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Devarim Deutronomy

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Devarim Deutronomy

May 9, 2003 - 7 Iyyar, 5763

768: Emor

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

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  767: Kedoshim769: Behar  

All Expenses Paid  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
The Rebbe Writes  |  Rambam this week  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

All Expenses Paid

Dear Sir or Madam:

We are pleased to inform you that you have won an all expenses paid trip to Utopia, that is, the Days of Moshiach. Certainly you've heard of the place. Well, now's your chance to go there - on us.

That's right, we're offering a shot at this unique opportunity. We know what you're thinking - this is too good to be true. But that's just the point!

Hold on a minute, right? Just who are we anyway? Fair enough. After all, it's not every day you get offered a perfect world. We're the Patriarchs, Matriarchs, Prophets, and Sages. We're your ancestors and your ancestors' ancestors. Here are just a few of our testimonials:

"If your dispersed be in the utmost end of the heavens, G-d will bring you" (Deuteronomy 30:3-5).

"I believe with perfect faith in the coming of Moshiach; though he tarry, I will anticipate his coming." Moses Maimonides, 12th Article of Faith.

Amos: "I shall return the captivity of My people Israel..." (9:14-15).

And of course, Isaiah: "Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your seed from the east and gather you from the west. I shall say to the north, 'Give up,' and to the south, 'do not hold back, bring My sons from far and My daughters from the end of the earth' " (43:5-6).

So why wait? Beat the rush! After all, no Jew will be left behind!

We can hear you now - because we've heard it before - "Ok, you've convinced me the offer is genuine, but what are my chances of winning? After all, the odds seem rather long - one in two or three thousand years."

Fair enough. You want to know when you'll win? "Moshiach can come any day - this day if you will listen to His voice" (The Zohar). And the great thing is, you don't even have to be worthy! Of course, it helps: "'In its time I will hasten it' (Isaiah 60:22) - If they are worthy, 'I will hasten it'; if not 'in its time'" (Sanhedrin 98a).

We know you're almost convinced. You're about ready to take a chance. But first you want to know what this Redemption will be like.

Here's a little hint.

No more evil!

"The remnants of Israel will not do any wrong" (Zephaniah 3:13).

"I shall remove from the earth ... the spirit of impurity" (Zechariah 13:2).

"Your people shall all be righteous, they shall inherit the land forever" Isaiah 60:21).

Wonders and Miracles!

"As in the days of your going forth from Egypt, I will show you wonders" (Micah 7:15).

Awareness of G-d!

"The earth shall be full of knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9)

"All flesh will see together that the mouth of G-d has spoken" (Isaiah 40:5).

Universal Peace!

"Nation shall not lift a sword against nation, nor shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3)

But to really experience Redem-ption, you'll just have to get there.

Now, what do you have to do take advantage of this amazing offer? Do another mitzva. Add a little in good-ness and kindness. You could be the lucky one. Your act could tip the scales!

What's the catch? Only this: You've also got to influence others to do the same. That's it.

But hurry, this is a limited time offer. After all, "the time of your Redemption has arrived."

Living with the Rebbe

This week's Torah portion, Emor, contains laws addressed particularly to the "Kohanim," or Priestly Order.

After the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, sacrifices were discontinued and the three daily prayer services were instituted in their place. There are many aspects of the daily prayers that parallel the laws in the offering of sacrifices. In addition, some of the preliminary prayers recount the actual sacrificial procedures.

In certain prayer rites, it is customary to recite daily prior to the morning prayers: "I hearby accept upon myself the mitzva of 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Two questions come to mind concerning this preface to prayer: What is the connection between this precept and prayer, to make it a fitting introduction? Second, how can one possibly be expected to love another person just as he loves himself?

Chasidic philosophy considers all Jews as one complete body, with each individual Jew corresponding to one of the body's organs. Some parallel the "head," others the "body," and yet others the "feet." Anyone who has ever experienced the pain of an ingrown toenail will be fully aware that a pain even in the lowest part of the body can impair the functioning of the head by causing an inability to concentrate or think clearly. This certainly illustrates that the body, with all its organs and limbs, is a completely integrated system.

Likewise, within the "body" of Jewry a malfunction in the "feet" can seriously disturb the "head." We find that the greatest Jewish sages, the most refined of people, would say Vidui, a prayer expressing remorse for such sins as stealing, committing violent acts, etc. For although they were far removed from such misdeeds, they felt a personal involvement with those Jews who had transgressed, and consequently considered themselves affected by their sins.

In light of the above explanation, we may understand how one can love another as oneself; for the entire Jewish people are one integrated "body" and every Jew has a part of himself within his fellow-Jew. Hence, in loving his fellow he is really showing affection for a part of himself!

Likewise, a Jew with hatred in his heart for another is really hating and rejecting a part of himself. By hating himself, the person becomes like a maimed sacrifice which was disqualified from being offered, or a "maimed" Priest, who was disqualified from offering sacrifices.

The connection between "Love your neighbor as yourself," and prayer becomes clear. In order to be able to stand in prayer before G-d, whole, not disfigured by hatred of others, we must first make a commitment to perform the mitzva of loving one's neighbor.

Adapted by Rabbi Y.M. Kagen o.b.m, from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

A Slice of Life

A Secret Jew
By Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz

"Now I understand why my mother did not eat bread for a whole week each spring," Basya's 70-year-old daughter told Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetzky, chief rabbi of Dnepropetrovsk and one of the representatives of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS in Ukraine.

But let me start at the beginning, and briefly share with you an amazing story of Jewish return in the Former Soviet Union.

A teenage girl showed up in Rabbi Kaminetzky's office one Sunday afternoon. Her great-grandmother was requesting that he visit her in the tiny non-Jewish village of Pridnipropsk, nearly two-hours from Dnepropetrovsk.

"Is your grandmother Jewish?" the rabbi asked.

"No," was the girl's straightforward reply.

"Is anyone in your family Jewish?" continued the rabbi.

"No," answered the teenager once again.

Rabbi Kaminetzky looked at his overcrowded calendar, jam-packed like the schedules of all of his colleagues, emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe around the world, and told the girl that he would be able to visit in two weeks.

A week later the girl returned to Rabbi Kaminetzky and begged him to come immediately. "My great-grandmother is in her 90s and too frail to travel. She needs to speak with you right away." Rabbi Kaminetzky made a few phone calls to clear his schedule for the rest of the day and accompanied the girl back to her tiny village.

Rabbi Kaminetzky entered the little home in Pridnipropsk and saw Basya, an elderly woman in her 90s. Basya began to cry uncontrollably when she noticed the rabbi. Eventually she calmed down and she started to speak in broken Yiddish. "I grew up in a religious Jewish home.

During a pogrom in my hometown of Yekatrinislav (now called Dnepropetrovsk) in 1911, I saw my parents killed before my eyes."

Basya switched to Russian, the language in which she was most comfortable, and her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren listened in great surprise. She recounted how kind gentile neighbors had taken her in and cared for her on the condition that she obtain new documents and never tell anyone that she was Jewish as they feared that it might endanger her life.

"Until this very moment," said Basya solemnly, "no other soul in the world knew that I was Jewish." Basya shook with emotion as she told the rabbi that she had always hoped that the day would come when she would be able to reveal her secret. But, at the very least, she wanted to receive a Jewish burial.

The room was silent as Basya recalled some of her earliest memories. "Rabbi, I remember well my childhood and all the wonderful things of living a Jewish life. I remember the Chief Rabbi of our city and his Rebbetzin, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson and Rebbetzin Chana."

Rabbi Kaminetzky was overwhelmed by this emotionally-charged encounter. He listened as Basya shared more Jewish recollections and he gently questioned her about her life since moving to this tiny gentile village.

Basya had three children, all daughters. Her daughters each had three daughters. Rabbi Kaminetzky explained to Basya's daughters, granddaughters and great-grandchildren that they are Jewish.

Before leaving Rabbi Kaminetzky told the family that he or some of his colleagues would be in touch with them, so that they could be introduced to their Jewish roots.

The very next day, the great-granddaughter returned to Rabbi Kaminetzky's office in Dnepropetrovsk. Tearfully, she told him, "Grandma died soon after you left her house. We need you to give her a Jewish burial."

It was after the funeral that one of Basya's daughters told Rabbi Kaminetzky, "Now I understand why my mother did not eat bread for a whole week each spring and why she fasted for an entire day each autumn."

Basya's dying wish was carried out and she was buried as a Jew. During her lifetime, she had dreamt of the day when she could reveal that she was a Jew. But surely her innermost desire, something she dared not even dream, was that her descendants be able to live as Jews. And that is exactly what has happened.

Rabbi Kaminetzky and the staff at the FJC Jewish Community Center in Dnepropetrovsk contacted Basya's extended family. They invited them to attend the JCC's social, cultural, religious and educational programs. They eased their entry into Jewish life and Jewish living. Today, all of Basya's children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren are living Jewish lives; many have emigrated to Israel.

Basya's story is not an isolated occurrence. Every FJC representative, each lay leader, rabbinic intern, summer or winter camp counselor, social worker or volunteer, can share an account heard first-hand from someone who found out that he or she is Jewish and is now reconnecting to the Jewish people.

There are some two and one-half to three million Jews still living in the Former Soviet Union. And there are hundreds of FJC institutions in over 400 cities (and growing!) in fifteen countries throughout the FSU tending to their religious, social, cultural, financial and medical needs.

The FJC's motto, "Connecting all Jews as they are," is poignantly illustrated by Basya's story.

Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz is the Executive Director of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS, headquartered in Moscow. Rabbi Berkowitz can be contacted at

What's New

Ground Breaking in Arkansas

A ground breaking took place recently for the new Chabad of Arkansas Center in Little Rock. The first phase of the building campaign, which will be situated on a 71/2 acres campus, will contain a synagogue, offices and classrooms. Phase II includes a mikva, gymnasium and swimming pool. The Center will be the permanent home of Arkansas' only Jewish day school. Rabbi Ben Zion and Rochel Pape have moved to Little Rock to direct the day school, which will open in its new home in the fall. They join Rabbi Pinchas and Esther Ciment, founders and directors of Chabad of Arkansas.

Huge Bar Mitzva at Wall

A massive Bar/Bat Mitzva took place recently at the Western Wall in Jerusalem under the auspices of Collel Chabad of Israel. One thousand boys and girls celebrated their coming of age together with thousands of families members, friends and well-wishers.

The Rebbe Writes

Continued from the previous issue, from a freely translated letter dated 7 Shvat, 5706 [1946]

  1. At the time of the Resurrection [of the Dead], in which body will the souls that have had several incarnations arise?

There are many particulars and points of differentiation with regard to this issue. In general, the concept can be explained as follows: The soul (here the intent is to refer to all three levels, nefesh, ruach, and neshamah, or merely one of them, but not merely the level of neshamah) reincarnates (in the predominant majority of instances) to perfect what it failed to perfect in its first descent to the body. Since the entire Jewish people are filled with mitzvos [commandemnts] like a pomegranate is filled with seeds, in every descent and incarnation, certain levels of the soul are perfected. At the time of the resurrection, every body will arise together with the level of the soul that it perfected. To quote Shaar HaGilgulim, Introduction 4:

If during one's first lifetime,... (the body) did not merit to perfect (the soul) entirely before it died... at the time of the Resurrection, that body will receive only that particular portion of the soul that it perfected during its lifetime. Therefore when the soul is reincarnated a second time to complete its perfection... the dimensions of the soul that were perfected in this second body... will be manifest in the second body at the time of the resurrection. You should not raise the question: If so, will there be some bodies that will have only a portion of a soul and not an entire soul? For this concept should be made known: Every portion of the soul includes within it all the other portions and thus every element is itself an entire structure.

Nevertheless because it is part of a soul that is more encompassing, it is only one element. To cite a parallel: all of the souls as a whole are in fact one soul, the soul of Adam the first man, as alluded to by our Sages' statement (Shmos Rabbah 40:3): "While Adam the first man was lying as a lifeless entity, the Holy One, blessed be He, showed him each and every righteous man who would descend from him. There were those dependent on his head...." See also Tanya, chs. 2 and 37, Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 7, et al.

  1. There are places where the day (and the night) are longer than 24 hours. Note the Zohar, Vol. III, p. 10a: "There are places which are entirely day and there is no night there, except for a brief moment." How should these places conduct themselves with regard to the observance of the Shabbos? Is the approach that deserves primacy counting the hours, following the pattern of the days in another place, or going according to the rising and the setting of the sun?

I did not understand your question. How is it possible to observe Shabbos according to the rising of the sun when it will not rise for several 24-hour periods and perhaps for several months and then it will not set for a long time? Also, what is your intent when you say that they should follow the pattern of the days in another place? Which other place, since - to quote the Zohar, loc. cit., - "When it is light for these, it is dark for these. When it is day for them, it is night for the others"?

It is obvious that in these places, it is necessary to count hours, i.e., their days will be 24 hours long. And the beginning of Shabbos will be the same for all places on the same longitude that share the same horizon. It appears to me that Sefer HaBris discusses this issue. That text, however, is presently inaccessible to me.

To be sure, in this context, it is necessary to clarify:

  1. With regard to matters that are dependent on day and night, e.g., the times for prayer, in which places does one begin reckoning according to the clock and not according to seasonal hours? [I.e., an hour is considered one-twelfth of the time from sunrise to sunset.] For example, in a place where the day is only one hour long, it is not logical to assume that it will be sufficient to fast only one hour for the fast of 10 Teves.

  2. At the North Pole and the South Pole, it is not appropriate to speak of longitude. How should one conduct oneself there?

Clarification is necessary regarding these matters. This is not the place for discussion of the issue.

With the blessing "Immediately to teshuvah [repentance]; immediately to Redemption,"

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson
Executive Director

Rambam this week

13 Iyar, 5763 - May 15, 2003

Positive Mitzva 118: Misusing Something that has been Declared Holy

This mitzva is based on the verse (Lev. 5:16) "And he shall make restitution for that which he has done wrong with the holy thing"

Anything which has been designated for use in the Holy Temple is considered holy and cannot be used for any other purpose.

For example, if a person set aside money to be donated to the Beit HaMikdash, he must use it for that purpose. If he makes use of the money in any other manner, he must pay back the money originally promised plus a fine. This fine is one-fifth of that new total.

A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

There's a concept in America called the "count down." It's reserved only for great events such as when a space mission takes off. The countdown shows the significance of the event and is usually prefaced by something like, "And the Countdown begins."

Counting shows that the event you're expecting is very important to you. You count because you "just can't wait."

Jews, too, have a countdown. But ours is a little different. Forty-nine days are left, forty-eight days are left, forty-seven days are left...thirty-two days are left....The Jews made a similar countdown when they were expecting the greatest event in history - the revelation of G-d, Himself, on Mount Sinai - and they "just couldn't wait" for that great moment.

To this day, we continue to count, as the Jews of old did. We count the "omer" between Pesach and Shavuot. Each and every year, we, too, are expecting the greatest event in history - the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

Each individual is obligated to do his own counting. This indicates that he, too, is capable, in his own way, of reaching the spiritual heights of our ancestors, the spiritual heights which they achieved during the "countdown" for the revelation of G-d.

By the same merit, and by the merit of our counting, the Alm-ghty will reward us with "countless" blessings for health and happiness in all our endeavors.

Thoughts that Count

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap the corner of the field or the gleaning of the harvest. Leave them for the poor.... (Lev. 23:22)

Rabbi Abdimi asked, "Why did Scripture choose to place this law in the middle of the section dealing with the festivals? To teach us that whoever leaves the 'corners' and 'gleanings' for the poor, it is as if he built the Holy Temple and presented his [festival] offereings there.

And you shall not profane My holy name (Lev. 22:32)

The opposite of profaning G-d's name is the sanctification of G-d's name. When a Jew performs a mitzva (commandment) with devotion, and with pure intent, he is sanctifying G-d's name. When a Jew behaves in such a manner that only good things are heard about him, that too is a sanctification of G-d's name. However, the opposite is also true.


In the manner that he has caused a defect in someone, so shall it be done to him (Lev. 24:20)

If one finds a defect or something lacking in his fellow man, this is a sign that "so shall it be done to him" - that he himself is the one that has the defect. "He who charges others, charges them with his own faults."

(Kometz HaMincha)

And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Shabbat, from the day that you brought the Omer of the waving; seven complete weeks shall they be. (Lev 23:15)

This verse discusses the laws concerning Sefirat HaOmer - the counting of the Omer which takes place between Passover and Shavuot. Rashi explains that "from the day after the Shabbat" refers to the day after the festival, i.e. the second day of Passover. He further explains that the word "complete" teaches us that one begins to count from the evening (the second night of Passover) or else the weeks are not truly complete.

The word "u'sefartem - and you shall count" is from the same root as the words "sapphire" and "bright" as if to say, "Work on 'yourselves' until you are shiny and bright."

(The Maggid of Mezritch)

It Once Happened

A fierce looking man ran out of the house, his eyes burning with murderous rage at the coach full of Jews. In his hand he carried a revolver. At his heels, his favorite pet, a massive black dog, yelped and snapped at the carriage.

One of the passengers approached the angry householder, who drew his gun and began to shoot at the coach. The gun clicked - but no bullets emerged. Again and again he pulled the trigger, but nothing happened.

Just then, a calm, holy face appeared at the window of the carriage. With a fascinated stare, the angry man lowered the gun and pulled the trigger. A bullet spewed forth and struck the black dog, killing it instantly.

At the holy passenger's request, one of the travelers approached the householder. "Sir, we are Chasidim traveling with the holy Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev," he stammered. "It is time for our evening prayers and we would like to ask your kind permission to pray in your house."

"The Holy Rabbi of Berditchev? Why yes, of course, you have my permission," said the man, as if in a dream. With that, he turned and strode into his house without a backward glance at his beloved dog.

The servants and friends were puzzled. They expected to enjoy the massacre of the Jews - these Jews who seemed not to know or care that no Jew dared step onto this property since the owner's murderous reputation had become known. The disciples of Reb Levi Yitzchak were perplexed, too. Why had their Rebbe asked them to accompany him to this unknown place, leaving Berditchev very early, traveling quickly and stopping only once along the way to say Psalms? The homeowner himself was also confused. "I know the gun was in perfect order, and yet it would not shoot when I pointed at the carriage. It must be the power of that holy Rabbi," he muttered to his friends.

News of the arrival of Reb Levi Yitzchak and the estate owner's seeming change of heart reached the Jews living nearby. They began gathering at the estate to see Reb Levi Yitzchak and to pray with him. Many non-Jews also joined the gathering since Reb Levi Yitzchak's holiness was known by the entire countryside.

Reb Levi Yitzchak led the evening prayers himself. Before saying the opening words, "And He is merciful, He forgives sin, and will not destroy. He turns back His anger many times and does not arouse his wrath," the Rebbe began to sing a moving melody. It was sad and poignant and had a haunting effect on all who listened. It turned everyone's thoughts to their own private world, contemplating past regrets and the evil and folly of a person's actions. Each heart was full of despair and bitter regret. The disciples understood the melody to depict the suffering of the pure and holy soul, forced to leave the beautiful heavens, and come to this evil, false world.

But just as the notes seemed to fade into the very abyss of doom, the Rebbe raised his voice in a triumphant call of hope and salvation. The words, "Oh G-d, save. The King will answer us on the day we call," were sung in a joyful tune, stirring everyone to confidence and hope. But, before the Rebbe had sung the last of the sad notes, the host cried out hysterically and fell to the ground in a faint.

Everyone was mystified by the events. The Chasidim now understood that the purpose of the journey had to do with their host. But what were the redeeming qualities of this Jew-hater that he merited the special attention of Reb Levi Yitzchak?

A few hours later, the Chasidim saw the host emerge, his eyes red and his face tear-stained. In broken Yiddish, the host stammered, "I am a Jew. I, too, am a Jew." In wonder, they listened to his story:

"I was born in Germany to Jewish parents. As a young man I joined the Kaiser's army. The higher I rose in rank, the looser my ties to Judaism became. By the time I was a personal guard of the Kaiser, I had totally disassociated myself from Judaism. Finally, I became a Jew-hater and relished every opportunity I had to persecute Jews.

"Now, with you and your Rebbe here, I remember that I am a Jew. I want to be a Jew again. Please, I beg of you, ask your holy Rebbe to teach me how to be a Jew again!"

The next morning, prayers were lead with a festive atmosphere. The host joined the Jewish villagers. He borrowed a talit (prayer shawl) and tefilin and asked to be shown how to use them. After prayers, he was closeted with the Rebbe for several hours, their conversation remaining a secret. The Rebbe warned his Chasidim never to breathe a word about this journey.

A short time later, the former Kaiser's guard sold his estate and disappeared. Around the same time, a stranger came to live and study in Berditchev. He became a close disciple of Reb Levi Yitzchak and the father of one of the finest Jewish families.

Moshiach Matters

The Prophet Isaiah states, "Indeed I will create a new heaven and a new earth" (Isaiah 65). At the time of the Redemption G-d will create a new world, so to speak. This will be as easy for G-d as it is for us to change our clothing, as it says in Psalms (102:27): "As one changes a garment so will You change the world, as it is written "They will perish but You will endure; all of them will wear out like a garment; as a garment You will change them and they will pass on."


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