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Bamidbar Numbers

Devarim Deutronomy

May 11, 2018 - 26 Iyyar, 5778

1521: Behar-Bechukosai

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The Weekly Publication For Every Jewish Person
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.

  1520: Emor1522: Bamidbar  

Individuality  |  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


Inconsistencies and incongruities seem to be part and parcel of our lives these days.

We have previously unfathomable information almost instantly at our fingertips, yet the morning and evening rush hours mean sitting bumper to bumper for hours on end.

We are accessible everywhere and anywhere via our phones, yet five of the 10 worst companies to call in 2017 were phone, phone service, or internet service providers!.

Judaism has long acknowledged that there can be seeming inconsistencies and that those inconsistencies are alright.

For example, each Jew is a very distinct individual with his own mission and Divine service that he and only he can and must accomplish. And yet, he is also very much a part of a whole, a collection, one people, without whom the entire Jewish people are incomplete.

Concerning each individual's mission, Judaism explains that only a completely righteous individual knows where his mission is at every particular moment. Such an individual knowingly and purposefully seeks out those missions and accomplishes those acts destined for him and only him.

The rest of us, well, as the verse says, "G-d guides the steps of man." We often don't know why we've wound up in a certain place until, days, weeks, or even years later we pull some information or a name out of the recesses of our memory and use that information that we acquired "by coincidence" to help make the world a better place.

In the actual participation in mitzvot we see the importance of the individual as well as the collective group. When a person does a mitzva, he is doing that mitzva. No one else is doing it and no one else can be doing it for him. And yet, at the moment that he does a mitzva, he joins together with every other Jew who is also doing that mitzva individual doing a mitzva and ultimately, with the entire heritage of the Jewish people.

When a woman lights Shabbat candles, she - the individual - is connecting with and connected to women and girls around the globe who are lighting Shabbat candles and to women throughout Jewish history who have lit Shabbat candles since the times of our Matriarch Sara.

And when a man puts on tefilin, he - the individual - is connecting with and connected to men and boys around the globe who are putting on tefilin and to men throughout Jewish history who have put on tefilin since the times of our Patriarch Avraham.

This bond between individuals both here and there, both past and present, grants each individual the potential to carry out his service - which effects himself, his family, the Jewish people and the entire world - with renewed energy.

As we all continue to pursue and accomplish, knowingly or unknowingly, our individual divine missions, we ready ourselves for the time when the true meaning of an individual as an integral part of a whole will be realized. For, at the time of the Redemption and the ingathering of all Jews to the Holy Land of Israel a united and unified whole - "a great congregation will return" - of very different individuals - "our sons and daughters, youth and elders" - will return to the Holy Land.

Living with the Rebbe

This week, we read two Torah portions, Behar and Bechukotai. In Behar we learn about the commandment of Shemita, the Sabbatical year. "Six years you should sow your fields..., and gather its produce. And in the seventh year, the land must be given a complete rest, a Sabbatical for G-d, you may not sow your fields..."

This is one of the most difficult mitzvot [Divine commandments], because if all of Israel refrains from sowing their fields, what will everyone eat?

In answer to this question, G-d says, "I will command my blessing for you in the sixth year, and it will yield (enough) produce for three years." For the end of the sixth year, the whole seventh, and until after the harvest of the eighth year.

Still we find that this mitzva is so difficult, that during the First Temple era, 70 Sabbatical years were not kept properly. Because of this, after the destruction of the first Temple, we were in exile for 70 years. It is obvious that this mitzva is very important and that keeping this mitzva is crucial to bringing Moshiach.

By taking a look at what is at the core of this mitzva, everything becomes clear. What is at the essence of this mitzva?

We all have a relationship with G-d. For some of us it is weak, for others it is stronger, and yet for some, it is one of rejection. Many of us run the gamut, a roller coaster ride relationship with G-d.

What G-d wants most from us, is that we trust in Him. And this is, what is at the core of this mitzva. Trust is stronger than belief, and we are tested regularly by G-d to see if we put our trust in Him.

Yet it is hard to trust in any person or even ourselves for that matter. How often do we watch ourselves fail at what we set out to do? How often are our hopes dashed, only to find ourselves hurt and broken? We have trust issues.

When it comes to G-d, we need to take a different approach. Because in Him we truly can trust, and the more we get to know Him, the stronger our trust in Him becomes. You come to realize that He is the only one you can actually trust in.

G-d takes care of us. This becomes clear in the sixth year of the Sabbatical, when one would think the field has been drained of its nutrients, due to five years of sowing and reaping. When the sixth comes, there is nothing left for the field to give. It is our trust in G-d alone, that make our fields yield three times their normal produce.

The same is true for Jewish fathers and especially Jewish mothers. You give, and give, and give, until you feel there is nothing left to give. It is your relationship with G-d, your trust alone, that gives you the strength you never would have imagined you had.

It is my hope that through our building our trust relationship with Hashem, we will merit the coming of Moshiach very soon.

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

A Slice of Life

Five Envelopes

Mr. George (Yosef Mordechai) Gati, who has submitted many short life-stories for L'Chaim over the years, shared:

"A story that you had in L'Chaim a few weeks ago reminds me of a family story of our own," Mr. Gati said.

Our family came from Hungary to Montreal. During the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, my grandmother realized that she needed to do whatever she could to get her son and daughter-in-law out of Hungary. With $3,000 she would be able to bring them to Canada. But my grandparents, and my parents were regular, working people. They didn't have anything near that kind of money.

"My grandmother asked around, and found out that Mr. Sam Steinberg, also originally from Hungary and the owner of supermarket chain, was a man of means, approachable and kind-hearted. She took a bus to his house, knocked on his door and was ushered in. My grandmother told Mr. Steinberg that she needed to borrow $3,000 from him to get her son and daughter-in-law to safety in Montreal. 'My husband and I, and my daughter and son-in-law are hard-working people, and we will pay you back little by little.'

"Mr. Steinberg agreed to lend my grandmother the money! 'I will bring it to you first thing Thursday morning,' he told my grandmother. He wrote down the address where my grand-parents lived.

"First thing Thursday morning arrived, but Mr. Steinberg didn't. But at 11:15 a.m. Mr. Steinberg did come, bringing with him the entire sum he had said he would loan my grandmother. I remember that there were 30 one hundred dollar bills!

"Two years later, I saw Mr. Steinberg again. My grandmother had invited Mr. Steinberg and his wife Helen to my Bar Mitzva!"

By this time, Steinberg Supermarkets were a dominant force throughout Quebec and were expanding into Ontario. But the Steinbergs attended George's Bar Mitzva and were able to meet his uncle and aunt whom he had enabled to emigrate to Montreal.

"When Mr. Steinberg passed on in 1978, my grandmother was already 89 years old. But she got herself onto a city bus again, to go to the funeral of the man who helped bring her daughter and son-in-law to safety!"

My apparel company recently exhibited at the Las Vegas Convention Center. I had a great business day on Monday. After the show several of the fellow also exhibiting went out for dinner at a kosher restaurant in Vegas.

After coming back to the Venetian Hotel where I was staying, I decided to walk around the hotel. Thousands of people were in the hotel. As I walked past a beauty care store, a sales associate caught my attention and said, "Here's a free sample package of lotions for your skin." I told her "no thank you" but asked her if I could come into the store to sit down for a few minutes. She answered in the affirmative.

I asked her name and where she is from. Her name was Orit and she was from Israel.

Orit asked me where I am from and I told her I am from New York attending the apparel show at the convention center.

"When are you going back to New York," she asked me. I told her I would be leaving Wednesday morning.

She looked me in the eye and said, "I would like to ask you to do me a very special favor."

What could she want from me? I wondered.

Orit continued, "Could you please take a letter from me to the Lubavitcher Rebbe's resting place? I really need a blessing from the Rebbe."

I was floored. Of course I told her I would take her letter with pleasure.

Orit said down and started to write her letter to the Rebbe. The two other young women working in the store asked Orit what she was doing. "I am writing a letter to the Lubavitcher Rebbe asking for a blessing."

Both women said, "We also want to write to the Rebbe for a blessing." Then a fourth saleswoman came over, heard what was going on, and she also wanted to write a letter to the Rebbe.

When they were finished, I had four envelopes in my hand to take to the Rebbe.

The owner of the store walked in and asked, "What's going on here?"

Orit explained, "This gentleman," pointing to me, "is taking our letters to the Lubavitcher Rebbe's resting place in Queens, New York

The owner, too, said that he wanted to write to the Rebbe asked for a blessing.

I now had five envelopes to take to the Rebbe!

I left the store in awe of what had just happened.

On the Sunday morning after I arrived home, I went to the Ohel in Cambria Heights with the five envelopes.

Mr. Gati is the sales manager for the New York-based Say What brand of sweaters.

What's New

New Chabad Center

A new Chabad Center recently opened in Hackensack, New Jersey, under the directorship of Rabbi Mendy and Shterna Kaminker.

Eternal Values

Every day of life we are all involved in four relationships: With G-d, with ourselves, with others and with the world around us. These four relationships comprise the arena in which we act out our lives. Each of these requires wisdom, guidance and insight that will help us navigate these relationships in a truthful, refined and successful manner. Within the Torah, there are teachings relevant to every one of these relationships. Eternal Values is a guide how to behave, how to view life, people, and situations. All are drawn from the Talmud, the works of Maimonides, the Shulchan Aruch, and works of Chasidut, as enlightened by the unique insights of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Compiled by Rabbi I.D. Silverman, published by Kehot Publication Society.

The Rebbe Writes

Continued from previous issue, from a letter dated Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5735 [1975]

The importance of this Mitzvo [Divine precept] goes deeper than merely illuminating the home in the plain sense, for it makes it bright home also spiritually, in accordance with the text of the blessing recited before lighting the candles - "...Who sanctified us with His commandments." Hence it is highly desirable that such an important Mitzvo should have a special "reminder" that would further emphasize the deeper significance of this Mitzvo. There could be various things which could serve as reminders of the Mitzvo. The most suitable one would be a reminder that is not too cumbersome, yet at the same time expresses the significance of such a great Mitzvo as lighting the candles. Thus the most suitable way is to connect it with money, since money is the medium wherewith one fulfills the Mitzvo of Tzedoko [charity], its being an especially great Mitzvo since the giver could have used the money to buy his own needs, yet gives it selflessly to a needy person, and thereby does an act of lifesaving, as our Sages have emphasized.

The special relevance of Tzedoko to the lighting of candles before Shabbos and Yom Tov is in the fact that, as our Sages relate, lighting the candles is an act of rectification of wrongdoing committed by the first woman and mother of all mankind, namely Chava (Eve) who caused "the candle of G-d which is the soul of man" - of Adam - to be extinguished through the sin of eating the forbidden fruit. By lighting the candles, the Jewish mother and daughter rectifies the act of putting out the said "candle." It is therefore particularly relevant to associate candle lighting with Tzedoko, for Tzedoko too is an act of lifesaving, as mentioned above.

This, then, is briefly one of the meanings for the dime or dollar bill which accompanied the Candle Lighting Campaign, and which is intended for Tzedoko, or, if one wants to keep that particular dime or dollar bill as memento, one has to substitute it by an equal amount for Tzedoko. All this is intended to call attention and emphasize the importance of the lighting of the candles for the person lighting them and for the whole Jewish home.

May G-d grant that you should fulfill this great Mitzvo with joy and inspiration. And inasmuch as the great principle of our Torah is V'Ohavto L'Reacho Komocho [Love your fellow as yourself], you will surely use your good influence with friends and neighbors that they too observe this great Mitzvo in a similar way.

The importance of this Mitzvo [of candle-lighting] goes deeper than merely illuminating the home in the plain sense, for it makes it bright home also spiritually...

At this time before Shovuos, the Festival of Mattan Torah [The giving of the Torah],I extend to you and all your family my prayerful wishes for happy and inspiring Yom Tov [holiday], and the traditional blessing of receiving the Torah with joy and inwardness. May the joy nd inspiration of this great Yom Tov be with you throughout the year.

With blessing,

M. Schneerson

P.S. In connection with the above, I want to emphasize very important point, namely that however important that dime or dollar bill is, it is still Muktza [not permissible to be touched on Shabbat] and not to be touched on Shabbos and Yom Tov, like any other money.

All Together

MICHAEL means, "Who is like G-d?" Michael is mentioned in the book of Daniel (12:1) as prince of the angels, the chief messenger of G-d. MICHAL also means "Who is like G-d?" Michal was the daughter of Saul, the first king, and the first wife of his successor, King David. When Goliath threatened the Jews, King Saul promised his daughter in marriage to whoever would be able to defeat him. David defeated Goliath. Michal is the only woman of whom the Tanach (Bible) writes: "She loved a man". [I Samuel 18:28]

A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

This Shabbat we bless the new month of Sivan, the month in which the holiday of Shavuot falls. In addition, we read two Torah portions, the second one beginning with G-d's words, "If you follow in my statutes..." These words can be directly related to the upcoming holiday of Shavuot, the festival on which we celebrate receiving the Torah.

Interestingly, the Talmud interprets the first word, "If" ("im" in Hebrew) as a plea, an appeal, as it were, from G-d for us to follow the mitzvot which he has commanded us.

But, the Talmud also tells us, that G-d never imposes unreasonable or impossible obligations upon His creatures. Therefore, not only is G-d beseeching us to keep His Torah, he is also conferring upon us the ability to follow and uphold all of the Torah's commandments.

For us, this year, the lesson is clear. In preparation for receiving the Torah on Shavuot, we are assured by G-d (as we are every year and, in fact, each day) that we have the strength and ability to observe the Torah that we will be receiving.

But drawing on that G-d-given ability can, of course, be a very difficult job. So, to give us incentive, G-d promises us a reward, too: "I will give your rains in their season." This is both a material and spiritual reward: for rain connotes blessing in material matters and also refers to the Torah which we will learn when Moshiach comes.

May each and every one of us merit to draw on the strength and ability G-d has promised us, to allow us to fulfill our fullest potential. Then we will truly be prepared to receive the Torah anew on Shavuot and ultimately learn Torah together with Moshiach.

Thoughts that Count

Ten miracles were wrought for our ancestors in the Holy Temple: ...10) Nor did any man ever say to his fellowman: "The place is too crowded for me to lodge overnight in Jerusalem" (Ethics 5:5)

This miracle can also be understood as an expression of the unity generated by Jerusalem. The mishnah does not say that the city was not crowded. On the contrary, it is highly likely that it was, for the multitude of festive pilgrims could not easily have found lodging. Nevertheless, the unity which the city inspired motivated both hosts and guests to be accommodating, and everyone accepted the crowded conditions willingly, without allowing the congestion to detract from their love for the holy city.

(Sichot Kodesh Motzoei Shabbat Parshat Re'eh, 5738)

Ten entities were created on Shabbat eve at twilight... (Ethics 5:6)

Twilight - bein hashamashot - on Friday represents the instant of transition from the natural order of the weekdays to Shabbat. Therefore entities created at that time represent a fusion of the natural and the infinite. This mishnah also has particular relevance for the present age. For, according to the conception that each of the days of creation parallels a millennia of existence,we are approaching twilight on Friday. Just as in the narrative of creation, miraculous entities which completed the work of creation as a whole were created at that time, we too are living in a time of miracles in which perfection can be granted to all existence.

(Likkutei Sichot, Vol. IV, p. 1224ff)

Whenever a person causes the many to have merit, no sin shall come through him; but one who causes the many to sin shall not be granted the opportunity to repent. 5:18

No sin shall come through him - This is not to say that such a person's free will is taken away, and he will be prevented from sinning. The intent is that since he endeavored to bring merit to many people, the positive influence these efforts generates will prevent him from becoming involved in circumstances which would cause him to sin accidentally or inadvertently.

(Sichot Kodesh Shabbat Parshat Bamidbar, 5741)

It Once Happened

A local man had recently died, leaving his childless widow with the prospect of having to perform the rite of chalitza, removing the sandal of her brother-in-law, in order to be allowed to remarry. The brother-in-law, however, was not in full possession of his mental faculties, and was therefore disqualified from being able to do this. The woman had sought the advice of several Talmudic scholars to find a solution to her dilemma, but no one could figure out what to do. A flurry of legal correspondence went back and forth from one rabbinical authority to another in an attempt to find a permissible way for the woman to perform the chalitza with her deranged brother-in-law, but to no avail. The woman had already spent a large sum of money traveling from one expert to another.

One of the Talmudic scholars she visited was Rabbi Eliezer Moshe Pinsker, who, like the others, looked up every precedent in his legal tomes to find a way to free her from her current situation. He too could not find a way out for the poor woman, but when he saw her distress he took pity on her and said, "I can only offer you some advice: Go to Lubavitch, to the Tzemach Tzedek. First of all, he is very learned. Secondly, he is a very great tzadik (righteous person). I am sure he will be able to help you."

The widow traveled to Lubavitch. When the Tzemach Tzedek was informed of the reason for her visit he instructed his attendant to usher in all the other guests for their personal audiences with him first, so he could finish with them and turn all his attention to the unfortunate woman.

After speaking with the woman, the Rebbe requested that the brother-in-law be brought to him. He was found and led into the Tzemach Tzedek's room.

"What is your name?" began the Rebbe.

"What is your name?" retorted the brother-in-law.

"If you tell me your name, I will tell you mine," said the Rebbe.

"My name is Moshe," said the brother-in-law. The Rebbe then revealed his own name in turn.

"Tell me, Moshe," the Rebbe continued. "I have a question for you. Do you know where the marketplace is?"

"Of course!" Moshe answered, having spent enough time there to inflict considerable damage.

"In that case," said the Rebbe, "here is a ten-kopek coin. Please go to the marketplace and buy me two kopeks' worth of smoking tobacco, two kopeks' worth of cigarette paper, two kopeks' worth of matches, and two kopeks' worth of snuff. The remaining two kopeks please bring back to me. Nu, Moshe, do you think you can do this?"

"What do you think I am, a thief? Don't worry, I'll bring you back your change," Moshe replied.

Then, in his usual manner of making an exit, Moshe jumped up and hurled himself out the window. He ran to the marketplace, where he was already an unpopular figure, and purchased everything the Rebbe had requested. He then took the two kopeks change and ran back to the Tzemach Tzedek.

"Here is everything. Take your two kopeks back. I'm no thief!" he shouted before bounding away.

The Tzemach Tzedek then announced that the chalitza ceremony should take place the following Tuesday.

The woman's joy was boundless. After the chalitza was performed she distributed large sums of charity to the poor.

After the ceremony the woman approached the Rebbe with one final request. "Reb Eliezer Moshe Pinsker respectfully asked you to please write down your legal opinion on this matter which would permit the chalitza. I promised to bring him your answer on my return home."

The woman assumed that the Rebbe would ask her to remain in Lubavitch for several days to properly prepare his written legal response, as had been the case when she visited other Rabbis. Much to her surprise, however, the Rebbe took out a small piece of paper and wrote on it, "It states in the Jerusalem Talmud...that a fool who is capable of making change is not considered a fool in the legal sense." This was the Rebbe's entire response. It must also be pointed out that the Rebbe did not so much as glance at the Responsa of those who had pondered the problem before him.

"How many times have I learned the Jerusalem Talmud?" Reb Eliezer Moshe Pinsker later cried out, clutching his head with both hands. "It is only when one learns Torah for its own sake that the eyes are enlightened!"

Moshiach Matters

What are the people to eat during the Sabbatical year and the one that follows? During the Sabbatical year, one may not sow, or reap, or gather. This question the Jewish people will surely ask. But it does not indicate a lack of faith. Rather, when they ask it, then the response will come from Above: I will command My blessing upon you. We ask the same question regarding Moshiach: when we are at the last stage of exile, when we have no strength to sow mitzvot, how shall we sustain ourselves spiritually? G-d promises, I will command My blessing and bring the Redemption.

(From Reflections of Redemption based on Likutei Sichos 27, by Dovid Yisroel Ber Kaufmann o.b.m.)

  1520: Emor1522: Bamidbar  
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