Be Happy ;-) | 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
"Don't get so upset!"
"Put a smile on your face."
"Sha, don't cry. Everything will be okay."
It's hard to keep track of what the latest trend is in expressing or suppressing one's feelings or how deep one should (or must) dig in order to get to the essence of what one truly feels.
So what's a Jew to do when the Jewish month of Adar begins and we're told that the standard "Serve G-d with joy" and "It is a great mitzva (commandment) to be continually joyous" is supposed to be intensified?
And even more so, that there are two months of Adar this year due to this year being a leap year?
Yes, you read correctly, pretend as if you are really happy. You'll be amazed at the results.
A Chasid wrote to the Tzemach Tzedek (the third Rebbe of Chabad) and told him that it was difficult for him to attain a level of "joy."
The Rebbe answered: "Thought, speech and actions (the three 'garments of the soul') are the three main parts of a person's behavior, and he was given control over what he thinks, speaks and does according to his desire.
"A person must guard what he thinks, thinking only thoughts that cause joy; he must keep away from speaking about matters that are sad and depressing; and he must act as if he has a full and joyous heart, to show joyous mannerisms even if that is not how he feels at the moment. Ultimately it will be this way in actuality."
In a similar vein, a Chasid came to the Alter Rebbe (the first Rebbe of Chabad) asking how he could help a fellow Jew who made out as if he were pious but was actually quite a sinner.
The Alter Rebbe declared: May the words of the Mishnah be fulfilled upon him!"
The Chasid was taken aback. He had hoped for some practical and pleasant advice. Not what seemed to be a curse!
Then the Alter Rebbe explained: "The Mishna says that a person who pretends to be a pauper but is not will ultimately become a pauper. So, too, this man who pretends to be pious but is not should ultimately become pious!"
As indicated in both of these stories, the initial step to being happy is even to go so far as to pretend we are happy even if we are not. Eventually, the play-acting will no longer be acting but actual.
This "put on a happy face" attitude encompasses our religious duties but extends to our interaction with others, as well.
Judaism teaches "Receive all people happily" and "Receive all people with a cheerful countenance." Receiving people happily is an inward expression of one's feelings. Even if we aren't inwardly, genuinely happy to see someone, at least we should greet them with a cheerful countenance, an external expression of joy.
"Even if your heart does not rejoice when someone visits you, pretend to be cheerful when he arrives," a great Sage once taught.
So, be happy, it's Adar. And even if you don't feel happy, fake it until you do!
The Torah portion of Mishpatim begins with, "And these are the laws that you should set before them." It is strange for a portion to begin with "And." When you say "and," it connects back to what came before. So, what is this "And" referring to?
Rashi explains that the "And" here means that these laws are an "addition to the first (that came before)", namely the Ten Commandments, and the other laws in the previous portion, Yitro. "Just as the first were from Sinai, also these are from Sinai."
Also, the previous portion ended with laws about the Temple altar. Rashi asks, "Why is the portion of [civil and criminal] laws next to the altar? To teach you that the Sanhedrin (the Jewish Supreme Court, that was the ultimate authority in adjudicating those laws), should be located near the altar, meaning in the Temple courtyard."
So when the Torah says "before them" it means before a Jewish Court, or ultimately before the Sanhedrin. As Rashi explains, you should bring your disputes before the Jewish court, "and not before that of the nations, and even if you know that they judge a certain law like Jewish law, don't bring it to their courts."
But, if the result is the same, what difference does it make who decides the judgement?
The point that Rashi is clarifying here is that the laws that follow are from Sinai - meaning from G-d. Even though they make sense, to the point that even the non-Jewish people see them the same way, we should keep them simply because they are G-d's will.
An additional point can be learned from the words of Rashi, an "addition to the first." Rashi is telling us that something new was added to these G-dly laws when they were given at Sinai - that now we can understand them. In other words, G-d's wisdom can permeate the minds and so too, the minds of the people of the world. This is why, in some cases, secular law aligns with Torah law.
Mishpatim follows the laws of the altar in the previous portion and it precedes the next portion Teruma, which discusses the commandment to build the Temple. Both of these laws reach their ultimate perfection with the coming of Moshiach, when the Sanhedrin will be at the highest level of Torah knowledge and will be next to the third and everlasting Temple.
Mishpatim contains a reference to the Temple when it says, "to bring you to the place that I designated." Rashi explains that this refers to the heavenly Temple that is directly above the earthly Temple, and will descend as the Third Temple when Moshiach comes.
So, Mishpatim, symbolic of G-d's knowledge being understood by the people, also tells us that the redemption and the building of the Temple can become real in the minds of the people of the world. And this becomes clearer as the redemption nears.
May we merit to see all these signs become clearer and clearer as the redemption becomes a reality, with the coming of Moshiach, may it be very soon. 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.
by Hannah Zedek
I grew up in Orange County, California, about an hour south of Los Angeles, in a typical American Jewish family.
When it came time to choose a college, I made a quick decision and enrolled in the University of Arizona. Most everyone thought I had gone crazy because I typically think thoroughly through my decisions. But for some inexplicable reason, the U of A felt like the place to be. After all, at a place called Jew of A, what could possibly go wrong?
So I began my time at the U of A, with dreams of becoming a doctor, that is until I took chemistry, and eventually decided on a linguistics major.
There must have been something in the water growing up in Orange County, because for some reason, I was absolutely terrified of Chabad. I mean those women wear wigs, and the men have strings hanging out of their pants. Rabbi Yossi and Naomi Winner tried to catch me on campus many times, but I made sure to avoid their table every Tuesday.
At some point, my roommate, who was active in Chabad, invited me for Shabbat to help baby-sit. The rebbetzin was expecting, and due any day. She needed somebody there in case she went into labor on Shabbat. Somehow, she convinced me to say yes. And lo and behold, that Shabbat morning, a baby boy was born. And I found myself attempting to feed cereal to five kids under the age of 10.
After their son Dovber was born, I thought my time at Chabad was done. I came for a few Shabbat meals here and there over the next couple months, but was content with my limited involvement. The family had needed my help, and I was happy to lend it; I never anticipated becoming a regular Chabad goer.
A couple months later, on a typical Shabbat morning, I found myself disappointed that I wasn't at the Chabad house. I made yet another unnaturally spontaneous decision and went over, actually, practically ran over to Shabbat lunch.
Immediately upon arriving, like a typical Chabad rebbetzin, Naomi offered me coffee and cake, making sure I felt comfortable. I had barely started my coffee, when panic ensued, and I saw Rabbi and Naomi fly out the door with baby Dovber in hand. The situation was serious. And I once again found myself caring for five young children who were asking me questions like "why are the neighbors across the street having a pool party on Shabbos?"
It was on this Shabbat that my life changed, forever. Unfortunately, that Shabbat G-d took 3 ½ month old Dovber out of this world. In that moment, I realized that Chabad is where I needed to be, that I had found my home away from home. I needed the Winner family, and the Winner family needed me.
In the weeks that followed, with the Winner family I experienced a lot of pain and hurt, but for some reason was also at peace with the situation. I knew G-d makes things happen for a reason, and I was determined to find the good in this tragedy.
I began spending Shabbat in the Chabad House every week, learning with Rabbi and Naomi, and even with their 10-year-old son Rabbi Mendel. I wanted to continue learning about my Judaism, so I signed up for the Sinai Scholars course, where I joined a community of curious students like me. There I found an environment where I could ask any question, and actually get an honest answer.
That year, Purim was a few weeks after Dovber passed. To my surprise, the Winners insisted the pre-planned party must go on. And so it did. Megilla was read, Purim baskets given, a festive meal served. Looking back, I think this is when I first realized the scope of the Rebbe's influence. From the Winner's perspective, they had moved to Arizona to support Jewish student life. There was work to be done and they were there to do it. Losing their son didn't stand in their way, it empowered them to do more. And this perspective shift was eye opening for me.
During my time at Chabad, I watched and helped the Winners move into a new home where they could host larger crowds, serve over 1,000 meals the week of Passover alone, and complete a Torah scroll in Dovber's honor. They continue to use each day to teach the Rebbe's Torah and empower others to reach beyond their boundaries. The Rebbe demanded we use our lives to serve the world. And day in and day out I saw the Winners, including the kids, do just that.
In the past couple years I've had the opportunity to share in many happy occasions with the family. They welcomed a baby girl, and once again I was needed. Baby-sitting, carpools, Shabbat meals. Whatever it was I was there to lend a hand. I made it my purpose to partner in their mission.
Without the Winner family I would not be who I am today. Through my relationship with them, I began to understand my initial resistance to Chabad. The Rebbe had a vision, and he inspired his Chasidim to carry out that vision. He inspired his followers to become leaders. The Rebbe demanded of us a mind-set of Moshiach, a mind-set so real and so focused that if you get involved how can you not catch the fever?
By keeping my distance, I thought I was protecting myself from my responsibility to the mission. But the more of the Rebbe's teachings (and those of his predecessors) I learned, the more my philosophy shifted. I realized that living a meaningful Jewish life goes beyond what keeping the mitzvot (commandments) will do for me. Through the Rebbe's teachings, I learned that I have an obligation to do mitzvot as much as the next Jew because of what the mitzvot do for G-d and because that's what G-d needs of me. It's this message I took with me when I left the U of A.
Hannah Zedek currently lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The mind-set that she inherited by being involved with the Winners and Chabad at U of A - that life exists for the purpose of serving others - continues to propel her to find ways that she can make a difference in her new community.
Spa for the Soul
More than 100 women gathered at a Spa for the Soul arranged by Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Vacaville, California. The event was attended by Jewish women from all over Northern California. A soothing ambiance, good food and three engaging speakers nurtured mind, body and soul.
Chabad House of Northern Palm Beach Island completed an "Inclusion Torah." Only eight inches tall and written on thin parchment, the Torah was made lightweight so that anyone could lift it. The Torah was donated in memory of Jacob and Eva Elman.
The story that appear in 1556 in the It Happened Once section as told by Mrs. Yehudis Engel originally appeared in the book Miracles and Amazing Stories in Our Times, vol 2. A third volume is currently in production. They can be purchase in your local Judaica store or on-line.
Continued from previous issue, from a letter dated 13th of Iyar, 5737 [May 1, 1977]
This basic principle and attitude is also a matter of common sense. If the Torah is accepted as Divine - otherwise there is no point at all in any questions and discussions, since if it is man-made one would be free to do as one pleases - that is, given by a Supreme Being, Whose Essence is beyond human grasp, it would be a contradiction in terms to demand to know the meaning and significance of each Divine Mitzva [command] before performing it, for it would reduce the Supreme being to the level of the limited human intelligence, which, moreover, is subject to development, since human understanding increases from day to day with newly acquired knowledge and experience; yet he insists on understanding it today, on his present level.
One might even add that there is a sound pragmatic, or 'business' consideration involved, as, by way of a simple illustration, when one is offered an opportunity to invest a dollar with a view to earning a thousand dollars, though there may be a remote possibility of losing the $1. A normal individual would certainly not hesitate to make his decision. Similarly, when a Jew, on the basis of na'aseh before v'nishma, invests in a relatively small effort by restricting himself in matters of Kashrus [kosher] and Shabbos observance, etc., and the Yetzer hara [the evil inclination] attempts to distract him by saying, even if you live 120 years maybe you will never fully grasp the significance of what you are doing-the most the person will have lost would be having denied himself certain foods or some convenience on Shabbos. On the other hand, if a person will wait with the performance of Mitzvos until he will realize their significance, and in the meantime will act like any gentile, he will deprive himself of the eternal good which was his within easy reach, and when the time will come and he will discover the truth, he will realize that he has lived in transgression of the Divine Torah, with all the consequences there from,
Much more could be said on the subject matter, but I trust the above will suffice. May G-d, whose benevolent Providence extends to each and everyone individually, lead you in the path of Truth.
P. S. Since you refer to women's lib, which has become so popular in recent years, it baffles me that the thrust of the movement is centered on the woman's becoming similar to man - and this is what is termed 'independence' and 'feminist' pride, etc.!
10th of Iyar, 5725 
I was pleased to receive your respective letters written towards the end of the month of Nissan.
Needless to say, every additional effort in matters of Torah and Mitzvos, and in the dissemination of Yiddishkeit [Judaism] in general, will bring additional Divine blessings.
With regard to the question of davening [prayer], you surely know that there are various customs insofar as women are concerned. However, this is only as far as the women themselves are concerned. But if, as you write, this also has a bearing on the Chinuch [Jewish education] of the children, this gives added reason to adopt the custom which would be most valuable for the children, even though the religious community where you lived previously did not demand it.
Besides, there is nothing more conducive to attune the mind and heart towards the consciousness of G-d's Presence than regular prayer, where the first condition is, "Know before Whom thou art standing." Fostering this consciousness is very helpful for the attainment of peace of mind and general contentment. For through prayer and direct personal contact with the Almighty, one is reminded every day that G-d is not far away, in the Seventh Heaven, but is present and here, and His benevolent Providence extends to each and every one individually. This point has also been greatly emphasized by the Alter Rebbe [Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidim] in his book of Tanya, where he urges everyone to remember that, "Behold, G-d is standing near him." With this in mind, there is no room left for any anxiety or worry, as King David, the Sweet Singer of Israel, said, "G-d is my shepherd, I shall not want," "G-d is with me, I shall not fear," etc. Thus, this is no longer a theoretical idea, but becomes a personal experience in the everyday life.
As requested, I will remember in prayer those mentioned in your letter.
BENTZION means "son of Zion" or "excellence." Zion refers to the holy land of Israel.
BERURYA is from the Hebrew meaning "pure, clean." In Aramaic it means "pious, kind, honest." Berurya was the wife of Talmudic scholar Rabbi Meir and a scholar in her own right. Her legal opinions are quoted in the Talmud.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This Shabbat we bless the new month of Adar. As this year is a leap year in the Jewish calendar, there are two months of Adar, known as Adar I and Adar II (or Adar Rishon and Adar Sheini).
Our Sages have taught that, just as when the month of Av begins (the month in which we commemorate the destruction of the Holy Temples in Jerusalem) we lessen our joy, so, too, when the month of Adar begins, we increase our simcha - joy and happiness.
The Rebbe emphasized the importance of simcha in turning the darkness of exile into the light of Redemption.
The Rebbe also stressed that in a leap year, when there are two months of Adar, there are 60 days during which we are to increase our simcha. More importantly, in Jewish law, the quantity of 60 has the ability to nullify an undesirable presence.
(Typically, this concerns the kosher status of food, as we see that if a quantity of milk, for instance, has accidentally become mixed with meat, if the meat outnumbers the milk by a ratio of 1:60, the milk is nullified and we may eat the meat.)
Similarly, explains the Rebbe, 60 days of simcha have the ability to nullify the darkness of the present exile, allowing us to actually turn the darkness into light.
Concerning the kind of things that should be done to arouse simcha, the Rebbe suggested that each person should proceed according to his level: a child, for instance, should be made happy by his parents; a wife by her husband, and visa versa. The bottom line, my friends, is that the Rebbe did not let up on encouraging an increase of simcha in all permissible manners during the entire month.
If we hearken to the Rebbe's words and utilize simcha, especially during this month, to turn darkness into light, sadness into joy, and pain and tears, we will soon be rejoicing with Moshiach in the Final Redemption.
And these are the ordinances which you shall set before them (Ex.21:1)
"Before them" in every sense of the word: the Jewish people must be made to realize that My commandments are of primary concern and importance.
(Rabbi Bunim of Pshischa)
If you lend money--kesef. (Ex. 22:24)
The Tzemach Tzedek, the third Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, explained that the Hebrew word for "money," - kesef - comes from the root word meaning "longing and yearning." The soul, he explained, always yearns to go upward, attaining higher and higher levels of spirituality.
"If you lend money" - G-d "lends" the eternal soul to each of us for a certain period of time, to dwell in a physical body in this world. It is up to the individual to utilize that loan to the fullest, taking advantage of every day that is granted on earth.
Keep far away from falsehood (Ex. 23:7)
A liar is more despicable than either a robber or a thief: The robber steals only at night, for he worries about being discovered. The thief steals by night and by day, but only from individuals, as he is afraid to confront a larger group. The liar, however, lies by night and by day, and spreads his falsehoods and gossip about everyone.
(The Magid of Kelem)
They gazed at G-d and they ate and drank (Ex. 24:11)
There is a connection between the spiritual delight of seeing G-d and the physical acts of eating and drinking. The Torah is telling us that before eating and drinking at home or outside of the home, we should make sure that we are in a G-dly environment, and that the establishment is a truly kosher one.
The appearance of the glory of G-d was like a devouring fire (Ex. 24:17)
The litmus test to determine if our service is indeed acceptable before G-d is whether or not we feel a fiery enthusiasm and zeal in our worship. The excitement and ardor we experience is proof that G-d approves of the path we are embarked upon. Conversely, a cold and indifferent attitude in our service signals that we still have far to go...
There once was a stonecutter who earned his livelihood by hewing out rocks from the mountain. This was back-breaking, as well as spirit-breaking work, and he would often bewail his fate. "Why was I destined to be so lowly and humble? Why are some people wealthy and mighty, while I break my bones every day from dawn to dusk to put bread on my table?
One day, as he was engaged in this reverie, he heard a loud tumult in the distance. He climbed to the top of the mountain, and from afar could see a parade. The king was passing by, and on either side of the road, there were throngs of people shouting, "Bravo," and throwing flowers at the royal coach.
"How wonderful it must be to be great and powerful," the stonecutter said. "I wish that I could be king."
The stonecutter did not know that this happened to be his moment of grace, during which his wishes would be granted. He suddenly found himself transformed. He was no longer a stonecutter. He was the king, clad in ermine, sitting in the royal coach drawn by white horses, and receiving the acclaim of the crowd. "How wonderful it is to be the mightiest in all the land!"
After a bit, he began to feel uncomfortable. The bright sun was shining down on him, making him sweat and squirm in his royal robes. "What is this?" he said. "If I am the mightiest in the land, then nothing should be able to affect me. If the sun can humble me, then the sun is mightier than I. But I wish to be the mightiest of all! I wish to be the sun."
Immediately, he was transformed into the sun. He felt his mighty, unparalleled force of energy. He could give light and warmth to everything in the world. It was his energy that made vegetation grow. He could provide warmth when he so wished or devastating fires when he was angry. "I am indeed the mightiest of all," he said.
But suddenly he found himself very frustrated. He wished to direct his rays at a given point, but was unable to do so. A great cloud had moved beneath him and obstructed his rays. "Here, here," he said. "If I am the mightiest, then nothing should be able to hinder me. If a cloud can frustrate the sun, then the cloud is mightier, yet I wish to be the mightiest. I wish to be a cloud!"
As a great, heavy cloud, he felt very powerful, dumping torrents of rain wherever he desired, and particularly when he blocked the mighty sun. But his joy was short-lived, for suddenly, he was swooped away by a sharp gust of wind against which he felt himself helpless.
"Aha!" he cried. "The wind is even mightier than a cloud! Then I shall be the wind."
Transformed into a wind, he roared over oceans, churning immense waves. He blew over forests, toppling tall trees as if they were toothpicks. "Now I am truly the mightiest," he said.
But suddenly, he felt himself stymied. He had come up against a tall mountain, and blow as he might, he could not get past. "So," he said, "a mountain is mightier than the wind! Then I wish to be a mountain."
As a tall mountain, he stood majestically, his peak reaching above the clouds. He was indeed formidable. Neither wind nor sun could affect him. Now he was indeed the mightiest.
All at once he felt a sharp pain. What was this? A stonecutter, with a sharp pick-axe, was tearing pieces out of him. "How can this be?" he asked. "If someone can dismember me, then he must be even mightier than I. I wish to be that man." His wish was granted, and he was transformed into the mightiest of all: a stonecutter.
People seem to believe that they can achieve happiness by change, but rarely do they try to make the only change that could really be effective, which is to make a change in themselves.
From "Generation to Generation" by Dr. Abraham Twersky. Reprinted with permission of C.I.S. Publications.
According to the Talmud, regardless of where the arrow lands, the archer is liable for its damage as once the arrow is out of the archer's hands it cannot be retrieved. Unlike a human archer, G-d can always reverse arrows that threaten to harm us. However, when G-d promises - through His prophets - to do something good, that event must come to pass. In this sense, G-d is similar to man: once the promise of goodness is "out of His hands" it cannot be rescinded. Knowing that G-d's promise for good must be actualized gives us the inspiration to endure the exile. The future redemption already exists; it is only concealed. G-d will remove the illusory confusion and obstacles, and we will be able to perceive the light of redemption.
(Likutei Sichot vol 1)