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Devarim Deutronomy

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1318: Kedoshim

1319: Emor

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Devarim Deutronomy

May 2, 2014 - 2 Iyyar, 5774

1319: Emor

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

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  1318: Kedoshim1320: Behar  

Hands-On Experience  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
The Rebbe Writes  |  Today Is ...  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

Hands-On Experience

A chasid once approached the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, with a question. "What is the point of studying Chasidic teachings, which deals with abstractions that no mortal mind can fully grasp? After all, when Moshiach comes even those who didn't study Chasidut will know G-d, as the Prophet Isaiah said: 'For they will all know Me.'"

The Tzemach Tzedek replied: "A person listening to a conversation on the other side of a wall doesn't grasp everything. He only understands the general drift. But later, when the conversation is repeated in full, he understands everything he had heard previously. Every few moments he thinks, 'Aha! Now I understand all those connections and details!'

"Here, too," continued the Tzemach Tzedek, "it is true that someone who studies Chasidut grasps only part of the subject. But when Moshiach will teach it in the time to come, that person will be able to look back and say, 'Aha...!'

"And not only that, but someone hearing those teachings for the second time will understand them much more deeply than someone who will then hear them for the first time."

Does this sound like Greek to you? If so, consider the following. Imagine you decide to become a printer. Even before you set foot in a printing shop you start finding out all kinds of fascinating facts and interesting information about printing and presses. You become an expert in paper and ink. You avidly read a book that describes in detail how a four-color press works, complete with diagrams.

The big day comes when you're going to actually see a printing press. You invite a friend to come. The friend doesn't know even a fraction of what you do about printing, but he's a good friend so he comes.

After only a moment of surveying the machine, you point to something. "Aha," you say excitedly, "this is where the ink goes!" An instant later you notice a row of buttons. "Aha," you say with animation, "this is the button you push to start the press." You walk around the machine pointing to levers, buttons, and thing-a-ma-jigs that you recognize from your "four-color-press-manual." And each time, you exclaim, "Aha"- as if to say, "I learned about it when it was all theoretical, but now I really understand."

What about your friend, though? He's probably bored since he doesn't really know heads from tails about printing.

According to Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad Chasidut, the G-dly Light we will experience in the Messianic era is a result of the quality of our performance of commandments and study of Torah before Moshiach's revelation.

So, a similar type of scene to the one described above in the printing shop will repeat itself when Moshiach comes. During this long exile, we study our manual--the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah. We learn that every time we do a mitzvah it strengthens our connection with G-d, but we don't quite understand why. We read that G-d created this world--and other worlds--but don't really understand how. We hear about the Holy Temple and wonder how it will look.

When Moshiach comes, and everything is revealed for our physical eyes to behold, we'll say, "Ah, now I see how my connection to G-d was strengthened through performing mitzvot. Ah, now I see how G-d created the world, and I even see the spiritual worlds that exist on non-physical planes that Kabbalah talks about. Ah, I recognize all these different furnishings of the Holy Temple that I learned so much about." The "Ah" will be directly proportional to the amount of effort and study we do now, in these last few moments before Moshiach!

Living with the Rebbe

The Torah portion of Emor ("Speak") begins with the special laws pertaining to the kohanim ("priests"), the high priest, and the Temple service. It also lists the various holidays and festivals in the Jewish calendar and the unique commandments associated with these days. It concludes with the penalties for murder and for injuring one's fellow or destroying his property.

Within the mention of the special days is the command pertaining to the Sabbath: "Six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest... you shall do no manner of work."

Take a look at your average calendar and you'll notice that the first day is Sunday, a day of rest in many countries. The week, therefore, begins with a day of rest.

Sunday, in the Jewish calendar, is a work-day; Saturday, Shabbat, was appointed the day of rest. The week actually begins with work. Only after six days of work will the seventh day be the Sabbath. The precedence of labor before rest indicates that our purpose is not to while away time idly, but rather to work for the betterment of ourselves and our community, in both material and spiritual matters.

It might seem strange that the phrase "shall work be done" is in a passive form. But, actually, it indicates that Judaism advocates a "passive" or slightly aloof attitude toward work. A person's entire interest and enthusiasm shouldn't only be centered around business activities.

Today, many of us have become so totally submerged in our business lives that we have no time for anything or anyone, least of all ourselves. We're "on the job" not only at work but also at home, at leisure. We think, sleep, even pray business.

To caution against this complete preoccupation we have the Divine order, "Six days shall work be done." It is a positive commandment, stating the essential nature of labor, yet transmitting an important clause: Don't become totally preoccupied with work. Keep slightly detached so that during leisure hours one will be able to give attention to personal and family needs, both material and spiritual.

From A Thought for the Week, adapted by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Kagan

A Slice of Life

A Rabbi in Two Armies
by Shneur Zalman Berger

Rabbi Yaakov Shmueli, a Lubavitcher Chasid, was an army chaplain in the Israeli army for 26 years. His return to the army began just a few years after he himself had completed his army service. He took a course for the chaplaincy as part of his reserve duty. Then he received offers from commanders who asked him to become a military chaplain on a permanent basis.

"The first one to ask me was the personnel commander in the military chaplaincy. He also recommended me to the Chief Rabbi of the IDF (Israel Defence Force). I asked the Rebbe and after receiving his positive answer, I signed up for service as a military chaplain."

Rabbi Shmueli was sent for an interview with the commander of the Nachal Infantry Brigade. After various questions the commander said, "You know that even the officers in Nachal sleep in tents?"

"I know."

"How will you manage?"

"Our ancestors also slept in tents," was his reply.

The commander did not accept this answer. "Our ancestors slept in tents but what about you?"

"I am ready for any task assigned to me," he said tersely and was immediately accepted.

Rabbi Shmueli knew he would have to be away from home for weeks on end, far from his wife and children, but he also knew that he had received the Rebbe's blessing for this important job.

"I arrived at the camp in the Golan Heights where I was assigned a tent. Despite the many hardships I experienced during my service which lasted 26 years, I was able to accomplish a lot and hopefully be an example of a chasid of the Rebbe as well."

Rabbi Shmueli had four military rabbis under him and he had many responsibilities. However, his greatest pleasure was being involved with the soldiers one-on-one.

"I loved talking to the soldiers and taking care of their needs. Along with the connection with the soldiers, I forged a special relationship with officers and senior commanders. At meetings with officers and commanders, I would begin with words of Torah. If at first I thought that I was talking while they were occupied with their matters, the following story proves otherwise.

"I once started a meeting with a Torah thought, as usual, when the unit commander stopped me and said, 'You said that last year.' That made me realize that you cannot know what impact you are making. I couldn't believe that this most senior commander was listening and even remembered what I had spoken about the previous year.

Soldiers in the Nachal Brigade were spread throughout the country in bases and outposts that were far from one another. Although Rabbi Shmueli had four other chaplains working under him, he travelled extensively to assure that every base and outpost was visited regularly. "Until today, I can picture the expression on a commander's face when he saw me coming with doughnuts on Chanuka and bringing joy to the soldiers. 'Since when does a military chaplain visit such an out of the way post? Are you being punished for something?' he asked suspiciously."

For three years, Rabbi Shmueli served Nachal until he was transferred to the Armored Corps. The job changed but the distance from home did not. The corps command center was in the Golan Heights and during training he moved south with the soldiers.

From the Armored Corps, Rabbi Shmueli transferred to the Arava region after being appointed as rabbi of the Arava Regional Brigade. His jurisdiction was the Jordanian border, from the Dead Sea until Eilat.

The (first) Gulf War began a short while later. "It was most intense the day after the first Scud missiles landed in Israel," recalls Rabbi Shmueli. "That day, the commander of the Arava Regional Brigade came to my office and worriedly asked, 'What does the Rebbe say? What will happen now? Will Israel be harmed by the war?'

"I knew this commander and I knew that he had always preferred keeping his distance from the military chaplain," he recalls. "I shared with him the Rebbe's message that the Land of Israel is the safest place in the world.

"During those tense times, many commanders who met me during the course of patrols and meetings, wanted to know what the Rebbe was saying. Although the Rebbe's positive message was being publicized in the media, the commanders wanted to hear it again and again. I also told them the Rebbe had quoted a Midrash that spoke about a war in the region as a sign of the imminent redemption."

After the Gulf War, the army focused its attention on studying the lessons to be learned from the conflict. Their main conclusion was the need to establish a Home Front Command that would coordinate all rear-guard emergency efforts in a time of war. In the wake of that decision, Rabbi Shmueli was transferred to serve as district chaplain of the Southern Region of the Home Front Command, and later to the Central Region command center.

Throughout his years in the IDF, Rabbi Shmueli was always aware of his role as a soldier in the Rebbe's army. His dedication and devotion enabled him to bring Torah teachings and mitzvot (commandments) to tens of thousands of soldiers in the Israeli army.

Excerpted from Beis Moshiach Magazine.

What's New

New Torahs

Chabad of Tulsa, Oklahoma, recently welcomed a new Torah scroll with singing, dancing and a procession down 71st Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Chabad of Medford, New Jersey, celebrated the start of their first Torah scroll. The scribe wrote the first letters in Medford and it will be completed in Israel and then brought back to Medford.

The Chabad Centre in Prague, Czech Republic, welcomed a new Torah scroll. The event is rather uncommon in the country as there are many ancient Torah scrolls that are used in most of the Prague synagogues.

Get Ready For...

Get ready for... The Great Parade! The full-day celebration - parade and fair - is themed on Jewish unity and pride. It is based on the Lag B'Omer parades that have been held on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, New York, since the 1940s. On Sunday, May 18, celebrate the life and learning of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, Rabbi Akiva and the great Jewish men and women who brought new joy and unity to the Jewish people! Visit for more info. Call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center to find out about local Lag B'Omer Parades and celebrations.

The Rebbe Writes

21 Adar II, 5738 [1978]

Sholom uBrocho [Peace and Blessing]:

Thank you for your letter of 13 Adar II. I appreciate your comprehensive response to my letter and memorandum on the need to organize widespread use of T.M. and similar techniques in psychotherapy compatible with the Torah with the double objective of making such therapy available to Jewish patients in a kosher way and at the same time saving numerous Jews from getting involved with Avoda Zora [idol-worship] as now commonly practiced in the USA.

Needless to say, I noticed your suggestions and observations in this connection with understandable interest.

In reply, let me first say that, as a general principle, so long as the said two objectives can best be served, whatever project is determined to be most effective is most desirable, and, of course, acceptable to me.

There are, however, some points in your response which need careful assessment. For instance, the suggestion that an Institute employing the said healing techniques might be linked with a strictly orthodox, even Lubavitch, orientation should be examined in light of it being a possible, or even likely, deterrent for many candidates who might hesitate to turn to such an Institute for fear that it may impose upon them religious demands and commitments which they are not yet prepared to accept.

The above is not to say that the idea should be rejected out of hand, since there may be individuals who would not be deterred by it. But I believe that if the project is to attract a wider circle of candidates for therapy, it would have a wider acceptance if it is not overtly tied in with such an orientation, or discipline; at any rate, not in the initial stage.

Needless to say, the emphasis is on the overt orientation of the projected Institute, which should have no religious or other preconditions for anyone seeking its services. But the Institute itself should, of course, be run in strict keeping with the Torah, with a kosher, indeed glat-kosher, kitchen, strict Shabbos [Sabbath] observance, with Mezuzos on all doors - just as there are glat-kosher Hotels and institutions.

With regard to the basic point you make in your letter, namely, that most people for whom our plan is envisaged consider themselves "normal" and would not be interested in a program that offers professional (medical) services, but would prefer a more simplistic setup for relaxation, etc., - this should certainly be taken into account, since the ultimate goals of our plan would not be affected.

And, if as you suggest, this would be the more practical setup for attracting more people and achieving our two objectives - healing and elimination of Avoda Zora - then by all means, this method should be given due consideration.

I would like to make a further point, though entirely not in my domain, namely, in reference to hypnosis as one of the techniques used in psychotherapy, as mentioned in your letter.

I have always been wary of any method that deprives a person of the free exercise of his will, and which puts him in the power of another person, even temporarily - except, of course, in a case of Pikuach-nefesh [the preservation of life]. Certainly I would not favor the use of such a method on a wider scale, least of all to encourage psychologists and psychiatrists enrolled in our program to use it.

Finally, a point which for understandable reasons I did not want to mention in my letter accompanying the memorandum: If in the first stage of implementing the program there would be need for funding the initial outlay, my Secretariat would make such funds available.

Your further comments will be welcome, and many thanks again.

With blessing,

Today Is ...

Iyar 3

It is possible to utilize for G-d's service, according to Torah, all behavior-traits. This includes those traits that are unwholesome, and even those that are evil, as their names and descriptions indicate. For example, the tzadik Rabbi Meshulam Zusya of Anipoli, of blessed memory, learned a number of methods of serving G-d - from a thief: a) He works quietly without others knowing. b) He is ready to place himself in danger. c) The smallest detail is of great importance to him. d) He labors with great toil. e) Alacrity. f) He is confident and optimistic. g) If he did not succeed the first time, he tries again and again

A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

This Friday, May 2, is the 2nd of Iyar. On this day we commemorate the birthday of the fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel, known as the Rebbe Maharash.

One of the most memorable and pithy maxims that we have from the Rebbe Maharash is the saying, "L'Chatchila Ariber" - which means, "In the first place, go over."

The Rebbe Maharash mentioned this concept - which has been the constant battle cry of Lubavitch outreach workers all over the world - in reference to one who finds himself faced with an obstacle. "The whole world says, first try to go under or around an obstacle. If this doesn't work, then go over it," the Rebbe Maharash noted. "But I say, 'In the first place, go over,'" he declared.

What does it mean to go over an obstacle right away rather than trying another method to pass an obstruction? In confronting obstacles to all good endeavors, one should take the most ambitious and aggressive approach. One cannot remain passive, hoping that the situation will change by itself or that the obstruction will magically disappear. It must be approached as a challenge. And, as such, it should be afforded one's utmost attention and energy.

In addition, when working at overcoming obstacles, we have to keep uppermost in our mind only positive thoughts and the image of the endeavor successfully accomplished. For this, too, will aid in our ultimate triumph and success.

Thoughts that Count

Rebbi [Yehuda HaNasi] said, "...Be as careful in a minor mitzva as with a major one, for you do not know the reward given for the mitzvot..." (Ethics 2:1)

Fulfill all of the mitzvot (commandments) in order to please your Creator, not in order to receive reward or honor. One who is interested in achieving honor through the mitzvot tries to fulfill the "major" mitzvot, whereas he tends to place less emphasis on the "minor" mitzvot. That is, he fulfills the mitzvot which will bring him more honor.

(Or Torah of the Maggid)

He [Rabbi Gamliel] used to say: "Fulfill His will as you would your own will, so that He may fulfill your will as though it were His will..." (Ethics 2:4)

Try to make the will of the Almighty your own will, and fulfill His will as you fulfill your own wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm. And if the Almighty's will is difficult for you to fulfill, set aside your will because of His will. As a reward, the Holy One, blessed is He, will nullify the will of others, who do not agree with the way you would like things to be, and He will agree with your view.

(Machzor Vitri)

He used to say: "...The bashful person cannot learn, neither can the short-tempered teach..." (Ethics 2:5)

A student should not be too bashful in front of his colleagues to say, "I do not understand." Rather, he should ask and ask again, even several times.

(Shulchan Aruch HaRav)

A teacher who is overly rigid and oppressive prevents his words from being accepted by his audience. His students will not be able to discuss their learning with him in the proper way.


It Once Happened

When it first erupted, the leaders of the Communist revolution in Russia were intent on ridding the country of everyone who opposed the new regime and its philosophy. No one could be trusted. The friendly neighbor across the street was just as likely to be an informer as one's longtime co-worker. Everyone was suddenly in danger of being "purged."

People began to stay in their homes, too frightened to venture outside. Good friends stopped acknowledging one another on the streets. The secret police were everywhere. Their eyes and ears followed one's every move, heard every word one uttered. Some people said they could even read minds.

Jews, of course, were their number one target, as their whole way of life contradicted what the authorities were trying to impose. Their belief in something higher than the physical world, rich communal life, stubborn faith in the Messiah and the Final Redemption, and aversion to informing on others marked them as clear "enemies of the people."

Added to the mix of suffering was the widespread hunger and poverty. The most wonderful thing that could happen to a person was to receive his daily ration of bread with the clerk forgetting to tear off the coupon. This was the greatest joy a Soviet citizen could hope for.

Chaim Mordechai was a "strange bird," a gaunt young man who lived by himself in a tiny hut behind the local synagogue. The sum total of his worldly possessions was a cast-off iron bedstead. Many people considered him less than entirely normal. This, however, was to his advantage, as he could never be taken as a threat to the government.

Chaim Mordechai was thin for the simple reason that he was perpetually hungry. No one ever saw him eat or drink; indeed, he had no visible means of support. Most of his time was spent in the synagogue, sitting in front of an open Gemara or book of Chasidut. There were even rumors that he had been spotted in different places at the same time. But no one suspected him of being Elijah the Prophet, disguised as a poverty-stricken young man; it was just too implausible. Nonetheless, there was an air of mystery surrounding him.

One evening, as he was sitting and studying, Chaim Mordechai's hunger pangs became intolerable. Where could he find something to eat? There were only two possibilities: the marketplace and the train station. The marketplace was the more logical of the two, but for some reason Chaim Mordechai found himself drawn in the direction of the train station.

It was late at night when he arrived, and the station was almost deserted. Chaim Mordechai was still considering his options when he was startled by the sound of a train whistle. The train pulled in, and a finely dressed and well-groomed Jew alighted from one of the cars.

Chaim Mordechai quickly ran over to greet him. "Shalom Aleichem, Reb Yid!" he said, extending his hand. Curiously, the man seemed to hesitate in responding. "Sh-shalom Aleichem," he replied, as if not quite sure of himself.

Chaim Mordechai's antennae were immediately raised, as his ability to sense impending danger was keenly developed.

"Where are you from, Reb Yid, and where are you headed?" he asked with feigned innocence, as if questions of such a personal nature were commonplace.

The stranger's confusion and uncertainty only increased. "Actually, I'm a refugee," he replied. "I had to leave my home in a hurry. I'm looking for Zalman the shochet [ritual slaughterer]."

"That's a shame," Chaim Mordechai was quick to answer. "Reb Zalman also had to flee a few days ago rather suddenly. But don't worry," he continued, "I'm sure you will find other friends here."

The stranger's face lit up. Chaim Mordechai quickly picked up his small suitcase and invited him home.

Chaim Mordechai made sure to keep a few paces ahead, lest the visitor suddenly wish to change direction. A few minutes later they arrived at the door to his humble shack. "After you." Chaim Mordechai nodded his head, pointing the way inside.

Now, the lock on Chaim Mordechai's door was broken; once it was completely closed from the outside, it was impossible to open it from within. His heart racing, Chaim Mordechai quickly slammed the door on his distinguished guest and imprisoned him.

Opening the small suitcase, he found a notebook filled with names and addresses of many of the town's more prominent Jews and Chasidim. There was no longer any doubt. The stranger was definitely an informer working for the secret police.

Like a shot from a cannon, Chaim Mordechai raced from door to door, alerting people to the danger and advising them to lay low. Only after he had warned every single Jew whose name was on the list did he return to the shack, and with "great difficulty" succeed in opening the door.

The next day, everyone was talking about the "refugee" who had left town with his tail between his legs, thanks to the ingenuity of Chaim Mordechai. Yes, he was still hungry, but the knowledge that he had saved countless innocent families gave him the courage to face the difficult times which, unfortunately, still lay ahead.

Moshiach Matters

The teachings of the Baal Shem Tov are the vessel for the light of the revelation of Moshiach. These teachings, and the pure task of refining and cultivating our emotional qualities, will ultimately spread to people on the periphery and all will realize the truth. We must all clearly know that each and every activity and each and every effort made to spread the wellsprings of Chassidus outward illuminates the darkness of the exile and hastens the coming and revelation of Moshiach. There are no words to describe how difficult it is to remain even one extra moment in exile and how precious one extra moment of the revelation of Moshiach is.

(The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe)

  1318: Kedoshim1320: Behar  
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