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Are you an only child? If not, did you ever wish you were?
For people from multi-sibling families, being an only child conjures up images of having your parents' undivided attention, not having to share your possessions, having your own bedroom, not needing to lobby in order to decide where to go on family outings.
On the other hand, the life of an only child can also be a bit boring. There are no "live-in" friends to play with or to make long, rainy Sunday afternoons a little more exciting. No co-conspirator for family pranks. No one to complain to when Mom and Dad are being "unreasonable." No big brother or sister to stick up for you in school or little sibling to show off to your friends.
There are certainly benefits and disadvantages to being either an only child or one of many. However, there is a kind of mystique that goes with being an only child. And though, of course, we know that in families blessed with more than one child, love is not "divided" amongst the children, still, somehow, we can also appreciate that when there is a situation of an only child, the parents' love, aspirations, attention, and hopes are highly concentrated on that one child.
The Baal Shem Tov said that every Jew is as precious to G-d as if he or she were G-d's only child. And not just any "only child"!
"G-d loves every Jew more than parents love an only child born to them in their old age" taught the Baal Shem Tov. (Keter Shem Tov)
"That sure sounds nice," one might think, "but what does it do for me and what does it require of me?"
Being an "only child" has a lot of plusses. It means that G-d is always there and always listening. It means that I can ask for a lot of things (though G-d is not over-indulgent and sometimes the answer will be "no"). It means that I am very important and what I do makes a difference, as the Talmud teaches, "Every person is an entire world." It means I can hold my head up high, I'm "somebody."
Being an "only child" also brings with it responsibility. G-d is counting on me, He's putting His hope in me and I have to try to live up to G-d's expectations.
Remember, though, that the Baal Shem Tov said that every Jew is an only child. So a huge part of this very nice teaching is that there are a lot of other "only children" out there. And each one of them is an entire world, each one is a "somebody." Each one deserves respect and love (which, as noted above, are unlimited).
Children in general, and an only child in particular, play "make-believe," creating invisible friends and fantastic situations. The Rebbe said that we are poised at the threshold of the Redemption. When we cross that threshold, it will come naturally to respect and love not only every Jew, but all of creation. Until then, may it commence very soon, let's be "childish" and make-believe.
The Torah portion of Behaalotecha tells about the manna that fell in the desert, and sustained the Jewish people for 40 years.
The Talmud explains that "For the righteous, the manna came down at the door of their homes, average people went out of the camp and collected, and the wicked walked far from the camp and collected."
Manna is called "bread from the heavens." The difference between bread from the earth and bread from the heavens is that bread from the earth requires a tremendous amount of preparation. Plowing, sowing, cutting, gathering, grinding, etc. etc. By the time you have a loaf of bread, much time and energy was expended. And after all that, it is not pure nourishment, part of it the body takes and the rest becomes waste. The bread from the heavens, on the other hand, depending on who you were, had little to no preparation and it was pure nourishment with no waste.
This bread from the heavens nourished all the Jewish people, whether they were righteous, average or wicked. Even the wicked had the experience of pure nourishment. That means that even when it became part of the body, the manna remained in its pure state. The manna, therefore, had an effect on the person who consumed it. As our Sages say, "The Torah was not given to ...those who ate the manna," because the manna affected us, and made us into the people right for the task. The manna affected every Jew, as each of us has a part in the Torah and a unique way of understanding it, righteous, average and wicked alike.
The manna didn't have an immediate effect on the person, they didn't instantly repent when they ate it. The wicked, for example, still had to walk far from the camp to collect it, and they still had to grind it. That is also why, during the 40 years that they ate the manna, some still did things that angered G-d, as He said, "And they tested Me these ten times." Nevertheless, it certainly had some effect on them, and eventually, when they did repent, it was certain that eating the manna had a part in their return to G-d.
Everything in the world is reflected in Torah. The two types of bread are found in the study of Torah. Torah is called bread, it nourishes our essence.
Bread from the earth is the study of the revealed parts of Torah. It is with great toil and effort that we acquire the knowledge of the revealed Torah. And even when we understand a part of it well, it is fraught with arguments and opinions.
Bread from the heavens, is the inner or hidden part of the Torah. And just like the manna, the inner Torah is for every Jew, no matter where he is at spiritually.
May we all come closer to G-d by teaching and studying both the revealed and inner Torah. This will surely bring Moshiach sooner, especially the teachings of the inner Torah, Chasidic teaching. As the soul of Moshiach said to the Baal Shem Tov, that he will come, "When your wellsprings will spread out."
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.
Western Wall Scenes
by Gutman Locks
Standing at the Kotel, helping with tefillin, talking to so many people... often saying the same things over and over again...I often wonder, do they hear what I'm saying? Do they listen to what I am saying? Rarely, will I ever see one of them again. Is it really worth it?
When I walked over to help with tefillin this afternoon, Shmuli had to tell me something:
"Today I helped an American guy put tefillin on...he's 26 years old. When I finished, he asked, 'Where's Gutman?'
"I said, 'Oh, you saw some of his videos?
"He said, 'no'.
"Then you read some of his articles?
"He said, 'no.'
"So, I asked him, 'Then how do you know Gutman?'
"He said he was here with his father 10 years ago and you spoke with them.
"I asked him do you remember anything he said?
"He said, 'Yeah. He said marry a Jewish girl and get a good job.' "
Hum, I guess it's worth it. How many conversations did you have 10 years ago that you can remember so well?
Good ideas are like seeds, and you never know how you are going to change someone's life when you plant one.
It's so quiet right now... stillness ... it's 1:30 in the morning. The special feeling of the Kotel (Western Wall) can be sensed more when it is quiet.
From midnight on, the sense of Kindness increases. It increases until noon and then the sense of Judgement increases until midnight.
When Kindness is predominant feelings are more sensitive. It is the special time of the day.
"To You silence is praise." (Psalms 65:2) Nothing can describe Your glory.
Whenever Arye Leib comes to town he comes to the Kotel to put on tefillin.
Eugene (Aryeh Leib) Lebovitz was born in Czechoslovakia in 1928. In this show, he tells of his experiences as a teenager in the ghetto, through the "selections" at various work camps, the miracles that saved his life time after time, including the numerous death marches that he survived as well.
He shares his liberation story, including his return to the town in which he was liberated, the only Jew to do so. Mr. Lebovitz tells of his role in the capture of war criminals, and the trip to the Land of Israel in which he guided war orphans on a 17 day perilous boat journey with no food aboard, to his arrival at the Haifa port, only to be placed by the British into the Atlit internment camp.
Mr. Lebovitz continues his tale with his work as a commander of the IDF, and his role in the capture of Haifa in 1948, followed by his injury. This fascinating interview includes Mr. Lebovitz's philosophy of life which kept him alive during the war years, and helped him thrive, build and flourish afterwards.
Chief Warren Officer Yitzchok has been in the Israel Defense Force since he was a teen. He is now 77 years old, by far the oldest soldier we have. He teaches military discipline at the officer's school and has no plans to retire. He always puts on tefillin when he comes to the Kotel.
Gutman Locks is well-known at the Western Wall's Chabad Tefillin Booth for over two decades. With humor, warmth and love, he helps thousands of Jews try this mitzva. He is the author of several books, musical tapes and many educational videos. See more of his writings at www.thereisone.com
At 7:00 p.m., every Monday and Thursday evening, the cell phones of over 3,000 Jewish teens around the United States and Canada buzz as they receive a text message with a Jewish question and a multiple-choice answer. JText engages teens using the medium most comfortable to them, offering an opportunity to learn more about Judaism with a tap on their phones. The initiative began three years ago when Rabbi Yehuda Leib and Nechama Dina Kantor of Chabad of Westport, Connecticut sought a way to connect with the teens in their area. There are now 35 Chabad centers participating.
Torah for Lori
This past month, a new Torah scroll was completed and welcomed at Chabad of Poway, California. The Torah was dedicated in memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, gifted by the Jaffa Family Foundation who have given 80 such endowments to synagogues around the world. The gift of the new Torah was facilitated by Brooklyn-based Rabbi Bentzion Chanowitz who runs the Beis Yisroel Torah Gemach-a nonprofit that furnishes Chabad centers with Torah scrolls.
Continued from previous issue, from a letter dated 2nd of Kislev, 5723 
I realize that it is not a small thing that I am asking, especially as it may be quite a test for a person to change or modify a point of view. But considering that this is a matter that would affect not merely the adult readers of the magazine but also numerous children in the Public Schools, I am confident that you and the editors will prove equal to the challenge.
May G-d grant you success in spreading the light of the Torah and mitzvos to the utmost of your influence, and as Chasidus would have it, with joy and gladness of heart.
With esteem and blessing,
p.s. Enclosed please find a copy of my letter on the Regents Prayer, which apparently was not in your possession at the time when you wrote your article. I trust you will find it of interest.
Because I attach considerable importance to your article, I take the liberty of making several additional unsolicited remarks, confident that you will accept them in the spirit in which they are given. I shall follow the order of your article, the first remark being in the nature of a general observation applicable to other articles and periodicals as well.
a) The name of G-d is sacred even when written in other than the sacred tongue. Since periodicals and the like are not usually kept with particular care, it is the practice, in accordance with the Shulchan Aruch, to spell the Name hyphenated, to avoid desecration.
b) Several times you describe the Jewish organization opposing the Regents Prayer as "large" or "major." Though they may claim such status and create that impression, I believe that this is exaggerated. It is only because they have almost unlimited financial resources for publicly which enables them to press issues often in conflict with the Torah, while Yeshlvos and other organizations working for the cause of the Torah are necessarily limited to a "still small voice," that a distorted impression may be created. And as the well known Iggeres haRamban laments, "the more sacred the thing the greater the degree of its ruination."
c) With reference to the editorial in the magazine which you mention in your article, more significant, unfortunately, is the fact that to-date the catholic hierarchy has not dissociated itself from that outburst. True, another catholic journal did so, but it is by far less influential and represents only the catholic laity. In view of the fact that the Catholic Church is well organized and disciplined, the appearance of that editorial in the first place and the lack of disclaimer afterwards is especially "eloquent." To be sure, this is nothing new for Jews, for as the Rashbi declared: (insert Hebrew).... B'yadua sh'Eisav soneh l'Yaakov. Nevertheless, it is shocking to contemplate that even in this democratic and liberal country anti-Jewish feeling is so deep-rooted and undisguised, as evidenced also in the Sunday Blue Laws, etc.
d) In referring to Federal Aid to Parochial schools you fail to mention that the demand for such aid, at least in so far as Jews are concerned, is for aid to the secular departments. Without entering into the question whether Government aid should be given also to religious education, it is logically important to emphasize the fact that the demand is for the secular departments, since it will have the greater sympathy of public opinion, especially as this also corresponds to the actual issue.
e) In mentioning the impact or influence on children with a religious background, minimizing such influence by other religious exercises, surely you will agree we cannot draw a parallel from students on the university level, for children in the public schools are certainly more susceptible.
f) Finally a word about the argument used in some quarters to the effect that the child should be given the freedom to choose and decide in religious matters. I have heard this argument in Russia and its application led to the inevitable conclusion that the teacher must not use religious indoctrination, and since the teacher supplants the parent in education, it led to the further conclusion that parent should not be permitted to "force" their children to attend Talmud Torahs, Yeshivos, etc., which is but a small step to banning religious instruction altogether.
Nevertheless, for strategic purposes it is best to steer clear from any side issues or arguments which might prejudice public opinion towards the main issue and cause.
From The Letter and the Spirit by Nissan Mindel Publications.
BARAK means "a flash of light" or "lightening." Barak was an army general who, together with the Prophetess Deborah, lead the Jews to victory against the Kenites (Judges 4:6)
BINA means "understanding." While sounding similar, this name has no connected with Bunya or Buna (sometimes even spelled Binah) which comes from the Spanish Buena ("good") and would be an equivalent of Tova or Gitta.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
In this week's Torah portion, we read about the daily lighting of the seven-branched golden candelabra in the Sanctuary by Aaron the High Priest.
King Solomon writes: "The soul of man is the lamp of G-d." Just as a flame rises constantly upwards so man's soul is constantly seeking to rise higher. Aaron's lighting of the Menorah symbolized the task of all Jews, to "light up" the souls of the Jews.
Rabbi Sholom Ber of Lubavitch was once asked: "What is a Chasid?" and he replied, "A Chasid is a 'street-lamplighter.'" In Rabbi Sholom Ber's days, a street-lamp lighter kindled each street lamp by hand. The lamps were there in readiness, but they needed to be lit. Rabbi Sholom Ber implied that a Chasid is one who goes out into the street, finds the lamps - Jewish souls - that need to be lit, and carefully and gently kindles them with the beauty, warmth and light of Torah and mitzvot.
Every Jew can be, and in essence is, a street-lamp lighter. Every Jew is obligated to search out other Jews whose souls remain ready but are not yet ignited with the fire of Judaism. And certainly, in his so doing, nothing will be detracted from the "streets lamp lighter's" own flame. For, as we all surely know, lighting one candle from another does not diminish the flame of the first. Rather, when two flames burn together they burn even stronger with less of a chance that one will be extinguished.
Let us go from flame to flame until the entire Jewish menora will be proudly lighted and together illuminate the darkness of the night of exile.
When you light the lamps (Num. 8:2)
"Do not think," G-d said to Moses, "that I am commanding you to kindle these lamps because I need their illumination. Rather, the purpose is to give the Jewish people merit if they fulfill My instructions diligently. As reward for lighting these lamps before Me, I will provide you with a Great Light in the World to Come.
And Aaron did so (Num. 8:3)
The great commentator Rashi explains, "This is to give credit to Aaron, who did not deviate from what he was commanded to do." Indeed, it is commendable when educators live up to the same high standards they expect their students to uphold. When a teacher's personal life is in consonance with what he preaches, his influence on his students is that much greater, and his words are accepted without undue effort.
Have I conceived all these people? Have I given birth to them? (Num. 11:12)
Moses said to G-d: "I'm not the one who must suffer because of the Jews. You are responsible." A parent must share the suffering and distress of his children and have mercy on them, for good and for bad.
(Rabbi Simcha Bunim)
And the likeness of G-d does he behold (Num. 12:8)
The "likeness of G-d" - these are the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He. Our Sages said, "Just as He is merciful shall you be merciful; just as He is gracious shall you be gracious." These G-dly attributes were brought down by Moses our Teacher and instilled in the heart of every single Jew.
(Rabbi Avraham Mordechai of Gur)
Rabbi Meir of Premishlan was a great tzadik (righteous individual) whose holiness was acknowledged by Jews from far and wide who sought advice and blessings from him.
One day a woman was admitted into his study. As soon as she set eyes on the Rebbe she burst into tears. "What is troubling you?" Reb Meir asked. The sobbing woman could barely speak, but she managed to get out the words, "Rebbe, I have no children; please give me your blessing."
The Rebbe was full of compassion for the woman's pain and he replied to her, "May it be G-d's will that your request be fulfilled."
Armed with the holy man's blessing, the woman confidently went home and waited for his words to be realized. Not a year had passed when Rabbi Meir received a letter from a distant city from a person he did not know.
When he read the letter and removed the papers contained in the envelope, he was shocked to find a bank note for the tremendous sum of 300 rubles. The letter read: "My wife has just given birth to a child thanks to the Rebbe's blessing. I beg the Rebbe to accept this gift in gratitude."
Far from being pleased, Rabbi Meir's distress was apparent, as he extended his hand to put the bank note on the far side of the table as if he wanted to remain as distant from it as possible. Then he called his sons to come to him at once to discuss an important matter.
When they arrived, he brought them into his room and pointed to the letter: "Today I received a letter which is brimming with errors and falsehoods. For one thing, it refers to me as a holy man and that is patently false. Secondly, the entire premise of the letter is false, for this man credits me with the birth of his son. How ridiculous! What do I have to do with such lofty matters as birth and death? Am I a holy man that I have control over these things? I have therefore decided to return the money to him at once."
His sons were shocked. The eldest spoke first. "Father, we are very poor. Perhaps G-d has taken pity on us and decided to end our poverty through this man. Maybe it would be wrong and ungrateful of us not to make good use of it."
Everyone agreed. Only the Rebbe staunchly maintained that the money must be returned to the misguided sender.
They turned the matter over this way and that, but it became clear that no consensus could be reached. The family decided to bring their dilemma to a rabbinical court. The judges listened to both sides of the case and then reached their decision: The Rebbe should keep the money. It was true that Rebbe Meir was such a modest man that he denied being a tzadik whose blessings could have helped the childless woman, but the woman and her husband obviously thought differently. In their estimation it was the Rebbe's prayers that brought about the birth of their child, and they gave the money purely as a gift from their hearts. Therefore, it was perfectly fine to keep the gift.
The Rebbe and his sons left the rooms of the beit din in very different moods. The sons were satisfied that their opinion had been upheld by the judges. The terrible poverty in which they lived would be alleviated at least for a time. Their father, however, was brought no peace by the decision. For although the rabbinical court had ruled that he was completely justified in keeping the money, his own heart was uneasy. He decided to take the problem to his wife, the Rebbetzin. As his life's companion and a woman whose vision was always clear, she would be the final arbiter of this case, for he trusted her judgment completely.
The Rebbe and his sons entered the house and asked the Rebbetzin to come and sit with them; they had something of great importance to discuss with her. When the family was seated around the table, the Rebbe filled her in on all the details of the problem, leaving out nothing, but stressing his own unease with the reason for receiving the gift.
Her sons, on the other hand, stressed how much easier their lives would be now, since G-d had clearly wanted to help them out of their troubles by sending them this money.
She listened wordlessly to both sides and then turned to her husband. "My dear husband, all your life you have guarded yourself from even tasting food that had a question about its kosher status. Even when you discovered that it was 100% kosher you refrained from eating it, because its permissibility had been in question. Now we are faced with the same situation, the only difference being that the question is on the permissibility of money and not on food. Why should you act any differently now?"
Rabbi Meir smiled at her. He stood up, walked into his room, took the bank note and put it into an envelope which he addressed to the sender. That very day it was deposited in the post and the hearts of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin were content.
We do not find in the Torah any other instance where a commandment that must be done at a specific time can be completed at a later date except for the Passover sacrifice. Why is this case special? There were many Jews who tried or wanted to bring the sacrifice at the correct time but for various reasons could not. They pleaded not to be excluded. In the merit of their requests, a later date was given to them. The future Redemption will also come about in the same manner. If we will stubbornly do all we can to end our own exile, and beg and plead with G-d with all our heart and soul, the Redemption will come.
(Rabbi Shlomo Cohen of Radomsk)