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1534: Re'eh

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August 10, 2018 - 29 Av, 5778

1534: Re'eh

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

  1533: Eikev1535: Shoftim  

Highway Blow-Out  |  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

Highway Blow-Out

by Dr. David YB Kaufmann a"h

Traveling on the highway at 60, 70 miles per hour. Listening to the radio, maybe eating a cookie. BLOOM. KA-thud-thud-thud. A blow-out. Every driver's nightmare. Initially, panic. Then, control.

After that, the mind can process the Thank G-ds: Thank G-d I didn't lose control. Thank G-d no one hit me. Thank G-d no one was in the other lane. Thank G-d I'm not hurt. Thank G-d it's not the middle of the day. Thank G-d it's not the middle of the night. Thank G-d I had a cell phone. Thank G-d I had a spare. Thank G-d I didn't have to change it on a bridge. Thank G-d the hazard lights work. Thank G-d it's not raining. Thank G-d I'm not in the middle of nowhere. Thank G-d it's not rush hour. Thank G-d I was wearing my seat belt.

In truth, they can be multiplied endlessly. Even as we pull off to the side of the road, wave down a passing highway patrol car, call 911, or do any of the myriad things necessary to stay safe and get home, our minds race through scenarios - not only of what we must do now, but of what might have been.

How thin the line between us and disaster - a little rubber and a lot of air.

But then we begin to question: Why did it happen? How did it happen? The tires were rotated just over a thousand miles ago. I checked the pressure last week - 32 psi, just like the manual says. Plenty of tread left. Did I run over a nail or piece of glass?

And: Why me? Why now? I missed that appointment. There goes half a day's work, waiting in a tire store. I just seem to keep pouring money into this thing, and it's already five years old.

How thin the line between us and our ego - a little rubber and a lot of air.

The first chapter of Tanya (the basic book of Chabad Chasidic philosophy, written by Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism) describes the negative characteristics that derive from the element of Air: frivolity and scoffing, boasting and idle talk - "hot air," in the clich้ of the idiom. And when we think about it, isn't that what happens when a tire blows out? The friction on the road, like the friction of interacting with the world and those around us, heats the air inside the tire, just like our ego gets inflated by mocking others or bragging about ourselves. When the air gets too hot, or egos too inflated, the rubber coating - the self-flexing and identity-stretching we use to hide from the facts - or truth - on the ground begins to leak. Our steel-belted self-image explodes.

At such a time, when the crisis has passed and we're waiting to have a new tire installed and reconstruct our ego, we need to assess not only what we're paying for - the means to safely transport our souls and their passengers, those who ride with us on life's journey; we also need to assess what we received - the very opportunity to move forward, with a more balanced self-image, ready to roll along the potholes, through the rainstorms and over the snowdrifts of life. Instead of relying on "hot air," and the resultant overcharging of our emotions, we drive on, properly inflated with words of Torah and loving kindness.

Living with the Rebbe

In this week's Torah portion, Re'eh, we have verses that speak about the place where the Temple will be built, for example: "It will be, that the place, that G-d will choose to rest His Name..." These verses tell us that once G-d will choose the final resting place of His Name, offerings to Him won't be able to be brought anywhere else.

What did the Children of Israel do before G-d chose the place? They were allowed to have personal altars and bring offerings to G-d whenever they wanted to.

Maimonides explains that on Mount Moriah, the place where the Temple would be built, Abraham, Noah, Cain and Abel - and even Adam - had brought sacrifices.

Yet, from the verses in our portion, it is clear, that only after G-d chooses the place it will become holy. So why does Maimonides tell us the history of the place and who brought sacrifices there?

When we sanctify a place or an object, the holiness is permanent. But, because the place or the object is limited, the holiness is restricted to the limitations of the place or the object.

However, when Unlimited G-d chooses a place and rests His Divine Presence in it, the holiness is not restricted to the limitations of the place. But the place itself does not become permanently holy unless we, the Jewish people, make it holy. When G-d moves on, the place doesn't retain the holiness.

It is only when we have the combination of both, G-d's choice and our efforts to sanctify the place that it becomes the eternal resting place of His Name, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

This is why Maimonides tells us that Abraham, Noah, etc. brought sacrifices. To explain why the Temple Mount became the final and eternal resting place of His Name. It wasn't enough that G-d chose the place, our predecessors needed to sanctify the place, and the combination of the two made it eternally holy.

Why did our ancestors bring their sacrifices on Mount Moriah? They knew through prophecy, that in the future G-d would choose this as the final resting place of His Name. So ultimately it was G-d's choice in the future that made it the resting place of His Name.

Each of us was chosen by G-d, each of us is a small Temple. G-d rests His Name on us in the form of a neshama (soul). But it is up to us to put in the effort to experience what we have. It is the combination of both G-d's choice and our effort, through Torah study and the performance of mitzvot (commandments), that we experience the eternal holiness of G-d.

May our efforts in Torah and mitzvot bring Moshiach, when we will once again experience G-d's unlimited holiness, in the eternal resting place of His Name, the Third and final Temple in Jerusalem, on Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount.

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

Finding the Funny in Frustrating
by Dvorah Lakein

A Flower in Her Ear in Kona, Hawaii

Last August, Freida Gerlitzky landed at Kona International Airport with her husband Levi, toddler son, and four oversized boxes of supplies. Six months later, the young mom of two-she gave birth to her second child in Kona-is balancing life with her family and outreach to 1,000 Jewish souls on Hawaii's largest island.

And now she knows to tuck that plumeria in her left ear.

In the few months they've been here, a small community has grown around them. Israeli businessmen who have made the Big Island home, come by after work during the week, and local families join the Gerlitzkys at their Shabbat table.

Among other things, Freida is mopping floors more frequently. She laughs now, remembering her surprise when she saw everyone remove their shoes before coming into the shul. "They do it out of respect. I want the floor to be clean for them."

Travelers who may not be looking for anything Jewish are happily surprised to discover Chabad in Kona. "They wouldn't reach out to their local Chabad centers but after meeting us here, they may connect when they return home."

Freida and her husband are one of 119 couples from Brooklyn and other Jewish hubs who moved to cities around the world in 2017 to serve as Chabad representatives. Newbies to the way things are done locally, they roll with the punches and find the funny in the frustrating.

Silver Foil Pots in Curacao, Caribbean

Five thousand miles away, on the island of Curacao, Chani Silver was setting up shop for the New Year. Curacao wasn't hit by the hurricanes that pummeled the Caribbean this fall, but she and her husband Refoel felt its impact.

"Our shipping container got delayed for a month, so we had no furniture and no food. We turned silver foil into pots and used a lot of plastic. It was very hectic, but the people loved it." Challenges and all, Chani hosted 30 people her first Rosh Hashanah on the island.

In the summer of 2017, the Silvers were invited to serve the Jewish community of this Dutch island. Curacao is no stranger to Jewish settlement. The first to welcome Sephardic Jews in the Western Hemisphere, it features a local synagogue, built in 1732, which stands to this day. Today, the island attracts young business people. And tourists. Lots of tourists.

"I was worried I was going to be bored," Silver admits. But her days are filled teaching Judaic study classes, welcoming travelers, and hosting a Mommy and Me group. The couple has connected with many locals through creative social events: sixty turned up to participate in a Scotch and Sushi party in their sukkah, thirty women participated in a kosher cook-off and challah bake, and many celebrated Chanukah at menorah lightings across the island.

"People were crying at the lighting in the island's center," recalls Silver. "No one imagined that the prime minister and 140 people would attend this public Chanukah display."

Growing a Greenhouse in Middlebury, VT

Jewish students at Middlebury College (there are about 350) are not knocking at Davida Murray's door looking for kosher food. But they are interested in farming and sustainable living. "After walking around campus and town, going to local events, letting people get used to us," Davida and her husband Binyamin, realized that the rural setting of this top liberal arts college offers fertile ground for "planting seeds of Torah." Inviting students to help them grow their greenhouse, and planting a vegetable garden together, explains Davida, are organic to study Torah.

"We've got chickens. We have an outdoor oven where we'll be baking artisan challah, and we'll be living off the veggies we grow in our garden," she tells Lubavitch International. A model of sustainability.

Davida hopes she and her husband will create the kind of experiences she missed while attending Texas State University. "I want to give them what I wanted-someone to talk to, a free space, a home away from home." To get that as an undergrad, she would drive an hour away to the closest Chabad, at the University of Texas.

Next semester, the Murrays are planning to roll out new Rosh Chodesh (new month) programming. That too, has something to do with how their garden grows.

Nod if You Mean No in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Doli Amitai had yet to pick up basic terms in Bulgarian and was using her hands, gesturing, to get by. On her first errand to the fruit market, the Israeli transplant wanted a bunch of those vine-ripe tomatoes. She pointed to them. The fruit vendor put a bunch into a bag. Perfect for salad. Doli nodded. The fruit vendor returned the tomatoes to the tomato bin.

Doli pointed to the tomatoes again. He chose a different bunch. Doli smiled. At least they were communicating. He placed them on the scale and said something. Doli nodded, eagerly this time. The vendor put the tomatoes back into the bin.

In Plovdiv (as in the rest of Bulgaria), yes means no, and no means yes. "Try nodding your head when you mean no," she says, laughing at the comedy of misunderstandings that ensued.

Plovdiv is Bulgaria's second-largest and Europe's oldest inhabited city. Its Jewish community dates back to before the Ottoman conquest in 1364. These days, Doli invites Plovdiv's Jewish women to kindle Shabbat candles with her every week.

Remnants of a much larger pre-Holocaust community, the local contingency is strong in its identity, less so in its traditions. So with the brit milah (circumcision) of their newborn son, she and her husband Yisrael revived another ancient tradition that Plovdiv hadn't seen in years. It was a big deal. "Many Jews came, many asked questions," says Doli, shaking her head.

Reprinted with permission from

What's New

Chumash Jumash

Editorial Ner recently completed the Spanish version of a new translation of the Five Books of Moses of the acclaimed Gutnick Chumash. The set was translated by Rabbi Nosson Grunblatt from Kehot of Argentina. The Gutnick Chumash is a translation of the Rebbe's teachings as edited by Rabbi Chaim Miller of Kol Menachem Publications.

Synagogue in Arkhangelsk

In what may be the world's northernmost Jewish Community Center, a synagogue recently opened. The synagogue in the Russian city of Arkhangelsk has a sanctuary that can also double as a concert hall and seats 500. Before the Communist revolution, Arkhangelsk was home to two synagogue. In Arkhangelsk the sun shines as much as 21 hours a day. Its latitude is three degrees to the north of Anchorage, Alaska.

The Rebbe Writes

Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5741 [1981]

Greeting and Blessing:

I am in receipt of your letter in which you write about your anxiety as a result of an incident last summer, involving a verbal outburst, which, you think, may require a special teshuvah [repentance] etc.

I trust you know that one of the basic principles of our Torah, Toras Emes, is that G-d does not require of a person anything that is beyond the person's capacity. And, needless to say, G-d knows the capacities and weaknesses of the creatures He created, including the fact that a human being is subject to moods, which sometimes bring him to say or even do things which are contrary to his real character and will.

For this reason, G-d has provided teshuva, "repentance", which is the ability to rectify anything that needs to be rectified, even to the extent of erasing the past. Teshuvah, basically, calls for a sincere regreat of the past failing and equally sincere determination not to repeat it. And when this is done, the person again becomes beloved to G-d, and even more than before, as is the case of a truant child who begs his father's forgiveness and father embraces him more affectionately than before.

Moreover, as you surely know, G-d has set aside special times in the year for teshuvah, such as the Ten Days of Repentance and Yom Kippur, so that a person should not become overly preoccupied with guilt feelings, remorse and sadness which are counterproductive and can only hinder is normal activities, especially the most important activity of serving G-d with joy.

It is clear from your letter that you have had more than your share of regret and remorse over the past. Thus you may rest assured that hot only are you a Jew in good standing with Hashem [G-d], but even closer and dearer than before and there is absolutely no basis whatsoever for any anxiety on that score. So you can completely dismiss the incident from your mind and turn your full attention to continued advancement in Yisddishkeit [Judaism], Torah and mitzvoth [commandments], wholeheartedly and with joy.

With blessing,

P.S. With regard to your request for an order of teshuvah, it is already included in the above, specifically: conducting the everyday life in accordance with the Shulchan Aruch [Code of Jewish Law], including complete trust/bittachon in G-d in general and also that He is the "Gracious One Who pardons abundantly" as we say in the amida of our daily prayers, and that "Nothing stands in the way of teshuvah." All this - with joy, in compliance with the imperative: "Serve G-d with joy." I will remember you in prayer for the hatzlocho [success] in the above.

4th of Adar 1, 5722 [1962]

After the lapse of time, I was pleased to receive your letter of Rosh Chodesh Adar 1. As requested, I will remember in prayer all those you mentioned in your letter. May G-d grant that you will have good news to report.

As we are now in the auspicious month of Adar, which is a time for increased rejoicing, it is clear that we are not expected to rejoice simply for the sake of rejoicing, but that there are very good reasons for doing so, and/when there is complete faith in G-d, the reasons soon become apparent.

P.S. To answer your questions:

On the question of teshuvah, it is always effective. See first chapter of Iggeres Hateshuvah.

The expression "treasures," which I used in my cable, was in regard to the stores of powers and capacities which every person has, and of which one is not always fully aware; also to the special aid given from On High (as explained at length in the maamarim [Chasidic Discourses] of Yud Shevat, from chapter 11 on.)...

All Together

PINCHAS means "mouth of a snake." Pinchas was the grandson of Aaron (Exodus 6:25) and a Priest. Another famous Pinchas was Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair who was a great scholar.

PENINA means "pearl" or "coral." Penina was the second wife of Elkana (I Samuel 1:2). Elkana was the father of Samuel the prophet by his first wife, Chana.

A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

This Shabbat is the first day of the Jewish month of Elul.

"There is a time and season for everything," King Solomon taught in the book of Ecclesiastes. According to Jewish tradition, there are various times throughout the day, week, month and year that are most appropriate for reflection and personal accounting: Each evening before retiring is the time to consider ones actions throughout the day. Every Thursday night one should reflect on the week that has passed. On the eve of every new (Jewish) month, one reviews the month and in the last month of the Jewish year one evaluates the entire year.

Elul is the time when we look over our deeds of the previous year and make a reckoning and appraisal of our personal growth and development.

There are many customs associated with the month of Elul. During Elul it is customary to have one's mezuzot and tefilin checked by an expert scribe (sofer). One is also enjoined to be more careful in the area of the Jewish dietary laws (kashrut).

From the very beginning of the month we greet friends and sign letters with the wish that we should be "written and sealed for good" and that we should have a "good and sweet year."

In addition, we add Psalm 27 to our daily prayers as well as increasing our recitation of Psalms in general.

With all of this, it is good to keep in mind the analogy of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism, that during the month of Elul "the King is in the field." This means that although at any time of year G-d is surely approachable by each and each one of us, He is even closer to us in the month of Elul.

As we are merely at the beginning of the month, let's not waste a moment. Let's get to work so that we will all truly have a good and sweet year, with the ultimate good of Moshiach NOW!

Thoughts that Count

There are four types among those who give charity: One who wishes to give but that others should not - he begrudges others; that others should give and he should not - he begrudges himself; that he should give and others should too - he is pious; that he should not give nor should others - he is wicked. (Ethics 5:13)

One might ask: Why is a person who wishes that "he should not give nor should others" included among those who give charity? In practice, all four types of people give charity, for this is a natural expression of a Jew's nature. Differences will exist only with regard to the thinking processes accompanying the act. There may be those who wish that neither they nor others should give, but in practice all give.

(Sichot Kodesh Nitzavim-Vayeilech, 5739)

Whenever love is dependent upon a specific consideration, when that consideration vanishes, the love ceases. If, by contrast, it is not dependent upon a specific consideration, it will never cease. (Ethics 5:16)

The lesson that love which is dependent on an external factor is no more lasting than the factor on which it is based - though profound and encompassing - is also obvious. Within the wording of the mishna and the examples it provides is a deeper concept. The mishna uses the expression "is dependent upon a specific consideration" rather than "stems from a specific consideration" to teach that even though love may be based at first on a specific consideration, if it is nurtured and cultivated, it will function as an "essential" love - one that is not dependent on an outside factor.)

(Sichot Kodesh Bechukotai, 5733)

May it be Your will... that the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days, and grant us our portion in Your Torah (Ethics 5:20)

The association of the two clauses in this prayer can be explained as follows: In the present era, much of our efforts are devoted to worldly activities. In the Era of the Redemption, when the Holy Temple will be rebuilt, we will, by contrast, be able to devote all our energies to the study of Torah.

(Sichat Kodesh Re'eh, 5741)

From In the Paths of Our Fathers,

It Once Happened

Rabbi Yehuda Leib was on his way home to Vitebsk after having visited the Rebbe Maharash (the fourth Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel). Sitting in the train station, he noticed a bearded Jew pacing back and forth. Every few minutes he would look toward him as if he wanted to communicate something to him.

Suddenly, the Jew stopped pacing and approached him. "Are you a Chasid of the Lubavitcher Rebbe?" the Jew asked.

When Reb Yehuda Leib answered in the affirmative, he continued, "Then you should know that your Rebbe is a holy man, who possesses Divine knowledge. Please allow me to tell you my story. It relates very closely to the Rebbe, and I'm sure you will find it very interesting. And the man continued:

"I was born into an observant family and lived in one of the small towns which dot this region. I learned in yeshiva like all of my friends, and I was an excellent student. My memory and facility in Torah learning marked me as one of the best students of our group. However, at that time, when I was young, many of my fellows were attracted to the glamour and excitement of the big cities. They wanted to acquire secular knowledge, and many left their small towns and traveled to the big cities.

"I was no exception and I, too, wanted to expand my knowledge: I, too, wanted to see the world and not be 'trapped' in our little town. So, I left home and went to Petersburg, where I was accepted as a medical student in the university there.

"I was very successful. I completed my studies easily. Then, I married a non-Jewish woman and within little time, I assimilated completely into the society of the Russian intelligentsia, who were my new friends and companions. They accepted me fully and it wasn't long before I completely forgot about being Jewish altogether.

"Everything was going along quite well, and I was enjoying my life until one night. On that night my whole life changed. That night I dreamt that my father came and begged me to repent of my ways.

"I ignored that dream, for after all, it is a known thing that dreams are mere fantasies. But the dream repeated itself night after night until I was consumed by it and could think of nothing else.

"One evening my wife and I were invited by some friends to attend a soiree. The party was in full swing, the orchestra was playing and elegant couples circled the dance floor. Suddenly, the old Jew from my dream appeared accusingly in front of me. I always carried a pistol with me, and, in a burst of anger, I drew it and fired at the phantom.

"At once the music stopped and everyone looked at me in horror. For myself, I returned home, mortified at my own senseless behavior. After a sleepless night of reflection, I decided to change my life.

"The following day I headed for Lubavitch where I intended to beg the Rebbe to guide me and prescribe a path of repentance for me. But when I entered his room, he abruptly stood up and turned away from me. Without a glance in my direction, he said, 'What is a man who murdered his father doing in my home?'

"I nearly fainted. Before me stood a holy man who saw with Divine insight, who knew everything that was in my heart. I burst out in bitter tears which sprung from the depths of my broken heart, and I begged the tzadik to tell me how I could repent.

"He commanded me to sell all my possessions quietly and move to a location where no one knew me. He also gave me very specific directions for the atonement of my soul.

"Before I departed from the Rebbe, I asked him how I would know that Heaven has forgiven my sins. He gave me a specific sign. Since that time many years have passed, during which I have fulfilled his instructions to the letter, all the while waiting and hoping to see that sign. A short time ago the sign which the Rebbe gave me was fulfilled. Now I am on my way to inform the Rebbe of the good news. Since you are the first Chasid I met on my way, I felt I had to share this story with you. I hope you found it interesting."

Adapted from Journeys with the Rebbes

Moshiach Matters

On Rosh Chodesh Elul, Haggai prophecized to the Jewish people words that are applicable for all generations: G-d asks why do Jews say that it is not yet the time to build the Holy Temple? Many at that time understood this prophecy as a call to action; they went up on the mountain to chop wood for the Temple! Haggai assured even the doubters that G-d is with them. G-d accompanies you up on the mountain, helps you chop the wood, and will help you build the Temple! Although the Temple can only be built when Moshiach comes, today we can prepare for the building of the Temple. Each Jew can go out of his personal exile through "going up" on a mission from G-d. Even now, each Jew can "chop wood."

(The Rebbe, 30 Av, Rosh Chodesh Elul, 1980)

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