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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1493
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             THE WEEKLY PUBLICATION FOR EVERY JEWISH PERSON
   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
*********************************************************************
        October 20, 2017         Noach          30 Tishrei, 5778
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                            Jewish Recycling

Let's take a moment to look at recycling. We're not talking about
writing on scrap paper for convenience sake. Nor saving the tomato sauce
can for the drippings from the meat. We're talking about the
check-the-number-on-the-plastic-put-the-used-foil-aside-shred-documents
kind of recycling.

In most states in the U.S. and most countries in the world, recycling is
not yet mandatory. And even where it is written into city or state
ordinances it is not actively enforced. After all, what law enforcement
officer wants to go through someone's smelly garbage just to see if the
person is throwing out cans or recycling them?

Despite the lack of legislation or enforcement of recycling, many, many
people do recycle of their own free will.

Have you ever thought about what kind of a statement you're making every
time you put aside a newspaper for recycling, or return a soda can to
the store even though you could care less for the nickel?

You're saying, "I have a responsibility to future generations, and I
believe that my one small act can make the world a better place."

That's a pretty powerful statement to make by simply tossing a bottle
into a recycling bin rather than a garbage bin. And yet, it's so simple
that most of us don't even consider its significance.

Now, you're probably wondering if we're "into" recycling, or we're
anti-Styrofoam or pro-green. We're none of the above. We're just
interested in seeing how meaningful simple, daily acts can be, thus
recognizing the higher purpose in everything. And also, of course, how
these types of actions relate to basic Jewish concepts.

Jewish philosophy explains that each one of us should look at the world
as if it is perfectly balanced. There is an equal number of good and
evil deeds. Therefore, one good deed could, quite literally, tip the
scale. The magnitude or magnificence of the deed is not at issue. For,
if a scale is totally balanced even a feather can shift it - which is
not to say that Judaism prefers quantity over quality. Rather, no one
should think that they or their action is too insignificant or puny to
make a difference.

Here Jewish philosophy and recycling converge. Because the underlying
premise in concern for the environment is that despite the fact that
billions of tons of glass, plastic, paper and aluminum is not being
recycled, I make a difference each time I choose to recycle.

Recycling teaches us, in this instance, to forget about the rest of the
world. Forget about the next-door-neighbors who aren't recycling. Forget
about the fast-food place that is still using Styrofoam. Forget, even,
about the fact that it's becoming harder and harder to find uses for
some of the recycled materials. That's not my problem. My responsibility
is to shift the scale with my small, seemingly insignificant act. And,
in truth, it is just "seemingly" insignificant. For only G-d knows the
import and ultimate consequence of a person's actions. I have to try to
the best of my ability, and even stretch myself a little further than my
ability allows, to tip the global scale through my small but
world-shifting actions.

*********************************************************************
           LIVING WITH THE REBBE  -  THE WEEKLY TORAH PORTION
*********************************************************************
In this week's Torah portion, Noach (Noah), we read that after the
flood, Noach sent a dove out of the ark. It returned, "and behold, it
had plucked an olive leaf with its beak," and Noach knew that the water
had subsided from the earth.

Why does the verse tell us what kind of leaf it was? And why does it say
that it was plucked? What about this olive leaf told Noach that the
water had subsided from the earth? And where in the world was the leaf
from?

Why an olive leaf? Rashi explains that olives are bitter and the dove
was hinting, that he would rather have bitter food from the hand of G-d,
than sweet food from the hand of man.

Even more. Olive trees are very hardy trees, and we see that Noach knew
this, as Rashi tells us, that Noach took on to the ark a "(grape) vine
and a fig sapling." However, he didn't take an olive plant, because he
was certain, that being a very strong tree, some would survive.
Therefore, it makes sense that the dove would have found an olive tree.

Why does it say that it was plucked? This means that Noach was able to
tell that it was a fresh leaf and not one that was found floating on the
water. It was a new leaf that grew after the flood.

This was also what indicated to Noach that the water had subsided from
the earth. Because even if the tree was on a mountain, the fact that it
had enough time to grow new foliage, indicated that there had been
enough time for the water to subside.

According to a number of our Sages, the olive tree was in Israel, which
as also purified by the flood. But why would Israel, the Holy Land, need
to be affected, i.e. purified by the flood?

The flood had a positive impact on the earth as well. First, it purified
the earth from the evils of the generations that preceded the flood.
Second, we must conclude, that the flood also added a new level of
holiness to the earth, because, what point would there be to send the
whole flood, just to have the earth return to its prior state. (We also
see this from the fact that our Haftora calls the flood, the "Waters of
Noach." Noach also means, "it is good," that is that the flood had a
positive side, it raised the status of the earth.) This is what the Holy
Land gained by having the flood, it was raised to an even higher level
of holiness.

The flood is symbolic of all our troubles. Just as the flood's ultimate
purpose was to raise the status of the earth, so too, every difficulty
in life is really a positive in disguise. It is a necessary hardship,
which is there for your benefit, to bring you to a higher place,
spiritually and physically. And if you can see it this way, life will
start to become easier and happier.

Soon all the floods will end. There will be healing, livelihood,
children, all our desires for good with the coming of Moshiach. Then, we
will not be the same as before the struggles, we will have been elevated
to a higher state, both physically and spiritually. May it happen soon.

           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
*********************************************************************
                             Sukka Success
                          by Rabbi Mendy Katz

Shortly before Sukkot I received a call from Jack (not his real name).
His wife was on her deathbed and when she passed, he planned to cremate
her.

Having received many similar calls over the years, I know how difficult
it is to convince a family not to go through with cremation once they've
set their minds to it.

Since it was literally minutes before the holiday, I told Jack briefly
why Judaism prohibits cremation, but he was adamant, so I suggested we
continue our conversation in person after the holiday.

Unfortunately, his wife passed away the next morning. The family found
me in my sukka and we sat for a few hours discussing death, burial and
cremation. I brought out every argument I could think of. I explained
that the body is G-d's gift to us, a temporary loan which we are
required to take care of and return undamaged. The same way we don't
tattoo, commit suicide or otherwise mutilate the body, we also cannot
burn it.

But Jack and his family weren't buying it.

I explained that when Moshiach comes and the dead are resurrected, it's
important to have a body. Still nothing.

So I tried to describe how much pain the soul feels when the body
burned.

But Jack and his family told me they don't believe in the soul, the
after-life or G-d.

I excused myself for a minute, left the sukkah and offered up a
heartfelt prayer. "Almighty G-d," I said, "I need Your help here! I am
struggling to convince this family of the importance of a proper Jewish
burial. Please help me..." I said a few chapters of Tehillim (Psalms)
and I returned to the sukka.

We continued the conversation and at the end, Jack says to me, "Rabbi, I
don't believe in anything you've said, but I've decided to bury my wife.
Why? Because my mother in law (who is still alive) begged me to bury her
daughter. She said 'I was the one who brought him into this world, I
should be the one deciding how she should pass on.' So I'm going to do
it, Rabbi."

Here I was, trying every rabbinic argument in the book, and although
ultimately I succeeded, my success had absolutely nothing to do with me!
None of my reasoning worked. It was entirely G-d who helped me
facilitate this mitzvah. But I was left with an important message: never
give up! Try your hardest, and when you do, G-d will surely help you.

As I drove home from the funeral a couple of days later, I thought about
one of the sermons I gave on Yom Kippur, where I discussed the concept
of a soul coming down to this earth for 70-80 years perhaps to perform
one single mitzva. Maybe, just maybe, this was my mine.

                                *  *  *


I spent the week vacationing with my family in Knysna, South Africa,
with plans to travel to Cape Town on Thursday - a drive of six or seven
hours. Mid-drive we were running low on gas, so I planned to stop at the
next gas station, fill up the tank, and give the kids a chance to get
out and stretch their legs. Twenty minutes later we finally spotted one,
but I was too far across the highway to get to the exit in time.

I moved over to the slow lane and stayed there until we next chanced
upon a gas station, about half an hour later, in a town called
Heidelberg. I paid for gas and purchased some snacks for the kids, and
just as we were piling into the car to continue on our way someone
tapped me on the shoulder and said "shalom aleichem" in a heavy South
African accent.

It was Moshe and his wife Susan, excited to see other Jews in this
far-flung town, hundreds of miles from South Africa's established Jewish
communities. Moshe gladly took the opportunity to put on tefillin,
explaining that he had not done so in years. The more we talked, the
more I realized why we had missed that first turn on the highway. It may
have gotten us to a gas station thirty minutes earlier, but we would
have missed out on the opportunity to meet Moshe and Susan. It's always
refreshing to see Divine providence so clearly at work!

In a sense, we're all on a fast-moving highway: the highway of life. Are
we heading the right way? Are we traveling in the direction that will
take us to where we need to be spiritually? Or are driving just as fast
in the opposite direction, away from all that is holy and important?

If you discover you're headed in the wrong direction, even if you've
been driving that way for months or years, it's not too late. You just
need to make the decision and turn the car around. You have plenty of
time to forge ahead, but the first, most important, and most difficult
step is to acknowledge that you've been going the wrong way, and to take
that first step in the right direction.

    Rabbi Vigler co-directs Chabad Israel Center of the Upper East Side
    in New York City. From Rabbi Vigler's blog at www.chabadic.com


*********************************************************************
                               WHAT'S NEW
*********************************************************************
       Rising! The Book of Challah, Recipes for Challah and Life

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decades spent perfecting the art of challah baking and teaching challah
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guides the reader through every step of the rewarding process of making
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instructions, 75 gorgeous, full-color photographs. This is the book for
beginners and experts alike. Nothing intimidating or complicated here,
every recipe is meant to be used, cherished, and passed on to the next
generation of challah bakers. Feldhein Publishers.

*********************************************************************
                            THE REBBE WRITES
*********************************************************************
From a freely translated letter dated 25 Elul, 5750 [1990] continued
from the previous issues

In a deeper sense, one can understand the preeminence of matter from the
fact that (not only the mitzvot themselves, but) also the reward for
mitzvot is ultimately connected with the physical world.

There is the well-known Psak Din [legal ruling] made by the Ramban
(Nachmanides) as to the nature of the ultimate reward:

To be sure, according to the Rambam (Maimonides) the ultimate reward is
Gan Eden [the Garden of Eden] - the spiritual world where souls, without
physical bodies, abide "in the presence" of the Shechina [the Divine
Presence]. Moreover, the Rambam explains that the highest possible
spiritual state that the soul attains while it is "clothed" in a
physical body can in no way be compared to the sublime spiritual
exaltation that the soul experiences in Gan Eden, divested of the
physical body.

Nevertheless, the Ramban, who lived a generation after the Rambam, and
studied the latter's works, ruled that the ultimate reward will come
after T'chiyat Hameitim (Resurrection of the Dead), when the souls will
once again descend to earth and be clothed in physical bodies. The rule
of halacha in the case of divergent authoritative opinions is to
adjudicate in favor of the later authority, and it rules so specifically
in the present case.

Yet, we need to probe further. Granted that a Jew possesses an
extraordinary capacity, derived from serving Hashem, to spiritualize the
physical world and provide for Hashem an abode in this lowermost world.
But how are we to understand comprehensibly the idea that the highest
spiritual reward for the neshama [soul] in the World to Come (Olam Haba)
will be bestowed on the neshama specifically when it is clothed in a
physical body, and in this material world?

One explanation is that precisely a physical creature (not a pure
spirit) has been endowed with such a paramount G-dly force that is not
found even in the loftiest spiritual realms. The reason is that only the
Creator alone has the power and ability to create yesh me'ayin (physical
being from non-being) - and this preeminent quality of physical matter
will be revealed in the era of T'chiyat Hameitim.

It may be added here that the above concept is also the key to the
dictum "Make Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel] here," quoted earlier.
Inasmuch as the preeminence of Eretz Yisrael is in its kedusha that
permeates the physical land itself, it is the task of Jews living
outside the Holy Land to achieve the level of kedusha [holiness] of
Eretz Yisrael in their immediate surroundings, so it will permeate that
part of the physical world that Divine Providence has allotted them to
spiritualize.

In order to accomplish this task, special strength and effort are
required. This is indicated in the exhortation, "Make Eretz Yisrael
here." This is where the New Year comes in, with its outstanding
distinction of starting off with the treble chazaka, the extra strength
needed in chutz la'aretz [the diaspora], namely, the influence of three
consecutive holy days recurring again and again, to permeate the stark
corporeality of the world at large.

It may be added further that there is an allusion to the foregoing in
the sayings of our Sages of blessed memory, that "in the future to come,
Eretz Yisrael will extend itself to all lands." For by that time the
Jewish people will have completed their task of making an "abode" for
Hashem in this world. And having refined and sublimated the corporeality
of this world and irradiated it with a full measure of kedusha, the
kedusha of Eretz Yisrael will in effect be extended into and throughout
all lands around the globe.

May Hashem grant everyone, man and woman, in the midst of Klal Yisrael,
to act in keeping with the above perceptions for strengthening and
disseminating kedusha-Yiddishkeit [Judaism] in the everyday life, in and
around oneself, in the fullest measure. And this will enhance the
blessed ketiva vachatima tova in all aspects, spiritual as well as
material; indeed, even more in the area of material.

Including especially, the essential blessing - the true and complete
geula [redemption] through Moshiach Tzidkeinu [our righteous Moshiach],
as promised by Hashem: "I have found My servant David and anointed him
with My holy oil," and he will lead us upright to our land, all three
constituents of our Jewish people: Kohanim, Leviim, Yisraelim.

With esteem and blessing for ketiva vachatima tova, for a good and sweet
year both materially and spiritually

*********************************************************************
                              ALL TOGETHER
*********************************************************************
                           What is Gematria?

Torah can generally be interpreted on four levels: literal, allegorical,
homiletic and esoteric. Gematria, which involves each Hebrew letter
having a numerical value, is allegorical. When Hebrew words or phrases
have the same Gematria, this alludes to the inner connection between the
two. For instance, one of G-d's names, "Elokim," has the same Gematria
as "hateva," meaing nature. When "Elokim" is used in Scripture, it
represents G-d's presence within nature.

*********************************************************************
                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
*********************************************************************
The holiday-filled month of Tishrei is behind us, and we now find
ourselves in the Hebrew month of Marcheshvan. The name is derived from
the word "mar," meaning "drop," as it is in Marcheshvan that the rainy
season begins (in the Land of Israel).

In general, winter is the time for rain, while summer is the time for
dew. Rain and dew are physically both water, but like everything else in
the material world, these phenomena contain an important spiritual
lesson for us to learn.

The Torah teaches that rain is dependent on the quality of our service
of G-d. G-d causes the rain to fall in the merit of our prayers. If we
don't behave as we should, G-d punishes us by withholding His
life-giving waters. Dew, by contrast, falls "by itself" - independent of
our actions. G-d causes the dew to regularly replenish the earth without
any effort on our part.

The physical manifestations of rain and dew also express a basic
distinction between summer and winter. In the summer, the world receives
G-d's blessings without much exertion. In the winter, it is much more
difficult to obtain His blessings, and we have to work hard for them. In
fact, the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe once stated that "The service of
G-d is easier in summer than in winter."

But don't worry, G-d makes sure that we have the necessary strength for
the coming frigid months. Tishrei, the "chodesh hashevi'i" ("seventh
month" when counting from Nisan) is described as "musba" ("satiated and
full"), from the same root word as "sheva" ("seven"). Luckily (but of
course, there is no such thing as chance in the Divine plan), the month
of Tishrei is so chock-full of mitzvot and everything good that it gives
us the ability to perform our G-dly service throughout the entire
winter.

So don't hesitate to jump in and "get your feet wet." Because rain or
shine, it's always the right weather for doing a mitzva.

*********************************************************************
                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
*********************************************************************
And Noach went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives into
the ark (Gen. 7:7)

A person should not content himself with his own entrance into the "ark"
- the holy letters of prayer and of Torah, but should always seek to
bring others with him as well, not only members of his family but every
fellow Jew. Just as G-d helped Noach by closing the door of the ark
after all were safely inside, so, too, is every Jew assisted by G-d when
he comes to the aid of his fellow man.

                                            (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

                                *  *  *


And only Noah was left (Gen. 7:23)

Despite the fact that Noah was a righteous person, he was still required
to tend to all the animals in the ark and take care of their needs. This
was a physically demanding and sometimes dangerous job. Similarly, no
matter how high a spiritual level one reaches, he is still obligated to
take care of those around him who may need his guidance.

                                                   (Likutei Sichot)

                                *  *  *


Make a window for the ark (tayva) (Gen. 6:16).

The word "tayva" may be translated "ark" as it must be in the simple
sense of this verse, or it can be translated "word." Using the second
translation, the Baal Shem Tov explains the verse as follows: Make the
words [of your prayer] luminous. For the word used here for window -
tzohar - also means "luminous."

                                *  *  *


And G-d said to Noah, "You, and your entire family--come into the ark -
tayva" (Gen. 7:1)

The Baal Shem Tov translates the word tayva here in the same manner as
above. Thus, this verse can be understood as a directive to mean, "Come
into the words [of prayer].

                                *  *  *


Go out from the ark (Gen. 8:15).

G-d commanded Noah and his family to go out into the world and make the
world a dwelling place for Him.

                                            (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

*********************************************************************
                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
*********************************************************************
At his grandson's circumcision celebration, the great Chasidic master,
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev (1740-1810), recounted the following
episode:

"This morning I arose very early to prepare myself to perform the brit
mila of my dear grandchild. At daybreak I opened the window and saw a
penetrating darkness in the heavens. As I wondered about the blackness
before my eyes, it was made known to me that this very day a prince of
Israel, the holy Tzadik, Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Leib Sassov, had passed
away.

"As I mourned for that master of Israel, I heard a voice cry out: 'Make
way for Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Leib!'

"When Rabbi Moshe entered the celestial realms, the Tzadikim (righteous)
and Chasidim formed a joyous circle around him. Suddenly, he heard a
voice reaching from one end of the world to the other. Intrigued, he
began following it until he found himself at the gates of Gehinnom
(Purgatory).

"Without waiting for permission, Rabbi Moshe entered Gehinnom. The
guards saw him walking back and forth as if looking for somebody. They
were certain that he had come there by mistake and they politely asked
him to ascend to his proper place in Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden).

"Rabbi Moshe said nothing. The guards repeated their request, but he
remained silent and did not move. They didn't know whether to drive him
out or permit him to remain. They decided to confer with the Heavenly
Court, but even it was puzzled. Never had a Tzadik descended into
Gehinnom of his own desire. Rabbi Moshe was summoned before the Throne
of Glory where he made his request known.

"Rabbi Moshe began, 'Master of the World, You know how great is the
mitzva of redeeming captives. I have occupied myself with this mitzva my
entire life, and I have never differentiated between wicked captives and
righteous captives. All were equally beloved by me, and I had no peace
until I had succeeded in freeing them. Now that I have entered the World
of Truth, I find that there are many captives here, too. I wish to
fulfill this mitzva here, as well.

"'I will not leave Gehinnom until I have fulfilled this mitzva. So dear
are Your commandments to me that I have observed them no matter what the
place or time or penalty might be. If I cannot bring these wretched
souls to freedom, I would rather remain with them in the fires of
Gehinnom than to sit with the righteous and bask in the light of the
Divine Presence!'

"Rabbi Moshe's words flew before the Throne of Glory, and the Holy One,
Blessed be He, uttered the decision: 'Great are the Tzadikim who are
ready to relinquish their share in the Gan Eden for the sake of others.
Because this mitzva is so noble, let it be calculated how many people
Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Leib redeemed during his lifetime, both they and
their children, and their children's children until the end of time.
That number he may redeem here, also.'

"The Book of Records was immediately brought, opened and read. The names
of all those who had been redeemed by Rabbi Moshe were counted and their
children and their children's children. The final figure arrived at was
60,000 souls from Gehinnom to Gan Eden.

"Rabbi Moshe began to walk through Gehinnom, looking into countless pits
and caves where he found souls who had suffered for hundreds of years
and who had long ago lost all hope of redemption. One by one he gathered
them and when he was finished, he found their number to be exactly
60,000. Column after column emerged from Gehinnom, marching with them at
their head, until they arrived at Gan Eden.

"When all 60,000 souls had entered, the gates were closed."

After recounting this story, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak named his little
grandson Moshe Yehuda Leib and blessed him to grow up to emulate the
holy Tzadik, Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Leib of Sassov.

        From The Crown of Creation, by Chana Weisberg, published by
                                                       Mosaic Press

*********************************************************************
                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
*********************************************************************
In this week's Torah reading of Noach, it states: "In the six hundredth
year of Noah's life... all the wellsprings of the great deep burst forth
and the windows of heaven opened." The Zohar, the fundamental work of
Jewish mysticism, explains the esoteric meaning of the verse as follows:
In the six hundredth year of the sixth millennium the gates of wisdom
above and wellsprings of widsom below will be opened; the world will
then be prepared to enter the seventh millennium

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

*********************************************************************
                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1493 - Noach 5778
*********************************************************************

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