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It Once Happened | Moshiach Matters
by Rabbi Israel Rubin
More and more service providers and merchandisers take pride in advertising that they are 24/7/365. This impressive array of numbers demonstrating reliability and availability consistency and continuity also reflects our society's round the clock addiction to technology, an endless vicious cycle that keeps us going round and round without any respite stop or pause as our hours days weeks and years turn into one long run-on-sentence so that when it actually comes down to it this amazing combination of numbers may all add up to one big zero.
Obviously, we need a break! We can't go on and on like this much longer, so let's slow down a bit.
Wherever we are, we live at the edge of the rushed and busy Information Highway with its constant flow of heavy traffic, of 3W's and dot.coms whizzing by at all hours of the day and night.
Modern man is so wired up with all kinds of gizmos and contraptions, constantly. Wirelessly tethered to a constant barrage of data streaming in making us virtual prisoners (no wonder they're called "cell phones").
Obviously, we need Shabbat (the Sabbath)! Once a week, that 25-hour rest period from Friday evening sunset to Saturday nightfall is an oasis in time. Shabbat tunes out the cacophony of chimes, incoming and outgoing pingles and jingles in the voice mail system labrinyths, dial tones, busy signals and the static of computers, modems and faxes. Instead, Shabbat tunes us in to the sweetest heavenly melodies.
Technological advances have certainly alleviated many of the menial chores and burdens of our ancestors who labored and toiled back in the shtetls or in the sweatshops. But ironically, we suffer today more from anxiety and hyperten-sion than did our predecessors. Shabbat prevents technology's cutting edge from ripping us to shreds, from enslaving and dominating our spiritual freedom.
People rush to the ends of the earth to find exotic vacation getaways, while Shabbat gets us away from it all without the hassles of travel agents, airline tickets, and now security clearance. Instead of seeking elusive peace elsewhere, Shabbat comes to us right in the comfort of our own home, at a fraction of the cost!
We already have our personal days, sick days, and vacation days. Shabbat, however, is not just a break from the daily grind and routine; it offers much more than leisure time to hang around and do nothing. The etymological root of "vacation," from the Latin vactus, means emptiness, a blank. Indeed, empty vacations can become so tiring that one needs a vacation from vacation!
Rather than being a day off, Shabbat is actually a day up! The soul of the week, Shabbat infuses spirituality into every part of our being, also illuminating the materialism of the rest of the week. Without Shabbat, we are a body without a soul. Shabbat is our date with G-d, so let's not concentrate on the good food - let's concentrate on our date!
Shabbat gives us quality time with ourselves, our families and our friends. Shabbat is an uplifting and inspirational day of Light, when we can see our soul and purpose. The liberating Shabbat experience returns us to the next week more inspired, newly refreshed, and above all, feeling free!
Shabbat not only transforms our here and now, it also goes above and beyond. The flickering little Shabbat candlelights reflect the greater vision and promise of Moshiach, for Shabbat is a foretaste and preview of the world to come, which will be "the full and everlasting Shabbat."
Rabbi Rubin is director of Chabad of the Capital District, Albany, NY. Reprinted from the Jewish Holiday Consumer
In this week's Torah portion, Ki Tisa, we read about the Kiyor, the Laver, which was a large copper receptacle that held water. It had a stand, also made of copper. It had several spigots, from which the Kohanim, the priests, would wash their hands and feet, before doing the Temple service.
What was unique about the Kiyor was not so much what it was, or how it was used, but rather where the copper, of which it was made, came from.
In next week's portion, the commentator Rashi explains the above question. The women gathered at Moses's tent with the copper mirrors they used to beautify themselves, intending to donate them. Moses was uncomfortable accepting these mirrors, because, seemingly, they were used for the evil inclination's bidding. G-d told Moses to accept them, "for they are most precious to me of all." Because of these mirrors, the women established great numbers in Egypt. When their husbands would be exhausted, laboring under Egyptian bondage, they would go out and greet them with food and drink. They would feed them, and entice them with words, they would hold the mirror in a way that both her and her husband could be seen together, she would say "I am prettier than you." In this manner she would awaken his urge to be with her...
It is with these mirrors that the Kiyor was made, for the Kiyor is to bring peace between husband and wife...
How important is the relationship of a couple to G-d? How is it that an instrument of vanity is most precious to Him?
In Song of Songs, King Solomon compares our relationship with G-d, to the relationship of a husband and wife. This relationship with G-d is the foundation on which our purpose and mission as the Jewish people is established. Every mitzvah, every prayer and every part of Torah we learn, comes down to this relationship - being one with G-d.
The microcosm of this relationship is that of a husband and wife. This relationship is so central to Judaism, that the mirrors that brought husband and wife together as one, are not only special, but most precious of all. It is so important that no service could be done in the Temple before washing hands using water from the Kiyor, which was made from these mirrors. The Kiyor was placed between the altar and the Holies, the center of all of the action in the Temple. It was seen and served as a reminder of the importance of the husband and wife relationship.
The Kiyor, made of these mirrors and placed centrally in the Temple, is a reminder that marriage and marital harmony is central to Judaism, it is the foundation of Jewish life, and it is not just special, to G-d it is most precious of all.
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.
From Australia to Russia with Love
by Sara Yitta Gopin
Chaya Kogan shares her songs at every stop of her life's journey.
Each of Chaya's songs are a unique heartfelt expression of faith that gives strength to contemporary Jewish women struggling with tests and conflicts. A multitalented songwriter and singer, she shares her inner world with tremendous honesty. Chaya performs exclusively for women and girls. On her new disc "The Power Is You," there are songs in English and Hebrew. The melodies and messages inspire and awaken.
It is not surprising that Chaya Kogan is the daughter of the singer Devorah Hasofer. Growing up in Melbourne, Australia, the musical atmosphere of the home was a source of joy. Chaya always loved to harmonize and to sing together with her mother and two sisters. Even while working together in the kitchen preparing the Shabbat meal there would often be spontaneous bursts of song.
Chaya's earliest and most precious memories are of her mother sitting at the bedside of her younger siblings and soothing them with lullabies. These special moments left a long lasting impression. Music offered comfort throughout her childhood, as she entered the confusing period of adolescence, and at every later stage of her life.
At the tender age of five, Chaya was chosen by her kindergarten teacher to sing an entire song by herself about the Hebrew alphabet for an audience of parents and children, and this was the beginning of many solos throughout her school years.
Encouraged by her mother, Chaya began to join her onstage as a back-up voice in her performances. At the concerts Chaya witnessed firsthand how women would be deeply affected by the words and melodies of her mother's repertoire of inspirational songs. These childhood experiences instilled in Chaya the desire to create uplifting music that would influence women to live a life that was harmonious with their Jewish soul.
Chaya recalls that after one of her mother's concerts in the United States a woman in the audience was extremely affected by the message of a particular song to the extent that she decided to enroll her child in a Jewish school.
When Chaya was 10 years old her parents decided that they wanted to raise their eight children in the atmosphere of the Holy Land. The family had been living comfortably in Melbourne, yet only two months later they had succeeded to pack up all of their belongings and make to Israel with dreams of building a new life.
On the occasion of Chaya's sixteenth birthday her parents bought her a guitar. After her mother showed her several chords, she taught herself how to play her new musical instrument, and they have become "inseparable" ever since.
After spending one year in Alaska where Chaya was involved in Lubavich educational projects, she married Rabbi Yossi Kogan.
The new couple set up their home as emissaries of the Rebbe in Moscow, joining Yossi's father, Rabbi Yitzchok Kogan. (Rabbi Yitzchok Kogan is the rabbi of the Bolshaya Bronnaya Synagogue and head of Chabad-Lubavitch of CIS.) Attending to the needs of young professionals in the area, Rabbi Yossi and Chaya Kogan opened a Chabad House which is part of the Bolshaya Bronnaya Jewish community that Yossi Kogan's parents built.
Besides her involvement in educational activities, Chaya established a "gemach," a boutique where bridal gowns are loaned (not purchased or rented) for brides who cannot afford this expense. Chaya personally brought 40 stunning wedding gowns to Moscow where they are lent to brides at no cost.
Chaya and Yossi's home is imbued with music, creating an uplifting atmosphere for their four children, similar to how Chaya herself was raised. Chaya's music inspires women to empower themselves, as they strengthen their Jewish identity and observance. Chaya has traveled worldwide to give concerts in such faraway places as Munich and Dresdan in Germany. In Chaya's words, "Nowadays there is a strong desire to hear upbeat music that gives a message to the soul that it is time to come home."
Chaya Kogan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Metamorphosis is a deeply personal journey of spiritual self-discovery. The autobilography chronicles the life of family physician and Lubavitcher Chasid Dr Vladimir (Zev) Zelenko. Dr. Zelenko describes how he, as a secular, Russian-American young man became Torah observant and how the many unique circumstances in his life provided him with the strength and willpower to overcome the challenges he has been handed, including a life-threatening disease. Published by Israel Bookshop.
Saying Mazal Tov
For centuries, it has been customary for Jewish women to adorn the birthing room and the cradle with Psalm 121. The Psalm states our dependence on G-d for our safety and well-being, and His commitment to guard us at all times. For a color print of the Psalm visit www.mikvah.org, or call them at (718) 756-5700, or download one at www.LchaimWeekly.org/general/art/shir-lamaalot.jpg
24 Adar, 5737 
Greeting and Blessing:
Thank you very much for your letter of March 7, in which you write in detail about the visit of our Lubavitch emissaries to the Jewish community of Wiesbaden, Germany, in connection with Purim. I was most gratified to read about the highly inspiring and lasting impression which they made on both the American Jewish personnel and the civilian Jewish community, not least their impact on the children.
Since "the essential thing is the deed," I am confident that the impressions you describe will be translated into actual deeds, in terms of Torah and Mitzvos [commandments] in the daily life of each and all who shared in this experience.
I have had occasion to share some thoughts with Jewish chaplains, and these may not be new to you, but they are always timely and worth repeating. For the mitzvah of "ve'ahavta l'rei'acha kamocha" [loving one's neighbor as oneself] makes it the constant duty and privilege of every Jew to promote Torah and Mitzvos to the fullest extent of one's ability This includes, moreover, the duty also to promote the observance of the so-called Seven Precepts [known also as the "Seven Laws of Noah"] (with all their ramifications) which are incumbent upon all mankind, in accordance with the Torah, "Toras Chaim" [the Torah of life].
A military chaplain is in an especially favorable position to achieve a great deal in the above area, because of the conducive conditions prevailing in military life.
What makes servicemen particularly receptive to the basic approach of Torah-true Judaism is, first of all, the very basic principle on which the military depends, namely obedience and discipline in the execution of an order by his commanding officer. Even though in civilian life a private may be superior to his c.o., the order must be executed promptly, whether or not the soldier understands its significance. This, of course, corresponds to the principle of na'aseh v'nishma [first we will do, then we will understand], the condition on which Jews accepted the Torah and Mitzvos from the Supreme Commander, the Giver of the Torah and Mitzvos.
A further basic point in military life is the fact that a soldier cannot argue about his personal conduct and whether or not he obeys an order is his private affair, and he is prepared to suffer the consequences, etc. Whether he realizes it or not, his conduct may have implications for his entire unit and all the military. In case of an emergency or war, the personal conduct of a single soldier could very seriously affect his platoon and brigade and division and the entire military operation, the whole army and country. Thus it is not just a question of one soldier's personal moral attitude; it is of vital importance to the whole army, sometimes even in time of peace.
Applying the analogy to Jewish life, it becomes quite evident how vitally important is every Jew's commitment to Torah and Mitzvos in his personal life and in spreading Yiddishkeit to the fullest extent of his influence. It may be added that our people live in a state of emergency, what with the general atmosphere of trends and idea which are inimical to the Torah way, and a Jew having to fight to overcome all and sundry alien forces which tend to undermine his spiritual, hence also also physical existence.
In other words, every Jew must consider himself a "soldier" in G-d's Army (Tzivos HaShem) and be on a constant alert to spread the Light of the Torah and Mitzvos, until the time when "G-d's Glory will be revealed, and all flesh shall see," and "all the earth will be full of the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the sea" - which will come to pass with the appearance of Moshiach-tzidkeinu - our righteous Moshiach, may he come speedily in our time.
Wishing you hatzlocho [success] in all above,
With esteem and blessing,
FREIDA is Yiddish, meaning, "joy." Freida, daughter of Reb Shneur Zalman (founder of Chabad Chasidut), was known as a very scholarly woman. The pet form of Freida is Freidel or Freidy. There are various other spellings in English.
FISHEL is Yiddish, meaning, "fish." It is a derivative of the Hebrew Efraim, which means "fruitful" or "prolific," like a fish.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
Why is the Final Redemption different from all other redemptions?
As it is human nature to judge things according to familiar frames of reference, it is important to clarify those points that set the Final Redemption with Moshiach apart from all other periods of exile and redemption experienced by the Jewish people.
Take, for example, the Jewish people's redemption from Egypt. The Exodus did not bring the Jews permanent release from physical and spiritual bondage; generations later, they were still forced to undergo several more cycles of exile and liberation.
Then there was the miraculous salvation of Purim in the times of Mordechai and Esther. the holiday commemorating this redemption that we will be celebrating in a little less than a month! Although the redemption of Purim eliminated the immediate threat of extinction, the freedom of the Jews was not absolute. The Talmud states, "Notwithstanding [the great miracle], we were still slaves to King Achashveirosh."Thus it was not a complete redemption, as it allowed the Jews to undergo hard times even afterward.
The Final Redemption with Moshiach, however, will be different in essence from all other redemptions in that it will utterly negate the concept of exile, and usher in an era of peace that will last forever. Simply put, the Redemption will be of such magnitude that the phenomenon of exile itself will become impossible.
The reason for this is that a certain amount of self-preparation is necessary in order to reach this level. Our generation, is preparing and getting ready for Moshiach. After thousands of years of dedication to Torah and mitzvot, the Jewish people is truly deserving and does not have to rely on G-d's "charity." In fact, the Final Redemption may be considered just payment for all our service throughout the exile, and for that reason it will also be eternal and everlasting.
May it happen at once.
And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy (Ex. 33:19)
The way an individual acts towards others is the way he himself will be treated by Heaven. If one is merciful to his fellow man, and behaves in a good and kind manner, G-d will be merciful towards him, even if he is really not deserving. "And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious" - G-d will act accordingly to the person who always says "I will be gracious," and will be merciful to the person who always says "I will be merciful."
This shall they give, every one that passes among those who are numbered (Ex. 30:13)
The commentator Rashi explains: G-d showed Moses a coin of fire and said, "Like this shall they give," to teach us that when a person gives charity he should do it with fiery enthusiasm.
When you will take the sum (lit., the head) of the Children of Israel... then they will give every man a ransom for his soul. (Ex. 30:12)
When the time will come for you to appoint a "head" - a leader of the Jewish people - make sure it is one who is willing to give up his very soul on behalf of his brethren; only one such as this is worthy.
The Hebrew word for "they shall give" - "venatnu," is spelled the same from left to right or right to left. This teaches us that when a person gives charity, he should not worry that he will suffer any lack, for the goodness he sows will be returned to him as in return.
The great scholar Rabbi Yonatan Eibeshutz (1695-1764) was known far and wide for his enormous erudition and remarkably sharp wit. The governor of the city of Metz took great pleasure in testing the rabbi's intellect. He would make a decree against the Jewish residents, knowing full well that Rabbi Eibeshutz would dash to his palace to intercede for his brethren. Then, the governor would pose some difficult puzzle or riddle to attempt to stump the great scholar. As history records it, fortunately, Rabbi Eibeshutz always succeeded in besting his foe and having the evil decree nullified.
Once the governor issued a decree proclaiming that the Jews of Metz would be given a deadline by which they would all be required to submit to baptism. If they refused, which he knew they would, they would be forced from their homes into exile. The governor also knew from his past experience that Rabbi Eibeshutz would present himself at the governor's palace in order to plead for his people. Then, he would snare the rabbi in his plot, for this time, the rabbi would surely fail.
The Jews of Metz were thrown into turmoil. None would consider con-version, but what were they to do, where could they turn? Rabbi Eibeshutz immediately went to the governor. "Your excellency," he began, "how can you punish an entire community of innocent souls. I beg of you not to inflict this terrible suffering upon innocent women and babes."
A cold smile passed across the governor's face. "On the contrary, my dear rabbi, I am merely helping to fulfill a prophecy which is stated in scripture: 'A great trouble will ensue, so terrible as never before experienced and never to be repeated again.' This passage is interpreted to refer to the Jews. I consider it my great privilege to help bring it about."
Now came the moment the governor had waited for with such delight. With suppressed glee he turned to Rabbi Eibeshutz and continued: "But, my dear friend, I will give you the opportunity of nullifying my decree."
"And how may I do that," the rabbi asked.
"All you have to do is to answer a few questions which I will pose to you. Are you agreeable to this arrangement?" asked the governor.
"Yes, what are the questions?"
"First, tell me immediately and without hesitation how many letters there are in the [Hebrew] sentence I just quoted to you?"
With not even a pause, Rabbi Eibeshutz replied, "There are the same number as the years of your life, 60."
The governor was astounded, but not deterred. He continued with his next question: "Now, how many words did the same sentence contain?"
The rabbi answered with the same swiftness, "There are 17 words - the same as in our famous saying, 'The people of Israel lives forever' - Am Yisrael Chai L'Olmai Ad."
The governor couldn't contain his admiration. "Wonderful! Now, tell me how many Jews live in Metz and its surrounding areas?"
Again Rabbi Eibeshutz didn't hesitate: "There are 45,760 Jews in the city of Metz and all of its suburbs, Your Excellency."
The governor was momentarily thrown off guard by the rabbi's brilliant answers. But he soon regained his bearings and threw out the last, and impossible demand. "I want you to write 'Israel lives forever' 45,760 times, on a parchment no larger than the ones you use for your mezuza scrolls." This time he knew he had won and he smirked with satisfaction.
Rabbi Eibeshutz paled when he heard this absurd and impossible order. "How long do I have to fulfill your command," he asked.
"I give you one hour," was the triumphant reply. "And remember that the fate of your unfortunate brethren is in your hands."
Rabbi Eibeshutz disappeared, but when one hour had elapsed he presented himself at the governor's palace. "Your Honor, I have in my hand a parchment with the dimensions of 2" by 4". On it is written an anagram with the solution to your puzzle. My drawing contains 15 Hebrew letters across and 19 letters down."
The governor couldn't believe his ears. He reached out his hand to take the parchment from Rabbi Eibeshutz. As he stared at it, uncomprehending, the rabbi continued to explain:"When you read this you will see the words, 'Am Yisroel Chai L'Olmai Ad,' written in every direction. It is spelled out 45,760 different ways."
The governor was too shocked to reply, and the rabbi continued. "I request of Your Honor to cancel the decree pending your deciphering this code, since it may take you some time to work it out."
The governor agreed. It is said that the governor worked at Rabbi Eibeshutz's anagram a full year before he was able to decipher all the combinations of words. When he completed his study of it, the governor summoned the rabbi to his palace. He embraced the scholar and said, "I can truly see that your G-d has imparted His wisdom to his followers." The governor no longer tormented the Jews of his city and until the end of his life held Rabbi Eibeshutz in the highest esteem.
In this week's Torah portion it says, "You shall make this into an oil of holy anoinment, a perfumed compound according to the art of a perfumer; it shall be an oil of holy anointment." (Ex.30:25) The oil was used to anoint the High Priests and the Kings of the House of David. Moses prepared only 12 Lug (about two gallons) of this oil. Miraculously it was enough for all past generations and all future generations. It was still used in the second Holy Temple, and was hidden when the Holy Temple was destroyed. When Moshiach is revealed, it will be returned to us.
(Discover Moshiach based on Rashi 30:31, Talmud Krisus 5b)