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1476: Sh'lach

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Devarim Deutronomy

L'Chaim
June 23, 2017 - 29 Sivan, 5777

1477: Korach

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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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  1476: Sh'lach1478: Chukas  

Continued Leadership  |  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

Continued Leadership

Many people express wonder at the fact that the Rebbe's leadership is spoken of in the present tense, that the Rebbe's chasidim and admirers refer to the Rebbe's leadership as being uninterrupted.

Jewish teachings state that G-d showed the first person Adam, all future generations together with their great leaders. These leaders are the tzadikim (righteous individuals) whose souls were sent into this world to guide the generations, caring for them both spiritually and materially and showing the Jewish people the path to follow. Chasidic philosophy explains that these great leaders are the mind and the heart of the body of the Jewish people.

Each generation has its own unique mission and role in the overall fulfillment of G-d's purpose in the entire creation: to create a "home" for G-d in this physical world through the revelation of Moshiach and the Redemption.

In Tanya, Rabbi Shneur Zalman (founder of Chabad Chasidut) explains that earlier generations are like the head, their major preoccupation being Torah study; later generations, known as the "heels of Moshiach," are more closely associated with raw action. Within generations we also see these subdivisions with the tzadikim, and especially the leader of the generation, comprising the head and providing direction to the people as to how to fulfill their unique role.

G-d sends each generation the leader appropriate to the task of the times. The generation's leader comes to guide his generation in a unique direction in the fulfillment of G-d's purpose for creation commensurate with their own nature and purpose.

Let's apply these principles to our own generation. In the first official Chasidic teaching articulated by the Rebbe when he accepted the mantle of leadership, the Rebbe declared that the unique purpose of our generation, the seventh from Rabbi Shneur Zalman, is to fulfill the original intent of G-d's creation. This will be achieved by drawing down G-d's presence into our world with the complete revelation of Moshiach and the commencement of the Redemption.

The Rebbe told us numerous times that we have finished the Divine service of exile and that our purpose now is to prepare for the Redemption. "The time of your Redemption has arrived," the Rebbe declared. This is a totally different message that has never before been enunciated in the history of the Jewish people. The Rebbe explained that we should involve ourselves in more good deeds, more Torah study, the enhanced fulfillment of mitzvot, as a preparation and foretaste of the Redemption.

However, until the Redemption actually begins, with the rebuilding of the Third Holy Temple in Jerusalem and the ingathering of all of the Jews from the diaspora, the ultimate fulfillment of our purpose has not been achieved and we remain in the seventh generation with the Rebbe at our head.

Why the Rebbe's leadership is currently in this form will most likely remain a mystery until the complete revelation of Moshiach. But we do know what the Rebbe told us in no uncertain terms: that the role of our generation is to actually bring about the Redemption and to prepare ourselves and the entire world for it. Until this has been achieved, we remain in the same generation.

The Rebbe and his leadership are very much of the present and will continue until we succeed in our mission!


Living with the Rebbe

This week's Torah portion, Korach, describes Korach's confrontation with Moses. Korach protested: "The entire nation is holy and G-d is among them. Why do you exalt yourself over the congregation of G-d?" Why did G-d support Moses totally, bringing about a unique miracle to destroy Korach and his following?

To answer this question, we have to focus on two different leadership approaches. One approach is based on charisma. Such a leader attracts people because he shines; he projects an image of a more exciting future. Korach was rich and he promised the people better stakes. And so, many gullible people ran after him.

Moses was tongue-tied and had trouble communicating. The people found it difficult to understand him. Nevertheless, they knew that Moses spoke G-d's truth. His source of strength was not his personal self, but rather his ability to transcend himself.

The dissonance between the feelings he inspired led to a conflict. Because Moses didn't promise them glitter, they weren't overly excited about his message. On the other hand, they realized - and were constantly reminded by G-d - that Moses was G-d's messenger. He was only saying what G-d wanted him to say.

A Moses-style leader is concerned with empowering his followers to discover and fulfill their mission in life. Every person was created with a unique G-d-given purpose. A Moses does not give a person quick answers and ready solutions. Instead, he motivates him to penetrate to the depths of his being and understand G-d's intent for him.

True, this requires a person to look beyond his immediate horizons. He has to think not of what makes him feel good at the moment, but of what is genuinely right and true. That's a lot more challenging, but ultimately a lot more gratifying. For if something is right and true, even though it may require some immediate sacrifice, it will certainly lead to the person's good. Moreover, that good will be continuous, existing not only for the moment, but for the future.

Moses gives people a long-term vision that enables them to live their lives with purpose and joy. Instead of looking for an immediate high, a Moses person thinks about the goals he is living for. And the awareness of that mission endows him with vitality and joy. He is excited about living because every act he performs resounds with significance; there's genuine value in what he is doing.

In every generation, we can find leaders who are like Korach and those like Moses. Similarly, each one of us can be a Moses or a Korach - for in our homes, in our workplaces, and among our friends - all of us act as leaders at one time or another. When exercising this leadership potential, we should not focus on selfinterest - neither our own or that of the people we are trying to impress - but on the higher purposes that are involved. This is what Moses' leadership teaches us.

From Keeping in Touch published by Sichos In English, adapted by Rabbi E. Touger


A Slice of Life

Chasid in Camouflage
with Rabbi Benjamin Blech

Rabbi Benjamin Blech is associate professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University and author of many books. This story was taken from Here's My Story and is presented with permission from JEM's My Encounter with the Rebbe oral history project, which is dedicated to recording first-person testimonies documenting the life and guidance of the Rebbe.
My name is Benjamin Blech and I come from a long line of rabbis - in fact, I am the tenth in line to have rabbinic ordination in my family.

My father was a chasidic rabbi - a follower of the Chortkover Rebbe - with a congregation first in Zurich, Switzerland (where I was born) and later in Boro Park. He was also the Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta Toras Emes (where I was educated). So my father was also my first and most influential teacher. After Torah Emes, I attended the Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and the Lakewood Yeshiva. I received my rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University, as well as a Master's Degree in psychology from Columbia University. Subsequently, I became a pulpit rabbi - of Young Israel of Oceanside - and also a teacher at Yeshiva University.

I explain my background here because it has a great deal to do with how I came to the attention of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and why, I believe, he selected me for a special mission in the Far East.

The first time I met him was in the 1960s, when I became president of the National Council of Young Israel Rabbis. The Rebbe had called Young Israel and requested that the president of the National Council come to meet him - in order to discuss the issue of Soviet Jewry. Although it was a long time ago, I still remember the awe I felt in coming face-to-face with this Torah giant. I have met many famous and important people, but there was no comparison with any of them and the Rebbe, in terms of the aura of holiness around him.

At that time, Russian Jewry was not yet the popular cause that it eventually became, and the Rebbe was trying to impress upon me - as a representative of Young Israel - the critical need to help the Russian Jews stay connected to their Judaism. He realized that the common attitude of American Jewry was that the Russian Jews were lost to the fold - they had either intermarried and, even if they were still clinging to some vestige of their roots, there was no one on the outside who could take on the Soviet Empire and save them.

But the Rebbe believed otherwise. He was not one to ever give up on a Jew. His attitude was that we need to wade into the water and only then the sea will part. And indeed, as history now testifies, it did.

The next time I met with him was in 1989. At that time I was taking a sabbatical from my pulpit and from my teaching responsibilities because there was a book that I wanted to write, which eventually became Understanding Judaism: The Basics of Deed and Creed. Before I could embark on that project, however, I got a call from the Rebbe's secretary, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Groner. He said, "We understand that you are a free agent at the moment. So the Rebbe would like to meet with you to discuss a special mission. He would like to send you to the Far East - to speak with the Jews there and bring them back to Torah."

I was flattered of course, but my first thought was, "I guess the Rebbe wants me to raise money for Lubavitch." So I asked if this was the real reason. But the answer was an unqualified no. "We don't need you to raise money. We need you."

Now I was even more puzzled. "You need me? Are you sure you have the right person?"

To be honest, it was inconceivable to my mind that the Rebbe would want someone like me to go on a mission for him. I am not a chasid. I am a modern Orthodox rabbi who dresses accordingly - no beard, no long side-locks, no black hat, no black coat. I told Rabbi Groner that. He said, "The Rebbe doesn't judge people by externals. And he knows all about you. He wants you to come and hear what he has in mind for you."

So I came to see the Rebbe, and he explained that he wanted to send me to various communities in the Far East, where he had already established beachheads. The Jews in these places were wary of his chasidim because they were not used to seeing chasidic garb which looked other-worldly to them; thus they were keeping their distance. But someone like me, who looked "normal" and who spoke well in English, using the modern idiom, could get the message across, ease the way for the emissaries, and bring everyone together.

How could I say no? Of course, I went. The chasidim arranged everything - all I had to do was speak. I spoke in Australia and in New Zealand; I spoke in Singapore and Tokyo; I spoke in Bangkok and Hong Kong. Wherever I went, I was very well received, and my mission was highly successful.

After I came back from my trip - which lasted almost three months - I met with the Rebbe again, and he congratulated me on what I had achieved. He said, "I am very happy with what you have done, and I want to tell you something - whether you know it or not, you are a chasid in camouflage."

I thought that was a fantastic line. And it really encapsulated the attitude of Chabad Lubavitch - not to judge any Jew by the externals but to recognize the inner essence of every Jew for what it is: the power to make the world a better place.

To read more visit www.MyEncounterBlog.com


What's New

My Story

From the first-time mother to the commander in Israel's Air Force; the struggling dentist to the community rabbi, in My Story, 41 people open the door to their private experiences with the Rebbe, allowing you to step into their stories of connection, comfort and care, told in vivid, first-person detail. New stories that were not yet featured in JEM's weekly "Here's My Story," as well as added details and biographical notes, portraits, family and archival photos. My Story is published by Jewish Educational Media and is available on-line at jemstore.com or at Judaica Stores.

New Emissaries

Rabbi Nochum and Chyena Yusewitz recently arrived in Grass Valley, California. Grass Valley, located in Northern California, was once known as the hub of the Gold Rush. the Yusewitzs have been traveling between New York and Grass Valley for the past six months and are now making their presence in the city permanent.


The Rebbe Writes

28th of Sivan, 5724 [1964]

...It is surprising to me to note in your letter that it is your impression as though Chassidim do not participate in the outside world, etc. As a matter of fact, the reverse is true, for there is hardly any sphere or area in the world at large which Chassidim exclude from their interest. This attitude is the direct result of the emphasis in Chassidus on the true concept of Monotheism. The Chassidic concept of the oneness of G-d goes much further than the generally accepted view that there is only One Deity and no more, but that there is only One G-d and nothing else. For, inasmuch as G-d's word (whereby it He brought the world into existence) constantly and without interruption creates and vitalizes the whole Universe and every particular of it, and without this creative force, which is the true essence of every existing thing, nothing could exist, it follows that there is no true reality other than G-d, and there is actually nothing but G-dliness. Chassidus emphasizes that it is one of the central aspects of man's purpose in life to establish this truth and to spread it to the utmost extent of his influence. This is not merely an idea, but a way of life which is expressed in the daily life, and which permeates the whole inner being of a Chossid.

A corollary to this viewpoint is another fundamental principle in the teachings of Chassidus, namely that Divine Providence extends to each and every particular in the Creation, not only to each individual of the human race, but each particular in the realm of the animal world, the vegetable and even the mineral, as it is well known to everyone who studies Chassidus.

Thus it is fundamental for the Chassidic philosophy and way of life not to exclude any part of the world from its sphere of interest.

As for your writing that you have not come across any names of Chassidim who participated in certain movements, such as civil rights etc., this is also surprising, inasmuch as many have taken an active part in this and other constructive movements. Many more, however, among those who participate in such constructive movements do so while avoiding publicity and headlines in the press.

You do not write about your own background, from which I assume that your own affairs are in order. From what has been said above, it will be clear that true "order" is accomplished when the spiritual aspects and higher values in life have preponderance over the material aspects or, to put it in the Chassidic way, when the spirit prevails over matter, and this, not on special occasions in the course of one's life, but in everyday life.

With blessing,


Freely translated

25 Adar II, 5711 [1951]

There is a well-known statement of Rabbi Sholom Ber that the role of his students was to become "neiros lehoir - lamps to diffuse light."

The words of the righteous are precise in all their details. This is especially so with regard to statements by the nesi'im of the Jewish people concerning their disciples and concerning those who are connected to them. Hence, the term "lamps to diffuse light" is a guide, in several vital respects, to those who are connected with the speaker. Let us therefore consider a few of the characteristics of a lamp:

The lamp itself is the source of the light - a luminary, albeit in miniature.

Moreover, a lamp comprises oil and a wick. Metaphorically, the oil represents the Torah and its mitzvos (commandments).The wick represents man - that is, the body,or, more correctly, the level of his soul called nefesh, which is "the body's partner." Moving on to the perspective of the Torah's inner dimension, that soul-level is the Divine soul that is vested in the animal soul.

Another characteristic of a lamp: when the wick is lit, and becomes one with the oil, the light of the lamp is diffused by many luminaries. These comprise two main modes of light: "black light" and "white light," which represent respectively two phases in a person's Divine service - elevating his soul and, reciprocally, drawing down spiritual light.

Finally, the light of a lamp is uniquely effective when one is searching among hidden cracks and crannies, probing the heart's innermost recesses.

The metaphorical messages of the above characteristics are clear and self-evident - but what matters most is their practical application. When one applies them in his life according to the directives of the Rebbe Rashab, one's inner lamp lights up the particular portion of the world's materiality that he is obligated to refine and elevate,and in particular, it lights up his own animal soul and Divine soul. This illumination is the ultimate purpose for which the soul descended to This World, and on it depends the ultimate purpose of the era of Mashiach and the Resurrection of the Dead. May this come speedily, in our own days, Amen.


All Together

What are some customs throughout the year connected to Moshiach and the Redemption?

To mention two: There is a "cup of Elijah" at the Passover Seder. This custom is an expression of the Jewish people's belief in the coming of Elijah, who will herald the imminent Redemption. With the Melaveh Malka meal at the close of Shabbat, the Sabbath Queen is escorted on her way. This meal nourishes the "luz" bone, and from this bone the body will be resurrected when Moshiach comes. In addition, many of the laws and customs observed when preparing a person's physical remains for burial are inspired by the anticipation of Resurrection.


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

In the end of the summer of 1990, clearly and unmistakably, the Lubavitcher Rebbe announced that "The time for your Redemption has arrived." The Rebbe explained that that this statement was being made through the gift of prophecy and should be disseminated throughout the world. The world was now ready for the Redemption.

What role are we to play? The Rebbe stated this clearly, as well. Our primary task, he said, is to study and teach about Moshiach, to live with the idea of Moshiach, to make essential changes in our way of looking at life, and to publicize the prophecy that Redemption was imminent, and that everyone should be actively preparing to greet Moshiach.

The Rebbe's most recent talks, from 1991 and 1992, consistently communicated the news that the time of the Redemption has arrived and that every individual can and must play an active role in hastening the Redemption. One of the ways this can be done, the Rebbe explained, is by permeating our lives with the awareness of the imminent Redemption.

By attending classes at your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center, by listening to Torah classes over the phone, by studying and reading the Rebbe's published talks and essays (available in many languages), you will connect to the Rebbe and everything he personifies.

As we approach Gimmel Tammuz, the pain has not lessened. But there is no room for despair. For, as each moment passes, we are one moment closer to seeing in a revealed manner that, to quote the Rebbe, "Moshiach is coming," and "he has already come." We are one moment closer to recognizing that "the world is ready for Moshiach" and that "the time of the Redemption has arrived." We are one moment closer to being reunited with the Rebbe, and "he will redeem us."


Thoughts that Count

Ben Zoma said: Who is wise? He who learns from every person, as it is stated: "From all those who have taught me I have gained wisdom; indeed, Your testimonies are my conversation" (Ethics 4:1)

The verse stated, "From all those who have taught me I have gained wisdom," whereas the Mishna adds that one must learn from every person. One must learn not only Torah from one's teachers, but also the good qualities of character and upright conduct which one discerns in any person, even if he is an ignoramus or a wicked fellow.

(The Maggid of Mezritch)


Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot... (Ethics 4:1)

It is unnecessary to point out that when our Sages taught that the rich person is one "who is happy with his lot," they were referring to material matters. However, to be happy with one's lot in spiritual matters is a serious error.

(The Rebbe, 5749)


Ben Azzai said: Run to perform even an easy mitzva, and flee from transgression; for one mitzva brings about another, and one transgression brings about another; for the reward of a mitzva is a mitzva, and the recompense of a transgression is a transgression. (Ethics 4:2)

The reward given to a person for doing a mitzva is not the same as payment given to a worker for doing a job. A worker plows and sows, etc., and the owner of the field pays him money for his labor. However, the worker does not create the money he is given as his wage. However, in our case, the mitzva itself creates its reward.

(Likutei Pirushim l'Tanya)


Rabbi Yannai said: We are incapable of understanding either the well- being of the wicked or the sufferings of the righteous. (4:15)

Why do the wicked prosper? And why are the righteous plagued with troubles and suffering? Most of the prophets expressed their views on this matter, some at greater length, and others more briefly. Rabbi Yannai, however, stresses that we are incapable of understanding G-d's ways in these matters.

(Meiri)


It Once Happened

Rabbi Sagi Har-Shefer of Nes Tziona, Israel, relates, "On Gimmel Tammuz, 1994, I was working in my office, when my neighbor suddenly ran in and told me the terrible news being reported on the radio. I immediately grabbed my tallit, tefillin, and passport, and ran to the airport.

"I joined a charter flight that had been organized, and went straight to the Ohel. The next day when I returned from New York to Israel, I received a call from my mother. Although she isn't a Chabad chasid, she would always ask the Rebbe for advice when a question arose. She explained to me that she has a pressing issue at the moment, but now that she doesn't have anyone to ask advice of anymore, she doesn't know what to do.

"I reassured her that she should write to the Rebbe just like she had always done in the past and surely the Rebbe will find a way to answer her. " Dr. Tzippy Har-Shefer, Rabbi Har-Shefer's mother, elaborates, "Just to provide some background, in the early 1990s I worked for the city of Haifa under Mayor Aryeh Gur'el. I oversaw a project called Shikum Hash'chunot - otherwise known as 'Project Renewal' - which was a program for the rehabilitation of distressed, underprivileged communities.

"Mr. Gur'el had lost the elections to Amram Mitzna and it was decided to discontinue this project due to a budget problem. Mr. Mitzna offered me a new job as director of Beit Hagefen, which was undergoing management changes at the time. The Beit Hagefen Center is a Jewish-Arab cultural center, which runs joint social and cultural programs. I was hesitant about the new job, but time was of the essence and I had to make a decision whether I was indeed interested in taking on this new job opportunity or not. I was afraid that if I declined the offer, I would be out of a job for a while, but I was also hesitant to say 'yes.'

In such a situation I would usually write to the Rebbe to get advice, but I felt that since Gimmel Tammuz, I no longer had whom to turn to. With this dilemma in mind, I called my son Sagi. Having just returned from New York, I was shocked when he told me to write to the Rebbe! I was very hesitant and skeptical, but I really needed advice about the pending job opportunity so I decided to take my son's suggestion and write to the Rebbe anyway.

"With reassurance from my son, I wrote down all of my concerns and reservations. After sending the letter to be read at the Ohel, I inserted it into a Tanya [the basic book of Chabad chasidic philosophy, written by Rabbi shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidsim] that I had at home and awaited what would happen with a mixture of curiosity and skepticism."

"My mother wrote her letter and I sent it to Rabbi Binyomin Klein, to take to the Ohel," Rabbi Har-Shefer continues. "Two days later, my mother was already calling me to find out what will be happening now that she wrote to the Rebbe. She couldn't understand how she would ever get an answer, but I told her that we must have some patience and that somehow there will be one.

"That Friday, my parents came to our house from Haifa to spend Shabbat with us. After the Shabbat meal, my mother went to her room and suddenly I heard her call out, "I got an answer!"

Explains Dr. Har-Shefer, "I enjoyed reading a weekly column from former mayor Gur'el, in the local Haifa newspaper Kolbo. As a city employee, I particularly enjoyed it, as Gur'el primarily discussed local city gossip and the like. That particular week, I opened the newspaper and was surprised to see that Mr. Gur'el's column - which was usually about the ins and outs of the city - was about the Rebbe! I was stunned when I read the headline, 'My Encounters with the Lubavitcher Rebbe.' I was further shocked upon reading the synopsis of the article, which read, 'The former mayor recalls his meetings with the Rebbe, and reveals that . . .the Rebbe strongly opposed the existence of Beit Hagefen in Haifa.' After reading the headline and subtitle, I immediately realized that I had received my answer directly from the Rebbe. I understood that even after Gimmel Tammuz, the Rebbe can still direct me to his answers. Needless to say, I called Mr. Mitzna and told him I would not be accepting this new position."

Reprinted with permission from A Chassidisher Derher, www.derher.org


Moshiach Matters

The Torah reading of Korach and the incidents of Gimmel Tammuz contain a valuable lesson for us. Each event that occured on 3 Tammuz began with a denial of the leader as the unifying intermediary. Korach rebelled against Aaron, the sun protested against Joshua, and the communists imprisoned the Previous Rebbe. Each event eventually led to a greater revleation of G-dlienss with the world. Neither natural pehnomenon nor the actions of man can truly hinder a Jew's Divine service. Through these tests we are to reach a stronger and higher level of Divine service. Then for the Jews, and indeed the whole world, there will be light and joy, gladness and honor.

(From Reflections of Redemption by Dovid Yisroel Ber Kaufmann o.b.m., to whom this column is dedicated)


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