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Who can repress a smile when seeing the joy of a small child shrieking in delight as he glides down a slide in a park? Whose gait isn't emboldened as he passes a newsstand and the headlines report good news? Or what about when you're at a wedding and the stomp of the foot on the breaking glass elicits resounding cries of "mazel tov"; the surge of simcha, or joy, is electric.
"Serve G-d with joy," King David demands. And since we are in the employ of our Boss 24-7 we must be in a continual state of joyousness.
"That's easier said than done," you might be thinking. Perhaps in the above-mentioned scenarios joy is intrinsic, but what of other times, those regular, run-of-the-mill days when there's no particular reason to rejoice? Or worse yet, those gray periods when we see everything around us through cheerless lenses? How can we sustain an upbeat feeling, an optimistic outlook?
By not thinking too much about ourselves. When a person focuses on himself, it's natural that he should start thinking about what he lacks materially or his failings in regard to self-growth and actualization. Obviously, these thoughts aren't conducive to inspiring a cheerful attitude.
Also, by not thinking too much of ourselves. When a person has an inflated sense of self, he is often hurt or angered by slights real and imagined.
If a person really wants to be in a joyous frame of mind, he has to rise above self-concern. He needs to spend time reflecting on the idea that there is something deeper and great beyond him, G-d. And when a person thinks more about G-d and less about/of himself (especially if those reflections are based on the Jewish mystical teachings found in Chasidism), he will find it easier to maintain a positive and even joyous attitude in life.
And there's something in it for us, as well. When a person is joyous, he generates a new-found energy that he would not otherwise be able to muster. This doesn't mean that real problems miraculously cease to exist (though sometimes they do disappear), but rather that we are able to view them and even solve them from our new, energized positive perspective.
When our joy is more on the level of "bursting" with happiness, it's natural to want to share it with others. An instinctive part of being happy is wanting those around us to be happy as well. And share it we should, especially now, as we enter the Jewish month of Adar. The Talmud teaches, "From the beginning of Adar we increase in joyousness." So start being happy now.
One more thought about simcha: In Hebrew it shares the same root letters as Moshiach. By actually working on ourselves to be happy, we actually hasten the time when the whole world will be happy - the times of Moshiach.
In this week's portion, Teruma, G-d commanded Moses to accept the donations that the Jewish people would bring for the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). G-d continues, "They should make Me a Mikdash (Temple), and I will dwell within them." This is a guarantee that if the Jews will build it, G-d will dwell in the Mishkan.
In Torah, the world is divided into four kingdoms. The lowest is domem, inanimate things, like stones, earth and water. Higher than that is tzomeach, vegetation, things that grow, like grass, plants and trees. Then there is chai, living things, like animals, birds and fish. And finally, there is medaber, people who have conversations.
The Mishkan was made mostly of vegetation and animals products, like the wooden panels and the coverings and curtains, which were made of wool, linen and animal skins. There were also items constructed from the inanimate kingdom, but it wasn't the main part of the construct of the Mishkan.
The Holy Temple in Jerusalem that succeeded the Mishkan was built primarily of inanimate stone - domem.
When we had the Mishkan, we were only able to reach the levels of G-dliness that were hidden in vegetation and the animal kingdom. When we built the Temple, we were able to reach the levels that were hidden in the inanimate also.
Now that we are in exile, and we don't have our Holy Temple, we are able to reach even lower, and draw G-dliness into the lowest physical places and objects. The Holy Temple was a place of open G-dliness. Yes it was made of the inanimate, but it was the holiest inanimate ever. We now have a world where G-dliness is utterly concealed, holiness is mocked and contempted. It is the lowest and darkest world. But we have the ability to draw G-dliness into the lowest possible levels, that is where G-d wants to be, and that is where the deepest levels of His essence can be found.
Why are we able to draw and reveal G-d's deepest essence? Because we each are a small Holy Temple. That is the meaning of the verse, "They should make Me a Mikdash, and I will dwell within them." Why does it say, "within them," when it should say "within it"? Our Sages teach that this means "within each and every one" of us. G-d wants to dwell in us. We are also the enigma of enigmas, we have a body that is the most physical and at the same time, we have a soul that is truly a part of G-d.
How do we draw G-dliness into the lowest possible levels? Studying Torah and doing mitzvot (commandments) only affect the physical that is connected to our Torah study and our performance of mitzvot. If we want to effect the lowest levels, we have to infuse the most mundane physical parts of our lives with holiness.
May we use the potential in every situation to make this world into a home for G-d and thereby helping bring Moshiach even quicker.
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.
Why a Blizzard!
by Tzvi Jacobs
It was the week of February 11, 1983 - my first year in yeshiva. Forty young men and I were studying in Yeshiva Tiferes Bachurim in Morristown, New Jersey. We were beginners in Torah study and in a Torah way of life.
One day after lunch, I stepped outside and stood for a minute on the metal staircase, gazing at the clear blue sky and breathing in the fresh winter air. It was winter, yet it was warm enough to stand outside in a long-sleeved shirt... a taste of an early Spring. In my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, I saw many such Februaries slide into Spring.
I was looking forward to being outdoors on the coming Friday. A dozen of us would be spending half the day in Elizabeth and Union, New Jersey, greeting the Jewish business people with tefilin and Shabbat candles, and sharing a Torah thought.
When we boarded the van on Friday morning, the sky was almost completely blue, just a few greyish clouds hunched over like sleeping bears. The driver rolled down the window. "It might be getting colder, I think you should get your winter coats," he said to those of us who were wearing only our suit coats.
Paul "Pesach" Silverman pulled himself aboard. A bit out-of-shape, yet Paul was excited. "This is it! I'm going to keep all of Shabbat."
About an hour later, when we finishing visiting the last person on our route, snowflakes were falling. The van picked us up and the driver was making the rounds to pick up the other pairs of students. By then, the snow was falling fast and heavy. We headed towards the Holland Tunnel. Our final destination, Crown Heights where we would stay for Shabbat Shekalim, was only an hour away but the snow fell faster than the wipers could clear the windshield. Cars were inching forward. There was no way we were going to reach Crown Heights.
We decided to turn around.
We made it to Route 24, heading back to Morristown. I never saw snow in Charleston, though there were some beautiful snow showers in Sewanee, Tennessee, where I attended the University of the South. But this kind of heavy snow I had never seen. It came down already pressed together, like door mats. Our van was barely moving and people were abandoning their cars in the middle of Highway 24. Sundown was less than half an hour.
"Guys, we are not going to make it back to Morristown," Michoel said. We locked the van with all our belongings inside and trudged in the snow. Michoel had heard of Rabbi Moshe Kasinetz, a Lubavitcher who was the rabbi of the Orthodox shul in Livingston. We reached a neighborhood and knocked on the first door. We needed directions to the rabbi's house. No one answered the door, and not the next door nor the next door. The door on the next house had a mezuza and I knocked.
"Marge, who's at the door?" a man shouted. "Oh, it's bunch of shnorers," she said. "Don't let them in," he shouted back, "they're just looking for money."
She didn't open the door. We turned around and headed back out the same way we came in.
"Hey," Yossi said. "I recognize that house on the corner. I once drove Rabbi Herson to Newark and we picked up a lawyer. I'm sure that's his house.
This time Yossi knocked on the door. The man opened the door and saw all of us. "I can't believe this!" Mr. Walter Frankel stood there stunned, until he finally said, "Come in, come in."
"I wanted to attend synagogue services tonight. But, you see, it's impossible."
Most of the guys knew the Friday night prayers by heart and Mr. Frankel said his prayers with such joy. "I still can't believe it. It's like G-d sent me a minyan from Heaven," he said.
We told him our "real" destination and he gave us directions to Rabbi Kasinetz's home. "My office is three miles away so I estimate that the rabbi's house is another half mile or so."
Fired up by this open revelation of G-d's divine kindness that we had helped someone pray with a minyan, and playing the leading roles, we sang and danced most of the way. Though it took cajoling and literally some pulling and pushing, Pesach, of blessed memory, kept his first of many years of Shabbat and this Shabbat became his favorite memory.
But we did not know that only one Shabbat a year, ever since forming Suburban Torah Center in June 1969, Rabbi Moshe Kasinetz took leave of the pulpit to go to Crown Heights and be at the Rebbe's Shabbat Shekalim gathering. We finally made it to 12 Beverly Road. Yossi and I were the first pair to touch the door of the Kasinetz's home. Miracle of miracles, Rabbi Kasinetz opened the door!
"Come in, come in!" Rabbi Kasinetz said and closed the door against the storm. I stood by the door and waited a minute. "Rabbi, there's more," I said.
The rabbi opened the door and spotted three more students trudging towards the house. "Oh, my, a whole carload!" The rabbi closed the door again and showed us where to place our wet coats. "Rabbi, there's more," I said with a smile. Two more students were pulling themselves through the blowing snow. Rabbi Kasinetz had barely closed the door and he heard another knock. Three more - the rabbi couldn't believe it. "Rabbi, don't lock the door yet." The rabbi looked out again and spotted a snow man wearing a Fedora hat dragging our round snowman. Pesach made it! "Are there more?" the rabbi asked me, ready to opening his home to how many guests the Almighty sent. I counted my fellow hikers. "That's it, rabbi, every seat was taken in the 12-passenger van."
Rebbetzin Kasinetz served us everything they had. "G-d was looking out for you. My children begged us not to go to Crown Heights this Shabbat. Now I know why!" the rabbi said, visibly moved. "Tomorrow there is a big kiddush in shul, and with weather like this, there will be plenty for all of us."
The Kasinetzs gave us every blanket in the house, and we slept like we had marched three hours through a blizzard. In the morning, the snow totally blocked the door. No problem. Two students jumped out the second-floor window and pushed the snow away. The snow drifts in front of Suburban Torah were at least five feet high. Without us, there would not been a minyan. Those who had to say kaddish braved the weather. And those didn't make it, thank you for the kiddush meal. It was delicious.
Two lessons are clear: One, if someone really wants to pray with a minyan G-d will help. And if people need to say kaddish He'll help that happen too! He might even send 12 young men in a blizzard to your door, and find a way to shelter and feed them.
Rabbi Mendel and Esty Khutoretsky arrived recently to run the Chabad of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, under the auspices of Chabad of RARA. From Kosher food to life cycle events, the celebration of Jewish holidays, educational programs for children and adults, and whatever else may arise in a growing, thriving community, the new emissaries will be on it.
Rabbi Daniel and Chaya Blotner arrived in Omaha, Nebraska recently. The couple join veteran Chabad representatives Rabbi Mendel and Shani Katzman in their work in the Gateway to the West.Omaha has welcomed a significant influx of young professionals in the tech and medical fields. Reaching out to them is one of the Blotner's primary objectives. The couple has already started reaching out to students at the city's three main university campuses.
10th of Adar, 5720 
Greeting and Blessing:
... You mention that you find a contradiction between my writing to you about the prohibition of eating foods which are prohibited by the Shulchan Aruch [the Code of Jewish Law], and my mentioning at the same time that you should consult a local Rav [Torah authority] and be guided by him. But I do not see what contradiction there is between the two statements, since, needless to say, I have in mind a Rav who himself is guided by the Shulchan Aruch and would not advise anything contrary to it. However, there are instances which are not fixed but rather in the realm of extra-perfection or extra-effort, wherein there is a certain amount of flexibility, and it is in this area that I suggested that you should be guided by the Rav.
With regard to your question as to learning the Tanya [the basic book of Chabad Chasidism], needless to say it is advisable, especially as it will still leave you sufficient time to do your other sacred studies you mention.
It is self-understood that all letters addressed to me are treated with confidence, even if not specifically requested so to be treated....
Hoping to hear good news from you,
25th of Shevat, 5736 
Greeting and Blessing:
Through our mutual friend, Rabbi Sholom Ber Lipskar, I enquire from time to time as to how things are going with you business-wise, and he reports to me insofar as he knows. I have also seen the newspaper clipping.
I surely do not have to emphasize to you that the true businessman is not the person who can manage his affairs when conditions are favorable and things run smoothly and successfully, but also, and even more so, when he shows that he knows how to cope with an occasional setback. Indeed, facing up to the challenge of adversity makes one a stronger and more effective executive than before, with an added dimension of experience and a keener acumen, to put to good use when things begin to turn upwards. Sometimes, a temporary setback is just what is needed for the resumption of the advance with greater vigor, as in the case of an athlete having to negotiate a hurdle, when stepping back is the means to a higher leap.
Facing up to the challenge of adversity makes one a stronger and more effective executive than before, with an added dimension of experience and a keener acumen, to put to good use when things begin to turn upwards.
In plain words, I trust - on the basis of my acquaintance with you - that you are taking the present difficulty well in your stride, coping with it squarely and making the necessary structural and other improvements, in terms of closer supervision and greater efficiency, as I see also from the clipping, although basically the present difficulty is no doubt a consenquence of the general economic situation.
I send you my prayerful wishes that you should very soon have good tidings about a tangible improvement, and that the setback has indeed served as a springboard for the great upturn in the days ahead....
Who was Rabbi Akiva?
Rabbi Akiva ben Joseph, who lived from about 40 c.e. to 125 c.e., was a descendant of converts. Unlearned until the age of 40, he was encouraged by his wife Rachel, to study Torah. He credited his vast Torah knowledge to his wife. Eventually considered one of our greatest rabbis, he had 24,000 students. He was an outstanding interpreter of Written Torah, and arranged the entire Oral Torah according to subjects, forming a basis for the Mishna. He was martyred by the Romans.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
We have begun the month of Adar, about which our Sages declared, "When Adar enters, we increase in joy." Although we celebrate Purim on Adar 14, the theme of the entire month is joy.
Joy, of course, is not limited to a specific time of year, place or circumstance. Rather, it is an underlying principle and integral component of the Jew's service of G-d. The Torah enjoins us to "Serve G-d with joy." Similarly, "You shall serve the L-rd your G-d with joy and gladness of heart."
Nonetheless, there is a special obligation to be even more joyful during Adar. The Talmud explains that Purim is the culmination of the Giving of the Torah. At Mount Sinai the Jews accepted the Torah, but it was somewhat coerced. On Purim, they accepted the Torah not out of fear, but out of love. The festival of Purim thus emphasizes our commitment to Torah and mitzvot, with a renewed sense of excitement and enthusiasm.
Joy is a tremendous force that is capable of transcending all boundaries. On Purim, a Jew must rejoice until he transcends the limitations of his intellect and elicits the deeper dimensions of the soul.
Although every Jewish holiday is in the category of "festivals for rejoicing" (as we say in our prayers), the joy of Purim is the greatest of them all. This is reflected in the fact that one is encouraged to be so joyful "that he cannot distinguish [between 'blessed is Mordechai' and 'cursed is Haman'] - i.e., above and beyond all restrictions and limitations.
The joy of Adar is thus a preparation for the joy of Purim, which not only breaks through boundaries but transcends them beyond measure. This will lead to the ultimate joy in the Final Redemption, as it states, "And the redeemed of the L-rd shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads."
May y the positive influence of Adar be expressed in the advent of the true and complete Redemption with Moshiach in the immediate futu
And they shall take to Me an offering (Ex. 25:2)
Our Sages stated: "Money is more dear to the righteous than their own bodies." At first glance this seems wholly inappropriate. How can wealth be so important to a truly righteous person? However, the Maharam of Lublin explained that only the righteous perceive the true power of money and the great good that can be done with it. How many mitzvot can be accomplished, how many poor people fed and Jewish educational institutions maintained!
(Maayana Shel Torah)
And you shall make two cherubim of gold (Ex. 25:18)
As explained in the Midrash Mechilta, all of the Sanctuary's vessels could be made from another metal if gold was not available-except for the cherubim. The cherubim were unique in that no other substance besides gold was acceptable. The cherubim, with their faces like that of children, are symbolic of Jewish children and the need to provide them with an uncompromising Jewish education. Indeed, the position of the cherubim on top of the holy ark reminds us of the primacy of our obligation. For when it comes to teaching children Torah and supporting Jewish education for our youth, only our best efforts will do.
(Maharam Shapira of Lubin)
And you shall set upon the table showbread before Me always (Ex. 25:30)
The Hebrew for "showbread" is lechem hapanim - literally "bread of the faces." Its appearance was different to each individual as the person's own nature was reflected in what he saw. A person with little faith saw it as cold and stale, for it reflected his own coldness and indifference to Judaism; but a person with strong faith in G-d perceived the bread as fresh and steaming hot even days after it was set on the table.
(Rabbi Avraham Mordechai of Gur)
A ripple of fear spread through the Jewish marketplace. "The wicked Haman is coming!" the merchants whispered as they hastily packed up their wares. Shutters were drawn and booths were closed. Buyers and sellers scattered like a flock of birds. Within minutes the marketplace was empty.
No one had ever figured out why the town's commissar hated Jews so much, but such was the fact. He was always finding ways to make their lives miserable, imposing exorbitant taxes and confiscating their merchandise. Indeed, their appellation "the wicked Haman" was also an expression of hope that he too would meet the same end as the Biblical oppressor.
Reb Hillel was the town's local mohel. But given the oppressive atmosphere of those times, his work was carried out with the utmost secrecy. Quietly and unobtrusively he would arrive at a Jewish home to bring a new baby into the covenant of Abraham. More than once it had been intimated that the authorities were aware of his activities. But Reb Hillel considered what he was doing a holy task, and would not be deterred by the threat of punishment.
One day Reb Hillel found himself searching for an address in the wealthier section of town. He didn't know the name of the family whose infant he would be circumcising, but the neighborhood was exclusive to high-ranking government employees. Just that morning, the synagogue's attendant had given him the address.
When he found the house, the attendant was the only one there. "Seven more Jews will be arriving shortly," he was told. "Together with the baby's father we will have a minyan." One by one the others arrived, their faces etched with worry and caution. The only one missing was the father, who would be bringing the infant.
"Whose house is this?" Reb Hillel asked as they waited, but no one knew the answer. That morning, a well-dressed figure had suddenly approached the attendant as he was locking the synagogue's door, and pushed a small piece of paper into his hand with the time and place of the brit mila. But everything else was a mystery.
However, there was no time for speculation, as at that moment the father walked in carrying the infant. The man was almost completely obscured by his heavy winter coat and hat, so it was very difficult to see what he looked like. Only Reb Hillel got a good glimpse as he took the baby from his arms. For some reason the man seemed familiar, but he couldn't quite place him. The brit was conducted quickly, and the father and infant left immediately afterward.
The next day Reb Hillel found a letter on his doorstep that caused his whole body to break out in gooseflesh. This was not the first time he was being summoned before the authorities, but he had a bad premonition. "No doubt my moment of truth has arrived," he fretted.
When he reached the government building he was immediately ushered into the office of the commissar. Reb Hillel's heart beat wildly and his body trembled. And then it hit him: the dreaded commissar was the baby's father!
The commissar took a cigarette from a little wooden box on his desk and lit it. It was obvious that he was in an emotional state. "I could tell yesterday that you knew who I was," he began. "I called you here to make sure that no one else ever learns my identity."
The commissar walked over to the window and then returned to his seat. Suddenly, without any prompting, he began to tell Reb Hillel his life story:
He had been born in a tiny isolated village. His mother was a loving and caring person, but his father had been cruel and violent. At a young age he had run away from home. Three times he had regretted his action and written to his father, but had never received an answer. As a result, he had become estranged from his Judaism and eventually abandoned it completely. For years he had held a grudge against the entire Jewish people.
After serving in the army, he had continued to advance up the ranks to his present post. A few years ago he had married a woman who, he discovered only after their marriage, was also Jewish. When it came time for her to deliver their first child, the labor was extremely difficult. Her life in danger, she had made her husband promise that if the baby was a boy and lived, he would undergo brit mila. The woman's life was spared, and the baby was indeed a boy.
"Yesterday," the commissar continued, "when I saw your willingness to endanger yourself for a total stranger, something moved in my heart. I can no longer justify my behavior toward the Jews."
The town's residents noticed the immediate change. It was truly inexplicable, but the commissar seemed to have run out of animosity. He even looked different as he walked through the marketplace, less arrogant and superior.
One Purim the news spread that the commissar had died suddenly. But instead of rejoicing, people merely shook their heads. A long time had passed since the days they had called him "the wicked Haman."
But Reb Hillel was the only one who shed a tear.
"And you shall make a crown of zahav - gold - around its border" (Ex. 25:25) The Jews were commanded to build the ark for the sanctuary in a specific way, including "crown of gold around its borders." The numerical equivalent of the word "zahav" is the same as "David," as the crown of sovereignty was promised to King David and his descendants forever. Moshiach is a descendant of King David.