Receipts Only | Living with the Rebbe | A Slice of Life | What's New
The Rebbe Writes | All Together | A Word from the Director | Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened | Moshiach Matters
by Rabbi Yeshoshua Hecht
Joe Greenberg was one of the wealthiest men in town. To every charitable organization that called him, knocked on his door or sent him an appeal letter, he always had the same response, "Soon, soon. Don't worry, you'll see."
Month after month, year after year, Joe became wealthier, but his response never changed: "Soon, soon. Don't worry, you'll see."
At a ripe, old age, Joe finally passed away. He never did make good on any of his half-hearted promises to give charity. In fact, he never gave a dime in his whole life.
When he arrived at the gates of Heaven, the Guardians scrutinized his list of good deeds. "What about all of these 'Soon, soon. You'll sees' that you told the charities, synagogues, and yeshivas?" asked the Guards at the Gates.
"No problem," said Joe, as he calmly pulled out his checkbook and started writing out checks to every single charitable organization that had every approached him. "I'll make good on everything right away," he confidently declared.
"Sorry, Joe," the Guards said solemnly. "Here, we only accept receipts.
For many of us, the approach of Yom Kippur turns our thoughts toward the Final Reckoning, or at least what our scorecard will look like on this year's Day of Judgement.
What "receipts" do we have to show for ourselves from this year? Did we make good on last year's pledges?
Of course, the receipts mentioned at the Heavenly Gates don't just include those given for charity. Why, for that, even a cancelled check would be all right.
The receipts that are legal tender Above include each and every good deed that we did this past year. Promisory notes are just fine for the upcoming year, but what do we have to show for ourselves for the past twelve months?
As we do each mitzva, whether it's performing a positive commandment or abstaining from a prohibition, the mitzva is recorded in the Heavenly Record Book. Any and all feelings of remorse and regret over past misdeeds or missed deeds are also included. Then, taking into account all of the "receipts" for the mitzvot, G-d's decree for what the coming year will be like for us is written down on Rosh Hashana and "sealed" on Yom Kippur. (The "grace period" between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur allows for a change in Judgement if we work really hard-spiritually speaking-during those intermediary days).
Start making good on those provisory notes today and collect plenty of receipts over the next few days (months, and years!). We'll all be happy you did.
- (Back to text) This is not to minimize the greatness of the mitzva of charity, however. In fact, when it says "the mitzva" in the Talmud without clarification, our Sages say it refers to the mitzva of charity since it encompasses all other mitzvot. In addition, it is one of the only mitzvot about which Jewish tradition declares that it actually hastens the Redemption.
Rabbi Hecht is the spiritual leaderof Beth Israel Westport/Norwalk-Chabad
Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year. It was the day on which the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies in the Holy Temple, experiencing a direct bond with G-d. There was nothing else there but him and G-d's revealed presence.
In microcosm, this state of connection is experienced by every Jew on Yom Kippur. This is the heart of the Neilah service, the last of our Yom Kippur prayers. Neilah means "locked." During Neilah, every person is "locked in," alone with G-d. Every person has his or her time to be together with Him.
Will we consciously feel this? There surely are differences between what goes on in each person's heart, but on this day, every person feels some spiritual inspiration. He or she draws closer to G-d and becomes more aware of his or her Jewish roots.
It's a function of time. Just as there are natural settings which arouse feelings of beauty and awe, Yom Kippur is a day created for spiritual inspiration. At the core of our being, beyond the "I" with which we carry on our ordinary daily experience, everyone of us possesses a soul which is "an actual part of G-d." And on Yom Kippur, the nature of the day causes this spiritual core to be revealed, pushing it into our conscious experience.
That's why we recite confessional prayers on Yom Kippur; it's like a couple making up. If they've felt distance and separation, and then come together again, they'll look each other up close and say they're sorry. It's got nothing to do with a guilt trip; it's a natural response when you've hurt someone you love.
And the couple promise to change their conduct in the future, to turn away from those things which cause each other pain and to do more of those things that bring them happiness.
That's what our prayers are about on Yom Kippur: coming close to G-d, saying we're sorry because we caused Him pain, and promising that in the next year we will try to do better.
For Yom Kippur is not intended to be an isolated spiritual event. Although it is unique in its holiness, the intent is that the uplifting influence of Yom Kippur will inspire changes in our conduct throughout the year. On Yom Kippur, we've got to think of what happens afterwards, how to make the spiritual feelings of that day a spur to enable us to live better and more fulfilled lives in the year to come.
From Keeping in Touch by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger published by Sichos in English
My Epic Visit with Sandy Koufax
by Rabbi Moshe Feller
Over 50 years later, Rabbi Feller, director of Upper Midwest Merkos, Chabad Lubavitch, retells his epic visit with Sandy Koufax at the Saint Paul Hotel on the morrow of Yom Kippur in 1965 - the Yom Kippur on which Sandy Koufax did not pitch.
Since the first game of the World Series took place in Minnesota, Sandy Koufax was in St. Paul on Yom Kippur. Being a shaliach (emissary) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and knowing how much the Rebbe wanted his shluchim to get Jews involved in mitzot (commandments), and particularly Jews in the public eye, I decided to attempt to visit Koufax the day after Yom Kippur and present him with a pair of tefilin as a token of our appreciation of his not pitching on Yom Kippur.
Since tefilin are donned on one's weaker hand and since Sandy was a lefthander, we arranged the strap of the tefilin to accommodate one who dons tefilin on his right hand. I recited a few verses of Psalms to evoke G-d Almighty's help in making the presentation to Koufax and drove to the Saint Paul Hotel.
Arriving at the hotel, I went up to the front desk and announced, "I'm Rabbi Feller and I want to see Mr. Koufax."
Knowing that Koufax was Jewish and therefore he didn't pitch the day before, the people at the front desk probably thought I was his rabbi, so they gave me his hotel room's telephone number. When Koufax answered, I introduced myself to him and told him how proud the Rebbe was that he refused to pitch on Yom Kippur.
"Sandy, the whole Jewish world is tremendously proud of you," I told him. "Thousands of Jewish businessmen did not go to work on Yom Kippur because you wouldn't pitch. Do you know how many Jewish kids didn't go to school on Yom Kippur because you wouldn't pitch on Yom Kippur? When you announced weeks before the game that you would not pitch on Yom Kippur, you informed thousands of Jews when Yom Kippur would take place because more Jews read the newspaper than have Jewish calendars in their homes. In great appreciation of the great sanctification of G-d's name that you made by not pitching on Yom Kippur, I want to present you with a pair of tefilin."
"Where would you like to make this presentation?" he asked me.
"Anywhere you would like," I answered.
"Will you come up to my room?"
"Sure!" I said, and he proceeded to give me his room number.
In a moment, I was standing before the greatest pitcher in baseball and probably the most famous Jew in the world.
We chatted a few minutes about baseball, with him carressing the tefilin during our entire conversation. I wanted to help him don the tefilin but he intimated that he knew how to put on the tefilin by himself. He was very courteous and reverent the whole time we were together. As I turned to leave, Koufax escorted me with a parting statement.
"Rabbi Feller, everyone makes a big fuss of my not pitching on Yom Kippur; I don't pitch on Rosh Hashana either!"
Ed.'s Note: After meeting with Kofax, Rabbi Feller penned a letter to the Rebbe informing the Rebbe about the visit. A little less than two weeks later - at a public gathering on Simchat Torah, the Rebbe referred to the event:
"There was a young man, and in fact he had a beard, he went to see the pitcher that wouldn't pitch on Yom Kippur and he told him that he does not play baseball on Rosh Hashana either. The young man told the pitcher that he would like to give him a present. He gave him a pair of tefilin. The pitcher told him that he still remembers tefilin, however, he did not want to put them on at that time. The young man left, and that day the pitcher lost the game... But at the end it turned out that he won the World Series, and on his table there were the tefilin. In the end, even 'a distant individual will not be distanced' and he will merit to put them on, and another Jew will be added to those who have donned tefilin..." (Translated from the Yiddish by Dovid Zaklikowski)
If you're in Manhattan, visit one of the Lubavitch Youth Organization's public sukkas during the intermediate days of the holiday. They will be open: Sunday, October 8 - Tuesday, October 10, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm; Wednesday, October 11, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. The Sukkas are: The City Hall Sukka at Foley Square, near Worth Street; the International Sukka in Ralph Bunch Park, First Ave. and 42nd St. at the UN; the Wall Street Sukka in Battery Park at Battery Place and State Street. For more information call (718) 778-6000. To find out about public sukkot in your area call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
Greeting and Blessing:
Since your daughter was born under the sign of helping others through Tzedokoh [charity] may G-d grant that she will be brought up in such a way that she will always be a source of help and encouragement to others, with joy and gladness of heart.
I was particularly gratified to note that both you and your wife fulfilled the Mitzvah [commandment] of Tzedokoh with simple faith in the Creator and Master of the world. This gives me the hope that in other respects too, your daily conduct accords with the directives of our Torah, which is called the Law of Life, with simple faith; that is to say, fulfilling those aspects which appear rational, together with those which are beyond comprehension, with equal fervor, vitality and contentment. I am sure that the Giver of the Torah and Mitzvos, Who has shown his kindness in the past, will continue to bestow benevolence upon you in the future.
I was interested and pleased to read in your letter about the change in your parent's attitude towards religious observance. No doubt a great deal of the credit is due to you directly, and perhaps even more so to your indirect influence as a living example and inspiration. Inasmuch as G-d is Infinite, as are His Torah and Mitzvos, there is always room for improvement. I therefore hope that you and your wife will make ever-growing efforts in this direction, for experience has shown that it is all a matter of will and determination, for when one fully estimates his capacities and those of others, one accomplishes a great deal more than expected, and with much less effort than originally imagined.
This is also the gist of my Rosh Hashanah message, a copy of which is enclosed herewith, which I hope that your wife will also read with interest. For the wife, called "the foundation of the home," bears a great deal of responsibility for the true Jewish spirit in the home and for the upbringing of the children. The message, therefore, is no less important for the wife than for the husband.
With regard to the saying "In the Torah of your heart shall you know G-d," about which you ask my comment, let me quote by way of preface from our Holy Scriptures: "Man is born for toil." It is explained in Chasidus that the reference to "toil" in not only in order to acquire material things, but also spiritual. In other words, G-d expects us to serve Him constantly and with ever-growing efforts, and this is the purpose of our lives.
One should therefore not expect that G-d would give him a pat on the back every now and again, as if to say "Well done," or to make special revelations or miracles to him. On the contrary, in His wisdom G-d desired that the Jew should, of his own free volition, choose the right way, i.e., to serve G-d, and that his own inner motivation, feeling the reason, and above all his simple faith, should dedicate him to do so, and not that he should be constantly prodded by immediate miracles, revelations, or other rewards.
If, however, one does see miracles and revelations, one should consider them as an additional force to attain a higher degree of Divine service, in accordance with the scripture saying "In all thy ways thou shalt know Him." The meaning of this is not that only during prayer and during the fulfillment of any religious duty, should the Jew know and be aware of G-d, but that in all and every aspect of his daily life, even during the time of eating, drinking, business, etc., the Jew should always be aware of the nearness of G-d, and conduct himself accordingly.
Thus, you should always try to bring out the best and innermost of you, and influence also your environment, at all times, whether or not there are any outside stimulants. Anyone who takes the trouble can see G-d's miracles at every step, but even if not, this should only indicate that G-d regards one as sufficiently grownup and mature not to require constant "interjections" and stimulants from outside.
This is also the meaning of the saying "In the Torah of your heart shall you know G-d," namely, that in your own heart you can indeed find all the inspiration to serve G-d with faith, confidence and joy, for this is part of the nature and inheritance of the Jew, as the Old Rebbe, the founder of Chabad, used to say, "A Jew by nature is neither able nor willing to break away from G-d."
In conclusion, may I express my satisfaction also with the progress you have made in you own work, and that the change was something you really wanted. May it bring you an additional measure of peace of mind and harmony, so that you can continue to advance, both spiritually and materially, for your own benefit and for the benefit of your family and environment.
Wishing you a happy Yom Tov,
What and how much is customary to eat on Yom Kippur eve?
On Yom Kippur eve we eat two meals before the fast. This is based on our Sages' statement that whoever eats and drinks on the ninth of Tishrei is considered as if he fasted for two days. It is customary to eat fish at the first meal, a meal that has more of a festive atmosphere, though not at the pre-fast meal. At the second meal preceding the fast, it is customary to eat kreplach, chicken or vegetable filled squares of dough served in soup.
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
There is a custom on the eve of Yom Kippur to eat "lekach" - honey cake. The reason for this custom is that honey cake is a sweet dessert. By eating it, we are expressing our desire and hope that G-d will bless us with a sweet, pleasant, good year.
There is also a custom to give (and receive) honey cake. The reason for this is much less well-known. When we receive honey cake from someone we do it with this thought in mind: Let the honey cake be the only thing this year that we have to take from someone else. Let us be self-sufficient, self-supporting, even be able to help support and provide for others, with G-d's help.
Thus, if there was any possible heavenly decree that the person would have had to ask another for his food during this year, when one asks for lekach the decree has been fulfilled and there will be no further need to ask; all one's needs will be provided for by G-d.
On a deeper level, even the lekach is not really being received from a person! In reality, all food comes from G-d, and therefore a poor person who receives food from a person thanks G-d, Who "provides nourishment and sustenance for all." This is because the person is only an intermediary for delivering G-d's blessings.
However, both parties still feel that a transaction has taken place between two human beings. The giving of lekach on the eve of Yom Kippur is not like this, however. Since these are the days when G-d is "close," all parties involved feel that G-d Himself is doing the giving, and the giver is no more than a messenger. Even more so, the giver is not even seen as a messenger, but just a link enabling G-d's gift to come to the person.
May we, this very Yom Kippur and even before, see with our own eyes that G-d is truly the Giver and that He gives only good, with the complete revelation of our righteous Moshiach NOW!
The Essence of Every Jew
The atonement procured by Yom Kippur is loftier even than that obtained through repentance, for on this day Jew and G-d are absolutely one. The quintessence of the Jew blazes forth, uniting with his G-d to reveal a bond untouchable by sin.
(Likutei Sichot, Vol. IV)
A Gift from G-d
On Yom Kippur we receive what is perhaps G-d's most sublime gift: His forgiveness. When one person forgives another, it is because of a deep sense of friendship and love that overrides the effect of whatever wrong was done. Similarly, G-d's forgiveness is an expression of His eternal, unconditional love.
The Close of Yom Kippur
At the close of Neila, after the Yom Kippur service, we declare "Shema Yisrael" and "G-d is the L-rd" - statements that emphasize the oneness of G-d with our material existence. This oneness will be realized as we conclude "Next year in Jerusalem," with the coming of the Redemption. Furthermore, as the Previous Rebbe explained, the intent of that statement is not that we must wait until next year for the Redemption to come. Instead, the Redemption will come immediately and, as a natural result, next year, we will celebrate the holiday in Jerusalem.
(The Rebbe, the eve Yom Kippur, 5752)
The Story of Yona (Jonah) is read on Yom Kippur
The streets of Jerusalem were full of Jews who had come to celebrate the holiday of Sukkot. The Prophet Yona was among the happy celebrants until the prophecy came to him, saying: "Arise! Go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against her, for their wickedness has ascended before Me."
For Yona, this was an unwelcome mission, for if the sinful people of that great, gentile metropolis were to heed his call and return to G-d, how would that reflect upon his recalcitrant brethren--those who had resisted the pleas of so many prophets? Wouldn't G-d's anger burn against them all the more? And the Ninevites, the bitter enemies of the Israelites, would be forgiven! No, Yona decided, he would not follow the bidding of his Master. He would flee. Never would he, even unwittingly, cause punishment to his beloved brethren. He would escape to the sea, and perhaps there, holy prophecy would depart from him and he would be free of the onerous command.
When he arrived in the city of Jaffa Yona blended into the general fray and hastened to find a ship bound for Tarshish. He approached the local seamen, but they told him all ships had set sail and there were none to be hired. Yona was almost frantic as his eyes scanned the horizon. Out as far as he could see there seemed to be a dark speck on the sea--could it be a ship? In what seemed to be an incredibly short span of time, it drew close enough to identify. Sure enough, it was a ship heading straight to port.
Even before it had time to anchor, Yona boarded and approached the captain. "Take me to Tarshish at once. Don't worry about passengers--I will pay the entire fare. Just make haste." The captain accepted the fare and set sail, but no sooner had they reached the open sea than a violent storm engulfed the ship. The frightened sailors tried to steady the ship, and desperately tried to return to port, but they were trapped in the swirling waves. Standing on the deck, they could see other ships passing by on peaceful waters. But for them, the sea churned with ever-increasing fury.
They decided to cast lots, and each time the lot fell on Yona. "Who are you and where are you from? What people do you belong to?" they asked.
"I am a Jew, and I fear G-d, Creator of the earth and the seas," he replied.
"What have you done to bring about this storm, and how can we stop it?"
Yona was resigned to his fate. He looked at them and replied, "Cast me into the sea, and the storm will abate."
But the sailors were unwilling to commit what would surely be murder. They tried to bring the ship to port, but to no avail. Finally, they agreed to test his word and lowered him partially into the raging waters. Immediately the storm ceased. When they pulled him out, it raged again. It was clear to them that they would perish unless they heeded his words, and begging forgiveness, they cast him into the sea.
Yona suddenly felt himself being swallowed by a huge fish. For three days and nights Yona lived inside the belly of the fish and prayed to G-d in total repentance. When he had returned to G-d completely, G-d caused the fish to swim near the shore and spit Yona out onto the beach.
He entered the huge city of Nineveh and proclaimed G-d's word: "In 40 days Nineveh will be overturned!" The people of the city believed him, and even the king sat in sackcloth and ashes and repented. They all repented both in word and deed. When G-d saw their sincerity and how they had turned from all their evil, He relented and pardoned the city.
Yona was sick at heart, for what he had so greatly feared had indeed transpired, and he prayed to G-d, saying, "Wasn't this why I fled to Tarshish, for I knew You would always pardon a sinner who returns to you, even these evil people! Now, death is more preferable to me than life!"
And G-d answered him, "Are you so deeply grieved that this huge and populous city has been spared?"
Yona left the city and built a booth in the eastern outskirts, intending to wait out the forty-day period to see if the Ninevites would indeed remain true to their resolve. The heat beat down relentlessly piercing his makeshift shelter, and the prophet slept fitfully through the sweltering night.
Overnight G-d had caused a leafy kikayon tree to sprout and shed a blessed coolness overhead. Yona was full of joy on account of the kikayon tree. The very next morning G-d sent a worm to attack the kikayon, and it withered and died. The sun beat down and an east wind blew, and Yona wanted to die. G-d said to him, "Are you so grieved on account of the kikayon?"
"Yes," replied Yonah, "I wish that I would die."
And G-d said to him: "You took pity on a plant which you neither planted nor labored over. It appeared overnight and vanished overnight. And I - should I not take pity on Nineveh, a great city in which there are more than 120,000 people as well as animals?"
And Yonah was silent.
Will we celebrate Yom Kippur in the future when Moshiach comes? The celebration of Yom Kippur will continue even after the coming of Moshiach.We will also fast on this day just as was done prior to Moshiach's coming.The purpose of this fast will be to atone for sins performed when the Yetzer Hara was still intact.Nevertheless, the other forms of oppressions, such as not wearing leather shoes, not bathing and the prohibition against marital relations, will be rescinded.