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It Once Happened | Moshiach Matters
A villager decided that when the "horseless engine" finally made it to his town, he would be one of the first passengers. He saved his rubles so that when the tracks were complete, he would be able to travel on the train.
The last tracks were laid and prospective passengers bought tickets. Our villager was informed that he had enough for a first-class ticket! In one week the train would depart.
The long-awaited day finally came but no passengers were yet allowed on. The villager noticed a few shabby men approaching the train from the field and quietly sliding themselves onto luggage racks under the train.
Since the entire phenomenon of train-travel was new, the villager assumed that this was the way everyone would be traveling. Wanting to possibly get an entire rack for himself - after all, he had a first-class ticket - the villager slid himself onto the rack. And there, with great anticipation, the villager waited.
The villager waited and waited and finally dozed off. When he woke up he found himself whizzing along the countryside. When the train reached its first stop, the villager slid out of his rack to stretch his legs. He was confronted by the conductor who began berating the villager for trying to stow away.
Rather indignantly, the villager told the conductor that he had paid good money for a first-class ticket and handed his ticket to the conductor.
The conductor was surprised. "Why are you traveling as a stowaway when you have a first class ticket?"
The villager explained that when he saw people "boarding" the racks under the train, he followed suit.
For the rest of the journey to the big city the mistake was rectified and the villager truly went "first-class."
Each of us is holding a first-class ticket. However, unlike the villager, who earnestly saved up his rubles to purchase his first-class ticket, our generation, simply by virtue of living in this era of the "footsteps of Moshiach," has been issued first-class tickets for the Messianic Era.
The Rebbe stated that everything necessary for Moshiach to come has been done; it is incumbent upon us only to prepare for and welcome Moshiach.
What we do with this knowledge, and the first-class tickets our generation has been issued, is totally in our own hands.
Jewish teachings share different ways to hasten and prepare for Moshiach. Engaging in these activities is our way of using our tickets properly. The suggestions include giving extra charity, fostering unity and love amongst our fellow-Jews, observing Shabbat, and increasing one's Jewish studies.
The Rebbe explained how to prepare for our final destination: learn more about Moshiach and the Redemption; share what we've learned; start living in a "Moshiach" manner - more peacefully, more connected to G-d, more conscious of holiness and our ultimate purpose; and enhance the mitzvot that we're already doing.
Each one of us has the unique opportunity to travel first class to the Redemption. Anywhere along the way we can wiggle ourselves out of the luggage racks, show our ticket, and proudly proceed to the place which has been reserved especially for us. It depends only on one thing - our own desire to do so.
In this week's Torah portion, Re'eh, we read "You are children to G-d." We also read "... G-dhas chosen you to be for Him a treasured people."
These verses beg a few questions. Which one is it, are we G-d's children or has He chosen us? What can we learn from this for our personal relationships? Does one choose their relatives?
G-d is telling us that there are two ways he relates to us.
First - as His children. Just as a parent is one with his child and nothing can change that, so too G-d's bond with us can never be severed, we are His children.
Second - He chooses us. He wants us and chooses us every day to be His Treasure.
Not only are we intrinsically one because of our essential bond, but G-d continues to treasure each and every one of us because He chooses to.
It is possible to be in a relationship and take for granted the fact that you are essentially one, thinking that this is enough.
Your children and your spouse ache for you to choose them every day. When you don't, they feel hurt, taken for granted and used. It is because of the intrinsic bond that they yearn for your love.
Don't just be your child's parent, be a parent to your child. The same holds true for spouses, and for children toward their parents. Show them that you choose them, that you treasure them.
Don't be difficult, don't be stubborn, don't make requirements for your love. Choose to give them your love because they are your treasures.
Diagnosed with ALS, unable to move, I am blessed with plenty of time to think. When considering what is most important to me, the conclusion is always the same. The most important thing is that my wife and children feel loved and cherished by me, and I try my best to show them that I do. Life is so short, make sure your family knows how much you cherish them and that you choose them over and over again.
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.
Over the Edge
When the going gets tough, the tough go rappelling.
Chabad likes to discuss overcoming adversity.Chasidim say, "When you are bound above you do not fall below." To illustrate this idea, Rabbi Anchelle Perl, director of Chabad Mineola took this to a new height by rappelling down the 170-foot Tower at Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York.
The rabbi was joined by local government and community leaders in this signature event provided by the Over the Edge Global company, that helps non-profits raise awareness of its causes, in exchange for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of rappelling over the edge of a building. Chabad of Mineola thanked the local sponsor, the EAC-Network, for allowing them on board.
"The scariest part was stepping backwards over the edge," shared Rabbi Perl. "My friends were quick to tell me to keep my daytime job!"
"A delegation of friends and supporters waited below to welcome the rabbi back to solid ground," reported Malka Kipnis. "We all waited with excitement and a little trepidation, as the rabbi slowly made his way down."
"As he hung on tightly to the rope, we could hear the rabbi speak to us via a microphone attached to his collar. First, he kept reassuring us he was fine, thank G-d. Then he reminded us that our souls, which have descended from heaven, are constantly attached by a spiritual cord of 613 strands (the 613 mitzvot/commandments) and we all have a mission to make this world a home for G-d," noted local attorney Alan Bookvar.
At the conclusion, after the rabbi had reached the end of his rope, he pulled out a fabric Ten Commandments banner from under his shirt, and then further elaborated:
"There are so many people who face daily challenges and sadly go over the edge without a soft landing, so we are here today to say: we care and will do anything we can to help anyone who falls through the cracks.
"We are all enjoying the summer, with even a great vacation planned. Let's not forget that so many individuals and families, struggle with basic needs right here in our local community facing fear and obstacles that most of us can't ever imagine.
"By repelling down the side of a building, it brings to mind a favorite Yiddish saying used in Chabad circles of 'l'chatchila ariber.' This phrase translates to "leap over it in the first place." It's an attitude thing. When a problem arises, we go into "crisis mode," trying to figure out ways to dance around the issue and get by. What 'l'chatchila ariber' is telling us is that we should jump over a problem almost as if it never existed in the first place."
Everybody was treated with gift-bag to take home filled with Shabbat chicken soup, Shabbat candles and Challahs.
Innovation is nothing new to Rabbi Perl, co-director of Chabad Mineola for 27 years with his wife Bluma, and an emissary of the Rebbe in Long Island for over 40 years.
To name a few:
For 25 years, Rabbi Perl has been doing a Chabad Chanuka telethon. Last year's telethon benefitted victims of domestic abuse and violence, spot-lighted local residents who were looking for jobs, and featured a latke eating contest.
In 1997, a year before the famous Paper Clip Project by the Whitwell Middle School (that became a movie and whose paper clips were eventually donated to the Holocaust Museum) Rabbi Perl initiated a "Good Deeds Link" Campaign. He eventually collected over 1,000,000 paper clips, each one attached to a good deed that the person had done to remember the victims of the Holocaust and make the world a better place through good deeds.
Continuing with the theme of good deeds, Rabbi Perl has established the "Good Deed Awards" for Long Island Teenagers in response to hearing too many negative things about young people. There is a cash award for the winners and beautiful public ceremony honoring the awardees.
In 2009, an event to publicize the special once in 28 year blessing that is recited on the sun, Rabbi Perl buried a "Time Capsule" at the cornerstone of Chabad Beth Shalom Mineola. The time capsule documented the individual thoughts, perspectives, comments, and personal histories on people thought 2009 would be remembered in Jewish history. It is slated to be opened at the next blessing of the sun, April 8, 2037.
A unique "Travel the World of Kindness in one Day"
was a "Magical Mystery Bus Tour" starting at Chabad in Mineola and dedicated to acts of kindness to the hungry, the homeless and the incarcerated.
A campaign to educate Jews about Jewish burial and that cremation is not in accordance with Jewish values and teachings came after the passing of Amy Winehouse.
"Tell a Police Officer 'Thank You' Day," "Salute to Sanitation" initiative, the "Super Bowl Chicken Soup and Wings Challenge" to deliver food on Superbowl Sunday to needy people in Nassau County, an Opiod Overdose Prevention Program and Responder educational initiative at Chabad of Mineola are just a few of Rabbi Perl's innovations throughout the years. Keep them coming until 120!!!
New Emissaries on Campus
Rabbi Gavriel and Menucha Isenberg are moving to Nashville, Tenessee, where they will be working together with Rabbi Shlomo and Menucha Rothstein to strengthen the work of Chabad of Vanderbilt University.
Chabad of North Haven, in Sag Harbor, Long Island, recently moved to a new facility. The Center for Jewish Life how has a 3,600-square-foot space that features an art gallery for New York-based artists as well as Kids Space.
Torah for RARA
The first ever Torah scroll to service the Jewish community in North Queensland was completed recently. The welcoming of the new Torah took place just 18 months after Chabad of RARA (Rural and Regional Australia) set up a permanent Chabad House in the Region where a presence has been for 20 years.
16 of Shevat, 5714 
Continued from previous issue
To satisfy even the most skeptical and doubting mind, the Divine Revelation was made not the experience of a single man, nor of a group of men, no matter how trustworthy, since in such a case the interpretation might be tinted with conscious or unconscious subjectivity common to the particular group. But the Revelation was presented to a mass of people, of varying interests, views, ages and so on. When such a mass of people simultaneously experience the same experience, receive the same message, in the very same form, there can be no room for doubt as to the authenticity of the experience and message. Thus, the Revelation at Mount Sinai must be considered as the most authentic and scientifically most proven fact. Does this truth hold good also for the successive generations, to the present day? The verification may be deduced by a similar method: if, in generation after generation the message is transmitted in the same form, the same wording, the same minute detail, etc., and followed and adhered to by a very great number of people, of varying strata, interests, backgrounds, environments etc., there is irrevocable testimony of the authenticity of it.
The only set of laws and instructions, i.e. the only religion, that satisfies the above conditions, is the Jewish traditional faith, the tradition of which can be traced from our own time, through a successive and uninterrupted course, back to the Revelation at Sinai. At no time was it limited to a single person, or to a group of twelve persons, or even to a larger group. There is no weak link in the chain of Jewish tradition, leaving no doubt as to its authenticity.
Herein lies the answer to the question which you refer to in your letter, why, after thousands of years of persecutions, massacres and all forms of "persuasiveness", the Jews remain loyal to their faith. The explanation is not mystical alone, connected with spiritual ties between the Jew's soul and G-d, but also logical and scientific, based on personal experience, based on direct Divine authority, which is accepted even if not understood. No transient human power can challenge this conviction and strength derived from the All, the Eternal.
There is no weak link in the chain of Jewish tradition, leaving no doubt as to its authenticity.
As an integral part of the Revelation, (which for reasons known to the Creator Himself was given to the children of Israel), the gentiles also were given laws and instructions as to their course in life, in the general "Seven Laws of the children of Noah", with their ramifications.
I take the liberty of one further remark, in reference to your writings about the incompatibility which has arisen between you and your wife on religious grounds, which has led to your separation. You do not mention all the circumstances, however, despite your statement that you had no "brera" [choice], separation of husband and wife is not a desirable solution, and should only be resorted to after all other attempts have proven futile.
With the prayerful wish that the Creator of the Universe guide you in the right path, the path of Truth, that you may be able to fulfill your function in this life on earth, and thus enjoy spiritual contentment, so necessary also for physical wellbeing.
What is the origin of the kipa/yarmulka?
It is customary for boys and men to wear a kipa as a sign and reminder that G-d is above and watches our actions. In fact, the word "yarmulka" is based on the Aramaic "yirei malka" meaning "reverance for the King," reflecting the above concept. In post-Talmudic times it became the accepted custom for Jewish males to wear a kipa at all times. Once a custom becomes an accepted Jewish practice, it becomes obligatory by Jewish law, thus the Code of Jewish Law contains the specific details of the observance of wearing the kipa.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
On Shabbat we bless the new month of Elul and on Tuesday and Wednesday we celebrate Rosh Chodesh Elul. The month of Elul is the last month of the Jewish year. Thus, it is a month devoted to introspection and repentance, in preparation for the new year.
Jewish teachings encourage us to be more careful and conscientious in our mitzva observance during this month, to say additional Psalms, give extra charity and make an honest reckoning of our behavior over the past year.
The Rebbe discusses the Sages comment of the need for the Jewish people to do teshuva (return to G-d) before Moshiach comes. The Rebbe said:
"The Talmud (Sanhedrin) states that the coming of Moshiach is dependent only on teshuva - repentance. As to the continuation of the above declaration of the Sages, that 'the matter now depends on teshuva alone,' G-d's people have already turned to Him in teshuva. For teshuva is an instantaneous process, which transpires 'in one moment, in one turn.' Furthermore, a single thought of teshuva is sufficient to alter one's entire spiritual status....
"Since on more than one occasion every Jew has had thoughts of teshuva, the coming of the future Redemption is surely imminent..."
Thus, though we are obligated to continuously do teshuva, the Rebbe clearly stated that the teshuva necessary to bring the Redemption has already been done.
May we merit the Redemption, as the Rebbe prophesied, in the immediate future.
"Whoever occupies himself with [the study of] Torah for its own sake... others derive from him the benefit of counsel (Ethics 6:1)
This refers to the ability to advise others in worldly matters. The study of Torah will develop a person's powers of understanding to the extent that he will appreciate the proper course of action in worldly matters as well. Thus on one hand, a person who devotes himself to Torah will be above all worldly pursuits. Simultaneously, however, he will find success for himself and others even on the worldly plane.
(Likkutei Sichot, Vol. XVII)
Each and every day a Heavenly Voice goes forth from Mount Choreb (Ethics 6:2)
Our souls exist on several planes simultaneously. This Heavenly Voice reverberates, and is "heard" by our souls as they exist in the spiritual realms. And this causes our souls as they are enclothed within our bodies to be aroused to teshuva - return.
(Likkutei Sichot, Vol. IX)
Children are pleasing for the righteous and pleasing for the world (Ethics 6:8)
In an extended sense, the term "children" refers to one's students - in many ways the ultimate influence on one's environment. For through students (who themselves become teachers), the truths one shares become ingrained both in the present and in the future.
(Sichot Shabbat Bamidbar, 5740)
All that the Holy One, blessed be He, created in His world, He created solely for His glory (Ethics 6:11)
Moreover, to express G-dliness is not merely one of the purposes served by these entities; it is the sole reason for their existence. Therefore a person should not shy away from worldly involvement. On the contrary, in whatever he does and wherever he finds himself, he should seek to find a means of honoring G-d. For example, new developments in technology and communications need not be ignored, or used only for commercial enterprise. The real purpose of their existence is that they be employed to express G-d's honor.
(Sichot Shabbat Nitzavim, 5728; Balak, 5741)
The disciples of the Baal Shem Tov stood in the field. They had just ended their devotions and they were watching as their master approached a gentile shepherd who was guarding his sheep. He stood amid a stand of trees playing a wooden flute.
"Here, my good man," said the Baal Shem Tov, as he handed the shepherd a coin. "Please, be so good as to play that tune once again." The shepherd raised the flute to his lips and the melody he played was the most beautiful, haunting tune the disciples had ever heard. The shepherd was about to continue his concert when he suddenly lowered his hand and said, "I don't know what happened. I just completely forgot the melody."
As the Baal Shem Tov and his students left the meadow, the Baal Shem Tov said, "It's a good thing that the shepherd forgot the tune. This melody which you just heard was one of the tunes played by the Levites in the Holy Temple. When the Holy Temple was destroyed that melody went into captivity amongst the nations, where it remained until it came to this shepherd. Just now, when the shepherd played it for us I was able to release it from its foreign exile and allow it return to its spiritual source."
Reb Zisel was down on his luck. It was not only one misfortune that had befallen him, but an entire legion which had attacked him with gusto. And so, he traveled to the famed rebbe, the Baal Shem Tov to beg for a blessing. But when he finally arrived, the Baal Shem Tov looked at the sad man and said, "I am very sorry. I would like to help you, but I can't for it seems that Heaven itself is preventing me."
The man was shocked. He begged and implored, but his importuning was of no avail. The tzadik had no power to intervene on his behalf. Suddenly, as if on impulse, the Baal Shem Tov rose and took a book from the shelf and opened it at random. It happened to be a volume of the Talmud, and he spotted the line "He who takes a penny from Iyov will be blessed."
Turning to Reb Zisel, the Baal Shem Tov said, "These words must be significant for you. The Talmud is teaching us that when a person is worthy, a blessing rests on the charity his gives, so that the recipient gains an added benefit from it." And the Baal Shem Tov began to think who he might know of that had this special ability to infuse his charity with blessing.
After some thought, the Baal Shem Tov recalled Reb Shabsai Meir of Brod. He was now quite wealthy, but he had not always been so. However, even when he had little money, he gave charity with an open hand, one might even say lavishly. His other distinguishing feature was the depth and earnestness of his prayer. And what did he ask for, but continuing and increasing wealth - and not for himself, for he needed very little. No, he wanted wealth to be able to continue distributing charity to the needy. G-d heeded his prayers. Not only did he grow steadily wealthier, but the money he gave out had in it the blessing that it truly benefitted its recipients.
"Reb Zisel," said the Baal Shem Tov, "You must go to Reb Shabsai Meir in Brod and spend a Shabbat with him. When you leave, be sure that he gives you some charity money; this money has a special blessing in it."
Reb Zisel followed the advice he was given and went to Brod where Reb Shabsai Meir happily hosted him for a Shabbat. At the conclusion of the Shabbat Reb Zisel received money from the tzadik, and the unique blessing was indeed transferred to him. From that time forth, good fortune become a familiar companion, and his sorrows were only a memory.
For many years, Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov, lived a "hidden" life, artfully concealing his knowledge and piety in the guise of a coarse and ignorant clay digger.
Once, he came to see the rabbi of Brody. The rabbi, seeing only his visitor's crude manner and torn and muddy clothes, treated him with contempt. Said Rabbi Yisroel: "Our Sages tell us to 'learn from every man,' for your fellow is your mirror. If your own face is clean, the image you encounter will also be flawless. Should you gaze into a mirror and see a blemish, it is your own imperfection that you are seeing.
"Rabbi of Brody! When I see your sour face, I truly sense how much I myself am lacking in the ideal 'love your fellow as yourself.'"
We have to announce and publicize everywhere, in an appropriate manner, with words that "go from the heart," that G-d tells each and every Jew, through His servants the prophets, that "Re'eh Anochi Notain Lifnaychem Hayom Bracha" - "See, I give to you today blessing," and that this blessing means that we will actually see - today - with our own eyes - the blessing of the true and complete Redemption.
(From Reflections of Redemption, based on Sefer HaSichot 5751 of the Rebbe, by Dovid Yisroel Ber Kaufmann o.b.m., to whom this column is dedicated)