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It Once Happened | Moshiach Matters
Amidst headlines that scream out crime and its punishment, we read or hear a reminder that we are in spring.
Spring, the time when, unbeknownst to us, the crocuses are pushing their heads up through the cold earth, when sap - someday to be syrup, is beginning to run in maple trees, when gardeners are calculating when to plant their seeds.
As we walk through our city streets, we see concrete and litter. Our minds and our lives seem ever so far away from spring, from farms and vegetable gardens and maple syrup.
It takes a person who is in tune with spring to recognize its onset, to notice - even without the friendly reminder of the newscaster or calendar - that the time for the spring season has arrived. The botanist and farmer know that the sap is running, though we don't see or hear it. The gardener knows when the daffodils and tulips will peak through and the farmer can describe in depth the secret, workings of the wheat kernel's genetic code.
One who is in touch and in harmony with nature can see the unseen, that which is not revealed to the naked eye.
Similarly, one who is in touch with and totally in harmony with G-d can see that which is unseen in the spirit of humanity and the spirit of the world.
Such a person is the Rebbe.
The Rebbe is guided by inspired insight in combination with encyclopedic Torah scholarship; his pronouncements are rooted in our Holy Torah. Time and again, it has been demonstrated that what was clear to the Rebbe at the outset became obvious to others with hindsight, decades later.
Before the Gulf War (1990-1991), the Rebbe began to quote the prophetic Midrash, which describes a terrible war in the Middle East but then concludes: "Moshiach will stand on the roof of the Holy Temple and proclaim, 'Humble ones: The time for your Redemption has arrived.' "
These words, quoted by the Rebbe, are a prophecy of Moshiach's imminent arrival, and that the time for the Redemption has arrived not only for the Jews but for all humankind. These words have spurred hundreds of thousands of Jews and non-Jews the world over to learn more about Moshiach and the Redemption, to do additional mitzvot, additional acts of goodness and kindness.
And the Rebbe can say that the time for the Redemption has arrived because the Rebbe sees that which is not yet revealed to our eyes.
In 1985, the Rebbe told Dr. Herman Branover to relay to various persons in Russia the precise details of the unbelievable changes that were going to take place there. When Branover related to the Rebbe that even some of his Chasidim in Russia were skeptical, the Rebbe requested that Branover contact them again, assuring them that these changes would indeed take place.
The realization of the Rebbe's words is now history. When Mikhael Gorbachev visited Israel, Branover told him what the Rebbe had said years earlier. Gorbachev was stunned: "I myself had no concrete plan for the future. I would like to meet this man who knew so much..."
Miracles are happening here and now. But the ultimate wonders of the days of Moshiach and the Redemption are, as the Rebbe emphasized and re-emphasized, soon to come.
In this week's Torah portion, Tzav, we read "And the fire on the altar shall burn on it; it shall not go out. The Kohen (priest) shall kindle wood upon it every morning. (Lev. 6:5)"
The fire on the altar in the Sanctuary and later in the Holy Temple was a G-dly fire that burned whether wood was added or not. What was the purpose of adding the wood? What can we learn from this?
Every one of us is a Holy Temple. At our spiritual center, our altar, there is a G-dly fire that can never be extinguished, this is our neshama, our G-dly soul.
One may mistakenly think, "I am a Jew at heart, isn't that enough? I will set myself on auto-pilot, my current direction is good enough for me."
To this the Torah says, the Kohen must kindle wood on it every morning. You must invest your physical self, possessions and time to develop and grow your fire every day.
We can take a lesson from this for our personal relationships. One may mistakenly think, "they know how I feel, that should be enough." Or, "I give them everything they want/ask for, that should be enough." To this the Torah says "The Kohen must kindle upon it wood every morning." You must invest your physical, mental and emotional self into the relationship regularly.
Do not take your relationships for granted. Keep adding wood to your fires.
Our portion also speaks of several different sacrifices that were offered in the Sanctuary and later in the Holy Temple. There is one offering that is more special than all the rest, the Korban Todah, the thanksgiving offering. What is unique about this offering is that while other personal offerings, such as sin and guilt sacrifices, will cease to be offered when Moshiach comes, the thanksgiving is the only personal offering that will continue even in the times of Moshiach. What is unique about the Todah that it is eternal?
Moshiach will usher in an era when G-dliness will permeate our lives openly. Death, sickness, sin, etc., will cease to exist. With no transgressions, the sin and guilt offerings becomes obsolete.
The Todah, on the other hand, will continue. While "todah" means thanks, it also has the same root as the Hebrew word "modeh," to acknowledge, i.e. validation of the other. And in a way, that is what giving thanks is all about - recognizing the other.
When Moshiach comes, we will have no problems or suffering to focus on. When you think about yourself there is no room for joy or anyone else; your problems take over your every thought. However if you can find a way to focus on others, you will feel joy, a taste of Moshiach. This is why the Todah is eternal. We will acknowledge G-d's hand in our successes and be able to acknowledge the other.
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.
The Rebbe Asked for a Favor
as told by Rhoda Friedland
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
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.
Mrs. Rhoda Friedland passed away in December of 2016.
Nearly 800 Chabad-Lubavitch yeshiva students are travelling to destinations around the world where they will conduct public Passover Seders under the auspices of "Merkos Shlichus." They are in cities with small Jewish communities or tourist spots that do not have permanent emissaries. In addition, most of the thousands of Chabad-Lubavitch Centers world-wide are hosting public Seders. To find out about the Seder location closest to you call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center or visit chabad.org.
Make sure your celebration of the Passover Seders has an authentic feel with the traditiona, round, hand-baked Shmura Matza. Available at your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
Freely translated and adapted letter of the Rebbe addressed to the Sons and Daughters of Our People Israel, Everywhere and dated the eve of Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Nissan, 5745 (1985)
Greeting and Blessing:
At this time, it is timelyto reflect on the significance of the month of Nissan, the month of Redemption, which the Torah designates as ''Headof the Months" and "First of the Months of the Year."
Rosh Chodesh Nissan occurs this year on Shabbos; consequently also the first day of Pesach occurs on Shabbos. It is therefore appropriate to dwell on several interrelated aspects of Pesach and Shabbos, with emphasis on actively pertinent lessons derived therefrom, down to the everyday life and conduct.
The central aspect of Pesach is Zman Cheiruseinu, the Festival of Our Liberation from enslavement in Egypt - Yetzias Mitzraim in a manner of a triumphant exodus ("with an upraised arm'') - completely free from any kind of slavery and anxiety, in order to receive the Torahand Mitzvos and become a Holy Nation.
Likewise is the central aspect of Shabbos: rest and sanctification, namely, to rest and be free from all weekday activities, so that it should be a "Shabbos to the L-rd your G-d,'' dedicated entirely to G-dly matters, "a delight to our soul to walk in the ways of G-d."
All the more so since Shabbos is also a "Memorial to Yetzias Mitzraim,'' which, in addition to the plain meaning, contains also the inner meaning: an "exodus" from restraints, limitations, and external influences in the realm of the spirit, imposed by the physical aspects of the material world. For the material constrains the spiritual, and it should be the other way, that the material should be subservient to the spiritual;
And in human life in general this means, that the body should be subservient to, and a true vessel for, the soul.
In follows, therefore, that one of the basic instructions of Z'man Cheiruseinu, further accentuated when it coincides with Shabbos is, that the spiritual freedom should be reflected in, and dominate, the everyday life of every Jew, so that it can be clearly seen that the soul together with the body are involved in serving G-d - and enthusiastically so, "with an upraised arm.'
Add to the above the special aspect of Shabbos, namely, that of Oneg Shabbos, "Shabbos Delight," which is a unique and basic Mitzvah pertaining to Shabbos. This is the deep inner feeling of delight which a Jew perceives when Shabbos comes and takes him out of the day-to-day drudgery and uplifts him and places him in a world of spirituality and holiness, where even the physical necessities of eating and drinking and the like are transformed into acts of fulfillment of a commandment of "G-d your G-d"and thus become a true spiritual delight. Moreover, this is attained not through an inner battle, under compulsion, but with serenity and pleasantness,the body also savoring with delight the taste of spirituality.
This, coupled with the fact that Shabbos is a memorial to Yetzias Mitzraim, intensifies the feeling of oneg and thereby stimulates the fullest expression of "Yetzias Mitzraim" in actual practice.
A feature common to both oneg and cheirus is that both must permeate all parts,details and aspects of the person, from the highest to the lowest, of both the soul and the body. Otherwise, there would, of course, be a lack of completeness in the pleasure as well as in the liberty.
And just as it is in the case of an individual, so it is in the case of Klal Yisrael (the Jewish people), which is one complete entity, like one body comprised of various parts, from head to foot.
Comes Pesach and emphasizes that Zman Cheiruseinu must pervade all parts of Klal Yisroel, from the "all wise"to the "one who knows not what to ask,"including the infants (in the plain sense, as well as the spiritual "infants"), also those whose interest has to be roused by various means so that they would not "fall asleep at the Seder table."
May it be G-d's Will that, as we are entering the month of Nissan, the Month of Redemption, He should help and grant everyone success, so that everyone, man and woman, "with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters,"should make all necessary preparations to receive the holiday of Our Liberation in the fullest scope of cheirus and oneg, to pervade and animate all aspects of one's life, down to everyday life, each and every day of the entire year - "in all the days of your life,"according to both interpretations of these words by our Sages of blessed memory, namely, the days and the nights,in this world and in the days of Moshiach...
With esteem and blessing for
Success in all above and
for a Kosher and joyous Pesach
HILLEL means "the shining one" or "praised." One of the greatest Talmudic scholars (first-century B.C.E.) was named Hillel. The name is first mentioned in Judges 12:13.
HADASSAH means "myrtle tree," the symbol of victory. It was the Hebrew name of Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story (Esther 2:7).
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
It is a Jewish custom to say daily the chapter of Psalms associated with the number of one's years. Chasidim and followers of the Rebbe also recite daily the Rebbe's chapter. The 11th of Nissan (this year Tuesday, March 27) marks the Rebbe's 116th birthday, and so, we begin reciting chapter 117.
Chapter 117, composed of only two verses, is the shortest chapter in the book of Psalms and, in fact, the shortest chapter of any book in the entire Tanach (Bible).
The chapter reads: 1) Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol Him, all you peoples. 2) For His kindness was mighty over us, and the truth of the Lord is everlasting. Praise the Lord!
This psalm of only two verses alludes to the simplicity of the world in the Messianic era. There will be no rich or poor, no weak or strong, no sick or healthy, no smart or simple. All of humanity will worship the One G-d.
So why two verses? Because there will still be Jews and non-Jews. The first verse refers to the non-Jewish nations, who will observe the Biblically proscribed Seven Noachide Laws and praise G-d. The second verses refers to the Jewish people who will observe the 613 commandments of the Torah and praise G-d.
In verse 1, it mentions "nations" and "peoples." Nations were those who were always at peace with the Jews. Peoples were those who were our enemies or subjugated us. Regardless of their past history, when Moshiach comes, they will praise G-d.
The second verse states, "and the truth of the L-rd is everlasting." According to the commentator Radak, the "truth" referred to here is G-d's promise that He will redeem us from exile, a truth that kept us going out through the long and dark exile.
Referring to this chapter of Psalms, the Talmudic sage Rabbi Yishmael ben Rabbi Yossi said: If the nations of the world will feel obligated to praise G-d because of all the kindness He showed us, how much more so must we praise G-d!
Let us praise G-d in these last moments before the final Redemption for the good He has done for us and in anticipation of the ultimate good in the times of Moshiach may it commence NOW!
And he shall take off his garments and put on other garments (Lev. 6:4)
"The clothes worn to 'cook the pot' are not also worn to 'pour the wine,'" comments Rashi. It was forbidden for a priest to perform his other duties wearing the same clothes he had worn to remove the ashes from the altar; he was first required to change into cleaner and more elaborate garments. From this we learn that we change out of our weekday clothes and don our finest and most beautiful garments in honor of the holy day.
(Gemara Shabbat, and Maharsha)
A perpetual fire (Lev. 6:6)
There were two types of fire in the Sanctuary and Holy Temple: one that burned on the outer altar, and one that burned in the menora inside. The priest whose job it was to light the menora did so with a flame taken from the outer altar. This teaches an important lesson: The outer altar is symbolic of our Divine service with other people; the kindling of the menora alludes to Torah study, as it states in Proverbs, "The Torah is light." Thus in order to merit the Torah's light it isn't enough to concern oneself with one's own spiritual progress; the concern should be extended to others as well.
The flesh of the sacrifice of his thanksgiving-peace-offering shall be eaten the same day that it is offered (Lev 7:15)
Why is eating this type of sacrifice limited to only one day? asks Rabbi Avraham Mordechai of Gur. Because it is brought to thank G-d for a miracle He has wrought on our behalf; indeed, G-d performs new miracles every day...
This is the law...and of the sacrifice of the peace offerings (Lev. 7:37)
The Rabbi of Lublin used to say: It is far better to have an imperfect peace than a perfect controversy. It is preferable to live in peace with one's neighbor, even if that peace is only superficial and not with a full heart, than to engage in controversy, however well intended.
As told by Rabbi Zalman Farkash
I want to tell you a story that I myself experienced on Sunday, 20 Sivan, 5775 (June 7th, 2015).
On the previous Thursday, I left my home in Buenos Aires to travel to Seattle, Washington where my niece was to be married. I took the opportunity to depart early and first fly to New York and spend some time at the Ohel.
A dear friend of mine by the name of M.C. gave me a ride to the airport. He is a cancer survivor. Thank G-d, he is alive and well. However the terrible illness impaired his ability to father children.
As we navigated the teeming streets of Buenos Aires, M.C. told me that he and his wife were considering adoption. "We just don't know how to proceed," he said. "On one hand, we'd prefer to adopt a Jewish child. On the other hand, it's not easy to find a Jewish baby in need of a home. We're considering adopting a non-Jewish child, converting him or her as a baby, and then raising him or her as Jewish. We've spoken to many rabbis and received a number of different answers, and we just don't know what to do..."
Before I got out of the car, M.C. gave me his mother's Hebrew name and asked that I daven for him and his wife at the Ohel. Of course I agreed.
On Friday, I arrived in New York with plans to remain there until Sunday evening when I'd catch my connecting flight to Seattle. I entered the Ohel on Friday and again after Shabbat and on both occasions I mentioned my friend and his situation.
On Sunday morning, I sat in the shul near the Ohel studying a Chassidic discourse. As I studied, the room filled up and people began to pray the morning service. One of them was a middle-aged man who had come with a younger man. I observed that the older man was saying kaddish - nothing unusual for a man of that age.
The services ended and I was still studying, completely engrossed in my book. Suddenly the man turned to me, dug his hand into the velvet tallis bag and pulled out a folded yellowing piece of paper. "Here," he said, "have a look at what it says here; I'm sure you'll find it interesting."
Not sure what else to do, I gingerly took the slip of paper, unfolded it, and began to read.
The page was a copy of a typed letter from the Rebbe dated 17 Iyar 5718 (1958) on the topic of . . . adoption!
In the letter, the Rebbe advises the man and his wife to seek out a child in need of a home from a Jewish family. The Rebbe also advised the prospective adoptive parents to increase in their mitzva observance in advance of the new addition to their family.*
I was shocked. I asked the man if I could perhaps snap a picture with my phone, but he refused. When I told him about the conversation I had with my friend on the way to the airport, he agreed on the condition that I would not photograph the family name written on the top of the letter.
He then told me the story of the letter:
"The Rebbe sent this letter to my father. My parents had been without children for many years and wanted to adopt. Unsure of what to do, my father turned to the renowned Rabbinical authority Rabbi Moshe Feinstein who suggested that he write to the Rebbe for advice.
"The Rebbe advised my parents to look or a Jewish child in need of a home, and I am that child. My father passed away almost a year ago, and today is the last day that I am saying kaddish for him.
"I'm not sure why," he concluded, "but after I said the final kaddish, I felt a strong urge to show you this letter."
The Rebbe had found his way to answer M.C. and his wife.
* 1. The Rebbe's view on adoption is nuanced and multifaceted. The different answers the Rebbe gave in this regard vary depending on the situation. It's important to bear in mind that the Rebbe said, that an answer to one is not necessarily applicable to another. See also Shulchan Menachem vol. 6 p. 38.
Reprinted with permission from Derher Magazine.
When discussing the Temple activities and the sacrifices, we must remember that the details of the Temple are a model for and reflection of the inner structure of the human soul. For this reason, rebuilding the Temple is integral to and a manifestation of Redemption. It indicates the completion of our Divine mission, transforming the world into a dwelling place for G-dliness.
(From Reflections of Redemption based on based on Likutei Sichos 17, by Dovid Yisroel Ber Kaufmann o.b.m.)