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L'Chaim
March 8, 2019 - 1 Adar II, 5779

1563: Pekudei

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The Weekly Publication For Every Jewish Person
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


  1562: Vayakhel1564: Vayikra  

Chemical Reactions  |  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

Chemical Reactions

How did you fare in chemistry? Was the thought of memorizing the periodic table enough to make your heart palpitate? Do your palms still sweat when you see diagrams of the molecular structure of water? Or were you a science whiz who loved the smell of sulfuric acid and ammonia, thrilled at the thought of yet another experiment, perhaps writing out formulae as an enjoyable challenge?

Whether you loved chemistry or hated it, whether you slept through the experiments or bounded into the chemistry classroom on lab day, there's one type of experiment you undoubtedly remember: how a very small quantity of a particular substance can completely transform a tremendous amount of surrounding matter. Its action is that of a catalyst, effecting change without itself being altered in any way.

If we put this law of science to work in our daily lives, it can be inferred that applying even minimal effort can sometimes allow a person to have a profound impact on forces that appear to be more powerful or beyond his or her abilities.

With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that in the laws on repentance, the great codifier of Jewish law, Maimonides, wrote: "Every individual should view himself and the world as being perfectly balanced between good and evil. Should he perform one mitzva (commandment), he will tip the scales in favor of the good and bring salvation and delivery to himself and to the entire world."

The salvation and delivery to which Maimonides referred is the era of personal and global peace, health, and Divine knowledge that will be ushered in by Moshiach. And one mitzva can tip the scale.

Are any particular mitzvot weightier, more readily able to tilt the Divine scale?

From chemistry we know that putting certain chemicals together elicits absolutely no reaction, while combining other chemicals can create an enormous effect.

While Maimonides did not specify any particular mitzva and we can therefore deduce that the above law applies to all mitzvot, there are specific mitzvot which have long been connected with hastening the Redemption.

"Charity brings the Redemption closer," the Talmud states. A coin in a tzedaka box or a sandwich for a homeless person, who knows which one might tip the scale?

Studying more Torah in general and learning about the Messianic Era in particular also hastens the Redemption. Knowing more about the topic will help us "get into," it, live with it, and eagerly look forward to the inner and global peace and perfection that we all crave.

It could be one simple kind act or good deed that will be the catalyst: The Rebbe shared, "Moshiach is ready to come now. It is only necessary on our part to increase in acts of goodness and kindness."

And that one act might just be mine or yours! Let's do it!


Living with the Rebbe

In this week's Torah portion, Pekudei, we read that both men and woman donated for the construction of the Tabernacle. Both men and women participated in its construction, as well. It didn't matter if they were rich or poor. It didn't matter which tribe they were from. Each gave according to their ability and each participated with their talents that G-d gave to them.

They were careful to do everything the way G-d wanted them to, down to the smallest detail.

In the end, G-d's presence filled the Tabernacle, dwelling amongst them once again.

After 210 years of exile in Egypt, 87 of which were fraught with terrible suffering and slavery, it must have been so satisfying and so exciting to see the Shechina (G-d's Divine Presence) fill the Tabernacle.

What lessons can we learn from this?

We are here for a reason, to fashion this world into a dwelling place for G-d.

Every one of us is necessary to ensure success. We are all different. We have different means, different talents and different circumstances. We know we can do it because we've done it once before, albeit on a smaller scale. The main thing is that we work together and that we do it right. Small details matter. As in every project, it is not complete until each does their part and until the finishing touches have been done.

How about us, haven't we suffered enough? Haven't we done enough? The events of this week alone have been more than we can bare. Hasn't the time come for all this anguish to end?

It is true, the expression of G-d's presence we will experience at the time of Moshiach will be based on our exile experience and our effort in accomplishing G-d's will.

Perhaps G-d is holding out for just a bit longer because He wants something more, something deeper that he knows we can attain. Imagine how amazing it will be when Moshiach will come.

Nevertheless we need Moshiach to come already. G-d, please send him and end the suffering.

Until then, we can be there for each other. Chazak chazak V'nitchazeik, Be strong! Be strong! And let us strengthen each other!

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


A Slice of Life

The Partisan
by Shneur Berger

During WWII, Reb Zushe Wilmowsky escaped a labor camp and joined a band of partisans, where he remained optimistic and joyful even as his life were threatened daily. After the war, he escapes from Russia and sneak into Romania. From there he made his way to a DP camp in Italy, and finally to Israel.

The Rebbe called him, "my Partisan" and with a spirit of determination, persistence and positivity, Reb Zushe personally impacted tens of thousands of people's lives and their future generations.

The following is excerpted from the newly released book from BSD Publishing The Partisan about Reb Zushe's incredible life:

Like the other students at his yeshiva in Samilishuk, Zushe boarded with a local family. The mother was a skilled seamstress, her talent so legendary that the highest ranking German officers relied on her for all their tailoring.

One evening, returning from a day in yeshiva, Zushe watched wide-eyed as the family frantically packed their belongings, preparing to flee. The mother revealed that a loyal customer and admirer of her sewing, a high ranking military official, had warned her that devastation awaited the Jews of the city at daybreak. "Escape immediately!" he advised.

They planned to hide with a gentile friend in a far-off village, and she very generously invited Zushe to join. Zushe thanked her warmly for the kindness, but instead of assuring his own safety, he began to canvass the city, warning every Jewish family of the looming danger. Although German soldiers were stationed at every corner, he evaded them. Just before daybreak, when he was confident every family had been warned, he too fled the city.

At sunrise, Nazi soldiers descending en masse, shocked to discover that the majority of the city's Jews had fled overnight. After the war, Zushe discovered that 75% of the city's Jewish population survived the war thanks to his heroic act.

The war forced Zushe, along with the rest of Europe's Jews, into a state of perpetual migration. From Lithuania he journeyed to Belarus, where he was forced into the Lida ghetto.

A scant week after overtaking the city, the Nazis began their barbaric executions. Nine months later, the Nazis carried out a second massive round-up, murdering 5,670 more Jews. With almost half of the ghetto's population gone, the Nazis began to pack in Jews from the surrounding ghettos.

Seeing this, the Lida Jews started cautiously contacting the partisans in the nearby forests, and with their help, groups of Jews successfully escaped to the forests, joining the resistance enclaves.

To Zushe's dismay, he - and many others - were assigned to forced labor at a nearby camp, which prevented them from joining the partisans.

Despair enveloped the Jews in the labor camp, which operated out of a train depot. The inmates lived above the station and were forced into back-breaking labor repairing locomotives. Food and medical supplies were scarce; danger was immense and palpable. The worry for family left behind echoed in everyone's hearts. Anguish threatened to overwhelm them. Zushe became known for the encouragement he gave others.

When Zushe arrived at the camp, company executives were searching for an experienced painter. Realizing that the job would exempt him from harsher labor, he immediately volunteered. To test his skill, they gave him colored paints and instructed him to create specific colors. Zushe had no experience, and therefore no chance of passing the test. "I mixed colors indiscriminately," he said later. "G-d helped, and they were pleased with my work!"

But how long could he keep up the facade? He immediately asked his supervisors for an assistant. They acquiesced, and he was assigned various helpers. Working with them, he quickly mastered the trade. As hoped, the painting job helped him avoid the more dangerous physical labor.

In the labor camp Zushe reconnected with his old friend, Dovid Gershovitz. Reb Dovid recalled years later: "I met my friend Zushe, and with time, a core group of yeshiva students formed in the camp. Not far away was the city's ghetto, where life - compared to the labor camp - continued as usual. Morsels of food could, with great effort, be found there. Reb Zushe made the trip to the ghetto and back numerous times, repeatedly risking his life, yet he never once forgot to share the loot with his friends."

Escaping to the ghetto to scavenge for food was not always feasible. During those times, concerned with kashrus, Zushe made do with the scraps of dry bread provided. The meager portions, coupled with the non-stop labor, took their toll, and Zushe grew weaker. Some evenings, he struggled to climb up to his bed on the third floor.

Moshe Beirach, who later became a Holocaust historian, was close with Zushe at that time, and later in the forest. Mr. Beirach remembers those days vividly: "We first spoke after I was discharged from the medical center of the camp where I was hospitalized with typhus. Leaving the infirmary, depression overwhelmed me. During my period in the hospital, terror was imprinted in my bones. The Nazis pitied no Jew, needless to say, but a bed-ridden Jew was worthless in their eyes. They murdered patients daily, without even keeping count. I did not know if I would walk out alive. The only thoughts in my mind were how to escape. Finally, I was able to bribe a nurse. She brought my clothes to me from the storage-room. I dressed myself, and with my remaining strength returned to my room in the camp.

"I entered the room. Then, suddenly, Zushe walked in. Although we had never met before, he inquired about my well-being. Just from my voice, he was able to discern that I was depressed. Right then and there he began imbuing me with hope. 'Moshe you returned! Don't succumb to them; never ever succumb to them. We will outlive them. We will soon trample on their graves and dance,' he exclaimed. I found his words reassuring, and in a short time, I recovered. My depression left without a trace.

"From then, Zushe was my source of inspiration. In those dark days, even one Jew with a positive attitude was extremely rare. We forged a deep connection, which stays with me to this day.

"During the days we slaved away bitterly, and at night we devised plans for escaping into the woods to join the partisans. Each day, a handful of us would escape while at work. The director of the camp, a Pole, never took revenge or punished us on account of those who had run away. Nevertheless, there were hidden informants who endangered us all."


What's New

Jeff's Place

A cafe and co-working space that hosts support groups and twelve-step meetings after hours, Jeff's Place was recently opened by Chabad Intown in Atlanta, Georgia. The cafe, part of Chabad Intown's new building on the Beltline, is a gathering place for Jews to work and hang out together in a kosher environment. Jon and Veronica Kraus dedicated the cafe to their son Jeff, whom they lost to addiction. The cafe will host three weekly twelve-step meetings, quarterly addiction and recovery symposiums, and two weekly informal gatherings for individuals in recovery. The cafe will also host lectures and workshops that bring awareness to mental health through the lens of Judaism.

New Mikva

The inauguration of the new mikva in Zagreb, Croatia, took place recently. The Chabad of Croatia mikva is the first mikva in the city in 70 years.


The Rebbe Writes

2 Tammuz, 5730 [1970]

After the long interval, I was pleased to receive your letter of last week, with the enclosures.

For various reasons, I am replying in English, one of them being that you may wish to show the letter to some of the friends of Chabad in your community, for whom Hebrew text may not be so easy.

Referring to the main topic of your letter, namely the dissemination of Yiddishkeit [Judaism] among the Jewish women, I can hardly overemphasize that this activity is one of the most basic and vital efforts for the general strengthening and spreading of Yiddishkeit. The role of Jewish women in Jewish life goes back to the time of Mattan Torah [the giving of the Torah], as is well known from the commentary of our Sages on the verse, "Thus shalt thou say to the House of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel - the 'House of Jacob' meaning the women." (Mechilta on Yisro 19:3 quoted Rashi on this verse.)

In other words, before giving the Torah to the whole people of Israel, G-d told Moshe Rabbeinu [Moses] to first approach the women, and then the men. This emphasizes the primary role of the Jewish wife and mother in preserving the Torah. Ever since, and throughout the ages, Jewish women have had a crucial role in the destiny of our people, as is well-known. Moreover, the Jewish housewife is called the Akeres Habayis - "the foundation of the house." In addition to the plain meaning of this term, namely, that she is the foundation of her own home, the term may be extended to include the whole "House of Israel," which is made up of many individual homes and families, for, indeed, this has been the historic role of Jewish womanhood.

Being acutely aware of this role of Jewish women in Jewish life, especially in the most recent generations, my father-in-law of saintly memory, frequently emphasized this, so much so that immediately after his liberation from Soviet Russia in 1927, when it became possible for him to publish his teachings, he published a number of discourses, talks and addresses in Yiddish, in order to make them more easily accessible to Jewish women and daughters. There is no need to elaborate further on the obvious. In the light of the above, and since this has been the consistent policy of all Chabad activities, it is hardly likely that any Chabad worker would not be interested in this area, and there can only be a misunderstanding if this is the impression in the particular case. I am confident that by discussing the matter together, it will soon be discovered that there has been a misunderstanding, and the reasons that have given rise to such a misunderstanding could be cleared up and easily removed.

Needless to say, you may show this letter to whom it may concern. I may add, however, that judging by your writing, that person seems to have a heavy burden of activity on his shoulders, and this may be the explanation why little has been done in the area of disseminating Yiddishkeit among the women as you write, simply for lack of manpower and time, etc. At any rate, I trust that you will get together and clear this matter up, in accordance with the verse - Az Nidbiru Yirei Hashem ["So shall those who fear G-d speak"], etc....

I was pleased to read in your letter about the advancement in your position, and may G-d grant that you continue to advance from good to better and best, since there is no limit to the good. In our days there is the additional important consideration, and that is when a Jew, a Shomer Torah and mitzvoth [one who observes the Torah and its commandments], attains prominence in his field, regardless what his field may be, this gives him an additional opportunity and capacity to spread and strengthen Yiddishkeit, all the more so a person who is already active in the dissemination of traditional Yiddishkeit of the Torah and mitzvoth.

May G-d grant that you should have good news to report in all above, and together with your wife, to bring up your children to a life of Torah, Chuppah [marriage] and Good Deeds, in good health and happy circumstances.

With blessing,

P.S. Acting on your request, this letter is being sent to you on a priority basis.


All Together

ACHINOAM means "my brother is pleasant." King Saul and King David both had wives whose names were Achinoam despite the reference to brothers. ADIN is from the Hebrew meaning "beautiful, pleasant, gentle." In the Bible (Ezra 2:15), Adin was one of the people who returned to Israel with Zerubabel from the Babylonian exile. While ADINA is today used as the feminine of Adin, Adina (biblical figure), listed in I Chronicles 11:42 as one of the "mighty men" of King David's army.


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

Jewish law tell us that 30 days before a holiday we are to start preparing for the holiday. Well, Purim is less than two weeks away! Have you decided if you are going to bake or buy hamentashen? Will you dress up? Where will you hear the Megila? Who can you invite for the Purim meal?

But wait a minute. What if Moshiach, who could come at any moment, comes before Purim? Will all of our plans and arrangements be for naught? We can eat the hamentashen, but what about the groggers, costumes and food?

Interestingly enough, the Talmud says that "All festivals will one day cease, but the days of Purim will never cease." Our sages have also said that of all the writings of the Prophets, only the Scroll of Esther will endure.

What is so special about Purim and everything connected to it that even when Moshiach comes it will continue?

The solemn day of Yom Kippur is referred to in our holy books as Yom Kippurim, which means the day that is like Purim. Our sages have explained that what we accomplish on Yom Kippur through fasting and prayer only approaches, is only likened to that which we can accomplish through feasting and rejoicing on Purim. For, to attain holiness through feasting and rejoicing, to transform the physical into spiritual, is much more difficult than holiness attained through afflicting oneself.

Each day during the month of Adar, and this year, both months of Adar, are days of rejoicing. We are taught that joy and happiness break all boundaries. What we can accomplish through happiness and rejoicing far surpasses what can be accomplished in any other manner.

From the holiday of Purim, and the fact that it will continue once Moshiach comes, we learn the value of simcha-joy. May the simcha of this Purim and each day leading up to it break the final boundaries of this exile so that we can celebrate Purim all together this year in Jerusalem.


Thoughts that Count

And Moses saw all the work... and Moses blessed them (Ex. 39:43)

How did Moses bless them? "May the Divine Presence abide in the work of your hands." Would it not have been more appropriate to pray that G-d's Presence should rest in the Sanctuary the Jews had just finished building? While the Jews were involved in work on the Sanctuary they were in a state of spiritual elevation. Making a dwelling place for G-d filled them with awe. Upon completion, they returned to their ordinary daily activities. Moses' blessing was that this spiritual elevation should carry over to their mundane lives: they should always conduct themselves in such a way as to merit G-d's presence among them.

(Our Sages)


One hundred sockets to the hundred talents (Ex.38:27)

Just as the entire Sanctuary rested on one hundred sockets, so too did our Sages institute the saying of one hundred blessings each day, forming the foundation upon which the entire day is built.

(Baal HaTurim)


For the cloud of the L-rd was upon the Sanctuary by day... throughout all their journeys (Ex. 40:38)

The Divine Presence was so strongly attached to the Sanctuary that the only time it lifted was when the Children of Israel needed to move to another location. This phenomenon was never repeated again in history: not at the Sanctuary at Shiloh, nor in the First and Second Holy Temples. However, in the Third Holy Temple that will be built by Moshiach, the Divine Presence will be even stronger.

(Seforno)


Conclusion of the Book of Exodus

The last verse in Exodus speaks about the "cloud of the L-rd that was upon the Sanctuary by day, and the fire that was on it by night." Day represents the times when the Jewish people flourish; night represents the darkest hours of Jewish history. The Torah assures us that throughout all our travels, regardless of whether or not the sun is shining, G-d's clouds and heavenly fire protect us and assure our safety and survival.

(Our Sages)


It Once Happened

Reb Gavriel was a simple, honest shopkeeper living in the town of Vitebsk. He and his wife of 25 years had no children and their financial situation was not the best, but they never complained. They lived pious lives and always contributed generously whenever their Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman (founder of Chabad Chasidism), asked for donations for any of the numerous charities he supported. Over the years, Reb Gavriel's financial situation deteriorated, but no sigh escaped his lips and he kept the matter to himself.

A large sum of money was once needed to ransom a number of Jews from debtor's prison. Rabbi Shneur Zalman told Reb Gavriel the amount he hoped Reb Gavriel would contribute. When Reb Gavriel mentioned the sum to his wife, she immediately noticed his unhappiness. After some prodding, Reb Gavriel revealed that business had taken a turn for the worse. In fact, it was so bad that they were penniless and could not possibly come up with the money the Rebbe had requested.

His wife chided him softly, "Haven't you told me many times the Rebbe's words that one should always trust in G-d, and should always be joyful? G-d will help, and enable us to contribute the amount the Rebbe expects of us!"

She then quietly collected all of her jewelry and valuables. She went into town and sold them, triumphantly bringing the money to her husband. "Here is the entire amount the Rebbe asked for," she told him happily.

Reb Gavriel immediately set out for the Rebbe's home in Liozna. Upon being called into the Rebbe's room, he placed the sack of money on the Rebbe's table. The Rebbe asked him to open the sack to count the money, which he did. Both Rabbi Shneur Zalman and Reb Gavriel were surprised to see that the coins shone as if they had been newly minted.

The Rebbe contemplated the coins, then said, "The contributions to the Sanctuary in the [Sinai] desert included gold, silver and copper. But the only metal that shone was the copper from the mirrors of the women. This was formed into the laver and its pedestal ... Tell me, where did this money come from?"

Reb Gavriel finally revealed to the Rebbe that for the past ten years his business had been suffering. He explained that his wife had sold all of her jewelry to raise the money the Rebbe had requested.

The Rebbe meditated for some time, then said: "Your harsh trials are over. May G-d grant you and your wife sons and daughters and long life to see the children of your children; may G-d grant you over and again prosperity wherever you turn, and favor in the eyes of all those who see you. Close your shop and start dealing in precious gems."

Reb Gavriel hastened home to Vitebsk and brought his wife the good news of the Rebbe's blessing. And, of course, he asked her why the coins shone.

"I polished each coin lovingly," she explained, "until they glistened and sparkled like stars in the sky." She wanted to do this special mitzva in the most beautiful manner possible. "In my heart I beseeched G-d that by virtue of that," she continued, "our fortunes would start sparkling, too!"

Reb Gavriel closed his shop and began dealing in gems. With G-d's help, the local nobles and squires soon became his regular customers. His clientele grew from day to day. And within a year from when he had travelled to Rabbi Shneur Zalman to turn over the sparkling coins from his wife, she gave birth to a son.

Reb Gavriel soon became known by the nickname "Gavriel Nosei Chein" (the Likeable). He and his wife continued in their simple, pious ways, giving charity even more generously than before. They were respected by all who knew them and were successful at whatever they attempted.


Moshiach Matters

"These are the accounts of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), Mishkan ha'edut (the Tabernacle of Testimony)..." (Ex.38:21) The two-fold reference to the Mishkan, say our Sages, is an allusion to the two Temples in Jerusalem that were taken away as a mashkon (collateral) for Israel's repentance. This means that Temples were taken only as a pledge, as surety, and they will be restored eventually. Jewish law requires that he who takes collateral must guard it carefully and in due time must restore it to its owner. When the cause for the Temples' removal

("the iniquities of Israel") will be corrected, the Temple will be returned to us, fully intact, ie the third Temple will contain all the qualities of its two predecessors. Living with Moshiach by Dr. J. I . Schochet)


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