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Devarim Deutronomy

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Devarim Deutronomy

L'Chaim
November 9, 2018 - 1 Kislev, 5779

1546: Toldos

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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.


  1545: Chayei Sara1547: Vayetzei  

Eat Breakfast  |  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

Eat Breakfast

Do you dash out of the house having only downed a cup of coffee? Or perhaps you take the time to prepare a fruit smoothy or protein shake? Maybe you enjoy a glass of fresh orange juice, toast and eggs as you read the morning paper?

According to the mayo clinic, breakfast should include whole grains, a lean protein and fruits or vegetables.

Rush University Medical Center recommends that breakfast include a protein, fruit and carbohydrate. They call breakfast the "most important meal of the day." Harris Business School recommends breakfast because it improves performance, supplies energy, and can improve your morning mood!

The "Abridged Code of Jewish Law" (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch) - a compilation of all the practical applications of mitzvot today - encourages us to do just that.

"It is advisable that a person should accustom himself to have breakfast in the morning," states chapter 32, entitled "Rules Concerning Physical Well-being." Further on, it explains that a person should try to live where the air is pure and clear and where the temperature is even; neither too hot or too cold. It adds, "Therefore, precautions should be taken not to overheat the house in the winter...because excessive heat occasions many illnesses, G-d forbid." Pretty good for a book published over 150 years ago, which itself was based on a work written in the 16th century.

One chapter earlier, there is a discussion on how to fulfill the verse in Proverbs, "In all thy ways acknowledge Him [G-d]." Everything we do, even those things we do in order to live, must be done in order to sustain life. When eating foods "that are not forbidden...we should eat only the things that are helpful to, and good for, the health of the body...One should always sleep and rest for the purpose of gaining good health...When engaged in business, the intention should not be merely to accumulate wealth, but to support the family, to give charity, and to raise children to study the Torah."

There's a lot of nourishment for the soul in those words. Bon Appetit.


The Previous Rebbe recounts: When my grandmother, Rebbitzin Rivkah, was about 18 years old, she was very ill. The doctor ordered her to eat as soon as she woke up. However, since she did not want to eat before her morning prayers, she would pray very early in the morning, and have her breakfast after pray.

When her father-in-law, the Tzemach Tzedek, learned of this, he told her: "A Jew must be healthy and strong. Concerning the mitzvot it is written, 'One should live in them,' which means that one must invest the mitzvot with life ('vitality'). And in order to be able to bring vitality into one's mitzvot, one must be strong and happy."

He concluded: "You should not pray on an empty stomach. Better to eat in order to pray, than to pray in order to eat." He then blessed her with long life. She lived till over 80!


Living with the Rebbe

The Haftora for the Torah portion of Toldot is the beginning of the book of Malachi. At first glance, it is a prophecy of rebuke to the Jewish people. However, when you take a closer look, you find in it the deep love and connection we have with G-d.

The Haftora begins with G-d's words to the Jewish people. " 'I have loved you,' says G-d, and if you ask, 'How have You shown Your love for us?' This is G-d's response: 'Was not Esau a brother to Jacob? Yet I loved Jacob. And I hated Esau...' "

What is this love G-d is referring to? And would we truly be brazen enough to ask G-d, "How have You shown Your love for us?"

Also, first G-d says that we are equal, "Was not Esau a brother to Jacob?" Then He says that He loves us and hates them. What is the deeper meaning in these words?

When G-d says, "I have loved you," it refers to a time when His love was clearly visible through open miracles. During the Exodus, by giving us the Torah, when conquering the Holy Land, and in the First Temple era, we were privy to miracles. But when Malachi is prophesizing in the darkness of the exile, we ask G-d, "How have You shown Your love for us?" Because we don't see G-d's love openly revealed.

Now G-d says, "Was not Esau a brother to Jacob? Yet I loved Jacob. And I hated Esau..." G-d is saying, that I chose to love you from the beginning. Like we say in the holiday prayers, "You have chosen us from all the nations, You loved us and You wanted us."

There are two ways to understand choice.

When two things are similar but one has something that you like more, you choose the one that you like more. This is not true choice, because it is not your will that moves you to choose but rather, it is an intellectual decision, as one is more appealing.

Then there is true choice. When two things are exactly the same, and you choose one over the other, it is your will, your essence, that is choosing, which is beyond your intellect.

G-d is telling us how He chose us. From G-d's essential perspective, Esau and Jacob are brothers, they are the same, everything is equal. But He chose to love us, meaning, His will, His Essence chose us and therefore, we are one with His Essence, one with G-d.

Now the rebuke begins to make sense. You only rebuke someone who you care about, because when you care about someone, how they act matters to you.

In our case, G-d is saying, I chose you over Esau, therefore you are special, you are one with Me. How then could you act like Esau, unabashed, callus and deceptive?

G-d loves us and expects more from us for we are His Essence.

May G-d fulfill our deepest desire and show us His open love once again, with the coming of Moshiach. The time has come.

Adapted by Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz from the Rebbe's teachings, yitzihurwitz.blogspot.com. Rabbi Hurwitz, who is battling ALS, and his wife Dina, are emissaries of the Rebbe in Temecula, Ca.


A Slice of Life

Being Buried Alive
by Shmuel Steve Goodman

The year was 1987, and life was booming.

I was living in Bexley, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, with Sharon, my wife of two years, and a new daughter, and loving my work.

As the president of Youthland, a children's clothing chain founded by my parents, I had been steadily focused on expanding the business and had been able to build it into a bustling chain of 42 stores, spread over 10 Midwestern states. I was earning a great living, and life was good. We bought a gorgeous house; I drove a beloved BMW, and I was president of my local synagogue.

Sharon and I felt well connected in the Bexley community, and we imagined we'd be living in Columbus forever. Or so we thought.

For many years, operating small clothing stores had been a growing and profitable business. Regional malls were booming, and independent retailers rode the wave. Youthland had a strong and unique brand, and I envisioned growing our company to at least 100 stores. But as I have since come to learn, nothing lasts forever.

It wasn't long before large retail chains like Kids "R" Us and Gap for Kids moved into the market, and it became virtually impossible for our comparatively minuscule operation to compete. We tried to slash prices to stay relevant, but that did not help. Quarter after quarter, we continued to lose money. Ultimately, the only sensible option was to file for bankruptcy.

Declaring Chapter 11 for my family business was beyond humbling. We had two children and a third on the way. It felt as if my life was crumbling. I was unsure of what lay ahead, and I was deeply worried. What would I do? How would I support my growing family?

It was during this brutal period, marked by desperation and fear, that I first began to see the hand of G-d.

Years later, after much self-examination and study, along with the clarity of time, I came to understand that declaring bankruptcy was simply part of a process. In fact, it was a blessing. That time of desperation was an important leg of a journey that allowed me to become the man I am today.

I sometimes compare myself and my journey to that of a seed. A seed is not pretty. It is small, undeveloped, and temporarily stuck in the ground. However, if fed by water, it will blossom and grow. The seed can even become a large and beautiful tree, bearing gorgeous fruit. If the humble and sunken seed, "trapped" in the soil, had never been watered and nurtured, none of the eventual fruit would have been possible. The "water" in my life was Torah and Judaism.

There is a mystical dimension of the Torah, called Chassidut, and it explains that a man cannot be complete without true humility. This virtue is called "bittul" and the literal translation is "self-nullification." Bittul does not dictate that one should have no ego, but that one's ego should be tempered. I think of it as a "healthy" or "appropriate" ego. A healthy ego is when one has enough self-awareness not to be trampled on. Chassidic teachings uses the example of a broken heart. Only when a heart is broken, can it then become truly whole.

In my life, losing my business was truly a "bittuling" experience. In hindsight, I realize that I was just a seed planted in the ground, one that needed "watering," every day. For me, that meant doing my part to serve G-d.

There are moments in life now where I actually do feel like a tall and majestic tree that bears fruit and "feeds" others. And for this I am grateful. But I never forget that I was once a seed, underdeveloped and unseen, sunken deep in the ground. I also never forget the people who reached out and supported me through that humbling time in my life.

Whenever my children have been seriously dating for marriage, I ask questions about the person they are dating like, "What have they overcome?" or "What challenges have they faced and how did they respond?" I don't want nor am I expecting my children to date people who are problem-free. We don't want that. We want people who have had troubles and have overcome them.

Whenever I meet someone who truly impresses me, I ask them, "What hell did you go through?" or "What struggles have you had to overcome?" Almost every time, the people who really shine, the ones who impress me the most, have had their own humbling experiences.

Perhaps this is why I am obsessed with the Biblical story of Joseph, who went from wealth and privilege to prison and back to royalty. He had the ability to overcome obstacles - the strength to overcome the odds stacked way against him. He was thrown into a pit, literally like a seed, yet he kept his faith.

Shmuel (Steve) Goodman is an investment advisor who lives in Chicago, Illinois, with his wife, Sharone. They have four children and many grandchildren

What's New

Light the Menorah

Light the Menorah, for ages 0-3, highlights Chanuka activities and invites children to perform the motions along with the text. With arms held high, their fingers become Chanukah flames. They hop like potato latkes, sizzling in an oily frying pan, and spin around like a colorful dreidel - What fun! Written by Tova Gitty Broide, illustrated by Patti Agroff. HaChai Publishing.

We Can Find a Way

Inviting guests includes making sure that the guests feel comfortable and included! In We Can Find a Way, Eli, Zev and Leah look forward to hosting a celebration for their Bubby's birthday. However, meeting the needs of every guest requires sensitivity and lots of creative thinking. Food allergies, a wheelchair, sensitivy to noise - will Eli Zev and Leah find a way to include everyone? For children ages 3-6. By Dina Rosenfeld, illustrated by Amy Wummer


The Rebbe Writes

Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5743 (1982)

The repayment of a mortgage signifies that the mortgagee has fully discharged his obligations and debt to the mortgager and is now in complete possession of the property.

Parallel with this type of financial mortgage there is another kind -- a spiritual and moral "mortgage" incumbent upon every human being, in terms of obligations to the Creator and Master of the world as well as to fellow humans.

For Jews, this "mortgage" encompasses every aspect of the daily life, as our Sages expressed it succinctly: "I was created to serve my Creator."

This "mortgage" goes back to our first Patriarch, Abraham, of whom G-d said: "I have known (chosen) him because he will command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the L-rd, to do righteousness and justice." (Genesis 18:19).

This means -- to put it quite simply -- that we, all of us who are descendants of the First Jew, have mortgaged our children and our whole future in the said covenant.

It obviously follows that everyone who is actively engaged in Jewish education, the kind of education that teaches our children and youths and their children after them, to "keep the way of the L-rd" -- is doing a very good job of "mortgage repayment."


19th of Shevat, 5735 (1985)

The activities of Lubavitch are at present under a severe financial strain, which has been aggravated by the general economic situation which is all too familiar.

Of course, there can be no question of reducing expenditures, G-d forbid, since these have to do with activities which are of vital importance to Jews, not only spiritually but also materially.

Indeed, the more severe the general economic situation, the more extensive and intensive should be all the activities to spread and strengthen Torah and mitzvot, since these are the channels to receive G-d's blessings also materially, as is clearly spelled out in the Torah, in the familiar passage, beginning with the words, "If you will walk in My statutes...."

In other words, not only must all thoughts of reducing the budget be banished, but, on the contrary, ways and means must be found to increase the fund raising.

There is one form of financial help which does not call for outright donations.

I have in mind the tremendous pressure which the Lubavitcher programs are facing on account of outstanding loans and overdrafts at prohibitive interest charges.

It would therefore be a great relief if friends of Lubavitch, and indeed friends of Torah education in general, to save Jewish children from total assimilation, G-d forbid, could be approached with a heartfelt appeal and induced to offer an interest-free loan, in addition to the maximum donation they are able to make to this cause.

This would make it possible to liquidate the high interest loans and bank overdrafts and relieve this strangle-hold.

This method enjoys wide acceptability among merchants and businessmen. As a matter of fact, as I indicted, there is one benefactor here in the USA in the field of Torah education (not limited to Lubavitch) who, upon learning of the situation which Lubavitch is in, offered to lend it money without interest, provided it could come up with 19 more identical offers.

The time and terms of repayment could be arranged as the administration of the Lubavitch House would find most practical.

I also added that if this plan would be fully implemented in..., I am hopeful of finding one more benefactor in the USA to participate with a similar amount on the same conditions.

There is no need to emphasize to you at length the importance of the above plan. It is all the more feasible because, as mentioned, it does not solicit outright donations, but only loans without interest. Of course, this must not be at the expense of donations in the past and increased donations in the future according to the ability and generosity of the friends and supporters.


All Together

GEDALYA means "G-d is great." Gedalya (Zefaniah 1:1) was appointed governor of Judah by Nebuchadnezzer after the Babylonian ruler destroyed the Holy Temple and exiled the Jews. Under Gedalya's guidance, the Jewish people began prospering again. However, Gedalya was assassinated by Ishmael, a descendant of the royal house of Judah, who was jealous of his power and popularity. We commemorate Gedalya's death with a fast on the day after Rosh Hashana.

GOLDA is from the German-Yiddish, meaning "gold" or "golden." The Polish-Yiddish version is Zlata and the Hebrew is Zahava.


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

This Shabbat is the annual Kinus HaShluchim, the International Convention of Emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Over 4,000 emissaries of the Rebbe from every continent in the world are arriving at Lubavitch World Headquarters, 770 Eastern Parkway, for the annual conference. They will go back to their communities after Shabbat with renewed energy to continue carrying our their mission to prepare the world for Moshiach!

The name Kislev represents a fusion of opposites. "Kis" refers to a state of concealment or covering over, whereas "lev" (lamed-vav) is symbolic of the ultimate in revelation. (Lamed-vav, numerically equivalent to 36, six times six, represents the highest level of revelation of our six emotional powers.)

Kislev, in Chasidic tradition, is also called "the month of redemption."

On the first day of the month of Kislev (this year Friday, November 9) in 1977 the Rebbe returned to his home for the first time after having suffered a heart attack on Simchat Torah of that year. He was being treated and recovering in his office in "770." For Chabad-Lubavitch Chasidim Rosh Chodesh Kislev has become a day of celebration of the Rebbe's return to health.

The 10th of Kislev is the anniversary of release from Russian imprisonment of Rabbi Dov Ber, the second Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch and the 19th of Kislev is the release and anniversary of redemption of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism. And, of course, we have the victory and redemption of the Jewish people at the time of Chanuka that we celebrate on the 25th of the month of Kislev.

May the coming month truly be a time of thanksgiving and redemption for the entire Jewish people, with the coming of Moshiach and the Final Redemption.


Thoughts that Count

The one people shall be stronger than the other people (Gen. 25:23)

As Rashi comments, "When one rises, the other shall fall." Jacob and Esau are symbolic of the struggle between the G-dly soul and the animal soul. When a Jew's G-dly soul is strengthened and "rises up," he does not have to fight his Evil Inclination in a direct manner. Rather, the animal soul automatically "falls" in its presence, in the same way that darkness is automatically dispelled in the presence of light.

(Sefer HaMaamarim)


Isaac loved Esau...but Rebecca loved Jacob (Gen. 25:25)

Isaac was a "perfect offering," whose "style" of Divine service was somewhat removed from the material world and its concealments. Rebecca, by contrast, had grown up in household surrounded by devious people. When Esau asked his father how to "tithe salt" (Esau knew that it is not required to tithe salt, he was just trying to show his father how "pious" he was) it was beyond Isaac's imagination that his son was being deceitful. Rebecca, however, with her experience in the ways of the world, recognized that it was only a scheme to impress his father, and "loved Jacob" for his quality of truthfulness.

(Der Torah Kval)


Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you (Gen. 26:3)

The Torah uses the word "sojourn" instead of "dwell" to teach us that one must always consider oneself a temporary resident of this world. "The Shechina (G-dly presence) does not move away from one who considers himself a stranger in this world," we are taught. The second part of G-d's promise, "I will be with you," will be fulfilled when Jacob thinks of himself in this manner.

(Vayechakem Shlomo)


Behold, I heard your father speak to Esau your brother (Gen. 27:6)

Although Isaac had carried on his conversation with Esau in a whisper, Rivka had heard it as loudly as if he were speaking in a normal tone. She thus interpreted it as a sign from Above to intervene.

(The Rebbe of Dinov)


It Once Happened

The shoemaker and his wife had prayed every day, begging the Alm-ghty to grant them a child. Alas, the answer had consistently been "No." But their faith was as strong as their desire, and they decided to go to the renowned tzadik, Reb Yisroel, the Maggid of Koznitz to ask for his blessing.

When they arrived at his court and were admitted into his room they told their story and received the Rebbe's assurance that they would be blessed with a child. True to his word, the woman gave birth to a baby boy, but soon after his birth, the baby became seriously ill.

The parents were sick with worry and the father went back to Koznitz to ask for a blessing for the baby's recovery. The Rebbe assured him that G-d would send a complete recovery. But instead of recovering, the baby went from bad to worse.

The mother sat by his cradle day and night, her lips incessantly reciting the words of the Psalms. But she was so exhausted, that she dozed off. When she awoke, she was startled to see a soldier standing over the baby's cradle holding a spoon and a bowl and gently spooning something into the baby's mouth. She screamed in fright and the soldier quickly disappeared.

From that moment on the baby began improving by the hour, until he was soon completely well. The parents were overjoyed, but at the same time, they were fearful that perhaps the soldier had been some evil spirit or magician. They again traveled to Koznitz to relate the strange occurrence to the Rebbe.

"Don't be concerned," he told them. "It was surely not an evil spirit or sorcerer. Go home and enjoy your baby."

As soon as the couple left, the Rebbe summoned his attendant. "Go to the cemetery and knock on the grave of this soldier. Tell him that I request him to come to me." The attendant did as he was told, and the soldier soon appeared before the Maggid.

The Maggid asked him, "Who appointed you to be a children's doctor?"

"I will tell you my story," the soldier replied. "When I was a young child I was forced to go into the military service as a Cantonist. I was torn from my parents and my home, and as the years passed I forgot all about being Jewish and I lived exactly like my comrades. Only my identity papers proved my Jewishness, and I thought no more about it.

"One day as I was walking in the countryside with my comrades, we came upon an elderly Jew. A few of my fellows had the idea of robbing him, and they took 75 rubles. Then, fearing discovery, they bound him, hanged him from a tree, and left him for dead. That was too much for me. My long-dormant Jewish feeling rose up in my heart and I quickly and stealthily returned to the spot and cut him down. I gave him 75 rubles from my own pocket and sent him on his way.

When my commanding officer noticed my long absence from base, he sent my comrades out to find me. When they discovered what I had done, they decided to kill me to prevent me from testifying against them. So, they hanged me from the same tree and left me there to die.

When I found myself before the Heavenly Tribunal I was sent to Gehenom because I had never observed any mitzvot (commandments) my life. But when they learned that I had saved another Jew, and in the process had been killed myself, they realized their error. So then, they sent me to the Gan Eden [the Garden of Eden]. When I got there, I was welcomed with great fanfare and shown to my place. I took my seat, but when I looked out at all the great tzadikim, I felt sad that I didn't have a very good full view of the Throne of Glory. And I regretted that I had not done better with my life.

The angels, sensing my sadness approached me and tried to cheer me up, but I felt a terrible disappointment. Then, they suggested that if I wanted to return to the earth again, I could make up for my lack of observance and earn a better position. I eagerly agreed and that is how I came to be the doctor of sick children. I have been given permission to heal them in those situations where there is very little hope. And that is how I came to heal this little baby."

When he had ended his story the Maggid said to him, "You may now return to Gan Eden, for you have earned your full reward." With that the soldier saluted and disappeared, and his soul rose to the highest level of Paradise.


Moshiach Matters

"He moved on from there and dug another well, and they did not fight over it. He called it Rechovot (lit. 'spacious') saying, 'Now G-d has made room for us' (Gen. 26:22) The three wells Isaac dug are symbolic of the three Holy Temples. These are the wells of "living waters" which give us our spiritual life. The first well Isaac dug proved to be a source of strife, just as the first Temple was destroyed in the days of Nebuchadnezzar. The second Holy Temple, like Isaac's second well, was also eventually destroyed, by Titus and his armies. But the third well remained, just as the Third Holy Temple which we eagerly await, will be eternal.

(Nachmanides)


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