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L'Chaim
January 26, 1996 - 5 Shevat 5756
SPECIAL ISSUE


403: Bo - Yud Shevat

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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.


  402: Va'eira404: B'Shalach  

Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  A Call To Action  |  The Rebbe Writes
A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count  |  It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

Living with the Rebbe

Many people express wonder at the fact that the Rebbe's leadership is spoken of in the present tense, that the Rebbe's leadership is uninterrupted despite our inability to perceive him physically.

In fact, this special issue is celebrating 46 years of the Rebbe's continuous leadership.

Jewish teachings state that G-d showed Adam, the first person, all future generations together with their great leaders. These leaders are the Tzadikim whose souls G-d, in His wisdom and kindness, sent into this world to guide the generations, caring for them both spiritually and materially and showing the Jewish people the correct path to follow.

Chasidic philosophy explains that these great leaders are the mind and the heart of the body of the Jewish people.

Each generation has its own unique mission and role in the overall fulfillment of G-d's purpose in the entire creation: to create a "home" for G-d in this physical world through the revelation of Moshiach and the Redemption.

In the Tanya of Rabbi Shneur Zalman (the founder of the Chabad Chasidic Movement), it is explained that earlier generations are like the head, their major preoccupation being Torah study; later generations, known as the "heels of Moshiach," are more closely associated with raw action.

Within generations we also see these subdivisions with the Tzadikim, and especially the Leader of the generation, comprising the head and providing direction to the people as to how to fulfill their unique role.

The Alm-ghty sends each generation the Leader appropriate to the task of the times. Jewish teachings apply to this the verse, "The sun sets; the sun rises," meaning that even before the leadership of one Tzadik has drawn to a close, the unique and novel character of a new Leader and a new mission are apparent.

This new Leader comes to guide his generation in a unique direction in the fulfillment of G-d's purpose for creation commensurate with their own nature and purpose.

Let us apply these principles to our own generation.

In the first official Chasidic teaching articulated by the Rebbe when he formally accepted the mantle of leadership, the Rebbe declared unequivocally that the unique purpose of our generation, the seventh from Rabbi Shneur Zalman, is to fulfill the original intent of G-d's creation.

This is to be achieved by drawing down G-d's presence into this mundane physical world with the complete revelation of Moshiach and the commencement of the Redemption.

The Rebbe has told us numerous times in his latest public talks that we have finished the Divine service of exile and that our purpose now is to prepare for the Redemption.

"The time of your Redemption has arrived," the Rebbe declared with prophetic vision. This is a totally different message which has never before been enunciated in the history of the Jewish people.

Uniquely, it is not dependent on any action we must take. He explained that we should involve ourselves in more good deeds, more Torah study, the enhanced fulfillment of mitzvot, as a preparation and foretaste of the Redemption.

However, until the Redemption actually begins, with the rebuilding of the Third Holy Temple in Jerusalem and the ingathering of all of the Jews from the diaspora, the ultimate fulfillment of our purpose has not been achieved and we remain in the seventh generation with the Rebbe at our head.

Why the Al-mighty willed that the leadership of the Rebbe at the conclusion of the service of this generation should be in its current form will most likely remain a mystery until the complete revelation of Moshiach. But what we know clearly is what the Rebbe himself has told us in no uncertain terms, that the role of our generation is to actually bring about the Redemption and to prepare ourselves and the entire world for it.

Until this has been achieved, we remain in the same generation.

The Rebbe and his leadership is very much of the present and will continue until the Al-mighty has mercy on his people and our mission will be crowned with success.


A Slice of Life

Quite a long while ago, my husband and I asked Rabbi Nechemia Vogel, one of the Rebbe's emissaries in Rochester, New York, "How do any of us really know G-d's Will for us when it's time to make the big choices in life?

Not everything is halacha (Jewish law). Are personal issues, such as which job to accept and where to live just individual choices, or does G-d have a plan for these parts of our lives too?"

He responded that some people consult the Rebbe, a Tzadik, or a spiritual mentor. Others use their best judgment to guide them and then wait for G-d to manifest His Will in the result.

We pondered his reply. We had always used the second method. Not being Chasidic, it was hard to imagine consulting a tzadik. That is, it was hard until Frankie and Jon Jon became a concern.

Shuffled from home to home, 7-year-old Frankie and 4-year-old Jon Jon had seen much more than little children should. I was one of their social workers, and watching the children's lives become disrupted repeatedly saddened my soul. How long before they lost the ability to trust?

Other professionals painted pictures of grim futures for these two "throw-away" children.

Logically, there was nothing I could do but pray. The children were already monitored by Social Services and receiving psychological services. But intuitively, I felt there was an alternative.

I knew I had to consult a tzadik this time. I wrote to the Rebbe. I had never to written the Rebbe before but I knew he was the one to ask. We heard miraculous stories about his love and spiritual insight.

Early in 1994, my message was promptly faxed to the Rebbe in Crown Heights.

The Rebbe's response was that I should try to provide a home for Frankie and Jon Jon. The answer came as a surprise because I had informed the Rebbe that the boys were not Jewish. The Rebbe also sent a blessing for my family, my husband, parents and siblings.

My husband's eyes widened when we received the Rebbe's response. How could WE take in two children? We both have health problems and our income is limited. On top of that, the children had severe emotional problems and both were also classified as mentally retarded.

"Why did you ask the Rebbe this?" I was asked by more than just my husband. "I had to," was my only response. Admittedly, the thought of such a major undertaking made me nervous but I couldn't shrug off the children's anguish either.

And so, with a degree of trepidation, I approached the kind-hearted grandmother of the children. "If there is ever a time when the children have no place to go, I'll give them a home."

She gasped, "If I would have known... I just arranged for my friend to care for them."

"That's okay," I assured her. "I know you have many family members and friends but remember if you ever need my help, just ask."

Months went by. Since the children were placed out of the county with the friend, my contact with them was now minimal. I thought of the Rebbe's response. Perhaps he only wanted me to think about giving them a home, or maybe he thought I should only say that I would provide a home. Maybe it was not meant that I should actually act on it.

If somebody desires to do a mitzva but is prevented from doing so, the Rabbis teach, one acquires the merit of the mitzva. At any rate, the children seemed to be out of my life.

More than half a year elapsed. I was sitting in Synagogue on Rosh Hashana. Before the service began a stranger asked me, "Do you have children?" "No," I responded, "we have no children." She paused and then replied, "This year you will have two boys."

Like our Matriarch Sarah, I smiled. A first-time mother at age 45? Little did I realize the veracity of her words.

After Rosh Hashana, the children's grandmother called me to say the children were removed by Social Services from her friend's home. Would I provide a home for them?

Thoughts of the Rebbe and the lady in Synagogue flooded my mind. I told the grandmother that I needed to speak with my husband. I'd call her after the Jewish holidays. This was all too incredible.

When I asked my husband, he quickly agreed, "What did the Rebbe tell us to do? That's what we'll do."

After Sukkot, per temporary court order, the two emotionally-troubled little boys came to live with us. At first, the younger child had night terrors. Both children were violent and their language was rough. It was not smooth sailing. With love and stability, things changed for the better quickly. It is almost as if the children, my husband, and I all knew each other forever.

The story doesn't end here, however. The emergency court placement had been temporary and the case was scheduled to be heard in court again.

Investigations had to be made of their mom and us. With no malicious feelings against us, the children's mother said she wanted her sons back. They had been gone more than two years.

Was I really meant to oppose the biological mother, a kindly but troubled woman? The thought of fighting this young woman over her own flesh and blood in court was really disconcerting. In addition to this concern, both my husband and brother had chronic, debilitating health problems.

The enormity of it all was overwhelming. "I wish I could write the Rebbe," I said to my friend, Chani Muchkin, another emissary of the Rebbe in Rochester. "You can still write," she said. "Letters can be faxed to the Ohel -- the Rebbe's resting place.

Miracles continue to happen, even more than before."

Startled, I thought, "How could this be?" It initially all sounded so foreign to my ears. Chani told me that the Rebbe used to pray at his father-in-law's resting place and then reminded me of the graves of Tzadikim in Israel I had visited. There exists a connection between a Tzadik and his people even after his passing.

I prayed about this for quite awhile. Some weeks later, I wrote a letter to the Rebbe and faxed it to the Ohel. I asked for guidance as to whether or not to actively fight to keep the boys.

I also asked for a blessing for my husband and my brother.

Almost immediately after this, the children's law guardian told me that there was no need to acquire a lawyer; she herself would strongly advocate that the children remain with us. The lawyer from Social Services said the same thing.

The courts called our home a "G-dsend," a fairly unusual spiritual term for lawyers.

What a relief! I needn't say a word against the biological mother. That was not all. Surprisingly, just before court, even the mother withdrew her request for custody! She saw the boys were happy with us and she knew she was unstable. Consequently, we were awarded permanent guardianship. If that was not amazing enough, both my husband's and brother's health took a remarkable turn for the better. And all this came very shortly after I sent the letter to the Rebbe.

The boys are progressing, academically, socially, behaviorally and, most important, spiritually. The older boy spontaneously exclaims, "G-d made a beautiful world" whenever he views a very lovely sight. The younger little gift frequently declares he'll be with us forever and then, when he is grown, he'll bring his family here, too.

Perhaps what is most unusual is that the children are already teaching other deprived children that there are alternatives in life and that there is hope!

Reprinted from The Chabad Times, Rochester, NY

[You can send a letter to the Ohel (the Holy Resting Place of the Rebbe via e-mail to: ohel@chabad.org, and this gets "delivered" by an automated fax service. You receive an automated confirmation from the fax service.]

A Call To Action

LEARN the Rebbe's teachings:

The Rebbe taught that a true connection to the Rebbe comes through studying the Rebbe's teachings.

Dozens of the Rebbe's works are available in English at Jewish bookstores or through Sichos in English at 718-778-5436.

VHH publishes the weekly Week in Review based on the Rebbe's teachings. Subscribe by calling 718-774-6448. The recently published "Toward A Meaningful Life: The Wisdom of the Rebbe" adapted by Rabbi Simon Jacobson and published by William Morrow and can be purchased at bookstores and through VHH.

You can log onto the Rebbe's teachings on the Internet at gopher.chabad.org or web address www.chabad.org. And, of course, continue to read L'Chaim and share it with friends.


The Rebbe Writes

Last Day of Passover, 5710 [1950]

(From a talk of the Rebbe that was later checked and approved for publication by the Rebbe, translated by Rabbi Uri Kaploun for Sichos in English.)

The Talmud records: "Before the passing of R. Yehuda HaNasi, he said: 'I need my sons!... Let the lamp continue to burn in its usual place; let the table be set in its usual place; let the bed be made in its usual place.' " ...

What is novel here is that it was at the time of his passing that R. Yehuda HaNasi said, "I need my sons"; Since at this moment he was embarking on a mode of divine service that was infinitely superior to what had preceded it, it would have been reasonable to assume that he would no longer have any connection with us.

In order to forestall such an assumption, at the moment of his passing R. Yehuda HaNasi said: "I need my sons." As if to say: "Even though I am now ascending to divine service of a transcendent order, I nevertheless remember you, and I shall remember you wherever I shall be.

Moreover, in whatever lofty levels of ascent I may find myself, your divine service matters to me -- `I need my sons.'" Not only are the sons in need of him, but he, moreover, is in need of his sons.

In light of the above, each of the objects concerning which it was customary to turn to the Rebbe [here the Rebbe refers to the Previous Rebbe, (his father-in-law of Saintly Memory) Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, who had passed on two months earlier], remains in its accustomed place -- "Let the lamp continue to burn in its usual place; let the table be set in its usual place; let the bed be made in its usual place."

Generally speaking, people used to enter the Rebbe's study for yechidut [the communing of the two souls in a private audience] concerning two categories of subjects: correction and sustenance in spiritual matters, and correction and sustenance in material (though not materialistic) matters.

Each of these categories comprises three components --lamp, table, bed.

At yechidut, requests relating to material matters focus on three concerns: children, health (lit., "life"), and livelihood.

These correspond to lamp, table, and bed, as follow:

Chayei (health, or life) is represented by a lamp, as it is written, "The soul of man is a lamp of G-d";

Mezonei (livelihood) is represented by a table;

Banei (children) is represented by a bed.

All three elements continue to stand in their usual place. Even after his passing, the Rebbe can answer; he answers as he did in the past, and directs Divine benefactions as he did in the past.

The same principle is true of requests made at yechidut relating to spiritual matters....

As is widely known, in order for a Rebbe to be able to give a response at yechidut, he must first be able to find within himself some relationship -- at least a subtly spiritual equivalent -- to the subject of the request...

Since in the past the Rebbe was garbed in a physical body in this world, one can conceive of his finding within himself some tenuous spiritual relationship with such requests... Now, however, when he has no connection with physicality, how can be respond to such requests?

Before we answer this question, there is another question that has been asked: How is it at all appropriate to address requests to the Rebbe? Is this not putting him in the position of an intermediary?

The answer to the question regarding intermediaries is as follows.

Just as "Israel and the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are all one" -- i.e., not only is Israel connected to the Torah and the Torah is connected to G-d, but they are all absolutely one -- so, too, in the bond between chasidim and their Rebbe, these are not like two entities which unite, but they become absolutely "all one."

And the Rebbe is not an intermediary who intercepts, but an intermediary who connects. Accordingly, for the chasid, he and the Rebbe and the Holy One, blessed be He, are all one....

Accordingly, the query regarding intermediaries ceases to be problematic, since we are speaking of the Essence and the Being of G-d Himself, as He has garbed Himself in a body....

In the same way as the above query [about intermediaries] ceases to be problematic, the earlier query -- as to how the Rebbe can respond to requests concerning the rectification of matters pertaining to the body -- likewise ceases to be problematic. For the bond between Rebbe and chasid is a bond that is rooted in the very essence of each.

[See Toras Menachem for more details and footnotes on the above]

A Word from the Director

This Yud Shevat marks forty-six years of the Rebbe's leadership.

On the day of the Rebbe's official acceptance of the nesiut, the Rebbe, in a straightforward manner, set the rules as to how his nesiut would proceed.

The Rebbe placed upon every person the responsibility for the task of bringing Moshiach. He made it clear that people should not expect to sit back and let the Rebbe do all the work in bringing about the realization of the dreams and aspirations of the Jewish people for all times, the revelation of Moshiach and the Redemption.

"Action is the essential thing" has been the Rebbe's motto from the beginning. The Rebbe dealt with the effect of the Previous Rebbe's passing in his unique way: "A certain chasid wrote me that since the histalkus [passing] he is very brokenhearted, and sometimes, when he is alone, he breaks into tears.

"The question remains, however: What did he accomplish by his weeping? Is this the Rebbe's intention -- that he wants him to cry?! It is almost certain that his tears accomplish nothing... In the meantime, however, the work of fulfilling the mission given by the Rebbe is not being done!...

"By his lack of action the above-mentioned individual is (G-d forbid) delaying the Redemption; delaying the Holy One, blessed be He; delaying the Rebbe -- and because of this the Jewish people are being detained in exile one moment longer!" (Talk of the 2nd day of Shavuot, 5710)

The Rebbe conveyed to us as well, in the above-mentioned talk, that nothing had changed regarding the instructions and orders of the Previous Rebbe: "The mission with which the Rebbe has entrusted us must be carried out without taking anything else into consideration.... One should conduct himself like a truly humble person, who is strong in his convictions and allows nothing to distract him."

May we immediately see the fulfillment of our generation's mission: the complete Redemption with the Rebbe leading us.


Thoughts that Count

Sanctify unto Me all the first-born (Ex. 13:2)

Just as the first-born is especially holy to G-d, so too must the first few minutes of the day be dedicated to G-d and to His Torah. Once a person has established this firm foundation, the rest of the day will likewise be secure.

(Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin)


And they despoiled Egypt (Ex. 12:36)

After 210 years of extremely harsh exile in Egypt, the Jewish people received "reparations" in the form of "vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments."

Later, at the splitting of the Sea, they received five times as many riches -- precious gems and pearls. We in our generation are about to leave a longer and even harsher exile than our forefathers endured.

Accordingly, the "reparations" we will receive from G-d will be infinitely greater. Keeping this in mind should cause us to be even more generous in giving tzedaka.

(The Rebbe, Parshat Vayechi, 5752)


For all the Children of Israel there was light in their dwellings (Ex. 10:23)

This unique light not only illuminated their own homes, but accompanied the Jews wherever they went -- even when visiting their neighboring Egyptians.

Exile is a time of spiritual darkness that intensifies the closer we get to Moshiach's revelation. Nonetheless, just as our ancestors enjoyed "light in their dwellings" even before their redemption from exile, so too does every Jew possess an aura of holiness now, just prior to the Final Redemption, which accompanies him wherever he goes.

(The Rebbe, Parshat Korach, 5751)


With our young and with our old we will go... we are to hold a feast unto G-d (Ex. 10:9)

For in truth, what kind of a yom tov would it be without our children? Any holy celebration that does not include the younger generation is no celebration at all...

(Shem MiShmuel)


It Once Happened

by Sandy Corenblum

I had always heard about the Rebbe. I started writing to the Rebbe but I never received a letter in return.

Several years after I started writing to the Rebbe, I was married and pregnant with my first child (I knew I was carrying a daughter). I wrote to the Rebbe again and told him that it was my deepest wish that when my baby was born a Lubavitcher would come and bless her in her crib.

Well, my sweet little girl was born, bless her, and 3 weeks early at that. My husband was at shul naming her at the Torah when two Lubavitchers came up to him and asked, "Are you Dr. Corenblum?" He replied, "Yes."

They said, "The Rebbe sent us to bless your daughter in her crib." They came home with my husband and blessed my Michaela.

We had never had Lubavitchers in our city until that time and I felt a real miracle had occurred and I knew that the Rebbe did not forget me.

Michaela has grown into a unique and special young woman and it all started with the Rebbe. I feel his blessing until today.


Immediately after Passover this year, Rabbi..... of Brooklyn wrote to the Rebbe to ask for a blessing for his daughter, who was due to have surgery several days later on the 25th of Nissan. He placed his letter in a volume of Igrot Kodesh -- letters the Rebbe had written to people.

The page number -- which was written in Hebrew letters -- spelled out the Rabbi's last name! The letter on that page read:

"In regard to the surgery your child is scheduled to have on the 25th of Nissan..." and continued with a blessing for a refuah shleima -- a complete recovery].


About sixteen years ago, one of the guests I was privileged to take to the Rebbe was a gentleman from Iran. He had been a top aide to the Shah of Iran, and since the Revolution, was on top of the "hit list," as a Jew and as a Royalist.

He told me that he had visited the Rebbe about 15 years earlier, when the Shah was still in power, but he assumed the Rebbe would not remember him.

We arrived at 770 for Mincha (the afternoon service). The Rebbe emerged from his room to go into the Shul. He stopped in front of this man and nodded, smiling in clear recognition. He did the same after he had finished davening. By now it was apparent to all that the Rebbe did, indeed, remember this man after more than fifteen years.

The Iranian man was full of admiration and respect for the Rebbe. He exclaimed "I recently learned, 'Do not put your trust in Princes.'

In Iran I tried to hide the fact that I was a Jew. I thought this would lead me to greater power. But I see now that we have genuine Royalty in our own people, and I am proud to be a Jew!"


Neena, our three years old daughter, was having severe vision problems. She could not even recognize family members at distances greater than ten feet. An optometrist examined her eyes and prescribed glasses one half of the necessary strength. He felt that if the prescription were stronger she would not want to wear them.

When Neena got her glasses, she loved them. We had to fight with her to take them off that first night to go to sleep. Finally, we made a special stand for the glasses beside her bed and promised to leave them there all night. In the middle of the night, we looked in on her and saw her sleeping with one hand on her glasses. When we tried to make her more comfortable, she cried out in her sleep about how we shouldn't take away her glasses. Even cleaning her glasses presented a problem as she was inseparable from them.

Life continued in this way for several months until a recent trip to Crown Heights and to the headquarters of the Rebbe.

Our family was given an opportunity to go into the Rebbe's office for five minutes.

My wife and Neena went into the Rebbe's room first. After giving tzedaka, Neena stood staring at the Rebbe's chair.

Upon leaving the Rebbe's room, Neena dropped her glasses outside the door. I scooped them up just as they were about to be stepped on. When I returned them to Neena, she asked me to hold them saying, "the glasses are hurting my eyes." I put them into my shirt pocket.

When we returned home we gave Neena her glasses again. She put them on briefly and then started to complain. She began to hide her glasses in her toy box, behind the books, under her bed and all over the place.

In frustartion, we took Neena to a different optometrist for a thorough examination. After he examined Neena, the optometrist wanted to know why anyone would put glasses on a three year old who had perfect vision!


Moshiach Matters

At the present time, when the world trembles, when all the world shudders with the birth-pangs of Moshiach... it is the duty of every Jew, man and woman, old and young, to ask themselves: What have I done and what am I doing to alleviate the birth-pangs of Moshiach, and to merit the total redemption which will come through our Righteous Moshiach?

(From a letter of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn)


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