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Devarim Deutronomy

Breishis Genesis

Shemos Exodus

   1504: Shemos

1505: Vaera

1506: Bo

1507: Beshalach

1508: Yisro

1509: Mishpatim

1510: Terumah

1511: Tetzaveh

1512: Ki Sisa

1513: Vayakhel-Pekudei

Vayikra Leviticus

Bamidbar Numbers

Devarim Deutronomy

L'Chaim
January 26, 2018 - 10 Shevat, 5778

1507: Beshalach

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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.


  1506: Bo1508: Yisro  

The World, The Vision,  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  The Rebbe Writes
A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count  |  It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

The World, The Vision,

The Mission

To mark Yud Shevat, the anniversary of the passing of the Previous Rebbe and date of acceptance of leadership by the Rebbe, we share thoughts of three Chasidim.

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie, Sydney Australia: The words "jungle" and "garden" create very different images in our minds. A jungle has a feeling of chaos and disarray. It is a place where dangerous animals roam; an unsafe environment. A garden on the other hand is an array of beautiful flowers blossoming and delicious fruit trees. The more beautiful the garden the greater the feeling of calmness and serenity.

Sometimes our world reminds us of a jungle. Like the jungle, there is an uneasy feeling of unrest and an uncertain future.

But strangely, in the book "Song of Songs" King Solomon tells us that G-d calls this planet "my garden." How can such a chaotic world be G-d's garden?

In one of his public addresses, the Rebbe shared the following idea. The jungle is a potential garden. It just takes work and time. If the gardener invests effort to clear the ground, dig up the earth, soften the soil and plant the appropriate seeds, then over time he will witness a transformation and a beautiful garden of flowers and trees will emerge.

Our world may sometimes look like a jungle. But G-d chose it to be His garden and we are His gardeners. With effort and determination to engage in positive activity, goodness and moral behaviour we are able to transform the chaos into serenity and the uncertainty into stability. The unrest and negativity around us is only superficial and transient. Every time we extend ourselves to engage in positive activity and every mitzva that we do plants a seed which will eventually sprout into a strong tall tree of permanence and beauty.

When you wake up in the morning, don't see the apparent jungle around you but learn to notice the beautiful garden you are about to create.

Baila Olidort, Brooklyn, New York: It is hard to imagine that the Rebbe, now widely acknowledged for his visionary and courageous leadership, now duly recognized for the Jewish revival he led, was once criticized for his boldness and daring by those who, understandably perhaps, were afraid to stir the pot, advocating a low Jewish profile.

The Rebbe discerned the existential danger inherent in such timidity, and groomed a generation of confident Jewish leaders who would go as far and wide as the Jewish dispersion itself, and cultivate a new Jewish sensibility. The Jewish experience we enjoy today, the Jewish identity we so proudly wear today, is the change he inspired.

Rabbi Peretz Chein, Waltham, Massachusetts. The Rebbe coined as a motto the Hebrew/biblical word, UfaRatzTa (disrupt).

To be clear, we use the word disrupt as it's used in reference to disruptive technologies, which are defined as innovations that disrupt an existing market. Well known examples are Apple, Google and Facebook, all having positively disrupted our lives and the world.

Predicated on G-d as the core of everything and every person's humanity and Divinity, UfaRatzTa is the awareness of one's humanity and the pursuit to achieve Divinity.

This requires growing, evolving and ultimately reaching new heights. It's not settling for what is and what you have, but to want more. It's to have the courage to recognize deficiencies and vulnerabilities, and the further courage to address them by pursuing new and sometimes bold initiatives.

The first and likely the most challenging step in this pursuit is being authentic. Authentic to yourself by being aware and coming to terms with who you are. Authentic to others by not concealing who you are. And finally, authentic to your goals by having the courage to pursue them.

Sadly authenticity is often buried beneath habit, frozen by the anxiety of what others may say, numbed by complacencies and worst of all, lost by indifference. UfaRatzTa is to penetrate through the obstacles.

Everyone is handicapped by habit or anxiety of what others may say. Everyone needs to UfaRatzTa {disrupt}. And everyone's UfaRatzTa is distinctively unique.

So while the philosophy is Chabad, the movement/community is Chabad-Lubavitch (Lubavitch being the town in Russia where four of the seven leaders resided), the organization is UfaRatzTa - a value unique to Chabad.

In every community Chabad will bring UfaRatzTa in a different form. In a remote part of the globe it's by providing kosher food and a warm Jewish place because no one else will settle there with their family. In another, it's a synagogue or Hebrew School that is Chasidic and novel to that community.

Our success is measured by how many have experienced UfaRatzTa in their lives, and we won't rest until the ultimate UfaRatzTa is achieved with the coming of the Moshiach, speedily in our days.

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie lectures on a wide range of topics with a special emphasis on Personal Growth and Self Development, including self esteem, communication and relationship building. He is the director of Bina in Sydney, Australia. A longer version of this article appeared on bina.com.au. Mrs. Baila Olidort is Director of Communications at Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters and Editor-in-Chief of Lubavitch.com/Lubavitch International. Excerpted from lubavitch.com. Rabbi Peretz Chein is co-founder of the Chabad House at Brandeis. He also founded iLearn, an educational program attended by upwards of 100 students, ran numerous marathons, and was recognized for his organization's fiscal transparency.

Living with the Rebbe

The Haftora for the Torah portion of Beshalach is about Debora, the prophetess and judge. Debora summoned the Jewish general Barak to wage war against the enemies of the fledgling Jewish nation, the mighty Canaanite general Sisera and his army. Barak insisted that Debora go with him to battle and she agreed. However, she told him that a woman would be credited with the victory.

The Jewish army went to war and destroyed the Canaanite army; only General Sisera escaped. He ran to Heber the Kenite thinking that he would be safe (Heber had a peace treaty with the Canaanite king). Heber's wife Yael, however, knew the danger Sisera posed to the Jewish people. She hid him in her tent, giving him a false sense of security. When he slept, utterly weary from the battle and escape, she drove a tent peg into his head and he died. As Debora had prophecized, Yael was credited with the victory.

Debora composed a song to commemorate the victory. It is this song that is the connection with our Torah portion. The portion tells of the splitting of the sea, when we were finally free from the Egyptians, and the song we sang on that momentous occasion.

The Song by the Sea was sung by both the men and the women. but there was a difference between the way the men sang and the way the women sang. In addition to singing, as did the men, "all the women went out... with tambourines and danced." Why were the women more joyous than the men? And why did they have musical instruments with them?

"According to the pain, so is the reward." As well, according to the suffering, so is the joy that follows when the suffering ceases. All the Jewish people suffered in Egypt, but the women suffered more. Seeing their newborn babies being thrown into the Nile was worse than the hard labor of the men. Although it affected the men as well, what happens to a baby has more of an affect on a mother.

Now that they were finally free of Pharaoh, the joy was so great that not only did they sing, but they also danced and played their tambourines. And because the women's joy was greater, we read as the Haftora the Song of Debora, a woman.

The Midrash recalls that Debora would make the wicks for the Sanctuary in Shiloh. Her wicks would light up the Sanctuary, and from there the light would spread to the whole world.

This is the calling of all Jewish women, to fill their own Sanctuary, their homes, with the light of holiness from the Shabbat candles, which has a profound impact on her family. It is symbolic of the atmosphere, which she sets in her home, as she has an effect on her husband and her children, making her home a dwelling place for G-d and His blessings.

When Debora acted as a judge, she would hold court under a date palm. Why? Because a date palm's fronds are high up on the tree, and while they give shade they do not create an atmosphere of seclusion. She did this out of modesty, not to be alone with men, as she judged and advised them.

Our Sages teach that every redemption that has come to the Jewish people has been in the merit of the righteous Jewish women of that generation. So too will it be with the future Redemption with the coming of Moshiach, may it happen now.

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

An Answer from the Rebbe
As told by Ofra Ben Gigi

"The story took place 14 years ago," recalls Ofta Ben-Gigi. "My oldest son David was serving at the time in the IDF 'Duvdevan' special operations forces. This was during the second intifada. Terrorist suicide bombers were regularly attempting to bomb busses and public places.

"The Israeli General Security Services had received vital information about the January 29, 2004, Gaza Street bus bombing of Egged bus #19 traveling between the two campuses of Hadassah Medical Center. In that terrorist attack, 11 passengers were killed and over 50 people were wounded, 13 of them critically. The master-mind of the terrorist attack was in the city of Beit Lechem (Bethleham), and the Duvdevan unit had been given orders to capture him alive. However, events unexpectedly spiraled out of control. The hunted terrorist and his cohorts had discovered the presence of the IDF force and unleashed a barrage of heavy fire in its direction. A street battle quickly ensued.

"During the clash, my son was shot in the head and was transported to the hospital. We were called and told to come immediately to the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. We prayed the entire way to the hospital. We also called people whom we knew and asked them to pray on behalf of our son.

"I had an idea to call a friend, Nechama Chaya Navon, who is the principal of the Chabad girls' school in Safed.

"I quickly called Mrs. Navon, told her about my son's condition and asked her to request a blessing from the Rebbe on our behalf. Mrs. Navon stopped what she was doing, wrote a letter to the Rebbe requesting a blessing, and put it into a volume of the Rebbe's letters (Igrot Kodesh).

"The letter she randomly opened to (Vol. 7, #2189) read:

" 'I was pleased to receive his letter, in which he informs me that his son has already returned to full strength and is diligently involved in his studies. May it be G-d's Will that he will soon also provide good news on the state of health of his wife....G-d will transform these days into joy and happiness with good news in material and spiritual matters.'

"The Rebbe's words imbued us with encouragement and reassurance. Equipped with this calming message, we arrived at the hospital.

"I remained at my son's hospital bedside for a full month. The injuries he sustained were extremely serious. The bullet penetrated his mouth, smashing the oral cavity, tongue, and teeth, and then continuing to the spine and striking the major artery leading to the blood vessels. The medical staff began its surgical work on the field of battle, a decision that eventually saved his life. Hadassah Medical Center surgeon Dr. Jose Cohen, department of neurosurgery, performed a complicated and intricate operation to place seventeen thin tubes in the major artery, thereby putting a halt to the massive bleeding.

"When my son was released from the hospital after a month-long stay, the doctors were talking about the 'medical miracle.' Recovering from such a serious injury was totally unprecedented. The Hadassah Women's Organization, which raises funds for and is a source of public relations services for the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, flew my son to the United States to speak about his miraculous recovery. It was literally a case of 'You have given those who fear You trials with which to be tested.' The fact that our son is with us today, alive and healthy, is a totally unnatural phenomenon.

"The Rebbe's answer was absolutely precise.During the days of my son's hospitalization, his young wife was seven months pregnant, and we were most concerned for her welfare. Yet, the Rebbe had already written in his letter about health for our son and that he also expects to receive good news from his wife - and so it was. Within a few months, our son had recovered and his wife, our daughter-in-law, had given birth to our first grandchild, a girl. Mother and baby were both healthy and strong.

"That same year, even before the birth of our granddaughter, I had been considering the possibility of taking a sabbatical from my work as a school principal. I presented my feelings of indecision in a letter to the Rebbe, and I placed it in a volume of the Rebbe's letters.

"In the letter that I opened to, the Rebbe noted that education was not a task from which you can take a vacation. Incredibly, he also wrote about the great joy and happiness of people who become grandparents. In fact, just a few months later, we were blessed with the birth of this sweet granddaughter. She was our first grandchild, bestowing upon my husband and myself the titles of grandfather and grandmother."

From Beis Moshiach Magazine


The Rebbe Writes

This is the translation of a letter written by the Rebbe as an introduction to the pamphlet published in honor of the Second of Nissan, (anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Sholom DovBer, the fifth Rebbe, known as the Rebbe Rashab).
25 Adar II, 5711 [1951]

There is a well-known statement of the Rebbe [Rashab], the anniversary of whose passing falls soon, that the role of his students is to become "lamps to diffuse light."

The words of tzaddikim (the righteous) are precise in all their details. This is especially so regarding statements by the Nesiim (leaders) 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 luminous lamp:

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

Moreover, a lamp is comprised of 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." From a more inward perspective, [this metaphor] refers to 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 in many modes of light.In general, there are two modes of light: "black light" and "white light," which represent respectively [two phases in man'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 to his life according to the directives of the Rebbe whose yahrzeit (anniversary of passing) is being commemorated, 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 the ultimate purpose of the era of Mashiach and the Resurrection of the Dead depend on it.May this come speedily, in our own days, Amen.


24 Tevet, 5722 (1962)

The annual event, taking place in such close proximity to Yud Shevat, the yahrtzeit of my father-in-law, of saintly memory, will, I trust, bear the imprint of his influence and inspiration.

In the course of his allotted life span on this earth, my father- in-law saw and contended with many different worlds. But whether it was under Czarist Russia or under Soviet Russia, during the two World Wars or during their aftermaths, in the Old World or in the New -- he was always the indefatigable leader of the Jewish people, dedicated heart and soul to the spiritual and material well-being of our people.

Exemplifying a pattern of leadership which is the heritage of his illustrious ancestor, the Old Rebbe, author of the Tanya and Shulchan Aruch (on whose yahrtzeit this letter is written), my father-in-law was as vitally concerned with the child learning alef-beit as with the advanced yeshiva student, and his love for his disciples and followers to whom he expounded the inner secrets of the Torah was only matched by his love for his fellow Jew in a distant country, deprived of the most elementary educational facilities.

Jewish education was his primary concern, and the same spirit of dedication permeated his emissaries who pioneered in many an educational field under his inspiring initiative and guidance. This work truly expressed the unity of our people through Torah which, on every level from alef-beit to razin d'razin (innermost secrets), is the unifying force, uniting the one people by means of the one Torah to the One G-d.


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

This Friday is Yud Shevat, the anniversary of the passing in 1950 of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe and acceptance of the leadership one year later in 1951 by the Rebbe. In addition, this upcoming week has within it (on Wednesday) the New Year for Trees, Tu B'Shevat.

In a letter to the Lubavitch Women's Convention in the 1960s, the Rebbe discussed the meaning of these two events occurring in one week. The Rebbe explained that there is an:

...affinity between these two notable days, and how their instructive messages are related.

The Torah likens a human being to a tree, and the Tzaddik [a righteous person] to a flourishing date palm. In a remarkable statement in the Talmud our Sages declare, moreover, that a Tzaddik lives on forever, "for just as his seed is alive, so is he alive." It is noteworthy that the word "seed" is used here, rather than "descendants" or "children," or "disciples," though all these are included in the word "seed." In choosing the word "seed" in this connection, our Sages conveyed to us the specific images and ideas which this word brings to our minds:

The wonderful process of growth, which transforms a tiny seed into a multiple reproduction of the same, be it an earful of grains or, in the case of a fruit seed, a fruit-bearing tree; the care which the growth process requires, and how a little extra care at an early stage is multiplied in the final product; the fact that the more advanced and more highly developed the fruit, the longer it takes to grow and ripen, so that grain, for example, takes but a few months to reproduce itself, while it takes a fruit-bearing tree many years to mature, etc.

All these principles apply in a very practical way in the performance of our daily service to G-d, which, of course, embraces our whole daily life, since it is our duty to serve G-d in all our ways.

May all whose lives have been touched by the Previous Rebbe and by the Rebbe be true seeds of these righteous date palms and apply practically to our daily lives their teachings, especially the observance of mtizvot, which will hasten the revelation of Moshiach, may it be NOW!


Thoughts that Count

All the diseases I have put upon the Egyptians I will not put on you, for I am the L-rd Who heals you (Ex. 15:26)

G-d promised that He would never punish the Jewish people simply for the sake of punishment. If it ever became necessary to inflict illness, it would only be because G-d is "the L-rd Who heals," i.e., for the Jews' own spiritual benefit, in the same way a physician must sometimes perform a painful procedure to ensure his patient's recovery.

(Malbim)


See, G-d has given you Shabbat. (Ex. 16:29)

The joy and happiness that one feels on Shabbat is in direct proportion to the effort expended in preparation during the previous six days. For, indeed, it states in the Talmud, "He who takes pains on Friday will eat on Shabbat." This is what is meant by "G-d has given you Shabbat" - G-d has given you the ability to determine the amount of holiness and pleasure you will feel on Shabbat.

(Likutei Torah)


Go out and fight with Amalek (Ex. 17:9)

Why were the Jews told to do nothing before the splitting of the Red Sea, whereas they were encouraged to actively wage battle against Amalek? In general, in most areas of life, a Jew must have simple faith that G-d will provide him with all his needs, independent of human effort and intervention. However, when it comes to the struggle for Judaism (Amalek is symbolic of everything that is antithetical to holiness), passive faith is not enough, and practical action is required.

(Pardes Yosef)


It Once Happened

The raindrops beating rhythmically against the windowpane produce a chant of their own. "Stay in bed. Don't get up. Stay in bed. Don't get up," over and over again.

I can visualize the drabness of the day, the gray sky, the wetness of the street, the chill and discomfort of a rainy day. I know just where the streets will be difficult to cross because the clogged sewers create deep puddles that overflow the curbs. I can see the muddy water splashing my clothes as the cars whiz by through the streets. And suddenly, in the midst of all this, a memory of a rainy day of long ago brings a smile to my face.

It happened over 50 years ago. I was a young married woman with infants in the house. We lived on President Street in Crown Heights, on a block filled with Lubavitcher families. Our neighbor across the alley, our kitchen windows facing each other, was the famous artist Reb Hendel Lieberman. This was our first apartment, and I truly felt fortunate to begin married life in Crown Heights in this choice location.

At that time, the Rebbe lived in the apartment building on the corner of President Street and New York Avenue. How we envied our friends who lived in that building. The young women told stories of meeting the Rebbe at the entrance, of the Rebbe holding the door for them.

We would wheel our baby carriages through the streets of our neighborhood, hoping to meet the Rebbe as he walked back and forth from 770 to his home. We treasured those encounters, the opportunity to display our children.

In those days, my husband was a shochet. It wasn't an easy schedule, especially for a newlywed couple. Having relocated from Boston, Massachusetts, where my family and friends lived, I found the situation to be quite an adjustment. Fresh chickens were slaughtered daily, or rather nightly, so the butchers could pick up their merchandise at the crack of dawn. And on Thursday or the eve of a holiday, the housewives would arrive in the early hours to purchase freshly slaughtered chickens.

My husband went to work ten o'clock at night and came home about seven in the morning. The schedule sometimes varied from midnight or two at night until the mid-morning. As the infants were waking up, wet and hungry, howling and screaming, he was coming home to sleep. One advantage in this situation, however, was the fact that I could arrange my errands with my husband as the sleep-in (or rather sleeping) baby-sitter. On very cold, windy days or rainy days, this was indeed a great bonus.

I clearly remember that special day. It was raining very, very hard. I would never have gone out, but it was the final day to pay some bills and I had to get to the bank. I dressed for the occasion with boots, umbrella and raincoat.

I was walking down Eastern Parkway toward Kingston Avenue. The usually busy street was quite deserted. The morning traffic had been reduced to a trickle. This was the mid-morning slump, and the heavy rain had prevented most people from going out. My head was bent down to avoid the strong wind and rain. I was totally absorbed in my own thoughts, only concerned with remembering all my errands and then hurriedly returning home. I was beginning to feel chilled and soaked. The umbrella couldn't offer much protection because the strong wind kept pulling it away, and when it began to turn inside out, I closed it in frustration.

And then, on this stretch of completely empty, deserted sidewalk, I suddenly noticed a pair of feet clad in men's shoes. Life was safe and secure in those days, and this was daytime on a busy, big street, so I was not frightened or uncomfortable. I continued walking and noticed the feet steadily moving toward me. And just as we were about to pass each other, I heard a cheerful, friendly greeting: "A Guten Tog." I glanced up and within seconds my face must have registered an entire series of rapidly changing emotions. I was totally surprised, astounded, overwhelmed, excited and momentarily speechless. I could not believe it. Standing there, right in front of me, was the Rebbe. Noticing the varied expressions on my face, he appeared quite amused. He gave me a broad, happy smile, nodded his head, tipped his hat, and briskly continued on his way to 770.

I stood there, in the midst of the torrential rain, clutching my broken umbrella, a huge smile lighting up my face. I no longer felt the wind or the rain, I no longer felt the discomfort of the wet, miserable day. The precious moment had come and gone - just a moment - but the impact of that greeting warmed up my entire being. The gray drabness of the day had not changed, but it no longer appeared that way to me. I was oblivious of the physical surroundings. This was an extraordinary day. I could feel the warmth of the sun hidden beyond those heavy, gray clouds. Yes, every cloud does have a silver lining. And indeed the sun is always there behind the clouds.

The shrill ring of the alarm intrudes on my journey of remembrance. I feel happy and excited. The rain is just temporary, a necessity between days of sunshine - no longer a threat - but just a minor inconvenience.

The power of a smile almost defies description. A genuine smile arises from deep within. It conveys a non-verbal message in powerful body language, a message containing warmth, concern, caring and good will. It brings forth in the recipient similar feelings of kindness. As it states in Mishlei (27:19): "As in water, face answers to face, so is the heart of man to man." A smile can provide strength and encouragement, not only momentarily, for the impact can have far-reaching effects.

Of course a smile from the Rebbe is very special, and thus more than five decades later I can still recall that precious experience, relive it over again and be warmed by it. However, every smile is important - yes, even yours. Every smile carries within it the power of brightening up someone's day, of bringing happiness and good will to those around us, so the sun can shine within us even on stormy, rainy days.

From the book Beyond the Dollar Line by Chana Sharfstein, available from the author at chanasharf@gmail.com


sought the advice of the Rebbe, frequently on issues of far-reaching significance, affecting large numbers of people. Yet, in the case of a young girl standing at the threshold to life, preparing to make the most crucial decision of her life, to this young maiden he gave his undivided attention. With fatherly love and compassion, with patience and concern, he presented her with a life-long understanding of the meaning of love, marriage, home and family.

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. To read more visit www.MyEncounterBlog.com . Mrs. Rhoda Friedland, a mother of three children, lives in Monsey, New York.

I was born in Crown Heights and I grew up there. After I got married, I lived for a time in Crown Heights. So, I have a good memory of what Crown Heights was like in the 1940s, and I do recall vividly how it changed when the Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch came there.

When I say "the Rebbe" I mean the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchak, who came to Crown Heights in 1940 when I was a teenager, and established the Chabad Headquarters in the former medical office at 770 Eastern Parkway.

Back then, Crown Heights was an upscale Jewish neighborhood, mostly not religious, and there was a great deal of consternation among the locals about how the neighborhood would change when the Chasidim moved in. Because of all the talk, my father decided to walk over to 770 and see for himself what the Lubavitchers were all about. When he came back, he announced to the family, "This is the kind of Judaism I've been looking for all of my life. From this day forward, I am a Lubavitcher." And our lives were never the same.

Because of my father's involvement, we had the privilege to be a part of various campaigns that Previous Rebbe launched, notably the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education (NCFJE), an umbrella organization for a number of educational initiatives. These included summer camps, "Released Time" programs which provide Jewish education for public school students, and anti-missionary efforts to counter Christian activity aimed at the Jews. Having received my degree from NYU in English and Journalism, I volunteered as a writer working for Rabbi J.J. Hecht, who was the head of NCFJE.

Rabbi J. J. Hecht was one of the Previous Rebbe's right hand men, and at one point he arranged an audience for my husband and me. We were greatly distressed at the time because we had been told that we could not have children, and we were debating whether or not we should adopt. Rabbi Hecht felt that we should consult the Rebbe before moving forward.

It was winter of 1950. I recall walking into the Rebbe's room - he was almost totally disabled from the tortures he had endured in Czarist Russia - and sensing the radiance around him. It was a very special experience, especially so because it proved to be from the last private audiences the Rebbe gave. Our meeting was on Thursday night, and the Rebbe passed away two days later.

As we anxiously waited, Rabbi Hecht explained our problem to the Rebbe. "Did they go to doctors?" the Rebbe asked. Rabbi Hecht replied, "Yes, they went to doctors but the doctors said that they can't have children." At that, the Rebbe laughed. He threw back his head and he just burst out laughing. Then he said, "They will have children, and they will have healthy children."

After we left the room, Rabbi Hecht slapped my husband on the back and said, "You will have children and I will be the sandek (one who holds the baby during his brit)."

Over the next few years we continued to consult with various doctors, especially because I was experiencing health problems. All the doctors advised that I should have a hysterectomy.

Each time I was told such bad news, I'd run to see the Rebbe - that is, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who had become the Rebbe after the Previous Rebbe's passing. In those days, it was possible to go to 770 and just knock on the Rebbe's door and see him. And each time he'd reply, "If my father-in-law said you will have children, you will have children. Don't have an operation. Get another opinion."

Finally, one time he instructed me to see his wife's doctor. So I went to see the Rebbetzin's doctor. But this doctor also advised me to have the operation! In fact, she was very adamant that, for my own safety, I must undergo this operation.

I reported this to the Rebbe. While I was in the Rebbe's office reporting to him on the doctor's instructions, the doctor called him and reiterated what she had said to me. In fact, she said to the Rebbe, "If you don't let this woman be operated on, you are going to kill her."

The Rebbe hung up the phone, looked at me, and said simply, "See another doctor."

This time I went to see a doctor in Manhattan, on Park Avenue, an important professor. After examining me, this doctor picked up the phone and booked an operating room for me at Mt. Sinai Hospital. He said to me, "I am not listening to any stories about any rebbes. In two weeks you are going to have an operation. And that's that."

I went in to see the Rebbe to thank him for his advice and caring, and to let him know that, unfortunately, I would be going through with the operation. When he heard me out, the Rebbe said, "Would you do me a favor?"

"Of course," I replied. "What would you like me to do?"

He said, "Go to see one last doctor."

My cousin, who had recently given birth, gave me the name of her doctor, and I went to him. This doctor examined me, as so many others had before him. I almost fell off my chair when he announced, "I have a suspicion that you might be pregnant."

He had a laboratory in his office and immediately performed a pregnancy test. He was right - I was pregnant. He instructed me to go home immediately, get in bed and stay there.

As soon as I got home, I called the Rebbe to tell him the good news. I stayed in bed throughout my pregnancy. The pregnancy was very difficult and at one point I had become very concerned. The Rebbe sent his doctor, a Dr. Seligson, to examine me. He told us there is a chance I had lost the baby, and went back to report this to the Rebbe.

A few hours later the Rebbe called our home and my husband answered. The Rebbe told him "I know you are having a hard time, but don't worry. You are going to have this baby and it will be a healthy baby."

I then gave birth to my oldest son - a healthy boy, Binyamin Mendel. And, of course, Rabbi Hecht was the sandek.


Moshiach Matters

This week's Torah portion records the Song of Moses and the Jews after the splitting of the sea and their miraculous deliverance. The passage through the Sea of Reeds, and the drowning of the Egyptians, was the final stage of the Exodus, enabling the Jewish people to proceed freely and directly to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai. Thus the Song sung by Moses and the Jews celebrates the culmination of the Exodus - the first Redemption. As such, it also contains allusions to the future, to the times of Moshiach and the final Redemption. In fact, one verse refers directly to the building of the Temple: "You bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, the place which You have made for Your dwelling, O L-rd. The Sanctuary, O L-rd, which Your hands have established."

(From Reflections of Redemption, by Rabbi Dovid Yisroel Ber Kaufmann)


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