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It Once Happened | Moshiach Matters
Have you shopped for Father's Day card yet? Even if you haven't, certainly you remember from previous years that most Father's Day cards fall into a few categories. There are the sweet and sentimental ones with the soft-touch drawing on the front and then there are the humorous or tongue-in-cheek cards that seem to be written especially for your dad. Some cards talk about Dad always being there, making things right, listening and caring. Others extoll Dad's virtues and then ask for the car keys, or a few extra dollars.
G-d is often referred to in our prayers as Our Father. Just like your dad, G-d is interested and even involved in the most mundane and seemingly insignificant parts of your life. He can be approached by every Jew, no matter where, no matter when. And He can and should be approached for any of the things you might ask your flesh-and-blood father for: some money for a new car, extra assistance on the final exam, a listening ear, or forgiveness, to name a few.
"I can get by with a little help from my friends," some people say. "I don't believe in asking G-d for what I need."
That sounds nice. Sort of like you don't want to bother G-d with your "trivialities." But did you know that it is a mitzva to ask G-d for our needs? To pray that the refrigerator doesn't break down because you can't afford a new one right now. To ask G-d to heal a sick friend. To request success on that presentation you have to make next week.
Asking your dad for something you need - and his being able to help out - gives him pleasure. Similarly, asking G-d for what we need - and His giving it to us - gives Him "pleasure."
There are times, too, that in order to get our dad's attention we have to respectfully demand that he put down the newspaper or look up from his phone and LISTEN. "Listen to our voice, merciful Father, have compassion on us, accept our prayers; do not turn us away empty-handed for You hear everyone's prayers."
G-d hears our prayers, He listens to our requests, He registers our complaints. But does that mean that things always go the way we want them to? Not necessarily! Did your father always give you the car keys, or let you go to every party you were invited to, or always lend you the money you asked him for? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no.
When you got a yes, you probably never asked him why. But the no always needed an explanation.
Why a no? Sometimes, what you were asking for wasn't right. You knew it and he knew it, but you had to ask anyway. Sometimes it wasn't right, but just Dad knew it; and later, looking back, you realized Dad had made the correct decision. And sometimes, for some inexplicable reason, Dad said no without explaining himself, and you just had to accept it. This is true, too, of our Heavenly Father. Sometimes, He accedes to our requests and at other times He denies them, for He truly knows what is best for us.
There is one request, however, which we know is correct and which we have a right to demand G-d listen to. It is the plea for Moshiach, who will help the world achieve the purpose for which it was created, an era of peace, prosperity and the pursuit of G-dliness.
Father, hear our prayer, we want Moshiach NOW!
In this week's Torah portion, Shelach, we read about the spies who toured Israel. They conspired against G-d and Moses by giving a twisted report, aimed at getting the Jewish people to doubt that they would be able to conquer the land of Israel.
One of the arguments they used was, "And there we saw the Nefilim, the children of a giant... and we were as grasshoppers..."
Rashi explains that the Nefilim were descendants of two angels who were sent into this world by G-d in the days of Enosh.
The angels, who assumed human form, came with pure intentions. But their involvement in the world corrupted them so much so that they participated in the beginnings of idol worship. Hence they are called Nefilim, from the word "fallen," as they fell from great spiritual heights to utter depravity. When the flood came in Noah's times, the children of the Nefilim survived.
On a simple level, the spies were suggesting that if G-d didn't destroy the Nefilim at the time of the Great Flood, perhaps He would be unable to destroy them when the Jewish people would enter the Land of Israel. Even though this argument was foolish, it was enough to cast doubt.
There is a much deeper explanation, though, to the spies' reference to the Nefilim.
The spies believed that involvement in the physical would take the Jewish people away from their spiritual focus. They felt that the Jewish people would be better off staying in the desert, where they were free of all material pursuits. In the desert, all their needs were taken care of, and they were able to bask in spirituality. Entering the land meant having mundane responsibilities, leaving less time for Torah and mitzvot (commandments).
This is what the spies meant with their argument, "we saw the Nefilim..." If these great angels who started out with such pure intentions fell so low, then we - who are like grasshoppers compared to them - don't stand a chance once we leave the spiritual environment of the desert and are involved in the world.
Joshua and Caleb answered: "If G-d desires us, He will take us to this land... G-d is with us, don't fear them." We are different from the angels because G-d wants us in the land and it is in the physical world where we are meant to accomplish our purpose.
Secondly, opined Joshua and Caleb, we are greater than angels, because G-d is with us. Unlike angels, we have holy souls that are an actual part of G-d. While angels are spiritual beings, we are G-dly beings, with the ability to fuse the physical with the G-dly. We don't have to fear involvement in the physical world, we need to embrace it and uplift it. This is why G-d created us, we can do what an angel cannot, because we are greater than angels.
We need to recognize our abilities, and that we are special. This knowledge itself gives us the strength to overcome so much, and fills us with a sense of responsibility to the world. May we witness our accomplishments soon, with the coming of Moshiach.
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.
by Chabad of Binghamton (SUNY Binghamton) Seniors
It is difficult to describe how much Chabad truly means to me and how much it has impacted my college experience. Four years ago, I arrived in Binghamton barely knowing anyone and then a few days later I walked into my first Friday night dinner with 500+ students. It was a striking experience. After going to the many programs and events at Chabad running those first few weeks, I was introduced to a warm and welcoming community that I was excited to become a part of. Four years later I can say that Chabad is now the place where I start my day every morning, and most of the time end my day as well! Zach A.
Chabad has forever shaped my Jewish identity, and had a profound impact on my Binghamton experience and future life. Prior to Sinai Scholars, I did not use Judaism as a main identifier. However, through its teachings, I am proud to be a Jew and know that it is integral to my identity.
You have shown me the beauty, depth, and blessing behind my heritage. Chabad has become a second home and Rivky has become a second mom. Thank you with every ounce of my being, for your home-cooked meals, warm hugs, bright smile, and, most importantly, genuine love and kindness. I appreciate you more than my words can express. Danielle P.
I could not imagine how my four years at Binghamton would be without Chabad. The fact that Rabbi Slonim remembers everyone's name showed me that I have a home away from home. My favorite thing about Chabad is that people's affiliations don't matter. We're all Jews, regardless of affiliation. Ben D.
I spent only two and a half years on the Binghamton campus. And yet, despite the seemingly short time, Chabad made it rich with experiences that made that time feel much longer. I made connections with new friends and with the Slonims that I know will last a lifetime, took on leadership opportunities that helped me develop professionally, and made memories that will stay with me forever. I know that despite graduating and leaving Binghamton, that connection to Chabad, and that comfortable feeling of home will always be there. Yael S.
Chabad was always there for me when I needed a place to study, learn, eat and work-out. It was a place where I came to unwind and de-stress or just to hang out with my friend. I can't imagine my four years in Binghamton without the hospitality that Chabad offered to every individual. Andrew W.
When I first toured the university I stopped by Chabad to check it out. I remember so clearly seeing the big room set up for Shabbat dinner, and thinking there was no way the room is always so full. Boy was I wrong. My Binghamton years allowed me to grow both in the quantity and quality of my religious observance (and to have fun doing so). Chabad provided me with a community to connect with and thrive in, and for that I'll forever be grateful. Ayal G.
Chabad has provided me with a sense of home away from home. It gave me an opportunity to spend holidays and Shabbat with classmates and people of all different backgrounds. It was so special to be part of the Jewish community within the Binghamton community/ I felt welcome at any time. Chabad is always there for you - whether taking JLearn class, going to Challah Baking, Shabbat dinner, Fashion for a Cure... Chabad is my second family. Stephanie S.
When I visited during my senior year in High school I saw how amazing and friendly the Jewish community was and everyone was kind and friendly towards me even though I was a prefresh. I believe that there is an infectious attitude of kindness and generosity that the Chabad staff gives off when you walk through their doors. The community is unique: age or major, it doesn't matter; people just want to help others. When you see this it is extremely difficult not to want to be involved. Ben R.
My time at Chabad has changed my life. The countless opportunities to learn, attend events, volunteer, and get involved, not only impacted my four years at school, but also my great Jewish identity. If not for Chabad and the amazing work done by the Slonims and Cheins, I would not be as observant, religiously-minded, curious, or interested in my Judaism, as I am today. Esti L.
Binghamton holds a reputation for turbulent weather. What matches the fluctuating forecasting is the experiences to be had. Between nights watching the sun rise from a study lunge window and days spent doing nothing that meant everything to you, there is little consistency. The unwavering constant is Chabad at Binghamton. There is nothing at university that is stable, but Chabad is the exception, defying the standard of disorder by creating a welcoming utopia in our college lives. The only mistake to be made is shying away from the friends and experiences eagerly waiting to become part of your life. Ariel K.
I transferred to Binghamton for my sophomore year. The first day that I moved in, I saw on Facebook that there was an event at Chabad targeting first year student. I walked to Chabad by myself that day and attended the event. AS soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted by multiple students as well as the Rabbi. I immediately started to connect with others and found ways in which I could be involved. Rebecca A.
From HaKesher, a publication of Chabad of Binghamton, NY
Chanie of Wyoming
"Hi! My name is Chanie and I'm six years old. I live out West... From the windows in our house you can see cowboys riding their horses, leading their cattle to graze." Chanie of Wyoming is the ninth book in the Young Lamplighters series. The books allow young readers to peek into the lives of children around the globe who, together with their parents are emissaries of the Rebbe. First- person accounts, fascinating facts, and beautiful photographs show you how Chanie spends her day giving to and caring for her fellow Jews. By Ella Varoz and Chanie Oircheman.
Kaleidoscope: Uplifting Views on Daily Life is adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe by Rabbi Dovid Zaklikowski. A journey into the Rebbe's uplifting world of ideas and life lessons, Kaleidoscope covers subjects such as birthdays, challenges, charity, conflict, drugs, elderly, justice, priorities, racism, redemption, self-motivation, technology, wealth, and more.
5th of Nissan, 5730 
Greeting and Blessing:
I was pleased to receive your regards as well as your letter... As requested, I will remember you and yours in prayer, in accordance with the contents of your letter.
I trust you will not take amiss the subsequent lines:
It is difficult for a human being to know and to decide how to conduct all his affairs, especially in regard to the future. Therefore, the Creator and Master of the world, in His infinite goodness - and since it is in the nature of the Good to do good - has given each and every one of us a guide in life, for our own benefit, since He knows the past, the present and future and knows what is truly good for us. This guide is our Torah (from the Hebrew word hora'ah, meaning instruction), which is also called Torat Chaim, for it is the true guide in our daily life. This is the general principle that underlies all G-d's commandments for your daily conduct. Even if these commandments did not specify any direct benefits for us, we would have to carry them out, since they are commanded by our G-d and Maker. But it is good to know that this is our guide in life for a truly happy life.
In addition to the above general principle, each and every mitzvah [commandment] has a specific significance of its own, in certain areas of our daily life. In many instances this is obvious from the nature of the mitzvah itself. For instance, the eating of kosher food, in addition to it being a commandment like all the others, is also related specifically to good physical and mental health; tzedakah [charity] - is related to an improvement in parnassa [livelihood] and so forth.
It follows from the above that the laws and regulations of taharat ha'mishpachah [laws of family purity] (separation during the time of nidah, tevila [immersing] in a kosher mikvah etc.) have a direct bearing upon children in every aspect, namely to be blessed with healthy offspring, physically and spiritually. All this has been explained at length in many sources of our Sages of blessed memory.
In light of the above, it will also be clear how to treat the problem about which you write. First and foremost it is necessary to be meticulously careful to observe the laws and regulations of taharat ha'mishpachah to the fullest extent of the requirements. It is natural for parents to spare no effort to ensure the happiness of their children, not merely in a minimum or average degree, but to the maximum happiness possible, even if it entails considerable difficulty and sacrifice on the part of parents. How much easier it is to observe the laws and regulations of family purity especially when there is so much at stake.
It is explained in the Torah, in regard to a Jew's determination to observe the mitzvot, that since G-d knows the future and looks into the heart, a resolute resolve to observe His commandments has an immediate impact not only in regard to the future but to some extent also in regard to the past that is, retroactively.
Inasmuch as this is my first letter to you, it is difficult for me to go into the matter at greater length. But I trust that what has been said above will suffice for you, although the great importance of the matter merits a much lengthier elaboration.
On the subject of taharat ha'mishpachah there are several booklets in which the laws and regulations appear in a condensed form and in a variety of languages. It is good to have such a booklet as a constant companion.
I trust you will accept all the above in the spirit that it has been offered and may G-d grant that you should have good news to report.
Wishing you and yours a Kosher and happy Pesach,
With thanks to Nissan Mindel Publications
What is Shabbat Mevarchim?
The Sabbath that precedes the new Jewish month is known as "Shabbat Mevarchim," - the Sabbath when we bless [the new month]. A special prayer, known as "Birkat haChodesh - blessing the new month" is said on Shabbat morning, after the Haftorah reading. In this prayer, we beseech G-d to grant us the Redemption, and to renew for all life, peace, joy, happiness, salvation and consolation.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This Shabbat we bless the Jewish month of Tammuz. Tammuz, oddly enough, was the name of a Babylonian idol! Why would our Rabbis choose such a seemingly inappropriate name for a month on the Jewish calendar?
The literal translation of the word Tammuz is "heat," which alludes to the intense heat of the sun at this time of year. The Book of Psalms explains that the heat of the sun is used as a metaphor for G-d's power. G-d's strength expresses itself in two ways, creating positive energy and destroying negative forces. By using the name Tammuz, our Sages emphasized the infinite power of the Divine. In the same way the idol Tammuz was destroyed by G-d's wrath, all negativity encountered by G-d will be mocked and ultimately destroyed. G-d is always in control.
Moreover, in Chasidic terminology, the revelation of the Tetragrammaton - the unpronounceable four-letter Name that alludes to G-d as He transcends the natural order - is strongest at this time of year. The name Tammuz thus emphasizes this deeper dimension of G-dliness.
The numerical value of the Hebrew word Tammuz is 453, which is the same as "tagein" meaning "a protection or shield." This refers to G-d's protection of the Jewish people from the dangers posed by our adversaries. G-d protects and nurtures us even during our darkest moments. And when the letters of "tagein" are rearranged, the word "ginat" is formed, meaning "a garden." This image is a metaphor for the love and pleasure G-d derives from the Jewish people. In the same way a gardener stands in loving admiration of the rose's beauty despite the thorns on the rosebush, so too does G-d forgive His people for all their transgressions, for His love for us is constant and unwavering.
Know...before whom you are destined to give an accounting (literally, "judgement" and "reckoning") (Ethics 3:1)
Why does the word "judgement" come before the word "reckoning"? Doesn't "reckoning" always precede judgement or punishment for misdeeds? The Baal Shem Tov taught that in reality, "judgement" always comes first. A person may think he is pronouncing judgement on others, but whatever sentence he decides on will be later applied to him as well. When a person is judgmental, condemning his fellow man for transgressing, G-d uses the same standards to judge him.
If two sit together, and there are no words of Torah between them (Ethics 3:2)
When two Jews sit together, in true unity and brotherhood, and there is "nothing" between them, no enmity or ill-will, they themselves are considered to be "words of Torah."
(Rabbi Yitzchak Vorker)
Anyone with whom his fellow men are not pleased, G-d is not pleased with him (Ethics 3:10)
If a person ignores the commandments between man and his fellow man, his outward trappings of religious piety are scorned by G-d. For the greater his show of religious observance, the greater the desecration of G-d's name.
Anyone whose wisdom exceeds his good deeds, to what can he be compared? (Ethics 3:17)
Good deeds without wisdom are like a foot without a shoe; wisdom without good deeds is like a shoe without a foot.
(Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Gabirol)
The Torah scholar named Reb Yosef lived in the city of Nikopol, in northern Bulgaria. Although Reb Yosef's main interest and joy in life was the study of Torah, he insisted on supporting his family through his own labor. To that end, he entered into a business partnership with an acquaintance and opened a store. But the division of labor would prove to be problematic.
Reb Yosef's daily schedule was as follows: After waking up early in the morning to pray, Reb Yosef would go to the study hall for several hours, and did not arrive in his store until noon. His partner, who had already been dealing with customers for several hours, eventually began to resent this arrangement. He respected his partner's diligence in Torah study, but at the same time needed help with the practical aspect of running a business.
Reb Yosef realized that his partner was right and remained silent. "But what can I do," he thought to himself, "if my love of Torah is so strong?"
One morning Reb Yosef was studying when someone raised a particularly complex question in Torah law. The discussion that ensued lasted for hours as all the scholars in the study hall attempted to answer it. By the time Reb Yosef looked up from his volume of Talmud it was already late in the afternoon.
When Reb Yosef finally arrived at the store his partner was furious. "That's it!" he fumed. "I've had enough of this joint venture!"
Reb Yosef asked his partner to wait one more day before dissolving the partnership, as he wished to consult with his wife. That evening he went home and asked her opinion. His wife, a righteous woman, advised him to continue learning, and not reduce the number of hours devoted to Torah study. "If your partner wishes to close one door to you, I have full faith that G-d, Who opens the gates of salvation, will surely unlock other channels through which to send His blessing."
Encouraged by his wife's words, the next day Reb Yosef returned to the store and announced that he was willing to end the partnership amicably. Reb Yosef was given half the value of the store's holdings and suddenly found himself unemployed. "There's no point in letting the money just sit at home," his wife advised him the following morning. "Why don't you go to the marketplace and look for another business venture?" Reb Yosef agreed it was a good idea and set out at once. But he was so involved in his Torah thoughts that by force of habit his feet led him in the direction of the study hall, where he remained until evening. Only when his wife questioned him that night did he remember what he had set out to do. "Don't worry," he told her, "G-d will surely send something my way tomorrow."
The next day Reb Yosef had barely entered the marketplace when an unusually tall man approached him with a huge mortar and pestle for sale. Reb Yosef handed over all his money and bought the mortar and pestle with his last cent. "What will we do with this old mortar and pestle?" his wife wondered when he returned home. But Reb Yosef wasn't worried and went off to the study hall.
Two days later Reb Yosef had a curious dream in which the tall man who had sold him the mortar and pestle told him a secret. "You should know," he revealed, "that good fortune has long been awaiting you, which was not meant to be shared by your former partner. That is why it was necessary that you part ways. But now that you're on your own, your hour has come. "The mortar and pestle I sold you," he continued, "is made out of pure gold. You must learn its true worth before you can receive fair compensation. Then you must leave this place, as it is not where you belong. Go to the Land of Israel, and live in the city of Safed."
The next morning Reb Yosef recounted his dream to his wife, who immediately summoned a goldsmith for an appraisal. The goldsmith rubbed off the accumulated dust and dirt and was astonished by what he saw. "This mortar and pestle is made out of pure gold!" he told them, and determined that it was worth a fortune.
The mortar and pestle were quickly sold, and Reb Yosef and his wife moved to the Land of Israel and settled in Safed. The money from the sale was enough to support them for the rest of their lives. But the thing that pleased Reb Yosef most was that it finally enabled him to publish his two greatest works, the Beit Yosef and Shulchan Aruch. For Reb Yosef was none other than Rabbi Yosef Karo, the famous medieval codifier of Rabbinic law.
Ten spies said the Jewish people could not conquier the land of Israel. Joshua and Caleb said that "If G-d desires us, He will bring us into the land." Since we derive the law of a minyan from the ten spies, obviosuly there is a positive element in their claim.
They wished to remain in the desert, without the distractions of sowing and planting, to study and pursue a deper relationship with G-d isolated from the mundane world. Joshua and Caleb argued that the deepest relationship comes from performing commandments through submission to G-d's Will rather than reason. This transforms the world into a dwelling place of G-dliness.
(From Reflections of Redemption by Dovid Yisroel Ber Kaufmann o.b.m., to whom this column is dedicated)