. He got drunk and uncovered himself in his tent. His son Cham "saw his nakedness," and told his brothers Shem and Yafet. They, walking backwards, covered their father, "and they did not see their father's nakedness."

What was the difference between Cham and his brothers? What lesson can we take from Shem and Yafes about how we should see others?

When a friend has a downfall, when he has a moral failing, what do you see?

Some are like Cham, all they see is the "nakedness," the negative. All their friend's positivity is lost to them, they could only see him for his failing.

To this person, the Baal Shem Tov says, that if you see a negative trait in a friend, it is because you have that very same negative trait. Since he has it, he sees it in others and he needs to correct his own failing.

Others are like Shem and Yafet. They see their friend as the good person he always was. They don't see their friend's "Nakedness," they refuse to define him by his failing. His failing needs to be corrected, but he himself is good.

Because he sees his friend as good, he is in position to help his friend correct his ways.

Seeing good in people is a positive trait. Seeing positive in people uplifts them and uplifts you.

We all need friendship to keep us going and to strengthen our moral self. Be a good friend, be an uplifting friend. Uplift a friend and you will positively effect his circle of influence and so on. This is one of the ways, Ahavas Yisroel, loving your fellow Jew, uplifts the world and brings Moshiach.

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.

A Slice of Life

Permission to Meddle
by Tzippy Clapman

Whenever the Rebbe would address the women downstairs in 770, the women would line up afterwards by his long table to ask for blessings. I always made sure to join the line. I was mesmerized watching the Rebbe greet every women and girl with interest and care. The Rebbe never rushed anyone and sat there like a father concerned about the well-being of each and every one of his children.

On one of these occasions, it was almost my turn to go by the Rebbe. I did not mean to eavesdrop but I was within earshot of the people in front of me in line and couldn't help but see all that transpired.

Directly in front of me was an older woman. She stepped up to the Rebbe's place, opened her large handbag and took out a huge stack of pictures of her children and grandchildren. This stack looked as thick as two decks of cards. She proudly handed them to the Rebbe, telling him that these are her nachas (pride).

The Rebbe, with the biggest, proudest smile on his face, started going through all the pictures, asking the grandmother questions about them all. I could hear him ask, "Who is this, and who is that one?" She would proudly answer and I could see the Rebbe smile and comment on each picture. Sometimes the Rebbe would say, "Oh, how cute; how sweet this one is."

This went on until they had gone through the entire stack. The Rebbe was enjoying all the pictures of the grandchildren, as if they were his very own. The next woman on line was another older woman who said she was from out of town and was there to discuss the medical condition of her sister. She asked the Rebbe for his advice on several different treatment options that her doctors were suggesting. She starting to describe the options in detail, when the Rebbe stopped her and said, "I received all these options from your sister and her doctors by mail and I have already discussed with her which options she should look into immediately." The Rebbe then gave her a blessing for her sister's speedy recovery.

I marveled at how the Rebbe, who received sacks of mail each day, instantly remembered all the facts and details he had received in writing about this woman's sister, and recalled exactly what advice he had given. We had a friend whose grandmother would go in to the Rebbe every year for yechidus and she had gone through many trials and tribulations in her life. She would go in to the Rebbe with a heavy heart, and tears would pour from her eyes.

The Rebbe would hand her his handkerchief during the audience each year. She asked the Rebbe a question once and the Rebbe told her that it was not yet the time to answer that question. Ten years and many handkerchiefs later, the Rebbe told her, "That question you asked many years ago is now ready to be answered." I do not know what the question was, but the Rebbe held on to her question and never forgot it, until the right moment arrived to answer it.

My husband had a cousin who was marrying off her first child, and my husband arranged for them to go into the Rebbe for a private audience a week before the wedding. The audience consisted of my cousin and her husband, their two younger daughters, and bride and groom. The Rebbe gave many blessings for the young couple, and then the Rebbe asked our cousin, "Would you mind if I meddle into your private business?" Our cousin answered immediately, "Of course we do not mind."

The Rebbe then asked if her single daughters light Shabbos candles before Shabbos. My cousin answered that their custom was not to light until after they get married. The Rebbe then asked our cousin whether her daughters were more independent in their ways of dressing than she was a generation ago. My cousin answered yes, they are more independent than she was as a child in making personal choices. Then the Rebbe asked if her daughters are more independent in their school than in her generation, and again my cousin said they are more independent.

The Rebbe asked further, "Are they more independent in their ideology of life?" Again my cousin said yes, they are more independent in that way too. So the Rebbe said, "If they are so independent in all their ways, should they then now say they won't light because their grandmothers did not light Shabbos licht when they were single?" The single daughters chuckled and agreed then and there in yechidus that they would now begin to light. Then the Rebbe looked at the mother and said, "What about the bride lighting before her wedding?"

My cousin answered that this is the last Shabbos before her wedding. But the Rebbe insisted that even this Shabbos before her wedding she should light. My cousin said that she would have to find candlesticks for them all to light because it was already Thursday night and they were going away for Shabbos. The Rebbe asked the girls, "If I give you candlesticks to take home, will you light tomorrow night?" The girls all exclaimed together, "Yes!" The Rebbe immediately opened his drawer in search of candlesticks to give to each girl, but there were none. The Rebbe then buzzed his secretary, Rabbi Binyomin Klein, to bring candlesticks.

My cousins began to thank the Rebbe for all his blessings for the chassan and kallah, but the Rebbe stopped her and said, "I owe you a thank-you, because I know that tomorrow there will be three more lights in the world!"

Reprinted from the N'Shei Chabad Newsletter. Tzippy Clapman, RN, MS, FNP, lives in Crown Heights with her husband, Rabbi Yehuda Clapman, a certified sofer. Formerly a NICU nurse and now a provider in school-based clinics

What's New

WWII Torah Rededicated

A Torah that miraculously survived Nazi persecution was rededicated at Chabad of Oxnard, California. The scroll, which originated Eastern Europe, was painstakingly restored. The Torah scroll was welcomed into Chabad of Oxnard at their Bar Mitzva Year celebration.

New Emissaries

Rabbi Chaim and Rochel Telsner moved to Normal, Illinois, where they will serve the Jewish student population at Illinois State University (ISU). About 1,000 of the 20,000 students at ISU are Jewish.

Rabbi Levi and Mushky Pinson opened the first permanent Chabad center in Corsica, an island southeast of the French mainland. The new Chabad center is located in Ajaccio, the capital city where a younger community has sprung up. The Chabad center's activities include programs for the children, adult education classes, Shabbat and holiday services, and more.

The Rebbe Writes

15th of Cheshvan, 5733 [1972]

Greeting and Blessing:

This is to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence.

You write that you would love to learn what it means to walk in the presence of G-d, etc. I trust that you know of the so-called Seven Commandments given by G-d to Noah and his children.

These are: (1) the establishment of courts of justice; (2) the prohibition of blasphemy; (3) of idolatry; (4) of incest; (5) of bloodshed; (6) of robbery; (7) of eating flesh cut from a living animal. These Seven Commandments, which G-d gave to the children of Noah, i.e. to all mankind, are the basic laws, with far-reaching ramifications which embrace the whole life of the society as well as of the individual, to ensure that the human race will be guided by these Divine laws of morality and ethics, and that the human society will indeed be human, and not a jungle.

To be sure, Jews, the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, have later been given many more Divine commandments which obligate them, but not the rest of mankind. However, this in no way diminishes the fact that gentiles can and must attain complete fulfillment through the observance of the abovementioned Seven Commandments of Man, with all their ramifications, for, inasmuch as they are G-d-given, they provide the vehicle whereby to attain communion with G-d, and thus "walk ever in the presence of G-d," as you write in your letter.

I would like to make an additional essential point. There was a time when some thinkers thought that there was no need to connect the laws of ethics and morality with Divine authority, inasmuch as these are rational principles. The fallacy of this thinking is now abundantly clear. For we have seen, in our own day and age, a whole nation which had boasted of great philosophic advancement and ethical systems sink to the lowest depth of inhuman depravity and unprecedented barbarism. And the reason for this was that they thought that they could establish a morality and ethics based on human reason, not subject to the authority of a Supreme Being, having themselves become a super race, as they thought. There is surely no need to elaborate on the obvious.

From what has been said above, it is clear that no individual can rest content by his own observance of the Divine Commandments, but it is his responsibility to his friends and neighbors, and society at large, to involve them in the observance of the Divine Commandments in the daily life and conduct.

Wishing you success in your efforts to achieve true fulfillment,

With blessing,

21st of Kislev, 5733 [1972]

Blessing and Greeting:

I am in receipt of your letters of Nov. 17th etc., and may G-d grant the fulfillment of your heart's desire for good.

As for the matter of feeling depressed, etc., as you write, surely you know that one of the basic tenets of our faith and our Torah called "Toras Emes," the Law of Truth, is to have complete trust (bitachon) in G-d, Whose benevolent Providence extends to each and everyone individually. It is necessary to reflect on this frequently, for then one can see that, being under G-d's benevolent care, there is no room for anxiety, or worry. This is why the Torah is called "Toras Chaim," the Law of Life, for it is the Jew's guide in life and way of life.

And although in certain situations it is necessary to consult a doctor and follow his instructions, because the Torah expects a Jew to do everything necessary in the natural order of things, it is at the same time necessary to have complete bitachon in G-d and exclude all anxiety.

It would be well to have your mezuzos checked to make sure they are Kosher [ritually fit] and properly affixed. Also, you no doubt know of, and observe, the good custom of putting aside a coin for Tzedokoh [charity] before lighting the candles bli neder [without a commitment].

May G-d grant that you should have good news to report....

With blessing,

All Together

Why do we say blessings on food we eat?

When we recite a blessing we are expressing our praise of and gratitude to G-d for our sustenance. As well, since ultimately everything belongs to G-d, by saying a blessing we are asking G-d for permission to partake of His food. Saying a blessing transforms a commonplace activity into a holy act. Chasidic teachings explain that all food contains a G-dly spark of holiness. When we recite a blessing before eating, we elevate the physical substance of the food into holiness and reunite the holy spark with its source.

A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

At a gathering on the Shabbat of the Torah portion of Noach, the Rebbe spoke about the importance of saying the prayers for the sanctification of the moon - Kiddush HaLevana, allowing that perhaps the reason this mitzva has not been meticulously observed recently is because the prayer must be recited outside and people feel uncomfortable about it.

However, as the Rebbe expressed so many times, we are literally on the threshold of the Redemption. Now is the time to brush up on any observances that were possibly neglected in the past, as a way of further preparing ourselves for the imminent Redemption.

It is customary to recite Kiddush Levana together with as many people as possible, but preferably with at least one other person.

In most prayer books, the prayers for the Sanctification of the Moon are found after the evening service or after the Havdala service of Saturday night.

The blessing may be recited only until the conclusion of the fifteenth day after the rebirth of the moon. According to Kabala, the blessing should not be recited before he seventh day after the rebirth of the moon.

The blessing should be recited under the open skies, but may not be recited when the moon is covered with clouds.

It is preferably to recite the blessing on Saturday night, while one is still in festive clothing.

The ceremony of the Sanctification of the Moon includes the following verse from Song of Songs: "The voice of my beloved! Here he comes, leaping over the mountains, skipping over the hills." On this verse, the Yalkut Shimoni comments: " 'The voice of my beloved' - this refers to Moshiach. He comes and tells Israel, 'You will be redeemed this month.'"

May Moshiach leap over any and all obstacles that hold back the Redemption and allow this promise to be realized in the present month.

Thoughts that Count

And the L-rd repented that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him in His heart (Gen. 6:6)

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: "The Holy One, Blessed Be He, 'sat shiva' and mourned the world He had created for seven days before engulfing it with the waters of the Flood."

(Bereishit Rabba)

And G-d said to Noah, The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them (Gen. 6:13)

Noah lived before the giving of the Torah. Accordingly, he was not strictly obligated to feel a responsibility toward his fellow man. Nonetheless, because he didn't pray for mercy or try to convince his generation to repent, the Flood is known as "the waters of Noah." We, however, live after the Torah was given, when all Jews have became guarantors for one another. How much more so is it therefore necessary that we help others!

(Likutei Sichot)

And behold, I Myself bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh (Gen. 6:17)

If the intention of the Flood was only to destroy evildoers, surely G-d could have gotten rid of them in some other way. Rather, the purpose of the Flood was to purify the world from the uncleanliness of that generation's corruption. The 40 days of rain correspond to the 40 se'ah (a liquid measure) required in a mikva.

(Torah Ohr)

The Midrash explains that the verse in Ezekiel (22:24) - "You are the land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation" - refers to the Land of Israel, which remained untouched by the Flood. This is textual proof that the true purpose of the Flood was spiritual purification.

(Torah Ohr)

It Once Happened

Rabbi Chanina bar Chama was one of the first generation of great Talmudic Sages who followed the redaction of the Mishna by Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi [Rabbi Judah the Prince]. By the time he came from his native Babylonia, to study under Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi, Rabbi Chanina was already a very accomplished scholar and was received with great warmth and friendship. He developed strong ties with his teacher and many of his fellow disciples, particularly with Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi.

During those turbulent and dangerous times, it was often necessary to send Jewish dignitaries to plead with the Roman government on behalf of the Jewish people. Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Chanina were often chosen to appear before the Roman emperor. When one of the emperor's advisors asked him why he would rise in honor of these Jews, he replied, "They have the appearance of angels."

Rabbi Yehuda passed away and was succeeded by his son, Rabban Gamliel, who, according to his father's instructions, seated Rabbi Chanina in the place of greatest honor at the academy. However, Rabbi Chanina's tremendous modesty prevented him from taking that place. Only when the elderly sage, Rabbi Efes passed away did Rabbi Chanina occupy it.

According to the teaching of our Sages that we should not make the Torah "an ax with which to dig," Rabbi Chanina went into business dealing in honey. When he succeeded, he opened and supported a Torah academy in his town of Tzippori. He never ceased trying to bring the people closer to G-d and would often reprimand them; this, of course, caused some resentment.

Once, there was a severe drought in the northern part of Israel where Tzippori was situated. At the same time, in the southern part, where Rabbi Yehoshua lived, ample rain fell as soon as Rabbi Yehoshua prayed. The people of Tzippori complained, saying that the drought continued only because Rabbi Chanina didn't pray for them enough.

In response, Rabbi Chanina sent for Rabbi Yehoshua. When he arrived, a public fast was declared and prayers were said for rain. When no rain fell, the people finally understood that the fault was not Rabbi Chanina's, but their own, and they resolved to correct their behavior.

Rabbi Chanina was known as a gifted healer who was well-versed in the use of various kinds of herbs and also the antidotes to snake poisons. He frequently advised people to be careful not to catch colds and to take care of themselves and not neglect treating any disorder.

His Torah teachings and the example of his mitzva observance had a profound influence on his generation. He observed the Sabbath in a manner which showed his love and devotion to the mitzva and when the Shabbat departed he marked it with a Melave Malka - a feast for the departing out the Sabbath Queen.

Once, Rabbi Yonatan came to visit Rabbi Chanina. They went for a walk in Rabbi Chanina's garden. Beautiful fruit trees and lovely flowers grew in the garden, and ripe figs could be seen among the large leaves of the fig tree. The two wise men walked around slowly, discussing the teachings of the Torah. When Rabbi Yonatan grew tired, Rabbi Chanina told him to sit and rest in the shade, while he went to pick some ripe, sweet figs to refresh his guest.

Later, when Rabbi Yonatan was ready to leave, Rabbi Chanina escorted him to the gate. But on the way, Rabbi Chanina saw a fig tree which was different from the other fig trees. This tree was more beautiful, and its fruit was larger and of a lighter color than ordinary figs.

Rabbi Yonatan was surprised. He asked his host, "I know that you treated me generously and gave me your figs willingly, and I'm sure there is a good reason why you didn't offer me any of these figs, even though they are better than the others. Can you tell me what your reason is? I would like to learn from your deeds."

Rabbi Chanina answered, "This is not my tree. It belongs to my son. I'm sure he would have been happy to give you some of his figs, but since he is not home, I could not ask him. Therefore I was not permitted to take fruit from his tree."

From here Rabbi Yonatan learned how careful Rabbi Chanina was. Even in something as seemingly small as picking a few ripe figs from a tree that belonged to his own son, he was careful not to take something which did not belong to him.

Although he lived through very difficult and trying times, he accepted all his suffering - losing a son and a daughter - with love of G-d and an abiding faith. He lived a long life and even when he was very old he was unusually fit. It is said that at the age of 80, he was able to put on his shoes while standing on one foot. When asked to what he ascribed his good health, he replied that he was always careful to show respect to Torah scholars as well as for the elderly.

Before Rabbi Chanina passed away, Rabbi Yochanan, his disciple, (who compiled the Jerusalem Talmud) went to visit him. On the way, word reached him that his master had died and he tore his clothes in mourning. Rabbi Chanina was so loved and respected among the Jews of his time that he was given the honorary title, "Rabbi Chanina the Great."

Adapted from Talks and Tales

Moshiach Matters

And they went to Noah into the ark...of all flesh where there is the breath of life (Gen. 7:15) The G-dly revelation that was manifested in the ark had a profound effect on all the animals, causing them to live together harmoniously for an entire year. Thus the conditions in the ark were the prototype of the Messianic era, when according to many commentators, the Biblical prophecy of "and the wolf shall live with the lamb" will be fulfilled in the literal sense.

(Hitva'aduyot 5743)

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