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It Once Happened | Moshiach Matters
There is a loud crunching sound. You look around wondering if anyone else hears it. Everybody else seems to be oblivious to the noise, or perhaps they are just being polite. You wonder, don't they notice it too?
But, of course, they don't hear the sound because it's you who is munching on the celery or chomping on the carrot. Since you are the perpetrator of this cacophonous conduct and the clamor is emanating from inside your head it resonates in your ears, blocking out other more subtle sounds. But ask someone seated just a few feet away from you if they can hear you chewing and they will assure you that they don't detect anything.
Perhaps it is for this very reason that the great Jewish thinker and sage, Rabbi Joshua ben P'rachya taught (Pirkei Avot 1:6) "Provide yourself with a master; acquire for yourself a friend; and judge every person favorably."
When a person finds himself in a situation where he has to make a big decision, he's sure to "chew" it over or "ruminate" on it for awhile. But, inevitably, whatever thoughts or opinions are in that person's head will come through loudest and clearest, making an objective decision essentially impossible.
However, if a person takes Rabbi Joshua's teaching to heart, he will find a "master," someone he respects and whose opinion he values. A master is not a friend whose advice we solicit but when we don't like the recommendation we ignore it. A master, or rav in the original Hebrew, is someone whose wisdom and knowledge of Torah teachings guide his advice, someone who will tailor his counsel to the person's nature, character and unique situation.
Consulting with a "master" when making decisions that affect one's quality of life will enable a person to come to conclusions that are acceptable to himself, pleasant to those around him, and pleasing to G-d.
It is worthy to note that Rabbi Joshua was a nasi, a leader of the Jewish people. That it was Rabbi Joshua who presented this advice teaches us that even someone of a very high stature, a person who is very learned and who has perhaps even reached the peak of human perfection, should humble himself and seek a teacher or "master."
Rabbi Joshua also recommends that we "acquire a friend." Jewish teachings speak of the importance of friendship and urge us to exert ourselves in these relationships. Unlike a master, though, a friend is a peer, someone on our own level who can share the trials and tribulations of life with us. They've been there and done that (or they're in the process).
The Hebrew words for "acquire" can also be understood as "buy." Rabbi Joshua is not suggesting that we "buy" our friends. Rather, we should know that even if we have to go out of our way, to give of ourselves, we must do so in order to nurture friendships.
Whether master or friend, another person will help us filter out our more personal ruminations and cogitations allowing us to really "chew over" the matter in a more objective manner.
The Haftora for the portion of Nasso is from the book of Shoftim (Judges). It is the story of how Shimshon (Samson) was born.
The connection to our portion is that Nasso tells the laws of the Nazir, one who took upon himself to abstain from drinking wine, cutting his hair, or coming in contact with anything impure for a period of time, usually a month. Similarly, in the Haftora, Shimshon's parents are instructed that he is to be a Nazir all his life. There is also a connection to Shavuot, which always falls in the week preceding or following Nasso, as we will soon see.
Shimshon's mother, who according to the Talmud was called Tzlalponit, was the wife of Manoach from the tribe of Dan. She was barren. An angel in the form of a man appeared to her and told her that she would have a son. He instructed her that he be a Nazir from the time he was conceived and with regards to the upbringing of the baby.
When she told Manoach what happened, he prayed to G-d that He send the angelic man again. G-d granted his wish. When Tzlalponit was out in the field, the angel appeared to her again and she ran to get her husband.
Manoach asked the man, "Now your words will come true, what rules should be followed with the lad?" The angel answered, "Be careful of everything I said to your wife."
The Haftora concludes with Shimshon being born and that the spirit of G-d would come to him, meaning, that he would receive prophecy.
We aren't told much about Tzlalponit, her name isn't even mentioned in the Bible, but from the Haftora we gather that she was a great woman. The angel appeared to her twice, the second time when she was in the field. Being in the field signifies prayer. It is telling us that she prayed and was close to G-d. From her answers to Manoach, we understand that she was wise. And finally, she gave birth to the mighty Shimshon, who was a prophet, a righteous person, and a judges who lead the Jewish people for 22 years.
The Talmud records Tzlalponit's name with the names of Avraham's and David's mothers who were also very special women. Why are their names not recorded in the Bible? Because the essence of who they were was total selflessness. They devoted themselves to providing for their singular children. Avraham became the first Jew, David was quintessential king from whom Moshiach will descend, and Shimshon was given miraculous strength to save the Jewish people from the Philistines.
About Manoach we know very little. From the Haftora we know that he was from the tribe of Dan, that G-d answered His prayer to meet the angel, that he was grateful, was extremely G-d fearing, and he had a great wife.
Just as we read in the Haftora how G-d provided the Jewish people with one who could save them at that time, may He provide us now with one who will redeem us from this exile, Moshiach.
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.
My Creative Path
by Sara Yitta Gopin
I grew up in Riverdale, a pastoral suburb of New York City, by the peaceful waters of the Hudson River. My home was religious, and shortly after my bat mitzva a friend from the neighborhood introduced me to the Chabad teachings and lifestyle.
Soon afterwards I decided to write to the Rebbe with a request for a blessing. I received a reply in the mail in which the Rebbe included a copy of a discourse in English intended for Lubavitch women and girls. Its message was that just as a fish cannot survive when cast outside the ocean, so too a Jew must always live in the proper surroundings and preserve the purity of his soul by observing the laws of the Torah. The Rebbe's words were deeply internalized and continue to guide me throughout my lifetime.
My childhood dream was to become an artist. Yet these plans changed when I was unable to find an art program that was suitable for a religious young woman. Therefore I decided to study psychology, and at age 23 I received my master's degree in counseling and guidance.
During my last semester I enrolled in a course which was an introduction to art therapy. As part of the curriculum we were sent to observe patients in hospitals, schools and treatment centers offering art therapy. It was deeply impressive to witness how adults and children overwhelmed with physical and emotional pain were able to find relief and healing from the creative experience.
The years passed.
I was grateful for my blessings, especially for my eight children that I raised.
But, a few years ago I felt an intense internal desire to express my spirituality through artistic creativity. As I would hear phrases from the Torah I began to visualize them in the context of colorful pictures that would enhance their meaning. For example, I lit the candles and said a prayer with the sentence, "Though I sit in the darkness G-d is my light" (Micha 7:8). At that moment I saw a vision of my next painting, which was of Moses being rescued from drowning in the Nile river. (See painting on left)
It was time to reacquaint myself with those talents that had been neglected for too long....
One Shabbat afternoon I decided to study a talk of the Rebbe. In this talk, I discovered the saying from the Sages, "Olam Chadash LaLeviim," and these three words changed the course of my life! The Rebbe explains that at age 50 the service of the Levites in the Holy Temple is upgraded from technical activities to more administrative and advisory tasks. The basis for this promotion is the universal phenomenon that at age 50, one's jubilee year, every Jew naturally undergoes a most significant spiritual elevation. A wave of new energy permeates his soul, awakening dormant talents and strengths. "Olam Chadash LaLeviim" became my byword, and I was determined to reach the new world that awaited me.
I decided to join a weekly art class in the neighborhood. After four decades of alienation, as soon as I sat down in front of the canvas it became covered with colors and images that expressed my hopeful visions. Gradually my paintings became brighter and more enlightened. After about a year I painted myself in an especially harmonious blend of colors. Suddenly I was inspired to add the verse from Psalms, "Those who have trust in G-d are surrounded by kindness." When I finished this powerful painting several friends and acquaintances asked me to give them a photocopy. Once again I discovered the tremendous healing effect of spiritual creativity.
My artwork continued in this style, as it enabled me to find new sources of strength. Whenever I felt overcome by challenges, I would paint a picture that reflected personal redemption, with corresponding colors, images and words.
When I was a student I was fascinated by the psychology of color. I learned to administer a color diagnosis whereby the patient is shown a chart of eight particular colors, and is asked to rate them according to how much they attract him, or have the opposite effect. The results enable one to reach a greater awareness of his personality traits.
I personally have always been drawn to turquoise and to magenta, which is a deep shade of pink. In difficult moments I reach for these two loyal "friends." As soon as I begin painting with these two colors I feel a very soothing and peaceful energy. Yet generally I try to integrate all of the magnificent colors of the rainbow in my paintings, as each one offers its unique energy towards true harmony. Additionally, I paint the Hebrew letters in their most classic form in order to fully capture their intrinsic holiness, thereby enhancing the impact of the words and expressions in my artwork.
The healing power of spiritual creativity has its source deep inside the unconscious. Without the barriers and filters imposed by the intellect, one's free and unbridled spirit bursts forth. Regarding the creativity of a Jewish soul that is balanced and healthy, the most inner recesses of his soul can become revealed and elevated.
To view Sara Gopin's art visit saragopinart.com. Reprinted from Beis Moshiach Magazine.
The Miracle of Elisha
Young Elisha is approached by Elijah the prophet and chosen to succeed him as prophet of the Jewish people. Elisha follows the great man and soon becomes known as a legendary miracle-worker himself, winning dangerous wars and performing dramatic wonders that echo to this day. Collected and adapted from original sources, The Miracle of Elisha by Sterna Citron, tells the prophet's story in captivating detail with spirited illustrations, igniting the imaginations of young readers. Published by Kehot Publication Society.
A group of 1,000 Jewish college students from the FSU spent a week in Europe after completing a year-long Jewish studies program. Included in their trip were experiences as diverse as a visit to Auschwitz and participation in the Chupahs of six couples - most of whom had met on previous EuroStars trips or through other FJC programs.
26 Tammuz 5725 
Blessing and Greeting:
I am in receipt of your letter of July 13th, in which you ask for guidance how to influence an old friend who had been quite frum [Torah observant] in the past but has weakened in his conviction.
Needless to say, it would be difficult for you to accomplish much by way of correspondence alone. Therefore, it would be well for you to find some mutual friends on the spot, who could exercise their influence in the desired direction, while your correspondence with the party in question would act as a further stimulus from time to time, being guided by the mutual friends on the spot as to when and what to write to your friend.
As a general observation, I want to tell you of my experience which has convinced me that in most cases such as you describe, the true reason for the weakening in the convictions was not the result of a more profound study or deeper insight, but rather on the contrary, it came as a result of the fact that the convictions which one has held have proved an obstacle to the enjoyment of certain material aspects in life. And, human nature being what it is, one wishes to appease one's troublesome conscience by trying to find faults with the convictions and spiritual aspects.
In view of the above, the most effective approach in most cases is not to attempt to debate the spiritual matters, convictions and beliefs, but rather to try to bring the person closer to the kind of daily life and activity which bring their fruits also in this material world. I have in mind an activity in the Jewish community, or in the field of kosher education in particular, where he could see the good results of his work, and at the same time gain personal satisfaction from his success. The discussions mentioned above would only be of secondary importance, so as not to leave any of his questions unanswered.
What has been said above is in general terms which would apply to most cases. However, there are undoubtedly special factors connected with the individual himself, especially with his personal character, etc. Therefore, any action directed at influencing him should first be consulted with people who know him personally and would know his reaction to such efforts.
Human nature being what it is, one wishes to appease one's troublesome conscience by trying to find faults with the convictions and spiritual aspects.
A further point which is also valid almost always is that in such a situation a wife or a fiancée can accomplish a great deal, perhaps not so much directly as indirectly. This should therefore also be considered as a channel of influence. For as I gather from your letter, the person in question is still single. Therefore, it would be very well for him if his friends could find him a suitable shidduch [match].
Incidentally, insofar as "scientific proof" that the Torah is G-d-given is concerned, which seems to bother your friend, the fact is, however strange this may seem, that the best proof is still the oldest, namely that the Torah was transmitted from generation to generation in an unbroken and uninterrupted chain of tradition, from the time of the Divine revelation at Mt. Sinai and the giving of the Torah in the presence of 600,000 adult male Jews (several million Jews in all), to the present day. There is no stronger scientific verification of any fact than the Revelation at Mt. Sinai, which has been attested to by so many witnesses from generation to generation.
TUVIYA means "G-d is good." In Zecharia (6:10) he is mentioned as one of the Babylonian Exiles who returned to the land of Israel.
TAMAR means "palm tree," a plant which is known for being upright and graceful. Tamar was a descendant of Shem, Noah's most righteous son. She married Judah (Genesis chap. 38), and had two sons, Zerach and Peretz - ancestor of the House of David.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
Traditionally, from the beginning of Passover until Shavuot (or in some communities until three days before Shavuot) weddings are not held. This time of semi-mourning, known as "sefira" culminates with Shavuot, the day of the wedding between G-d and the Jewish people. Thus, it is common that the week after Shavuot is an unusually busy time for weddings.
In the Chabad calendar, the week following Shavuot was filled with numerous weddings of great import:
On 8 Sivan, 1872, the wedding of Rebbetzin Devorah Leah, the eldest daughter of the Rebbe Maharash, fourth Chabad Rebbe and Rabbi Moshe Leib Ginsberg took place. Rebbetzin Devorah Leah was well-known for her clear thinking and sharpness as well as her excellent memory even in her later years.
The tenth of Sivan, 1932, was the wedding of Rebbetzin Sheina, the daughter of the Previous Rebbe, and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Horenstein (grandson of the above-mentioned Rebbe Maharash).
On 11 Sivan, 1921, the wedding of Rabbi Shmaryahu Gurary (known as "the Rashag") to the daughter of the Previous Rebbe. The Rashag was appointed to be in charge of the Central Lubavitcher Yeshivos, a task which he fulfilled with utter devotion. After the passing of the Previous Rebbe, the Rashag became a loyal chasid of the Rebbe.
The thirteenth of Sivan, 1900, is the wedding day of the Rebbe's parents, the Gaon Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson and Rebbeztin Chana. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was the great-grandson of the Tzemach Tzedek, third Chabad Rebbe.
The wedding of Rabbi Menachem Mendel, the youngest son of the Rebbe Maharash, to Sara Kornitzer took place on the 14th of Sivan, 5642 (1882).
May each and every individual Jew, and the entire Jewish people as a whole know only simchas -joyous occasions, and may we all meet at the ultimate simcha - the coming of Moshiach and the Redemption.
Moses received the Torah from Sinai and passed it on to Joshua; Joshua [passed it on] to the Elders... (Ethics 1:1)
Received - In regard to many matters, e.g., the holiday of Shavuos, emphasis is placed on the giving of the Torah. In regard to ethics, it is the receiving of the Torah - how the Torah is internalized in one's being - which is highlighted. For in this realm it is not abstract knowledge which is important, but rather how the Torah is applied in life.
(Sichot Yud Shvat, 5739)
Yehoshua ben Perachyah said: "Provide yourself with a master; acquire for yourself a friend; and judge every person favorably." (Ethics 1:6)
Provide yourself with a master - The intent is not merely to recommend getting a teacher who will enhance one's knowledge, but a guide whom one consults regarding one's conduct. By nature, man is influenced by self-love. This natural bias makes it difficult to know whether we are making adequate efforts in our study of Torah, in our gifts to charity, and in other elements of our divine service. How can we know? By consulting another person who can look at our situation objectively. The Hebrew term, translated as "provide," can also mean "force."In this vein, the mishnah is teaching us to accept a master even if we must force ourselves to do so.
Judge every person favorably - Judging a person favorably involves an honest appreciation of the challenges which that person faces. And this awareness should also lead to the understanding that G-d has surely given that person the ability to overcome these challenges. This, in turn, should heighten the esteem with which we regard this individual, for he is a person to whom G-d has entrusted the formidable powers necessary to overcome severe challenges. When the manner in which we relate to that person reflects such respect, this will inspire the individual to bring these potentials to the surface.
From In the Paths of Our Fathers, sie.org
About 120 years ago there was a large wave of Jewish immigration to the Holy Land. Many people came as part of organized groups, while others arrived as individuals. The majority settled in the Old City of Jerusalem, which soon became extremely overcrowded. But there were very few other options, as the gentiles were reluctant to sell any property to Jews.
Beyond the walls of Jerusalem was desolate wasteland, vast stretches of stony, uninhabited terrain. Bands of plundering Arabs roamed about freely, and Jews rarely ventured outside the relative safety of their enclave. Even the settlement that had recently been founded by the famous Sir Moses Montefiore was having difficulty attracting occupants. Many courageous Jews who had moved there had subsequently given up and returned to the Old City.
One Shabbat an announcement was made that quickly spread throughout the Jewish quarter. Reb Zalman Baharan (the son of Rabbi Nachum of Shadik) would be holding an urgent meeting right after sundown to discuss the expansion of the Jewish settlement of Jerusalem. No one expected that a simple meeting could lead to practical results, but as Reb Zalman was a respected member of the community, everyone complied.
That Saturday night over a hundred people were crammed into the Menachem Zion synagogue when Reb Zalman proposed his plan for a new settlement, calling upon everyone present to contribute a majida (worth 100 coins) to the building fund as a show of good faith. Unbelievably, by the end of the evening, no less than 100 majidot had been collected to purchase land for the new development.
It took several years until Meah Shearim, the first Jewish settlement in modern times outside the walls of Old Jerusalem, was founded. But when it finally came to fruition it greatly alleviated the Jews' desperate living conditions, and many more settlements followed in its wake.
Our story takes place during the time after the land was purchased but before construction had actually begun. This is what happened:
Reb Zalman Baharan had a beloved student by the name of Issachar. When Issachar reached marriageable age he was betrothed to a girl from a fine family, but two years passed after their engagement and they were still not married. Eventually the bride's father gave Issachar an ultimatum: Either marry my daughter at once, or break off the engagement.
Unfortunately, Issachar did not have two cents to rub together, let alone enough money to make a wedding and support a wife. He could not recall the last time he had bought a new article of clothing.
Reb Zalman was touched by the young man's plight and longed to help him. At first he considered going from door to door collecting donations, but he knew that his student would never accept a handout. To further complicate matters, his own dire financial straits prevented him from helping Issachar, either.
Now, Reb Zalman had a cousin who also named Zalman; to differentiate between the two, one was called Reb Zalman Baharan and the other Reb Zalman Baharil (ben Harav Yaakov Leib's). Reb Zalman decided to ask his cousin's advice, and the two Zalmans put their heads together to devise a plan.
It was obvious that they couldn't take out a loan, for how would they ever repay it? Reb Zalman Baharil then suggested that they wait until Sukkot and sell etrogim, but his cousin countered that it would deprive the regular etrog merchants of their livelihood. In the end it was Reb Zalman Baharan himself who came up with a viable plan: The field they had just purchased for the new settlement north of Jerusalem was still vacant, as they had yet to obtain enough money to start building. "Why don't we use part of the land to grow wheat for shmura matza?" he suggested. [The wheat that is used to bake shmura matza is carefully watched from the moment of cultivation throughout the baking process to make sure that it doesn't become leavened.] "We'll have lots of customers, as everyone trusts our integrity. We won't be taking away anyone's livelihood, and the profits will pay for Issachar's wedding!"
That very day the residents of Jerusalem were astonished to see two of its most distinguished citizens setting out with hoes over their shoulders. For three days straight the two Zalmans weeded and plowed until the ground was ready for seeding. The day after the wheat was planted a light rain fell - a sign, the two men agreed, that G-d approved their plan.
A few days later Reb Zalman and his cousin informed the girl's father that the wedding would take place before Passover. From there they went and secured a loan, confident that they would be able to repay it. Issachar and his bride were finally wed.
At the end of the season the two Reb Zalmans harvested the wheat, bundled it into sheaves, and personally milled and sifted it. It was a very fine quality of wheat, and kosher for Passover according the highest standards. With the money they made they easily repaid the loan.
And that is how the community of Meah Shearim was founded.
The Jewish people journeyed throughout the desert with the Tabernacle in order to subdue the force that nourishes the negative, the evil in the world. The physical desert is a metaphor for a spiritual desert - a life, environment or society devoid of Torah and G-dliness, which are compared to water. The Levites carried the Tabernacle throughout the desert and the Divine Presence resided in the Tabernacle. The Levites, each family performing its assigned task, enabled the revelation of the Divine Presence in the desert. We must all be Levites, transforming the desert in which we find ourselves into a dwelling place for G-dliness.
(From Reflections of Redemption, by Rabbi Dovid Yisroel Ber Kaufmann a"h, based on Likutei Sichot, 27)