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L'Chaim
April 12, 2019 - 7 Nisan, 5779

1568: Metzora

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Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


  1567: Sazria1569: Passover  

Some Things Never Change  |  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

Some Things Never Change

Some things never change. Like matza! Year after year, matza always tastes the same. You'll never see a matza box flashing the words "new and improved" or "all new recipe." Flour and water can't taste much different than flour and water.

Change is taking place in the world around us so quickly that it's reassuring to know that there are things in our lives and in the world that are stable. They were the same yesterday as they are today and the same as they'll be tomorrow.

This consistency can be found in the Rebbe's assertion that ours is the last generation of exile and the first generation that will experience the long-awaited redemption for all humankind.

Long before the Rebbe accepted the leadership of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement nearly 70 years ago and uttered the above words in his first public address, his thoughts were already absorbed with the idea of Moshiach and the Redemption. In a letter the Rebbe describes that even as a very young child, he envisioned the world as it would be in the Messianic Era.

The thread joining all of the Rebbe's public addresses is the drive to do another mitzva, to study another Torah concept, to hope and pray with a little more feeling, to do another act of kindness, in order to hasten the Redemption.

This effort intensified when the Rebbe, with his prophetic vision, and quoting an ancient Jewish text, declared that "the time for the Redemption has arrived," a time of peace, prosperity, harmony and knowledge, a perfect world.

Day after day the Rebbe said that we are poised on the threshold of the Redemption. The Rebbe pointed to events taking place around the world, as well as technological advances, as indications of, or precursors to, the Messianic Era.

The Rebbe encouraged everyone: "Open your eyes" to the reality of the Redemption. Make the Redemption your reality.

As we celebrate the Rebbe's 117th birthday, we also celebrate being in the Rebbe's 70th year of leadership. Seventy years in Jewish tradition is connected with fullness and wholeness.

In this 70th year of the Rebbe's leadership, let's strive to experience true wholeness, to really open our eyes to the reality of the good and G-dly in everyone and everything around us. This new vision, together with an additional mitzva, will surely bring the ultimate change to the entire world, the change from exile to Redemption, with the revelation of Moshiach, NOW!


Living with the Rebbe

In this week's Torah portion of Metzora we learn about the laws of a "Metzora," one who contracted a spiritual affliction called Tzaraat.

Last week's portion discussed the laws of diagnosing and quarantining the Metzora. This week's portion teaches the process of purification that the Metzora would undergo to re-enter the Jewish camp.

The purification process starts with the words "This is the Torah (law) of the Metzora." However, looking back to the laws of diagnosing and quarantining there is no such preface. Wouldn't it have made sense to say "This is the Torah of the Metzora" at the start of the laws of the Metzora? Why wait until the purification process to say this?

The real question is, what do see when you meet a Metzora? Do you focus on the ailment, or on the possibility for the person to reenter society? How does the Metzora view himself? Does he see himself as an outcast? Or as a person who was granted the opportunity and the time to search his ways and refine himself to have a more meaningful existence upon re-entry?

Therefore by the purification and re-entry the Torah says "THIS is the Torah of the Metzora." The focus needs to be on the positive.

It is natural for us to focus on the negative. When a child or student misbehaves, when a colleague or friend disappoints, or when life hands us a devastating blow, it is easy to focus on the negative.

Of course the child needs to be taught appropriate behavior, the disappointment and the devastation hurts. Expressing the hurt and sadness is necessary, just as the Metzora needs to be quarantined. These steps may be necessary but they need to ultimately be trumped by positive purposeful thinking and action.

I remember when I was finished my first round of tests. The neurologist told me, "You have bulbar ALS." He explained the severity of it to me and referred me to a specialist. I was alone. Walking out of his office I broke down in bitter tears. When I composed myself I headed out of the building. The first thing I saw was a young man having a seizure. I ran to help him.

It dawned on me that there is still much purpose for me. I decided that regardless of the outcome of any future "tests" I would remain positive and find ways to fill life with meaning and purpose. This has turned my life and the lives of those around me happier and by far more fulfilling.

We all suffer hardships and pain, it's what we do with them that makes the difference, "This is the Torah of the Metzora."

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.


A Slice of Life

Moment of Truth
Excerpted from B'rega HaEmet - In the Moment of Truth by Shalom Yerushalmi, Yossi Elitov and Aryeh Ehrlich

The year was 1988 and the place was JFK airport in New York. The face of Yaakov Peri, the newly appointed head of Israel's highly secretive Shin Bet security service, registered shock. He stood in a corner of the arrivals hall, and was at a loss for words in the face of the surprise reception that had been arranged for him.

These were the days when the identity of the head of the Shin Bet was kept secret, and it was forbidden to even publish the initials of his name. Very few of the residents of Israel were privy to this intelligence secret. Peri, who had just entered into the position, without the public even being aware that there had been a change in staff, had no idea how in the world he found himself being greeted by three Chassidim warmly wishing him "Mazel Tov" on his new appointment.

"Who are you?" he asked the three young men.

"We are Chabad Chassidim," was the response. "We came to invite you to visit the Rebbe."

"I was in shock," recounted Peri. "My identity was a total secret," he emphasizes, "and my name was known to no man. My appointment, as was the accepted practice in those days, was done under highly classified cover. And suddenly, a moment after I landed in Kennedy airport, three young Chabadniks are standing in front of me, and they not only identify me and know that I am the head of the Shin Bet, but they even knew my flight schedule. This reception, to tell the truth, shocked me to the extreme.

"For a moment," Peri recalls, "I thought that maybe the guys in Ben Gurion airport had passed along the information to their friends in Brooklyn about my trip to New York. However, I immediately rejected that notion, since I had not passed through the departures hall in Ben Gurion. I always arrived at the plane's ramp in a secure vehicle with tinted windows. And even when I waited for a flight to leave, I sat in the VIP lounge, far from peering eyes."

How did the three Chabadniks know about the arrival of the head of the Shin Bet, whose name and identity were a closely guarded secret? "To this day," admits Peri, "I do not know how to explain it, but the fact is that they knew. They blessed me in honor of the appointment, and informed me that the Lubavitcher Rebbe would be happy to meet with me."


Regarding that meeting, at a public gathering in honor of the Rebbe in 2011, Peri related: "The meeting took place in 1989. The Rebbe never tried to advise me but his questions amazed me with their detailed knowledge. His responses contained subtle insights and perspective. I felt that he was not just a spiritual authority but also someone I could trust completely.

"The Rebbe spoke of the future of international terrorism, saying that Islam knew no limits, and would continue to engage in terrorist activity to achieve its goals. His assessments all came true, matching the forecasts of the Military Intelligence and the ISA.

"He also foresaw that the Cold War between the United States and Russia would soon end, and so it happened, a short while after that.

"The Rebbe had an amazing ability to get to the bottom of global political trends, tying them into the destiny of the Jewish People. He ended the meeting with a blessing for the heads of our secret service which I conveyed to them upon my return."


Shalom Yerushalmi one of the collaborators on the book In the Moment of Truth, was interview by Menachem Zeigelboim for Beis Moshiach Magazine.

Yerushalmi is a veteran Israeli journalist and also serves as a political pundit on television news. "During the writing of the book, I became aware of the deep involvement of the Rebbe in matters of state, politics, and security, at critical times; in situations of intimate, top secret matters, the military, and discussions with leaders of the country. To me this was a shock.

"The Rebbe, by force of the quality of his personage, led the military men and the politicians to come to him, as he did not go to them. Throughout the book, I attempt to decipher the secret of his influence, why it happened that people listened to him willingly.

"Nobody in the world could have imagined the powerful extent of the Rebbe's being informed and involved in secret military actions at crunch time. The coded language of the Rebbe and the head of military intelligence or the prime ministers are fascinating unto themselves.

"Many people are drawn to the mystical aspect, the fact that the Rebbe saw things that others did not see. This is from direct testimony from people whom you would not expect to hear such things. For example, Ariel Sharon testifying that the Rebbe saw everything in advance. The Rebbe clearly saw the Yom Kippur War like an open book long before it broke out, or the story of the Gulf War, which people relate to as something mystical.

"Apparently, there are people who are connected to pipelines to other places... Even if you will say that the information that was in the Rebbe's hands got to him in some natural way, maybe there were those who leaked to him what was discussed in secret cabinet meetings, the mystery still remains as to how he always knew all the details in the moment of truth. We tried to track all of the people who updated the Rebbe non-stop, like Yigal Alon, Shazar, Menachem Begin, but it still does not cover the entire range. The scope of information at his disposal in real time, secret decisions made by the government which he knew about at crunch time and in the moment of truth ... it is not feasible to assume that it was all leaked to him.

"The thing that really moved me pertains to the story of the first Gulf War. There were many missiles pointed at Israel, and there was someone who spoke sharply, saying that since we are filling up cups with sins, it is possible that there would be another Holocaust. He actually used that word. The Rebbe spoke out against him very sharply, arguing that it is prohibited to make accusations against the Jewish people. When the Rebbe went out to strongly protect the Jewish nation, it moved me on a personal level. The Rebbe actually said that, and that we need to argue in defense of the Jewish nation!"


What's New

Public Seders

Nearly one thousand Chabad-Lubavitch yeshiva students are travelling to destinations around the world where they will conduct public Passover Seders under the auspices of "Merkos Shlichus." They are in cities with small Jewish communities or tourist spots that do not have permanent emissaries. In addition, most of the thousands of Chabad-Lubavitch Centers world-wide are hosting public Seders. To find out about the Seder location closest to you call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center or visit chabad.org.

Shmura Matza

Make sure your celebration of the Passover Seders has an authentic feel with the traditiona, round, hand-baked Shmura Matza. Available at your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.


The Rebbe Writes

11th of Nissan, 5719 [April 19, 1959]
To my Brethren, Everywhere

G-d bless you!

Sholom u'Brocho [Peace and Blessing]:

Approaching the Festival of Matzos, the Season of Our Liberation, I send my prayerful blessing to my brethren everywhere that the festival instill into the daily life of every Jew and Jewess true and complete liberation from all anxiety and adversity, both material and spiritual, so as to rise to the inner meaning of Yetzias Mitzrayim [the Exodus from Egypt], the prelude to Receiving the Torah, and to fulfill the Divine promise: "When you will bring out the people from Mitzrayim you will serve G-d on this Mount (Sinai)."

Matters connected with Torah and Mitzvos are, of course, infinite and eternal, as G-d Himself Who has ordained them; so are also their instructive teachings, which are valid for all times and places, and can and must be applied in daily life. Even more so in the case of such a comprehensive matter as the Yom Tov of Pesach, of Yetzias Mitzrayim, which we are enjoined to remember every day.

One of the instructive messages of the Yom Tov of Pesach is that a Jew has the inner capacity and actual ability to transform himself, in a short time, from one extreme to the opposite. Our Holy Scriptures and Rabbinic sources describe in detail the bitterness of the enslavement in Egypt and the nadir of spiritual depravity to which the enslaved Jews had sunken in those days.

Enslaved in a country from which even a single slave could not escape; completely in the power of a Pharaoh who bathed in the blood of Jewish children; in utmost destitution; broken in body and spirit by the meanest kind of forced labor - suddenly Pharaoh's power is broken; the entire people is liberated; the erstwhile slaves emerge from bondage as free men, bold and dignified "with an outstretched arm" and "with great wealth."

Likewise is their spiritual liberation in a manner that bespeaks a complete transformation. After having sunk to the 49th degree of unholiness, to the point of pagan idolatry - they suddenly behold G-d revealed in His full Glory, and only a few weeks later they all stand at the foot of Mount Sinai on the highest level of holiness and prophecy, and G-d speaks to each one of them individually, without any intermediary, not even that of Moshe Rabbeinu, and declares: "I am G-d, thy G-d!"

The lesson is highly instructive:

No matter what the status of the Jew is, individually or collectively; no matter how gloomy the position appears to be in the light of human appraisal, the Jew must remind himself every day of Yetzias Mitzrayim - and strive effectively towards complete liberation and freedom, in a bold manner ("with an outstretched arm") and to the fullest attainment ("with great wealth"): freedom from all shackles and obstacles in escape from his "Mitzrayim," in order to reach the height of "priestly kingdom and holy nationhood," through Receiving the Torah in all respects "as in the days of your liberation from Mitzrayim."

There must be no pause and no hesitation on this road; there must be no resting on one's initial accomplishments; one must go on and on, higher and higher, until one apprehends and experiences the call: "I am G-d, thy G-d!"

This message of Pesach is especially urgent and timely in our present time and age, when Jews as individuals and in groups have bestirred themselves to seek for a way of liberation from their spiritual bondage, and to set foot on the road of true freedom of the spirit; above all to completely free themselves from the fear of "What will the goy [non-Jew] say?"

The "goy" of every description, including the goyeshe prodding of misguided Jews, and the "goy" within one's self, the Yetzer Hora. To these, especially, Pesach calls: Do not stop; go further rise higher, "with an outstretched arm!" Your liberation will then be complete and certain, "with the young and the old, the sons and the daughters," and with great wealth.

With blessing for a kosher and happy Pesach, and may the Prophetic promise, "as in the days of thy liberation from Egypt will I show him wonders," through our righteous Moshiach, be soon fulfilled in our own time.


All Together

EFRAYIM is Hebrew, meaning "fruitful." In the Torah (Genesis 41:52), Efrayim was the second son of Josef. He and his older brother, Menashe, were counted among the twelve tribes of Israel. Jacob prophesized that Efrayim's descendants would be greater that those of Menashe; Joshua, the leader of the Jewish people into the Land of Israel, was descended from him.

EDNA is Hebrew meaning "delight, desired."


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

It is a Jewish custom to say daily the chapter of Psalms associated with the number of one's years. Chasidim and followers of the Rebbe also recite daily the Rebbe's chapter. The 11th of Nissan (this year Tuesday, April 16) marks the Rebbe's 117th birthday, and so, we begin reciting chapter 118.

Chapter 118 is the last chapter of the six Psalms that are included in"Hallel," recited on holidays. This Psalm describes the great trust that King David had in G-d. It also includes many praises to G-d for fulfilling His promises.

According to the commentator Radak some of the verses were composed as King David ascended the throne for the first time and envisioned all of the improvements he would make to enhance the lives of the Jewish people and the kingdom.

Radak further explains that this chapter reflects the joy that the Jewish people will experience at the final redemption, when the Jewish people and the Holy Land will return to their former glory.

To share just a few of the verses that other commentators as well say refer to the Redemption:

Verse 15: "The sound of rejoicing ...will reverberate in the tents of the righteous." Rashi explains that this refers to the time of the redemption, when the tents of the righteous will reverberate with their praise of G-d.

Verse 20: "This is the gate of the L-rd..." According to Metzudas David the gate referred to is that of the Holy Temple (that had not yet been built) where the righteous will enter to praise G-d.

Verse 22: "The stone that the builders scorned..." Metzudas David says this is the Jewish people who were scorned by the nations, but in the times of Moshiach they will become the most prominent.

Verse 24: "This is the day G-d has made..." Radak explains that in the future it will be obvious that the marvelous events that are transpiring for the benefit of Israel are supernatural."

In these last moments before the Redemption let us remember that "His kindness is everlasting" and let us see revealed Kindness with the coming of Moshiach NOW!


Thoughts that Count

Metzora

The Torah portion is called metzora - "leper" - though it deals primarily with the purification process of an afflicted individual. This teaches us that the affliction was not only a punishment for slander, but to cause one to repent. Accordingly, the leprosy was actually part of the purification process, for once detected one was prompted to change.

(The Rebbe)


On the subject of afflictions, the Talmud states, "A person sees all defects, except for his own," meaning that we are sometimes blind to our own faults. The Baal Shem Tov explained that when a person notices a spiritual defect in another, it is a sure sign that he suffers from the same problem himself, at least to a small degree. The Hebrew verse can also be read, "All defects that a person sees in his fellow, are his own defects."


And he shall slaughter the sheep in the place where the sin-offering and the burnt-offering are slaughtered (Lev. 14:13)

Even though the burnt-offering was of a much higher sanctity than the sin-offering, they were brought in the same place to avoid embarrassing penitents who might hesitate to publicly proclaim their transgressions; onlookers would not know which offering was being brought.

(Mishna Sotah, 32)


This is the law concerning the metzora - leper. (14:2)

When Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev would hear someone speak poorly of another person he would go up to him and say, "My dear friend, aren't you ashamed? You are slandering G-d's tefilin upon which it is written, "Who is Your People Israel."


It Once Happened

As heard from Rabbi Leibl Groner, personal secretary of the Rebbe

An emissary of the Rebbe from Phoenix, Arizona, encouraged someone he knew to go to the Rebbe the next time he would be in New York. It was shortly before Passover when the gentleman had his private audience with the Rebbe.

At the meeting, the Rebbe asked the man if he would do him a favor.

"Of course!"

"Please get a package of matzas from Rabbi Hodakov and take them to a couple in Tyler, Texas."

After the audience was over, the man went to Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Izak Hodakov. He told Rabbi Hodakov of the Rebbe's request. He explained that while he did not know where Tyler, Texas is, he would be happy to deliver the matzas anyway. "What is the name of the couple and how do I get in touch with them?" he concluded.

Rabbi Hodakov gave the man the matzas and told him that when he would arrive in Tyler he would find them.

The man called a number of travel agents and none of them had ever heard of Tyler, Texas! Finally, one travel agent said he knew of Tyler, it had only a small regional airport and there were no national commercial flights into Tyler. So the man decided to fly to his hometown of Phoenix, which was certainly closer to Tyler than New York, and work things out from there.

On the flight to Phoenix the pilot announced that the plane was having engine problems and they would have to land at the first available airport.

The airport was a small regional airport in Tyler, Texas! "It seems the Rebbe wants me to be in Tyler," thought the man to himself. On arrival, the pilot said the repair would take some hours and they were welcome to get off the plane for a while.

The man, who wore a kipa and had a small beard, walked around in the airport with matzas in hand. A couple approached him and the man - who was not wearing a kipa - said matter-of-factly, "You have matza for me from the Lubavitcher Rebbe."

In response to the man's question of how he knew he would have the package, the Jew in Tyler responded, "You are the only one here in the airport who looks like a religious Jew.


The following story Rabbi Groner heard Rabbi Leibel Schildkraut, emissary of the Rebbe in Haifa, Israel.
Rabbi Schildkraut was on a plane from Israel and Russia. Walking through the plane, a Satmar chasid noticed Rabbi Schildkraut and asked him, "Are you a Lubavitcher?" When Rabbi Schildkraut answered in the affirmative, he asked further, "Do you know who your Rebbe is?"

The Satmar chasid continued, "I am from Brooklyn. Years ago I didn't have a good job. So before Passover, I started working in a matza bakery.

"I don't know why, but one day I found myself in '770' (Lubavitch World Headquarters). The Rebbe came out of his room to speak to one of the members of his secretariat. (Rabbi Groner pointed out that this was very rare.) The Rebbe saw me and asked me my name. The Rebbe then asked me if I was earning a good livelihood.

"I told the Rebbe that I don't have good parnassa (livelihood). I had been working in a matza bakery before Passover, but I got sick and couldn't continue working. Once I was better it was already after Passover and obviously the bakery was closed.

"The Rebbe said, 'Working in a bakery?? You should BUY a bakery!'

"A few days later, I was taking a walk and noticed a kosher bakery that was closed with a note on it. The note said: 'Bakery closed. For sale.' There was a number to call if someone was interested in purchasing the bakery.

"I recalled what the Rebbe said and called the number. I asked the seller when I could meet him and he told me, 'Come now.'

"The price the seller wanted was manageable. I asked the seller if the price included the offices and he told me 'Yes.' I was able to borrow money and put together the amount needed to buy the bakery.

"You know," the man concluded telling his story to Rabbi Schildkraut, "I made a couple of thousand dollars the first week and bought two more bakeries!"

"That is who the Lubavitcher Rebbe is!"


Moshiach Matters

When discussing the Temple activities and the sacrifices, we must remember that the details of the Temple are a model for and reflection of the inner structure of the human soul. For this reason, rebuilding the Temple is integral to and a manifestation of Redemption. It indicates the completion of our Divine mission, transforming the world into a dwelling place for G-dliness.

(From Reflections of Redemption based on based on Likutei Sichos 17, by Dovid Yisroel Ber Kaufmann o.b.m.)


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