Archive for February, 2009

L’Chaim Weekly Magazine for Parshas T’rumah 5769 (ISSUE # 1060)

Posted on February 27, 2009. Filed under: 17337154, 17337730, Jewish Customs, Jewish traditions, L’Chaim Weekly, L’Chaim Weekly Magazine, L’Chayim Weekly, L’Chayim Weekly Magazine, Lechayim Weekly, Lechayim Weekly Magazine, Parshas T’ruma, Parshas T’rumah, Parshas Terumah, Parshat Hashavua, Parshat Hashavuah, Parshat T’ruma, Parshat T’rumah, Parshat Terumah, T’ruma, T’rumah, Terumah, The Truth, Torah, Torah is THE Truth, True, Truth, Weekly Parsha, Weekly Parshah, Weekly sedra, Weekly Sedrah | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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B”H

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L’CHAIM – ISSUE # 1060

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Copyright (c) 2009

Lubavitch Youth Organization – L.Y.O.

Brooklyn, NY

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THE WEEKLY PUBLICATION FOR EVERY JEWISH PERSON

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

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FOR:

February 27, 2009       Parshas T’rumah             3 Adar, 5769

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Spiritual Genetics

Have you heard of the Lemba tribe in Zimbabwe? They have a tradition that they are one of the ten “lost tribes” of the Jewish people.

According to their tradition, about 2,500 years ago they left Judea (the period prior to the second Temple). After a stay in Yemen, one group migrated to Ethiopia, and a second continued farther south to where the Lemba eventually settled.

They have several practices that resemble Biblical Judaism. Among other things, they are monotheists, they have a holy day (like Shabbat), they consider themselves a chosen people, they don’t eat certain foods or combinations (milk and meat) prohibited in the Torah, they have a form of ritual slaughter, they practice circumcision, and put a Star of David on their tombstones. They even have a form of conversion.

Furthermore, the man who led them, Buba, was a kohen – and they have a priestly class. This becomes important later.

They also have “language markers” – words that don’t belong in the African language they speak.

In 1998 geneticists in the U.S., Israel and England examined the “y”

chromosome of Lemba men. Why? Because in 1997 scientists found a genetic marker of Jewish priesthood on the “y” chromosome. The “Kohen Gene” was quite distinct; other Jewish men didn’t have it, but kohanim all over the world did. It was genetic proof of Jewish tradi-tion, or at least a critical part of it.

And the descendants of Buba, the Lemba priests, shared that marker. This meant that their oral history had some basis, that at some point there was strong evidence of a connection to the Jewish people.

Why is this significant?

Well, for one thing, it gives greater weight to oral tradition. It’s a scientific nod to Yehudah HaLevi who, in the Kuzari, explained that one way we know the Torah is true is because there has been an unchallenged chain of transmission.

It’s significant for another reason. We declare that we are children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that our Jewishness is part of the very fabric of our being. What these genetic markers tell us is that we carry within us the information of our ancestors. We are a living history.

There’s another interesting aspect to all this. Information gets encoded because of encounters with the environment. Science tells us that our genes “learn” from experience; the kohen gene gets passed down from father to son in an unbroken chain. But our actions also influence what gets passed on.

In simple terms, when parents perform mitzvot (commandments), consistently, this becomes part of the “family genetics.” It gets passed down from generation to generation, not just as an oral tradition, but as part of what that family does, and therefore, who they are.

In a sense, then, we encode our spiritual genes with mitzvot, and pass on that “spiritual genetic code” to our children, and they to their children, and so on.

And since spiritual genetics are also influenced by the environment, we can gain the “mitzva gene” (as converts do), by our actions. So not only are we a living history, we can acquire and pass on, as surely as we do blood type or eye color, a spiritual genetics, an inheritance of mitzvot and G-dliness.

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LIVING WITH THE REBBE – THE WEEKLY TORAH PORTION

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This week’s Torah portion, Teruma, opens with G-d’s command to Moses:

“Speak to the Children of Israel, that they may bring me a contribution, from every one whose heart prompts him…gold, and silver and copper.”

As we find out further in the Torah reading, the Jews responded in droves, donating much of their wealth for the purpose of erecting the Tabernacle in the desert. Vast amounts of precious metal were amassed, necessary for making all of the Tabernacle’s many implements. Obviously, a donation of gold is at a higher level than one of silver or copper – commodities that are worth far less. Our Sages interpreted the contribution of each metal as symbolic of the different levels that exist in the giving of tzedaka (charity).

The Hebrew word for gold is zahav, an acronym for “he who gives in fullness of health (ze hanoten bari).” This refers to the highest level of charity, when one shares his wealth with others solely to fulfill the commandment of tzedaka (charity). Kesef (silver), stands for k’sheyesh sakanat pachad – when a person gives tzedaka because he is fearful, hoping that the merit of his charity will prevent evil from befalling him. This level of giving tzedaka is lower than the first, for the giver is motivated by the desire for personal gain. The lowest level of charity is that of copper – nechoshet, the letters of which stand for netinat choleh she’omer tenu – the charitable donation of one who is ill. This person, motivated by the desire to alleviate his own suffering, remembers to fulfill the mitzva of tzedaka only when he himself is in pain, hoping thereby to alleviate his misery.

On a deeper level, the differences between gold, silver and copper symbolize the differences between the First, Second and Third Holy Temples. Gold, the most precious metal, alludes to the First Holy Temple, the most perfect and complete of G-d’s dwelling places. Silver, although valuable, is worth far less than gold. This alludes to the Second Holy Temple, which was missing five items present in the First, among them the Ark of the Covenant.

These deficiencies reflected the fearful state of the mind of the Jewish people at that time, who worried that the Holy Temple would once again be destroyed. Indeed, history proved that their fears were legitimate.

Lastly, copper is symbolic of our present state of being, while we yet suffer the pains of the exile. Like one who is stricken with any other illness, we must cry out to our Father in Heaven, begging Him to establish the Third Holy Temple that will last forever.

Adapted from a talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Vayigash 5752

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SLICE OF LIFE

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An Angel Came to the Funeral

by Asna Wise

I live in Toronto and recently lost my mother, who lived in Israel. I am an only child with no husband or children. My mother was my entire family, my ally and my counselor, my one true friend who loved me and worried about me.

I had to travel to Israel quickly to arrange her burial. I had no idea how things were done there – who to deal with, where she would be buried, legal formalities. I was too distressed and confused to think straight. I asked the Rebbetzin at my Chabad synagogue, Rebbetzin Goldie Plotkin, to recommend someone in Israel who could help. She suggested her brother in Jerusalem, Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov.

My Mom had been raised in an Orthodox home. Her father was a rabbi and she had two brothers who studied in the great yeshiva in Ponevizh before they were murdered by the Nazis. This had to be done right for my Mom, and I knew that if Chabad got involved it would be.

I phoned Rabbi Shemtov from Ben Gurion Airport, and without hesitation he set things into motion. He contacted the Chevra Kaddisha (Holy Burial

Society) and found out where my Mom was, where she would be buried, and who was looking after her. He made sure everything was done according to Jewish law, and even promised to attend the funeral.

My Mom’s funeral was an ordeal for me. As soon as it was over people started to leave. Just then Rabbi Shemtov drove up with his son, Mendy.

He asked everyone to stay just a few more moments, and gave a beautiful eulogy about my Mom’s background, how she moved to Israel and how committed she was to the country. I had told him only a few details about her and yet he managed to deliver this beautiful, touching speech.

He was the only one who spoke. Her other friends looked anxious to go and seemed to scatter as soon as his speech was done. I had come to the funeral in a taxi and now someone drove me back to my Mom’s apartment.

I was alone. I sat in my mother’s silent home, surrounded by her things, her pictures, and my memories, and felt a grief that was unbearable. Yet in this darkness G-d remembered me. There was a knock on the door and Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov came in. He said, “Why are you sitting here alone?”

I said, “I don’t know. Because no one came with me.” I had never sat shiva before and had no idea what to expect or what I was supposed to do.

This angel said, “I am going out to get you candles.”

Half an hour later I heard footsteps on the stairs and saw Rabbi Shemtov and Mendy dragging bags and bags of food – up to the third floor of a building with no elevator, in the midday heat. He filled up my refrigerator; two weeks later I was still eating the food he’d brought.

Rabbi Shemtov set up five candles for me. We lit them and he told me what blessing to say. Then he set up a tzedaka (charity) plate and gave tzedaka. He found a small, low bench for me to sit on, he covered the mirrors and told me all the rules and customs of shiva (the first seven days of mourning). I asked him to arrange for Kaddish to be said for my Mom at a yeshiva in Jerusalem, which he immediately agreed to do.

Then he asked how Kaddish was going to be said for my mother during the week of shiva at her home. I did not know ten men in Israel for a minyan (quorom). I did not live there and most of my Mom’s friends were old ladies. We went out together to find a synagogue and found an Ashkenazi synagogue a block away. Rabbi Shemtov spoke to the gabbai (sexton), explained my situation and arranged for the gabbai to say Kaddish and Kel Mallai Rachamim for my mother. The gabbai opened a private room for me near where the men daven. I could cry there as much as I wanted and not be embarrassed. Rabbi Shemtov even bent over pages of a prayer book for me so I would know which parts to say. That evening, the gabbai shared a Torah thought in honor of my mother.

As we left the shul (synagogue), Rabbi Shemtov gave me the blessing for mourners and his son Mendy also said the blessing. By now it was dark, and he still had a three-hour drive from Kiryat Bialik, where my Mom lived, back to Jerusalem. This man – to whom I was a stranger – had spent an entire day looking after me, plus six hours of driving.

Now, Rabbi Shemtov is not a man with spare time. First, he has a family with seven small children. Furthermore, he is the executive director of two yeshivos and has other obligations. This man is not a millionaire.

Gasoline costs money, and he shopped for me like he would shop for his own sister.

Rabbi Shemtov did all this for a person he did not know who needed help at a difficult time. There are angels walking the earth and one of them is Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov.

Reprinted with permission from the N’Shei Chabad Newsletter

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WHAT’S NEW

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New Torah Scrolls

A new Torah scroll was completed and dedicated at the Chabad House on Montezuma Road in S. Diego, California. Nizhny Novgorod, Russia’s fourth largest city, recently dedicated a Torah scroll for the first time in over 100 years. The Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS Jewish Community Center in Nizhny Novgorod dedicated the Torah. The FJC Jewish Community Center in Krasnodor, Russia, also recently held a celebration for the dedication of a new Torah scroll. Until now, the community has been using a borrowed Torah scroll. The Moshiach Center of Chicago, Illinois, celebrated the dedication of a Torah scroll written in memory of a young child, Menachem Mendel Fine, who passed away. The Beis Menachem Synagogue in Petersburg, Russia, dedicated their second Torah scroll this year. In the Chabad synagogue in the settlement town of Adam, Israel, a new Torah scroll was dedicated. A new torah scroll was also dedicated in the Chabad House of Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, Israel.

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THE REBBE WRITES

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Freely translated and adapted

Adar 1, 5714 (1954)

From time to time I inquire about your wellbeing and receive news about your welfare from your children. I am surprised by the fact that on a number of occasions they have told me that your mood is not as it should be.

In general, each and every one of us, when we search and ponder our lives, even during the last few years when matters do not seem to be going so well, will observe G-d’s kindness and goodness, up to and including matters that were not at all expected.

In fact, the individual sees these things to an even greater extent than does another – as each person knows in his or her own life.

This should lead the person to recognize and acknowledge the blessings and goodness that he has received from G-d, and quite possibly, on more than one occasion, the person has received these blessings without any effort on his part.

This leads to the inevitable conclusion that if there do exist matters that are contrary to a person’s desires, then it may very well be one of two things:

Firstly, quite often a person does not truly know what is best for him and if that which he desires will indeed bring him true benefit or possibly the opposite.

Even when the individual concludes that he knows with one-hundred-percent certainty that the thing is good for him, he still cannot possibly know the reasons why he has not been granted these matters for the time being.

This is analogous to the business world: A good and experienced businessperson will not sell his merchandise at an inopportune time. And this is the case even when he can realize a profit, but that he reckons that by selling his merchandise at a later date he can realize a far greater profit.

The same is so with G-d’s goodness. If it is delayed, it is in all probability because at a later time G-d’s beneficence will be in a much greater manner in both quantity and quality.

This is particularly true in your case, where G-d has blessed you with true nachas (pride) from children, something which is not so often found …. Since you and your wife can anticipate even more nachas from your children, your going around unhappy (something which can be interpreted as dissatisfaction – G-d forbid – with the manner in which G-d conducts your affairs) defies understanding. Moreover, to a certain extent this is an expression of ingratitude to G-d.

It is self-understood that I am not writing to you in order to admonish you but to convince you that even according to the way you look at your life, the good things in your life are incomparably greater and more significant than those matters that you think are – temporarily – not as they should be.

Bear in mind that when a businessman makes an accounting, he does not consider each item individually, but makes a total accounting of the inventory as a whole. And so too regarding the “balance sheet” of events in your life.

It is my hope that the above few lines will move you to reconsider the “calculation” that you are making. I am sure that when you will do so, you will reach a much happier conclusion than you have reached until now. …

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26 Adar 1, 5717 (1957)

… Surely I need not explain at length to an individual like yourself that there is no room for feeling downhearted from your encountering some difficulties in the course of fulfilling your true task in life, that of “I was created to serve my Maker.”

Such feelings are from the machinations of the evil inclination that seeks to bring the person to a crestfallen state. In point of fact, the entire purpose of the evil inclination lies in man’s vanquishing him.

Indeed, this, i.e., that the evil inclination be vanquished, is also the desire of the evil inclination itself, as is to be understood from the holy Zohar, quoted in Tanya,ch. 29.

Ultimately, even those matters that presently conceal and obscure goodness and holiness are themselves transformed into good – and not only in a manner of “All that G d does, He does for the good,” i.e., that goodness will eventually result, but in a manner of “This too is for the good,” i.e., that the matter itself becomes good.

This difference is to be understood from the story itself of Nachum Ish Gam Zu, wherein the transformation of the earth into weapons served as overtly revealed goodness, as opposed to the expression “All that G d does, He does for the good,” wherein it was merely “for the good” but it was not transformed into actual goodness.

This is particularly so as we are now commencing the days of the month in which there is the joyous festival of Purim, about which our holy Torah states: “The month” – i.e., this is true of the entire month – “that was transformed for the Jews into a month of joy and Yom Tov.”

Now, the concept of “transformation” during this month means that the entire month is propitious for transforming those untoward events into a form of “joy and Yom Tov” that is palpably revealed to us.

From Healthy in Body, Mind and Soul, translated and compiled

by Rabbi S. B. Wineberg, published by Sichos in English

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… I surely need not emphasize to you that a true businessman is not one who can manage his affairs when conditions are favorable and matters are running smoothly and successfully, but also, and even more so, when he demonstrates that he knows how to deal with adversity and the 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, which can be put to good use even 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, where stepping back is necessary in order to facilitate a higher leap.

From a letter of the Rebbe, dated 25 Shevat, 5736

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A CALL TO ACTION

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Maintain Your Jewish Name

Our Sages stated that one of the reasons the Jews merited the redemption from Egypt was that “they did not change their names.” They continued using Hebrew names throughout the entire exile. Find out what your Jewish name is (a Jewish name can be Hebrew or Yiddish) and your mother’s and father’s Jewish names. If you were never given a Jewish name, chose one yourself after consulting your rabbi. Consider slowly switching to using your Jewish name.

In memory of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg and the other kedoshim of Mumbai

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A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

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It’s Adar, be happy! This is the basic theme of the Jewish month in which we find ourselves. “When Adar begins, we increase in joy,” our Sages teach.

But why should we be so happy just because it is Adar? In Adar we celebrate the joyous holiday of Purim, commemorating the time when the unity and prayers of the Jewish people brought about the nullification of Haman’s wicked plan to annihilate the Jews.

Our Sages declared Purim a day of festivity and rejoicing; of sharing our joy with our fellow-Jews. As Purim is the central holiday of Adar and the “theme” of the month, the entire month is permeated with our pursuit of joy and happiness. The Talmud describes Adar as having “a healthy mazal.”

It is a month which brings the Jewish people strength and true health.

In the month of Adar, G-d’s blessings for a good and sweet year are renewed, intensified, and increased. These provide more good reasons to rejoice!

In our day and age we have another reason to rejoice when Adar begins.

Jewish teachings explain that “Joy breaks all boundaries.” As we stand literally on the threshold of the long-awaited Redemption of the Jewish people and the entire world, the Rebbe has suggested that our every action be permeated with joy in the hope that this will break through the last boundaries of exile.

May the joy we experience in these, the last days of exile, hasten the coming of the ultimate joy, the coming of Moshiach. May we join one Redemption to another and connect the redemption of Purim to the Messianic Redemption. May it take place imminently.

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THOUGHTS THAT COUNT

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And they shall take for Me an offering (Ex. 25:2)

The word “offering” has two meanings: something set aside for a special purpose and that which is picked up and raised. An offering made to G-d achieves both of these objectives. Setting aside one’s money to do a mitzva (commandment) elevates the physical object that is bought with the money, transforming the material into holiness, as it says in Tanya:

“G-d gives man corporeality in order to transform it into spirituality.”

(Likutei Sichot)

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Speak to the Children of Israel, that they may bring Me a contribution (Ex. 25:2)

“The fool gives, and the clever man takes,” states the popular expression. What does this refer to? The giving of tzedaka (charity).

The fool thinks he is parting with something belonging to him; the clever man realizes that whatever he gives, he actually receives [its reward].

(Rabbi Yisrael of Rizhin)

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They shall make Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell in their midst (Ex.

25:8)

It is taught in the name of Rabbi Tarfon: How great is the significance of human labor and practical action! From the above verse we see G-d did not cause his Divine Presence to rest in the Sanctuary until Israel had performed the tasks connected to its erection.

(Avot D’Rabbi Natan)

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According to Maimonides, this positive commandment refers not only to the erection of the Sanctuary, but the building of the First, Second and Third Holy Temples as well. When Moshiach comes and the Third Holy Temple is established, the original Sanctuary built by Moses will also be revealed, for a special connection exists between the two. Just as the Sanctuary was built in the desert, by an individual who himself never set foot in the Holy Land, so will the Third Holy Temple reflect the good deeds we have performed and our service of G-d throughout the present exile.

(Peninei Hageula)

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IT ONCE HAPPENED

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The Rizhiner Rebbe had thousands of Chasidim in Ukraine while Czar Nicholas sat on his throne. It was during this period that the opponents of Chasidism made terrible accusations against Chasidim which reached even the highest gentile authorities.

One time the Czar was told that the Rizhiner Rebbe considered himself a king, and that he did not recognize the authority of the Russian crown.

Incensed, the Czar decided to dispatch an infiltrator to make an investigation.

The infiltrator was a high-ranking officer, a renegade Jew happy to turn informer. Arriving in Rizhin, he asserted that he wanted ask the tzadik (holy, righteous person) for his blessing for business endeavors. To ingratiate himself with the Chasidim, he bought refreshments. Then he began discussing his business, attacking the government for making laws and restrictions. The infiltrator was surprised that not one voice was raised in his favor. He repeated this performance several times, but each time was met by total silence from his listeners.

One afternoon he was ushered into the Rebbe’s room. The spy began to tell the Rebbe how, as a wealthy merchant, he was suffering from the terrible decrees and regulations imposed by the government.

The Rebbe looked deeply at his visitor and said, “I will tell you a story.

In a small village lived a Jewish innkeeper who had an only son named Yossel. Because the village was so isolated, Yossel had no Jewish friends. His best friend was Stepan, the son of the gentile handyman who worked for his father. Stepan had a quick mind and enjoyed sitting in on Yossel’s Torah lessons. In fact, Stepan was quicker than Yossel to grasp the lessons.

Years passed, and it was time to look for a bride for Yossel. A matchmaker came to the little village to interview him. Stepan sat together with Yossel as the matchmaker questioned him on Jewish topics.

Each time a question was posed, however, Yossel was silent, while Stepan supplied the answer. It was clear to the matchmaker that this boy was not a good prospect and he left. The innkeeper decided to separate his son from Stepan.

After much thought, he decided to send away both father and son. When the handyman heard, he protested: ‘Why should I be punished on account of my son? Let him go out into the world.’ And so Stepan left the inn.

For many months Stepan went from one study hall to another masquerading as a Jewish orphan and receiving hospitality from Jews wherever he went.

Eventually he tired of that life and decided to move to a large city, where he enrolled in a university and excelled in his studies. When he completed his courses he began searching for a good opportunity.

One day, arriving in a very distant city, he heard that the citizens were about to choose a new ruler, something they did every three years.

All candidates were to present themselves at the palace where their suitability for kingship would be determined. Stepan rushed to the palace. With his outstanding intelligence he was chosen king.

Soon after his coronation the new king inexplicably began making terrible decrees against the local Jews. The most devastating was that the Jews would have to leave the realm at the end of twelve months!

The Chief Rabbi declared a public fast, during which the people begged G-d to soften the king’s heart. On the fourth day, he called a meeting of the seven most prominent members of the community at which he related to them his strange dream. He dreamed that in a faraway land there was a young innkeeper named Yossel who would be able to change the decree of the king. Strangely enough, each man present had had the exact same dream.

Messengers were dispatched at once to bring the innkeeper to their city.

They related their strange tale and begged him to accompany them and Yossel agreed. The prominent Jews of the city managed to arrange a meeting with the king, and Yossel was ushered into the royal throne room. Stepan was overjoyed to see his old friend, and they embraced each other warmly.

“What is this I am told about the evil decrees you have made against the Jews of this realm?” asked Yossel.

“I really don’t have anything against the Jews,” Stepan replied. “In fact, they have always treated me very kindly, but as soon as I became king, I felt that I had to make these new decrees. I don’t entirely understand why.”

The Chief Rabbi explained: “Your majesty, our Torah teaches that the hearts of kings and rulers are in the hand of G-d. When Jews keep the Torah they fare well. But when they rebel against G-d, He hardens the heart of their king and they fall prey to evil decrees. Nonetheless, they do not pray for another king, for they know that it is their own actions that shape their destiny and not the will of the king.”

Having concluded his story, the Rizhiner looked into the eyes of the informer and said: Go and tell those who have sent you that the accusations against the Jews are untrue. They are loyal citizens and pray for the welfare of their rulers and the country in which they live.

Adapted from Talks and Talesn

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MOSHIACH MATTERS

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Everyone should realize the ability they have to affect others. This is closely connected with the idea of Hakhel (the year following the Sabbatical year in which all Jews would gather in the Holy Temple to hear the king read the Torah) to influence all men, women and children in taking on a greater commitment to Judaism. One shouldn’t think, “I can always begin later on…” On the contrary, haste is of the utmost importance, and one must begin as soon as possible. The efforts expended on positively affecting others will hasten the fulfillment of Hakhel in the plain sense, with the arrival of Moshiach.

(The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 29 Elul, 5747-1987)

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END OF TEXT – L’CHAIM 1060 – Terumah 5769

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Rabbi Tuvia Bolton Parsha Story for Parshat Terumah (AKA: T’rumah / T’ruma) 5769

Posted on February 27, 2009. Filed under: A Parsha Story, a Rabbi Bolton Story, a Rabbi Tuvia Bolton Story, a Rabbi Tuvia Bolton Story | Torah, Jewish Customs, Jewish traditions, Parshas T’ruma, Parshas T’rumah, Parshas Terumah, Parshat Hashavua, Parshat Hashavuah, Parshat T’ruma, Parshat T’rumah, Parshat Terumah, Rabbi Bolton Stories, Rabbi Bolton Story, Rabbi Tuvia Bolton Story, Story by Rabbi Bolton, T’ruma, T’rumah, Terumah, The Parshah Story, The Truth, Torah, Torah is THE Truth, True, Truth, Weekly Parsha, Weekly Parshah, Weekly sedra, Weekly Sedrah | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

BS”D

A Parsha Story by:

Rabbi Tuvia Bolton of OhrTmimim.Org/torah

On this week’s Parsha:

Parshat Terumah (AKA: T’rumah / T’ruma) 5769

This week we begin the month of Adar; the “Month that transforms sadness to joy, mourning to festivity” (Esther 9:22). We also read this Shabbat the Torah portion “T’ruma” which explains the building of the Holy Temple.

The reason that Adar is called the ‘month’ that changes sadness to joy is because it contains the holiday of Purim; the happiest holiday in Judaism. But, seemingly this is no reason to call it the happiest MONTH.

Also the idea of a Holy Temple doesn’t seem to fit the message of Judaism that G-d is omnipresent and infinite?

G-d is everywhere! Why do we need a holy Temple?

To understand this… here is a story. (HaGeula weekly page #445)

Mrs. Nechama Dina Bernstein took her pupils for an outing.  Why not? It was one of the eight days of Chanukah when Jewish schools of all sorts take vacations and make special programs. But this outing was special. She took the girls to a local shopping center in New Jersey to light, not Chanukah candles but Jews.

It was an invention of the Lubavitcher Rebbe; to go into public places, search for uneducated/ uninspired/ unattached Jews and give them a taste of Judaism.  In this case it meant telling them about the holiday of Chanukah and its laws, customs and deeper meanings.

Mrs. Bernstein was a very responsible, precise teacher and she demanded the same from her pupils; tardiness or disorder of any sort was out of the question.

So when they agreed that the girls would split up into groups of three to cover as much area as possible and would meet back at the bus in an hour and a half it meant no later than an hour and a half!

The girls took pamphlets and Chanukah candles and set off in different direction while she took what remained and went alone to search for Jews in a different direction.

After almost an hour of successful wandering about and talking to women about the holiday she looked at her watch to see that forty minutes remained, enough for two or perhaps three more discussions.  She noticed several women and a young man sitting around the table of an outdoor restaurant and approached.

“Anyone here Jewish?” She asked the women with a smile. Two women raised their hand in good spirits and a lively conversation ensued.  She told them about the holiday, they asked questions, she answered, they replied and the conversation continued for several minutes. Meanwhile the other women, who were just saying goodbye when Mrs. Bernstein appeared, left while the young man, who obviously was not Jewish, sat and listened to the discussion.

Suddenly Mrs. Bernstein looked at her watch and exclaimed. “Oh, my goodness! We’ve been talking for forty five minutes! I must go!!! I’m already late!”

She shook hands with the women, they exchanged telephone numbers, left some of the pamphlets and candles with them and ran off to her pupils and the bus.

But she stopped. A voice inside of her was saying she shouldn’t have completely ignored the young man, ‘You should have at least asked him if he was Jewish’. But then she thought again. ‘Why, that’s foolish! I’m late! And he didn’t look at all Jewish! I’m not going back!”

But the first voice won.

She turned around, walked briskly back to the table, approached the young man who was now sitting alone and said “Excuse me but, by the way, are you Jewish?”

She never would have expected his reaction. His eyes filled with tears, he began trembling so severely that the food fell from his fork on his shirt leaving a large stain and he began to cry.

Mrs. Bernstein was confused, she apologized handed him a few napkins and apologized again.

“Why did you ask me that?!” the young man said between sniffles. “Why did you come back and ask me that!?” He said again drying his eyes and blowing his nose a few times.

“I don’t really know.” She replied. “I can’t really explain it. I just did. But why are you crying? What happened? I’m sorry. But please tell me, are you Jewish?”

“I’ll tell you.” He replied. “I don’t think you understand what a miracle just happened now.” He invited her to sit down and began to talk.

“First of all my name is Fred (pseudonym) I was born to a Jewish mother, so that makes me Jewish, right? But my father is not Jewish. To you that probably isn’t important because I’m still a Jew but to me it meant confusion.

“My mother wasn’t at all observant, I mean she did marry a gentile, but for some reason she insisted that if they had children they would be given an orthodox Jewish education. Doesn’t make sense but my father agreed and when I was born… I became that child.

“When I was three they enrolled me in a real Jewish school and by the age of five I not only could read the Torah, I looked and acted like a religious Jew with a yarmulke, locks of hair at the sides of my head, Tzitzis, on the four corners of my garments; the whole business!

“But you can imagine what a feeling I had everyday when I went back to my totally non-religious home. And although my parents didn’t bother me about my Jewish appearance the kids in school bothered me about my home. They were just little kids and, well you know how kids can be cruel sometimes. But they mostly made fun because of my appearance. I looked exactly like my father; blond hair, blue eyes, small bobbed nose in other words like a total gentile and every once in a while even the teachers made remarks.

“Anyway, it made me confused and miserable and when my parents saw how it was ruining me they talked it over and when I got to the fifth grade they decided to move me to a normal public school.

“After the move it only took a few days till I removed all the signs of Judaism, made new friends and almost forgot the whole episode but deep in my heart I knew I was different.  What I had learned in the Jewish school stuck with me, but so did the negative experiences.

“Sometimes I even would talk to G-d and ask Him why He put me in this confusion but I didn’t get any answers; only more confusion.  So I tried to take my mind off it and just live life like everyone else.

“But once in a while I had attacks of identity and one of them was just now. When you came and asked everyone except me if they were Jewish my heart broke; all the frustration, anger and sadness came back to me.  Then, when you walked away I decided to have my final talk with G-d.  I said ‘G-d, if that lady comes back here and asks me if I’m Jewish then….. I’m Jewish. But if not….. I’m never going to think about it or talk to you about it again!’

“So if you are wondering why you came back… now you know; it was G-d answering my prayers!”

This answers our questions.

When someone decides to make a real change in life it doesn’t just mean just changing appearance, attitude or personality. These are only from the soul outward.

True change means changing oneself to reveal one’s soul and live according to the truth; according to the will of the Creator.

Like Fred when he prayed and risked being different and Mrs. Bernstein when she returned to the table and risked missing her bus. Both were interested only in one thing; what does G-d want from them. And when they made the decision it changed their lives and certainly the lives of those around them.

That is why the miracle of Purim, when the Jews refused to deny their Judaism and escape Haman’s decree of ‘Destroy all the Jews’, effected the entire month and the Holy Temple, where Jews devoted themselves totally to the Creator, effected the entire world.

Because when one makes that decision to live only according to the will of the Creator it can connects the infinite to the finite; all time and space.

This is why one of the main accomplishments of Moshiach will be to change the priorities of all the Jewish people (like it was in Purim) and build a Third Temple (like in our weekly Torah portion).

Because through these changes the entire creation; all time, space and consciousness, will be PERMANENTLY purified to reveal the TRUE oneness of G-d.

It’s all up to us, to change ourselves and do all we can to bring….

Moshiach NOW!!



Copyright © 1999-2008 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton of Yeshiva Ohr T’mimim (OhrTmimim.Org/torah) in K’far Chabad, Israe-l

All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.



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Rabbi Tuvia Bolton Story Parshat Mishpatim (5769)

Posted on February 20, 2009. Filed under: A Parsha Story, a Rabbi Bolton Story, a Rabbi Tuvia Bolton Story, Jewish Customs, Jewish traditions, Mishpatim, Parshas Mishpatim, Parshat Hashavua, Parshat Hashavuah, Parshat Mishpatim, Rabbi Bolton Stories, Rabbi Bolton Story, Rabbi Tuvia Bolton Story, Story by Rabbi Bolton, The Parshah Story, The Truth, Torah, Torah is THE Truth, True, Truth, Weekly Parsha, Weekly Parshah, Weekly sedra, Weekly Sedrah | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

BS”D

A Parsha Story by:

Rabbi Tuvia Bolton of OhrTmimim.Org/torah

On this week’s Parsha:

Parshat Mishpatim 5769

In this week’s Torah portion are found 23 positive and 30 negative commandments; fifty three deeds that G-d, the Creator of the Universe, wants the Jews to treat differently than everyone else.

Many of them deal with the law of the Eved Ivri; a Jewish Slave.  According to Judaism a Jew can sell himself or be sold as a slave to another Jew for a certain amount of time.

The Torah is a book of life, every word and certainly every commandment contains eternal and vital lessons for all time. But here seems to be an exception. This law of Eved Ivri has not been in effect for over 2,500 years.  If so what is the eternal lesson?

To understand this, here is a story (Weekly Shabbat page ‘Shmu U’tchi Nafshechem’ #487)

Bentzi (short for Ben-Tzion) was 32 years old and he hadn’t been an observant Jew most of his life, nor had his parents. He received a ‘normal’ Israeli education like all the other children but several years ago his brother began to take Judaism seriously which did something to him and he began to do the same.

So for the last few years he had been what is popularly known as a ‘Baal T’shuva’; a Jew ‘Returning’ to his hidden Jewish identity; constantly improving his actions, speech and thought to be more spiritually and positively oriented in tune to the Torah.

For instance, as the holiday of Passover approached he made it a point to learn more about its mystical content and be more enthusiastic about its laws and customs. So when his brother suggested that he buy special, hand made Matzot (Unleavened bread) from a place called Kollel Chabad in Jerusalem he immediately took a bus from his home in a town called Maale Adumim and went there.

It took him a bit of searching through the winding streets of old Jerusalem but when he arrived at the building he was in for an unpleasant surprise. There was no one in the room except one respectable-looking white-bearded Chassid but when Bentzi asked if this is where they sell Matzot the Chassid turned to him and replied, ‘Looking to buy Matzot? There aren’t any here! Sold out!’

“Sold out?” Bentzi said incredulously. “But there’s still a week before the holiday!?  How could it be?”

He thought a few seconds and asked. “Well, maybe tell me where I can buy Matzot?”

“Go to the bookstore called HaMayfitz. There is a Rabbi called Gerson Henich Cohen. He’ll sell you Matzot. But you should hurry!”

Benzi thanked the man and rushed out of the room as he yelled over his shoulder, “Have a Kosher and happy Passover!”

As he was running he couldn’t help thinking to himself that the whole thing seemed very strange. How could it be that there were no Matzot in the Matza store? Especially a week from the holiday? That means that hundreds of families would suffer! Maybe even more! Where would they get Matzot?”

Suddenly he realized that he must have taken a wrong turn, he looked around for a few seconds to figure out where he was but he didn’t exactly recognize the area. He was standing near the bottom of a steeply inclined side street that emptied into a busy main street.

He looked up to see if there was anyone around to ask directions to when suddenly he heard something rattling in the distance and what he saw made his heart skip a beat; it was a baby carriage barreling down the street in his direction from the top of the hill. It was approaching going fast and in seconds it would run into the busy street if he didn’t move fast to stop it …..  If there was a baby in that carriage it would be a sure catastrophe! For a second he froze as the sound of the carriage wheels whistled louder and louder; louder than the noise of the cars in the street behind him.  He ran as fast as possible, lunged and caught it!

He looked inside the carriage. There was a baby there! He had saved a life!

Bentzi looked up the street and saw in the distance a man and his wife looking in a store window and discussing something. He pushed the carriage up toward them and asked if it was theirs. “Why yes!” They both said in an almost in unison not understanding what he was doing and how it got in his hands. When he explained what happened they were ashamed, happy, grateful and confused at once.

Bentzi was as confused as they were, ‘Good thing that Kollel Chabad ran out of Matzot!!’ He thought to himself.

But what about his Matzot?! He had almost forgotten! He said a quick good bye, wished them a happy holiday and hurried away from the couple.

After asking a few people for directions to the ‘HaMayfitz’ book store he finally found it, entered and asked for hand-made Chabad Matzot.

“Matzot?” The owner replied “We don’t sell Matzot here. Never did. If you want to buy a good book, or maybe a pair of Tefillin or a Mezuza, yes. But Matzot, sorry! If you want Matzot go to Kollel Chabad. Kollel Chabad has Matzot.”

“But I was just there!” Bentzi tried to protest. “How could it be? They told me to come here! They said they ran out of Matzot and said I should go to HaMayfitz. This is HaMayfitz right?”

“Listen.” The man behind the counter said. “I’m glad you came here, yes, this is HaMafitz and you can come every day if you want but we don’t sell Matzot. Never did! And I don’t believe that Kollel Chabad ran out. Can’t be. Why, there’s still a week before Pesach! Any case, here we certainly don’t have any.”

Bentzi knew the way and in just ten minutes he was entering the Kollel Chabad building. This time when he entered their Matza shop someone else was standing at the counter.  “Tell me,” Bentzi said. “Have you got Matzot here? I was here a half hour ago and they told me you ran out. Are there Matzot or not?”

“Ran out of Matzot?” The man said incredulously. “Here, come here.” He motioned to Bentzi to step behind the counter then turned around, opened a door behind him and told Bentzi to have a look.  It was a room filled from floor to ceiling with large cartons of ….. Matzot! Hundreds of them! “How many cartons do you want?”

Bentzi told the story to many people since then and the usual comment is; “That Chassid who sent you from Collel Chabad must have been Elijah the Prophet. (Elijah who lived some 2700 years ago, never died and appears regularly in this world to help people.)  HaShem must have sent him to send you to save that baby.”

This answers our question.

When a Jew became an Eved Ivri he/she lost their independent will and became someone’s slave every moment of the day.

At face value this is very bad but in a deeper sense this attitude is invaluable and basic to Judaism; to be a servant of the Creator in EVERYTHING we do. Even when we would like to give up.

Even when things don’t go as we would like, or even opposite to our plans, we must never forget that G-d is the boss and we are but servants. Namely, we must do all we can to succeed but leave the results up to G-d.

Something like how Bentzi saw in our story that all his running around, taking wrong turns and ‘wasted’ energy was really for the best and without it a life might have been lost.

Similarly with us; we must be Jewish servants to the King of the Universe. Then we will see and realize that all the confusion and ‘wrong turns’ of our exile of the last 2,000 years was really for the best and soon Elijah the Prophet will announce to all of us ……..

Moshiach NOW!!



Copyright © 1999-2008 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton of Yeshiva Ohr T’mimim (OhrTmimim.Org/torah) in K’far Chabad, Israe-l

All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.



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By the way, You, too, can help hasten the coming of Moshiach, by doing ONE more Mitzvah. ***

*** We WANT Moshiach, Now!!! ***

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Rabbi Simon Jacobson Lecture: MOSCOW 2009 A Miracle in Our Times

Posted on February 6, 2009. Filed under: A Miracle in Our Times, Lecture of Rabbi Simon Jacobson, Lectures by Rabbi Simon Jacobson, Lectures of Rabbi Simon Jacobson, Moscow 2009, Rabbi Simon Jacobson, Rabbi Simon Jacobson Lecture, Rabbi Simon Jacobson Lectures, The Truth, Torah, True, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

BS”D

Lectures of:

Rabbi Simon Jacobson

Brought to you by:

Lectures of: Rabbi Simon Jacobson

Of:

http://www.MeaningfulLife.com

This Lecture’s Subject:

MOSCOW 2009

A Miracle in Our Times

By Simon Jacobson

February 5, 2009 – Moscow, Russia

Amidst all our current global turmoil, I would like to report to you that I find myself in a city which caused much upheaval in the last century, and despite all odds and predictions is now witness to a living miracle.

I should add that this miracle touches me very personally.

With great anticipation I embarked on my journey to Moscow for this present lecture tour. You see, this city is the birthplace of my father. Indeed, Russia is the country of origin of both my parents, my grandparents and all my immediate ancestors. It is also the birthplace of my mentor, the Rebbe, and all his predecessors. It is the country which gave birth to the Chassidic movement, which has deeply shaped my life with its transformative philosophy and blueprint for contemporary life.

The largest segment of American Jews trace their roots to this country.

The list is long with both the contributions and calamities of this historic country.

With my entire upbringing shaped by Russian influences, I was quite naturally looking very much forward to finally coming to the country that is so embedded in my genes and in my nurturing.

Right off the plane I felt right at home. All the words of my childhood come pouring out. “Spasiba.” “Das vi danya.” Dobre vetcha.” “Panyimayot.” “Tochne.” “Shto.” “Pazhaleste.” “Maladetz.”

Of course, the indispensable “tak.” And some words not for print. Lest you wonder, I feel quite inept with my knowledge of this language. I know just enough to answer “nimnoshka” to the question whether “panyimyot paruski?” and definitely “nyeta gavarit.”

Yes, I feel sense of belonging here. But little did I expect the intensity of my emotional reactions. I am actually now sitting and weeping as I think about the unlikely – unlikely is grossly inadequate; it’s more of a revolutionary – transformation that has taken place within yards from where I presently sit.

For over 70 years, from the time of the Russian Revolution, a war was waged from this city and country against Jewish life. Tragically, the Communists effectively closed down synagogues, schools and all the institutions that allowed Judaism to thrive in this country for centuries. In this city thousands of Jewish Rabbis, leaders, scholars, just fine people, were shot without just cause. It was the city from where Stalin drove terror into the hearts of hundreds of millions and killed tens of millions.

And on a personal note: It was in this city in 1937, in a neighborhood called Malachavkeh, where my grandfather and namesake was arrested by the NKVD, the dreaded Soviet secret police. A few years earlier, in the same city in 1923, my grandfather merited to be one of the ten individuals, who together with the Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak took a vow to the death to do everything in their power to preserve Jewish life in that country. Most of those ten were arrested and shot. My grandfather would end up exiled in Siberia for several years and finally escape the country, physically broken though spiritually stronger (here is a video of my father describing that dark night). Most others were not so fortunate. They were either killed or died from hunger. The remaining Jews were persecuted and not easily allowed to maintain their heritage.

[Moscow was also the city which, in its Russian-style obstinacy, in the shape of bitter cold winter, froze Napoleon and later Hitler in their march forward to conquer this notoriously resilient country].

You would think that after all this there would be no remnant left of Jewish life in Moscow and Russia.

Quite the contrary.

Now I sit in Moscow and watch Jews who lived through all that terror – some of them quite elderly, many others are their children and grandchildren – and in one way or another have maintained their Judaism. Many others are reconnecting to their roots. It’s a complicated story; no one even knows how many actual Jews there are in this country. Many, many parents hid their identities from their children to protect them from the discrimination. So many others have intermarried. But one thing is for sure: The place is saturated with Jewish energy. It feels like being in a burned out building but you still can see the simmering embers that have remained burning – barely. But burning they are, and like the nature of a spark, they are flickering and beginning to burst into flames.

There is much work and hard work that still needs to be done, but what is so awesome is that the cinders have remained alive. After all this time and all the attempts to extinguish them, after two World Wars and all the upheavals in the last century, who would have thought?…

And this survival and revival is no an accident. Behind the scenes there were those in this country and outside of it that were risking their lives – with literal mesiras nefesh – to maintain the pilot flame. I will never forget my father’s description of a personal audience he had with the Rebbe, following his 1971 visit to the Soviet Union. My father delivered hundreds of letters written by Russian Jews to the Rebbe, pouring out their souls, asking for blessings and describing their challenges. Not to arouse suspicion, these letters were addressed, “Dear Father,” “Dear Uncle” and the likes. The Rebbe gently took the letters and began reading them. Within a few minutes the Rebbe was crying. My father, feeling uncomfortable remaining in the room with the Rebbe in such an intimate moment, slowly began backing out of the room. The Rebbe motioned that he remain. He stood there crouched in a corner, watching this rare sight of a holy man sobbing uncontrollably over the plight of his people.

These tears were not that rare. Over the years of his leadership, the Rebbe never ceased speaking out – crying out – for the Jews trapped on the “other side of the iron curtain.” I personally witnessed the unyielding and emphatic cries of the Rebbe, always citing the Talmudic declaration that “even an iron curtain cannot separate them from their Father in heaven.” You could see in the Rebbe’s appeals the profound concern and pain that he consistently carried inside for his brethren – who were also his fellow countrymen and women – living, suffering in the Soviet Union.

This concern was not limited to feelings. Not here is the place and the time to go into the Rebbe and the Previous Rebbe’s superhuman, underground efforts to keep the Jewish flame alive through all those hard years, via a secret network of activities that span back to the 1920’s!

That defiant effort alone – to stand up against the might Soviet empire and not accept defeat – should go down in history as one of the most formidable acts of heroism. But the story doesn’t end there. These herculean efforts yielded their fruit: The flame remained burning, while the Soviet empire crumbled. Fulfilling the prescient words of the Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak to one of his Jewish captors (from the notoriously hated “yevsektzia,” the Jewish wing of Communists): When the captor sneered to the Rebbe “Rebbe, mir velen zehn ver vet oisfiren,” we shall see who will prevail, the Rebbe replied: “ye, mir velen zehn,” yes indeed, we shall see…

And now we see…

To see the renaissance of Jewish life in Moscow – after all that transpired – is quite overwhelming…

What relevance does of all of this have to us today?

On the most obvious level: This is a story of hope. Should anyone reading these lines be in despair, feel hopeless or suffering in any form and fashion – I bring you live and warm regards from a city where hope and faith have prevailed over the harshest of adversaries.

As I was speaking the other day to a group of Russian Jews – I spoke in English simultaneously being translated into Russian – I could see the tears in the eyes of several people in the audience when I thanked them for remaining standing through it all. I could see the emotions well when they heard about the Rebbe reading their letters with tears.

After witnessing this all, no one should ever be able to say that there is no hope…

As so many of us are wondering what will come of our current economic woes, of never-ending volatility in the Middle East, of each of our own personal fears and uncertainties — Moscow 2009 is a powerful reminder that we know very little about the mysteries of life cycles. Yesterday, Moscow was destroying lives, today it is building them. Yesterday, Moscow all but annihilated Jewish life and morale. Today Jewish life is thriving here.

In the center of Moscow an impressive seven-story Jewish Community Center is buzzing with activity. From classrooms, synagogues, two kosher restaurants, community rooms, sports activities, dinner halls, ballrooms, and that’s not even half of it. Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar sits unassuming in his office, overseeing KGB headquarters on one end and an empire of Jewish institutions on the other. I am looking into his eyes to see if he senses the great miracle he is part of.

But awesome moments are never recognized as they happen; only in retrospect.

Moscow today is indeed an awesome sight to behold when placed in context of Moscow in 1937.

And its lessons reverberate. With crisis brewing world over, who knows where and when the next Moscow will emerge.

—— * ——

***

Above portions were copied from Lectures of: Rabbi Simon Jacobson

Of: http://www.MeaningfulLife.com

***


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Rabbi Tuvia Bolton Parsha Story for Parshat Beshalach (B’shalach) 5769

Posted on February 6, 2009. Filed under: A Parsha Story, a Rabbi Bolton Story, a Rabbi Tuvia Bolton Story, B'shalach, Beshalach, Jewish Customs, Jewish traditions, Parshas B'shalach, Parshas Beshalach, Parshat B'shalach, Parshat Besahalach, Parshat Beshalach, Parshat Hashavua, Parshat Hashavuah, Rabbi Bolton Stories, Rabbi Bolton Story, Rabbi Tuvia Bolton Story, Story by Rabbi Bolton, The Parshah Story, The Truth, Torah, Torah is THE Truth, True, Truth, Weekly Parsha, Weekly Parshah, Weekly sedra, Weekly Sedrah | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

BS”D

A Parsha Story by:

Rabbi Tuvia Bolton of OhrTmimim.Org/torah

On this week’s Parsha:

Parshat Beshalach (B’shalach) 5769

In this Torah portion we read about the splitting of the Reed (‘red’) Sea.

Never in history was or would there be anything like it; an entire nation of several million people escaped from the most powerful army in the world by walking on dry land in the middle of a sea! And then, as soon as they got to the other side the water miraculously caved in and drowned their pursuers!

[And it’s not just history. That nation has been miraculously surviving such enemies for thousands of years and still exists today; the Jews!]

But at first glance this is not understood.

What was the purpose of these miracles at the sea? Why didn’t G-d just kill the evil Egyptians in their sleep and take the Jews quietly out. Why all the fanfare? And G-d split the sea at the last moment? (See 14:9-12) Why all the tension?!

Also this week was the tenth of Sh’vat, the day that the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak passed away and his son in law, the Seventh Rebbe, who said that this generation would be the generation of ‘Moshiach’, took over.

Is there as connection?

To understand this here is a story (Rabosainu N’si’ainu pg 186)

The sixth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch; Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak was a truly remarkable man, wise, spiritually gifted and brave. Besides being gifted in all aspects of the Torah and of secular knowledge …. he was a man of action.

In Russia he single handedly stood against the atheistic, murderous regime of Stalin by sending thousands of his followers throughout Russia to teach Torah to children at the risk (and often the cost) of their lives. And in the last ten years of his life in the U.S.A. he began the ‘outreach’ movement that has totally transformed Judaism today.

But the main driving force in his life was love; helping others and doing everything possible to alleviate suffering. And he taught his followers to do the same.

For instance when Rabbi Michel Vishedski (a neighbor of mine in K’far Chabad) escaped Russia some 50 years ago and settled in New York he did everything in his power to help Russian Jewry and he took it upon himself to visit all the orthodox synagogues in New York and see if they could help as well.

One of his meetings was with one Rabbi Rabinovitz; the head Rabbi of the Bronx. When he arrived at his synagogue he found the place empty, as most synagogues are in the early afternoon, and the Rabbi seated at a long table in a chair next to the head of the table.

Rabbi Michel shook the Rabbi’s hand, introduced himself and, supposing that the Rabbi had left the head seat vacant for him, sat in it.

“Excuse me,” Rabbi Rabinovitz said, “Please don’t sit in that chair. It’s the head seat and I always leave it vacant.”

Rabbi Vishedski apologized and stood up and when he took a different seat the Rabbi smiled, apologized himself for not warning him and said. “You’re a Lubavitcher, right? Well then, you’ll probably understand the reason I leave that seat open. It was because of a dream.”

“Really? A dream?” Rav Michel was interested and seeing his interest, Rabbi Rabinovitz, smiled and began telling him the story.

“It began almost twenty years ago, 1949. I had survived the holocaust, moved from Romania to New York, got married and began thinking about a job. I had a few ideas about how to make a living but I couldn’t make up my mind. Then someone suggested that I go see the Lubavitcher Rebbe for advice.

“I called up and I got an appointment. It was Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe and I got in to see him. He wasn’t so healthy and it wasn’t easy to understand him but after he heard my questions he said that he thought I should be a Rabbi. He was very clear about that and he said I should let him know what happened.

“Well sure enough, a while later I got this offer to be the head Rabbi here of the Bronx so I went back and asked the Rebbe if I should take it. He closed his eyes, thought for a minute and finally looked up and said.

“‘A Shul (synagogue) is a Shul. But I don’t like the Shamash (sexton-caretaker).’

Then he again closed his eyes and repeated; ‘A Shul is a Shul. But I don’t like the Shamash’.

Then he blessed me with success in the new job and asked me to return two weeks to see him again.

“So I followed his advice and took the job. But when I came back two Sundays later I found a huge crowd gathered outside his building…. For his funeral! They told me that the Rebbe had passed away on Shabbat! The Rebbe invited me to his funeral. I felt he was telling me that our contact would continue.

“Anyway, things went fine in the Shul; I got along well with everyone and the place began to become popular but I sensed something wrong. Gradually I found out what it was; the Shamash of the Shul was speaking against me. He even had himself a small following of complainers.

“At first he was quiet about it but eventually it got public and the politics threw the Synagogue and myself into turmoil. When I thought I was going crazy I decided to go the Rebbe’s son in law who had become the next Rebbe, for advice.

“I got in to see him and it was the most amazing experience in my life. As soon as I told him my problem he said; ‘My father in Law told you that a Shul is a Shul but that he didn’t like the Shamash!’

“It was simply uncanny. Remember, this was years later and I never told anyone what the Previous Rebbe said to me! Anyway he continued, told me not to worry and to just be patient and that eventually I’d catch the Shamash doing something wrong.’

“Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened! Just a few weeks later I was having trouble sleeping one night and took a walk to the Shul and who do I see also walking around outside but the president and the janitor. It seems that they also couldn’t sleep. Anyway as we got near to the Shul we noticed something strange; a few lights were on inside and someone was in there doing something. So we entered silently and what did we see? The Shamash was emptying all the charity boxes into his pocket! Needless to say he got fired the next day and my problems were over…. almost.

“Like I said our synagogue became popular and after a few years there was no where to sit. We needed to expand but there was no where to expand to, all the land around the Shul was taken. But just then the butcher next to us decided he wanted to sell us his place so he could expand elsewhere. It was a miracle!!

“And the butcher was so friendly. We came to an agreement, he gave us a great price and we shook hands, didn’t even write a bill of sale! The next week the butcher moved to a big store he bought across the street and we knocked down a wall, did a bit of remodeling and like magic our Shul became almost twice as big as it was! Everyone was happy! For a while.

“But after a few years the butcher’s new place also became small on him. He was succeeding and he wanted to expand again; to move his refrigerators to somewhere nearby and use the space for more customers. But he also had a problem finding a place to buy. Until he suddenly remembered the building he sold us and that there had been no bill of sale!

“He got a lawyer, sent us letters telling us to leave and when we tried to reason with him, took us to court and got an order of eviction. Things happened fast and we were going crazy but there was nothing we could do. Then, the night before the eviction I had a dream.

“I dreamt that I was standing in this room and at the head of this table, where I told you not to sit, was the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe with his son in law, the present Rebbe, standing next to him. The Rebbe smiled and said, ‘Why are you so worried? G-d will direct everything in the best way.’

“Then his son in law said ‘ The Rebbe told you that a Shul is a Shul. It means that once a butcher shop becomes a Shul it can’t become a butcher shop again. Don’t worry.’

“Suddenly I woke up! I looked at my watch. I was late! I was supposed to wake up an hour ago! I got dressed and ran to the Shul as fast as I could, but it was too late. There were police everywhere, all our congregants were standing in the street trying to talk to them while some ten husky fellows were carrying all the seats out of our Shul.

“But suddenly there was a big crash from the new butcher shop across the street then screams. Everyone turned to see. One of the workers came running out the door screaming ‘Call an ambulance! Get a doctor! Help!! The boss is hurt!!”

“It seems that somehow a huge chandelier that was hanging in the butcher shop came loose and fell on the owner knocking him unconscious. I ran over there and there was blood everywhere! But before the ambulance arrived he came to and limped out the door holding his bleeding head and yelling like a madman. “Put the chairs back!! Don’t evict them!! I lied!! I lied!!! They really paid for my store. I’m sorry!!”

“The ambulance took him anyway, the policeman shrugged his shoulders told the movers to return everything and that was the end of it! Just as the Rebbe said.

‘That is why I never let anyone sit in this chair.

This answers our questions. The reason G-d split the sea was to prepare the Jews for receiving the Torah and to teach them how to use it afterwards.

At Mount Sinai all the spiritual worlds ‘split’ to reveal the Creator of the Universe, just as the sea split to reveal the dry land. And so it was when the sea split; the Jews had awesome revelations of G-d! (See Rashi on Zeh Kaili 15:2).

But G-d also tested and strengthened them beforehand to ignore the pressures of the world (as symbolized by Pharaoh and his forces) by spitting the sea at the last moment; just as He did to the Rabbi in our story.

But just as Moses took the Jews from Egypt and brought them to Mt. Sinai so the mystical book ‘the Zohar’ promises that in every generation there will be a Moses, a potential Moshiach, to reveal G-dliness and take us all through the pressures, darkness, fears and doubts of this world to the true redemption, when all the Jews will be together in Israel and there will be world peace and prosperity. Just as the Rebbe did in our story.

We are now in the last minute! It all depends on us to ignore the pressures and do all we can to bring…

Moshiach NOW!!



Copyright © 1999-2008 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton of Yeshiva Ohr T’mimim (OhrTmimim.Org/torah) in K’far Chabad, Israe-l

All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.



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