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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1490
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             THE WEEKLY PUBLICATION FOR EVERY JEWISH PERSON
   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
*********************************************************************
        September 20, 2017sh Hashana / Ha'Azinu    29 Elul, 5777
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                         Mission not Impossible

Impossible: preposterous, inconceivable, unthinkable, unachievable. The
list in the thesaurus goes on and on. There seem to be quite a lot of
synonyms to describe something that we consider impossible. But must you
be Don Quixote to dream about doing the impossible? Must you work for
IMF to accept a mission which seems impossible?

When a Jew undertakes an activity that is totally in concert with his
inner self and his Jewish existence, he needn't be bothered by the
seeming impossibility of the endeavor. Rather than being overwhelmed by
any difficulties, hurdles, or challenges, he can be certain of success.
Success might not be immediate, it can take time - maybe a month, a year
or even more. But in the end he will be successful. For this is an
assignment connected with his essence, and "A G-dly thing exists
forever."

But what if this endeavor not only seems to be totally impossible, but
actually is impossible according to the laws of nature? We should
attempt it anyway, and eventually we will be totally successful, beyond
our wildest, most quixotic dream.

Enough theory. How does this work in practice? An apt example is from
the life of Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson, of blessed memory, the mother of
the Rebbe. When her husband, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok, was exiled by the
Communist government in the 1930s, she produced ink out of herbs, so
that he could record - in the margins of his books, for there was no
paper - his unique, esoteric commentaries and explanations on the Torah.

But, we haven't gotten to the impossible part yet. That happened after
Rabbi Levi Yitzchok had passed away. Rebbetzin Chana undertook to
smuggle his manuscripts out of Communist Russia. This was truly an
impossible task according to everyone's calculations. And yet, somehow,
she succeeded in smuggling out his voluminous library of holy
manuscripts.

What kind of thoughts go through our heads when we are confronted with
an impossible, but crucial and momentous task such as the one just
mentioned? Upon reflecting, we might think that it isn't appropriate to
be involved in such an activity, for it is a pity to take time away from
some simpler task which we are certain to complete successfully.

Everything that happens is Divinely ordained. If you find something that
needs fixing, then you have to try to fix it. If you were dealt the
card, it's in your hand and you have to play it.

You can take into consideration all the significant obstacles and
limitations of the task at hand. You have to speak with certain people,
try to influence others, while going about things in a very natural,
organized way. However, the energy with which you attack the assignment
needs to be above any considerations or limitations. It is a Divinely
ordained mission.

It is because of this attitude that people take on impossible tasks and
succeed!

An additional reason for our success when we put aside natural
considerations and undertake impossible tasks: The Talmud states, "The
emissary is like the sender." When a Divine assignment is sent your way,
you have the Divine strength of the Sender.

          Inspired by a talk of the Rebbe on the anniversary of the
                                  passing of his mother, 6 Tishrei.

*********************************************************************
           LIVING WITH THE REBBE  -  THE WEEKLY TORAH PORTION
*********************************************************************
This Shabbat is known as Shabbat Shuva for the first words of the
Haftora, "Shuva Yisrael - Return Israel." Some call it Shabbat Teshuva,
because it is in The Ten Days of Teshuva.

Teshuva means "return to G-d." On a basic level this means to regret
your way, ask for forgiveness and get back on G-d's path.

For a person who has broken trust and wants to once again be trusted,
being remorseful and saying "I'm sorry" is not enough. He needs to reach
higher, find a greater level of character and prove himself worthy.

However Teshuva could be so much more. Even the holiest of people can
tap into the power of Teshuva.

The first verse in the Haftora reads: "Return Israel, until the L-rd
your G-d."

What does "until" mean? When you say "return,"it implies going back to a
place or situation you were in before. What place are we speaking of
here?

This takes us to a whole new level of Teshuva, to a place where we are
in perfect harmony with G-d.

Each of us have a soul, a piece of G-d inside of us. It is our essence.
Over time we could become so involved in the physical, mundane world
that our soul gets forgotten. Even when doing mitzvot (commandments),
they can be done out of habit, void of meaning.

Teshuva is connecting to your G-dly essence, your soul. It is a journey
to your core, every step you take inward, brings clarity. You see how
you are one with G-d, and that He loves you because you are part of Him.
When you connect at this level, the lower levels of Teshuva are
automatic. How could you remain the same after connecting so deeply?
Regret and remorse over your previous state will overtake you, and you
become closer to G-d.

Being that our souls are  infinite, there is always deeper/higher levels
to connect to. Through Teshuva even a Tzadik can find new levels of
closeness to G-d.

Your essence is already there, your soul has always been at the highest
level. You now have to "return until G-d," return to where your soul is
one with G-d. Since G-d is Infinite so is our journey, giving us the
ability to get ever closer.

Suffering also brings us closer to G-d. We have suffered enough. Perhaps
G-d wants our closeness to come from our own initiative.

In preparation for Yom Kippur, let us make the effort to get closer to
G-d. May He, with His Fatherly love, send Moshiach and gather the exiles
and bring us home.

May you be sealed for a good and sweet year.


    Adapted by Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz from the teachings of the Rebbe,
    yitzihurwitz.blogspot.com. Rabbi Hurwitz, who is battling ALS, and
    his wife Dina, are emissaries of the Rebbe in Temecula, Ca.


*********************************************************************
                             SLICE OF LIFE
*********************************************************************
                       The High Holidays in Exile
              from the diary of Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson

In the diary of Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson, mother of the Rebbe, she
relates various incidents that took place after her husband was arrested
for "anti-Soviet" activities.

Time passed in this way, until the month of Tishrei arrived. My
husband's turn to receive packages occurred on the day before Rosh
Hashana and on the day before Yom Kippur. This was comforting as I would
be able to send him various foods - meat and fish - which would remind
him somewhat of Yom Tov at home.

In anticipation of Yom Kippur, I secretly requested from a Jewish doctor
that worked there that he pay a visit to my husband. Indeed, late at
night after Yom Kippur and havdalah he visited my husband's cell and
spent some time with him observing how he ate as he broke his fast.

One day, on an afternoon in the month of Cheshvan, a young man entered
our home. He ascended the steps, walked into our apartment, and went
straight to the dining room. He asked no one for directions; it was as
if he knew the house well. The young man seated himself on a chair and
introduced himself by asserting that if I breathe a word to anyone about
his visit, we will both be in danger!

Rachel, the girl who stayed in our home for many years, was present in
the room when the man entered. (She was so devoted to us that she had
pleaded with the NKVD agents that they arrest her and spare the Rav,
insisting that she will gladly be imprisoned in his place for the entire
term of his sentence.)

When the young man noticed her, he said that "her presence did not
concern him, and proceeded to state that he wished to convey regards
from "Levik Zalmanovitch" (as my husband was referred to).It is
impossible to express in writing the feelings that I experienced at that
moment...

He continued: "Your husband gave me an exact description of your home so
that I would not need to ask anyone for directions, and would go
unnoticed. Levik Zalmanovitch was 32 days in solitary confinement and on
the thirty-third day I was confined to that cell with him."

He was a Christian, and an engineer, who was released after sixth months
of incarceration. Before his release, he promised my husband that as
soon as he would return home and change out of his prison uniform, he
would bring regards from him. This he did, and immediately came to our
home.

He related that he had spent the month of Tishrei together with my
husband. "As long as I live, I will never forget his Yom Kippur. He wept
and cried out aloud the entire day, reciting chapters of Psalms by heart
until late at night. He didn't say a single word to me the entire day,
and I didn't have the courage to initiate a conversation."

"Of what crime has my husband been accused?" I asked. "He built a
"meeka" (i.e., a mikveh) in the courtyard of the synagogue - this is
what he is being accused of. The shammes (beadle) had divulged some
information about him."

Indeed, at that time there were discussions about building a mikveh. The
shammes of the synagogue had disclosed that the Rav had raised a large
sum of money to build it. He also testified that there was a collection
in our home, on Simchas Torah, for widows, and that the main solicitor
had been my husband, of blessed memory.

In order to confirm this testimony, they brought together the witnesses
and my husband for a joint, face-to-face interrogation. The moment the
shammes and a shochet - who was also in prison - saw my husband they
repudiated their earlier testimony, declaring that they had only signed
because they had been placed under duress.

Time passed and all the while I sought ways to prevent my husband from
being brought to trial. I approached the director of the division of the
NKVD where he was being held, and although he was Jewish, he cruelly
rebuffed me every time.

From the prosecutor I learned that the prosecution had classified the
matter as a group of religious counter-revolutionaries, headed by
Schneersohn. This was terrifying news.

In my search for ways to save my husband, I travelled to Moscow with a
petition in hand to the chief prosecutor. After several days I located
the waiting area to his office, and spent several hours a day waiting
there. Eventually, he received me quite graciously, and assured me that
my husband's file would be re-examined. As I sat before him, he looked
through all the documents in which I made out the title "Schneersohn's
Group."

I sensed that his civility was insincere. Yet when he told me to return
home and that he would send me a response - I wanted to believe that the
outcome would be positive.

Shortly afterward, reports began to circulate that the case will be
transferred to Moscow, and that it would be tried by a "Special
Council." This meant a "trial" tightly supervised by a team of four
representatives of the highest civil and military administrations. They
would also decide from the outset, even before the trial, the category
of criminal to which the accused belonged.

This was despite all the petitions that I had presented to the
authorities, and after all the telephone calls that I had made to the
prosecutor and the interrogator. After all this, they sent me a message
informing me that they had already compiled all the evidence against my
husband, and that it has been dispatched to Moscow, to the Department
for Special Matters. They even added venomously, "See how prominent your
husband is - that we are transferring his case exclusively to Moscow,
the capital city."

From all this it was clear that they were planning to sentence my
husband to be exiled. Considering that his passport confirmed that he
was more than 70 years old, and he had papers diagnosing a heart
condition. I pressed hard to win approval for a special escort to
accompany him on the journey. I was informed that they expected him to
make the journey in good health.

When I asked for permission to include more food in the package for my
husband, they responded that he had become so healthy that I wouldn't
recognize him, and that he eats all the prison food...

However, once they had set the day that my husband was to be exiled, the
interrogator told me to bake something for him for the journey, because
he had not put any of their food into his mouth during his entire stay
in prison...

*********************************************************************
                               WHAT'S NEW
*********************************************************************
                            Triple Ceremony

The conclusion of the study of Maimonides' Mishne Torah will take place
for the 36th time this year for those who study one chapter a day and
for the 12th time for those who study three chapters daily. The
conclusion will be celelbrated with a special ceremony to take place on
Tuesday, 6 Tishrei/September 26, in various locations throughout the
world. In New York the main "siyum" will be at Oholei Menachem on
Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, near Lubavitch World Headquarters.

                        The Sounds of the Shofar


The main mitzva (commandment) of Rosh Hashana is to hear the shofar
being sounded. To this end, thousands of Chabad Centers around the world
have special Shofar blowing ceremonies at various times throughout the
Rosh Hashana holiday to enable as many Jews as possible to fulfill this
mitzva. In addition, Chabad-Lubavitch Chasidim walk throughout their
cities to visit nursing homes, hospitals and prisons to afford as many
Jews as possible to hear the sound of the shofar.

*********************************************************************
                            THE REBBE WRITES
*********************************************************************
                     Freely translated and adapted

                      6th of Tishrei, 5750 [1989]
            To the Sons and Daughters of Our People Israel,
                     Everywhere, G-d Bless You All!


Greeting and blessing:

It is customary to "open with a blessing," in this instance, a blessing
for a chasima (sealing) and g'mar chasima (final sealing) for a good and
sweet year.

It is after Rosh Hashana and we have already entered the new year. At
all times, even when a person's knowledge and actual conduct are
satisfactory, he should constantly strive to invest his time in further
study, and thus to improve his conduct (his thought, speech, and
action). Surely this applies at the threshold of a new year, which
reminds us that it is necessary to strive toward a new and more elevated
level of perfection in our daily life.

...Both miracles and nature are expressions of G-dliness. Nature too
emanates from G-d. He created and fixed the laws of nature and uses them
as a means to control the world. What distinguishes miracles from nature
is that miracles are out of the ordinary, a higher order of existence
than G-d usually reveals. The Hebrew word for miracle, "nes," also means
"uplifted," raised above and exalted. Thus, a miracle is an occurrence
which introduces a higher frame of reference into creation, elevating
the world beyond its natural limitations.

These two approaches, the natural and the miraculous, must be reflected
in the behavior of every Jew. We must exhibit both a natural pattern of
behavior and a miraculous pattern of behavior.

Even a Jew's natural pattern of behavior involves absolute adherence to
the directives of the Torah. However, inasmuch as it is his ordinary
conduct, it is limited by the bounds of his human potential.

G-d, however, grants a Jew an additional potential to serve Him through
a miraculous pattern of behavior, allowing him to transcend his natural
limits. This does not mean that a person merely improves himself
slightly or even greatly, in the spirit of the directive that "in holy
matters, one should always ascend higher," by increasing his commitment
to sessions of Torah study, undertaking a new hiddur (enhancement) in
the performance of a mitzvah (commandment), or the like. Rather, it
means that he changes entirely, adopting a totally new and more elevated
pattern of behavior.

"All Jews are presumed to act in an upstanding manner." Thus, we can
assume that each Jew utilized the month of Elul, the month of
stock-taking, to correct all his deeds of the previous year and to
elevate them to the level of completion and perfection.

We can also assume that he was granted a full measure of pardon,
forgiveness, and atone-ment, and was inscribed - and that inscription
was sealed - for a good year in all matters....

It is now demanded of each Jew - man, woman, and child - that he work
with himself and elevate himself to a plane so new and so high that his
conduct in this year will be miraculous when compared to his conduct in
the previous year.

This miraculous pattern of behavior - serving G-d (through Torah,
prayer, and mitzvos) in an unlimited manner - must pervade every aspect
of our conduct, including the mitzvos between man and G-d, the mitzvos
between man and his fellowman, beginning with the mitzvah to "love your
neighbor as yourself," and also the mitzvos that are connected with
non-Jews and with the world at large.

G-d relates to the Jewish people "measure for measure." Accordingly, it
is understood that a miraculous pattern of behavior on the part of a Jew
arouses a miraculous pattern of Divine behavior and draws down unlimited
Divine blessings upon himself, both as an individual and as a part of
the Jewish people as a whole, and upon the world at large.

May each individual's acceptance of firm and powerful resolutions
regarding all the above be considered by G-d as if these resolutions
have already been carried out. In particular, this is true, since we
have already experienced several days of the new year and one can assume
that the above has already begun to be carried out. And may the meaning
of the acronym resulting from the name of this year be fulfilled quite
literally, so that "this will be a year of miracles."

May it also include the most vital miracle, the miracle of the true and
complete redemption led by our righteous Moshiach, when there will be
even greater miracles than those which occurred during the exodus from
Egypt. ...

May G-d fulfill the heartfelt prayer of each Jew and of the Jewish
people as a whole - and bring the true and complete redemption in the
immediate future.

*********************************************************************
                              ALL TOGETHER
*********************************************************************
                          What are "kapparot"?

Kapparot means "atonement." Customarily before Yom Kippur, one takes a
chicken and passes it over the head three times while reciting a special
prayer. The chicken is then ritually slaughtered and often given to the
poor to use for their pre-Yom Kippur meal. The purpose of kapparot is to
invoke sincere repentance through the thought that a similar fate as
that awaiting the fowl might be due us, but through G-d's mercy and our
true repentance it is averted. A fish or money can also be used for the
kapparot.

*********************************************************************
                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
*********************************************************************
In these days Ten Days of Repentance from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur,
our thoughts turn to Teshuva - repentance.

The Rebbe discusses the Sages' comment of the need for the Jewish people
to do teshuva (return to G-d) before Moshiach comes. The Rebbe said:

"The Talmud (Sanhedrin) states that the coming of Moshiach is dependent
only on teshuva - repentance. As to the continuation of the above
declaration of the Sages, that 'the matter now depends on teshuva
alone,' G-d's people have already turned to Him in teshuva. For teshuva
is an instantaneous process, which transpires 'in one moment, in one
turn.' Furthermore, a single thought of teshuva is sufficient to alter
one's entire spiritual status....

"Since on more than one occasion every Jew has had thoughts of teshuva,
the coming of the future Redemption is surely imminent..."

Thus, though we are obligated to continuously do teshuva, the Rebbe
clearly stated that the teshuva necessary to bring the Redemption has
already been done.

May we merit the Redemption, as the Rebbe prophesied, in the immediate
future.

*********************************************************************
                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
*********************************************************************
Give ear, O heavens and I will speak; listen, O earth to the words of my
mouth (Deut. 32:1)

The Divine service a Jew is asked to perform involves the fusion of two
opposites. We must serve G-d with simple faith and accepting G-d's
authority, which stem from the essence of the soul and transcend our
understanding. But our Divine service must also involve our conscious
powers of intellect and emotion. They too must perceive G-dliness. The
bond which the essence of the soul shares with G-d must be extended into
the realm of the conscious powers, so that we will serve G-d with more
than simple faith. We will also be able to understand G-dliness, love
Him, and hold Him in awe.

                                           (Likutei Sichot, Vol. 4)

                                *  *  *


The essential G-dly potential within a Jew allows him to be
simultaneously "close to the heavens" while he is immersed in the
application of Torah to worldly concerns. His state of spiritual
elevation elevates, without negating, his existence within the material
world.

                                     (Sichot Kodesh, Ha'azinu-5751)

                                *  *  *


I will heap misfortunes upon them; I will use up My arrows on them
(Deut. 32:23)

Comments Rashi, "My arrows will be spent, but they [the Jewish people]
will not be spent." All the nations who have oppressed the Jews
throughout the ages will eventually be punished with extinction, but the
Jewish people will exist forever, despite the persecutions against them.

                                                      (Torat Moshe)

*********************************************************************
                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
*********************************************************************
Two brothers, Reb Zusia and Reb Elimelech, were great tzadikim and
amongst the most prized disciples of Rabbi Dov Ber, the Magid of
Mezritch. With the passing of time and difficulty of communication, Reb
Zusia and Reb Elimelech lost contact with a third brother, who was not a
chasid.

The two brothers, throughout their many travels, would ask about their
brother and try to ascertain his whereabouts. They were intrigued to
know what type of lifestyle he was living. Was he religious like
themselves, or had he, G-d forbid, abandoned the teachings of the Torah?
And even if he was religious, was he exacting in his practice, concerned
only for the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law?

And so, in each town and village they visited, as they spread the
teaching of their master, the Magid, they asked if anyone knew the
whereabouts of their brother. Try as they might, they could not find out
any information. Yet, they still persisted on their self-imposed
mission.

When finally they did hear some information concerning where their
brother lived, Reb Zusia and Reb Elimelech rejoiced. And yet, there was
a certain amount of hesitation in their rejoicing for, after over a
dozen years of separation, they had no idea what their reunion would
bring.

And so, with slight trepidation, the two brothers made their way to a
small village where their brother was an innkeeper. Reb Zusia and Reb
Elimelech entered the inn and observed their brother at work. He was
busy the entire day greeting guests, preparing rooms, and cooking food.
He ran from person to person, task to task, with a cheerful countenance
and dealt with each guest, rich or poor, graciously. With his long
beard, tzitzit, and long black coat, Reb Zusia and Reb Elimelech were
assured that their brother had indeed remained true to the Torah even in
this isolated village.

But still, a question remained unanswered for Reb Zusia and Reb
Elimelch. These two chasidic masters were known for their humility. But,
of course, humility doesn't preclude the fact that they understood that
there was something special about themselves. They might have considered
themselves undeserving of the remarkable qualities which G-d gave them,
but to outright deny their uniqueness would be like denying a precious
gift. And so, they wondered, was there something exceptional about their
brother, too, and the way he served his Creator?

Evening came at their brother's inn. Most of the guests had already
arrived and the furious activity of the daytime hours had slowed. Reb
Zusia and Reb Elimelech observed as their brother entrusted his wife
with the inn's duties and entered his study. In the study, he prayed the
evening service and then poured over his holy books until it was quite
late.

The brothers were reassured by this sight, but not awed; it was not
uncommon for a Jew to put in a full day's work and then spend his
"leisure" hours in prayer and Torah study. However, their brother's next
activity was indeed unusual. Reb Zusia and Reb Elimelech watched as
their brother began to say the Shema before bedtime. In the middle of
the prayers before retiring, their brother took out a worn ledger and
opened it toward the end of the book.

For long moments he sat motionless, pouring over a page of his ledger.
"How much could be written on one page that it takes him so long to read
it?" they wondered. They continued to watch, transfixed. As the minutes
ticked away, they saw their brother begin to shake. Tears rolled down
his cheeks and onto the page of the ledger in front of him. In a quiet,
trembling voice they heard him read from the ledger, "I didn't serve
this guest today with as much honor as is befitting a fellow-Jew...I was
too quick to answer this person when they asked me a question..." On and
on went the list of their brother's "sins" which he had written into the
tear-stained ledger.

Reb Zusia and Reb Elimelech watched as their brother continued crying
and reading from the ledger until the words on the page literally
disappeared. Whether it was his tears or a miracle that washed away his
"sins," the brother knew that when his sins were no longer on the page,
his sincere repentance had been accepted.

The brothers thought of their parents, and wondered at what great deeds
they had done to merit raising such remarkable children.

*********************************************************************
                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
*********************************************************************
We have the right and a responsibility to remove every obstacle that
conceals or obscures the Redemption. We have the power to nullify the
decree witholding Moshiach. To fulfill our obligation, we must demand
"We  Want Moshiach Now" and do all in our power to reveal the Moses, the
Moshiach within ourselves. In this way we bring about the Redemption and
the revelation of Moshiach, the Moses of our generation.

       (From Reflections of Redemption, based on Likutei Sichot 19,
       by Dovid Yisroel Ber Kaufmann o.b.m., to whom this column is
                                                         dedicated)

*********************************************************************
       END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1490 - Rosh Hashana / Ha'Azinu 5778
*********************************************************************

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