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1455: Vayechi

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L'Chaim
January 13, 2017 - 15 Tevet, 5777

1455: Vayechi

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


Text VersionFor Palm Pilot
  1454: Vayigash1456: Shemos  

Nothing Is Only  |  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

Nothing Is Only

In this week's Torah portion, Vayechi, Joseph bound his brothers with an oath, that when G-d "raises you out of this," meaning, takes their descendants out of Egypt, they will take his bones, to be buried in Israel. The Torah then ends the book of Genesis with this verse: "And Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten years, and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt."

Why was it the responsibility of all the Children of Israel to take Joseph's bones, why not only his own children? Why is Joseph focused on at the end of the portion? When the Torah chooses to finish a book with a verse, there is a significant message in that verse. What message is there for us in this verse?

The Jewish people are about to begin a most difficult and horrific exile in Egypt. Hashem gives them the psychological tools necessary to deal with it. These are lessons for all future exiles, including the present one.

First, we need to know that there is an end and a purpose to this exile, G-d will not only take us out of galus, but he will "raise us out of this." We will be raised to a higher level, we will see and enjoy the fruits of all the work, toil and suffering. Knowing this will help us overcome the difficulties of exile.

Second, we need to be like Joseph. Joseph becomes the ruler of Egypt. He rises above and rules exile even during the time of exile. We too, like Joseph, can rise above and rule our present exile. Like Joseph we are in it, but it doesn't rule us.

Third, Joseph stays with us until we leave exile. This is to be a reminder and strengthen us to rise above. Every Jew was obligated to carry Joseph, when things are difficult, think of Joseph, realize that you to can be like him and overcome and rise above any challenges that come our way.

Some people, like my family and I, were chosen to endure open and difficult challenges, which we struggle with every day. It is hard to rise above, but there is nothing more gratifying then overcoming a challenge. Even though the challenge still exists, and the hardships endure, we try to find ways to rise above them. How enjoyable is it that I can make another Jew happy and I am grateful to Hashem that even in my present state I have found ways to do it.

Still, this exile has dragged on long enough, may G-d remove the suffering and challenges and give us revealed good now.

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.


Living with the Rebbe

In this week's Torah portion, Vayechi, Joseph bound his brothers with an oath, that when G-d "raises you out of this," meaning, takes their descendants out of Egypt, they will take his bones, to be buried in Israel. The Torah then ends the book of Genesis with this verse: "And Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten years, and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt."

Why was it the responsibility of all the Children of Israel to take Joseph's bones, why not only his own children? Why is Joseph focused on at the end of the portion? When the Torah chooses to finish a book with a verse, there is a significant message in that verse. What message is there for us in this verse?

The Jewish people are about to begin a most difficult and horrific exile in Egypt. Hashem gives them the psychological tools necessary to deal with it. These are lessons for all future exiles, including the present one.

First, we need to know that there is an end and a purpose to this exile, G-d will not only take us out of galus, but he will "raise us out of this." We will be raised to a higher level, we will see and enjoy the fruits of all the work, toil and suffering. Knowing this will help us overcome the difficulties of exile.

Second, we need to be like Joseph. Joseph becomes the ruler of Egypt. He rises above and rules exile even during the time of exile. We too, like Joseph, can rise above and rule our present exile. Like Joseph we are in it, but it doesn't rule us.

Third, Joseph stays with us until we leave exile. This is to be a reminder and strengthen us to rise above. Every Jew was obligated to carry Joseph, when things are difficult, think of Joseph, realize that you to can be like him and overcome and rise above any challenges that come our way.

Some people, like my family and I, were chosen to endure open and difficult challenges, which we struggle with every day. It is hard to rise above, but there is nothing more gratifying then overcoming a challenge. Even though the challenge still exists, and the hardships endure, we try to find ways to rise above them. How enjoyable is it that I can make another Jew happy and I am grateful to Hashem that even in my present state I have found ways to do it.

Still, this exile has dragged on long enough, may G-d remove the suffering and challenges and give us revealed good now.

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

Nobody Can Do Everything
by Sarah Bendetsky

Each time I walk into the Glick's shop on Carlisle St, I wonder if Mr Mendel Glick is around. He is.

Dressed in a white shirt and a white yarmulke, he is always busy - shaping another challah loaf or removing bones from herring - like a jeweller faceting a diamond.

The iconic Melbourne baker and the founder of the Glick's Cakes & Bagels chain recently celebrated his 91st birthday.

He left behind six concentration camps including Auschwitz and Buchenwald. He lost both parents and 9 siblings. He barely survived. Yet, despite these unbearable personal tragedies, Mr Glick managed to start a new life in Australia and recreate his own dynasty with his wife Sara.

A proud father of nine and a grandfather of over 120 grandchildren, he continues to bake the best bagels in town, while inspiring everyone around him.

We sit inside Carlisle St Glick's cafe on a warm autumn afternoon. Mr Glick looks out the window for a minute. He looks at passers-by and trams, Yeshivah students and young mothers with prams... He concentrates. And then he starts his story.

"The very fact that we are able to talk in this café today is a pure miracle," Mr Glick says. "I wasn't meant to survive in Buchenwald. There, we slept in barracks on the floor, 300 people or more, without any pillows or blankets... Once, I woke up from terrible pain caused by a strange insect bite. My leg got very swollen, so I decided to see a doctor, whose office was located just a few doors away from the double crematorium, which never stopped working. It didn't scare me. In fact, it didn't scare anyone at that stage.

"There were quite a few people before me in line to be checked. I begged G-d to make time go quicker. The pain was getting worse. Suddenly, when just one patient was in front of me, two German security soldiers entered the building to pick up the doctor - it was time for lunch. Before leaving his office, the doctor said that he was going to come back in half an hour, and therefore, we should wait.

"I decided to stay. The other patient asked me what my issue was. I showed him my swollen leg. Then he said that there was no point in wasting my time and I should rather go back and walk more since walking helps reduce swelling.

"I nodded without the intention to go back. Instead, I decided to walk around the building while waiting for the doctor to return. I walked and walked, when suddenly I saw a twenty-centimetre gap in the fence revealing the doctor's office backyard. A trolley full of corpses stood next to the backdoor, metres away from the crematorium.

"I quickly understood what was going on and hobbled back into the barracks. Later on, I found out that very doctor used one treatment against all illnesses - a deadly needle killing a person within seconds. Then I realised how much G-d loves me.

"When the Americans liberated Buchenwald in 1945, I was a living skeleton, just like everyone else. I still remember an American soldier picking me up and taking me outside. I couldn't walk on my own.

"While in the hospital, I wasn't allowed food to avoid sudden death from overeating. Just a tablespoon of warm water every half hour and a lump of sugar was all I could eat. I still remember its taste in my mouth. Slowly, as I began to recover, my doctor said that in order to speed up the process I had to start walking, since the human body requires motion in order to survive. I listened to him and adapted this attitude to this day."

Where did you go after the war ended?

"I started to work at the American military base not far away from Buchenwald. I cleaned their bedrooms, polished their shoes, and then I was "promoted" to work in the kitchen, which I liked most. In a way, it reminded me of our home in Poland, where my parents had their own dairy business and made cheese... (Mr. Glick sighs as he remembers) Memories, memories... Working at the military kitchen helped me to learn the basics of the catering business I applied in future. It was a useful experience."

Why did you decide to move to Australia?

"After the end of the war, every survivor was obliged to publish his contact details in local newspapers, and I did so, too. Later on, these details were published worldwide. I had an aunt in Australia, who moved here before the war and she managed to find me and sent me the entrance papers. Then I bought the ticket and set out on the journey."

Did you open your bakery straight away?

"Not at all; it was a dream I cherished but I had no money to make it happen. So, I became a cleaner setting money aside to start my business. And a few years later I finally opened my first Glick's shop on Carlisle Street, where we are sitting right now. Other shops followed... My kids are managing those today. I prefer this shop."

You've been so kind to support Jewish Care's Annual Appeal by overprinting your brown paper challah bags with the Appeal message and a quote from you, "Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something." Why do you think it's important to assist those less fortunate?

"I guess, it's in the blood. Back in Poland, my mother always gave her dairy products to the poor free of charge. I was a baby but I clearly remember that it was the right thing to do. It stayed with me for the rest of my life. And today, no matter how advanced the world is, there are still many people who need assistance, be it money, a piece of bread, or a kind word. Even if it's impossible to answer every person's need, we can all still do something to improve someone's life. And this is the message I wanted to pass on, hence, it's written on Glick's bags."

Some people say that you never go on holidays (vacation). Is that true?

"Yes, it is," answers Mr Glick with a smile. "Why would I? I have the job I love. And I have regular time to rest on Shabbos and Yom Tov. What can I say, I am a happy man!"

From Sarah Mendetsky's blog, Baggage of Thoughts


What's New

Yahadus

With the publishing of the fifth and final volume, the amazing Yahadus set is now complete. The Yahadus series contains a comprehensive treatment of each of the 613 mitzvot (commandments) of the Torah. The information includes mitzva details, reasons, practical messages, history, tidbits, biographies and lots more. The stunning graphics and relatable language brings every mitzva alive for the entire family.

New Emissaries

Rabbi Sholom and Tammy Glitzenstein of Israel recently moved to Laos where they are opening a new Chabad House. While the new Chabad activities will focus on serving the many Israeli back-packers and tourists who travel to Laos, they will be available to all Jews who are in the area.


The Rebbe Writes

5th of Teves, 5739 [1979]

Blessing and Greeting:

After the interval, I was pleased to receive your letter of the 22nd of Kislev. I will again remember you in prayer for the fulfillment of your heart's desires for good, including finding the proper solutions to the questions about which you write.

I trust I have already indicated to you the importance of taking the fullest advantage of the formative years, which lay the foundation for the whole future life. This means that it is necessary to ensure the fullest stability to be able to withstand the influences of the external non-Jewish environment, all the more so since Jews in general, and religious Jews in particular, are such a small minority in the surrounding world. And regardless in what country one lives, including Eretz Yisroel [the land of Israel], it is necessary for every young person to absorb the maximum of proper Jewish education, especially in the essential aspect, namely Torah and Mitzvos [commandments], of which it is said, "They are our life and the length of our days." Indeed, this is the primary consideration also in regard to other fields, for whatever the vocation of a Jew, there is always the imperative "All your works should be for the sake of Heaven" and "Know Him in all your ways."

If the above is true of every young person, it is certainly more so in regard to a young lady who has to prepare herself for her great and exalted role in life as the Akeres Habayis [foundation of the home], who largely determines the conduct and atmosphere of the Jewish home and, in due course, is a true Jewish mother to whom the raising of the children is entrusted when they are very young, and who has an important influence and role also as they grow older. Therefore, every additional benefit that you gain in strengthening and developing your own Yiddishkeit [Judiasm] and your own Yiras Hashem and Ahavas Hashem [awe and love of G-d], etc., will eventually be multiplied many times over in the atmosphere of the home, and in the children and grandchildren to all generations.

In light of the above, of what significance are any personal difficulties by comparison with the great and infinite benefits?

As for the choice of a seminary, your father as well as you, surely have adequate information about the most suitable ones, and it should not be difficult to make a choice.

It is necessary for every young person to absorb the maximum of proper Jewish education, especially in the essential aspect, namely Torah and commandments...

I trust that you are active in spreading Yiddishkeit in your present surroundings, and are doing it in the spirit of Chanukah, which we have just celebrated by steadily increasing the number and brightness of the Chanukah Lights from day to day, thus doing it not only with Hiddur [in an enhanced manner], but in a manner of mehadrin min hamehadrin [and enhancement of the enhancement].

Wishing you Hatzlocho [success] in all above,

With blessing,


All Together

Why do we give charity before praying on weekdays?

Charity should be given before praying to dispel whatever may hamper the acceptability of one's prayers. Thus we find that before praying one of our great Sages would give a pauper a coin, in the spirit of the verse, "With tzedek - righteousness - (like tzedaka - charity) shall I behold Your countenance." For accusatory voices On High adjudge whether a worshipper is indeed worthy of entering the heavenly palace in prayer. Also, by giving a poor man charity before prayer and thereby giving him life, one's "prayers come alive."


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

This coming Wednesday (January 18) is the 20th of Tevet, the yahrzeit of Rabbi Moses Maimonides, otherwise known as the Rambam.

The Rambam lived in the 12th century and was a great philosopher, doctor, and Jewish scholar. But he is probably best remembered for his encyclopedic codification of all 613 commandants of the Torah in his magnum opus, the Mishne Torah.

In the Mishne Torah, the Rambam enumerates and details all of the 613 laws of the Torah. He places the laws relating to the Jewish king, and Moshiach, at the very end of his work. In the introduction to these laws he states that the Jews were commanded to fulfill three mitzvot upon conquering and entering the Land of Israel: To appoint a king; to kill the descendants of Amalek; to build G-d's Chosen House.

It would seem that these mitzvot should have been mentioned much earlier in his work if they were, in fact, so important! However, the Rambam chose to organize the Mishne Torah in this fashion to emphasize that the true and complete performance of all the mitzvot of the Torah will be attained only when a king rules over Israel. The Rambam then defines Moshiach as a king, who will not only redeem the Jews from exile, but also restore the observance of the Torah and the mitzvot to its complete state.

For many, this would seem a rather novel approach. Yet, the Torah states that "the world was created solely for Moshiach." This being the case, we certainly must do everything in our power to prepare ourselves for Moshiach's imminent arrival. What is within the power and reach of each individual, great and small? Good deeds, charity, studying concepts associated with Moshiach and the Redemption, fostering peace among family and friends, and actively anticipating his arrival each and every day.


Thoughts that Count

And let my name be called on them, and the name of my fathers (Gen. 48:16)

With these words Jacob blessed his grandsons Menashe and Ephraim that they grow up to be a credit to the family. When children do not follow the right path, G-d forbid, the parents and grandparents are embarrassed that their offspring carry their name. Jacob's blessing was for his grandchildren to be worthy of perpetuating the name of their holy progenitors.

(Our Sages)


Which I took out of the hand of the Emorite with my sword and with my bow (Gen. 48:22)

As Rashi notes, the sword and bow Jacob was referring to were his "wisdom" and "prayer," for allegorically, the Emorite is identified with the Evil Inclination. This battle takes place in every Jew's soul. The Emorite, from the Hebrew word meaning speech, becomes powerful when we speak inappropriately or entertain extraneous thoughts. The way to conquer him is with "wisdom" and "prayer," uttering words of Torah and praying to G-d.

(Torah Ohr)


For in their anger (literally "with their nose") they slew a man (Gen. 49:6)

A great rabbi was once talking to someone when the name of certain individual came up in the conversation. The man immediately wrinkled his nose in distaste but said nothing. "What, you think you're allowed to speak lashon hara (slander) with your nose, as long as you don't move your lips?" the Rabbi admonished him. "The Torah states, 'For with their nose they slew a man' - with a wrinkle of the nose you can also murder someone's reputation!"


And when he saw that the resting place was good...he bent his shoulder to bear (Gen. 49:15)

Issachar recognized that although leisure is a good and pleasant thing, it can also be dangerous. In times of peace and tranquility the Evil Inclination intensifies its efforts to lead a person astray, which can lead to disaster. Issachar therefore "bent his shoulder to bear" the yoke of Torah, for Torah study is the antidote to this pitfall.

(Likutei Diburim)


It Once Happened

Rabbi Moses Maimonides, know also as the Rambam, was one of the greatest Jews of all times. During his life, he wrote numerous books in which he explained the laws and philosophy of the Torah. He was not only esteemed in the Jewish world, though. He was also known and well respected as a physician, philosopher and scientist.

The Rambam was born in Cordova, Spain, and moved as a young man with his family to Egypt. Because he did not believe in accepting monetary remuneration for his work as a Jewish scholar, he devoted himself to medicine in order to support himself and his family.

The Rambam reached the peak of his professional reputation as a doctor when he was appointed to the staff of the court of Saladin as royal physician. His reputation spread to such an extent that King Richard the Lionhearted offered him the position of his personal physician.

When the Rambam felt his end approaching, he instructed his family to bury him in the Holy Land. On 20 Tevet, at the age of 69, the Rambam passed away. In Egypt, where he had been the chief rabbi, the Rambam was mourned by Jew and Moslem alike. In the Holy Land and the rest of the world, where the Rambam had acted as guide and mentor to world Jewry, he was memorialized with special services and fasts. The following story is told about how it was "decided" where the Rambam's final resting place should be:

People from all over gathered in Egypt to attend the Rambam's funeral. When the procession was over, a discussion erupted as to where to bury him. The Rambam's request had only been to bury him in the Holy Land; no mention was made as to which city or site.

Representatives of different cities in the Holy Land came forward. From Jerusalem came the request that he be buried on the Mount of Olives. Representatives from Hebron said that the Rambam should be buried in the same city as the Patriarches and Matriarches. A representative from Meron claimed that since the mystic Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai was buried in their city, it was a fitting place for the Rambam. Representatives from other cities in the Holy Land brought their claims forward, too. Because no solution to the problem at hand was in sight, everyone agreed to begin taking the coffin toward the borders of Israel, hoping that along the way they might come upon a solution for this problem.

The coffin was perched atop a sturdy camel and made its way toward the Holy Land. One of the most difficult and dangerous parts of desert travel was not necessarily the lack of water, nor sand storms. It was the constant fear of being overtaken by one of the many bands of highway robbers who attacked the innocent travelers, taking away all of their belongings.

As it began to get dark, the pace of the caravan quickened. Everyone hoped that they would be able to find a relatively safe place to camp for the evening. Their fears were well founded though, for within a short while, the sound of hoof beats could be heard, coming closer and closer. "We're being attacked," cried out the leader of the caravan. Many of the people panicked and scattered in different directions. A few of braver people remained with the coffin to guard it. But, they, too, were frightened away as the gang of vicious bandits came charging toward them.

The bandits approached the camel with the large box enthusiastically. It was obvious to them that this box must contain a huge treasure if so many people were guarding it. As much as they tried, though, the box could not be taken down from the camel.

"Grab the camel's reins," shouted the leader of the bandits. "We'll take it with us." Their efforts met with no success, though. They tried as much as possible to get the huge animal to move, but it would not budge.

"Open the box," commanded the leader to his underlings. One of the gangsters began to pry off the lid. "There's a body in this box," he shrieked, as he ran away. The other bandits, too, became frightened at the thought of a dead body and quickly made their exit.

Upon seeing that the bandits had left, the people from the caravan who had been accompanying the coffin slowly made their way back toward the camel. But, to their surprise, the camel began moving determinedly, as if it had a specific destination in mind. The caravan leader cautioned the other people not to go near the camel. "Let us see what direction it takes." After a little while, it was obvious that the camel was heading for Israel.

No one dared to go close to the camel. Instead, they followed from a distance behind. The people were amazed to observe how the camel kept on its course heading straight for Israel. Now, everyone was certain that there would no longer be a problem of where to bury the Rambam.

After reaching the border of Israel, the camel continued to travel steadily. It came to Tiberias in the northern part of the country. It continued on through the narrow streets of the city until it suddenly stopped and began to kneel down on the ground.

The people understood that this was the place where they should bury the Rambam. They removed the coffin from the camel's back and placed it on the ground. Immediately, the people began digging the grave. All who witnessed this strange event were amazed to see the wonderful miracle take place right before their own eyes.

The people of Tiberias built a beautiful structure over the spot where the Rambam was buried. Every year, on the anniversary of his passing, thousands of people from all parts of the world visit his grave. People cherish praying at the tomb of Maimonides for the Talmud tell us that "He who prays at the grave of a righteous person is equal to one who has prayed in the Holy Temple."


Moshiach Matters

The Talmud relates that Jacob wished to reveal the end of the exile to his children before his passing but it was concealed from him. "Gather together and I will tell you what will happen to you at the end of days "(Gen. 49:1) The literal meaning, however, is that Jacob wished to "reveal, i.e., manifest and bring about, the end." In this context there is an important moral for every Jew. We are to follow in the footsteps of Jacob, and wish and pray for the manifestation of the ultimate end - the final Redemption. Seeking and contemplating this will of itself assist our service of G-d, inspiring us to attain our ultimate goal of Moshiach.

(Likutei Sichot, Vol. 20)


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