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If you live in North America, for a fleeting moment you might consider what would be the best way to use the "extra" hour you'll gain in the wee hours of Sunday morning when we begin Standard Time. But, as quickly as that question enters your head it exits. After all, what could be better than an extra hour of sleep?
According to Jewish teachings, that hour might be much more valuable than you would have ever thought! "Far better an hour of repentance and good deeds in this world than a lifetime in the World to Come," our Sages said.
How can one hour thus occupied be so precious? (To sidetrack for one-sixtieth of your extra hour, it is important to note that repentance should not bring on depression, discouragement or inertia. Rather, a soulful inventory should prompt one to improve, advance and feel invigorated.)
Why is an hour of repentance and good deeds so valuable? Because our actions here and now are bringing about revelations of goodness and G-dliness that will culminate in the Messianic Era!
But the transition to Standard Time this weekend in North America and around this time in a number of countries throughout the world, contains a more general lesson as well.
The Jewish year in which we now find ourselves is a leap year. Unlike the solar calendar which adds one day in a leap year, the Jewish lunar calendar adds an entire month in the late winter.
However, not all leap years in the lunar calendar are the same. This year has the distinction of having the maximum number of days that any leap year can have - 385.
A leap year in the Jewish calendar makes up for the "deficiency" in the number of days of previous years, bringing the lunar year into harmony with the seasons (determined by the solar year).
In addition, not only does the "extra" month make up the past deficiency, it also gives an "advance" on the future.
What does all this have to do with our lives here and now? Every person has his or her own mission in this world. Although each day comes with its own task that has to be accomplished on that particular day, the extra month in a leap year gives us the opportunity to make up for past deficiencies and even gives us an advance on the future.
This leap year, containing a maximum number of days, also teaches us to maximize the opportunity to make up for the past and get a jump on the future. And certainly, if G-d gives us this mission, He also gives us the courage and energy to accomplish our goals.
Now, what was it you were thinking of doing early Sunday morning?
In the Torah portion of Chayei Sarah we read "Abraham became old, advanced in years." In this week's Haftora, the beginning of first chapter of Kings I, we read "King David became old, advanced in years." This is the first connection between the Haftora and the Torah portion.
The Haftora tells us that when David was at an advanced age, Adoniyahu - his eldest living, extremely handsome and spoiled son - sought to claim David's throne, knowing that his younger brother Solomon was meant to be king after David.
With the guidance of the prophet Nathan, Solomon's mother Bat Sheva went to David and let him know what was happening. David reassured her, reiterating the promise he made earlier, that her son Solomon would reign after him. She bowed before the king and said, "May my master King David live forever!"
Here we find another similarity between the Haftora and the Torah portion. In the portion Abraham makes his younger son Isaac his sole heir, just as King David made Solomon, his younger son, the heir to his throne.
However, our portion continues to tell us of how Abraham gave Isaac everything, making him his heir in his lifetime. It also tells us that after Abraham died, G-d blessed Isaac, just as He had blessed Abraham.
It is customary to end the Haftora after King David's promise to Bat Sheva. The continuing verses tell us how David had Shlomo anointed as king during his lifetime. It also tells us what happened after David died, that Shlomo sat on the throne. Would it not make sense, being that the events of the following verses parallel the events in the Torah portion, to continue reading on?
The law is that the royal Jewish dynasty is everlasting. A Jewish king must be a descendent of David specifically through his son Solomon. The Davidic dynasty was only solidified once Solomon became king.
The Jewish dynasty started with Abraham and continued on through his son Isaac. But the Jewish dynasty was only solidified once Jacob was born and Isaac blessed Jacob as his spiritual heir. The birth of Jacob and his role as one of the Patriarchs of the Jewish people happens in next week's Torah portion, not this week's portion. It is for this reason that the Haftora does not include the anointment of Solomon and concludes with David's promise to Bat Sheva.
The establishment of the Davidic dynasty is the final solidification of the Jewish nation. Before the Jewish people had a king, they were not unified. It was the appointment of David that unified the Jewish people under one everlasting rulership. So our Haftora is the completion of the events of the Torah portion.
May the events that began in our portion and continued in the Haftora, come to the ultimate completion. When our Davidic king, Moshiach, once again ascends the throne. May it happen soon.
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.
A Jew and A Businessman
by Menachem Zigelbom
I would hear my brother's stories now and then when we had occasion to spend Shabbat together or at family events.
He is in the textile business for many years. He represents textile companies who import expensive fabrics from various countries and he markets them to stores and factories, which are also in numerous countries around the world.
A Lubavitcher businessman is not a regular businessman. The Rebbe explained that a person is not alone in the world and he or she doesn't end up in a specific place "just because." In every location there is a mission, a goal. Between business deals, look for the "Real Deal."
"My business motto is built not only on ethics and trust, which are things that any businessman needs if he wants to remain relevant for the long term," says Meir Zigelbom. "My name is Jewish and most of my customers identify me as an Orthodox Jew. It is important that they know that a Jew does business in an honest fashion. In this business, there are so many opportunities to make a 'kiddush Hashem' and to give the Rebbe nachas."
His base of operations is his home in North Miami, Florida. From there, he sets out at the beginning of each week and returns home at the end of the week. Sometimes, his trips last even two or three weeks in a row, mainly when he travels to present his wares in distant countries or attends exclusive expos at the ends of the world.
Meir shares a few stories with me.
"When I got to Woodland Hills, California. I met a Jewish businessman. He was in his 70s and was irritable, sarcastic and cynical. It wasn't pleasant being on the receiving end of his sharp tongue and it wasn't easy to gain his trust when it came to business after he spent a long time telling me about all the different companies who cheated him over the years.
"With time, our business dealings began to build trust and he slowly began to regard me with some affection. In every conversation, after we discussed business, he would ask me, 'How are you bachurel' or would call me 'yingele.' He was old enough to allow himself to do so.
"One day I visited him on business. I felt confident enough to ask him for a birthday present for my birthday which was that day. He seemed taken aback; he wasn't expecting such a request. He looked inquiringly and I said, 'I want five minutes of your precious time to put tefillin on with you.'
"He was silent. I sensed an inner battle taking place. I added, 'I will put the tefillin on you and show you what to say.' He finally blurted out, 'Okay, why not?'
"Before he would change his mind, I ran to the car and got my tefillin. I put them on him and he read what I showed him to read from the prayerbook. At the end, as I removed the tefillin, he said to me, 'I grew up as a boy in Connecticut. There were other Jews there but none were religious. I remember that before my bar mitzva, my father took me to someone like you (he said, pointing at my yarmulke), by the name of Rabbi Fleischer. My father asked him to put tefillin on with me. When he took off the tefillin he said, 'Try and see to it that this isn't the last time.''
"As he told this to me, he got red in the face and he cried and said, 'I am 76 years old and today is the second time I am putting on tefillin.' He gave me a hug while still crying. This was so contrary to his usual tough demeanor.
"Before we said goodbye, I told him this was the best birthday present I ever got.
I work with a couple from Taiwan, very devout Christians, who own one of the most exclusive textile companies in the world. They are considered 'top of the line' in their field in the United States, and the highest tier designers use their materials exclusively.
"I once traveled with them to a large textile fair in Europe. At the end of the day, we sat in the hotel lobby in order to discuss what we saw and what we still need to find. At one point, the man gave me a really long look. I asked him what it was about, and he told me, 'I am pleased that G-d had me meet you.' I answered politely, 'I am also very pleased and happy to work with you.'
"He continued in a gentle tone, 'No, you don't understand. My wife and I heard and read a great deal about the Jewish nation, that it is the Chosen Nation on the part of the Creator. Over time, we were burned a number of times by business people who are members of your nation, and it hurt us that we developed such a negative view of the Chosen Nation. However, these were facts on the ground and I can't argue with the facts. But since we got to know you, we both know that we were right in our earlier approach toward the Jewish nation, and we admire the Chosen Nation. What happened with those individuals was only a mishap.'
"There is no question that a Jewish appearance and proud Jewish behavior, along with the building of deep trust, generates a Kiddush Hashem with Jewish colleagues and also with those who are not Jewish. The non-Jewish businesswoman from S. Francisco once told me, 'You always come here and spread good energy. You are Orthodox, and it looks like you enjoy doing what you believe in, and this brings you happiness.'"
"There are many activities of spreading Judaism or Jewish messages, which I give over and carry out in the course of my work. I am not exclusively a person involved in business, but first and foremost a Jew and a Chassid. Anybody can sell textiles; the job is to be more than that. "
From Beis Moshiach Magazine
EnerJew, the FSU's Jewish youth movement, now has 42 chapters in cities throughout the Former Soviet Union. Painting, photography, culinary battles, parties themed on different countries of films - the variety of events showcased the creativity and the multi-faceted character of FSU's Jewish teens, who number well over two thousand in EnerJew by the new season.
Chabad on Campus Shabbaton
Chabad on Campus International's Pegisha Shabbaton weekend this past month was attended by over one thousands students from throughout the USA and around the world. Singing, dancing, food, workshops, joyous prayers, fun and frivolity, and home hospitality with Chabad-Lubavitch residents of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, created a dynamic experience for all participants.
Continued from last week's issue from a letter dated 11th of Cheshvan, 5721 (1960)
Finally, and this is the most basic consideration, it is necessary to bear in mind that "G-d directs the steps of man and finds delight in his (His) way," as explained at length by the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe [Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism]. When individual Divine Providence leads a Jew, man or woman, in a certain direction, and in a way that G-d finds delight in because it is His way, it is to be expected that the Yetzer Horah [evil inclination] will seek ways and means to lessen the enthusiasm and dampen the spirit. For the greater the accomplishments in the realm of holiness, the greater is the opposition on the part of the "other side."
As for what can actually be accomplished, I mentioned to your husband the experience in a somewhat similar situation, when the father of my father-in-law sent two Jews to Gruzia (Caucasia), a remote and neglected region, the two emissaries so transformed Jewish life there that even now, 45 years later, we find grandchildren of those native Jews in New York who are strictly religious and devoted Chassidim.
There is this difference, however, that those two Jews who revitalized Jewish life in that remote region, were the only pioneers and had no helpers. They had to start from scratch, whereas you and your husband came to Australia, finding there a group of Anash [colloguially Lubavitcher Chasidim] who have, to a considerable extent, already prepared the ground, except that many phases of the work have still to be accomplished and could best be done by people who have all American-English background, since, basically, the Australian society is similar to that of the English-American society.
I hope that the above lines will suffice to form a basis for further reflection along the lines suggested, for, needless to say, the subject is by no means exhausted.
After all these reflections, I explicitly told your husband that as far as he and you are concerned, and as far as the continuation of your work in Australia is concerned, you have complete freedom of action now, as before you set out for Australia, when you were in Brooklyn or Buffalo. You have the freedom to decide whether you wish to continue your work in Australia at the end of the three year period, with all that it entails, or return to an easier job in this country. As a matter of fact, the job at the Yeshivah which your husband held before, would undoubtedly be available to him in the same capacity as before, (which is that of the category of a "clerk", with all the "advantages" indicated earlier).
The greater the accomplishments in the realm of holiness, the greater is the opposition on the part of the "other side."
Furthermore, I assured your husband that there is no implication of Kepaida or reproof, from my part, whatever decision he and you make. The important thing is that if the task is to be done successfully, the work must be carried on willingly, without compulsion and without considering it as penal servitude or deportation. On the other hand, I would be amiss of my duty if I were not to point out the essential differences between one job as against the other, in the light of the quotation mentioned above, "More knowledge, more pain."
May G-d grant that you make your decision in a way that will be truly good for you both, materially and spiritually, and that you have good news to report.
P.S. What has been said in regard to your husband's work applies also to your work in disseminating Yiddishkeit [Judaism] among the women and daughters of Chabad, although perhaps not to the same extent, since among the women of Chabad there are a number of persons who have an American-English background. Needless to say, however, you have the advantage of having been in the proximity of my father-in-law and having imbibed directly from his fountains, whereas the other women in Australia could do so only from a "second or third" vessel.
TZVI is from the Hebrew meaning "deer, gazelle." Hirsh is the Yiddish for "deer," and the two names, Tzvi Hirsh, are often given together.
TALYA, spelled with the Hebrew letter "hei" at the end is from the Hebrew meaning "dew of G-d." Ending with an "alef," it is from the Aramaic, meaning "lamb."
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
In this week's Torah portion we read about Eliezer's mission on behalf of Abraham to choose a wife for Isaac. The Rebbe draws a parallel between the mission (shlichut) of Eliezer and the mission of every Jew. Each one of us is an emissary of G-d, and our mission is to make this world a dwelling place for Him. We do this by performing mitzvot. And specifically, by always having in mind that it is not our individual talents and strengths enabling us to succeed, but the power of the One who sent us.
At a convention of the Rebbe's emissaries, the Rebbe discussed the essence of an emissary. He said that one who is sent on a mission by another person is considered as if he is the person who sent him. The Rebbe pointed out two seemingly opposite characteristics that are required of such an emissary. Firstly, he must be aware of his talents and strong points and use them to his fullest potential. At the same time, the emissary must always be to totally devoted to whoever sent him, remembering that he is representing the one who sent him.
Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, used all of his talents and skills to find a wife for Isaac, but he never forgot that he was representing Abraham, and must fulfill his task according to Abraham's wishes.
The Rebbe's emissaries, the thousands of dedicated and enthusiastic individuals in over 3,000 Chabad Centers and institutions around the globe, have unique and personal talents which they use to fulfill their missions. But they always keep the Rebbe before them, garnering strength from his words and blessings.
In truth, each one of us is an emissary of G-d and each one of us possesses unique abilities that can be used to make this world a dwelling place for G-d. But we must always bear in mind that the strength we utilize is from G-d.
May we all find within ourselves these G-d-given powers that will imminently enable us to make this world a dwelling place for G-d with the coming of Moshiach.
"And let it be that the girl to whom I say, 'Let down your water jar'... and she will say, 'Drink, and I will also give your camels to drink' (Gen. 24:14)
Eliezer was looking for a wife for Isaac who would embody all the good qualities in the world. Yet the "test" he devised would only determine if she was generous and good-hearted. This is in keeping with the statement of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai (Avot 2:13), who said that a good heart contains within it all other positive character traits.
Our Sages describe the challenge of making a good match between husband and wife as being "as difficult as the splitting of the Red Sea." The act of dividing water is easy; what's difficult is making each wave stand up on its own. Similarly, finding a partner to marry is the easy part; what's difficult is creating a stable marriage that will endure...
And the servant ran towards her (Gen. 24:17)
As Rashi explains, Eliezer ran toward Rebecca because he had just seen the water in the well spontaneously rise. A question is asked: Having just witnessed an open miracle, why would Eliezer need further evidence that Rebecca was kind? Rather, this teaches that one positive character trait in a person is worth more than a hundred wonders and miracles.
(Rabbi Yechezkel of Kozmir)
Then Laban and Betuel answered and said, "The matter proceeds from the L-rd" (Gen. 24:50)
There are three "proofs" in the Torah that G-d Himself chooses a man's wife. From the Five Books of Moses, concerning the match between Isaac and Rebecca: "Then Laban and Betuel answered and said, 'The matter proceeds from the L-rd.'" From our Prophets (Judges 14:4), concerning the marriage of Samson: "But his father and mother knew not that it was from the L-rd." And from our Writings (Proverbs 19:14): "House and riches are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the L-rd."
(Moed Katan 18b)
In the Tunisia of old, it was customary for the "Bey," the supreme ruler of the country, to personally appoint all nominees to public positions. This included all posts within the Jewish community.
One time the Chief Rabbi of Tunisia passed away, and the vacancy needed to be filled. The Chief Rabbi held an extremely crucial position, as many important powers were invested in him. As the official head of the Jewish community, he represented all of Tunisia's Jews in the secular courts, and his word carried much weight.
At the time of the Chief Rabbi's passing, Rabbi Nehorai Germon was serving as his assistant. In most cases it was only a matter of form for the assistant to be promoted. This time, however, there were forces within the Jewish community who opposed Rabbi Nehorai's promotion.
On the one hand, Rabbi Nehorai was easy to get along with, modest and unassuming. Yet when it came to upholding the Torah's laws and Jewish customs, he was absolutely rigid and fearlessly unbending. To some people, this was untenable. What they sought was a Chief Rabbi who wouldn't be a stickler for detail, someone who would know when to look away...
And so, a delegation of protesters went to the Bey. "He's much too fanatical," they told him. "Under no circumstances should Rabbi Nehorai become the next Chief Rabbi." The Bey was very receptive to their message. Soon rumors were flying that Rabbi Nehorai was no longer in the running.
It was precisely then that Rabbi Nehorai's inner strength and fortitude was revealed. As our Sages put it, "Wherever there is humility, there is also greatness." Overcoming his natural aversion to self-promotion, the Rabbi realized that he could not in good conscience simply withdraw from the fray. The dignity and reputation of the Chief Rabbinate demanded more of him.
Rabbi Nehorai went to the royal palace. He asked the palace guards to be admitted but was informed that he would have to wait his turn. Stubbornly, Rabbi Nehorai refused to budge, demanding an immediate audience with the Bey. A commotion ensued, the angry sounds of which reached the ears of the Bey himself.
The Bey sent an aide outside to see what was going on. Quickly sizing up the situation, he returned to the Bey and explained that the assistant to the former Chief Rabbi was insisting on speaking to him. The Bey was surprised by the Jew's aggressive behavior, but instructed that he be brought in.
"Why was it so urgent to meet with me that you defied all social conventions?" the Bey asked Rabbi Nehorai, an artificial smile on his face.
Rabbi Nehorai was not intimidated. "If all the conventions were being adhered to," he replied seriously, "I would not have had to come here."
"What do you mean?" the Bey asked, his curiosity aroused.
"When affairs of state are attended to fairly, the assistant to the Chief Rabbi is automatically promoted to the office upon his death..."
The Bey stopped smiling. "From all the information I have received about you," he said, "it appears that you are too inflexible for the job, wedded to what you perceive as inviolate principles. It is said that you are unwilling to compromise for the sake of peace. In my opinion, a successful Chief Rabbi must know when to keep his eyes open and when to shut them..."
Rabbi Nehorai did not react, seemingly ignoring the Bey's words. "What a beautiful garden you have," he said suddenly, looking out the window at the magnificently manicured palace grounds. "I've never seen one more beautiful."
"It is unparalleled in all of Tunisia," the Bey responded, unable to resist the compliment.
"If I may be so bold," the rabbi said, "it seems to me that if a lush garden like this will grow only here, of all places in the entire kingdom, surely it is a sign that G-d smiles favorably on your kingship."
The Bey almost laughed. "If everyone in the kingdom employed as many skilled horticulturists as I do, their land would also yield the same results. My gardeners are extremely vigilant, busy from dawn till dusk, planting, digging, trimming and plucking out stray weeds. But tell me, what does all this have to do with the subject we were discussing?"
"Well, I was wondering," Rabbi Nehorai replied. "Why do you insist on employing such skilled horticulturists? Why don't you hire a gardener who sometimes keep his eyes open, and other times keeps them closed..."
"Are you telling me that the Jewish community is the same as a garden?" the Bey smiled.
"In certain respects, yes," the Rabbi explained. "Our holy Torah contains 248 positive commandments, lovely seedlings in G-d's garden that must be nurtured and cared for. Then there are the Torah's 365 negative commandments. Like weeds, they must be carefully plucked out and uprooted. The Chief Rabbi is entrusted with caring for this garden, and must carry out his responsibilities faithfully."
The Bey was convinced, and a few days later Rabbi Nehorai was officially appointed Chief Rabbi of Tunisia.
Abraham's purchase of the field which contained the Cave of Machpelah represents the beginning of the general redemption of all Jews. The commentary Pa'ane'ach Raza explains that with the 400 silver shekels that Abraham paid (Chayei Sarah 23:16), he purchased one square cubit of the Land of Israel for every one of the 600,000 root-souls of Israel. For by the estimation of "the seed of a chomer of barley at fifty silver shekels" (Vayikra 27:16), 400 silver shekels redeem exactly 600,000 square cubits.
(Living with Moshiach Rabbi Dr Immanel Schochet)