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It Once Happened | Moshiach Matters
Almost daily we read or hear about earth-shaking events happening all over the world. Typhoons, hurricanes or the next expected shake-up in the world economy. One can always read about major restructuring shake-ups in this or that business. And every now and then one reads of shake-downs where people have lost their life-savings to unscrupulous business practices. And what are we Jews doing about all this?
We're shaking! Right, left, front, up, down, back. For six of the seven days of the Sukkot holiday we'll be shaking the lulav and etrog in the four compass directions and toward the heavens and the earth.
The lulav (palm), etrog (citron), hadas (myrtle), and aravot (willows) are joined together, and a blessing is made over them. Then they are shaken. This occurs during all the days of Sukkot, except Shabbat.
According to the Midrash these plants are symbolic of the different types of Jews who make up our nation. The etrog has an appealing taste and beautiful scent and is likened to a Jew who has a solid Jewish education and performs many mitzvot (commandments). The dates which grow from the lulav/palm have a taste but no aroma; they are like our brethren who have a solid Jewish education but don't necessarily excel in their performance of mitzvot.
The myrtle has a scent but no fruit; this is like Jews who are constantly doing mitzvot and good deeds, but lack Jewish knowledge.
Lastly, the willow has neither scent nor taste; it represents those of us who neither immerse ourselves in Jewish studies nor occupy ourselves constantly with mitzvot.
What message do we Jews give the world - even during these shaky political times - by reciting the blessing over the lulav and etrog and then shaking it and the myrtle and willow in all six directions?
We say, "We Jews are united. We are one. We are bound to one another like the lulav, myrtle and willow are bound to each other.
"Each and every Jew is important and essential regardless of affiliation, knowledge, or observance, just as each of the four plants is an intrinsic part of the mitzva, without which the blessing cannot be recited."
When all Jews participate in the mitzva of lulav, we make a further statement to the world, one which could literally shake the world to its very foundations. For the Talmud tells us that the reward for blessing the lulav and etrog on the first day of Sukkot is the name of Moshiach.
So shake the lulav starting on the first day of Sukkot, Monday, September 24. But don't just shake it once. Each day is a new mitzva. If you miss the first day, shake it the next day, or any other day except Shabbat. If you don't have one, call your local Chabad-Lubavitch center and they'll be happy to help you out.
The Haftora for the first day of Sukkot is the last chapter of Zechariah. There it states that when Moshiach comes, after the "War of Gog and Magog," even non-Jews will be obligated to celebrate the holiday of Sukkot. This is understandable, as in Temple times 70 sacrifices were brought on behalf of the nations of the world.
After the Gog and Magog War, the Haftora says, "On that day His feet will stand on Mount Olives." What is the meaning of this metaphor, of feet standing on Mount Olives in Jerusalem?
One explanation is that this verse refers to Moshiach; he will stand on Mount Olives and teach the nations of the world about G-d.
Another explanation is that olive oil is symbolic of intelligence. Olives, the source of olive oil, symbolize the source of the intellect, and Mount Olives (the place where the source of intellect comes from) is symbolic of serving G-d based on our understanding.
Feet, the lowest part of the body, symbolize accepting G-d's will with unquestioning faith. In other words, serving G-d not based on understanding, but rather an acceptance of the Heavenly yoke.
In our verse, the feet are standing on Mount Olives. Meaning, that the service of G-d through unquestioning faith, is above or greater than the service based on intellect.
One might think that serving G-d through intellect, would be greater and more meaningful than blind faith. What puts unquestioning faith above intellect?
When serving G-d through your understanding, it may seem more meaningful to you, but it is limited to your intellectual capacity, which is small compared to the infinite levels that could be attained. However, serving G-d through accepting His will, not being based on understanding, is unlimited, and therefore, what it can accomplish is unlimited.
The main service of our generation, the generation that will bring Moshiach, is through unquestioning faith, and it is this mode of service, being unlimited, that will draw down G-d's unlimited revelation, and by definition, the era of Moshiach.
Now you see how these two definition are really one. It is us who bring Moshiach through our unquestioning faith, and that is why, Moshiach will be able to stand on Mount Olives and teach the nations of the world about G-d.
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.
Wednesdays at the Klynes
by Russell Wiener
I first met Rabbi Levi Klyne and his wife, Chaya Mushka, seven-and-a-half years ago in a small synagogue in the Bronx, where I still live. I (a secular, if somewhat spiritually faithful Jew) was there to say Kaddish for my mother obm, who had just passed. They were there, ostensibly, to help out the small, rapidly aging congregation to stay afloat and continue to make a minyan; I'd like to believe they were there to change the path of my life and help mold me into a better Jew and human being.
The Klyne's journeyed each Friday afternoon from the familiarity of their Crown Heights neighborhood to stay in the back room of the shul in their quest to spread their passion for Judaism. It didn't take the rabbi long to invite me to join him and his wife for Friday night Shabbat dinner. The rest is, as they say, history.
The Klynes are educators. Rabbi Levi is the masigach ("supervisor") at the main Chabad yeshiva in "770" (Eastern Parkway), where he helps mold the future of promising young bochur. Chaya Mushka is a highly lauded preschool teacher, extremely sought after by four-year-old girls (and their parents). The kindness, caring and warmth of the Klynes make others pale by comparison.
Initially, I never intended to continue attending shul or celebrating Shabbat after the period of saying Kaddish was over. But, because I was able to soak in some of Levi's knowledge and be inspired by his devotion to the Rebbe, Chassidus and G-d, I never stopped going to shul on Shabbat, and eventually became fully Shabbat observant, put on tefillin each day and try to live as many of the mitzvot (commandments) as possible.
the rabbi's wife is his perfect complement. While hordes of "Chaya Mushkas" were so named in the late-'80s and after, none could possibly embody the true spirit of the late Rebbetzin as does Chaya Mushka Klyne. Her kindness, compassion and inherent goodness are apparent as soon as one makes contact.
The Klynes stopped coming to the Bronx for Shabbat when their first child was born a little over three years ago. Levi returned to "our" shul each Wednesday to teach a class in Jewish Studies, so I would see him every week. It was during Sukkot last year that Levi informed me that he was going to stop coming to the Bronx to teach, the demands of time and fatherhood too much to juggle.
Ironically, this sad news came at what has become a most happy time for me. A few years ago, Levi started inviting me to join him in Crown Heights during chol hamoed (the intermediate days of) Sukkot. From the first time one late night I stepped off of the three train and onto Kingston Avenue, it was as if time stopped and the sea of black I saw in front of my eyes directed a blinding light of joy and hope straight into my soul.
I imagine this unique bond of Jewish brotherhood, young and old, arms interlocked in joyous harmony, causing the ground shake in praise of the Almighty to be what the streets of Jerusalem will resemble when Moshiach comes. I still think fondly of an elderly gent taking a particular liking to me - a leading contender for "what's wrong with this picture?" - smiling continuously as we twirled around together. The scene, hundreds of men with a singular thought - "We want Moshiach now!" - women and children cheering them on, makes it easy to understand why Chassidus has brought hope to a diverse selection of Jews the world over.
Further affirming the meaning of the moment, once we take a break from the dancing, it's become tradition for Levi to shuttle me around to a few "farbrengens." Sukkas of all shapes and sizes are where I really get to soak in the spirit of Chassidus. Sitting around the table, I bond with strangers as curious about me as I am about them. All are very friendly and welcoming. As if I needed any further proof, I get an even deeper sense of the true faith shared by all. By the time Levi and I return to the pulsing heartbeat of Kingston Avenue for a final round of singing and dancing before dusk turns to dawn, I feel "different," my soul revived, awaiting the final redemption.
But of all these outstanding memories of Sukkot in Crown Heights, I will always be most moved by the fact that, four years ago, during my visit, Levi and Chaya informed me they were expecting their first child. And surely, since there are no coincidences, two years ago, again during chol hamoed, another outburst of happiness filled the air, when I learned Klyne child number two was on the way. And then, there's last Sukkot. That's when, after telling me he was going to stop his weekly Bronx visits, Levi asked me if I would like to come to Crown Heights every Wednesday, to spend time with him and his family.
I can't imagine how totally alone I would now feel if I didn't have the Klynes to visit each week. I'm single, with little family left. Add in the fact that my life hasn't exactly panned out as I imagined and that, over the past year or so, I've been provided several "challenges" (as Levi puts it), medically and otherwise. Without the Klynes, my personal "exile" would be overwhelming.
The long subway ride to Brooklyn is easily bearable for I know what awaits on the other end. A typical Wednesday includes davening with Levi, savoring a delicious dinner graciously prepared by Chaya, sitting around asking questions and talking about life. To say I'm extremely fond of their kids, Yossel, three-and-a-half, and Chana, 18 months, would be quite the understatement. When a couple share such a special blessing with those who adore children, but don't (or can't) have any, it has to be a mitzva unique in its intent and sanctification of G-d's goodness.
I often try to tell the Klynes how much they mean to me and what an impact they've had on my life. I don't know if I've succeeded because sometimes I think they feel embarrassed when I tell them they're my two favorite people in the world. I hope my actions prove the truth and they realize just how appreciated they are. Most of all, I hope I get to spend many, many more Wednesdays at the Klynes!
As in previous years, if you're in Manhattan, visit one of the Lubavitch Youth Organization's public sukkas during the intermediate days of the holiday. They will be open: September 26 & 27 - 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Friday, September 28 - 10:00 am - 4:00. Sunday, Sep 30 - 10:00 am - 1:00 PM. The Sukkas are: Sukka at Foley Square, near Worth Street; across the Federal Court House. Sukka at City Hall Park, at Park Row Subway Plaza The Wall Street Sukkah located on the cobblestones in Bowling Green Park, in lower Manhattan. The Garment Center Sukka in Herald Square across from Macy's. For more information call (718) 778-6000. To find out about public sukkot in your area call your local ChabadLubavitch Center.
Two Weeks in One
This current issue of L'Chaim is for the entire Sukkot holiday. Issue 1541 is for 26 Tishrei/October 5 for the Torah portion of Bereshit.
20 Menachem Av 5718 
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 [commandment] are the Truth, as the Torah is called "Torah Emeth," and as our Rabbis have also said, "There is no truth but the Torah (Jerusalmi Rosh Hashanah, 3:8), 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.
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.
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 Hoshanah, 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 everyday 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.
SHMUEL means, "I asked him of the L-d" (I Samuel 1:20). The prophet Shmuel was born through the prayers of his mother Chana. He was one of the greatest prophets, and anointed King Saul and King David.
SARA means "princess." Sara was the first matriarch and Abraham's wife (Genesis 17:15). She was considered to be a greater prophet than Abraham. Sara was the first to light Shabbat candles; her candles, connoting peace, lasted for an entire week.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
We stand at the beginning of the "season of our Rejoicing" - commencing with the festival of Sukkot and culminating with the holidays of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah (this year Sunday evening, September 23 through Tuesday evening October 2).
Chasidic philosophy explains that what a Jew accomplishes on Yom Kippur through tears, repentance and remorse, he can accomplish on Simchat Torah through joy.
How is this possible?
On Simchat Torah we, so to speak, take the "high road." We travel on the more direct route toward connecting with G-d.
Through dancing with the Torah, expressing joy and happiness for being Jewish, we automatically transcend this mundane world and relate to G-d on a truly spiritual level.
In the repentance of Yom Kippur, we feel remorse for our transgressions which occurred in this physical world. Dancing, celebrating, joyousness, however, are a totally different level.
We are celebrating our love of G-d, not something related to this world. This higher level we reach can accomplish more than repentance.
In the merit of our repentance and our joy, may we see the "return" of the Alm-ghty to Jerusalem as we say in our daily prayers: May our eyes behold Your return to Tzion in mercy.
And you shall take on the first day the fruit of a goodly tree (from the Torah reading)
The Midrash relates that the festival of Sukkot is referred to as the "first day," as it is "first in the calculation of sins." What does this mean? On Yom Kippur, all the sins of the previous year were forgiven and erased; during the few days from Yom Kippur until Sukkot everyone has been busy preparing for the holiday, so the slate is still clean. The reckoning for the New Year thus cannot begin until Sukkot. Another reason: According to the Midrash, the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden was an etrog tree. The first sin in the world thus came about through an etrog, which is why Sukkot is called "first in the calculation of sins."
And you shall rejoice on your festival...and you shall be yet ("ach") happy (from the Torah reading)
The word "ach," literally "but" or "however," is used to imply a certain condition: Too much "rejoicing" or frivolity can lead to impropriety if there are no proper guidelines, the Torah cautions us to rejoice, but within the boundaries of good taste and for the sake of heaven.
Netilat lulav ("taking" the lulav)
Why is the wording of the blessing "al netilat lulav" when the commandment in the Torah uses the more common verb for "take," "ul'katchtem"? Because "netila" is an expression of lifting and elevation, as it states in the Book of Isaiah, "And in his pity he redeemed them, and he took them and carried them all the days of old." The blessing "al netilat lulav" therefore connotes our confidence that the Jewish people has been found victorious in judgment.
The etrog is unique among fruits in that it remains on the tree for an entire year, and actually grows and flourishes because of variations in climate. This is symbolic of the Jew, the eternal wanderer, who has endured all sorts of changes in environment during the exile, yet has successfully acclimated and thrived under even the harshest of conditions.
Sukkot, 1914. The effects of the World War II in Europe were being felt as far away as the Holy Land. Many of the supply routes were closed and provisions were scarce. The old Jewish settlement suffered numerous losses, not only from the pervasive hunger but also from the contagious illnesses that were taking their toll. Nonetheless, whenever holidays rolled around the atmosphere was charged with spiritual exultation and joy.
In those days, the sukka of the famous Reb Mottele of Chernobyl was a major attraction. The tzadik had quickly become one of the most beloved figures in Jerusalem ever since his arrival from Russia ten years previously.
Everyone had been astounded that first year, when Reb Mottele had built the most elaborate and beautiful sukka anyone had ever seen. Not only had the tzadik put it up himself, but he had also decorated it with considerable artistic skill. The sukka was made of the finest wood, with ornate carvings on its panels depicting scenes relating to the holiday.
Reb Mottele had brought the seven heavy panels with him from Russia. As he had once revealed, the amazing sukka had been inherited from his father, who had inherited the family treasure from his own father. With each succeeding generation, its wooden walls had absorbed additional measures of holiness.
For ten years the Jews of Jerusalem had marveled at the sumptuous structure, which was in striking contrast to their own humble booths. Crowds of people would gather around it in awe. Indeed, many stories were told about its powerful spiritual aura. It was even said that Rabbi Dovid'l of Lelov had pronounced it "a likeness of the supernal sukka on high."
That particular year, however, when the residents of Jerusalem made their annual trek to admire Reb Mottele's sukka, they got the shock of their lives. Gone was the imposing, elaborately carved edifice; instead, they found the tzadik sitting in a tiny, wobbly shack. Out of respect for Reb Mottele they hid their astonishment and said nothing. But they were naturally quite curious and could not help speculating as to what had happened.
A number of theories were proposed. Someone suggested that perhaps the terrible famine had forced Reb Mottele to sell the sukka, but this explanation was rejected out of hand. Everyone remembered how several years before a famous philanthropist had arrived in Jerusalem and offered Reb Mottele a veritable fortune if he would sell it. Reb Mottele had absolutely refused. No, there had to be another explanation. It was simply impossible that Reb Mottele would willingly part from his beloved sukka. But if so, where was it?
For the next few months the disappearance of Reb Mottele's sukka was the talk of the town. Then one day the mystery was solved, from a completely unexpected direction:
One evening during that particularly cold winter, a gathering was held in a Jerusalem synagogue commemorating the passing of a tzadik from a previous generation. Many of the most prominent figures in the holy city attended, among them the elder Chasid Rabbi Yisrael Meir Gottlieb.
Suddenly, in the middle of the commemorative meal, Rabbi Yisrael Meir stood up and requested the floor. The hall was immediately silent. "I would like this occasion to also serve as an expression of my personal thanksgiving," he stated. "It would have been fitting to arrange a separate celebration, but unfortunately, times are such that it is beyond my financial ability to do so.
"A few months ago my young grandson became very ill," he began. "His condition worsened until the doctors said that the only way to save his life would be to bathe him in warm water several times a day. You all recognize what this meant at a time when it was impossible to obtain a drop of kerosene or a lump of coal. How would we be able to heat the water to give the lad even one bath a day?
"At that point I went to my Rebbe, Reb Mottele, and explained my grandson's predicament. For a brief moment Reb Mottele was quiet. Then he jumped up, grabbed my arm and led me to a storage shed in the back of the house. Opening the door he pointed inside and said, 'Take wood from here.'
"What can I say?" Rabbi Yisrael Meir shook his head in disbelief. "When I saw that he was pointing to the panels of his sukka, my whole body began to tremble. Surely I was hallucinating. But Reb Mottele would not allow me to even think about it. 'You must take the wood. It is a case of saving a life.'
"With a broken heart I followed his instructions, splitting the holy panels into small pieces so they would catch fire and burn. My grandson was bathed as per the doctors' orders, and thank G-d, last week he was pronounced completely well. I would therefore like this meal to be considered in honor of his recovery. To tell you the truth, I don't know what is more impressive," he concluded, "the miracle of my grandson's recovery, or the piety of Reb Mottele..."
The etrog is a unique fruit in that it remains on the tree for an entire year, thriving precisely on the changes in climate of the different seasons. For this reason the etrog is symbolic of the Jew, the eternal wanderer who must endure all kinds of trials and tribulations as he suffers in exile. Yet like the etrog, the Jew will thrive even in the most adverse conditions and emerge triumphant with the coming of Moshiach.