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Devarim Deutronomy

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Devarim Deutronomy

L'Chaim
December 16, 2016 - 16 Kislev, 5777

1451: Vayishlach

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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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  1450: Vayetzei1452: Vayeshev  

Hide and Seek  |  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

Hide and Seek

Do you remember playing "Hide-'n-Go-Seek" as a child? Where was your favorite place to hide? The bathtub? Under the bed in your parents' room? Behind the coats in the hall closet?

Were you ever "it" and couldn't find anyone and called out in exasperation, "Come out, come out, where ever you are. Where is everybody?

"Where are you?"

" 'Where are you?' G-d asked Adam and Eve after they sinned. Did G-d not know their exact whereabouts?" questioned a Russian official, a Biblical scholar, during the imprisonment and interrogation of Rabbi Shneur Zalman.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of the Chabad movement explained, "The question of 'where are you?' is G-d's eternal call to each one of us, everyday. Where are we? Where do we stand? How far have we advanced toward achieving our soul's mission in life?"

Are we playing hide-n-seek with G-d, with ourselves? Are we the one hiding or are we "it," in search of our true essence?

Once, while walking in the forest, though deep in thought and meditation, the holy Baal Shem Tov heard a child crying. Following the cry, the Baal Shem Tov finally found a little boy, frightened and shivering in the dark.

"Why are you here in the forest all by yourself?" he asked the child gently.

Looking into the man's kindly face, the child was calmed. "I was playing hide-n-seek with my friends. I waited and waited for them to find my hiding place but none of them discovered it. Now it is dark and they have all gone home! And I am alone and frightened." With that, the boy began to sob sorrowfully once more.

"Do not cry, little boy, I will bring you home," comforted the Baal Shem Tov.

The Baal Shem Tov explained that this incident is truly a metaphor for G-d and the Jews. Since our beginnings as a people, we have actively searched for G-d and sought out a meaningful relationship with Him. Even when we were exiled from our land and G-d was forced to "hide" Himself, we still sincerely searched for Him.

But now, G-d, like the small lost child cries out to us, "I wait and wait for you to look for Me, to find the inherent G-dliness and holiness in everything you do. But it seems you have tired of the search. In the darkness of today's world, in the confusion of the forest of your mundane lives and material aspiration, you have all gone home and I am alone."

Ultimately, when Moshiach comes - may it be very soon - we will be reunited with G-d. No longer will we play games like hide-n-seek, be involved in Trivial Pursuits, or put ours and our children's souls in Jeopardy. But until then, we must remember that a G-d is calling to us, begging us, beseeching us to look for Him. All we need to do is take the initial step, for His fervent cry of pain and loneliness will lead us to Him.


Living with the Rebbe

In this week's Torah portion, Vayishlach, we read how Jacob (Yaakov) struggles with an angel and wins. The angel tells Jacob that he will be also called Israel, "because you struggled with G-d('s angel) and with men, and prevailed." Later in our portion, G-d tells Jacob that his name will now be Israel. He goes on to be called by both names, sometimes Israel and other times Jacob.

And these are the names by which the Jewish people are called - Bnei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) and Beit Yaakov (the House of Jacob).

What is the significance of these names? Why keep both names? If Yisrael is so special, why keep Yaakov?

As Jews we have a constant inner struggle. On one hand, we are part of this physical world, with all the pleasures and hardships that go with it. On the other, there is our ability to rise above it all and be one with G-d.

Our name Yaakov, which means heel, is the part of us that deals with this world. Yaakov also means to trick, being clever, because it is our mission to transform this world into a G-dly place. Since this world is a world of lies and corruption, we must be clever not to be taken in by the veneer.

Yisrael is our ability to rise above it all. We can rise above both the physical and spiritual realms. Because both realms are G-d's creations. We can connect with our essence, our neshama, which is actually a part of G-d, and not subject to the deceit of creation.

While Yisrael sounds nice, it doesn't effect the change we are meant to accomplish in the world. Yet it is necessary for us to go there from time to time, to rejuvenate and remind ourselves of our purpose. Yaakov is the part of us that transforms this world, which can only be done by taking part in it.

On an individual level, our lives are full of pain and struggles. It is there that we accomplish our primary purpose. Our struggles have meaning, our suffering is accomplishing amazing things. It is hard to see it this way. That is when we need to connect with G-d, rise above and rejuvenate. From time to time we need to let go and allow G-d to take over.

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.


A Slice of Life

More than A Dollar
by Chaya Klein As told by Mr. Moshe Klein

It was the summer of 2015 when a woman walked into my children's clothing store on Kington Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

She spoke in Hebrew and explained that she was visiting from Israel for her son's Bar Mitzva. She had come with her husband, son and young daughter to visit the Rebbe at this auspicious time.

She finished shopping in my store with a sigh, and then in a voice filled with emotion, she asked if I knew where she could buy a "Rebbe Dollar."

"I really need to have a Rebbe Dollar," she said anxiously, "I have been here for two weeks and can find no one willing to sell me one. My husband has been asking in 770 and cannot find one either!"

I looked at her. Her strong emotions touched something deep inside of me. "Wait a moment," I told her, and I ran downstairs into my office. I took a pile of dollars that I had personally received from the hand of the Rebbe over the years. I reached into the pile and slipped out a dollar from the middle.

Looking at it, I noticed that I had written "Chanuka 5735 (1974)" in small letters across the top edge of the dollar, indicating when I had received it.

Running back upstairs, I presented the dollar to the woman, telling her it was a gift. She solemnly took the dollar and gazed at it in awe. "This is the year I was born! 5735! Thank you! Thank you! You cannot know what this means to me!!" she said.

The woman explained that her daughter has some health issues, and she felt that having a dollar that the Rebbe had distributed to be (exchanged and) given to charity would bring her blessings. She wanted to pay for the dollar but I reassured her that it was a gift. I felt strongly that I had been holding this dollar, which the Rebbe had put directly into my hand, for 40 years expressly so I could give it to this woman at this time. I had merely been keeping it safe for her!

She left my store, thanking me over and over again. A few minutes later, she ran back in to tell me that she wanted to make a good resolution. She would begin lighting Shabbat candles, and she would cover her hair while doing so! I gently suggested that prior to making the blessing, she could put a few coins into a charity box. She smiled gratefully, "Certainly!"

The next day, a man who had previously purchased some things because the airline had lost his family's luggage, walked into my store. He gave me a warm hug as if we were old friends and introduced himself as the husband of the woman from the day before. He said, "You cannot imagine what you have done for my wife, for our family! Please let me tell you a bit about us."

He told me that he works as a driver for the Egged Bus company in Israel. Fourteen years ago, while driving his route, a suicide bomber drove into his bus and exploded! Body parts mingled with car parts were flying all around. Although many people were hurt, miraculously not one person on his bus was killed.

Shaken, he decided to evaluate his life and his connection to his Jewish heritage. He got in touch with a shaliach (emissary of the Rebbe) in his city and began to learn a bit about who he was as a Jew.

His resolve to become more Jewishly observant was strengthened when one year later to the day of the bombing, his son, his first child was born.

He decided to write to the Rebbe and place his letter in a volume of letters of the Rebbe, Igrot Kodesh, to find guidance on his path. The letter he randomly opened to said: Mikva (ritual immersion) and Taharat Hamishpacha (the laws of Jewish marriage).

When this man shared the Rebbe's answer with his wife, she informed him that no book was going to tell her how to conduct her personal life.

In a quandary as to what to do, he wrote to the Rebbe again, inserted the letter randomly into a different volume of Igrot Kodesh, and received the exact same message, "Mikva and Taharat Hamishpacha."

Still unable to convince his wife, he suggested that she write to the Rebbe, in her own words, selecting her own volume of letters. So she did. She too opened to a letter of the Rebbe in which the Rebbe urged "Mikva and Taharat Hamishpacha." She still did not want to accept what she was seeing. So her husband recommended that she write again, and place her letter in yet a different volume of the Igrot Kodesh (to date, there are 32 published volumes of Igrot Kodesh). The second letter she submitted yielded the same response: Mikva and Taharat Hamishpacha!

He decided to take this all a step further and build a mikva in his own home! He wrote the idea to the Rebbe, placed the letter into the Igrot Kodesh and received the following answer (free translation):

"It is a good ideaand the proof is that when it will be completed, you will have rain water." He built the mikva and completed it in the month of Tammuz, the beginning of the summer in Israel. It rarely rains during the summer in Israel. Yet, when the mikva was completed, rain it did, filling the special pool with precious rain water, preparing it for use!

He continued his story, telling me that his wife remained resistant to further observance, but when she received the Rebbe Dollar the day before, her whole attitude made an abrupt turnaround! She now wanted to light Shabbat candles, and more!

As he continued speaking, he mentioned that he was going home and would be visiting his grandparents' graves. Asking him where they are buried, I was astounded to discover they are buried very close to my own parents, of blessed memory, in the same cemetery.

I request a favor. Would he be able, when he visits his own relatives, to stop for a moment at my parents' graves and say a chapter of Psalms?

He solemnly took my hand in his and said, "As long as I live, when I visit my family, I will visit your parents, too. I will say Psalms and light a candle too!"

Deeply touched, I thanked him and after a bit, we said good-bye.

Late one Saturday night, we received a call from them informing us that they had visited my parents' graves, where they lit a candle and said Psalms. They told us that together they had decided to take on more observance of Shabbat. Not just lighting the Shabbat candles, but celebrating Shabbat properly.

We continue to be in touch.May the mitzvot keep on coming. And to think, it all started with a dollar!

From mivkah.org


What's New

1000 at Boston Challah Bake

Take 1,000 women, 2,000 pounds of flour, assorted ingredients, an inspirational program, and some spirited dancing. Mix all together and let rise. You just created an unparalleled event of amazing unity and a powerful force of good. The Boston Mega Challah Bake was coordinated by close to 25 Boston area Chabad Houses. It included women of all Jewish backgrounds. Similar Mega Challah Bakes have taken place successfully around the world. They are modelled on the "original" Challah Bake that took place in 2013 in South Africa under the leadership of chief rabbi of South Africa Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein for the first "Shabbat Project."

Mishna Translated into Russian

The entire six tractates of Mishna have been translated into Russian along with many different commentaries and explanations,and was recently published. The initiator of this special project was Chief Rabbi of Russia Rabbi Berl Lazar; the project as sponsored by Reb Yekusiel Yehuda (George) Rohr.


The Rebbe Writes

Continued from the previous issue, from a freely translated letter of 10 Kislev, 5714-1953

It is also abundantly clear that since G-d, who is the essence of goodness, compels the soul to descend from its "sublime heights to the lowest depths," for the purpose of the study of the Torah and the fulfillment of the Mitsvoth [commandments] - how great is the value of Torah and Mitsvoth.

Furthermore, the descent of the soul for the purpose of ascent shows that there is no other way to obtain the objective except through the soul's descent to live on this earth. If there were an easier way, G-d would not compel the soul to descend from the sublime heights of the Seat of Glory down to this nether world, the lowest of all worlds.

For only here, in the lowest depths, can the soul attain its highest ascent, higher even than the angels, and as our Sages say, "The righteous precede the foremost angels."

Reflecting upon the greatness of the Torah and Mitsvoth, specifically pertaining to this life, reflecting also that the Torah and Mitsvoth are the only means to attain the soul's perfection and the fulfillment of the Divine purpose, one will experience a sense of real joy at his fate and destiny, despite the many difficulties and handicaps, from within and without, which are inevitable on this earth. Only in this way can one live up to the injunction: "serve G-d with joy," which the Baal Shem Tov made one of the foundations of his teachings, and which is expounded at length in Chabad, and stressed by its founder, whose liberation we commemorate on the 19th day of Kislev, in his monumental work, the Tanya (chapters 26 seq., 31 seq.).

I wish to express herewith, my inner wish that every one of us be liberated, with G-d's help and by determined personal effort, from all handicaps which arrest the good and noble in everyone's nature, so that this part of one's nature reign supreme, giving fullest expression to the threefold love: love of our people Israel, love of our Torah, and love of G-d, which are all one.


15th of Cheshvan, 5733 [1972]

Greeting and Blessing:

I was pleased to be informed of your forthcoming Dinner celebration on the 20th of Kislev. It is significant that the event will take place one day following Yud-Tes Kislev, the historic anniversary of the release and vindication of the Alter Rebbe [the "Elder" Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman], founder of Chabad. Moreover, the 19th of Kislev will this year also mark the 200th Yartzeit anniversary [of passing] of the illustrious Maggid of Miezricz, whose disciple and successor the Alter Rebbe was.

Anniversaries in Jewish life are observed for the purpose of their instructive significance, so that each and every one of us can learn from and be inspired by the life and work of our great leaders of the past, and translate this inspiration into actual deeds in our daily life and conduct.

The two great luminaries, the master and his disciple and successor, led consecrated lives, dedicated to the material and spiritual betterment of Jews and Judaism. Their selfless dedication knew no bounds. Furthermore, they set out from the beginning to involve the masses, for their love of a fellow Jew embraced all Jews. They laid particular stress on the education of the young, both the young in years as well as the young in Jewish knowledge and experience, and instilled this spirit in all their numerous followers.

The same spirit of love, responsibility, and dedication animates all those who are associated with the Chabad-Lubavitch educational activities in the present day, reaching out to our fellow Jews everywhere.

The Jewish community of Glasgow, with a fine tradition of its own, is fortunate to have the opportunity of sharing in this vital work for the preservation and strengthening of Torah and tradition in its midst.

May G-d grant that the Anniversary Dinner should have the utmost Hatzlocho [success] in every respect, and may He also bestow His generous blessings on each and every one of you and your families, to enjoy health and prosperity, both materially and spiritually.


All Together

What is the Jewish calendar?

The Jewish calendar is calculated according to the moon - lunar - cycle. The Jewish calendar runs in 19 year cycles. There are 7 leap years in the 19 year cycle. The leap year has an extra month added known as "Adar II." It is the month immediately preceding Nissan, the month in which Passover falls. In this way, Passover always occurs in the spring. This coming year is a leap year.


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

On Monday of this coming week, the nineteenth of Kislev, we will be celebrating the "Holiday of Liberation," when Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, was released from his incarceration in Czarist Russia. The day is celebrated as the "Rosh Hashana" of Chasidut.

On the simplest level, the event leading up to the nineteenth of Kislev was the arrest of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad chasidism. His arrest was instigated by those who opposed the Chasidic movement when they fabricated lies against Rabbi Shneur Zalman, causing his arrest and a threat to his life and the survival of the Chasidism.

The spiritual reality of the nineteenth of Kislev, however, was a charge against Rabbi Shneur Zalman on High for expounding Chasidism and disclosing the mysteries of Torah.

Traditionally, the secrets of the Torah were studied only by a select few whose piety matched their scholarship. The Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chasidic movement, began disseminating the hidden aspects of Torah to even the simplest, unlettered Jews. His successor, the Maggid of Mezritch, continued in this vein. Both of these great leaders were faced with strong opposition to their "innovation."

Rabbi Shneur Zalman, a disciple of the Maggid, revealed the mysteries to an even greater extent than his predecessors, in order to reach every Jew. In Heaven, this brought about a tremendous accusation, which was reflected in the physical arrest and trial of Rabbi Shneur Zalman.

The liberation of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, then, indicates the spiritual approval of all the Rebbe's actions, on the physical and spiritual level.

We celebrate the nineteenth of Kislev because it was the physical liberation of the Rebbe, his life was no longer endangered. But, more importantly, it is a day of celebration for it shows Divine approval of Chasidism.


Thoughts that Count

And You said, "I will surely do good with you" (Gen. 32:13)

Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov used to say: "Master of the Universe! Everything You do is most assuredly good, but there is a good which is immediately apparent, and a good which does not seem to be so at first. May it be Your will to bestow upon us only that type of good which is immediately revealed!"


And Jacob was left alone (Gen. 32:25)

The commentator Rashi relates that Jacob had gone back to retrieve some "small flasks" which he had inadvertently left behind. Rabbi Isaac Luria explains that Jacob was exceedingly careful with his possessions because every object found within a person's domain has spiritual significance and repercussions. Our physical possessions are no less important in our service of G-d than the spiritual gifts we are given. All of our assets, talents, and skills are to be utilized to the same end---to bring us closer to our Father in heaven.

(The Rim of Gur)


Because he had perpetrated a disgrace in Israel...which cannot be done (Gen. 34:7)

There are some evil acts whose atonement is effected with the same type of deed which was perpetrated. For example, a murderer is put to death for his crime, and a thief must make restoration with the goods he stole. There are, however, some evils which do not fall into this category, because they are so vile that this rule does not apply. The rape of Dina was one of these.

(Kanfei Yesharim)


It Once Happened

Reb Yosef lived in the town of Beshenkovitch in White Russia. He was a great Torah scholar, beloved teacher, and devoted chasid of Rabbi Shneur Zalman. Once, when Reb Yosef had a private audience with Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the Rebbe asked him whether he knew Mishna by heart. "It is my custom to repeat all six tractates of Mishna by heart in the course of a month, so that during the year I repeat them twelve times, besides my other studies," Reb Yosef replied.

"It is a good habit," said the Rebbe. "Mishna contains the letters of neshama (soul). To study Mishna is very good for the soul. For your soul it is better to become a coachman than a rabbi."

Reb Yosef was somewhat dazed by the Rebbe's words. He did not plan to become a rabbi, but neither did he ever dream of becoming a coachman! Yet he knew the Rebbe's words were not to be trifled with. By the time Reb Yosef returned home, however, he had completely forgotten the matter and life returned to normal.

Ten years passed. One day a delegation of prominent Jews from the town of Lepla came to Reb Yosef, inviting him to become the rabbi of their community. Reb Yosef was about to accept the invitation, when through his mind flashed the Rebbe's words: "For your soul it is better to become a coachman than a rabbi."

Reb Yosef declined the honor. However, he found that it was not so easy to fulfill the Rebbe's words. After a few day, Reb Yosef finally went to the marketplace. When the coachmen saw him approach, they greeted him respectfully and offered to take him where he wanted to go. "No my friends, I came, to get acquainted with your profession," Reb Yosef explained.

The coachmen exchanged curious glances. Finally, one of them said, "Follow me to the stable, Rabbi Yosef, and I will teach you the art." The coachman showed Joseph how to harness the horse, grease the wheels and so forth. Reb Yosef got himself thoroughly dirty and bruised. When Reb Yosef came home that night, he noticed his wife's eyes were red from weeping. Reb Yosef went to his room and wept too. Finally he decided to follow the advice of the sages, and share his problem with his wife. He told her why he had tried to learn the trade of coachman.

Far from feeling unhappy, his wife replied: "If the Rebbe told you to do so, what problem can there be? Tomorrow I shall sell my jewels so that you can buy yourself a horse and cart."

His wife's matter-of-fact attitude, simple faith and complete confidence in the Rebbe's words left Reb Yosef speechless. All doubts had been dispelled, and his mind was made up. The following day he bought a horse and coach.

One day, Reb Yosef was on his way to the town of Senna with a load of merchandise. When it got late, Reb Yosef decided to stay overnight at the nearest inn. The innkeeper was a Jew. A little while later the count of Batchaikov with his suite arrived at the same inn, and also decided to spend the night there. However, when word reached the nearest village that the count was at the inn, the priest came to invite him to his house. His Jewish manager, however, stayed at the inn, intending to proceed to Senna the following morning.

Joseph was busy studying. When he finished, the innkeeper introduced him to the manager, whose name was Solomon Gametzky, and who said he wanted to go to Senna.

"I'll be glad to take you to Senna tomorrow morning after prayers," said Reb Yosef.

"You can pray as much as you want," Gametzky said. "I must leave early, and must know the exact time when to get up, so that I can get washed and eat without hurrying."

". . . and pray," Joseph said to him.

"Keep your prayers to yourself," Gametzky retorted.

"How can a Jew talk like this?" Reb Yosef reproached his would-be customer. "How can a Jew do without prayers? And what about the sacred commandment of tefillin?"

Solomon Gametzky did not say anything more. He ordered the innkeeper to get him another coach for five o'clock in the morning and retired for the night.

Reb Yosef also retired. But at midnight he got up to pray the midnight prayers, as he was used to doing. The count's manager woke up with a start. He heard a familiar voice, and for a moment he thought it was his deceased father's. Gametzky recalled what a fine person and venerable Jew his father was, and that he also used to get up at midnight to pray like the coachman.

On and on Reb Yosef prayed. The manager sat in bed entranced. He recalled his youth. He saw his beloved father. He recalled the delightful way of life that he had led in those days.

To be sure, he made himself a "fine life," having become friends with and then the personal secretary and manager of the count. But now his soul was yearning for the Jewish environment in which he had grown up.

A knock at the door roused him from his trance. It was the innkeeper announcing the waiting coach. Gametzky told him to pay the coachman, and that he would wait for Yosef. He got dressed and borrowed a tallit, tefillin and prayer book from the innkeeper. He then prayed with much feeling and emotion. He made a firm resolution that he would return to his roots.

Solomon Gametzky resigned his position with the count. He became Reb Yosef's best friend; together they studied, and together they went to Lubavitch, where Rabbi Dovber, had become the Rebbe upon the passing of his father Rabbi Shneur Zalman.

When Reb Yosef entered the Rebbe's study, the Rebbe said to him: "My father told me that you have fulfilled the mission for which he made you a coachman. I now appoint you spiritual leader in Beshenkovitch."

Reb Yosef sold his horse and coach, and for many years was the beloved teacher and spiritual leader of his congregation in Beshenkovitch, reaching a very ripe old age. He never regretted those hard years when he drove his horse and cart around, for he was very happy to have helped a fellow Jew return to his people.


Moshiach Matters

Jacob sent messengers to Esau his brother (Gen. 32:4) At that time, Jacob was ready for the Messianic Redemption. He was learned in Torah, served G-d with devotion, and observed the 613 mitzvot despite the many obstacles encountered in Laban's house. Jacob sent messengers to find out if his brother Esau, was also ready for Moshiach. Unfortunately, they found that he had not repented of his evil ways. The Redemption was therefore delayed for thousands of years until our generation, when the nations of the world are now finally ready.

(The Rebbe, Parshat Vayishlach, 5752)


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