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Devarim Deutronomy

July 5, 1996 - 18 Tammuz 5756

425: Pinchas

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Published and copyright © by Lubavitch Youth Organization - Brooklyn, NY
The Weekly Publication For Every Jewish Person
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.

  424: Chukas-Balak426: Matos Massei  

Freedom  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  A Call To Action
The Rebbe Writes  |  What's New  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters


Not only is Old Glory a fine symbol of American patriotism, it also symbolizes the freedom and independence for which the founding fathers fought so tirelessly over two hundred years ago.

If you questioned a cross-section of the population on how they define freedom, you would undoubtedly get a wide range of answers. Freedom to a typical teenager is totally different than the "freedom" of a parent whose children have all left home. And neither of these definitions will have much in common with freedom as defined by someone who emigrated from the former USSR when it was still a communist country.

In Ethics of the Fathers Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi discusses how one can become a truly free person; through studying the Torah. He quote the verse: "The Tablets [with the Ten Commandments] were the word of G-d, and the writing was the writing of G-d engraved ("charut") on the Tablets." Says Rabbi Yehoshua, "Do not read charut but cherut ("freedom"), for there is no free person except one who occupies himself with the study of Torah."

"What?" one might ask incredulously. "How can you call a Jew who learns and lives Torah free? Isn't he anything but free? His life is filled with so many do's and don'ts. And aren't rules made to be broken? No," such a person might conclude shaking his head emphatically, "true freedom means being able to do whatever you want whenever you want."

A cursory look each day at the front page of any newspaper or a glance at a network news program will quickly highlight the fallacy of such statements. For, we are living in times when rules are constantly broken, where people do whatever they want whenever they want. And we are anything but free.

Before we enter our car to return home each night from work, we check the back seat. We buckle up to save ourselves as much from a fluke accident as from drunk or drug-crazed drivers. We reset the car alarm upon arriving home and open the door that has been double or triple- locked. This is freedom? It's certainly not the freedom envisaged by the Founding Fathers of the United States who came to these shore because they wanted freedom -- freedom to practice their religion as they saw fit. According to the Midrash, if you fill your life with spiritual pursuits, your soul will not be "enslaved" to your body. And even those material needs that the body does have become elevated through one's spiritual service.

In the words of Rabbi Nechunya in Ethics of the Fathers, "Whoever takes upon himself the yoke of Torah -- the yoke of government and the yoke of worldly cares are removed from him..."

One who involves himself in Torah, says the Maharal of Prague, elevates himself above the cares and concerns of this physical world and is freed from the natural order of the world. Thus, though a person needs some sort of livelihood in order to live, the "yoke" of making a living is removed from him; it is put in G-d's "hands" and comes more easily.

Living with the Rebbe

In this week's Torah portion, Pinchas, an incident with the five daughters of Tzelafchad is related. Tzelafchad, a Jew who died in the desert, had no sons. Since sons, and not daughters, were entitled to an inheritance, the daughters of Tzelafchad were not permitted a portion in the Holy Land.

The daughters of Tzelafchad, who were all known to be righteous women, objected to the thought that their family would not have a part in the Land of Israel. They went before Moses who presented the case to G-d. G-d said to Moses, "The daughters of Tzelafchad have a just claim. Give them a hereditary portion of land alongside their father's brothers."

This episode is just one example in the Torah of the relationship of the Jewish women to the Land of Israel. Another instance was when the spies returned from the land of Canaan with reports of fortified cities, armies, and giants. The men decided to turn back to Egypt. But the women remained steadfast in their desire to enter the land. Consequently, only the men of military age were punished; they were to die in the desert. The women, however, entered the Land.

In our Torah portion, too, we see the Jewish woman's love for the Holy Land. The task the daughters of Tzelafchad had set for themselves was not easy. The established judicial system was comprised of judges over fifty people, one hundred, one thousand, etc. The daughters of Tzelafchad had to approach various judges, each one referring the matter to higher authorities, until it was finally brought to Moses, himself. Tzelafchad's daughters were willing to try to overcome such a seemingly impossible obstacle to receive their portion.

This incident can serve as a lesson to each one of us in our daily lives, too. G-d demands that we conduct our lives according to certain guidelines. Yet at the same time, He created and organized the universe in such a way that it seems to preclude proper fulfillment of our obligation of Torah study and performance of mitzvot.

But, with the right approach, we too, can merit a portion in our rightful inheritance. We must be willing to try to overcome the seemingly "impossible" obstacles, just as Tzelafchad's daughters did. If we undertake it with the same attitude of love as Tzelafchad's daughters, then certainly we will achieve our goal.

Adapted from Likutei Sichot of the Rebbe, vol.4

A Slice of Life

When Yosef Cabiliv -- today a successful real estate developer -- regained consciousness in the Rambam Hospital in Haifa, he remembered nothing of the circumstances that had brought him there. He felt an excruciating pain in his legs. The discovery that followed was far more horrendous: glancing under the sheet, he saw that both his legs had been amputated, the right leg at the knee, the left at mid-thigh.

The day before, Yosef, who was serving on reserve duty in Zahal (the Israeli Defense Forces), was patrolling the Golan Heights with several other soldiers when their jeep hit an old Syrian land mine. Two of his comrades were killed on the spot. Another three suffered serious injury. Yosef's legs were so severely crushed that the doctors had no choice but to amputate them.

Aside from the pain and disability, Yosef was confronted with society's incapacity to deal with the handicapped.

"My friends would come to visit," he recalls, "sustain fifteen minutes of artificial cheer, and depart without once meeting my eye. Mother would come and cry, and it was I, who so desperately needed consolation, who had to do the consoling. Father would come and sit by my bedside in silence -- I don't know which was worse, Mother's tears or Father's silence.

"Returning to my civilian profession as a welder was, of course, impossible, and while people were quick to offer charity, no one had a job for a man without legs.

"When I ventured out in my wheelchair, people kept their distance, so that a large empty space opened up around me on the busiest street corner."

When Yosef met with other disabled veterans, he found that they all shared his experience: they had given their very bodies in defense of the nation, but the nation lacked the spiritual strength to confront their sacrifice.

"In the summer of 1976," Yosef tells, "Zahal sponsored a tour of the United States for a large group of disabled veterans. While we were in New York, a Lubavitcher chasid came to our hotel and suggested that we meet with the Rebbe. Most of us did not know what to make of the invitation, but a few members of our group had heard about the Rebbe and convinced the rest of us to accept.

"As soon as they heard we were coming, the Chabadniks sprang into action, organizing the whole thing with the precision of a military campaign. Ten large commercial vans pulled up to our hotel to transport us and our wheelchairs to the Lubavitch headquarters in Brooklyn. Soon we found ourselves in the famous large synagogue in the basement of 770 Eastern Parkway.

"Ten minutes later, a white-bearded man of about 70 entered the room, followed by two secretaries. As if by a common signal, absolute silence pervaded the room. There was no mistaking the authority he radiated. We had all stood in the presence of military commanders and prime ministers, but this was unlike anything we had ever encountered. This must have been what people felt in the presence of royalty. An identical thought passed through all our minds: Here walks a leader, a prince.

"He passed between us, resting his glance on each one of us and lifting his hand in greeting, and then seated himself opposite us. Again he looked at each of us in turn. From that terrible day on which I had woken without my legs in the Rambam Hospital, I have seen all sorts of things in the eyes of those who looked at me: pain, pity, revulsion, anger. But this was the first time in all those years that I encountered true empathy. With that glance that scarcely lasted a second and the faint smile on his lips, the Rebbe conveyed to me that he is with me -- utterly and exclusively with me.

"The Rebbe then began to speak, after apologizing for his Ashkenazic- accented Hebrew. He spoke about our 'disability,' saying that he objected to the use of the term. 'If a person has been deprived of a limb or a faculty,' he told, 'this itself indicates that G-d has given him special powers to overcome the limitations this entails, and to surpass the achievements of ordinary people. You are not "disabled" or "handicapped," but special and unique, as you possess potentials that the rest of us do not.

" 'I therefore suggest,' the Rebbe continued, adding with a smile -- `of course it is none of my business, but Jews are famous for voicing opinions on matters that do not concern them -- that you no longer be called n'chei Yisrael (the disabled of Israel, our designation in the Zahal bureaucracy) but metzuyanei Yisrael (the special of Israel).'

"The Rebbe spoke for several minutes more, and everything he said -- and more importantly, the way in which he said it -- addressed what had been churning within me since my injury.

"In parting, he gave each of us a dollar, in order -- he explained -- that we give it to charity on his behalf, making us partners in the mitzva.

"He walked from wheelchair to wheelchair, shaking our hands, giving each a dollar, and adding a personal word or two. When my turn came, I saw his face up close and I felt like a child. He gazed deeply into my eyes, took my hand between his own, pressed it firmly, and said, 'Thank you,' with a slight nod of his head.

"I later learned that he had said something different to each one of us. To me he said 'Thank you' -- somehow he sensed that that was exactly what I needed to hear. With those two words, the Rebbe erased all the bitterness and despair that had accumulated in my heart. I carried the Rebbe's `Thank you' back to Israel, and I carry it with me to this very day."

Reprinted from The Week in Review, published by V.H.H. For a trial subscription, call 718-774-6448.

A Call To Action

Study About the Holy Temple

G-d told the prophet Yechezkel that through studying the laws of the structure of the Holy Temple it is considered as if we have been involved in its actual construction. As we are so close to the Redemption, the subject must be approached as a present reality; at any moment the Third Holy Temple which is already built in the heavens will descend and be revealed on earth.

(The Rebbe, 17 Tammuz, 5751)

The Rebbe Writes


Free Translation of a letter written in Hebrew
Eve of Bein HaMtzarim, 5736 [1976]

To All Jewish Boys and Girls of pre-Bar Mitzva and pre-Bat Mitzva Age, G-d be with you!

At this time before Bein HaMtzarim (the "Three Weeks," 17th Tammuz through 9th Menachem-Av), I firmly trust that each one of you -- and all sons and daughters of our people Israel, long may they live -- will expand and increase all activities of Torah and mitzvot.

Including: That there should be a proper mezuza in every room of a Jewish home; an increase in the study of the Torah, also study by heart; giving tzedaka every weekday (bli neder); and fulfilling all mitzvot in general.

And that you will also do what you can to bring it to the attention of everyone to do all the above -- with love, based on the commandment "love your neighbor as yourself," a love without bounds (bli mtzarim).

And may G-d grant the fulfillment, in each and every one: "When in narrow straits (mi-bein hamtzarim) I call on G-d; G-d answers me with a wide expanse" -- an expansion in all good things.

And these days shall be transformed into days of rejoicing and gladness, with the coming of our righteous Moshiach, very soon indeed,

14th of Tammuz, 5735 [1975]

I was pleased to receive regards from you as well as your note, through our mutual friend Rabbi --.

It is most gratifying to note that you are not only making good progress in matters of Yiddishkeit [Judaism], but that you are also active in promoting Yiddishkeit in your community, within the framework of the Lubavitch program.

I am particularly gratified to note your enthusiasm and determination to continue to work in this direction with even greater dedication, which is as it should be, since the sign of life is in growth. Moreover, the Torah makes it a rule that all things of holiness should be on the ascendancy.

What makes this work all the more important is that a considerable part of it is dedicated to the education of our young generation, the future of our people, as the saying goes.

May G-d grant the fulfillment of your heart's desires for good, especially in "changing the face of Winnipeg," as you put it.

In view of your position in the community, and also the respect and influence which you enjoy in other places, which you no doubt visit during vacation time, I am confident that every additional effort on your part will be multiplied many times over and reflected in those who are influenced by you. There is no need to emphasize to you the importance of the time element regard to education, since children cannot wait with their growing up, and if they are not brought under good Jewish influence at the right time, and the sooner the better, one can never tell whether there will be another opportunity.

Having just observed the anniversary of the geula [Redemption] of my father-in-law of saintly memory on the 12th-13th of Tammuz, I trust you are familiar with the history and significance of this anniversary, and will be fully inspired by its message here and now.

Wishing you hatzlacha [success] in all the above,

What's New


A group of young women will have a once-in-a-lifetime experience this summer under the auspices of Camp Emuna (a project of NCFJE). The girls will spend three weeks in California, visiting Chabad Centers from San Francisco to San Diego. They will be meeting with Chabad emissaries from the various Chabad Centers to cull from their wisdom and experience. In addition, the girls will play a key role in community programs that are being organized in conjunction with their visits. Seeing the major attractions and sights of California are, of course, part of this action-packed program.

Chasidut By the Sea

On Mondays and Wednesdays starting July 8, (Wednesdays in August), from 8:00 pm-9:30 pm Be'er Miriam presents "A Journey into Jewish Mysticism." The informal lecture/discussion series takes place at the end of Pier 17 in Manhattan's South Street Seaport. Such topics as evolution vs. creation; the meaning of suffering; prayer -- a ladder to G-d; and the Messianic Era will be covered. There are free light refreshments and lots of food for thought. The program goes on rain or shine (no lecture July 24). For more info call (718) 467-5519

A Word from the Director

Over a decade ago, on this Shabbat (5744-1984) the Rebbe spoke in a fairly uncommon manner about his persistence and insistence in continuously discussing the coming of Moshiach. I would like to share with you translated excerpts from that talk:

"Some people wonder: How can a person appear in public, week after week, and repeatedly speak on one subject -- the coming of Moshiach? Furthermore, this person always stresses that he is not just speaking of the concept, but of the actual coming of Moshiach, here on this physical earth, and immediately, on this very day. On each occasion he instructs those gathered to sing `May the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days,' emphasizing that `speedily in our days' should not be understood as 'speedily, tomorrow,' but as 'speedily, today'!

"Certainly, every Jew believes that Moshiach can come at any moment -- after all, `I await his coming every day' is one of the fundamental principles of Judaism. Still, they wonder, to believe that Moshiach will come at this very moment is hardly consistent with the reality of our lives. So why does this man speak incessantly about it, on every occasion, and with such single-minded intensity, as if to force the idea into the minds of his listeners?

"Their conclusion is that all this is a nice dream, nice, but not very realistic. So what is the point of speaking so much about one's dreams?

"Chasidic philosophy explains that our current state of exile is like a dream; in a dream a person's sense of perception can tolerate the most contradictory and irrational things.

"In other words, our current 'reality' is a dream, while the world of Moshiach is the true reality. In a single moment, we can all wake from the dream of exile and open our eyes to the true reality of our existence -- the perfect world of Moshiach. Everyone present in this room can immediately awaken himself from his dream, so that today, Shabbat Parshat Pinchas, 5744, before we even say the afternoon prayers, in fact this very moment, we all open our eyes and see Moshiach, in the flesh, with us, here in this room."

May the Rebbe's words of over ten years ago, and his prophetic promise of five years ago, that "the time for your Redemption has arrived," be fulfilled this very Shabbat Parshat Pinchas, 5756.

Thoughts that Count

Let the L-rd, the G-d of all living souls, appoint a man over the congregation (Num. 27:16)

Rashi explains that Moses was asking G-d to appoint a leader who would be able to understand each person according to that person's needs. Moses referred to G-d as the "G-d of all living souls." This was to underscore that the leader should be one who loves all Jews in an equal and fair manner, regardless of their fear of G-d, or position.

(Kedushat Levi)

...appoint a man over the community who will go out before them (Num. 27:16-17)

Appoint a man whose soul "will go out" in love of every Jew. The most important trait of a Jewish leader is that he should have self- sacrifice for every Jew.

(Rabbi Yitzchak of Varka)

It is a continual burnt offering which was offered at Mt. Sinai (Num. 28:6)

A continual burnt-offering hints to the "hidden love" which every Jew has. This love is continuous; it never ceases.

(Ohr HaTorah)

And the children of Korach did not die (Num. 26:11)

They did not die, and in every generation Korach's "inheritors" -- those who rebel against the Moses of that generation -- are alive and well, continuing in his path.

(Sefer HaSichot)

My shall keep to offer to Me in its season (Num. 28:2)

Keeping something, as in "you shall keep," implies waiting for or anticipating something. Thus, are we able to keep the commandments of the sacrifices even in exile, after the Holy Temple has been destroyed. We "keep" the laws associated with the Holy Temple by anticipating its rebuilding. Through our great longing for the Temple, we have a part in the sacrifices that were brought in those times.

(Sfat Emet)

It Once Happened

Many of the vessels which were used in the First and Second Holy Temples were those made under the supervision of Moses when the Jews constructed the Sanctuary in the desert. Others were made by King Solomon, who built the First Holy Temple.

The ark, which stood in the Holy of Holies and housed the Tablets (of the Ten Commandments), in the First Temple was absent from the Second Temple. King Solomon knew, by way of prophecy, that both Temples were destined to be destroyed, and he constructed a hiding place for the Ark deep in the foundations of the Temple. It was there that King Yoshiyahu concealed the Ark and there it awaits the rebuilding of the Third Holy Temple.

When the Ark was in the Holy of Holies, it took up no physical space. That is to say, although the entire area of the Holy of Holies measured twenty cubits, the space on each side of the Ark was ten cubits.

During the time the Jews wandered through the desert, sparks would shoot out from the poles of the Ark, destroying poisonous snakes and scorpions which lurked before it.

When the Jews entered the Holy Land and were about to cross the Jordan River, the water parted at the feet of the kohanim (priests) who were bearing the Ark and the entire Jewish people passed on dry ground. Not until the kohanim reached the other bank did the river begin to flow again.

On the two sides of the Ark were the keruvim (cherubs). These were two figures in the form of angels with the faces of children, a boy and a girl, with wings that extended over the Ark. There were also miracles associated with the keruvim. When the Jewish people conducted themselves according to the will of G-d, the two figures faced one another, but when G-d was displeased with His people, they turned in opposite directions. In addition, when G-d spoke to Moses in the Holy of Holies, the voice seemed to emanate from between the two angelic figures.

The golden Menora, or candelabra, which stood in the Holy Temple was made of one solid block of gold, but was intricately decorated. Each night it was kindled with pure olive oil, and it burned throughout the night. Many miracles occurred in connection with its lighting. For instance, one of its lights did not go out, even though all the other lights which contained the same amount of oil went out. At times, this light, when lit on Rosh Hashana, did not go out until just prior to the following Rosh Hashana.

Another of the articles in the Temple was the shulchan, the Table, upon which were laid the twelve show-breads that were the spiritual source of bounty and blessing for the Jewish people. These challot were arranged on the table every Shabbat when the challot from the previous week were removed. One of the miracles was that when they were replaced with fresh ones the following week, they were still warm. The Table which Moses made was also used in the First Temple.

The altar on which the incense was burned was placed between the menora and the shulchan, and incense was burned on it twice a day. The altar, which was made of acacia wood plated with gold, was also miraculous, for although it was burned with fire for many years, it was never scorched or damaged by the heat.

It is related in the Midrash that when Moses questioned how it could be that the wood would not be burned by the fire, G-d replied that the nature of Divine fire is unlike that of earthly fire, for although it burns, it does not consume.

There were many other vessels used in the Temples. The kiyor, the basin which was used for washing the hands and feet of the kohanim, was made from the mirrors of the women who used them to beautify themselves while in Egyptian bondage in order to cheer their downtrodden husbands. This act was valued so highly by G-d, that Moses was commanded to construct the basin from the copper, even though it isn't a precious metal.

The Temple service was conducted with enormous grandeur. The kohanim used ninety-three types of gold and silver vessels in their service, in addition to many beautiful and varied musical instruments which the Levites used to produce their exquisite music.

During the destruction of the First Temple, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar plundered the wealth of the Temple and took all the vessels to Babylonia. When he had the effrontery to exhibit and use them in a great feast, he met his death the same night.

When the Babylonian exiles returned to rebuild the land under Zerubavel, King Cyrus released 5,400 vessels to be returned to the Temple.

Then, when Titus destroyed the Second Temple, the vessels were again looted and, this time, brought to Rome. We await the day when they are returned to their rightful place in the Third Holy Temple, and may that day come immediately.

Moshiach Matters

"Whoever quotes a concept in the name of its author brings Redemption to the world, as it is stated: 'And Esther told the king in the name of Mordechai.' "

(Ethics 6:6)

  424: Chukas-Balak426: Matos Massei  
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