Internal Inspiration | 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
by David Y.B. Kaufmann obm
Often, when we encounter something new, something that fires our imagination or inspires us, we become excited. We throw ourselves into it. We become enthusiastic, even fanatical, wanting to know everything, do everything, share everything.
For example, if we suddenly discover the joys of chess, or become fans of a particular writer, or get interested in a sport, or take up gardening, or become interested in macrobiotic cooking, then we buy books, we surf the web, we're on facebook groups, we're recruiting friends, family, neighbors.
And then, over time, our inspiration, energy and enthusiasm wane. We're still interested, we're still involved, but our activity takes on a certain mechanical tone. We don't want it to be that way. We want the enthusiasm because the activity still interests us, still has value and significance for us.
This same feeling, this same process, applies to our important encounter with Judaism. When first we encounter a particular mitzva (commandment), or an inspiring Torah topic or teacher, our energy and enthusiasm know no bounds as we thirst for the experience. And then, after a while, although the experience is so much a part of us that it doesn't even enter our minds to stop, still, we wonder where is that child-like wonder that got us going in the first place? Must experience dull enthusiasm? Is inspiration only good to get us started, and then it's all just routine?
Rabbi Aharon of Karlin offered a parable to explain the situation. A wealthy merchant once decided to help two poor people in his town. He gave each 5,000 rubles on condition it be repaid in five years.
The first pauper immediately went out and bought a fancy new house, new clothes for his family, even an expensive coach. He lived well and lived high until, of course, the money ran out. At the end of the five years he returned to the merchant, confident he would get a new loan, or at least an extension on the one he'd received.
The merchant was furious. "You have abused the loan," the merchant said, "wasting the opportunity and resources I provided. The loan must be repaid."
The second pauper, on the other hand, bought only the necessities, and purchased with caution. He took the rest and, after doing some research, invested in a business he felt competent to run. As the business began to grow, he set aside part of the profits as repayment of the loan. He and his family worked hard, cherishing the loan, always aware of it. Slowly but surely he was able to put aside enough to be able to pay back the loan. His business also grew, of course, so he and his family were no longer paupers, living modestly but comfortably.
At the end of five years he went to the merchant, and, after thanking him profusely for the loan, explained how he had used it, and returned the money. "Keep it as a gift," the merchant said, "for you have invested wisely and there can be no better use of my money."
The lesson is clear: We must internalize that initial inspiration, invest it, assimilate it into our very being so that, when we need it, we can find it - within ourselves.
In this week's Torah portion, Shlach, we read about the mitzva (commandment) of "Challah"; when baking bread, separate a part of the dough for G-d. In Temple times, the dough would be given to the Kohen (priest). However, today we burn it.
Though men are also obligated to do this mitzva, it is considered as one of the special mitzvot near and dear to Jewish women. This mitzva is so holy that women use the time of separating Challah to pour their hearts out to G-d.
What makes this mitzva so special?
Bread is the most basic food and is symbolic of our most basic physical needs. It is what we toil for and work for, to make "bread" and to put "bread" on the table. It is symbolic of everything physical in the world.
When you separate Challah you are touching on the essence of Judaism. You are taking the physical and lifting it up to a spiritual state.
In the Torah, the paragraph that speaks about the mitzva of Challah says the word "tarimu" three times. The literal translation of tarimu is "you should lift up."
Why does the Torah emphasize tarimu - you should lift up - and repeat it three times? Because when you separate Challah there are three aspects of how you are touching on the essence of Judaism. You are taking the physical and lifting it up to a spiritual state in three ways.
First, "emuna," belief in G-d. We recognize that all we have is from G-d. One may think "my smarts an abilities has made me all this wealth," which, in a way is like saying, that it is not from G-d. Separating Challah to G-d is a statement and recognition that everything we have is from Him.
Second, our purpose is to infuse the physical world with G-dlyness, even something as basic as food needs to be infused and used for G-d.
Third, the food that we feed our families is a holy endeavor, the future of the Jewish people is nourished by the hands of holy Jewish women.
The Jewish wife and mother feeds us emuna, feeds us essence, feeds us with a mitzva. You feed us with love, you feed us with pride and you feed us with tears. You are taking the physical and lifting it up to a spiritual state. The heart of a Jewish woman can do all that and more.
Adapted by Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz from the Rebbe's teachings, yitzihurwitz.blogspot.com. Rabbi Hurwitz, who is battling ALS, and his wife Dina, are emissaries of the Rebbe in Temecula, Ca.
Mom and Pop Toy Store Flourishes
by Mica Soffer
When the largest U.S. toy chain Toys 'R' Us declared bankruptcy, experts pointed to "America's retail apocalypse" as online competitors bite away at the brick-and-mortar industry.
But one toy store in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood proves that with the right approach and services, a traditional street-side store can be a success.
Kingston Toys, known locally as Zakon's, is now the oldest original store operating on their block of Kingston Avenue, clocking in over 40 years of selling toys, games and stationary supplies.
Local chassidic residents Aron and Sima Zakon purchased the store. Aron was a school teacher and Sima was a homemaker that shopped there. Together, they ventured out in a new industry and made it a family store that is today owned and operated by their daughter Braindy and husband Boruch Naparstak.
"What so many people remember about my father is that he would study Torah at every free moment he had in the store," Braindy recalls. "He would play Torah tapes of learning and when a kid would be rowdy, he would higher the volume. The kids would think it was a walkie-talkie and quiet down."
Even after running the store for the last 16 years and rebranding it Kingston Toys, the memories still remain. "People still call us Zakon's because that's my parents' name," she says. "We became a neighborhood icon, and a meet-up place on Kingston Avenue. People told us years later, after my father wasn't in the store anymore, 'we used to come in here and bring our children, just to show them that you can be in business and still make time to learn.'"
"When we took over," she explains, "we first updated the look of the store, and then we updated and expanded our merchandise.
And how do they deal with the competition online?
"Even in this day of online shopping, when so many people's shopping habits have been reduced to just a few clicks of a button, we find that children would rather take their allowance and birthday money to a store which allows them to touch, explore and choose their toys.
"Or, if a customer walks in and asks for a $20 gift for a four-year-old, in a matter of minutes we can suggest something, wrap it for free, and they're out on their way. So people find it really convenient - and you can beat the time frame."
Naparstak states that their prices are very competitive for what you will find online. Another factor is the customer attention. "We take the items out of the box if they want to see it, we show them how it works. This kind of personal shopping experience can't be substituted with online shopping," she says.
"Parents come to our store regularly because they like the carefully selected toys we carry, the appropriate toys for every child's stage of development, as well as the fun games and activities. We have many therapists who come in for the toys they need for their work."
"There is something about shopping in a specialty neighborhood store. The parents come in with their children and tell them, 'here is where I shopped when I was your age.' It's very nostalgic and parents just love the service. They're very happy they have that personal connection. They know if they send their child in, we will help them, and we are familiar with them and what they like. Sometimes I will tell my customers, 'when I bought this item I had you in mind.' The large stores can be very overwhelming."
She says many grandparents shop there because they know they can exchange the items if needed. "Our customer service is great, if anything is broken we will fix it or replace it right away. We also do 'drive by' service, people will drive by on the way to an outing, and we can prepare whatever toys, such as bubbles, balls, and more, and they can pick it up on the way," she says.
"A lot of attention is paid to each customer. Many times if kids need craft items for a school project, and we run out of that item, we will try to restock that item by the next day, even if it means that my husband has to personally go and pick it up," Naparstak says.
She notes that Jewish salesmen always put on Tefillin when they come by. "It has become a ritual already," she says. "One time, when my husband was not here and a salesman came by, I noticed that he was just hanging around and not leaving. I finally realized, he wants to put on Tefillin. I asked him, and he said, 'how did you guess? I felt funny leaving without putting on Tefillin.' I went outside and found a young man walking down the street, asked him to come inside and put tefillin on him. It's already something the salesmen look forward to."
As a rule, the Naparstaks try to stay on top of the trends. "Things constantly change, so we are always updating and keeping up with the times," she says. "You always have to be on top of what the kids want for now."
But that doesn't mean they will offer everything for sale. "Being a neighborhood store, we have a sense of responsibility for the items we carry," Braindy explains.
An example, the store won't carry toys with "really dangerous little parts" or prank toys. "We only carry those around Purim-time but not all year round. Parents really appreciate that, because it's not something they want their kids playing with on a regular basis."
Another example is the Rebbe's educational instruction to parents to only show infants images of kosher creatures. "We had to convince our suppliers, and were successful somewhat in doing, to embroider ducks and other kosher images instead of bears on the items. We also feel we had a great impact on the Jewish manufacturers in the last few years, as there have been many more companies offering Jewish toys at our request. We have a Kosher animal toy set which they created specifically for us, which includes only Kosher animals."
They also carry an extensive selection of Jewish-themed toys and games. "We feel we owe it to the neighborhood to carry items that represent what Crown Heights stands for," she states.
"This business is very nostalgic because we really get to know families for generations, we have the kids coming in, and then they come in with their children, and we get to know them, and see their simchas... we love being a part of that."
Chabad of New Hampshire, under the leadershp of Rabbi Levi and Shterni Krinsky, in Manchester, New Hampshire, celebrated the dedication and opening of their new center this past month. The new facility houses a sanctuary, a library, classrooms for Hebrew school, a commercial kitchen and a warm welcoming fireplace for the long, cold New England winters. The second phase of the remodeling process will include a mikva, the first community mikva in the state.
Chabad of Northern Rhode Island, under the leadership of Rabbi Aryeh and Mushka Laufer recently secured a property for their center in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Chabad of NRI, which opened just a few years ago, currently offers Classes, holiday celebrations, women's programming, Shabbat services and dinners. When completed, they will be able to expand their activities.
Continued from last week's issue
Incidentally, the present days of Sfira, which connect the festivals of Pessach and Shavuoth, have a bearing on the subject matter. For, just prior to the departure from Egypt, the Jews were in a state of slavery in its lowest form, being slaves in a land which the Torah calls "The abomination of the earth."
Indeed, anyone familiar with the conditions in Egypt in those days knows how depraved the Egyptians were in those days, and much of this had tarnished the character of the Jews enslaved there. Yet, in the course of only fifty days, the Jews rose to the sublimest height of spirituality and true freedom, both physical and spiritual.
Furthermore, the spiritual freedom which the Torah had brought them, and which has also illuminated to some extent the rest of the world, was linked with material freedom, namely freedom from any material problems, as the Torah tells us that the children of Israel had the Manna and the Well, and all their material needs were provided in a miraculous way.
The narratives of the Torah are not simply stories for entertainment, but are in themselves part of the general instruction and teaching which the Torah conveys in all its parts. And in these narratives we find also the answer as to how the situation might be under certain conditions at some time in the future. If the conditions would be similar to those which existed at the time when the children of Israel left Egypt, with complete faith in G-d, following the Divine call into the desert, leaving behind them the fleshpots of Egypt and the fat of the land, not even taking any provisions with them, but relying entirely on G-d, and in this state of dedication to the truth they followed the Pillar of Light by (day and by) night - should these conditions be duplicated, or even approximated, then one may well expect a most radical change, not only over a period of years, but in the course of a number of days.
15th of Sivan, 5726 
Greeting and Blessing:
I was pleased to be informed of the forthcoming installation of Rabbi . . . as your spiritual leader on the fourth day of the week of Shlach. I am doubly gratified by this occasion. Firstly, because the installation of a worthy Rabbi is in itself a matter of far-reaching public importance. Secondly, because the choice of a spiritual leader personified by Rabbi . . . demonstrates the wisdom and discernment of your lay leadership and general membership. This gives the assurance that each and every one of your officers, members and worshippers will give your Rabbi the utmost respect and cooperation. It bodes well for the advancement and growth of your Congregation so as to reflect, truly and fully, the traditional title of a Jewish congregation - Kehilla Kadisha - a "holy community."
Moreover, the particular name of your Congregation - Adath Israel - attests to its highest aspiration, in the spirit of our Patriarch Jacob, who was given the additional name and title "Israel" after he had "wrestled with angels and men, and prevailed" (Gen. 32:2). The experience of our Father Jacob reflects Jewish experience throughout the ages, on the individual as well as communal levels. We must expect to meet challenges by adversaries, whether in the guise of angels (including the Yetzer Hora) or humans, who attempt to place obstacles in Jacob's "going his way" (Gen. 32:2). But far from being discouraged or sidetracked by such obstacles, it is necessary to meet the test with resolute determination, and then we are assured of victory.
This is also indicated in the Sidra of the week (Shlach), which concludes with the Mitzvah of Tzitzis, the symbol of all 613 Mitzvoth of the Torah, which, in turn, concludes with this verse: "I am G-d, your G-d, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be G-d unto you; I am G-d, your G-d." When the Jew remembers G-d's Mitzvoth and fulfills them in the daily life, he realizes that G-d Who delivered us from the bondage of Egypt, delivers us also from all forms of bondage, external and internal, so that we can serve G-d in true freedom, with joy and gladness of heart. May it be so with your Congregation, and may G-d bless each and everyone of your congregants, with your Rabbi at your head, with true happiness and prosperity, materially and spiritually.
YITZCHAK means "laughter." Yitzchak (Isaac) was the son of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 21:5). At the age of 37 he allowed himself to be sacrificed by Abraham, but at G-d's command was spared and a ram was sacrificed instead. The ram's horn (shofar) is blown on Rosh Hashana to "remind" G-d of this incident and encourage mercy for Yitzchak's descendants.
ILONA is from the Hebrew meaning "oak tree." ILANA is a different name, meaning simply "tree."
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The 28th of the Hebrew month of Sivan (Monday, June 11 this year) is the anniversary of the arrival in the United States of the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin.
Twenty-eight in Hebrew letters spells Ko-ach, meaning "strength." The Rebbe explained this means that strength and permanence are contributed to the entire day, and this in turn gives strength to every Jew to carry out his preparation for the ultimate redemption.
The Rebbe went on to explain that it was in "770" (Eastern Parkway) that the spreading of the wellsprings of Chasidut, the prerequisite to Moshiach's revelation, reached its most complete expression.
He referred to 770 using the Talmudic term "Beit Rabbeinu Shebebavel" meaning literally "the house of our Master in Babylonia," which our Sages refer to as the location of the Holy Temple in exile, so to speak.
"Not coincidentally," explained the Rebbe, "770 has the numerical value of the Hebrew word 'poratzta' meaning 'and you shall spread forth.' And it is from 770, explained the Rebbe, that the first revelation of the Third Holy Temple will take place, encompassing the entire building from its lowest levels until its rooftop.
"The rooftop is the place where Moshiach stands and announces, 'Humble ones, the time for your redemption has come.' The rooftop of the Holy Temple," continued the Rebbe, "refers to the miniature sanctuary of the Diaspora - Beit Rabbeinu, which represents the Holy Temple of Jerusalem."
It is also not coincidental, the Rebbe pointed out, that "770" is the numerical value of "Beit Moshiach" - the House of Moshiach.
May we all go together with the Rebbe and 770 and all the miniature sanctuaries - every shul and every Jewish home, for that matter - to the actual site of the Third Holy Temple in Jerusalem, now.
Akavya ben Mahalel would say: "Reflect upon three things and you will never come to sin: Know from where you came, to where you are going, and before whom you are destined to give an accounting. (Ethics 3:1)
The Hebrew for "from where," can also be rendered as "from nothingness."Thus the phrase can be interpreted "Know that you came from nothingness," i.e., the source of the soul is transcendent G-dliness - above the limits of our mortal conception. Moreover, this source exerts a constant influence on the soul as it exists in our world, propelling it to selfless conduct. A person's awareness of this fact heightens the effectiveness of this influence, and takes the person further from sin.
Rabbi Chanina, the deputy High Priest, would say: "Pray for the welfare of the kingdom, were it not for the fear of it, men would swallow one another alive." Rabbi Chanina ben Tradyon would say: "If two sit together and no words of Torah are exchanged between them... (Ethics 3:2)
"Swallow[ing] one another alive" implies the subsuming of another person within one's own desires. The other person is alive - he thinks and feels - but one has "swallowed" him; i.e., one thinks of him only inasmuch as he can further one's own purposes. One thinks only of one's own self and the benefit the other person will bring him. On this basis, we can appreciate the connection between this teaching and "If two sit together and... exchange words of Torah" This latter teaching emphasizes the importance of communication, of two people sitting together as equals and sharing words of Torah.
Rabbi Chalafta ben Dosa of Kfar Chananya said: "If ten people sit together and occupy themselves with Torah, the Divine Presence rests among them... Which source teaches that the same is true even of one? It is said:'In every place where I have My Name mentioned I will come to you and bless you.' " (Ethics 3:6)
"In every place where I have My Name mentioned I will come to you and bless you" - Although the positive influences brought about when many join in Torah study are greater, we must appreciate how important the efforts of one individual can be. As the prooftext indicates, G-d diverts His attention from all other matters, as it were, and comes to bless him.
(Sefer HaSichot 5748)
It was already the middle of the night when the stranger appeared in the doorway, a thin figure dressed in rags. Obviously exhausted, the traveler looked ready to tumble to the ground.
The innkeeper, a warm-hearted, G-d-fearing Jew, immediately invited him in and sat him down. After bringing the stranger a warm drink to revive him, he served him an entire meal and sent him off to bed.
The next morning the traveler was much revived from the food and the good night's sleep. After praying the morning service and eating breakfast, he packed his meager belongings into his knapsack, thanked his host for his hospitality and prepared to leave.
The innkeeper, sizing up the man's outward appearance, stuck his hand into his pocket and offered him a handful of change. To his surprise, the stranger politely refused. Thinking that perhaps he had offended him by offering too little, the innkeeper added another few coins, but the man was adamant. "Thank you anyway," he said, "but I really don't need it."
The innkeeper was at a loss for words. "What do you mean you don't need it?" he asked after a few seconds.
"I'm not your usual door to door beggar," the man explained. "You may not believe it, but I'm actually very wealthy. In my hometown I own many properties, fine houses, fertile fields and abundant orchards."
By this time the innkeeper was completely confused. He demanded that the stranger give him a more detailed explanation:
"The whole thing started a little over two years ago," the stranger began, "when a large sum of money was stolen from my home. After the initial investigation, suspicion fell on one of the servants, a young orphan girl who was in my employ. I insisted that she be taken to the town magistrate, who would soon get to the bottom of the matter. But the policemen who led her away were very cruel, and they struck her repeatedly. As a result of the beating, she passed away a few days later. Till the very end she maintained her innocence.
"A few weeks after this happened, the real thieves were apprehended and the money was recovered. I became almost insane with remorse. My conscience would not allow me to live. Not only had I shamed the poor girl, but I had inadvertently caused her death. How could I ever expiate my sin? In my sorrow I turned to the tzadik Rabbi Meir of Premishlan for help.
"The tzadik's face turned grave when he heard my story. He looked deep into my eyes - into my soul - before speaking. 'You must choose one of three ways of doing teshuva [repentance],' he said. 'The first choice is death. This will save your portion in the World to Come. The second choice is illness, in which case you will need to suffer for three years as atonement. Or, you can choose to go into exile for three years. This is the punishment for taking a person's life accidentally.'
"I asked the tzadik for several days to make up my mind. Each one of the alternatives seemed too much to bear. I just couldn't decide. A few days later I started to feel terrible pains all over my body. A doctor was summoned, and he diagnosed me as having an incurable illness. I understood that the tzadik had chosen the first option - death - for me, as I seemed incapable of making a decision.
"With my last ounce of strength I went back to Rabbi Meir and asked him to pray for my recovery. I was ready to accept exile.
"The tzadik set several conditions. 'The first stipulation is that you must leave all your personal belongings with me,' he said. 'From now on you must only wear clothing that is old and torn. You must never spend more than one night in the same place. And when you are hungry, you mustn't ask for food but wait until it is offered. For three years you are forbidden to return home, but once a year you may stand at the entrance to your city and send word for your wife to bring you your accounting books. Come back to me when the three years of exile are over, and I will return all your possessions.'
"I accepted my fate and set out, and for the past two years I have obeyed the tzadik's words to the letter. Just recently, however, I learned that Rabbi Meir of Premishlan passed away, and I don't know what to do. How can I go back to him if he is no longer alive? I've decided to go to Rabbi Chaim of Szanz for guidance." With that, the stranger concluded his tale.
The innkeeper, who was a follower of Rabbi Chaim of Szanz, insisted on accompanying him. When they entered the tzadik's chamber, Rabbi Chaim began to speak before they could even state why they had come. "Go home," he instructed the weary traveler, "but make sure you pass through Premishlan. Go to Rabbi Meir's grave and tell him that the Rabbi of Szanz has ruled that two years of exile are enough, for you have fulfilled them with true self-sacrifice."
Every Jew, regardless of level of understanding or accomplishments, is capable of entering the land of Israel immediately - right now. Entrance into the land - that is, bringing Moshiach - depends on acting according to the prayer of Joshua and Caleb - "the land is very, very good." Our mitzvot must be in a manner that demonstrates that "G-d desires us." True, the coming of Moshiach depends on each one of us. But it does not depend on our wisdom, our level of preparation, our progress. Rather, every Jew can do the mitzvot simply because "G-d desires us." Acting this way, automatically and immediately we can enter the land that is "very, very good," with the coming of Moshiach.
(From Reflections of Redemption based on Likutei Sichos 33, by Dovid Yisroel Ber Kaufmann o.b.m.)