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by Rabbi Mendy Herson
"Home is where the heart is". It's a great quote; but what does it really mean?
Well, what is a home? Obviously, it's not just a structure for habitation. A 'home' is not just a house. A home is a special place. A place that's truly yours, and truly you.
Home is where I belong, without any whys or wherefores. No particular reasons, responsibilities or needs bring me there. It's simply my place. I never feel like a guest, or like I don't belong, because I'm at home.
At home, I am who I am, with no need to hide behind my protective psychological shields. I feel safe acknowledging and facing my flaws, because my home genuinely supports me.
At home, it's not what I do, but who I am. I am perceived - by myself and others - in my entirety.
Home is a place of emotional and psychological security, a place where I operate with my fullest sense of being.
"Home is where the Heart is" means that my home isn't merely my physical abode. Home is wherever I feel - or I'm made to feel - genuinely secure. I'm at home where people truly feel that I belong; it's where the heart is.
Following that line of thinking: When I make someone else feel entirely welcome and wholly embraced, I am creating a home for them. A home for their heart, within my own.
That's the bottom line of creating a home.
And that's also the bottom line of Torah's objective for us all.
Just as I make total space for someone special, making them at home in my life and heart, I need to create similar space for my own Divinely-ordained destiny, space for Torah and mitzvot (commandments), space - a Home, so to speak - for G-d.
How do I create a Home for G-d? When I do something meaningful, when I consider my purpose before acting, when I spend a few moments in prayer and contemplation, I am welcoming G-d into my life. Slowly, through practice and growth, that mind-set can become a standard operating mode, and G-d is at home within me.
G-d's home is where my heart - your heart, our hearts - can be.
Rabbi Mendy Herson and his wife Malki direct Chabad of Somerset, Hunterdon & Union Counties in New Jersey. This is from Rabbi Herson's blog. Read more at chabadcentral.org
In this week's Torah portion, Tzav, the Torah speaks of several different sacrifices that were offered in the Temple. There is one offering that is more special than all the rest, the Korban Todah, the thanksgiving offering. What is unique about this offering, is that, while other personal offerings, such as sin and guilt sacrifices will cease to be offered when Moshiach comes, the thanksgiving is the only personal offering that will not.
What is unique about the Korban Todah, that makes it everlasting?
Moshiach, will usher in an era when Godliness will permeate our lives openly. Sin, death, illness, etc., will cease to exist. With no transgressions, the sin offering becomes obsolete, and the same with guilt offerings. The Korban Todah, on the other hand, will continue.
"Todah" means "thanks." However, taking a deeper look at the word, we find that its root is the same as "modeh" - "to admit," which is a validation of the other. And in a way, that is what giving thanks is all about - recognizing the other.
In a way, you can say, that when Moshiach comes, we will finally get out of our heads. We will have no problems, no pain, and no suffering to focus on. When you think about yourself there is no room for joy or for anyone else, as your problems take over your every thought. However if you could find a way to focus on others, you will feel joy, a taste of Moshiach.
This is why the Korban Todah will go on. We will recognize G-d's hand in our success, good health, Jewish pride, and more.
This year we read the portion of Tzav in close proximity to Purim. How does all of this connect with Purim?
The essence of Purim is about getting out of yourself. The mitzvot (commandments) of Purim, get you out of thinking about yourself. First, sending gifts of food to a friend, then by giving gifts of money to the poor, by having a celebratory meal with others, and by getting into a state of mind where we no longer discern between "blessed is Mordechai" and "cursed is Haman." It is all about getting out of yourself, by transcending yourself you come to a place where there are no problems, and joy begins. We should have Purim more often!
May Moshiach come very soon! Let suffering end and the joy begin!
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.
For the Love of G-d and Hockey
by Steve Gutlove
A last minute Friday afternoon call to Rabbi Avremel Vogel, of the Chabad at the University of Delaware, announcing unexpected Shabbat guests, is nothing out of the ordinary.
Growing up just off of I-95 in Wilmington, Delaware - and now running a Chabad House together with his wife Shulie at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware - his home has often been a haven to grid locked Jews in search of a last minute place to stay as Shabbat approaches. But none of those guests prepared the rabbi and rebbetzin for the scene they witnessed on the Shabbat of Presidents' weekend.
The visitors to the University of Delaware were none other than the NJ Avalanche, hockey players who compete in the New Jersey Youth Hockey League (NJYHL). They took over a conference room at the Marriott, making it a Shabbat no one in attendance will ever forget.
The Avalanche, like many other teams in the NJYHL, were in town for the Presidents Cup held at the Patriot Ice Center in Newark, Delaware. However the Avalanche's three teams (Squirts, Peewees and Bantams) have set themselves apart by being Shomer Shabbat (Sabbath observant) and have managed to navigate all the hurdles that this observance brings, without violating Shabbat or Yom Tov (holidays).
One team mom, Leah Adler said, "This team has been a wonderful experience for Eitan. The Ice House and the Avalanche organization have really gone above and beyond in accommodating our schedule and enabling the boys to play at a high level without sacrificing their religious obligations. The experience has also been a great opportunity for our children to demonstrate their priorities. Our team manager, Zvi Rudman, sets the tone by ensuring that we always have minyanim when we travel for tournaments. And when the boys recently earned a spot in the playoffs, it wasn't clear initially if the league would be able to schedule our first game for a time other than Shabbat. What was clear was that if we were scheduled to play on Shabbat we would forfeit the game." (The league has since been able to schedule the game to finish before Shabbat).
Rabbi Vogel told the following story, "My wife Shulie and I moved down to the University of Delaware about two and a half years ago to cater to the 2,200+ Jewish kids on campus. We've had our fair share of stranded Jews needing a place for Shabbat. We've also had some Shomer Shabbat Jews come down for hockey tournaments in the past, but nothing near as grand, organized and methodical as this one. I was blown away,"
The rabbi explained that about 15 or 20 minutes before Shabbat he got a text, " 'My friend is in the Marriott at the University of Delaware for Shabbos.' Honestly, it's not the first time I've gotten a text or phone call like that. My mind started to immediately go through the various different ways of getting food over to the Marriot before Shabbat...or maybe it would be easier for them to come over to our house...what if they have kids that don't walk?
"Then the next text came through. 'They have a minyan tonight/tomorrow.' Oh wow! What a treat for us! I thought. When I walked in to the Marriott on Shabbat, I got another surprise. This wasn't just a minyan. There were 50+ fathers and sons gathered in a large conference room praying! In Newark, Delaware!" Rabbi Vogel exclaimed.
"I started schmoozing with some of the guys. (As an important side note, that herring selection was one of the best I've ever had. Hat tip to Black Tie Events.) That's when Zvi Rudman explained to me why The Marriott was taken over by all these Jews.
"Their kids like playing ice hockey....but there's no way they're playing on Shabbat.
"So they worked with a league in North Jersey to create the first fully Shomer Shabbat team and now they have three (!!) Shomer Shabbat teams that compete in these tournaments! As if the incredible resolve of these kids and their families, wasn't impressive enough - these kids can flat out play," said Rabbi Vogel.
"They played their hearts out and put on a phenomenal show. Two out of the three teams finished the tournament as first and second place winners. But make no mistake, for the kiddush Hashem (sanctifying G-d's Name)and public display of Jewish pride alone, these Jews won it all," he said.
Reprinted from The Jewish Link of New Jersey
Rabbi Dov and Chaya Mushka Zuntz are moving to Dijon, France. They will be helping to expand the Chabad activities that have been taking place for the past 20 years under the direction of Rabbi Chaim and Chana Slonim
Monthly kosher dining at Chabad of Poway, California is much more than that. The pop-up restaurant, called "Dan's Place," is a program of the Friendship Circle of San Diego, directed by Elisheva Green. The restaurant is entirely hosted by adults with special needs. The restaurant is an opportunity for individuals with special needs to learn life skills. Volunteers, including the chef, are paired up with each special needs host to help guide and train them.
More than 260 Chabad Houses and synagogues worldwide recently participated in ShabbaTTogether, which highlighted disability inclusion and mental-health awareness. The international push to hold the events was coordinated by the RCII (Ruderman Chabad Inclusion Initiative), which is dedicated to building on the philosophy and mission of Chabad-Lubavitch communities around the globe to advance the inclusion of people with disabilities in every part of communal life.
25 Adar, 5721 
I received your letter which is an acknowledgment of my letter. I was pleased to read in it about your shiurim [classes], and I hope that you make additional efforts from time to time in accordance with the precept of our Sages that all things of holiness should be on the upgrade.
Generally speaking, all the questions which you mentioned have already been answered in our sacred books, and those who continue to argue about them do so mostly either because of ignorance or mischief. Some people simply fear that if they accepted the Torah and mitzvoth [commandments] fully, they would be obliged to commit themselves in their daily life and conduct, and give up certain pleasures, and the like. Therefore, they try to justify their misguided views by futile arguments.
By way of example, I will take one question which you mention in your letter, and which apparently was impressed upon you as something complicated, but in reality the matter was discussed and solved very simply in our sacred literature. I refer to the question of how can man have freedom of choice of action if G-d already knows beforehand what he is going to do? The answer to this is simple enough as can be seen on the basis of two illustrations:
Suppose there is a human being who can foretell the future of what is going to happen to a person. This does not mean that this knowledge deprives that person from acting freely as before. It only means that the knowledge of the forecaster is such that it is the knowledge of how the person will choose freely and of his own volition. Similarly, G-d's knowledge of human actions is such that it does not deprive humans from the free choice of action, but it only means that G-d knows how the person will choose to act in a certain situation. To formulate this in scientific terms, we can say that the opposite of free choice is not pre-knowledge, but compulsion, for there is such knowledge which does not entail compulsion (as for example, knowledge of the past).
Suppose there is a human being who can foretell the future of what is going to happen to a person. This does not mean that this knowledge deprives that person from acting freely as before.
Every believer in G-d, and not Jews only, believes that with G-d the past, present and future are all the same, since He is above time and space. Just as in the case of human affairs, the fact that Mr. X knows all that happened to Mr. Y in the past, this knowledge did not affect Mr. Y's actions in the past, so G-d's knowledge of the future, which is the same as His knowledge of the past, does not affect the free choice of human action.
From the simple solution to the above question, you can draw an analogy in regard to all similar questions and be sure that there is an answer to them, and very often a simple one. But the proper Jewish way is to fulfill the Torah and mitzvoth without question, and then to try and find out anything that one wishes to find out about the Torah and mitzvoth, but not, G-d forbid, make human understanding a condition of performance of G-d's commandments.
PESACH a Hebrew male name, means "to pass over." It is the name of the Passover holiday when the houses of the Israelites were "passed over" by the angel of death. A similar sounding name that is spelled differently and has a totally different meaning is PESACHYA. In the Sefardic pronunciation it is Petachya and it means "opening of G-d." According to the Talmud, Pesachya was one of the names of Mordechai of Purim fame. PUAH means "cooing" according to the Biblical commentator Rashi, who identifies her as Miriam (Ex 1:15-21). Puah was one of the Jewish midwives when the Jews were enslaved in Egypt. Together with Shifra she had self-sacrifice to ignore Pharoah's demand that she kill any newborn boys she helped deliver.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
According to Jewish law, we begin studying the laws of an upcoming holiday 30 days before that holiday begins. We recently celebrated the holiday of Purim, which precedes Passover by 30 days. Thus, in a very practical sense, Purim and Passover, and all of the days in between, are connected.
In addition to Purim and Passover being connected, they also have something very important in common. Jewish children had a great influence on what happened to the entire Jewish people at both of those times in Jewish history.
Concerning Purim, the Midrash tells us that Haman's wicked decree was abolished in the merit of the Torah study and prayers of the Jewish children. G-d accepted their pure and heartfelt prayers and brought about the Purim redemption. Regarding Passover, the Talmud tells us that despite the bitter slavery they endured, the Jewish people raised a very special generation of children. This is best illustrated by what happened at the splitting of the Sea. Our Sages teach that the children recognized G-d first - even before the adults.
What significance does this have for us today? Since Passover is the time of freedom and redemption, Jewish children and the Jewish child within each one of us must use these days between Purim and Passover to prepare for Passover in a manner that shows true "freedom." This can be accomplished by freeing ourselves of our limitations (the Hebrew word for "limitation" - "maytzarim," is etymologically related to "Mitzrayim" - "Egypt"). We will then be able to fulfil mitzvot with joy and tranquility.
The Talmud states that in the month of Nisan we were redeemed (from Egypt) and in the month of Nisan we will be redeemed once again.
Let us not have to wait until Nisan, but rather, may we be redeemed immediately through Moshiach, NOW!
Fire shall be kept burning continuously upon the altar; it shall not go out (Lev. 6:6)
A person who studies Torah with a friend awakens an eternal G-dly fire. "It shall not go out" - this merit will stay with him forever.
Command Aaron and his sons, saying, "This is the law of the burnt offering..." (Lev. 6:2)
The great commentator Rashi noted that the word "command" also implies "encourage." The Torah gives encouragement when there is a monetary loss involved. People in general need strengthening and encouragement during lean times. When it is hard to make a living people are apt to fall into a depression, and their faith in G-d can be weakened.
Another connection between "command" and "encourage": Whenever one is commanded to do something, one needs more urging and spurring on to actually do it. For as soon as G-d gives us a command, the adversary - the evil inclination - tries its best to prevent us from fulfilling it. That is why the rabbis said, "One who is commanded to do something, and does it, is greater than one who is not commanded and does the same thing." It is more difficult to follow a command because the evil inclination tries to get in the way.
(Rebbe Hershel of Cracow)
Rabbi Yehuda ben Moshe Hakohen was the personal physician of King Alfonso X of Castile, one of the first provinces which the Spaniards had recaptured from the North African Arabs in the 13th century. A great friend of the Jews, the king invited them to settle in Toledo, Cordova, Seville and other cities in Spain, and had many prominent Jewish advisors.
Because King Alfonso appreciated the services the Jews performed for his kingdom, he protected them and allowed them to worship and live as they pleased. However, like kings of other lands, Alfonso was strongly influenced by the clergy, who were fanatically hostile to the Jews. Rabbi Yehuda was ever on guard lest the king fall under the influence of the clergy.
One day Rabbi Yehuda came to the palace to visit the king, as he often did, only to be informed that the king couldn't see him. The change in the king's attitude towards Rabbi Yehuda was evident, and he was filled with anxiety and foreboding. Heavy-hearted, he left the palace, but instead of returning home, he went to consult with his close friend Don Yitzchak de la Maleha.
Don Yitzchak was not surprised, for he knew that the king had important visitors, two ambassadors of the king of Portugal, Alfonso the Third. He didn't know what sort of business was being conducted, but he had friends in the Portuguese court from whom he could inquire. The two friends agreed to meet again in three days' time, to exchange information and decide on a course of action.
But before the three days passed, Don Yitzchak sent urgent word to his friend: "I have learned that the Crown Prince of Portugal, Diniz, is suffering from some mysterious illness which the Portuguese doctors were unable to cure.
During the prince's illness, the king's priest used the opportunity to turn the king of Portugal against his loyal Jewish officials.
"As you know, our Crown Prince, Sancho, is always scheming and lusting for more power. He wants to form a political alliance with Portugal by making a match between his sister, Princess Maria, and Prince Diniz."
"What's so bad about that?" asked Rabbi Yehuda.
"One of the conditions of the alliance," responded Don Yitzchak, "is that the two Christian kingdoms join in expelling the Jews who will not convert to the Christian faith!"
Rabbi Yehuda paled and tears appeared in his eyes. "The Guardian of Israel save us," he uttered in a heartfelt prayer. The purpose of the Portuguese ambassadors was clear, as was the cold and unfriendly attitude of the King.
Rabbi Yehuda thought for a minute. "Royal match making takes time. In the meantime we may be able to avert the danger. Perhaps if the king finds out that Prince Diniz is ill, he will call off the match."
"In matters of political convenience, illness isn't an impediment," replied Don Yitzchak. "But I have a better idea, if G-d only grants us success, and you will be the one to intercede."
"I will do whatever I can. But what is it?" asked Rabbi Yehuda.
"You will travel to Lisbon and cure the Crown Prince."
The two friends discussed the plan at great length. Rabbi Yehuda packed his medical kit and secretly departed for Portugal. Word spread in the royal court in Lisbon about the arrival of a great physician from Spain. As soon as the king heard the news he sent for the new doctor to examine his beloved son. He promised any reward, if only this doctor would succeed where all the royal physicians of Portugal had failed.
Rabbi Yehuda examined the ill man and informed the king that he had a blood clot on the brain. It would require delicate surgery, but he would undertake it. Until that time, the prince would be under his care. The king agreed. All went as planned, but then, on the scheduled day of the operation, Rabbi Yehuda received the unexpected order to leave the country without delay. It was incomprehensible, but Rabbi Yehuda packed and left at once.
He had been on the road only a few hours when a carriage drew up to him and the king himself alighted. "The priest has cooked up a nasty dish this time, but he will pay for it! What do I care if you are a Jew, if you can cure my son!" He then related what had transpired.
The priest, being sure that this new doctor was a Jew, and probably the doctor of the King of Castile, was eager to discredit him. So, he went to the king with the lie that the Jews had decided to kill the Crown Prince with the help of this Jewish doctor, in order to stop the proposed marriage.
"I admit I was swayed by the priest, but when I told my son, he just scoffed at the accusation. He cried that if you were not permitted to treat him, he would commit suicide. You are his last hope, and he has complete confidence in your skill. I have come in person to beg your forgiveness and ask you to treat my son."
Rabbi Yehuda performed the operation, and G-d gave him success. The Crown Prince recovered his health, and Rabbi Yehuda was sent home laden with gifts. Of course, his greatest reward was having averted the threatened deportation of the Jews, who continued to live in Spain and Portugal for the next 200 years in relative peace and prosperity.
Adapted from Talks and Tales.
The teachings relating to the Holy Temple and sacrifices are relevant even now in the time of exile when, unfortunately, we do not have the Sanctuary, and the actual offering of sacrifices is temporarily discontinued. The recitation and study of the teachings of sacrifices, like their actual offerings, effect not only personal atonement, but also elicit the presence of the Shechina (G-d's Divine Presence) upon the individual involved in that recitation, and also upon the very place of the Holy Temple, just as when it existed physically in our midst.
(From Living with Moshiach by Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet)