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Self-respect, respect for other people, respect for other's property and opinions.
Respect never goes out of style, it's always politically correct, and it does not become obsolete as new isms, philosophies and technology catapults us into the unknown faster than we can blink.
The revered and venerated Sage, Rabbi Akiva, is renown for his teaching, "Love your fellow as yourself. This is a great principle of the Torah." A lesser known teaching of his is: "Beloved is a person, for he was created in the image of G-d..."
Keeping this second teaching in mind can help one act on the first teaching; when we remember that every person is a Divine creation can we do anything less than respect him or her?
This coming Thursday we will celebrate the special day of Lag B'Omer. One of the events commemorated on Lag B'Omer is the suspension of a plague which had been afflicting the students of Rabbi Akiva. The plague, we are told, was caused by the students not displaying enough respect for one another.
A disciple is one who follows in the ways of his teacher. Is it possible that disciples of one whose entire life was consumed by the axiom, "Love your fellow as yourself" - so much so that this teaching is synonymous with the name "Rabbi Akiva" - did not display enough respect for each other?
An amazing insight of the Rebbe on this question is as follows: Each of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students was so infused with love for his fellow that this love was all-consuming. He was not able to give his colleague "space." He loved his friend so much that he wanted to not only share his insights, opinions and interpretations but to convince his peer of their validity until the peer adopted them as his own - because of his tremendous love for his peer.
Remember, we're not talking about a person who is opinionated, arrogant, narcissistic, or condescending. We are talking about someone who loves the other person so much that he wants the other person to share his Truth (with a capital "t").
And this is where the hint of a suggestion of a lack of respect comes in. Respect includes giving another person space. It means allowing for divergent opinions. It acknowledges that G-d created every person differently for a reason.
Yes, we can learn to harmonize, modify, accommodate, adapt, perfect. But we cannot expect to become the same, otherwise G-d would have created us that way.
Most of us don't have to worry that our lack of respect for another is caused by such an all-encompassing love. We're still working on the regular, run-of-the-mill respect.
The way to encourage such respect is to begin looking at our fellow person as one who is created in the image of G-d.
This week's Torah portion, Emor, begins with the special laws pertaining to the Priests, the Kohen Gadol (high priest), and the service of the Holy Temple. The portion then discusses details of various sacrifices. In continues with a discussion of the festivals and concludes with the story of a blasphemer who was put to death.
A Kohen (priest) may not become ritually impure through contact with a dead body, except in the case of the death of a close relative. A Kohen Gadol may not even attend his own family's funeral. A kohen has certain restrictions regarding who he can marry and a Kohen Gadol may only marry a woman who was never before married.
Upon concluding a discussion of various laws relating to the Priests, the portion then turns its attention to the laws of animals for sacrificial use and the humane treatment of animals.
The Torah states: "When an ox, a sheep, or a goat are born, for seven days it should remain under its mother's care, from the eighth day and on it will be acceptable as a sacrifice to G-d." Later in the same paragraph, the Torah commands us regarding the laws of "Kiddush Hashem" - the sanctification of G-d's name. "And you should not desecrate My Holy Name, that I may be sanctified amongst the children of Israel...".
What could possibly be the connection that brings these two disparate topics and laws together?
The newborn animals mentioned in the verse, on a deeper level, are symbolic of the emotions. According to Chasidic teachings, the intellect - the mother - gives birth to the emotions. Rather than allow our emotions free reign, "seven days it should remain under its mother's care." The Torah is teaching us to allow one's mind time to develop the emotions before expressing them.
This is especially important with regard to circumstance and events that are beyond our control. There are situations that come clearly and directly from G-d. Especially when it is impossible to make sense of things, we need to let our thoughts process the notion that G-d knows what and why He does these things. Our job is to find a way to sanctify G-d (and His name) through these events, so that it changes us in a positive way.
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.
Following are the impressions of three students from the University of Utah who attended the Chabad on Campus International Shabbaton.
At the annual Chabad on Campus NYC Shabbaton, I gained a whole new appreciation for my Jewish identity.
I thought the most interesting part of the weekend was interacting with other Jewish students from all walks of life. I met so many great people, some being very similar to me, some with many differences. However, there was one thing that I had in common with every single person at the Shabbaton, and that was our Judaism. It was a pretty euphoric feeling knowing that I had a connection with all of these students that is stronger than most of the connections I have with most of my friends at home. It was such an exciting weekend meeting so many different people; this was truly an experience that I will remember vividly for quite a while.
One of the main highlights of my weekend was having the opportunity to celebrate Shabbat with our host family, the Kramers. The thing that amazed me the most was how entertaining a dinner can be by relaxing and enjoying the company of family and friends that you are with. Sitting down at the dinner table without any cell phones or further distractions was extremely comforting, and made the dinner conversation all the much greater. While I was enjoying this lovely Shabbat dinner I got to thinking, and what blew me away was the idea that almost every single household in Crown Heights was doing the same exact same thing as us. It was a very humbling experience knowing that even in today's day and age, in one of the busiest cities in the entire world, that it is still important enough to take time every Friday night in order to enjoy the company of family and friends.
Unlike many people living in Utah, I have only lived here for a few years. My Dad was a doctor in the Air Force, where he met my mom, while he was stationed in England. As you can probably imagine, my Dad being in the Air Force led us to move four times by the time I was 13. Because of this I never had a community that I was particularly attached to. Being a military brat, a solid community, let alone a Jewish community is something that I have never had. The places I have lived have had the minimal of what you can truly call a Jewish community. But that never stopped me from continuing to practice Judaism and discover my Jewish identity.
Upon arrival in Crown Heights, I got butterflies. Seeing signs in Hebrew, advertisements for Bisli snacks, and most of all Jews; it was a feeling that I had only gotten when I visited Israel a few years ago. But just when we arrived, we were off again on a tour of the city. As we drove farther and farther from Crown Heights, I thought the community that was behind us would soon disappear. Once we got off the bus though, I noticed my community had come with me. Still in Times Square we walked by Kosher restaurants and stores with mezuzot on them. The butterflies were back.
That evening, we celebrated Shabbat at our wonderful host family's house, the Kramers. While sitting around a lovely table, eating amazing food, Rabbi Kramer told us the significance of our Hebrew names. It was in that moment that I came to my breakthrough of the weekend. The Jewish community has been here for thousands of years. The Jewish community has never left me and I have never been without it. The Jewish community will always be with us through the Torah, through the traditions, through the culture that is Judaism.
Earlier in the year with the help of Rabbi Benny Zippel we had restarted the presence of the Jewish Students Association at the University of Utah. And now we were extended a complementary invitation to attend the Chabad on Campus Shabbaton in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Three weeks later we were packing our bags for a red eye flight to join hundreds of college students from across the world in what would become one of the most spiritual and enjoyable weekends of our lives.
Arriving at a comfy seven in the morning we met our amazing chaperone of the weekend, Yosef Kramer. A true blessing to have him with us, Yosef and his family took in four Jewish students from the great desert of Utah and gave us a weekend to remember. An hour into the Shabbaton and I had met and befriended more Jews my age than I had ever even seen in my life.
I grew up attending Chabad, but I was by no means there for every Saturday morning and as the years went by I found myself only attending for the High Holidays. So for me many of the experiences of this weekend were a new and spiritually rejuvenating feeling.
I had many experiences on this trip, but my favorite parts were the opening and then closing of Shabbat. Our Shabbat dinner at the Kramer residence was truly amazing. The food tasted unbelievable. Even better was the conversation. Yosef's father led us in a discussion about the meaning of Shabbat prayers, the importance of our Hebrew names, and the history of our people. Afterwards Yosef took us on the Shabbat rounds to visit other homes in the community and socialize with other visiting students.
The ending ceremony of Shabbat was as great. While I've experienced my share of Havdallah ceremonies, never to such a grand scale. To hear the prayers said by hundreds of voices was truly wonderful. The dancing was even more of a sight. And I have to say, in all my life, I had never once felt so connected to Jews across the entire world as I did at that moment.
Our trip concluded with a visit to the Ohel, the resting place of the Rebbe. The Rebbe, who personally sent Rabbi Zippel to Utah, built a network of over 3600 institutions across the world. It was a spiritual climax to a weekend that furthered my sense of Judaism and renewed my need for Jewish Spirit.
Your Purpose, Your Potential
A Shabbaton Retreat in the heart of the Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Chabad community for singles and couples takes place Friday, May 31 - Sunday, June 2. Learn the secrets of a successful, Jewish relationship, and how to balance your professional life with your spiritual life. Get ahead in your search for the "right one" - or enhance your relationship! Experience a Shabbat oasis that's peaceful and expansive... and enjoy Crown Heights's legendary hospitality and fine Shabbat cuisine. Featuring Rabbi Yisroel Bernath and Dr. Binyomin Abrams. For registration and more info visit Shabbaton.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (718) 774-6187.
Tanya Printed in Afghanistan
Unites States Army Chaplain Rabbi Menachem M. Stern facilitated the printing of Tanya - the basic book of Chabad Chasidic philosophy - in Bagram, Afghanistan where he was stationed. The first Tanya printed in Afghanistan was in Kabul 15 years ago.
Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5739 
Greeting and Blessing:
This is to confirm receipt of your letter and may G-d grant the fulfillment of your heart's desires for good.
Noting the beginning of your letter, it is surely unnecessary to reiterate that the everyday life and conduct in accordance with the Torah and mitzvoth [commandment], although a must for its own sake, is also the channel to receive G-d's blessings in all needs. Consequently, every additional effort in matters of Yiddishkeit [Judaism] widens the channel, and there is always room for improvement in goodness and holiness, Torah and mitzvoth.
Referring to the matter of a Jewish name, you are, of course, right that it has a special significance and is incomparable to a name in any other language. However, when it is transliterated - as when a letter Is written in English and the name is transliterated in English letters - the original content of the name is preserved, and there can be no objection to it. Besides, there would be no point in signing an English letter in Hebrew, since the recipient may not be able to read Hebrew, which Is why the letter is written in English in the first place, in reply to a letter in that language.
Since you brought up this subject, it gives me an opportunity to relate it to the timely topic of these days of sefirah, linking the Festival of Yetzias Mitzraim [Exodus from Egypt] with the Festival of Mattan Torah [Giving of the Torah]. For, as you may know, our Sages declare that one of the things in the merit of which the Jewish people merited the Liberation from Mitzraim was the fact that they did not change their Hebrew names which was an important factor in preserving their identity. Which also reminds us that the ultimate purpose of the liberation from Egyptian bondage was to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai, which we will soon celebrate on Shovuos. With the giving of the Torah, every Jew was given also the capacity, and hence is also fully expected, to go from strength to strength in the study of the Tφrah and the observance of the mitzvot, bearing in mind that the actual practice is the essential thing.
Inasmuch as the Torah and mitzvot were given to all the Jews, and to each one individually, for all times and in all places, and "these are our lives and the length of our days," it is clear that every moment of a Jew's life should be consecrated to Torah and mitzvot. Hence it is both surprising and painful to see a Jew spending precious time in search of "greener pastures" elsewhere, even if his Intentions are good, for, as above, the important thing is the actual deed.
Needless to say, the above includes Yoga and similar cults even if it is not connected with anything pertaining to avodo zoro - if there is such cult that is completely free from avodo zoro, and in this only a competent Torah authority who is permeated with halocho[Jewish law] is qualified to rule.
I am not seeking opportunities to admonish anyone, but since you mention certain oriental cults, it is my duty to call your attention to the fact that every spare moment that a Jew can use to deepen his knowledge of Torah he dissipates it on other things Is deplorable enough, not to mention cults that in their overwhelming majority are certainly connected with avodo zoro in one way or another, and if there are exceptions, one must make doubly sure through an expert Torah authority, as mentioned above.
The present days are highly suitable for Jews to separate themselves from any alien influences in preparation for the Festival of Mattan Toraseinu, when G-d sanctified us as a nation apart from all other nations, a unique "Kingdom of G-d's servants and a Holy Nation," by giving us His holy Torah and mitzvoth. And since G-d Himself has shown us the way, what sense is there in looking for better ways. This is really too plain and self-evident to need further elaboration.
Wishing you a Joyous and inspiring Festival of Kabbolas haTorah and the traditional blessing to reaffirm the commitment to Torah and mitzvot with joy and inwardness.
From The Letter and the Spirit by Nissan Mindel Publications.
ASHER means "blessed, fortunate." Asher was one of the 12 Tribes, a son of Jacob and his wife Zilpa. (Genesis 30:13). Jacob blessed Asher that his territory in the Land of Israel will produce an abundance of olives, which will be pressed into olive oil. This is paralleled by Moses' blessing to Asher, at the end of the Torah: "he dips his feet into oil", likewise meaning oil from the olive groves.
ADIRA means "mighty, strong."
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This coming Sunday is Pesach Sheni, the "Second Passover." It is customary on Pesach Sheni to eat matza, together with bread, in commemoration of the day.
In the times of the Holy Temple, all those who were unable to offer the Passover sacrifice at the proper time, on the 14th of Nissan, were permitted to bring it in the second month, on the 14th of Iyar.
This special sacrifice was initiated during the second year of the Jewish people's wandering in the Sinai desert, a year after the first Passover had been celebrated in the wilderness.
Some Jews due to ritual impurity, had not been permitted to offer the Passover sacrifice.
They approached Moses and Aaron and protested, "Why are we kept back, that we may not offer the offering of G-d in the appointed season among the children of Israel?"
They complained that unavoidable circumstances had prevented them from offering the sacrifice. They did not want to be denied the great reward of performing the mitzva.
Our ancestors' request was sincere and valid, and so, permission to bring the Passover sacrifice one month later was granted to anyone, throughout the generations, who was ritually impure, in a distant place, was prevented by some unavoidable circumstance, failed unintentionally or even intentionally.
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, points out that there are many essential lessons we can learn from Pesach Sheni, including that it is never too late to correct a past failing.
For us today, as we stand literally on the threshold of the Redemption, the most appropriate lesson is that what the Jews sincerely requested, they received!
In the spirit of Pesach Sheni, each of us today, must request, demand, ask and beg for the revelation of Moshiach and the commencement of the glorious Redemption. Then, certainly, G-d will hear our plea and answer them as in the days of old.
When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap the corner of the field or the gleaning of the harvest. Leave them for the poor.... (Lev. 23:22)
Rabbi Abdimi asked, "Why did Scripture choose to place this law in the middle of the section dealing with the festivals? To teach us that whoever leaves the 'corners' and 'gleanings' for the poor, it is as if he built the Holy Temple and presented his [festival] offereings there.
And you shall not profane My holy name (Lev. 22:32)
The opposite of profaning G-d's name is the sanctification of G-d's name. When a Jew performs a mitzva (commandment) with devotion, and with pure intent, he is sanctifying G-d's name. When a Jew behaves in such a manner that only good things are heard about him, that too is a sanctification of G-d's name. However, the opposite is also true.
And you shall count for yourselves... (Lev 23:15)
The word "u'sefartem - and you shall count" is from the same root as the words "sapphire" and "bright" as if to say, "Work on 'yourselves' until you are shiny and bright."
(The Maggid of Mezritch)
In the manner that he has caused a defect in someone, so shall it be done to him (Lev. 24:20)
If one finds a defect or something lacking in his friend, this is a sign that "so shall it be done to him" - that he himself is the one that has the defect. "He who charges others, charges them with his own faults."
In the last years of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, there lived a woman named Ima Shalom "the Wise." She was born into a family of scholars descended from Hillel and was related both by marriage and birth to the greatest Sages of her time.
Once, a Roman nobleman visited Ima Sholom and began to ridicule the Jewish religion. He said to her: "I have read the account of your G-d's creation of Eve. I really wonder how you Jews can believe in a G-d who is no more than a thief."
Feigning anger, Ima Shalom replied: "I am going to the Roman consul to seek justice. Do you know, last night a thief entered my house and stole all my silver cups and bowls and left vessels of gold in their place!"
The Roman laughed, "You certainly can't call him a thief - he is a friend."
"That's true, " replied Ima Shalom. "And it is the same with G-d, who took a single rib from Adam's body and left in its place a wonderful and valuable gift. Adam received a good, beautiful wife to be a comfort and helpmate and to save him from loneliness."
But the Roman still objected to her argument. "Why, then," he countered, "did your G-d first put Adam to sleep and then steal from him like a thief in the night?"
Ima Shalom called her servant and instructed him to fetch a piece of raw meat from the butcher shop in the market place. She then took the meat, seasoned it and cooked it while the Roman looked on. When it was well-cooked, she served him a portion and invited him to eat. He refused, saying, "I have no appetite for the food you have prepared, since I recall how disgusting it looked just a little while ago when it was raw."
Said Ima Shalom, "Do you think Adam would have been pleased to receive Eve if he had been able to see her being created from his own rib?" The Roman had to agree that Ima Shalom had bested him in the dispute.
Long, long ago in the Land of Israel in the city of Sichon, lived a wealthy Jew and his wife. They lived together in perfect happiness, loving each other with a rare perfect love. The only sadness in their life was that they had not been blessed with children, and their great house was empty of the ringing laughter of little ones.
One day, a dark shadow eclipsed their happiness. Their tenth year of marriage passed and yet they had no children. In those days the practice followed was that such a couple divorced and remained in order that they might be fortunate and have children to perpetuate their name. But the husband had no desire to send his wife away, although he felt obligated to do so. He could never love a second wife no matter how many children she might bare him.
One of the greatest rabbis of the day, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, was visiting the town of Sidon during that year, and the unhappy couple went to him to ask his advice. In his wisdom, he knew that this couple shouldn't be divorced, but instead of telling them this directly, he presented them with an unusual plan.
"Your marriage was celebrated with wonderful feast. Now, although you must part, why don't you give another banquet in honor of the happiness you shared all these years."
The couple found his advice strange, but they returned home and set about preparing an elaborate feast.
They invited their many friends and acquaintances, who marvelled at this strange paradoxical celebration. The tables were laid with great splendor, glittering with sparkling crystal and vessels of precious metals. The guests were regaled with the first meats, rarest wine and the most exquisite entertainment. At their parting each guest received a precious gift as a moments of the occasion.
As the guests began to filter out of the hall, the man turned to his wife and said, "I know of no gift fine enough or rich enough to give you. But when you return tonight to your parents' house, take with you the most precious possession you desire from my house."
At last a glimmer of light shown in his wife's sad eyes. She said nothing, but then asked leave to return to her private quarters so that she might prepare a parting toast for her husband. She soon returned with a tall silver goblet filled with sweet, red wine. Her husband drained the cup and then retired to the couch to rest from the strain of the evening. He had drunk perhaps too much throughout the evening, and now that last drink brought by his wife made him feel drowsy. He drifted off into a deep sleep, and when she was sure that the strong drug had taken affect and he wouldn't awaken, his wife had her servants carry him to her father's house.
The next morning when he opened his eyes, he didn't know where he was. He cried out in alarm, "Why am I here?"
But, his smiling wife appeared from the next room and came near to him. "You granted me permission to take for myself, the most precious possession in our home. But I have no desire for gold or jewels--you are my only treasure."
Now, they understood the wisdom of Rabbi Shimon's advice. He had wished only for their happiness. The wife returned to her husband's house, and they lived together even happier than before. Their happiness was crowned by the birth of a child who was the reward of their abiding faithfulness and love.
A Jew constantly yearns for and awaits Moshiach's coming, when the Holy Temple will be rebuilt. Should the Holy Temple be rebuilt in the period between Pesach and Pesach Sheni, the Jewish people will be required to bring the Pesach offering on Pesach Sheni. [According to most opinions. See Minchat Chinuch, Mitzvah 380.] The expectation of the imminent arrival of Moshiach obligates a Jew, immediately after Pesach, to begin preparations for Pesach Sheni. And, even if Moshiach has not come by Pesach Sheni, it is proper to at least commemorate Pesach Sheni.
(The Rebbe, Shabbat Emor 5738/1978)