Lechayim Weekly

L’Chaim Weekly Magazine for Parshas Ki Tisa / Ki Sisa 5769 (ISSUE # 1062)

Posted on March 13, 2009. Filed under: Jewish Customs, Jewish traditions, Ki Sisa, Ki Tisa, L’Chaim Weekly, L’Chaim Weekly Magazine, L’Chayim Weekly, L’Chayim Weekly Magazine, Lechayim Weekly, Lechayim Weekly Magazine, Parshas Hashavua, Parshas Hashavuah, Parshas Ki Sisa, Parshas Ki Tisa, Parshat Hashavua, Parshat Hashavuah, Parshat Ki Tisa, 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 # 1062

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Copyright (c) 2009

Lubavitch Youth Organization – L.Y.O.

Brooklyn, NY

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Electronic version provided free at:

www.LchaimWeekly.org

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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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March 13, 2009 Ki Sisa 17 Adar, 5769

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The Three Essential Food Groups

We all know that there are three essential food groups: carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Each of these food groups supplies us with energy, but we require each of them for a different purpose.

Let’s start with carbohydrates. These are our main source of energy.

There are three types of carbohydrates: sugar (which comes in two forms)

– the quick energy food; starches – slower, provides long term energy; fiber – we can’t digest these.

Then there’s protein. We also get energy from protein, but it has another function. Proteins are the “growth and maintenance” food. They keep the cells functioning. Proteins also help us digest food and fight off infection.

Then there’s fat. Fat stores energy. Fat also insulates the body against cold. We all know that too much fat is bad for us, but we need some fat, and the right kind can prevent disease.

Just as the body needs all three food groups to survive and prosper, so, too the soul needs its “three essential food groups.” We can see the three essential “spiritual” food groups in the following expression of our Sages: “The world stands on three things: on Torah, on Divine Service (prayer) and on acts of loving-kindness (mitzvot – commandments).”

These three areas of human activity, upon which the world depends, correspond to the three food groups upon which the human body depends, as we’ll explain.

Acts of loving-kindness (mitzvot) correspond to the carbohydrates we eat. How so? Unless we’re on a special diet, most of our energy comes from carbohydrates. Similarly, unless we are a rare individual who spends all day in study or all day in prayer, most of spiritual activity is expressed in mitzvot – performance of the commandments. And like the three types of carbohydrates, we can classify three types of mitzvot.

Sugar, the quick energy, the most common form – these are the mitzvot we do every day.

Starches, the slower, longer lasting energy, less common – these are the mitzvot that occur occasionally, (like matza on Passover) that sustain us for longer periods of time.

Fiber, the indigestible carbohydrate are the prohibitions, the command-ments we fulfill by not acting.

Torah corresponds to protein. It is through Torah study that we grow.

Through Torah we maintain our connection to G-d, that is, we gain (or

absorb) inspiration. Torah heals us, enables us to fight off spiritual diseases, enables us to understand “what’s going on” with the mitzvot, In short, Torah keeps us functioning.

Divine Service, or prayer corresponds to fat. A little goes a long way.

A long, long way. Not only that, prayer insulates us, keeps us spiritually warm, excited about Judaism and G-d. It protects us against the “cold,” that freezes our fervor, chill our enthusiasm for things spiritual (like mitzvot!).

And yes there are “bad prayers” – prayers that, like fat, are “saturated.” That is, a prayer that is “saturated” with the person’s ego has no room for G-d. Such a “saturated prayer” just increases a person’s arrogance, harming one spiritually, interfering with one’s relationship with G-d.

An “unsaturated prayer,” on the other hand, indicates a state of self-nullification, where the ego is put aside and the person makes room for G-d within himself – as G-d commands in regard to the Tabernacle:

“make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell within them” – that is, within the individual.

So make sure that when checking your diet for the three essential food groups, you also check your spiritual diet for the three essential spiritual food groups.

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LIVING WITH THE REBBE – THE WEEKLY TORAH PORTION

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This week’s Torah portion, Ki Tisa, contains an interesting exchange between Moses and G-d. “Show me, I pray, Your glory,” asks Moses. G-d replies, “You cannot see My face…you will see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”

The Torah is obviously speaking in symbolic terms. “Face” refers to a clear revelation of G-dliness, in much the same way that an individual’s face reveals his inner self; glimpsing a person’s “back” reveals far less about the person. But what did G-d show Moses?

The great commentator, Rashi, explains that G-d showed Moses the knot of His tefilin (phylacteries). What kind of answer to Moses’ petition was that?

In order to understand, we must first place the exchange in its proper context. Moses made this request after the Jews sinned by making the Golden Calf. After such a grave sin, how could they ever be forgiven?

What possible merit did the Jews have for G-d to absolve them of idolatry? Rashi explains that G-d’s answer was to teach Moses the proper way for a Jew to pray for Divine mercy.

Sin itself defies logic. How could it be that a Jew, a member of a nation described as “believers, the children of believers,” should sin?

How can a Jew, who believes in his innermost heart that G-d created the world and continues to sustain it every minute of the day, denies this by transgressing G-d’s will?

The answer is that all sin stems from forgetfulness. It is only when a Jew forgets the true nature of the world that he transgresses; when he forgets that G-d is the only absolute reality he strays from the right path. The minute a Jew is reminded of this, there is no room for sin and it ceases to exist.

This, then, is the significance of the knot of the tefilin. If sin is only the result of a Jew’s forgetfulness, he need only be reminded of G-d and he will not transgress. This is accomplished by the tallit and tzitit (ritual fringes), whose purpose is to remind the Jew of his task in life, as it states in the Torah, “And you shall see it, and remember.” The tefilin serve the same purpose: “And it shall be as a remembrance between your eyes.”

Most specifically, it is the knot of the tefilin which symbolizes this, as a knot serves both as a reminder (such as when one ties a knot around one’s finger to remember something), and as a symbol of the binding knot between G-d and the Jewish people.

By showing Moses the knot of the tefilin, G-d was instructing him how to seek atonement, for if we always bear in mind that there is nothing but G-d, there is no room for sin.

Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

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SLICE OF LIFE

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Rabbi Dov Oliver and David Yair

Imagine that you are twenty-one years old, overseas for the first time in your life, sitting on a bus and driving through Israel in the midst of wartime. Nearby is a burly, bearded rabbi from Australia putting tefilin on your new roommate.

There are 50 people on the bus. A few hours ago you knew none of them.

Jason, to your left, is boasting about how much money he raked in at his bar mitzva. Amidst a messy and bumpy game of poker, Richard, to the right is divulging that his real name is something totally unpronounceable in Yiddish that sounds distinctly like what your grandparents shouted at each other when the chicken burnt.

This is all followed by some playful Jewish boys club-style banter until the rabbi gives you a hearty slap on the back and exclaims, “And what name did you score on the big day?”

“Big day?” you ask, your mind trying to wrap itself around what the rabbi could possibly mean.

“You know, when you were just a wee lad, eight days old…at your brit (ritual circumcision)! What’s the name they gave you at your brit?”

“Huh, brit?” you stammer, wondering if you were supposed to have already picked up Hebrew two hours into your trip. “Oh… that..” you reply, as it suddenly dawns on you what he is referring to. “Umm, well I never exactly did have one of those.”

“No worries at all, mate,” shoots back the rabbi you have now learned is Rabbi Oliver.

“Well, I sort of did,” you offer. “It’s just it was sort of no frills, not that I remember much, but I know it was done in a hospital by a doctor, does that still count?” you ask, figuring the answer must be yes, because it would appear this is a once-in-a-lifetime type of procedure.

“Well, now that you ask, no, not really mate, it doesn’t really count,”

Rabbi Oliver responds.

“Uh-oh,” you reply.

“I think you mean oy vey,” chimes in Richard.

“Not a case of oy vey at all,” protests Rabbi Oliver. “First of all, with or without a proper brit you are still just as Jewish as Moses, King David, King Solomon, me or Adam Sandler. Secondly, we can arrange a retroactive brit for you at no cost, no hassle, almost no pain and with a big smorgasbord! So what do you reckon?” beams the Rabbi.

Suddenly the poker players are in full cry. “All in, ante up. Come on, go for it Dave,” your new “friends” start cajoling you. “That rocks dude, having your brit on your first trip to Israel, come on, go for it, and we’ll all get a party!”

“Um, well… okay,” responds either a deep spiritual voice from within your soul or a standard peer group pressure concession.

“Good on ya, mate!” booms the rabbi, and the rest, as they say, is history.

A few days before the end of your incredible Mayanot Taglit-Birthright Israel experience in Israel the “brit” takes place. It’s actually known as a Hatofat Dam Brit – a procedure where a single drop of blood is taken.

After arriving in Jerusalem, you and Rabbi Oliver meet the mohel (ritual circumcisor), a very warm and friendly man by the name of Rabbi Kremer.

Sensing your apprehension, he calmly explains the procedure to you as well as explaining the significance of a Brit Mila, answering all your questions and steadying your turning stomach. In the end it’s not painful, in fact you are waiting for the pain, when he informs you it’s all over, phew!

Later that day, you and a group of other students from your bus, Mayanot 36, receive your official Jewish names. You receive your name, David Yair, after being called up for an aliya to the Torah at the Western Wall. This is followed by a celebratory meal made all the more special by the guest performance of a highly talented young Chabad singer named Moshe Hecht.

That night you sleep with a certain satisfaction and increased sense of belonging. Being Jewish is not always easy, you have to do things that go against the grain, you have to be brave, you have to take a stand, and today you did.

A brit literally means a covenant, a sign between you and G-d. A Mayanot Birthright trip is precisely that, but on this trip you “doubled up” on the sign, you went all in and you won!

Rabbi Dov Oliver and his wife Shevy are the co-directors of Hillel

of Rockland County, New York. Mayanot is one of the most sought

after trip providers for free Taglit-Birthright Israel trips to

Israel. For more info and to sign up
visit Http://www.mayanotisrael.com.

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WHAT’S NEW

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Birkat HaChama: Blessing of the Sun

Once every 28 years a special prayer – Birkat Hachama – is recited blessing the sun. The Talmud explains that at this time the sun returns to the position that it was at the time of Creation. The next time this once-in-28-year-mitzva (commandment) will occur is the morning of April 8, 2009 (14 Nissan, 5769). A number of booklets containing the full text and translation of the prayer service recited at that time have been published by the Kehot Publication Society, the text can be found at:

http://www.LchaimWeekly.org/sun/. For more info about this special mitzva visit Http://www.chabad.org/sun

Pearls for the Shabbat Table

A collection of thoughts on the weekly Torah portions and Jewish Festivals, Pearls for the Shabbos Table will stir the minds of anyone gathered for the Shabbat or holiday meal. Its easy-to-read style is designed to be accessible to children, while its powerful messages are sure to inspire deeper discussion even amongst the more seasoned scholars. From the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, adapted by Rabbi Y.Y. Alperowitz

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THE REBBE WRITES

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Freely adapted and translated

12 Menachem Av, 5712 (1952)

It pained me to learn that you are still in a downhearted mood, and according to my understanding this is the mood in your household as well.

I don’t want to go on at length and enter into a debate as to whether your attitude is correct or not. Understandably, it does not take much contemplation to appreciate why you are all in such a frame of mind after the tragedy that occurred – may we all never know of such events again.

The above notwithstanding, Jews in general and chassidim in particular as “believers” are expected to unequivocally cleave to G-d, keeping their relationship with Him open, as the verse states, “And you who cleave to the L-rd your G-d are all alive today.”

Life, true life, does not mean simply marking time, it means that one’s life lacks for nothing, with both the person and his family possessing their entire spiritual and material needs.

Since the possibility exists that – G-d forbid – they have not earned this generous bounty from G-d, therefore the holy Zohar (II, p. 184b) tenders the advice: “They – this physical world and man in general – exist by the ‘radiant countenance’ [i.e., the joy and positivity,] that is emitted from below. In like manner they then draw down upon themselves the same qualities from Above. Man’s joy draws down a corresponding measure of joy from Above.”

Concisely stated: When one strengthens himself in his bitachon [trust] in G-d that He will surely provide those matters with which a person can be in good spirits, happy and joyous, doing so in such a powerful manner that his bitachon affects his daily life, then one draws down this Divine beneficence from Above. One then verily sees that his bitachon was justified.

May G-d help that you, your wife, and your entire family experience this as quickly as possible and in as discernible a manner as possible.

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11 Nissan, 5701 (1951)

… Surely you are correct in writing that you have already suffered enough; it is high time for everyone to be helped in all that they require, particularly with regard to good health, and I hope you will be able to convey to me glad tidings regarding your improved health.

I wish to note the following, although I am not entirely sure whether this is wholly germane to your situation:

Quite often, a person’s feelings of self-assurance and security are dependent on something outside of and higher than himself – in simpler terms, [they are dependent] on his feelings of faith and bitachon in the Creator of the world as a whole and man’s personal world in particular.

After the earthshaking events of our generation, which have shaken various spiritual foundations and torn away many individuals from deeply rooted family and national traditions, it affected many people and caused them to think that they were left hanging in the wind; [i.e., without something to which they could anchor their lives].

I am referring here even to those of them who are believers; their faith became something that was disconnected from their practical everyday life. They would think about their faith, recite Shema Yisrael or Modeh Ani, often thinking about the meaning of the words, and yet they would go around the entire day with the thought that they were entirely alone, each of them drawing conclusions from these thoughts according to their nature and personality.

The most realistic manner of helping such individuals regain their equilibrium is by revealing within them their familial and ancestral traditions that even now remain concealed within their souls.

They will then perceive that man is not alone. Moreover, they will realize that man is the master of his lot only to a certain extent; for the most part it depends on G-d.

Consequently, the person need not place all the burdens of his life on his own shoulders, feeling a tremendously weighty responsibility for everything that happens to him. Surely he need not be filled with despair regarding specific matters or specific situations.

When such individuals are connected with their fount of faith and bitachon, which without the slightest doubt remains deeply rooted in them, this will lead to their peace of mind and will enable them to live their lives in a healthier manner and better be able to fulfill the unique tasks that each and every individual has in life. …

From Healthy in Body, Mind and Soul, compiled by Rabbi Sholom

B. Wineberg, published by Sichos in English

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A CALL TO ACTION

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Preparations for Passover

Our Sages state that 30 days before a holiday, we should learn the laws pertaining to it. It is just about 30 days before the holiday of Passover and we should begin studying the laws of the upcoming holiday.

Learn to conduct your own Seder, find out what constitutes “chametz”

(leavened products), get the real scoop on the difference between Passover cleaning and spring cleaning. Call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center and sign up for a Passover class today!

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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This week we read the third of the four special Torah portions, Parshat Para.

Parshat Para describes the offering of the red heifer (the para aduma) and begins, “This is the decree of the Torah.” These words indicate that the significance of the red heifer relates to the Torah and its mitzvot in its entirety.

The mitzva of the red heifer reveals two tendencies in a person’s G-dly

service: a yearning to cling to G-d, known as “ratzo” and the willingness to carry out G-d’s will in this world, known as “shov.”

These two qualities are fundamental thrusts of Torah and mitzvot.

The burning of the red heifer with fire represents the thrust of ascending upward – ratzo. Fire is characterized by activity and a constant upward movement. The use of “living water in a vessel” which was combined with the ashes of the red heifer refers to the service of shov, for water naturally descends from above to below. Furthermore, when found on a flat surface, water remains in its place, reflecting the quality of tranquility.

Ratzo and shov are fundamental thrusts in Torah, not merely because of the unity they can bring about within the world, but because these two tendencies reflect positive qualities which must be emulated in our service of G-d. A Jew must possess the quality of ratzo. He must not be content with remaining at his present level, but must always seek to advance further. He must always be “running to fulfill a mitzva.” Even though he has reached a high level, he must always seek to attain higher heights.

In contrast, ratzo alone is insufficient and it is necessary to internalize all the new levels one reaches, making sure that they become a part of one’s nature. This is reflected in an approach of settledness (shov). It does not, however imply complacency. Rather, the internalization of one level produces the desire to reach higher peaks.

After reaching those new peaks, one must work to internalize them, which, in turn produces a desire to reach even higher peaks.

May we all grow in both areas of growth and tranquility, ratzo and shov until we reach the highest height of all and actually greet Moshiach.

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THOUGHTS THAT COUNT

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This they shall give…half a shekel (machatzit) of the shekel of the Sanctuary (Ex. 30:13)

The Hebrew word “machatzit” is spelled mem-chet-tzadik-yud-tav. The letter tzadik, which also means a righteous person, is exactly in the center. The two letters nearest to the tzadik are chet and yud, which spell “chai,” meaning alive. The two letters furthest from the tzadik are mem and tav, which spell “meit,” or dead. From this we learn that being close to a tzadik imbues us with life, and that giving tzedaka (charity, symbolized by the half-shekel) saves us from death.

(Sifrei Chasidut)

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The shekel is an allusion to the soul; the gematria (numerical

equivalent) of “shekel” is the same as for “nefesh” (soul). Every Jew is given “half” of his soul from Above; his obligation is to elevate the other “half” under his control to the same level as the first, through serving G-d and performing good deeds.

(Rabbi Chanoch of Alexander)

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The Tablets were written on both their sides (Ex. 32:15)

The two sides of the Tablets are an allusion to the two aspects of Torah, the revealed (nigleh) and the hidden (nistar). If a person publicly denies the Divinity of the Torah’s mystical teachings, it is a sign that inwardly, he also denies the sanctity of the revealed portion.

(The Chatam Sofer)

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IT ONCE HAPPENED

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Reb Yerucham was never much of a breadwinner. Instead, he devoted all his time to Torah-study and prayer while his wife, Leah went to the marketplace to conduct business.

She would make small purchases which she would in turn, sell to her neighbors at a small profit. The arrangement worked well, for although they never had much, they both felt very privileged to be able to serve G-d by devoting themselves to His Torah.

In the winter, though, when the roads were blocked with snow and ice, and the farmers couldn’t make it into the market, Leah didn’t fare so well.

She was forced to sustain her family on the few coins she had managed to squirrel away during the previous months. Every time she had to dip into her meager “capital” her heart fell.

When only a few pennies remained, she decided it was time to go to her husband. “Yerucham, what are we going to do? How are we going to feed our children?”

Reb Yerucham lifted his eyes from his tome and replied, “Have faith. Our Heavenly Father has never forsaken us before, and will not forsake us now…”

“What good is faith on an empty stomach!” the poor woman said bitterly.

“I can’t bear to see my children starving! What am I to say to them when they cry for bread tomorrow morning?”

“Don’t worry now – till tomorrow morning there is ample time for G-d to provide for our needs. Put your trust in Him, Leah; He won’t forsake us.”

Poor Leah left the room very troubled, but a little comforted by her husband’s assurances. Reb Yerucham went outside, and as he was about to come back in, he spotted something lying in the mud.

He picked it up and brought it into the house. He washed it, and sure enough, it was a silver coin!

Now, his wife would be happy and they would be able to manage a little longer. But then another thought passed through his mind, “If G-d had wanted to send them sustenance, couldn’t He find a better way than throwing him a muddy coin?

No, He doesn’t want me to accept it this way; He is only testing our faith in Him.”

So Yerucham decided that in the morning he would put the coin into the tzedaka (charity) box.

Yerucham became so engrossed in his study that he was startled by his wife’s cry of joy when she spied the silver coin on his table. “Don’t get too excited; it’s not ours!” he said quickly.

“What do you mean?”

“I have already donated it to charity.”

Looking into his wife’s shocked eyes which were already filling the tears, he continued explaining, “Imagine if I were to give you a present and throw it into the garbage heap, saying, ‘Go pick it up, dear.’ You wouldn’t want it anymore. Well, I believe that G-d has sent this coin to us as a test of our faith in His readiness to provide for us. Be strong in your faith, and you will see that I’ll be proven right.”

Leah walked out of the room, shaking her head. She knew that her husband was a scholar and a saintly man, but there was not one morsel of food in the house. Meanwhile Reb Yerucham sat by the light of a candle studying into the wee hours.

Late that night two tired merchants were travelling through one of the persistent snow storms that had enclosed the little hamlet.

Exhausted, they saw a faint glimmer of a candle in the pitch, black darkness. They knocked on Reb Yerucham’s door asking for accommodation.

He agreed, but very apologetically, since he had very little to offer them.

The men were just happy to have a place to sleep. They spread out their bountiful food supplies on the table and invited their hosts to join them in a feast fit for a king.

During the meal, the conversation took a scholarly turn and the merchants saw that their host was no country bumpkin, but a very learned and wise man.

One of the merchants turned to his companion and said, “Why should we trouble ourselves to travel all the way to Lemberg to mediate our dispute when we have a great scholar right here.”

“Yes, I agree,” said the second, and he proceeded to explain.

“We are not only partners, but also close friends, but we have a disagreement which we want to present before a great rabbi. We were about to continue to Lemberg, but we feel that you are a person very qualified to judge the problem, and G-d has brought us to your door. We will be happy to pay you the same amount we would have paid the Rabbi of Lemberg.

Reb Yerucham didn’t usually involve himself in judgements or arbitrations, but under the circumstances, since the two men were so anxious to settle in a peaceful fashion, he agreed to take up their case.

The following morning, Yerucham and his guests made their way to the synagogue for the morning prayers. Yerucham slipped the silver coin into the charity box, thanking G-d for not forsaking him and his family in their hour of need, and sending him generous sustenance in an honorable and worthy manner.

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MOSHIACH MATTERS

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The redemption of Israel is likened to a process of “sprouting” and “flourishing,” – tzmicha. One of the names in the Bible for Moshiach himself is Tzemach, “the sprout,” as it is written: “His name is Tzemach and from beneath him [from the earth] he will flourish.”

(Http://www.inner.org)

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END OF TEXT – L’CHAIM 1062 – Ki Sisa 5769

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We recommend that you visit them for more info…

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

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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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

————–

Electronic version provided free at:

www.LchaimWeekly.org

——————–

Palm-Pilot version provided free at:

www.LchaimWeekly.org/lchaim/5769/1060.prc

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To receive the L’CHAIM by e-mail

write to: listserv@LchaimWeekly.org

Subscribe W1

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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. …

* * *

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

* * *

… 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)

* * *

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)

* * *

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)

* * *

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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