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Devarim Deutronomy

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Devarim Deutronomy

   1531: Devarim

1532: Vaeschanan

1533: Eikev

1534: Re'eh

1535: Shoftim

1536: Ki Seitzei

1537: Ki Savo

1538: Nitzavim

July 27, 2018 - 15 Av, 5778

1532: Vaeschanan

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Published and copyright © by Lubavitch Youth Organization - Brooklyn, NY
The Weekly Publication For Every Jewish Person
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.

  1531: Devarim1533: Eikev  

Internal Inspiration  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  The Rebbe Writes
All Together  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count  |  It Once Happened
Moshiach Matters

Internal Inspiration

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.

Living with the Rebbe

In this week's Torah portion, Vaetchanan, we have the famous, fundamental words of the "Shema" followed by the command to love G-d: "And you shall love the L-rd, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your might."

When it comes to loving someone, you either do or you don't. You cannot be commanded to love another. How then do we fulfill this commandment?

G-d "wants" to be understood, to be known. The more we understand G-d, the more we love Him. Being that G-d is infinite there is always more to know.

To be loved, is to be understood. Most women know this naturally, as they yearn to be understood. When they are understood they feel loved.

To understand, you must listen. To listen is to remove ones personal perception and feelings on the subject and hear it from the other's perspective totally. To listen is not just about hearing, it's about picking up on nuances such as facial expressions, body language and hints. To experience the other.

Again, most women naturally know how to listen, most men do not, hence the complaint "he doesn't listen." Good listening takes effort.

G-d is saying, try to understand Me, from My perspective. Hints are found all over the Torah. Pick up on the hints, listen.

G-d is asking us to understand: Why did He create this world? How do we fit in the scheme of things? He wants us understand Him, to know Him.

A hint to this is found in the first verse of the Shema:

"Listen Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is one."

In the Torah, this verse has two oversized letters "ayin" () and "dalet" (). Together they make up the word - dah, to know or understand.

If you will listen - Shema, You will understand - Dah (know), that HaShem is our G-d, HaShem is One. In other words, if you will listen you will begin to understand what G-d is all about - and then you will love G-d.

Knowing G-d's purpose for us and His reasoning, will motivate you and animate you, as you will find deep meaning in fulfilling G-d's will. You will fulfill G-d's will not from a feeling of obligation but rather from love.

Listen, understand, love.

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

Victory in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

This Wednesday (August 1) is 20 Av in the Jewish calendar. It is the yartzeit (anniversary of passing) of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, father of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak became the chief rabbi of Yekatrinoslav, Ukraine, in 1909 at the age of 31. During his years of leadership, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak resolutely engaged in religious activism, never giving in to the ever-growing Soviet pressure and opposition despite threats to his life.

In 1939 Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was arrested for his Jewish activities. After more than a year of torture and interrogations in Stalin's notorious prisons, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was tried in Moscow and sentenced to five years of exile under the most primitive and difficult conditions in Chi'ili, Central Asia. Near the end of his years of exile, a group of followers secured his release to Alma Ata, where he passed away a few months later from an untreated illness that had begun to ravage his body in the inhumane conditions to which he had been exiled.

Today, Yekatrinoslav in renamed Dnepropetrovsk. And the Chabad Menorah Center (at 538,000 square ft.) is the largest Jewish Center in the world!

Each year, a summer camp for girls and a summer camp for boys known affectionately as "Camp Yeka" give hundreds of Jewish children the experience of a lifetime packed with fun, excitement and positive Jewish energy.

Stalin and the Soviet Union are long gone. But Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson's legacy is alive and growing.

The Rebbe Writes

20th of Marcheshvan, 5725 [1965]

Greeting and Blessing:

I am in receipt of your letter of October 18th, which you write in the name of your friends and in your own behalf and ask my opinion regarding the new drug called L.S.D., which is said to have the property of mental stimulation, etc.

Biochemistry is not my field, and I cannot express an opinion on the drug you mention, especially as it is still new. However what I can say is that the claim that the said drug can stimulate mystical insight, etc., is not the proper way to attain mystical inspiration, even if it had such a property. The Jewish way is to go from strength to strength not by means of drugs and other artificial stimulants, which have a place only if they are necessary for the physical health, in accordance with the Mitzva to take care of one's health. I hope that everyone will agree that before any drugs are taken one should first utilize all one's natural capacities, and when this is done truly and fully, I do not think there will be a need to look for artificial stimulants.

I trust that you and your group, in view of your Yeshiva background, have regular appointed times for the study of Torah, and the inner aspects of the Torah, namely the teachings of Chassidus, and that such study is in accordance with the principle of our Sages, namely "The essential thing is the deed," i.e. the actual conduct of the daily life in accordance with the Torah and Mitzvoth [commandments], prayer, Tefillin, Kashruth [kosher dietary laws], etc., etc. This is only a matter of will and determination, for nothing stands in the way of the will. I trust that you are also using your good influence throughout your environment.

With blessing,

20th of Menachem Av, 5718 [1958]

Greeting and Blessing:

This is to acknowledge your letter of July 3rd.

I was very gratified to read of the great strides that have been made in your community towards strengthening true Torah Yiddishkeit [Judaism]. At all times, efforts to strengthen our traditional faith had a priority claim on public-minded individuals; in our times such efforts are simply a vital necessity, especially in communities where there is an inadequacy of Torah institutions.

Moreover, efforts in the field of Kosher education are truly rewarding, because the accomplishments are lasting and cumulative. For every influence during the receptive and formative years of growing children and youths has a decisive effect on adulthood, as in the example of a seed or seedling, where even a slight defect, if not corrected, might irreparably damage the grown tree and its fruit for generations.

I would also like to emphasize, what is indeed self-evident, that inasmuch as the Torah and Mitzvoth are the Truth, as the Torah is called "Tora[t]h Emeth," and as our Rabbis have also said "There is no truth but the Torah (Jerusalmi Rosh Hashanah, ch. 3, Hal. 8), there can be no room here for compromise and half-truths. For compromise and truth are absolutely contradictory.

Moreover, experience has long disproved the fallacy, perhaps well-meant, but quite misguided, that if you tell youths and adolescents the whole truth about the Torah and Mitzvoth, they will be frightened away from Yiddishkeit. The contrary is true, for, give a lad or girl the whole truth about Yiddishkeit, they will accept it enthusiastically; dilute it - and you arouse their mistrust and antagonism. Similarly, in the case of adults who, for one reason or another, are as yet not straightened out on the question of the Torah and Mitzvoth, they, too, will be impressed only by the feeling of awareness of the whole truth, while they will view with suspicion and derision any effort to dish the truth out to them in "palatable" pills which they could swallow in the estimation of those who would be presumptuous to think for them and judge their capacities.

In education, above all, gaining the child's confidence is the teacher's primary objective. The child is quick to detect the teacher's sincerity and sooner or later he will also find out whether or not he has been deceived by his teacher, no matter what the motivation was. Should the child lose confidence in the teacher for teaching him only half-truths, he will reject the whole.

On the occasion of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the New Year, may it bring true happiness to all our people, when we all pray "For Thou, O G-d art truth, and Thy Word, O our King is Truth and endureth forever," may every one of us resolve to spread the Truth, through the dissemination of Torath-Emeth, and make it a living truth in every-day life.

In the merit of this the Almighty will surely inscribe each and every one of the workers for Torah-true Yiddishkeit, in the midst of all our people, to a truly happy and prosperous New Year, materially and spiritually.

With blessing,

All Together

There was no what's in a name column in this issue

A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

This past week on 11 Menachem Av we marked the yartzeit of one of the most famous and colorful Chabad Chasidim, Reb Hillel Paritcher.

Reb Hillel was born in 1795 and was married before his bar mitzva (!). As he was still too young to don tefilin and could only wear a talit, he was called "Chol Hamoed" ("the Intermediate Days of a Festival," when tefilin are not worn). By 13 he had already mastered the entire Talmud, and was fluent in Poskim and Kabbala. By 15, he was expert in the writings of the holy Arizal.

Originally a Chasid of Reb Mordechai of Chernobyl, he became a Chabad Chasid the first time he opened the book of Tanya. His lifelong dream was to meet the Alter Rebbe, the Tanya's author and the founder of Chabad Chasidism, but this was not to be. For years Reb Hillel trailed the Alter Rebbe across the Pale of Settlemen, but never caught up to him.

One time he arrived in the city where the Alter Rebbe was expected and hid under his bed. While waiting, he formulated in his mind the question on Tractate Erachin that he would ask the Alter Rebbe. When the Alter Rebbe entered the room, before Reb Hillel could even emerge from his hiding place, the Alter Rebbe said in his characteristic sing-song: "When a person has a question about Erachin [literally 'assessments'], he must assess himself first..." Reb Hillel fainted, and by the time he woke up the Alter Rebbe was gone.

It wasn't until after the Alter Rebbe passed away that Reb Hillel came to Lubavitch, where the Mitteler Rebbe enjoined him to "collect materiality [funds for charity] and sow spirituality."

His most famous work, published posthumously, was Pelach HaRimon. He is buried in Kharson.

May his memory be a blessing for us all.

Thoughts that Count

Rabbi Akiba used to say: "Everything is given on collateral and a net is spread over all the living.... The judgment is a judgment of truth, and everything is prepared for the feast." (Ethics 3:16)

- "The feast" refers to the World to Come, the pinnacle of the Era of the Redemption. In the present age, this teaching is particularly relevant for, to echo the analogy, the table has already been set, the food has already been served, Moshiach is sitting with us at the table. All we need to do is open our eyes. The tasks expected of the Jewish people have been accomplished; there is nothing lacking. To return to the above analogy: the feast is prepared; now we have to prepare ourselves. We have to ready ourselves to accept Moshiach.

(Sefer HaSichot, 5752)

Anyone whose wisdom exceeds his [good] deeds, to what can he be compared? To a tree whose branches are numerous but whose roots are few (Ethics 3:17)

The analogy compares a person's wisdom to branches, and his deeds to roots. But since one's deeds are an outgrowth of one's understanding, seemingly the reverse would be proper. This difficulty can be resolved as follows: With the expression "[good] deeds," the mishnah is referring to the ultimate source of motivation for our positive acts - the power of kabbalas ol, the acceptance of G-d's yoke. Wisdom has an unlimited potential, though the effect it has on our conduct has its bounds. Kabbalas ol connects a person to the G-dly source of his soul, and enables him to tap this infinite potential. Making an unreserved commitment to fulfill G-d's will thus serves as the "root" for all expressions of our personality, including wisdom, infusing them with unbounded strength and energy.

(Likkutei Sichot, Vol. IV)

From In the Paths of Our Fathers,

It Once Happened

"Who is this young man studying with such concentration?" wondered Rabbi Yehoshua Heshel. "He seems to be unusually dedicated to his studies."

Yehoshua Heshel was a son of the renowned Rabbi Baruch Frankel Teomim. He had come to Tarnogrod on business. Having completed his business affairs, he went to the synagogue to spend his time studying. Seeing the young man sparked an idea in his mind. "I must find out who he is," he resolved. "Perhaps he will make a good husband for my sister, Rochel Feigel!"

Yehoshua Heshel struck up a conversation with the young student. "What are you learning?" the rabbi inquired of him. The young man told him. Soon the two of them were in a deep Talmudic discussion. "This young man has a wonderful mind and a deep comprehension of the Torah," concluded Yehoshua Heshel, growing more and more amazed. "And what is your name, young man?" Yehoshua Heshel asked.

"My name is Chaim Halberstam," he replied. "I am the son of Reb Aryeh Leibush, rabbi of Premishlan."

Yehoshua Heshel noticed that Chaim was lame in one foot. "Well, no matter," he thought, "he is still an exceptional young man."

He felt he had to let his father know about him immediately, and wrote his father a letter about Chaim. The letter left out one important fact, though; the young man's limp. It was Divine providence that when the letter arrived, Reb Aryeh Leibush, Chaim's father, was just then sitting and talking with Rabbi Baruch Frankel-Teomin, Yehoshua Heshel's father. He had stopped to pay his respects to the great sage.

"Well, well," chuckled Rabbi Frankel-Teomin. "Look what we have here! A letter from my son suggesting that your son meet my daughter."

His visitor was astonished by the coincidence. "Really? May I see the letter?" he requested.

"Would you agree to the match?" Rabbi Frankel-Teomin asked.

"It is obviously a match made in heaven!" was the enthusiastic response.

And so the match between the Halberstam and the Frankel Teomim families was struck. Soon word got out. What a simcha! But in the yeshiva of Rabbi Frankel-Teomin, his students greeted the news skeptically. "How does our rabbi make a match for his daughter with a stranger? We must see him first to make sure he's fit to marry our rabbi's daughter."

Two students were chosen to go secretly to Tarnogrod to sneak a look at the young Chaim. They returned with appalling news. The groom was lame.

Somehow the news reached Rochel Feigel. She was horrified. She came running to her father. "How could you do this to me?" she cried, tears of shame and anger running down her face.

"What is it, my daughter?" asked her father, alarmed.

"How could you marry me to a cripple?" she sobbed. "Two of your students saw the groom. He's lame!"

"How could it be?" He was incredulous. "I will not force you to marry him. If after meeting him, you don't like him, we will call off the wedding!"

Yehoshua Heshel appeared before his father. He could see his father was livid with anger and he guessed why. "I trusted you and you deceived me!" Rabbi Frankel-Teomin accused his son. "Why didn't you tell me the young man is lame?"

"I was afraid you wouldn't consider him. Please meet him. Once you talk to him you'll forget about his limp right away." His father agreed and Chaim was sent for.

Chaim agreed to come for he sensed that something was amiss. Upon his arrival, he asked questions, and the people admitted that the bride was unhappy. "Let me speak to her privately," Chaim requested. Chaim and Rochel Feigel met for the first time.

He was not a bad-looking young man, Rochel Feigel confessed to herself, but he definitely had a limp. "Please, would you mind looking in the mirror?" Chaim asked her.

She thought, "What a strange request!" but she walked over to the mirror. What she saw in it made her gasp. There in the mirror was her exact likeness, except for one thing...she was lame in one foot.

"You were supposed to be born lame," Chaim explained to her gently, "but knowing that I would be your partner in life, I asked heaven that I should be the lame one, instead of you." After a moment Chaim added, "Now, do you still refuse to marry me?"

His words touched Rochel Feigel's heart. After he had revealed this fact, how could she object to the marriage anymore? In fact, she thought, she rather liked the young man. She walked out of the room with a smile on her lips.

Everyone respected and liked the new young groom, but none more than the Rabbi of Leipnik. "My son-in-law's foot might be crooked, but his brain is very straight," he declared.

In later years, Reb Chaim Halberstam became none other than the holy Sanzer Rebbe, of blessed memory, to whom thousands turned for spiritual guidance.

Excerpted from Why The Baal Shem Tov Laughed, by Sterna Citron, Jason Aronson Publ.

Moshiach Matters

"Love G-d... with all your heart and with all your soul..." (Deut 11:13). In a previous verse we are told to love G-d "with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might." Might includes constantly rising above what we consider to be rational or even possible. Some of us can maintain a constant awareness of G-d's presence in our lives that inspires us to love Him "with all our might," while some of us cannot maintain this awareness constantly. Nonetheless, even those of us who can serve G-d only "with all our heart and all our soul" can still rise to serve Him "with all your might" occasionally. In the Messianic future, we will all be able to sustain this high level of Divine awareness.

(From Daily Wisdom, translated and adapted by Moshe Wisnefsky from talks of the Rebbe)

  1531: Devarim1533: Eikev  
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