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   1482: Devarim

1483: Vaeschanan

1484: Eikev

1485: Re'eh

1486: Shoftim

1487: Ki Seitzei

1488: Ki Savo

1489: Nitzavim-Vayeilech

August 11, 2017 - 19 Av, 5777

1484: Eikev

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Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.

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  1483: Vaeschanan1485: Re'eh  

Hand Out!  |  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

Hand Out!

Imagine brushing your teeth once a year for three days straight, or once a week for an hour, rather than the prescribed minimum of twice daily.

The benefits of tooth brushing would certainly be lost on such a regime, and it might even be detrimental to the gums or other tissue (let alone your social life if you opted for the annual approach).

Or contemplate calculating your monthly requirements of vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc., and consuming them on the first Tuesday of each month. Without even considering the possible toxicity of ingested vitamins and minerals in such large quantities, would there be any nutritional gain in such an approach?

Even the old saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," whether it bears any truth, would certainly fail to keep the doctor away -- and probably necessitate a trip to the doctor -- if one ate seven apples once a week.

Just as making hygiene, a balanced diet, or exercise a part of our daily schedule is touted by experts far and wide, so too is the importance of giving tzedaka (charity) daily (except Shabbat and holidays) commended by Judaism.

Jewish teachings are replete with references, inferences, recommendations and requirements concerning charity. From Maimonides' well-known ladder of tzedaka-giving (giving begrudgingly is the lowest level; helping a person get a job so he needn't require tzedaka is right there at the top) to the plethora of inspiring stories about giving tzedaka, to the detailed and exacting laws about how much tzedaka to give, we find tzedaka very much a part of the fabric of Jewish life.

Writing out a check to a Jewish institution yearly is a great deed. Giving donations to every organization which make a request is also exemplary. And if the first or second option mentioned above were to equal 10% of one's income (the amount we are required by Jewish law to give to charity annually) we would be fulfilling the "letter of the law." We would also be activating the Talmudic teachings that "charity saves from death" and "great is charity for it brings the Redemption closer."

Yet, like hygiene, nutrition, exercise, or any other number of daily activities -- the full benefit of which are felt when performed on a daily basis -- tzedaka, too, should be performed daily.

One of the unique benefits of giving charity is that the act of giving reminds us that we are, thank G-d, in the enviable position of being able to give rather than receive, i.e., there are others less fortunate than us. Giving tzedaka can help sensitize us to the needs of others and helps strengthen the trait of loving-kindness inherent in every Jew.

A news item citing a recent study noted that in the U.S., it is the poor who give the most to charity! Those families who earn less than $10,000 per year give a much higher percentage of their income than people who earn $20,000, $50,000, $200,000, or even millions annually! It would seem that those who have not are more sympathetic to the plight of others in a similar or even more desperate situation.

Making tzedaka part of our daily routine has tremendous benefits. A few coins a day in a tzedaka box of your choice (in addition to those more sizable donations) is a great way to stay spiritually fit.

Living with the Rebbe

This week's Haftora is the second Haftora of consoling. It begins "And Zion said, 'G-d has forsaken me...' " It follows last week's Haftora, Nachamu Nachamu, the doubled consoling.

It seems strange that after the doubled consolation, Zion (the Jewish people) should be saying, "G-d has forsaken me."

But, after last week, we begin to realize our self worth: that we are G-d's beloved and that we are one with Him. If this is the case, why is G-d sending His prophets to console us? Why does He not console us Himself? This is now taken as a rejection, therefore we feel alone.

How great is the position of a Jew? Why is the consolation of the prophets not enough?

To explain: In the Mishna (Pirkei Avot), we read, "Know before Whom you will have to give a judgment and a reckoning." Normally you first give a reckoning and that is followed by a judgment. Why is the order reversed here, first the judgment followed by the reckoning?

To understand, let's take a look at another saying in Pirkei Avot, "Payment is exacted from the person, with his knowledge and without his knowledge." The Baal Shem Tov explains that because our soul is actually a part of G-d, the Heavenly Court has no power over a Jew. In order to pass judgment then, in his lifetime they put before him a scenario of someone committing the same transgression that he committed. When he sees this, he passes judgment, thereby passing judgment on himself. It is with his knowledge, because he is the one who is passing judgment. It is without his knowledge, because he doesn't realize that he is judging himself.

When he comes before the Heavenly Court, he has already passed judgment on this scenario, so the judgment comes first. All that is left to do is the reckoning, to show that his case is the same as the scenario, that he himself judged.

What we understand from all this, is that only a Jew can pass judgment on himself. Not an angel nor the Heavenly Court has any power over him. So be careful to, "Judge others favorably," as you may be judging yourself.

This is also true in the physical world, no one has power over us. It is we who give power to others over us. As the verse in our Haftora says "...those who destroy you and those who lay waste to you, will come out of you."

This is what a Jew is all about, we have the power to change the world, but the world has no power over us. The only power anyone has over us, is what we give them. This is because, our souls are a part of G-d that makes us one with Him. In the words of the Baal Shem Tov, "When you are grasping on to a part, you are actually grasping the whole thing." Every one of us is a part of G-d.

Knowing how special we are, we realize that we deserve more. Although we were in a dark situation and a doubled consoling through prophets pulled us out, now, as we begin to experience our intrinsic bond with G-d, consoling through prophets, just won't cut it. We want the real thing, G-d Himself and nothing less. When we don't, we feel alone.

Ultimately we will get what we are asking for, as we see in the last verse of the Haftora, "For G-d will console Zion..." May we experience G-d's consoling, with the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.

Adapted by Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz from the teachings of the Rebbe, Rabbi Hurwitz, who is battling ALS, and his wife Dina, are emissaries of the Rebbe in Temecula, Ca.

A Slice of Life

A Meaningful Moment in Public Schools
by Anat Ghelber

P.S. 191, also known as The Paul Robeson School, sits at the border of Crown Heights and Brownsville. The school's student population, around 300, suffer from poverty to the extent that 99% of them meet the standards for free or reduced-price lunches. Some even live at a homeless shelter next door. But, at 8:30, every morning, just like clockwork, a moment of silence is observed. It may only last for one minute, but for that moment, the entire school is quiet. The moment is announced over the school's loudspeaker system by both teachers and small number of students. In the announcement, the entire school's population (student and faculty) is asked to think about something positive for the silent minute. It can be something like what they want to achieve that day, how they could help someone else, or whatever they like, as long as they remain entirely silent for that 60 seconds.

The positive effects of a moment of silence haven't gone unnoticed at P.S. 191. As one supervising school aide put it, "I have seen tremendous changes behavior-wise and in terms of punctuality. The kids want to be here for the moment of silence. When they miss it, you can see they're upset."

The idea of the moment of silence was first introduced to P.S. 191 by a Hasidic Jew named Avraham Frank. Three years ago, he walked right into the school to speak to the school's principal, and suggested the entire school be silent for exactly one minute in the morning. In doing so, he was honoring the wishes of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe who desired that all public school have a daily moment of silence. Since then, the 59-year-old manager for home attendants for New York City's Human Resources Administration has convinced the faculty administrators of 13 different public schools in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens to initiate moments of silence in their daily routines. His desire is to have moments of silence be observed at schools, "all over the city."

The entire idea is not without controversy, however. The issue that's standing in the way of such observances is school prayer. Prayer being initiated or sponsored by public schools has been deemed illegal ever since a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1962, titled Engel vs. Vitale. The stipulation regarding prayer being, if students themselves initiate it and it remains voluntary, and private, then prayer in schools could be allowed. Otherwise, it would not. Ever since then, many in the nation have been advocating for "moments of silence" to replace school prayer. The idea being that; instead of these moments being overtly religious in nature, by simply being silent for a moment students and faculty could use the moment in whatever way they wished, whether to pray or for contemplation.

However, the controversy surrounding these moments has reared its head state by state, and they are not legal nationwide. Only 30 states have signed off on moments of silence being allowed in schools, New York State among them, according to the acting co-executive director of the American Jewish Congress, Marc Stern. Mr. Stern is an expert in issues of religion and state. Elsewhere, they definitely have been deemed forbidden. Courts on the federal level have been at odds on whether or not moments of silence in public schools can be considered constitutional or not.

In Texas, a law was passed that made it mandatory for state schools to allow a moment of silence every day so that students could "reflect, pray, meditate, or engage in any other silent activity that is not likely to interfere with or distract another student." The law was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union on the grounds that the word "pray" had been allowed on the list of chosen things that students could do during the moments of silence, as that word had been deliberately left out of a previous law regarding moments-of-silence. The later law was upheld in March 2009 by judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In January of that same year, a statute allowing moments of silence in schools in Illinois was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge.

Avraham Frank believes that allowing moments of silence is a good solution to the forbidding of prayer in public schools. As he puts it, "This is for the good of the children, so that they grow up to be upstanding citizens of society. It encourages morality, and this is what we want to get in the schools, which is not there now since they cut out school prayer in the 1960s. These children will bring the parents back to being moral upstanding citizens. Many of the students pray during this time." The Lubavitcher Rebbe whose wishes he is honoring had been speaking out in support of such moments of silence in schools since the early 1980s.

This Rebbe is one of the most influential figures of all time, not only for the Jewish community but much of the rest of the world. He's touched many people's hearts with his kindness and determination to do good. His mission was not only his own, but everybody's. He encouraged Jews to open Chabad houses all over the world, not only to encourage more religious observance among Jews, but to allow Jews to have a place to go when they needed help. Its always been true that a Jew dealing with hunger can go to a Chabad to get a free, warm, meal. It's not necessary for him to be religious or even dress in appropriate attire, all he has to do is show up. The Rebbe was determined to make Jews look at other Jews who lived different lives from them with new eyes, to take a different perspective. He encouraged acceptance in the Jewish community among Jews so that everyone, religious and non-religious, may join together as one nation.

Reprinted from The Jewish Voice NY,

What's New

Mikva in Birobidzhan

An historic mikva is under construction in the famous Yiddish speaking city of Birobidzhan, known as the Jewish Autonomy in Russia's Far East. The city of Birobidzhan was established by Stalin in order to deport all the Jews of Russia to it, as part of his "Final Solution." Until now, the closest mikva was located 125 miles away. Rabbi Eliyahu Riss, the Rebbe's emissary to Birobidzhan, together with his wife Chana, is a native of Birobidzhan.

New Emissaries to Tel Aviv

Rabbi Shneur and Rachel Farouz have joined three other French speaking couples in the "new north" of the central Israeli city of Tel Aviv. There has been a big influx to Israel of Jews from France in recent years. The new immigrants like to come together as a community and Chabad aims to facilitate these opportunities.

The Rebbe Writes

16 of Shevat, 5714 [1954]

This is to acknowledge your letter in which you describe the various phases of your religious experiences and convictions, which finally led you to discover the truth of the Old Testament and to a leaning to "Old Testament Hebrewism", as you call it. In your search for the truth you began to study Hebrew, in order to be able to study the Old Testament in the original. Incidentally, you include Greek and Hebrew as the "original languages" of the Old Testament. But surely you know that the Greek text is not the original, but a translation, as the name "Septuagint" indicates. (The Translation of the Seventy Elders).

Since you invite my comments, I offer you the following:

The difficulty in the search for the Truth is to find the right approach to this problem. I suggest, in your case, the following "stages". Any normal thinking person is aware of the universe as a cosmic unit governed by law and order, indeed a strict regularity and conformity of behavior is clearly evident even in inert matter (the "lowest" of the four kinG-doms), where the behavior of atoms and molecules, as all other physical laws, clearly point to the fact that the universe is governed by "something" which is outside and "above" the universe, an immanent as well as a transcending Supreme Being.

In such a Divine order as the cosmos represents, everything must have its place and function, for it would be unthinkable otherwise, since even in a well organized human system, such as an organization or a machine, everything has its place and purpose, and it would be absurd to credit the Supreme Being with less wisdom than a human being.

To continue with the illustration, a humanly organized system offers but two ways of approach: a) cooperation and harmonious adjustment within the system, which is beneficial both for the system as well as for the part or individual concerned, or b) the other extreme - non-cooperation, i.e. excluding oneself from the system, which not only deprives the system of service, but creates disharmony and causes direct harm to the system, and necessarily also to the part or individual concerned; moreover, since the part or the individual is the cause of such disharmony, the harm done to himself is much greater than to the system in question. Most important of all, the very fact of not adjusting oneself to the order of the system is in itself the greatest loss and penalty.

To follows from the above, that no man has a right to say "I will do as I please, and it is no one's business." For by harming oneself one harms also the whole system.

...No man has a right to say "I will do as I please, and it is no one's business." For by harming oneself one harms also the whole system.

The same is true, and infinitely more so, of the whole universal order. However, being part of the inner order, man cannot grasp the tremendous structure of the intricate cosmic order, but for the fact that the Architect and Ruler of this universe revealed a part of the laws and workings of the system, the part that concerns man to enable him harmoniously to fit into and adjust himself within the universal order.

Obviously, desiring to give man free choice of action, the Architect of the world order did not create a race of mechanical robots, but endowed man with an intellect and ability to choose his way. At the same time, however, being the Essence of Goodness, He surely revealed those laws in such a way as to leave no doubt in the right-thinking mind as to the origin of these laws.

Continued in next issue. From

All Together

Are there special ways to prepare for prayer?

There is a custom, mentioned in the prayer book compiled by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi - the founder of Chabad Chasidut - which is based on the teachings of Kabala, that one say, "I hereby undertake to fulfill the mitzva (commandment), 'Love your fellowman as yourself,'" before beginning to pray. For fulfilling the commandment of loving a fellow Jew is the gateway that enables a person to enter and stand before G-d in prayer. By virtue of this love one's prayers are accepted.

A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

This coming Shabbat (August 12) is the 20th of the Hebrew month of Av. This date is the yartzeit (anniversary of the passing) of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, the saintly father of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

In a letter that Reb Levi Yitzchak wrote to his son, he emphasized the concept of faith in every little "dot and crown" of our G-d-given Torah, whereby each detail complements and perfects the others:

"Do not imagine that the process of argument and debate as engaged in by the Sages of the Mishna and Talmud and those who followed... falls into the category of regular human intellectual pursuit. No, it is not that at all... Rather, each of the Sages perceived the Torah's wisdom as it exists Above, according to the source of his soul and his individual portion in Torah, whether in Jewish law or Aggadita.

"There is absolutely no doubt that everything in both the Oral and Written Torah, and in all the holy books written by the sages and tzadikim (righteous people), who studied Torah for its own sake... everything was said by G-d Himself, in that particular and exact wording."

Reb Levi Yitzchak's spoken words were not ephemeral sounds, his written words were not mere ink on paper. The understanding that every dot and crown of Torah are true and holy were his blood and bones. He lived with the realization of the importance of every aspect of Torah and had utter self-sacrifice for the compliance to Torah's every detail and nuance.

May we learn from his teachings and example and may his memory be a blessing for us.

Thoughts that Count

Our patriarch Abraham was tested with ten tests... (Ethics 5:3)

Just as a father bequeaths his estate to his descendants, Abraham bequeathed his spiritual legacy to every Jew. This legacy gives us the strength to withstand the challenges we face in our Divine service.

(Sichot Parshat Chukat)

Ten miracles were performed for our forefathers in Egypt... (Ethics 5:4)

Pirkei Avot is intended to teach us pious conduct. What is the lesson learned from the above statement? When the Jews in Egypt witnessed the miracles performed on their behalf, they became aware of their true identity. Although they were in exile, they knew that they were servants of G-d rather than the Egyptian's slaves. Although we are still in exile, we are G-d servants, answerable to Him before any other authority.

(The Rebbe)

There are four types of temperaments: He who is easily angered and easily pacified, his loss is cancelled by his gain... (Ethics 5:14)

The Talmud teaches: When any person gives way to anger, if he is wise, his wisdom leaves him; if he is a prophet, his power of prophecy leaves him. And even if greatness was decreed for him from Heaven, whosoever becomes angry will be degraded. Conversely, says the Talmud, among those whom the Holy One loves are a man who does not become angry as a rule, and one who will overlook irritating causes for retaliation.

(Talmud, Pesachim 66b, 113b)

The Holy One, blessed be He, wished to make the people of Israel meritorious; therefore He gave them Torah and mitzvot in abundant measure (verse recited each week following the study of Pirkei Avot)

The Hebrew word for "make meritorious" can also mean "to refine." The goal of Torah and mitzvot is to refine the Jewish people, and this is especially true of Pirkei Avot, which teaches us to lift our conduct above the limits of human wisdom.

(Likutei Sichot)

It Once Happened

In honor of the anniversary of passing this Shabbat of the saintly Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson, we bring you the following story:

Mr. Tzvi Zimmerman is an Israeli who lived in Alma Ata, Russia, for an extended period, where he oversaw a number of international business concerns. Mr. Zimmerman related the following story that happened to him:

"One day, I returned home from work and got out of the elevator. As I turned toward my door I was attacked by thieves. They forced me into my apartment and tied me up. Then they locked the door and began going through my belongings.

"I knew that in these kinds of robberies, the victims generally did not remain alive, and yet, they did not kill me. As soon as I recovered, I called Rabbi Yeshaya Cohen, the Chief Rabbi of Kazakhstan and the Rebbe's emissary to the city, and I told him I wanted to be called up to the Torah to say the HaGomel blessing that one says after he has survived a dangerous situation. Rabbi Cohen told me to come on Monday.

"I went on Monday and the portion that was read was about Sara our Matriarch who was told that she would become pregnant after many years of infertility. At the end of the services, we sat down to talk. Rabbi Cohen told me about his work and mentioned that the grave of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, the Rebbe's father, is in Alma Ata.

"I confided in him that I have a daughter who was married for four years and had not yet become pregnant despite extensive medical treatment. Rabbi Cohen suggested that we go and pray at the grave site of the holy Rabbi Levi Yitzchak. We went together and prayed and I mentioned my daughter's name, Shirlee bat Sara.

"When we left, Rabbi Cohen reminded me of the week's Torah portion that tells about our Matriarch Sara becoming pregnant after many years. He promised me that we had left the matter in good hands and concluded confidently, 'Expect good news.'

"A short while later, my daughter called me and emotionally said, 'Abba, I have good news ...' I am sure it is thanks to the prayer we said at the resting place of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson.

Mr. Zimmerman shared another story, this one relating to his daughter when she was 12:

"At age 12 Shirlee was already a serious athlete and her passion was swimming. One day, she started getting terrible pains in her legs. The doctor advised her to stop training for a little while until the pains subsided. But she continued with her rigorous schedule as before. The pain became so acute that she had to be hospitalized. The doctors could not determine the cause of the pain and she eventually became paralysed in her limbs. For six weeks she was in the hospital totally immobile, with the best doctors being unable to determine the cause, let along a cure, for her paralysis.

"One evening, three bearded Chasidim walked in. A mutual friend had told them about my daughter's problem and they had come to visit. The three were: Gidi Sharon, Zohar Eisenberg, and Menasheh Altheus. They said we should be in touch with the Rebbe that very night, asking for a blessing on my daughter's behalf, and suggested that I check the mezuzot in my house.

"We checked the mezuzot. The world 'uv'kumecha - when you get up' in the mezuza on my daughter's room was faulty. Of course, we immediately changed mezuza.

"I spoke to the Rebbe's secretary, Rabbi Groner. I told him the story and he told me he would give her name and the details to the Rebbe and ask for a blessing. One of the three then said that we needed to say 'L'chaim,' adding in full confidence: 'We checked the mezuzot, located the problem, and informed the Rebbe, and now everything will be fine.'

"Personally, I was not all that convinced that changing the mezuza on Shirley's bedroom door would have any effect on her legs. The next day, I went to the hospital and Shirlee walked toward me as the entire department stood there and wept. The doctors, the nurses, the patients, and now, as I tell the story, I'm also crying. It was such an emotional moment.

"She was still limping and leaning on a walker, but she was on her own two feet. After Shabbat, Shirlee was released from the hospital. Her condition improved rapidly. After two weeks, she was back in school and showed no signs of the pain or paralysis. The doctors admitted that they could find no cause for her sickness or for its sudden disappearance."

Reprinted from Beis Moshiach Magazine

Moshiach Matters

The name of this week's Torah portion, Eikev can have a double meaning in regard to Redemption, for the phrase describing the time of Moshiach's arrival is "ik'vesa d'Mishicha" - the eikev of Moshiach. Here eikev can mean the heel, the lowest, most unworthy generation, the one enmeshed in a doubled and re-doubled darkness - a generation of chutzpa and arrogance. Eikev can also mean the end and completion, that is, the end of exile and the completion of all the Divinely ordained tasks necessary to prepare for the coming of Moshiach.

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

  1483: Vaeschanan1485: Re'eh  
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