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Did you ever notice what happens after you put bread outside for the birds? Within minutes there are a dozen or more birds of various shapes and kinds happily pecking at the pieces.
Where did the birds come from? How did they find out about the food? Just a few seconds ago all you saw was one little sparrow eyeing you warily! As more birds alight on your front garden to enjoy the edibles, you hear the chirping of birds on nearby trees.
If you were King Solomon, who knew the language of all of the animals, you would understand what they are saying. But you are not King Solomon, and you can only guess that they are telling their friends about their find. They are sharing the good news of finding food.
The Talmud tells us that if the Torah had not been given, we could have learned important rules of behavior from animals. For instance, we can learn modesty from a cat, honesty from an ant, chastity from a dove, and good manners from a rooster. (Eiruvin 100b)
What can we learn from the common sparrow or pigeon? We can learn to share good things and good news.
If you're in a good mood, share a smile or an energetic hello. (As the Mishna teaches us, "Greet everyone with a pleasant face" and "Be the first to say 'hello.' ")
When you find out about a quality kosher restaurant (or simply that there is a kosher restaurant!) in your area, pass the information around. Post on your facebook wall a fancy gourmet recipe that you just found out can be made with kosher substitutions.
You heard there's a lecture, class or program at your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center, tell a friend and go together.
After you've finished reading a great Jewish book, lend it to someone else who will enjoy it.
Share a Shabbat dinner, Hamantashen on Purim, a Passover Seder, some cheesecake on Shavuot.
Share your wealth, or even just the small change in your pocket: put a few coins in a tzedaka box on weekdays and mark happy occasions like birthdays and anniversaries with more sizeable donations to your favorite charity.
Though "misery loves company" and "a trouble shared is halved," call people to whom you normally complain and tell them about good news as well - when a problem has been solved or things are going well.
And remember to increase in acts of goodness and kindness to hasten the long-awaited era of peace, prosperity, health and knowledge - the Messianic Era. As the Rebbe said, "Moshiach is ready to come, now. Our part is to add in acts of goodness and kindness."
And don't be worried that there's not enough to go around. The birds never do!
In this week's portion, Teruma, we are given the mitzva (commandment) of making a holy place for G-d. G-d says, "You should make for Me a Temple and I will dwell in them." In general, this refers to the different Tabernacles that we had and then the great Temples that stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
However, this brings up several questions.
The Sifri, quoting our verse, says, "Every place it says 'for Me,' it will last forever." The Midrash, using our verse as an example, says, "Every place it says 'for Me,' it will never move, not in this world, and not in the world to come." But the Sanctuaries are gone, and the Temples were destroyed. How could they say that it will last forever?
There are different explanations as to what the everlasting component to this mitzva is. Some say, it refers to the holiness of the Temple. That the place where the Temple stood retains its holiness forever. Others say, that parts of the Temple are hidden in the ground of the Temple Mount, so it is actually there.
The difficulty with these answers is that they only explain how the Temples still exist, but they don't explain how the Tabernacles still exist.
Another difficulty with these answers, is that the simple meaning of the Sifri and the Midrash, is that it is referring to the actual building, not the spiritual holiness. And many sources point to the idea that the mitzva of building a Temple applies even now.
How can one physically do this mitzva today?
The first way, is to build or donate towards the construction or improvement of a synagogue or house of study, for they are the "miniature Tabernacle" and Temple that we have today in exile.
The second way, set up a designated place in your home to serve G-d, equipped with a bookshelf with Torah books, a tzedaka (charity) box, a table at which to study, and a set place for prayer. This is similar to the Temple, that contained the Tablets (representing Torah) the Altar (prayer and spiritual service) and the Shulchan (table for the breads, tzedaka.)
Children can also get involved, by making their room or their part of their room into a place to serve G-d with their own Torah books, siddur (prayer book) and tzedaka box.
Another way of understanding how this mitzva can be fulfilled today is from the way the verse seems to be grammatically incorrect. " And you should make for Me a Temple, and I will dwell in them." Shouldn't it say, " And I will dwell in it?" What is the meaning of dwelling "in them"?
"In them" means in each of us. G-d wants every one of us to be a Temple. G-d wants to live in every single one of us.
May we all, men, women and children, make a Temple for G-d. This will surely bring the third and everlasting Temple, that is already built and will come down from above, with the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.
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 Peninit Boav
Eight years ago my husband Yoni and I, together with our two young children - Noa (then 5 years old) and Yair (then 3 years old) moved from Israel to Forest Hills, Queens. At that period of time we lived a traditional Jewish lifestyle. I kept Shabbat and Kosher though my husband was less religious.
Interestingly, the essential connection and basic mitzvot (commandments) that I observed were inspired by Chabad-Lubavitch organized events - the Mesibot Shabbat (Shabbat parties) and Lag B'omer parades - that I participated in as a child in my hometown in Israel. Little did I know how far reaching the effect of children's programs initiated by the Rebbe that I attended would have on my life and that of my family.
We sent our daughter Noa to the public school closest to our home - PS 174. One day when I came to pick her up from school I met a young rabbi from Chabad there. He told us about the opportunity for children who learn in Public School to be taken out of school and study one hour of Judaism per week, called the Jewish Released Time program. We were thrilled to hear about this program and signed up our daughter for Released Time.
Released Time turned out to be a great beacon of light in our life! From week to week we witnessed our children growing in Jewish observance and always with much joy and love. More than that, we, the parents, got pulled in as well! The attachment to Judaism was so natural and just flowed. From one class to the next, from holiday to holiday and with every consecutive semester we learned more and more.
The kids, having learned the prayers in the Released Time class, decided to start their mornings at 6:40 a.m. (!) before heading off to school so that they could say "Modeh Ani," "Shema" and a few other simple prayers. They prayed with the special enthusiasm and excitement that was ingrained in them during their RT sessions.
The Yair decided on his own accord that he was not only going to wear his Kippa and Tzitzit during the RT class, rather he would wear it every day.
He would wake up in the morning, go over to the windowsill where his Tzitzit lay waiting for him, and shout out loud the blessing so everyone could hear and the entire house would answer, "Amen!"
We were always careful to send Kosher food with our kids to school. This being except on Friday when the school served pizza (which did not have any meat inside of it, but also was not kosher) and the children wanted to enjoy pizza like all of their friends. But then "a problem" arose: Yair would be wearing Kippa and Tzitzit to school and eat non-kosher pizza!
One week I discussed our "issue" with one of the RT instructors and asked if he had any solution for us. He thought about it and gave me a genius answer: that every week we should have a set day that the children should go out to enjoy kosher pizza instead of the pizza that they would eat at school.
We loved this idea and from then on every week following Released Time class on Wednesday afternoon, I would take the kids to the kosher Pizzeria. Of course when I asked the kids if they rather the school's pizza or the pizza party with Imma (mommy) obviously the answer was the pizza party with me!
Our daughter Noa was getting a bit older and she decided, also her own decision, that she wanted to start to wear only skirts, and tops with sleeves. We were very moved by her decision and we supported her with this important big step.
Four years ago we experienced a tragedy in our family when a cousin of my husband passed away at a young age. Coming back from the funeral on the way to pick up the children from RT, my husband was thinking to himself about what he could do in memory of his cousin.
When we arrived at RT, the instructors asked my husband if he had put on Tefillin yet that day. My husband said that he hadn't and they put on Tefillin with him. My husband decided then and there that the special mitzva he would add would be to put on Tefillin every weekday and that is what he has done since then.
But the story doesn't end there. Several months later, my husband's grandmother passed away. AS it was before the High Holidays, I gave my husband a set of Machzorim (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kipppur prayer books) and wrote an inscription that the prayers should be for an elevation of the soul of his grandmother a"h. During the High Holidays my husband felt a deepened connection to his Judaism and started to keep Shabbat.
The most beautiful time of our day would be when our children would wake up early in the morning and would sing the prayers in a loud voice filled with such joy and passion. I knew that this was all in the merit of the angels of the Released Time.
Last year we decided to place our children in Yeshiva and the moment that we signed them up we felt G-d simply opening a new channel of blessings in our lives. Besides transferring our kids to Yeshiva, with the Rebbe's blessings, we successfully moved into a house in the religious community of Fair Lawn, New Jersey.
Now our children have tons of Jewish children their age to be friends with and hang out with. Giving our kids a full-time Jewish education is without a doubt the piece of the puzzle that had been missing in our lives. We are most thankful to the Released Time program for the stipends that helped enable us to pay for Yeshiva. We also want to thank all the rabbis who accompanied us along our journey to Yeshiva, bringing the joy of Judaism into our lives.
For more information about Released Time visit www.jewishhour.org or call (718) 735-0215
Shabbat deLights is a collection of essays on the Torah portion by author, editor and teacher, Chana Weisberg. Each essay on the weekly portion is rooted in Biblical text and Chasidic thought, providing practical, empowering tools for dealing with contemporary life's most pressing challenges. Published by Ezra Publishing and Chabad.org
Hear the Megillah
In Hear the Megillah, happy children perform playful motions for each mitzva (commandment) of Purim. They twirl and twirl like graggers, wrap themselves like Purim treats, and at the Purim meal, they all sit down! Hear the Megillah is a board book written by Tova Gitty Broide, illustrated by Patti Agroff and newly released by HaChai Publishing.
Erev Shabbos Kodesh
5 Shevat, 5711 (1951)
The 7th Annual Conference of the NCFJE Under the Auspices of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch
Greeting and Blessing:
By Divine Providence you have the good fortune to participate in the great and important Release Time Program of the Committee by which, in the words of my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, you have removed and are removing from thousands of Jewish children the shame of total Jewish ignorance. Hundreds of children, boy and girls, may their numbers increase, have through your good influence begun to receive a kosher education.
The work you are doing in this field is the greatest kind of spiritual charity to those who are poor in knowledge, and is a matter of actual saving lives. No personal sacrifice is too great for this type of Mitzvah (commandment), especially when it cannot be done by others.
I hope that you will make the greatest effort to increase and expand your work, increase the number of children attending, and increase the number of Released Time classes under your program in order to return the estranged Jewish children to their roots, to Torah and Yiddishkeit (Judaism).
I hope that the largest circles of concerned Jews, men and women, will acknowledge their responsibility and privilege to support your work with all possible means.
In the merit of saving the lives of Jewish children, may you, your associates and supporters be blessed from the Almi-ty in your work and in your personal matters with everything you need, according to the blessing of the Rebbe, my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, materially and spiritually.
With blessings of great success,
Shevat 14, 5708 (1948)
To All Participants in the Annual Convention of the Release Hour, under the auspices of The Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education
G-d bless you all.
Greeting and Blessing:
I was gratified to hear of your excellent work in the past year in attracting additional students to the Release Hour, and that you have, thank G-d, influenced many of them to enroll in Talmud Torahs, Yeshivoth and schools for girls. Undoubtedly you will not be contented to leave it at the past record, but will go from strength to strength to widen the scope of your work to save the souls of many more Jewish children from assimilation (G-d forbid), and to bring them near to the Torah and the observance of its precepts.
To you, men and women instructors, G-d bless you, I send this call: Lend hear tot the great responsibility which rests upon you, and to the greatest Zechus (privilege), that goes together with it, of bringing Jewish children, boys and girls, into the light of Torah and Mitzvoth.
I feel certain in the hope that our Jewish brothers and sisters who appreciate the importance of Kosher Chinuch (education) and of it's vital need, will do all they can to help the institution of the Release Hour, with money and effort, to enable you to continue and enlarge your activities in saving the souls of Jewish children form assimilation (G-d forbid).
I send you herewith my blessing to all participants in the Annual Convention, to the men and women instructors, to the workers and helps, that the Almighty give you success in all benefits, spiritually and materially.
With blessings for your successful work materially and spiritually,
ELIYAHU means "the L-rd is my G-d." Eliyahu (Elijah) was one of the earliest prophets (I Kings 17:1). He is said to be present at every brit mila (circumcision) and many stories are told of how he came to the aid of Jews in desperate need. Eliyahu will announce the arrival of Moshiach and at that time will answer all questions that have puzzled scholars throughout the ages. EIDEL is Yiddish, meaning, "delicate, gentle." The Baal Shem Tov's daughter, Eidel, was honored by Chasidim as if she had been a rebbe herself. Her father regarded her as equal to his other disciples. In English the name is sometimes spelled Aidel.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This coming Tuesday, the seventh of Adar, is the birthday and yahrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses).
Jewish teachings (Shmot Rabba) state that "Moshe is the first redeemer and he is also the final redeemer." This does not mean that Moshe himself will be the "final redeemer." For, Moshe belongs to the tribe of Levi, while Moshiach is from the tribe of Judah.
However, many traditional sources view the redemption from Egypt as the prototype of the Final Redemption, based on the verse in our Prophets: "As in the days of your exodus from the land of Egypt, I will show you wonders."
In this way, Moshe - who was the leader of the Jewish people in his generation - is the prototype of every Jewish leader and ultimately, of Moshiach.
Thus, for example, in Egypt, first G-d appointed the redeemer - Moshe. He spoke to the Children of Israel, telling them that G-d had remembered them and that the time had come for them to leave Egypt. Only afterward did Moshe redeem the Children of Israel and take them out of Egypt. Similarly, first Moshiach informs us that the time of the Redemption has arrived, and only afterward does the actual Redemption take place. (Sfat Emet)
In one of his Kabbalistic works, Rabbi Chaim Vital describes Moshiach as a Tzadik, a human being born of human parents, and writes that he will receive the soul of Moshiach that has been stored in the Garden of Eden. Rabbi Chaim Vital then explains how this may be compared to Moshe and his progression to self-perfection.
The Chasam Sofer, as well, describes Moshe, the first redeemer, and then compares him to the final redeemer, "And when the time comes, G-d will reveal Himself to him, and the spirit of Moshiach, which has been hidden in the higher worlds until his coming, will light upon him.
May we merit Moshiach's coming NOW!
Make for Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst (Ex. 25:8)
"Within each and every Jew," comment our Sages, noting that every Jew is holy and considered a sanctuary to G-d in his own right. Throughout the long exile, the site of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem always retained its holiness, as it states, "The Divine Presence never departs from the Western Wall," for the destruction only damaged the upper building and not its foundation. Likewise, the sanctuary within every Jew, the holy Jewish soul, always remain whole and untouched. Only the "building" is subject to spiritual defilement.
It is taught in the name of Rabbi Tarfon: How great is the significance of human labor [and practical action]! From the above verse we see G-d did not cause his Divine Presence to rest in the Sanctuary until Israel had performed the tasks connected to its set up.
(Avot D'Rabbi Natan)
Of every man whose heart prompts him to give you shall take My offering. (Ex. 25:2)
In order for the Divine Presence to rest among the Children of Israel within the Sanctuary, the Jews needed to exhibit a strong love and desire to cleave to G-d. Yet love cannot be commanded; love must flow from a feeling of good will.
Contributions to the Sanctuary, therefore, had to be voluntary, without coercion.
(Rabbi Avrohom of Sochtchov)
When Reb Aryeh Leib, who was known as the Shpoler Zeide, had been rebbe for three years, there was terrible famine in the area.
The tzadik (righteous person) rebbe, whose love for the poor, the needy, the widowed was unbounded, felt compelled to provide for the thousands affected by the disaster. He could neither eat nor sleep, and his heartache was so great that for weeks on end he couldn't bring himself to taste anything more than bread and tea.
As the famine spread to the furthest provinces of Russia, rebbes from the starving communities wrote to Shpola, begging Reb Aryeh Leib to raise a storm in the Heavens, and beg that the deadly decree be rescinded.
Who, if not he, a tzadik, known to work wonders, could accomplish this?
The Shpoler Zeide, on his part, wrote to ten of the greatest tzadikim of the day - Reb Zusya of Hanipoli, Reb Yaakov Shimshon of Shipitovka, Reb Ze'ev of Zhitomir, and others - requesting that they come to Shpola immediately.
They soon arrived and were seated at the long table of the Shpoler Zeide, and heard his awesome words: "My masters, I am taking the Alm-ghty to a Din Torah, a lawsuit, and you are to serve as the judges. It is true that, according to the law of the Torah, the plaintiff must take his suit to the place where the defendant is, since in this unique case, 'there is no place devoid of His presence,' and since, more particularly, 'wherever ten are assembled the Divine Presence rests,' we will hold the court case here."
The holy congregation agreed, and joined in prayer, their fervent supplications battering the Gates of Heaven.
The Shpoler Zeide then instructed his aide to announce: "By the order of those gathered here, I hereby proclaim that Reb Aryeh Leib, the son of Rachel, summons the Alm-ghty to a court-suit which will be duly conducted here in three days."
The holy rebbes spent the next three days together, in fasting and prayer, and no one was permitted to interrupt their devotions.
On the fourth day, after they had concluded the morning prayers and they were still wrapped in their talleisim and adorned by their tefilin, the Shpoler Zeide solemnly signalled his aide to announce that the court case was about to begin.
"In the name of all the women and children of the Jews of Russia," the tzadik declared, "I hereby state my claim against the Defendant. Why does the Creator of the Universe not provide them with food, thereby preventing their death (G-d forbid) of hunger? Doesn't the Torah itself say, 'For unto Me are the Children of Israel bondsmen; they are My bondsmen'? Do we not have His promise, recorded by the Prophet Yechezkel, that even if His children should someday desire to go in the ways of the nations of the world, that this will never happen? One can draw the conclusion that the Children of Israel are the Alm-ghty's servants for all eternity.
"In that case, they should, at least, be in the category of Jewish bondsmen. Jewish law teaches that a master is required to provide for the wife and children of his bondsman. Can the Al-mighty violate his own Torah so blatantly?
"Now I'm well aware that some clever prosecuting angel will argue in defense of the Creator, saying that these servants are remiss in their service; that they don't serve their Master as well as they should. But to this bogus argument I have two replies: Firstly, where is it written that if a bondsman is lazy and doesn't work properly, his wife and children are to deprived of their sustenance? Secondly, if these servants are slack in their performance, their Master can fault no one, but Himself. For who else gave each servant an evil inclination whose whole job and purpose it is to drive them to abandon their loyalty and to destroy their desire to serve? Why, I can swear that if this evil inclination, which the Master Himself created, would cease to exist, they would become the most perfect servants possible!"
The ten righteous judges consulted their tomes of Torah to search the law for the correct verdict. After the passage of some time they stood to deliver the unanimous ruling:
"This court finds in favor of Reb Aryeh Leib, the son of Rachel. The Alm-ghty is accordingly required, by whatever means at His disposal (and the whole world is His) to provide for the women and children of His People. And may the Heavenly Court above agree and support the verdict of this court in the World Below."
The court pronounced its verdict three times.
Then the Shpoler Zeide asked to have vodka and refreshments served.
The tzadikim made a "l'chaim" and ate together in a joyous mood before departing for home. Five days after the momentous verdict had been reached, the government announced a shipment of thousands of tons of grain. Immediately, the grain prices fell and before long, there were ample fresh supplies. For the entire following year, bread was bountiful for all.
According to Maimonides, the command "They shall make for Me a sanctuary (Ex. 25:8) refers not only to the erection of the Sanctuary, but the building of the First, Second and Third Holy Temples as well. When Moshiach comes and the Third Holy Temple is established, the original Sanctuary built by Moses will also be revealed, for a special connection exists between the two. Just as the Sanctuary was built in the desert, by an individual who himself never set foot in the Holy Land, so will the Third Holy Temple reflect the good deeds we have performed and our service of G-d throughout the present exile.