President's Day | 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
Presidents' Day in the US, the Emperor's birthday in Japan, the Queen's birthday in Australia. Special days such as these give us an opportunity to reflect on how beneficial it can be for a community, nation, or the world, to have true leaders.
A great Sage, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, once asked Elijah the Prophet if he could accompany him on some of his G-dly missions. Elijah agreed on the condition that Rabbi Yehoshua not ask the reason for any of his actions. Rabbi Yehoshua agreed and off they went.
Many unusual occurrences took place over the course of their days together, but the final and most curious, was the following: Elijah and Rabbi Yehoshua, dressed as two wanderers, arrived at a wealthy village late one evening. Though any of the village's inhabitants could have comfortably and easily housed and fed the wanderers, no offers were forthcoming. No one even offered them a glass of water!
They spent the evening in the synagogue, sleeping on the hard benches there. When they awoke in the morning, before they began their day's journey, Elijah intoned, "May the people of this village all be leaders."
Toward evening, Elijah and Rabbi Yehoshua arrived at another village. Unlike the first village, as soon as the townsfolk saw new faces they gathered around and joyfully vied for the mitzva of housing and feeding the two wanderers. The guests were accorded much honor and were graciously offered places to sleep, refresh themselves, eat, etc.
In the morning, with much appreciation and thanks, the two wanderers parted from the villagers. But before leaving, Elijah stopped and intoned, "May this village only have one leader."
This last statement by Elijah was too much for Rabbi Yehoshua and, though he had agreed he would not ask the prophet any questions, he could hold back no longer.
"Why did you bless the village that scorned us by praying that all the people be leaders, and curse the village that helped us by praying that they have only one leader?"
Elijah replied, "You do not understand the ways of heaven. I did not bless the first village; it was the second village I blessed."
He then explained, "If a town has many leaders, there will be no peace. There will be strife, conflicts, politics. However, if a village has one leader, a leader who cares about every individual and worries about the welfare of all those under his protection, then that village is truly blessed.
If the leader is a true leader, then he will be humble and wise, G-d-fearing and compassionate. He will know that he is an extension of G-d -- the Ultimate Leader -- in this world, and his every action will be ruled by this knowledge. Such a village will know peace, harmony, prosperity, good fortune, and spiritual growth."
Today, more than ever before, we see that the whole world is really a "global village." May we very soon hear from Elijah himself, the prophet who will herald the Redemption, of the revelation of the one true leader that this global village so desperately needs and essentially wants, Moshiach.
In this week's Torah portion, Tetzaveh, we read of G-d's command to Moses regarding the olive oil for the menora, as well as the priestly garments and the additional garments of the High Priest. The portion concludes with the instructions of the seven-day initiation into the priesthood of Aaron and his four sons.
The Torah portion begins with G-d telling Moses about the special olive oil: "And you shall command the children of Israel, and they shall take to you pure olive oil, crushed for lighting, to kindle the lamps continually."
To get the purest olive oil, the olive was crushed in a mortar, and the first drop expressed was used for the oil to light the menora. Only the oil extracted this way could be used to light the menorah. The remainder of the olive was ground to extract more oil, but this oil was not for the menora.
What can we learn from this?
The kindling of the menora symbolized lighting up the souls of the Jewish people. For this, only the purest olive oil, extracted through crushing, was used.
The purest comes out through being crushed. It is the crushed, that ignite Jewish souls.
We all are "crushed," we are tested with suffering in one form or another. What we do with it is our choice. You can choose to wallow in self pity, or you can use your "crushing" experience, to lift up those around you.
Choosing to use your experience for the positive, will not only uplift those around you, but it will give meaning and purpose to your situation.
Before ALS, I was talented. I could teach, lecture, sing, dance, play guitar, and I was strong. Within two years, I watched that all slip away. Now I'm left with my heart, my brain and my smile. Being crushed has brought stronger connections, new abilities, higher purpose, and deeper meaning. Before, I used my talents to make people happy, and to educate them. Now I get to do that, and much more.
With this attitude, I have gained an added extra. I feel happy and fulfilled, and the people around me seem happy and uplifted. Yet, it is time for the crushing to end, and enjoying the light to begin. May it happen now with Moshiach!
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.
by Vita Goldstein
Once upon a time, many years ago, in the 1950s I was a child in our small town of Danielson, in northeastern Connecticut.
Our family had been good friends with the Rosenberg family. Paula was about my age. Many Friday evenings I would be a guest in their home. I saw the Shabbat candles being lit and enjoyed being with their Bubbe (grandmother), neither of which I had.
While a child, trying to help in their home on Shabbat, I was only entrusted to put the silverware on the table. I learned there were two sets of silverware - one for meat and one for dairy - and to take from the meat drawer. To this day, I remember that paisley type pattern of their meat silverware.
From the warmth of the Rosenberg family, I learned a little about Jewish observance. I learned that I too, wanted to have Shabbat candles and two sets of silverware when I grew up. These visits lasted for years and made a strong impression on me.
There were many stones steps to walk up to the Rosenberg's front door. I always associate the steps of that home with the first of my many stepping stones.
My Zeidie (grandfather) called Rabbi Hershel Fogelman (obm), the Rebbe's emissary in Worcester, Massachusetts, to ask for a teacher to come to teach Hebrew school in Danielson. Rabbi Fogelman sent Rabbi Yisroel Gordon, from Worcester, but I was too young to appreciate his visits. I do know he had an impact on my family. My mother, even now at 91 years old, still remembers Rabbi Gordon teaching Hebrew school in Danielson in those years. Many children who attended the Danielson Hebrew school at Temple Beth Israel, including my Uncle Meyer, were influenced by Rabbi Gordon.
Fast forward to 1966. My family moved to another town, and I felt lost without my friends with whom I celebrated Shabbat since my understanding was so limited (candles and meat silverware).
But, as the saying goes, when one door closes another door opens. After we moved, I began to attend the functions of the teen group at our synagogue. I learned more about Shabbat and Kosher. I learned about Jewish music and Israeli dancing, ritually washing my hands before eating bread and saying the special blessing afterwards. Here was another stepping stone.
With the encouragement of several of their friends, my parents sent my brother and me to Israel for a summer on a Bar and Bat Mitzvah trip. We went to Israel once again for the "gap" year before college. I soon became an enthusiastic lover of the Land of Israel as well as interested in becoming more Jewishly observance. Yet another stepping stone.
During my year in Israel, I studied the laws of Shabbat, Jewish history and many other topics. I returned to the U.S. and went to college, getting a degree in Art Education. In college I met my husband, Reuven. After college, we were married in Danielson, in the synagogue where I grew up!
Reuven and I settled in New London, Connecticut, and became the parents of two beautiful daughters. One fine Shabbat morning, I was walking with our girls to our synagogue and my neighbor, Rebbetzin Esther Bluming, was walking to the Orthodox congregation. We stopped at the corner and spoke for a few minutes. This particular morning became a major moment, in my life. Rebbetzin Bluming invited me to her congregation but I explained, "No. I could never go to your synagogue, because I would not feel comfortable." She responded with a very poignant comment. "If you stay in a place you are comfortable, you will never grow."
This was an amazing statement. She opened my eyes to the possibility so I tried! In the beginning I went Friday night to the Conservative congregation, and Shabbat morning to the Orthodox one, Ahavath Chesed. Slowly, we evolved to attending Ahavath Chesed on Friday night as well.
Where to send our children to school was the next major stepping stone. We started off with a pluralistic Jewish day school. But we found out that if our daughters continued in this school through eighth grade they would not be prepared to go on to a Jewish high school. To be honest, I wasn't concerned that they would not be continuing their Jewish education. I was concerned that if our daughters went to public school for high school, the social activities like Friday night dances and Saturday afternoon ball games would become a conflict for them. It was at this point that we decided to send our girls to the Hebrew Day School of Eastern Connecticut. This stepping stone was an expression of our growing commitment to becoming more observant.
Eventually the small Orthodox day school they were attending closed due to dwindling enrollment and funds. We came to the realization that we had to move in order for our daughters to continue their Jewish education. We moved to a bigger community, New Haven. We enrolled our daughters at the New Haven Hebrew Day School. In the process we learned more about kosher and other things that we had never been exposed to. Many of the Rebbe's emissaries in New Haven and its environs were "tour guides" for us as we continued on our journey, explaining and guiding along the way and providing new stepping stones.
Keeping in mind our love for the Holy Land, our daughters went to seminary and college in Israel. They made aliya after seminary and college. They both married and are living in Israel. We too, now live in Israel, not far from our daughters. We live in Rechovot and I attend a weekly class given by the Rebbe's emissary to Rechovot Rabbi MM Gluckowsky. We continue to take steps, always learning.
Our steps were taken ever so slowly, all with the guidance and encouragement of many along the way, including my mother, Elka (Elsie) and my gratitude toward my husband, Reuven for taking this journey together.
For us, these steps were made possible because there is always a Chabad House, not too far away!
Rabbi Avromy and Sternie Super recently opened Chabad of St. Lucia in the idyllic island nation nestled among the Windward Islands at the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea. The island nation has attracted foreign business and investment, especially in banking, but for the most part, its economy is based on tourism and the local banana industry. In addition to Torah classes and Shabbat meals, they host weekly barbecues that have been attended by 30 or so people.
Rabbi Shmuel and Esther Neft recently arrived in Toronto where they have settled in the Rockford to serve the local Jewish Russian-speaking Jews. in the area under the auspices of the JRCC (Jewish RUssian Community Centers) of Ontario. To begin with they will be focusing on adult education including women's classes in Russian with Mrs. Neft.
Erev Rosh Chodesh Adar 1, 5733 
It has been often noted that the time element in any event of Jewish life, especially one connected with Torah and Chinuch [Jewish education], has a special relevance and message. This rule also applies to the fact that we are in a leap year, containing two months of Adar.
The underlying reason for periodic "leap years" in our Jewish calendar is that our calendar is determined by the lunar year, which is about 11 days shorter than the solar year. But inasmuch as the Torah requires us to observe our festivals in their due season - Pesach [Passover] in the spring, Succoth in the autumn, etc.- a periodic adjustment is necessary to make up the deficiency between the lunar and solar years.
Herein also lies an important lesson. For not only does the extra month fully make up the deficiency, but it usually provides also an advance "on account" of the following year.
The lesson is two-fold: A person must, from time to time, take stock of his accomplishments in the past, with a view to ascertain what he has omitted to do. The first principle to remember is, therefore, that it is never too late to make good past deficiencies. Secondly, it is not enough to make up a deficiency; it is also necessary to make an extra effort as an advance on account of the future, and continue from strength to strength.
If this is true in all human affairs, how much more so in matters of Torah and mitzvoth [commandments] and, especially, in the area of Chinuch - the vital link in the preservation of our eternal Torah and heritage and the continuity of our people.
Moreover, in the present day and age it is quite obvious that Torah- true Chinuch is the only way to ensure that our children, boys and girls, will remain ours, and that they will grow up and flourish like the proverbial tree planted by water, with deep strong roots that can withstand all wind and storms, and will not fail to bear good fruits and the fruits of fruits to all generations to come.
In the spirit of the above, may each and all of us take a "leap" in our advancement of Torah and mitzvot as well as in our endeavors to strengthen true Yiddishkeit [Judaism] in general, and Torah-true Chinuch in particular, to the fullest extent of our capacity to meet the challenge of our present critical times.
With blessings for hatzlacha [success] and good tidings
10th of Adar 1, 5733 
Rabbi Hodakov has conveyed to me your telephone messages, and I will again remember you in prayer for the fulfillment of your heart's desires for good in all the matter which you mentioned over the telephone.
May G-d grant that you should have good news to report, especially now as we are in the auspicious month of Adar. Which also reminds us that we are in a leap year, with an added month to make up for the deficiency between the lunar year, on which our Hebrew calendar is based, and the solar year, which determines the four seasons, since our festivals must occur in their due season. This is also a meaningful lesson that a Jew can, and must always strive to, make up for any past deficiencies.
It is also significant that the added month is the one of Adar, which is a month of increased joy for Jews since that first Purim, when, as Megilas Esther [the Scroll of Esther] tells us, "for the Jews there was light, joy, gladness, and honor."
These words, by the way, are included in the Havdala [the prayer at the end of Shabbat] which we make at the beginning of each week, to which are immediately added the words, "so be it for us." May G-d grant that it should be so also for you and yours in the midst of all our people.
YOMTOV is from the Hebrew meaning "good day." In the Yiddish form, yuntif means "holiday." A famous rabbi, Yomtov Lipman, was a student of the Maharal of Prague and lived in the 16th century. He was a well-known scholar and prolific author.
CHAGIT is from the Aramaic, meaning "feast," or "festival." In the Bible (II Samuel 3:4) Chagit was one of King David's wives.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
There are two months of Adar this year (this year being a leap year) and this week contains Purim Katan (the "minor" Purim).
The day after Purim Katan is Shushan Purim Katan, Shushan Purim being the day Purim is celebrated in walled cities such as Jerusalem.
There are very few customs associated with Purim Katan and Shushan Purim Katan. So let's take a moment to understand the significance of Shushan Purim according to Chasidut.
The celebration of this holiday was instituted in connection with the Land of Israel. Our Sages decreed that Shushan Purim be celebrated in those cities that were surrounded by walls at the time of Joshua's conquest of the Land of Israel.
In this manner, they paid respect to the Holy Land, giving its walled cities the honor given to Shushan even though they had been destroyed by the time of the Purim miracle.
However, the holiday's name is connected with a city in the Diaspora - the capital city of Achashveirosh, king of Persia (and thus the capital of the entire civilized world).
The use of the name "Shushan" expresses the completion of the Jews' mission to refine the material environment of the world. There are several levels in the fulfillment of this task; for example, the transformation of mundane objects into articles of holiness. On a deeper level, this involves the transformation into holiness of precisely those elements which previously opposed holiness.
Shushan Purim shows how Achashveirosh's capital city was transformed into a positive influence, indeed, an influence so great that it is connected with the celebration of Purim in the walled cities of Israel.
May we use all of the extra spiritual energy given to us on Purim Katan and Shushan Purim Katan to transform the mundane into the holy and that which opposes holiness into holiness, until the whole world is transformed into a dwelling place for G-d in the Messianic Era.
And you bring close, to yourself, Aaron your brother (28:1)
"You bring close" - Moses wasn't commanded to raise up Aaron, but rather to bring him close. This teaches us that a leader must not consider himself as one who is above the people but as one who is close to them.
And they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, and for his sons, to be a priest unto Me (Ex. 28:3)
It is a known principle that a person's actions follow the lead given by his thoughts and intentions. Therefore, it was fitting that the High Priest, serving in the Holy Temple as an emissary of the entire Jewish People, in atonement for all of their sins, would wear special clothes for his service. These clothes would remind him to concentrate on his service, and to remember before Whom he was standing. It is also one of the features of the mitzva of tefilin - to remind the one who puts them on to direct his thoughts in the proper manner.
You shall command the Children of Israel that they bring to you pure olive oil, pounded, for the lighting (Ex. 27:20)
Rashi explains: They shall light it until the flame ascends by itself. The menora symbolizes the Children of Israel. The priest who lights the menora is the one whom G-d has chosen to serve Him in the Holy Temple, and it is his duty to light the "perpetual flame." It states in Proverbs: "The flame of G-d is the soul of man." From this we learn that our duty lies in "lighting" up the souls of those we meet, until "the flame ascends by itself" and does not require outside assistance.
Why was it necessary for the oil to be brought to Moses if Aaron was the one who would be kindling the menora? Oil alludes to the inner goodness hidden within every Jew, even the most simple. To arouse this inner quality, the Jew must connect himself to "Moses" - to the leader of the Jewish people in every generation - who, in turn, elevates it to the higher level of "pounded, for the lighting...a light to burn always."
(Sefer HaMaamarim Kuntreisim)
And Aaron shall bear the judgement of the Children of Israel upon his heart before G-d (Ex. 28:30)
Aaron the priest was the "heart" of the Jewish nation. And in the same way that the heart first feels the sorrows and pains of the body, so did Aaron feel for and empathize with every Jew, and would pray on their behalf. "And Aaron shall bear the judgement of the Children of Israel" - he bore all of their suffering and sorrow. He would take them "upon his heart," praying for them "before G-d," that their judgements, be rescinded.
(Be'er Mayim Chayim)
Rabbi Akiva is best known to us for his monumental accomplishments in the realm of Torah scholarship. Although he began his study of Torah late in life, he developed into the greatest teacher of his generation, amassing 24,000 students. But less known is his role as a great collector of charity for the poor.
Rabbi Akiva travelled far and wide to collect large sums of money to assist the poor. One day, as he sat at his table counting the money he had collected, he came to the unhappy realization that it was not nearly enough. "Where can I get the necessary amount?" he asked himself as he pondered the problem.
Then, he suddenly had an idea. Not far away, near the seashore, lived a very wealthy Roman woman. Although not a Jew, she believed in G-d and had great admiration for the Jewish Sages.
Early the next morning, Rabbi Akiva made his way to her luxurious home. When she realized who her guest was, she ushered him in and invited him to be seated. She listened as Rabbi Akiva made his request, and she replied: "I would certainly lend you the money, even though it is a very large sum, but who will act as a guarantor for you?"
Rabbi Akiva couldn't think of an answer. "Choose whomever you wish," was his reply. The woman sat down to think, her eyes gazing out to sea. As she listened to the sound of the waves, she smiled and said: "I declare the G-d of Israel and the sea to be guarantors to assure that the money will be returned at the proper time." And with that, Rabbi Akiva left with the money in hand.
Alas, the day arrived when the loan was due, but Rabbi Akiva lay ill, unable to find a messenger to send to the Roman woman.
In her home, the woman waited patiently, but the question turned around in her mind, "Where was Rabbi Akiva?" As the day drew to a close, she thought, "Maybe he won't come at all. Maybe I shouldn't have lent him the money."
But her good nature and trust returned, and she thought, "Maybe he is sick or doesn't have the money. Whatever his reason, I forgive him, but I need the money today."
As the sun began to set, she walked out to the shore and addressed herself to G-d: "Only You know why Rabbi Akiva hasn't come. Maybe he is ill, or else forgot, but I need the money today. G-d and the sea, you are his guarantors, and I await you to return the money to me."
As she ended her prayer, she raised her eyes, and astonishment replaced her previous emotions. Floating toward her on the waves was a magnificent chest. She opened it to find a fortune of gold and precious gems.
Far away across the sea, a princess had been strolling down the beach. She was accompanied by a servant who carried a small chest filled with gold and jewels, a gift from some visiting nobles. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the princess grabbed the box and tossed it far into the sea. The startled servant, thinking the princess had lost her reason, tried to retrieve the box, but to no avail. The waves had carried the precious treasure far out to sea.
Soon, Rabbi Akiva recovered from his illness and hurried to the Roman to return her money. "No, you owe me nothing; your G-d has already repaid your debt."
She proceeded to recount the wondrous story of the treasure chest which the sea had cast upon the shore. "I have already taken what was due to me. The rest I give to you to distribute to the poor who need it so desperately."
In this week's portion we read: "Command the Children of Israel that they bring you pure olive oil, pounded, for the lighting, to cause a light to burn always" (Ex. 27:20) The First and Second Holy Temples illuminated the world with their light for a specific and limited period of time. The Third Holy Temple, however, which will be rebuilt when Moshiach comes, will be in fulfillment of the latter half of the verse, "to cause a light to burn always." Its light will never be extinguished.
(Rabbi Yitzchak Karo)