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Devarim Deutronomy

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Devarim Deutronomy

L'Chaim
December 8, 2017 - 20 Kislev, 5778

1500: Vayeshev

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Published and copyright © by Lubavitch Youth Organization - Brooklyn, NY
The Weekly Publication For Every Jewish Person
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


  1499: Vayishlach1501: Miketz  

Oops!  |  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

Oops!

by Rabbi Uriel Vigler

I love you! Oops. No I don't.

We all know the feeling: That first flutter of concern, the fleeting hope, the quick scramble to double and triple check, and the elevated heart rate turned full blown panic as we realize it's done, sent, no way out.

Yes, I'm talking about the universal and undeniable panic that sets in upon realizing you've sent a text, email, or voice note to the wrong person.

We've all done it. And it happened to me again this week. I accidentally messaged "I love you" to the wrong person. Ouch.

I was Whatsapping with my dear friend Jack* about our upcoming gala dinner. He had questions, I had answers, I asked him to buy a full table, and by the end of our conversation he had committed to two tables - double my initial request! Thrilled, I wrote back, "I love you!"

But, like virtually everyone else in 2017, I was doing multiple things at the same time, including having other Whatsapp conversions with different people on entirely different topics.

And that's how it happened. The "I love you" message intended as an expression of appreciation for Jack (with whom I have been friends for many years) ended up being sent to someone who would have certainly been taken aback to receive that from a Chabad rabbi.

So I panicked. Panicked hard.

But then I remembered that Whatsapp has a very new and highly useful feature you can use to un-send messages within seven minutes of sending them. I could see the person had not yet read my message, so I quickly deleted it, and the only remaining evidence was the "this message has been deleted" that Whatsapp replaces the erased message with.

Crisis averted. Whew. Wipe brow; resume life.

But what if we could mimic Whatsapp's un-send feature in real life? Imagine if we could un-send the harsh words we spoke, undo our poor decisions, and retract actions we regret?

What would life look like if we had a window - even just seven minutes - to re-evaluate our behavior before it hits the other person? Would we do things differently?

The truth is, we do have that feature! The Alter Rebbe explains in Tanya that we have the ability to transform our sins into mitzvot. It takes time and hard work, but if you do it correctly, you can literally undo all your past misdeeds, erasing any signs of them from your soul.

It requires deep soul searching, sincere apologies and regret, forgiveness from those you've hurt, honest repentance, and a determination to behave differently when faced with the same situation again. But it is doable.

So who's in? I know I am!

Rabbi Vigler, together with his wife Shevy, co-directs Chabad Israel Center of the Upper East Side in New York City. From Rabbi Vigler's blog at www.chabadic.com

Living with the Rebbe

In the Haftora for our portion of Vayeishev, the prophet Amos delivers G-d's words of rebuke to the ten northern tribes, the kingdom of Israel. He chastises them for the corruption of those in power over the common folk and for not listening to the prophets.

The Haftora speaks of the sale of a righteous person for silver and a poor man for a pair of shoes. This connects with the sale of Joseph as a slave to Egypt, spoken about in our portion. The Haftora continues with the truth of prophecy, and that it is directly from G-d, alluding to Joseph 's dreams and his ability to interpret dreams, which was clearly prophecy from G-d. And finally, the Haftora mentions the exodus from Egypt, which was the end of an exile, that began with Joseph being sold to Egypt.

The Haftora contains a number of rhetorical statements, that demonstrate that the consequences, are a direct result of our actions. These verses have alternative meanings, I will touch on a few.

"Do two walk together, without it being arranged?" The word for a brotherly gathering in Hebrew is "hitvadut." It comes from the word noadu (arranged) in this verse. The idea is that when two or more Jews come together in unity, it is very powerful, especially to strengthen each other in matters of Torah and mitzvot (commandments), and connecting with G-d. This verse is also telling us, that when we meet another Jew, we shouldn't think that the meeting was "by chance." Rather G-d arranged for you to meet and therefore, you must use the opportunity to help each other, study something from each other, or see what you can do together to help another.

"Does a lion roar in the forest, if he has no prey?" The lion's roar, represents the greatest expression of its strength. On a spiritual level, this refers to when we are as strong as a lion and we overcome our evil inclination, which then becomes our prey. The excitement felt inside is amazing, because G-d has so much pleasure and pride in us, causing His light shine on and in us.

"If a shofar is sounded in a city, can the inhabitants fail to be terrified?" The simple meaning of this verse is, that a shofar was sounded when enemies were converging on a city, which was terrifying. Alternatively, this refers to sounding the shofar in the month of Elul. That the sound of the shofar reaches the core of every Jew, even those that seem distant and cold to Judaism are affected by the sound of the shofar. In this verse, no reference is made of the one blowing, because no matter who is doing the blowing, the sound that enters us is from G-d. This is the reason why it is so effective.

May we all hear G-d sounding The Great Shofar of Freedom, announcing that Moshiach is here, very soon!

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


A Slice of Life

Time-Travelling Candles
by Sarah Bendetsky

The windows are ice frosted; it's dark and snowstorming outside.

I sit on a carpet in our living room, enchanted by the lights of multi-coloured Chanuka candles.

Packed in a light-blue box, these candles arrived in a humanitarian aid parcel from Israel, together with a tin candleholder, a blue spinning top dreydel and a small string-bag of chocolate coins - the most delicious treat in the entire world.

My world is big and it's about our apartment and suburb, and the whole city of Moscow. And it also includes the faraway country of Israel, where people speak Hebrew - the language I don't know yet but will definitely learn one day... the country featuring a blue star on its flag - the same star as the one I wear on my necklace... the country where multi-coloured candles live in light-blue boxes and get to travel to other places to spread light.

I am seven or eight years old. I am an ordinary girl with blond hair and unordinary last name. And I have a big secret too.

We are getting ready for the New Year at school. There is a huge tree in the auditorium, decorated with balls and garlands. During the day we practice for the end-of-year concert where I play a 'snowflake' - just like all other Russian girls.

But I can't wait for the nighttime when a different holiday will enter my life - the one I don't talk about in school. It's my Chanuka...

Time goes by and I change schools. Now the auditorium features a big menora. Our teachers say that another menora is going to be lit on the Red Square in the centre of Moscow. Would you ever believe that? Now that's a Chanuka miracle...

During the festive week our classes are shortened; we enjoy school concerts, donuts and latkes, and - guess what? - Each student receives a genuine American dollar for Chanuka gelt!

Coats are abandoned in the cloak-room; and we run to the currency exchange booth nearby the school, laughing away... The snow is crispy; our cheeks are red... Ah... the joy Chanuka.

Time travels fast, and I am celebrating my first Chanuka it the United States. I am 16 and I've been here for exactly 1 month and 10 days. Apparently, it's quite common to erect electric menorahs on car roofs. I stop each time I see one.

I rush into a Judaica store and buy my first menora, which resembles the Western Wall. I hold it tight and run back home.

A flash of memory... and I am a seminary student on my gap year in Montreal. These days my 19-year-old friends and I are in charge of Chanuka activities. It is a big responsibility to bring the holiday spirit to life, knowing how many children are looking forward to our Chanuka concert. So I try really hard to draw decorations and choose the right music, while my friends are practicing the play, setting up the game stations ... And very soon another Chanuka miracle takes place - our young audience is mesmerised by what they see on stage.

A somersault of time, and here I am, frying latkes in my tiny kitchen in Crown Heights, New York. They don't look great - which isn't surprising - I never wore an apron before my wedding. I am upset that half of the latkes looks Cajun, while the other half is too pale... But that's not the end of the world since the 'first-Chanuka' smell comes out of every apartment in our building where so many newlyweds start their lives together.

The year after my husband Avi is going to light the chanukiya while holding our newborn son on his lap. And my latkes are golden and perfectly round (well, 'the round' part I made up. I doubt that I'll ever get it a right, but what a metaphor it was!)

Time leaps and new discoveries enter my life: the Australian Chanuka happens in summer! No more ice frosting on my windows, but a wonderful concert in the Caulfield Park instead - with magical fireworks, reaching higher than palm trees and eucalyptuses... And here is my daughter, twirling around like a dreydel herself...

One year I get an opportunity to celebrate Chanukah in Israel. Having to fly in the middle of the holiday, I worry that I won't be able to light candles in Thailand where I switch my flight from Melbourne. I ask the airport staff member to allow me to light these tiiiiiny candles in a tin candleholder (yes, they are in the light-blue box identical to the ones I had in my childhood.)

I calmly explain to the staff member that Chanuka is a Jewish holiday, which celebrates the miracle of oil and the victory of one's faith over circumstances - in memory of which we light candles for 8 days. Yes, no matter where we end up in the world... And so it is that this Chanuka I am in Bangkok, so maybe you will let me?.. Please?.. No, madam, it is not my birthday today. So why do these candles look like birthday cake candles?.. Well, haven't I just explained to you the whole story?..

I make my way to the El Al counter which finally opens up for check-in. Suddenly, I realise that Chanuka isn't a purely religious holiday in Israel but a national one too, uniting people from all walks of life. Passengers are offered sufganiyot and I get a warm feeling that I am going home.

Travelling from the airport I can't stop looking at the sparkling illuminations on the roads of Jerusalem. But these are golden menorahs, not trees and garlands.

I am only here for eight days. I try to see and feel as much as possible, but, most importantly, to understand what is it like to live on your own land and not to be a minority?

I walk on the streets of Jerusalem by night and peek into the windows. I see little children in almost every window. They are enchanted by the playful lights of Chanuka candles, and somehow I know that I saw them already... The lights wink inviting to come closer...

"Happy Chanuka!" I hear just about everywhere ... I am not used to hearing greetings from complete strangers and I smile back, frantically trying to recognise these people, totally revealing that I am a visitor from overseas.

"Happy Chanuka to you, too!" I answer back. "And may you be blessed with abundance of miracles, no matter where you end up celebrating this wonderful holiday!"

From Sarah Bendetsky's blog "Baggage of Thoughts."


What's New

World's Largest Menora

Be part of the Chanuka celebrations at the World's Largest Chanuka Menora at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street in New York City. Tuesday - Thursday night, Dec. 12 - 14, 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, the menora will be lit at 3:30 p.m. Saturday night, December 16, 8:30 p.m. Sunday - Tuesday, Dec. 17 -19, the menora will be lit at 5:30 p.m. On Sunday there will be live music, free hot latkes and chocolate Chanuka gelt. For more info call the Lubavitch Youth Organization at (718) 778-6000. For public menora lightings in your area visit chanukah.org

New Emissaries - 100th Country

The East African country of Uganda is the 100th country to welcome a permanent Chabad presence in its midst, with the arrival of Rabbi Moishe and Yocheved Raskin. Chabad of Uganda is located in the capital city of Kampala.


The Rebbe Writes

Free Translation

Motzoei Shabbat Kodesh, of the week of Vayeitzei, 9 Kislev - birthday and yahrzeit of the Mitteler Rebbe [Rabbi Dov Ber, second Chabad Rebbe]
Saturday night of the week of Vayishlach, 10 Kislev - Day of Redemption of the Mitteler Rebbe, 5752 [1991]
To the Editorial Staff of "Kfar Chabad" In Our Holy Land, May it Be Rebuilt and Reestablished May G-d Be With You

Peace and Blessing!

I was pleased to be informed that "Kfar Chabad" magazine will be printing its five hundredth issue on the 10th of Kislev, G-d willing. This represents almost twelve years of uninterrupted publication, and testifies to the magazine's far-reaching influence among its readers.

I hereby send my heartfelt wishes and blessings to the editors, writers and readers of this important publication, may they live and be well, that G-d grant them continued success. May they go from strength to strength, and may both the magazine and its content be widely disseminated, that is, Judaism (the Torah and its commandments), and in particular, the wellsprings of Chasidus.

The significance of the number five hundred, as explained by our Sages and as elucidated by the inner light of Chasidus, is well known. And from five hundred may you merit to increase and double to one thousand etc....

All of the above has a special emphasis now, during a leap year, referred to in the Torah as "a complete year" because its months are full (i.e., both Marcheshvan and Kislev have thirty days).

From this we learn (and indeed, it imbues us with strength) that each and every individual must do all in his power whenever it comes to Judaism, Torah and mitzvot.

So too is it with regard to this magazine, whose entire objective is the dissemination of Judaism, Torah and mitzvos [commandments], and the wellsprings of Chasidut in particular...

May the blessing and prayer of Moses our Teacher on behalf of all Jews (end of Chapter 90 of Psalms) be fulfilled in you, together with all of Israel: "May the pleasantness of my L-rd, our G-d, be upon us - establish the work of our hands." May it be G-d's will that the Divine Presence rest upon your handiwork, "and establish the work of our hands."

And may this also refer to the building of the Third Holy Temple, speedily in our day, with the true and complete Redemption by our Righteous Moshiach.

Respectfully and with blessings for success,

In the footnotes to this letter, the Rebbe quotes from Torah commentaries who describe a connection between the number 500 and one of G-d's names, as well as numerous references to the size of one heaven and the distance between the heavens as being "as far as a person can travel in five hundred years."


Free Translation

Erev Shabbat Kodesh Mevarchim Chodesh Nisan, Parshat HaChodesh, 5747 [1987]
To the Editors of "Di Yiddishe Heim" May G-d be with them, Blessing and greeting:

In answer to the notification that the upcoming issue of "Di Yiddishe Heim" will mark the 100th issue, I extend greetings and blessings to the members of the editorial staff, co-workers, and readers (may they all live many long, good years) of this worthy periodical.

Since one hundred is a significant number, because it is followed by a new computation and a higher level, as is hinted in the Talmud, and in the explanation in the holy book Tanya, about the difference between a person who has studied his chapter (lesson) one hundred times and the one who studied in one hundred and one times.

May the Almighty grant that the future issues of "Di Yiddishe Heim" may grow ever more in quality and in quantity, and be ever more widely distributed and bring the light of Torah, the "pnimius" [inwardness] of Torah (Chasidus into ever increasing numbers of Jewish homes...


All Together

What can be used for Chanuka lights?

The preferred way to fulfill the commandment of lighting the Chanuka menora is to use pure olive oil and wicks of cotton, for the resulting light is pure and clear; it also commemorates the Menora in the Holy Temple that was lit with olive oil. However, other types of oil and wicks may be used, provided that they give a steady rather than a flickering light. One may use candles made of wax or paraffin, as well.


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

Some things just never change! And right here in this issue of L'Chaim, there are things that we've told you literally one 1500 times. But we'd like to emphasize them again today, as we celebrate the publishing of our 1500th issue:

L'Chaim is "the weekly publication for every Jewish person." Regardless of one's level of religious observance, knowledge or affiliation - regardless of age or stage or wage; L'Chaim is published with you in mind. A story here, an insight into the Torah portion there, a thought about Moshiach yonder, we try to make L'Chaim a peaceful island for people, an upbeat, positive retreat where they can go for a few minutes each week to feel good about Judaism, grow a little, feel their souls being nourished.

L'Chaim is "dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson." Little is known about Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, and that's the way she wanted it! She purposefully stayed out of the limelight, though respect, honor, and privileges could have been hers as the wife of the Rebbe and the daughter of the previous Rebbe. The Rebbetzin was once speaking to a young girl who was complaining that one of her family's traditions was so different from that of most of her friends. "But it's so modern to be different!" the Rebbetzin pointed out.

At times, living Jewishly requires that we do things differently than friends, colleagues, or neighbors. In those moments, remembering the Rebbetzin's statement - "It's so modern to be different!" - can be the nod of encouragement that we need to ensure that we do what is required of us.

"Please do not deface or discard." Did you ever notice this sentence here? Even though it's intended regarding the L'Chaim publication in general, we'll address these words to our Jewish souls, our Jewish pride, our Jewish dignity. We must ensure that our Jewish heritage, the traditions, wisdom and teachings handed down throughout the ages, familial and national, are not defaced or discarded. And we can guarantee that they will be upheld through study and action. So, L'Chaim, to 1501 with Moshiach!


Thoughts that Count

And Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age (Gen. 37:3)

Why is this cited as a reason for the special bond which existed between Israel and his son Joseph? Did he not have other children who were born when he was already an old man? Issachar and Zebulon were the same age as Joseph, and Benjamin would be born even later. The phrase "son of his old age" is therefore interpreted to apply to Joseph himself; his actions were those of an old and wise individual who had already acquired a lifetime of wisdom.

(Toldot Avraham)


We were binding sheaves in the field...and behold, your sheaves placed themselves around, and bowed down to my sheaf (Gen. 37:7)

This world, in which physical objects appear to be distinct and separate entities from G-dliness, is likened to a field. To make a sheaf, the stalks of wheat must first be uprooted and then bound together. Similarly, the task of the Jew is to take physical objects, "uproot" them from their corporeality, and utilize them in the service of G-d so that they become vessels for holiness.

(Likutei Sichot)


Joseph was handsome in form and handsome in appearance (39:6)

"Handsome in form" - scrupulous in the performance of positive mitzvot. "Handsome in appearance" - equally scrupulous in keeping the negative commandments.

(The Rebbe)


It Once Happened

The good news spread throughout town. Rebbe Mordechai of Chernobyl would be visiting to celebrate the first days of Chanuka! In addition to the usual excitement that a Chasid feels upon being in his Rebbe's presence, there were others things to be excited about, as well.

The Rebbe would honor one of his Chasidim with hosting him for the evening tea. At this "tea party," which all of the chasidim would attend, the Rebbe share words of Torah that would delight the souls of his followers.

In addition, the Rebbe would bless the host at the end of the evening. Lastly, everyone knew that the 18 rubles that the Rebbe "charged" for the honor of hosting him would be given to charity. Thus, the host would give charity through the Rebbe's own holy hand.

Itche the Miser went with all of the other Chasidim to greet the Rebbe when he arrived in town. Itche's father had been a prominent businessman. Like his father, Itche was also a Chasid. Unlike his father, Itche's main focus in life was his business, his luxurious home and all of its exquisite furnishings. Also unlike his father, Itche found it hard to part with even a copper for charity. So, one can only imagine how Itche felt when the Rebbe arrived and suggested, "Itche, would you like to host me for tea?"

Of course, Itche said, "It would be my honor Rebbe." Inwardly, though, Itche panicked. Tea with the Rebbe and all of his Chasidim! They would destroy his home! Then an idea came to him; he would stand at his front door and allow only the Rebbe in. A marvelous plan! Itche was relieved. It would cost him 18 gold rubles but at least his expensive carpets and antiques would remain intact. Itche was sure his idea would work until the Rebbe said, "Itche, could you please personally transport me to your home?"

Now Itche's mind worked feverishly. If he drove the Rebbe in his carriage and they travelled quickly to Itche's home, they would arrive long before the Chasidim who were walking and he would still have time to bolt the door so that no one else could enter. Ahhh, Itche sighed in relief.

It was the first night of Chanuka. Itche lit the Chanuka menora with his family. He sat by the Chanuka lights for a little while. He took one last look at his beautiful home and then went to pick up the Rebbe. When Itche arrived, the Rebbe lit the Menora and recited the blessings after which the Chasidim all answered "Amen." Then they began to sing nigunim, wordless soul melodies, as the Rebbe meditated on the light of the small flame. An air of tranquility permeated the room, except in Itche's corner.

Finally, the Rebbe motioned to Itche that they would go now. Itche pressed his coachman to drive as quickly as possible, certain that with G-d's help he could put a fair distance between his carriage and the Chasidim.

But, halfway through the journey, the Rebbe ordered the carriage to stop. He turned to Itche and said, "I didn't realize your house is so far. Such a long journey was not included in my original price. If you want me to come any further you must pay me another 18 gold rubles." With the Chasidim nearly catching up, Itche had no choice but to agree. Eighteen gold rubles was still less than it would cost to replace his precious carpets and furniture!

Within a few moments, they arrived at Itche's home. The Rebbe stared intently at the 15 steps that led up to the door. "I had no idea you had so many steps, dear Itche. That was not included in my original price. If you want me to go inside, you must pay me 18 gold rubles for each step!"

Itche nearly fainted. Before he had a chance to respond, the Chasidim - who had caught up - accompanied the Rebbe up the stairs and inside.

The scene that unfolded was just as Itche had imagined. He was not able to concentrate on even one holy word that the Rebbe taught about Chanuka. The evening finally came to an end and Itche breathed a sigh of relief. As the Rebbe was about to leave, Itche suddenly remembered to ask the Rebbe to bless his family. Surely this would make up for everything.

Quickly Itche gathered together his children and grandchildren and requested, "Rebbe, please bless my family."

"Bless your family?" the Rebbe looked at Itche in surprise. "I have no blessing for them," he said, and sadly turned away.

Itche felt as if the earth had opened beneath his feet. "Rebbe," Itche cried out, in a voice filled with desperation. The Rebbe looked at Itche long and hard. "In order for me to bless your family, you will have to sign over your entire fortune to me," the Rebbe said.

How could he sign over everything to the Rebbe? He would be penniless! Moments of eternity passed. But then, he looked into the Rebbe's eyes and saw within them compassion. With his last ounce of strength he said, "If that is what I must do, then I will do it." And then he fainted.

In a haze, Itche heard the Rebbe saying, "Mazel tov, Itche!" The Rebbe began to bless Itche and his entire family. "May you and your family know only joy and health and prosperity from now on." For many moments, blessings flowed from the Rebbe, each one greater than the previous one.

"Know, Itche, that you have just fought a great battle with your evil inclination. Until a few moments ago, you did not own your wealth, your evil inclination owned it! When you agreed to give me all of your possessions, I was able to wrest your wealth from your evil inclination. I now return it to you as Chanuka gelt (money). Use it well, dear Itche."

Itche thanked the Rebbe and began to take hundreds of gold ruble notes from his wallet. But the Rebbe declined. "I only accept 18 rubles for tea."

Henceforth, Itche was a changed man. Itche generously shared his "Chanuka gelt" throughout the entire year.


Moshiach Matters

We must learn from the conduct of Jacob. We must seek and desire the Redemption. We must demand the arrival of Moshiach. Of course, in our times, we have already experienced the adversity and all aspects of distress. G-d wants the prayers of Israel; He wants us to desire the Redemption. And when we seek to dwell in tranquility as we should, then the hope and desire of all Israel - to see with our own eyes the return of the Divine Presence to Zion - will be immediately fulfilled.

(From Reflections of Redemption, based on Likutei Sichos vol. 30, by Dovid Yisroel Ber Kaufmann o.b.m., to whom this column is dedicated)


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