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Devarim Deutronomy

   180: Vayelech

181: Haazinu

182: Sukos

Breishis Genesis

Shemos Exodus

Vayikra Leviticus

Bamidbar Numbers

Devarim Deutronomy

L'Chaim
September 20, 1991 - 12 Tishrey 5752

181: Haazinu

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Published and copyright © by Lubavitch Youth Organization - Brooklyn, NY
The Weekly Publication For Every Jewish Person
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


  180: Vayelech182: Sukos  

Moshiach - Draw Your Own Conclusions  |  Living With The Times  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
Insights  |  Customs  |  A Word from the Director  |  It Once Happened
Thoughts that Count  |  Moshiach Matters

Moshiach - Draw Your Own Conclusions

These are amazing times.

The Iron Curtain tumbled... Iraq is humbled... The people of Israel emerge whole from under a rainstorm of murderous missiles... An entire beleaguered population is airlifted to safety overnight... A tidal wave of Russian Jews reaches Israel... Truth and justice take center stage, with America emerging as the leading global power... Nations around the world turn to democracy... Plus countless other amazing developments that are taking place in front of our eyes.

Any one of these phenomena by itself is enough to boggle the mind. Connect them all together, and a pattern emerges that cannot be ignored.

Yes, we are living in the most extraordinary times -- as our world evolves toward a state of peace, and mankind thrives toward a state of perfection. The times are changing -- not just for the better, but truly for the best.

A cornerstone of Jewish faith is the belief that, ultimately, good and peace must triumph. This is the essence of "Moshiach" -- who will usher in the final redemption ordained in the Torah.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, emphasizes that these remarkable events are merely a prelude to the final Redemption, culminating in unity among people, domestic harmony, and cessation of hostilities between the races, neighbors and nations.

And these developments can be accelerated through the small but important acts of goodness and charity that are within the reach of every man, woman and child. It is our job to lift ourselves, our communities and our societies toward the great dawn we are all witnessing. And it doesn't take much to move forward -- a kind word, a gift to the needy, treating others with respect, strengthening our commitment to the Torah and its directives.

The Era of Moshiach is upon us. Learn about it. Be a part of it. All you have to do is open your eyes. Inevitably, you'll draw your own conclusion.


Living With The Times

At the very end of this week's Torah portion, Haazinu, G-d commands Moses, saying, "On that selfsame day...go up the mountain Abarim, Mount Nebo...and die on the mountain." G-d was declaring His intention to take Moses and that "he who had power to protest--could come and protest."

Indeed the Children of Israel did not receive the news of Moses' imminent passing with equanimity, and decided to try to prevent it from happening. They wailed, "We will not relinquish the one who led us out of Egypt, split the sea, gave us meat and gave us the Torah!"

It would seem that the Jews were in open rebellion against G-d, yet, if we examine the situation further, we see that they really thought that preventing Moses' death was G-d's will!

The generation of Jews about to enter the Land of Israel were righteous and good individuals, as it states, "And you are the ones who cleave unto G-d." Why then did they think that by preventing Moses from ascending the mountain they could prevent his death, and, furthermore, that they would actually be doing a mitzva?

Their rationale was the following: According to the Torah itself, one must not be ungrateful for good which is done. Did not Moses do all these wonderful things for us, that we are not obligated to do everything possible for him? The command to go up the mountain was given to him--not to us! Perhaps in this way G-d was giving us an opportunity to intervene by not letting him leave us and go up the mountain to die. If we prevent his dying, then the decree that Moses pass away will be averted and then he will surely lead us into the Promised Land!

The Jews were therefore not rebelling against G-d, but had rather interpreted G-d's command to mean that they should actively intervene for Moses' sake. They thought they had been given the chance to avert the decree, as we find that this is often true in other instances.

Jews are indeed given the power to avert evil decrees and change their judgements for the better through teshuva (repentance). We say in our Rosh Hashana prayers that through "repentance, prayer and tzedaka (charity) evil decrees are averted."

In the case of Moses, however, this was not to take place, and he did indeed pass away. We must therefore conclude that his death was somehow beneficial for the Jewish People, as even their self-sacrifice and efforts to forestall it did not avail.

Our Sages explain that it was absolutely necessary that Moses not enter the Land of Israel. G-d foresaw that the Jews would one day be exiled from their Land, and if Moses had entered Israel, their subsequent exile would have been impossible.

Yet this very exile is also interpreted as a positive event. When, in later years, the Children of Israel did not heed the words of the Torah and incurred G-d's wrath, it was only "wood and stones" (the Holy Temple) which bore the brunt of G-d's anger. The Jewish People were afforded the opportunity to go into exile, where they could do teshuva and eventually be returned to their Land, speedily in our day.

Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.


A Slice of Life

EMOTIONAL IS THE WORD

The following report is from an article in Hebrew by Rabbi M. Marinovsky in the Kfar Chabad Magazine.

Wednesday: Emotional is the key word to describe the entire convention, starting immediately upon arrival in the Shmartayevo Airport in Moscow where the announcement in Hebrew, English and Russian, "We welcome the Chabad shluchim [emissaries]," was heard by all.

Thursday: The convention was officially opened in the "town" of Lubavitch. In small groups the participants went to visit the graves of the third and fourth Chabad Rebbes buried in Lubavitch. Simultaneously, a special edition of Tanya--the primary book of Chabad Chasidic hilosophy--was being printed. When enough copies were ready the emissaries sat down to study together.

Friday: The shluchim visited one of the many Chabad summer camps sponsored by Brooklyn-based Lishkas Ezras Achim. "It is important for the shluchim to see close-up the activities of Chabad in Russia," the convention organizers explained. The participants, of course, all agreed.

Shabbat morning: Once again we awoke early, this time for the 'parade' from the hotel to the Marina Rozscha Chabad synagogue. Over 200 men, dressed in traditional Chasidic garb with talitot on their backs, walked through the capital city. The news about the procession preceded us. Hundreds of Jews were lined up along the way, shouting in Russian and Yiddish, "I, too, am a Jew." We received dozens of phone calls the next day asking about the convention itself, where could one learn more about Judaism.

Sunday: In the evening, a grand banquet took place in the Cosmos hotel where the conferees were staying. During the "roll call," when Russia was announced, there were literally dozens of shluchim from cities throughout Russia who stood up. Speeches were made in Hebrew, Russian, Yiddish and English.

Rabbi Shmuel Lew, of London, remarked: "This time I am here for the Shluchim Convention. But previously, before permanent shluchim were being sent to Russia, I had traveled to Russia numerous times. In the past, suitcases and documents were inspected scrupulously." Rabbi Lew went on to describe an incident that happened on one of his trips. Upon finding a cassette tape among his belongings, the police put it in a tape player to see what type of "dangerous" information it might have. The volume on the tape player was mistakenly at its loudest, and what boomed throughout the airport was the voice of the Lubavitcher Rebbe singing a Chasidic melody. The policeman informed Rabbi Lew that this was a prohibited cassette because "that man is urging Jews to return to their religion." Today, exclaimed Rabbi Lew, we were greeted at that same airport with words of welcome.

Monday: Workshops were convened on specific topics and participants attended those most appropriate for their activities, including Campus Outreach, Schools and Education, Rabbinics, etc. The shluchim of Russia met separately at times, as it can be easily understood that many of the "challenges" in their work were unique.

A special session was also organized for "new" shluchim who have opened centers within the past year, such as Frankfurt, Germany and Gottberg, Sweden. Rabbi Zalman Gurevitz of Frankfurt described the typical response he often gets: "I invited a Jew to a class and he said simply, 'My friend attends your class already. If he continues regularly for a short while, say, a half a year, I will consider joining the class.' "

Tuesday: The shluchim were informed of a change of schedule. President Bush was visiting the city and would meet with Gorbechav that day. The shluchim decided to stand outside of the American Embassy where they hoped to meet President Bush as he left the building. They hoped that their presence would spur the President on in his discussion with Gorbechav about the Schneersohn Library (entrusted by the Previous Rebbe to the government and presently in the Lenin Library), and influence its return to its rightful owner--Agudat Chassidei Chabad. At 10:00 a.m. President Bush's car passed by. When he realized who were the 150 rabbis awaiting him, he opened his window, smiled, and waved. James Baker did similarly.

The shluchim then headed toward the airport where they took a flight from Moscow to Alma Ata. They visited the grave of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson, father of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, shlita. The residents of Alma Ata were invited to attend a gathering that evening in honor of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok's yartzeit.

Wednesday: Resolutions and their practical applications were formulated. These included to strengthen outreach throughout Europe in the coming year; to encourage Jews in the subject of yearning for the redemption; that the shluchim throughout Europe network more effectively; and to aid, in any manner possible, the activities of the Chabad shluchim in Russia.


What's New

HOLIDAY PROGRAMS FOR INMATES

The Aleph Institute, based in Miami, made arrangements for 14 Jewish inmates in the federal system to attend a two-week seminar at the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, New Jersey. The inmates celebrated the High Holidays at the Yeshiva with the Lubavitch community there. In addition, Aleph sent holiday and educational provisions such as honey, shofars, machzors, calendars and yarmulkas to chaplains of Federal Correctional Institutions. Lulavim and etrogim are being sent for the upcoming Sukkot holiday.

DANCING IN THE STREETS

Each evening during the Sukkot holiday, there will be dancing in the streets of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, commemorating the Simchat Beit HaShoeiva celebrations which took place during the times of the Holy Temple. During the intermediate evenings of the holiday--Tuesday evening, September 24 through Thursday evening, September 26, and Saturday evening, September 28, there will be live bands. "Open sukkas" throughout the area where the dancing will take place are sponsored by Be'er Miriam. In any of these sukkas people are welcome to partake of refreshments and relax.

L'CHAIM BOOKS

Bound volumes of the third year of L'Chaim are available for $25 plus $3 shipping. Send checks, payable to LYO, to: L'Chaim BBS 424 Sterling St., Bklyn, NY 11225. Books from the first and second year are no longer available.


Insights

CUSTOMS OF SUKKOT

From a letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Rabbi... conveyed to me your question as to why it is not the custom of Chabad chasidim to decorate the sukka, as well as to sleep in the sukka...

Concerning Decorations:

  1. Generally, a mitzva must be observed on its Divine authority and not on rational grounds, i.e., for any reason or explanation which we may find in it. An exception to some extent is the case where the significance of the mitzva is indicated in the Torah, and our Sages have connected its fulfillment with it. At any rate, only a qualified person can interpret it more fully.

  2. We have a rule that a mitzva should be performed to the best of one's ability, and as the Rambam explains (at the end of Hilchot Issurei HaMizbayach), this applies especially to the object of the mitzva itself, e.g., a talit should be the best one can afford, an offering should be the most generous, etc.

  3. Unlike the s'chach (branches covering the top of the sukka) and walls of the sukka, decorations are not an essential part of the sukka, but an external adornment which adds to the enjoyment of the person sitting inside the sukka; they are, as the name clearly indicates, supplementary objects which decorate and beautify the external appearance of the sukka.

  4. The attitude of Chabad chasidim in this connection, as taught by generations of Chabad leaders and teachers, is that the sukka is to imbue us with certain essential lessons, which are explained in Chasidic literature and Talmudic literature in general. It is expected of Chabad chasidim that they should be impressed by the essential character of the sukka without recourse to "artificial" make-up; that the frail covering of the sukka and its bare walls, not adorned by external ornaments, rugs or hangings, should more forcibly and directly impress upon the Jew the lessons it is meant to convey.

As Concerns Sleeping in the Sukka:

  1. In order to safeguard and inspire a greater feeling toward the sukka, sleeping in it is not practiced by us. The basis for this is twofold. First, we have a rule that suffering exempts one from dwelling in the sukka). Secondly, during sleep a person is not in control of himself, and, furthermore, the very act of undressing and dressing, etc. inevitably creates a commonplace attitude towards the place which serves as a bedroom. Such a depreciation of attitude toward the sukka (by sleeping in it, as explained above), from what his attitude should properly be towards the mitzvot of G-d whereby He has sanctified all Jews, would be deeply felt by the Chabad chasid by virtue of his Chasidic teachings and upbringing, and would cause him profound spiritual suffering. The combination of these two considerations, therefore, led to the custom not to sleep in the sukka.

    However, if a Jew feels absolutely certain that his sleeping in the sukka will not in the slightest affect his attitude toward the sanctity of the sukka, and is consequently free of any mental pain that might be caused thereby, he is duty-bound to sleep in it, in accordance with the fullest meaning of making his sukka his dwelling place to the utmost.


Customs

What or who are ushpizin?

According to the Kabala, the ushpizin are spiritual guests who visit the Sukka each evening. In the Chasidic custom, which follows the Zohar and the Ari, the order of these spiritual guests is: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David. The Ashkenazic custom, also based on the Zohar, is: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron and David. According to Chabad custom, in addition to the Biblical guests, we also enjoy the spiritual company of the founders of Chasidut and previous Chabad Rebbes.


A Word from the Director

We now find ourselves in the days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot. These two holidays are interconnected in many unique ways. One such connection is that many people have the custom to begin building the sukka immediately after breaking the fast of Yom Kippur. We immediately involve ourselves in the mitzva of preparing for the upcoming holiday because there might be some trepidation that despite our prayers and fasting, we are still in need of meritorious deeds.

Yom Kippur and Sukkot are also interconnected in that they unify the Jewish people. At the end of Yom Kippur, everyone in the synagogue proclaims altogether, in one united voice: Shema Yisrael--Hear, O Israel, G-d is our G-d, G-d is one; Blessed be the name of His glorious Kingdom forever and ever; G-d, He is G-d!"

This same idea of unity is also reflected in the mitzvot of Sukkot. On Sukkot we combine together the "Four Kinds"--lulav (palm), etrog (citron), myrtle, and willow--which symbolize all different types of Jews. United, we make a blessing over them and thus perform a mitzva.

Within the four walls of the temporary structure itself, sitting under the branches forming the open roof, we sit together, Jews of all ages and opinions, united in the observance of the mitzva of dwelling in the Sukka.

During these special days of unity, it is appropriate to mention the growing unity amongst the Jewish people. World Jewry has been reacting with amazing speed, concern and sympathy to the numerous events that have required Jewish attention and support recently. Certainly, this newfound harmony and cooperation is a prelude to the final Redemption, culminating in true and complete unity of all Jews.

Rabbi Shmuel Butman


It Once Happened

It was the first day of Sukkot, and all the congregation in the shul of Rabbi Elimelech of Lisensk were in a festive mood. As Rabbi Elimelech stood at the bima, all eyes turned towards him. There was something unusual in his manner this Sukkot. Why did he stop so suddenly to sniff the air? It was evident that something was on his mind, something rather exciting by the look on his radiant countenance!

The minute the prayers were over, Rabbi Elimelech hurried to his brother Rabbi Zushia who was standing, and said: "Help me find the etrog which is permeating the shul with the fragrance of the Garden of Eden!"

They went from person to person until they reached a corner of the shul where a quiet-looking man was standing, engrossed in his own thoughts.

"This is the one," exclaimed Rabbi Elimelech. "Please, dear friend, tell me who are you and where did you obtain this wonderful etrog?"

The man, startled by this unexpected question, replied rather slowly:

"Rabbi, it is quite a story. Do you wish to sit down and listen to it all?"

"Most certainly, I am sure it will be a story worth hearing!"

"My name is Uri, and I come from Strelisk. The mitzva of etrog has always been one of my favorites. I am a poor man, and could not normally afford to buy an etrog as I would wish, but my good wife, who agrees with me, hires herself out as a cook. In this way, I can use half of my earnings for spiritual matters. Every year I travel to Lemberg to make the purchase, and in order to conserve money, I go by foot.

"This year, during the Ten Days of Repentance, I was travelling with fifty gulden with which to buy an etrog, when I stopped at an inn to rest. It was time for the afternoon prayers, so I stood in a corner and prayed.

"In the middle I heard a terrible sound of moaning and groaning. I hurriedly finished so that I could see if I could help in some way. As I turned towards the man who was in obvious distress, I saw a person, dressed in peasant garb, pouring out his troubles to the inn-keeper.

"The man was a Jew who earned his living as a wagon-driver. He had a wife and several children, and barely managed to earn enough to make ends meet. Now, a terrible calamity had befallen him. His horse had suddenly collapsed in the forest and was unable to get up.

"I tried to encourage the poor man, telling him not to forget that there is a great G-d Who could help him out of any dilemma. The innkeeper, offered to sell him another horse at a good price, but the man replied bitterly: 'I haven't got even fifty kopeks, let alone fifty gulden!'

"How could I keep the etrog money in the face of such a tragedy? I asked the innkeeper what was the lowest price he would take for the horse. 'Forty-five gulden, but not a kopek less,' he replied.

"I immediately took out my wallet and handed him forty-five gulden, the astonished wagon-driver looking on. His relief and joy were absolutely indescribable!

"I had to content myself with buying a very ordinary etrog with my remaining money. Usually, my etrog is the best in Yanev, and everyone comes to make the blessing on it. But with such a poor-looking one, my wife agreed that I could come here to Lisensk where nobody knows me."

"But my dear Uri," cried out Rabbi Elimelech, "yours is indeed an exceptional etrog! Now I understand why your etrog has the fragrance of the Garden of Eden! Let me tell you the sequel to your story."

"The wagon-driver, overjoyed by his good fortune, decided that you must have been none other than Elijah the Prophet. He wanted to express his gratitude to the Alm-ghty, but didn't know how to pray. Suddenly his face lit up. He took his whip and lashed it into the air, crying out:

"'Oh, dear Father in Heaven, I love you very much! What can I do to convince you of my love for you? Let me crack my whip for you as a sign that I love you!' Then, the wagon-driver cracked his whip three times.

"On the eve of Yom-Kippur the Alm-ghty was seated on His 'Seat of Judgment,' listening to the prayers of the Day of Atonement.

"A wagon full of Jewish mitzvot was standing at the Gates of Heaven, when Satan appeared and obstructed the path with a wagon-load of Jewish sins. Nothing was able to budge Satan.

"Suddenly the sound of a cracking whip rent the air, causing a blinding ray of light to illuminate the whole universe, right up to the very heavens! All at once, the Angel Michael appeared, leading a horse, followed by the wagon-driver with whip in hand.

"The Angel Michael harnessed this horse to the wagon of mitzvot, and the driver cracked his whip. Suddenly the wagon gave a lurch forward, flattened out the Jewish sins, and drove on smoothly right up to the 'Throne of Honor.' A happy new year was assured.

"And now, dear Uri," concluded Rabbi Elimelech, "you see that all this came about through your selfless action! Go in peace, and know that you have with you the approval of the Heavenly Court. But before you go, permit me to hold this wonderful etrog of yours and praise G-d with it."

From The Complete Story of Tishrei.


Thoughts that Count

Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth (Deut. 32:1)

Why did Moses address the heavens and earth? Because G-d had already likened the Children of Israel to these things.

G-d said to Abraham: "Look up into the heavens and count the stars...so shall your seed be." G-d also promised, "And your seed shall be as the dust of the earth."

(Sifri)

Of the Rock that bore you were you unmindful, and you forgot the G-d Who bore you (Deut. 32:10)

When G-d created man He gave him the gift of being "unmindful"--the ability to forget and allow time to heal the wounds which would befall him in this world. But, G-d claims, what did you do with this gift? You misused it, and forgot about Me!

(Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk)

He was corrupted; the blemish is not to his children (Deut. 32:5)

No matter how corrupt and degraded a person may be, he always wants better for his children. He does not want them to continue in his sorry ways...

(Rabbi Yonasan Eibeshutz)

And G-d saw and He was angry, because of the provoking of His sons and daughters (Deut. 32:19)

G-d's wrath is aroused when He sees the "provocation of His sons and daughters," that is, ill-feeling and controversy between one Jew and his fellow. Such behavior brings down G-d's anger upon His children.

(Rabbi Moshe Pollak)


Moshiach Matters

The Shpoler Zaida once said: "Our greatest sages begged of You to bring Moshiach and You didn't want; The Ari begged and You didn't want; other great people in each generation begged and You didn't want; until it came to the point that an insignificant one such as I, stand before You and ask for Moshiach, and even now You refuse. I say to You: 'There will come a generation that will not want You and will not want Moshiach--then You will bring him.'"


  180: Vayelech182: Sukos  
   
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