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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1497
                           Copyright (c) 2017
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        November 17, 2017        Toldos        28 Cheshvan, 5778

                       The Art of Self-Deception

We usually find deceit reprehensible. After all, most of the time we
have to take a person's word, at least at first. Sure, for some things
we'll investigate before accepting his say-so. We'll check out a
doctor's credentials, for instance, or compare insurance policies. But
even then at some point we trust what we're being told.

Some professions seem to thrive on deceit and so we distrust them unless
proven otherwise. Enough said.

In truth, a lot of the time we know when someone is pretending. We have
a gut instinct that something's wrong. We have misgivings, doubts,
uncertainties. The deal is too good to be true. Or there's something
we're not being told. But we put aside our suspicions. We reason away
our reservations. Such a nice young man wouldn't lead us astray. She
sounds so knowledgeable she must know what she's talking about.

But then when the seller, the advisor, the friend betrays our trust, we
rail against the deceit. And the argument often comes down to: he knew
and I didn't. He took advantage of me, because he had inside

And yet most of the time - the vast majority of the time - we recognize
that a deal too good be true is just that. We had a sense we were being
set up. We should have known.

We allow ourselves to be fooled, to be duped, conned and tricked even
though we knew better, because we deceive ourselves.

That's an unpleasant truth. As much blame as the deceiver deserves, we
have opened the door and invited him in. And ironically, it's our mind -
our logic and our reason - that proves our undoing. Our pride and joy -
our intellect - betrays us.

We deceive ourselves about our limits and our capabilities. At the
moment of greatest conceit, of greatest satisfaction, of greatest
accomplishment - we stumble over ourselves. Our egos - our self - our
animal soul - our yetzer hara betrays us.

The yetzer hara - the evil inclination - is called a "wise fool." Wise,
because it knows its craft. It knows well our weaknesses, how to confuse
and deceive. A fool, because it focuses on diverting us from Torah and
mitzvot (commandments), because it thinks the Jewish soul, our very
essence, can be severed from its Source.

But we've also known the satisfaction of deceiving the deceiver, of
turning the tables. What irony and justice in the reversal!

Yes, we all have a yetzer hara, and so we all possess the tools of the
liar, the skills of the swindler and the weapons of the fraud. But
unlike so many things about which we deceive ourselves, these we can
control. These we can redirect.

How? By using the technique of deceit to do a mitzva. I'm not going to
keep kosher, I'm just not going to eat a cheeseburger today. I'm not
going to get religious, I'm just going to put on tefilin today. I'm not
going to keep all the laws of Shabbat, I'm just going to light candles
or hear the blessing over the wine Friday night. I'm not some holy
person. I'm just going to give a dollar to tzedaka (charity). I'm not
changing, I'm just going to do this one mitzva.

And this next mitzva. And this next. Let's be the "gamblers." Let's be
the con artist. Let's "deceive" ourselves and trick our yetzer hara.
It's a great deal. Too good not to be true.

    Written for L'Chaim by Rabbi Dr. Dovid YB Kaufmann obm, inspired by
    the incident in this week's Torah portion: "Perhaps ...I will appear
    to him as a deceiver, and I will bring upon myself a curse and not a

This week's Torah portion, Toldot, describes Isaac's life after the
passing of his father Abraham.

The portion begins with the details of Isaac's and Rebecca's
childlessness and how after 20 years they were blessed with twin sons.
The elder son was named Esau and the younger was named Jacob.

Due to a famine, Isaac travels with his family to Egypt from their
dwelling place in Canaan. When they pass through  Philistine G-d
commands them to remain there.

The Torah's description of life in Philistine places a big emphasis on
the fact that Isaac was digging wells there. First he unearthed wells
his father originally dug, but the locals filled. Then he dug new wells.
Finally it tells of how his servants, who were digging a well, came to
him and said "we found water."

It seems that digging wells was central to who he was and a defining
feature in his service to G-d. While his father, Abraham, worked on
getting people to follow G-d, Isaac dug wells.

What is the deeper meaning in digging a well? To dig a well, you first
need to believe that there is water. Then comes the hard work, digging
deeper and deeper until you find the water.

On the surface a person may not be happy with who he/she is, he  has to
know that on the inside there is "water," there is a beautiful person.
All he needs to do is "dig,"  to  work on himself.  If you keep digging
you will surely find water.

First came Abraham, who taught us to change the way you should act on
the outside. To act the way G-d would want you to.

When you do this, you may feel like a fake, putting on an act. Realize,
that it is a false perception. Deep within you are perfect.

Isaac teaches us the next step. Now that you are beautiful on the
outside, start digging, find the beauty within.

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

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                           The Untold Journey
                              by Risa Mond

Have you ever looked at your life and asked - "How on earth did I get
here?" Just seven, small words filled with so much power that can ignite
thousands of thoughts. Thoughts filled with nostalgia, happiness, and
sometimes a little confusion. As someone who asks myself that question
on a daily basis I can only help but respond to that question with
another question (the classically Jewish approach). "Who helped me get

Last year I published an article titled "Hi, I am a Baal Teshuva",
speaking about my journey as someone who grew up non-religious and
became observant later on in life. Since then, I've written articles,
spoken to students in schools around Brooklyn, and have had plenty of
DMC's (deep meaningful conversations) with my friends about the journey.
And there are plenty of other people out there just like me doing the
same thing. But, recently, it hit me: Who hears the story of the parents
of a baal teshuva? Really, no one.

Let's step into their shoes. Imagine raising two kids. Social, active,
intelligent, healthy kids. You raise them with the same principles.
Engraving in them to treat everyone with the same kindness, that a smile
can go a long way, or that love is unconditional. Always say please and
thank you. Hold the door open for the person behind you. You don't get
anything for free. Work hard. And if you don't get it, work harder next
time. Be truthful. And always remember when it get's too grueling, we're
here for you.

You send them both to the same hebrew school. They become bar/bat
mitzvahed standing in the same synagogue alongside the same rabbi.
They're schooled by similar teachers, involved in all the
extracurriculars with their amazing friend groups.

Now all of a sudden, one child can't eat off your plates and silverware.
She can't attend your family events that are on Saturday and too far to
walk. She starts learning different Torah studies you had no idea
existed. She joins a whole new community that you know absolutely
nothing about. And she does it all as a senior in high school. This is
the journey of the two most selfless, loving, and giving people - my
parents and their untold journey.

I wish it wasn't true, but sometimes I would wish I was born religious.
A situation arises and I can't help but think "Wow, it would have just
been so much easier if...." I freeze. My mind drifts to the times my
mother spent sifting through for how to kasher a microwave.
Or how many trips she made to stores to get me my own pots, pans,
plates, and just about anything else I could need. I recall the numerous
hours accumulated of my father spending an extra thirty minutes cooking
dinner because he's so meticulous as to making sure he doesn't make
anything "not kosher".

How did they put up with everything? How were they able to let me go and
trust blindly that what came next would be good? I don't know. How did
they know that the values and morals they spent eighteen years investing
in me wouldn't disappear once I became this new person?

I'm not here to tell you the story my parents went through. Because I
honestly have no idea what they had to deal with. The point here, is to
show you how behind everyone, there's a driving force. Behind everyone's
choices is a voice in their head, often times affected by the most
influential people in their lives - a mother and father.

It's only because of my parents love, support, dedication, and
principles embedded in me from day one that I was able to make this

It's only because of the determination I learned from them that I
continue on through all the hurdles that come at me.

And it's only because of their willingness and unconditional love that
we can be on this journey together.

Take a walk into my house. You'll see my mother scrubbing the oven so it
can be correctly kashered - letting me eat out of it. To the right are
two break-apart shelves holding pots, pans, plates, cutlery, and more
for meat and dairy. You'll hear the questions being asked, the sparking
discussions, and my dad's infamous wit infused in it all.

Best of all, you'll see for yourself the details of my parents unspoken
journey into our new life.

    Risa Mond, is an adventurous 19-year-old living out her dreams in
    New York. As an employee of CTeen, an international Jewish youth
    organization, Risa believes that youth possess the power to change
    the world, and strives to lead by example. From Risa's blog at Times
    of Israel

                               WHAT'S NEW
                           Last Day Laughter

Last Day Laughter enters the inner world of women who transform tough
challenges into exhilarating personal redemption. Whether torn by an
unforeseen twist to their marriage, or confronted by the ire of loved
ones and community, or confused - could this really be a
life-threatening addition - here are women who support each other with
unyielding faith and courage. By Rivka Zakutinsky and Yaffe Leiba
Gottleib - authors of Around Sara's Table.


Every day, Nosson watches the construction workers and tries to copy
what they do. When the workers help each other, Nosson helps his
friends. When the workers wait for cement to dry, Nosson practices being
patient and waiting for his turn. BUILDING is about more than the
progress on a construction site.  It's a story of building character and
learning what it means to be big.  Detailed, colorful illustrations
capture the energy and excitement of trucks and equipment which children
find so fascinating. Written by Leah Wachsler illustrated by Renate
Lohmann. Hachai Publishing.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                          14 Teves 5731 [1971]
                   Prof. * & Mrs. Abraham S. Luchins

Greeting & Blessing:

This is to thank you for Vols. II and III of Wertheimer's Seminars
Revisited, which I have just received. While I have had no time as yet
to look into them more closely, I have thumbed through the pages. In
doing so, I was again reminded of the saying of our Sages to the effect
that "if anyone says the nations of the world have a Torah, do not
believe it; but if one says that they have science, do believe it."

In fact, I had occasion to discuss the subject at the farbrengen
[Chasidic gathering]. The point of the said statement is that in the
non-Jewish world it is possible to find outstanding thinkers and
philosophers who might find solutions to the various problems
confronting humanity, yet they can go through the process of thinking
with complete detachment, so that the solutions which they come up with
remains theoretical, and do not touch upon their own lives. Indeed, the
thinker or philosopher or scientist might, in his personal life, act
quite contrary to the high moral and ethical concepts which he expounds.

It is quite different in regard to our Torah, which is our wisdom and
science in the eyes of the nations. For to us Torah means teaching and
guidance (from the word horo'o), that is to say, that it penetrates and
permeates our lives. This is because it has the power to compel, as it
were, the Torah student and follower to translate the solution which it
provides into practical deed. It gives the Torah Jew the strength to
resist and subjugate the yetzer hara [evil inclination], as our Sages of
blessed memory express it: barati yetzer hara, berati Torah tavlin ("I
have created the yetzer hara, but I have also created the Torah as an

With all good wishes for your hatzlocho [success] in your work, as well
as in your good influence to spread and strengthen the light of the
Torah and mitzvoth [commandments] to the utmost of your capacities.

With blessing,

* American Gestalt psychologist and pioneer of group therapy

 Reprinted from, the Avner Institute

                                *  *  *

                        15 Cheshvan, 5733 [1972]

This is to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence.

You write that you would love to learn what it means to walk in the
presence of G-d, etc. I trust that you know of the so-called Seven
Commandments given by G-d to Noah and his children.

These are: the establishment of courts of justice; the prohibition of
blasphemy; of idolatry; of incest; of bloodshed; of robbery; of eating
flesh cut from a living animal.

These Seven Commandments which G-d gave to the children of Noah, i.e. to
all mankind, are the basic laws, with far-reaching ramifications, which
embrace the whole life of society as well as of the individual, to
ensure that the human race will be guided by these Divine laws of
morality and ethics, and that human society will indeed be human, and
not a jungle.

To be sure, Jews, the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were later
given many more Divine commandments which obligate them, but not the
rest of mankind.

However, this in no way diminishes the fact that gentiles can and must
attain complete fulfillment through the observance of the above-
mentioned Seven Commandments of man, with all their ramifications, for,
inasmuch as they are G-d-given, they provide the vehicle whereby to
attain communion with G-d, and thus "walk ever in the presence of G-d,"
as you write in your letter.

I would like to make an additional essential point.

If there was a time when some intellectuals thought that there was no
need to connect the laws of ethics and morality with Divine authority,
inasmuch as these are rational principles, the fallacy of this thinking
is now abundantly clear.

For we have seen, in our own day and age, a whole nation which had
boasted of great philosophic advancement and ethical systems sink to the
lowest depth of inhuman depravity and unprecedented barbarism.

And the reason for this was that they thought that they could establish
a morality and ethics based on human reason, not subject to the
authority of a Supreme Being, having themselves become a super race, as
they thought. There is surely no need to elaborate on the obvious.

From what has been said above, it is clear that no individual can rest
content with his own observance of the Divine Commandments, but it is
his responsibility to his friends and neighbors, and society at large,
to involve them in the observance of the Divine Commandants in daily
life and conduct.

                              ALL TOGETHER
     Why is the Torah opened and raised aloft at the Torah reading?

The Talmud (Sofrim) mentions raising the Torah scroll adjacent to its
reading, "It is a commandment for all the men and women to see the
writing, and bow, and say, 'And this is the Torah which Moses placed
before the children of Israel' (Deut. 4:44)" During "hagbah" (the
raising of the Torah) - at the beginning of the Torah reading for
Sefardim and at the end for Ashkenazim - the words are carefully shown
to all to emphasize that all Jews are able to understand that the Torah
is our common heritage. Some have the custom to point to the words of
the Torah.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This weekend is the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch
Shluchim. (Shluchim is from the word "shaliach" which means emissary.)
Over 3,000 shluchim (emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe) will attend,
from almost every country throughout the world.

From its inception, the highlight of the convention was always the
address on Shabbat by the Rebbe. The last time the Rebbe addressed the
shluchim was in 1992. At that time, the Rebbe explained that the task of
the shluchim in this momentous period - the last few "moments" before
the Messianic Era - is to make people aware of the imminence of Moshiach
and the Redemption: "And this is the task of the International
Conference of Shluchim: First and foremost, to make a public statement
that this is the task confronting us - to prepare ourselves to accept
Moshiach. Every aspect of our service and every dimension of our
activity must be directed to this goal."

The Rebbe went on to explain that every person is a shaliach. Therefore,
the task and responsibility of every Jew these days is to make himself
and others aware of the imminence of the long-awaited Redemption, an
eternal era of peace, prosperity, health and wisdom: "Every Jew
possesses a spark of Moses and similarly, every Jew possesses a spark of
Moshiach. Therefore, every Jew is G-d's emissary to illuminate the world
with the light of Torah..."

On numerous occasions, the Rebbe suggested that we study matters
pertaining to Moshiach and the Redemption. We can attend pre-existing
classes or organize them ourselves, we can avail ourselves of the many
books or study-material that can be found on the internet and we should
allow what we are studying to impact upon our lives and upon the lives
of those around us.

May we all take advantage of these precious moments to prepare
ourselves, our families and friends, for Moshiach's arrival, may it take
place NOW!

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
The man [Isaac] became great, and grew more and more... (Gen. 23:13)

It is common that as a person becomes richer, the person within him
becomes smaller and smaller. The greatness of Isaac was that even though
he became more and more wealthy, he increased and expanded in his
qualities as a person.

                                        (Rabbi Yitzchak of Torchow)

                                *  *  *

Isaac had grown old and his eyesight was failing. (Gen. 27:1)

Rashi explained that Isaac's eyesight was failing him so that Jacob
could receive the blessing. In order to assure that Jacob would receive
the blessing was it necessary for Isaac's eyesight to fail him? Wouldn't
it have been "easier" for G-d to have revealed to Isaac that Esau was
wicked and therefore undeserving of the blessing? However, G-d didn't
want to speak badly about Esau. If this is true concerning the wicked
Esau, all the more must we be extremely careful not to gossip about or
slander any Jew.

                                *  *  *

A ladder was standing on the ground and the top of it reached to heaven.
(Gen 28:12)

The Hebrew word for ladder (sulam) has the same numerical value as money
(mamon). This teachers us that money is like a ladder - it can be used
to ascend and come closer to the heavens, or with it one can descend to
the depths. Everything depends on how we use it and for what purpose.

                                                (The Baal Shem Tov)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
Long ago in Babylonia there were two wise men - Shmuel, a famous Jewish
scholar who knew the entire Torah, and Avlet, a wise gentile who could
predict the future by looking at the stars. He knew what would happen
the next day, the next week, or even the next year.

One day, Shmuel and Avlet sat by a roadside near a lake. As they were
talking, a group of laborers walked towards the lake. They came to cut
the reeds that grew in the shallow waters and along the shore. They sold
them to the townspeople for carving flutes, weaving mats and making

As the workers were passing, Avlet pointed to one of them and said to
Shmuel, "Do you see that man? He is going to the lake but I know that he
will not return alive. I saw in the stars that he will be in a serious

"If he is Jewish," answered Shmuel, "He will return in peace. He will
pray to G-d, or do some other mitzva (commandment), and the G-d of
Israel will protect him from misfortune."

Meanwhile, the laborers reached the lake and began to cut and tie the
reeds. They worked for several hours. When they were hungry and tired,
they stopped to eat their lunch in the shade of a tree. Now these
workers had a wonderful custom. They put all their food into one basket
and divided it evenly among themselves so that everyone had an equal
portion, and no one would go hungry or be jealous of another.

That day, the worker whom Avlet had pointed to noticed that one of his
friends was sad and depressed. He saw that the man's lunch bag was
empty. Obviously, he had no money to buy bread and he would be
embarrassed to ask the others for some of their food. The worker wanted
to help his friend.

So he took the bread basket and said, "Today is my turn to collect the
bread and divide it."

His friends agreed, and he went around to each of them, collecting their
food as he passed. When he came to the poor man with no bread, the
worker put his own food in the basket, pretending to take it from the
poor fellow. Then he divided the portions equally among the workers, but
he took a very small portion for himself so that there was enough for
everyone. Thus no one realized the poor man had nothing to give.

When they finished their meal, the men continued their work. In the
evening, they bundled the reeds and carried them to town on their backs.

Meanwhile, Shmuel and Avlet came back to the roadside to watch the
workmen on their way home. They wanted to see if the worker Avlet had
pointed to was missing. They saw that all the men who had left town in
the morning were coming back. They all seemed well and happy; Avlet's
prophecy had not come true.

Avlet was surprised. Had he made a mistake? He went to the workman and
said, "Please let me see the reeds you cut today."

The worker was surprised, but set down his bundle and opened it. Avlet
examined the reeds and found a poisonous snake which the workman had
apparently killed by mistake and unknowingly placed in the bag! Avlet
turned triumphantly to Shmuel and said, "You see, my prophecy was
correct. If the snake had bitten the workman, he would not have returned
alive, just as I predicted. But I do not understand how his life was

Shmuel turned to the worker and asked, "Did you do something special
today? Try to remember."

The worker told Shmuel how he had divided the bread without embarrassing
his poor friend.

"You have fulfilled the mitzva from the Torah of 'You shall love your
neighbor as yourself,' " said Shmuel. "Because of this mitzva you were
saved from death."

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
Isaac dug three wells. The first two wells were stopped up by the
Philistines, but the third well was left alone and its waters remained
accessible. The three wells of Isaac are metaphors for the three
Temples. The uniqueness of a well, and the Temple, is that the structure
is man-made, but the content comes from a source beyond man's reach.
Just as we must search for the site of a well and exert ourselves in
digging and removing the obstacles, so too we must seek and strive for
the Temple to exist as a Divine dwelling place.

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

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1497 - Toldos 5778

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