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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 772
                           Copyright (c) 2003
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        June 5, 2003            Shavuos            5 Sivan, 5763

                       A Torah Scroll's Thoughts

I still remember some of the amazing lessons I learned from the elder
Torah scroll as we stood quietly in the ark at the eastern wall of the

Having been free to roam over plain and valley just a few years before
as the hide of a kosher animal, I had a hard time adjusting to what I
considered the restricted life of a Torah scroll.

I was the upstart Torah scroll - born and bred in America. Not only was
I made in America, but even the scribe who wrote me was born and trained
here. So you can understand why at first I didn't really subscribe to
the whole humble and modest lifestyle that we Torah scrolls lived. I
didn't feel like I belonged with the other half-dozen scrolls in the ark
- a few survivors of the Holocaust, another scroll straight from one of
the ultra-Orthodox sections in Israel, and another of unknown but
strictly kosher and ancient origins.

"Why can't we just hang out in the synagogue, like the prayerbooks?" I
asked one of the elder scrolls. I explained to him that I wasn't used to
all of these restrictive coverings. First there was the regal
but-oh-so-hot-on-summer-days velvet that totally covered my skin -
except on Mondays, Thursdays and Shabbat when I was uncovered and
unrolled in order to be read.

Then there was the big ark itself that I and the other Torah scrolls
were placed in. "I feel like a prisoner in the ark," I told the kindly

I complained incessantly that the only time we had fun was on Simchat
Torah when we were all taken out on the town. Well, not really on the
town but at least around the synagogue where everyone sang and danced
with us. But even then - even at the height of our rejoicing - we were
still covered up.

Little by little, the elderly scroll took me under his wing. He gently
explained that even for a scroll proudly "made in America" there was
something called tzniut - one of those impossible to translate words
(though I'm an expert in Hebrew), often rendered "modesty," but meaning
a whole lot more.

"The first tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them were given
amidst fanfare, fuss and noise," the elderly scroll whispered. "And
those tablets were broken. But the second set, given quietly and
unpretentiously, remain eternally with the Jewish people. Why, even now
they exist, secreted away with other treasures from the Holy Temples
under the Temple Mount where the Third Temple will very soon be built."

The scroll also gave me examples from everyday life and they made sense
to me. He told me that the most precious items are kept under lock and
key. Not as a punishment but in deference to their value. Vaults in
banks overflow with people's jewels that sit there much of the time -
rather than being worn. Original paintings by famous artists are
carefully watched and monitered because they are priceless. They, too,
never go "out on the town." Little by little, I began to see my velvet
coverings as royal cloaks. I acknowledged the ark was my castle and even
my refuge.

"That which is precious is not flaunted, not unnecessarily exposed, for
in so doing it is often cheapened, the scroll would remind me. I
remember the old scroll stating one day, 'People don't go around sharing
and exposing that which they truly care about. For some, it is their
innermost thoughts. For others it is their bank accounts-though they'll
share everything else. And if you really care about yourself, if you
really value yourself,' the old scroll told me, "you will take pride in
the fact that most of the time you are covered, hidden, out of public

It's been a long time since I've been out in the public eye like this.
It sort of goes against my grain by now to stand here and
sermonize-especially since that's the rabbi's job. But in honor of
Shavuot, the day when all of the Jewish people received the Torah from
G-d on Mount Sinai-which by the way was a very humble and modest
mountain-I decided to share with you the intimate thoughts of just one
little Torah scroll, proud to be Made in America, and even prouder that
my preciousness to the Jewish people and to myself is symbolized by my
multi-layered coverings."

Shavuot is the holiday on which we celebrate the giving of the Torah,
when G-d Himself descended on Mount Sinai before the entire Jewish
people. The world stood still as G-d's voice thundered the first of the
Ten Commandments: "I am the L-rd your G-d, Who took you out of the land
of Egypt."

Our Sages ask a pointed question: What was so special about the exodus
from Egypt that G-d chose to mention it in the very first Commandment?
Why not "I am the L-rd your G-d, Who created heaven and earth"? Is not
the creation of the world more fundamental than an isolated historical
incident involving only a few million people?

In addition, the exodus from Egypt - although a great miracle - involved
only that generation. The existence of the physical world, however, is a
phenomenon which each generation can point to as evidence of G-d's
greatness. Why then did G-d give the exodus such prominence at the
moment of His revelation to mankind?

Chasidic philosophy explains that in certain respects, the Jewish
people's liberation from bondage in Egypt was an even greater event than
the creation of the world. G-d created the world ex nihilo - substance
out of nothingness - something which we, as created beings, cannot
comprehend. Although the creation of the world was a wondrous event, for
an all-powerful, eternal and infinite G-d, it was no particular feat.

Furthermore, the Torah states that the world was created by G-d's
speech. "By the word of G-d the heavens were created, and by His breath
all of their hosts." Speech is an external power, produced without
exertion. The world was created in such a way as to express only the
outermost fraction of G-d's true might.

The exodus from Egypt, however, was a miracle of a totally different
order. In order for the Jews to leave Egypt, G-d had to supersede the
laws of nature He had already created to run the world. G-d Himself, not
an angel, led the Jews as they departed. Abrogating natural law to free
the Children of Israel involved an even higher level of Divine
intervention than creating the world in the first place! The exodus from
Egypt was therefore given the top billing it deserved in the Ten

Likewise, in our own lives, we sometimes find that it is harder to
change ingrained and established habits than it is to begin a completely
new undertaking. When G-d took our ancestors out of Egypt (Mitzrayim),
He gave each and every Jew the strength to break through the boundaries
and limitations (metzarim) which stand in his way. This innate power,
bestowed upon the Jewish people when the Torah was revealed, gives us
the ability to overcome any negative habits or character traits which
prevent us from serving G-d with a full heart.

                    Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

                             SLICE OF LIFE

                              Shabbat 1000

                         by Elizaveta Zviaguin

    Shabbat 1000 is a unique program initiated by Rabbi Aaron and Rivkah
    Slonim, founders of Chabad of Binghamton at the State University of
    New York. In this special, once a year, Friday night event, various
    Jewish clubs on campus unite to bring as many students together as
    possible. Some other campuses where Chabad has spearheaded this
    event include New York University, University of Texas, University
    of Arizona, Denver University. The following article describes
    Shabbat 1000 this past semester at SUNY Binghamton.

It is difficult to imagine a thousand peaceful people in one room,
especially knowing that those people are college students. It is even
more difficult to imagine all of those students doing something
meaningful together, and being in sync with one another. The scenario
becomes a little easier if it involves a celebration. On April 4th there
was exactly such a festivity. It is ironic that regardless of how many
sport teams we have in our school, the East Gym saw its highest
attendance during events such as Purim, or in this case Shabbat 1000.

As I was approaching the gym that evening, I saw students walking from
all over campus dressed in Shabbat outfits. Some were in large groups,
others in pairs, or alone. It was touching to see a procession of so
many students coming to the same place with the same purpose.  When
inside the gym I noticed many familiar faces, more importantly I saw
people from classes and campus that I would have never thought to attend
such an event. And suddenly we, friends and strangers, were there
together - we all had a connection. Externally everyone had a different
reason to be at Shabbat 1000. Some came on their own volition; others
were persuaded, maybe even coerced by friends. Some might regularly
observe Shabbat, others only when they are home, and still others might
have come for their first Shabbat meal. Intrinsically, however, we were
all there for the same reason - to celebrate our gift from G-d, our

When I was in my sophomore year of college here at Binghamton
University, I remember leaving FitSpace one spring night and seeing
hundreds and hundreds of students in holiday dress. There was a sense of
happiness and excitement surrounding them. One might think that they
would have seemed out of place in the utilitarian building that is East
Gym. Instead I, wearing my sweats felt misplaced. I clearly remember
wondering what could have brought all these young men and women
together. I knew very little of Shabbat, and knew even less that it was
as much a part of me as a part of all the people that were there
celebrating it. I don't remember if that April night I realized that
what I saw was Shabbat 1000. I do know that the excitement I felt from
having had a great work out faded when I saw the excitement of the
congregation in the basketball court where the dinner was held. My plans
for going out to a party that night also did not seem attractive.

Maybe I realized it then, or maybe I just know it now, in a moment of
reflection - but ultimately I felt as if I was doing something other
than what I should be. I knew that there was a void. Very often, on
Friday nights during that year as I returned to my room from a day of
classes, I realized that another week came to an end with little to mark
it. The partying, the going out, which occurred every weekend, was fun,
but not in the true sense of fun. It was fun because everyone who I knew
thought that it was what we have to do as college students for at least
two nights a week. So instead of being restful, "partying" became
another responsibility. To go "downtown," to meet new people, to get
dressed up, all that became routine, obligatory - it had no meaning
behind it.

A few months after that awakening experience of Shabbat 1000 I went on
the Birthright Israel trip and celebrated Shabbat for the first time. It
was so special to have my first Shabbat celebration at the Western Wall.

Well, it was technically the second. The very first Shabbat that I ever
celebrated was in the first year of my family being in America. It was
also in the springtime, in 1993 - 10 years ago. A Jewish family from the
Upper West Side invited my family, as newly arrived Russian immigrants,
to celebrate Shabbat with them. They explained to us that by doing that
they fulfilled a mitzva - commandment. What was Shabbat, or what was a
mitzva, we had no idea. But we appreciated the warm reception.

A year after my first encounter with Shabbat 1000 in 2001 I was an
active participant of it in 2002. I was so excited about the whole
event. I knew that it was a big deal for everyone, and for me personally
it was important because I used Shabbat 1000 as a benchmark. I knew that
compared to where I was a year before, I have made positive changes in
my life and more importantly began to acquire something priceless: the
gift of Shabbat. I have started my discovery of what it means to be
Jewish. I remember looking around the gym and in the same way as this
year seeing hundreds and hundreds of students. There were so many people
there who did not know exactly why they were celebrating Shabbat, but
that precisely is the value of the grandiose event that is Shabbat 1000.
It gives a chance for every Jew on campus to be part of something that
is already a large part of them, whether they know it or not. We all
have the opportunity to have Shabbat, and as with most other such things
in life, it is up to us to step up and take it. Accepting this huge
present can be intimidating, but that is what Judaism is so much about -
knowing that we are worthy of such gifts.

From my own experience I know that the immense effort that is put into
Shabbat 1000 is very much worthwhile. It provides a branch that anyone
can grab. A person can be interested in Judaism without knowing it, and
what they need is someone who cares that they are Jewish and can provide
some exposure to the Jewish way of life.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                    New Center for Chabad at Harvard

Chabad at Harvard recently dedicated its new $1.5 million Banks Street
campus center. Chabad activities on campus began in 1997 in a small
apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded by Rabbi Hirsh and Elkie
Zarchi, the couple is popular with a students from a wide spectrum of
Jewish observance. Chabad Center activities include classes, holiday
programs, Shabbat services and meals, social service projects and other
events. The spacious new center boasts a dining room with seating for
more than 100, a large common area suitable for study or prayer, offices
for administration and student leadership, a student lounge and a
courtyard to accommodate large events.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                    Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5721 [1961]

Greeting and Blessing:

Thank you for your letter of May 8th.

Now that we are approaching the Festival of Shovuoth, the Season of Our
Receiving the Torah, I send you my prayerful wishes for a happy and
inspiring Yom Tov, and, the words of my father-in-law of saintly memory,
to receive the Torah with joy and inwardness.

With Blessing,

I trust that the enclosed copy of my recent message to the delegates of
the Chabad Women will be of particular interest to your wife and

P.S. The letter has been delayed for technical reasons. In the meantime
I just received yours of May 23, in which you write about your desire
and suggestion that Rabbi Shemtov join and lead the group visit. Now,
although it is my custom to wait in such a case to hear also directly
from the party concerned but in view of the importance and urgency of
the request, I will make an exception. My reply is that the suggestion
is a very good one, unless there are some compelling reasons to the
contrary. May I add that I am gratified to note that Rabbi Shemtov's
work and leadership in the Lubavitch affairs in England is so well

                                *  *  *

                        Freely translated letter

                    Wednesday, 9 Sivan, 5704 [1944]

Greetings and blessings,

In response to the invitation to your wedding, may it take place in a
good and auspicious hour, I am sending my blessings of Mazel Tov, Mazel
Tov. May you build a house in Israel on the foundations and the inner
dimensions of the Torah and its mitzvos [commandments].

The universal marriage, the bond between the Holy One, blessed be He,
and the Jewish people is the holiday of Shavuos. As our Sages comment in
the Mechilta, in the Torah portion of Yisro (quoted by Rashi in his
commentary to the Torah, the beginning of Parshas Berachah), G-d came
out to greet the people as a groom goes out to greet his bride.

We rule that the Torah was given on 6 Sivan, as the Alter Rebbe [Rabbi
Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidim] writes in his Shulchan Aruch
(494:1). (This is reflected by our custom with regard to the reading of
the Torah, as indicated by Rashi's statements in Megillah 31a, entry
viha'idna.) Thus the seven days of the wedding celebrations extend until
- and including - the twelfth of Sivan. This can be related to the
concept that compensation for the Shavuos offerings may be brought until
- and including - that date (Chagigah 17a). A connection can be drawn to
our Sages' statement (Yoma 4b) that according to the opinion that the
Torah was given on 6 Sivan, the days until and including 12 Sivan were
distinct - on them Moshe was set aside [in preparation for ascending to
Mount Sinai during which he received Divine revelations] - from the days
that followed.

Thus everyone agrees that these days are included in the seven days of
the wedding celebrations of the Groom, the King of kings, the Holy One,
blessed be He.

Our Sages' state (Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer, the conclusion of ch. 16):
"Just as a king's face shines like the orb of the sun;" - as it is
written: [Proverbs 16:15] "There is life in the light of the king's
countenance" (Rav David Luria) -; "so, too, the face of a groom shines
like the orb of the sun." Similarly, may it be His will that G-d shine
His countenance upon you, enabling all the blessing granted to you by my
revered father-in-law, the Rebbe Shlita, to be fulfilled.

With blessings of mazal tov; "Immediately to teshuvah [repentance];
immediately to Redemption,"

                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
June 10, 2003 - Sivan 10, 5763

Positive Mitzva 113

The Red Cow

This mitzva is based on the verse (Num. 19:1-9) "Have them bring you a
red cow...It shall be kept for the congregation of the Children of
Israel." The Torah commands us to use this rare cow for a unique mitzva
- the purification of a Jew from the impurity of contact with a dead
body. This cow must have no blemishes and have never been used for other
purposes. It is burnt and its ashes are mixed with the Nida water. This
water is sprinkled on the person purifying himself. The person who burns
the cow helps purify someone else, but, at the same time, he himself
becomes impure.Since creation, only nine red cows have been used for
purification. Moses prepared the first one. The tenth will be prepared
by Moshiach.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The holiday of Shavuot is a special day for numerous reasons. It is the
day on which the Jews stood before Mount Sinai, unified as one people,
to receive the holy Torah. It is also the holiday on which the first
fruits were brought to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem; thousands of
pilgrims descended on Jerusalem for that special event.

On a more individual level, Shavuot is the yahrtzeit of the Baal Shem
Tov-founder of the Chasidic movement, and King David-one of the greatest
Kings of Israel and author of the Psalms.

What more appropriate time is there, then, to re-dedicate ourselves to
the study of the Torah and the observance of its precepts. As
individuals, we can use as our role models the saintly Baal Shem Tov and
King David.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that the sincere feelings with which the
simple, unlearned Jew performed the mitzvot was of great worth to G-d.
In re-dedicating ourselves to Torah, we needn't be concerned that we are
unlearned or might have to start at the beginning with the alef-bet.
Doing it with a whole heart is what matters.

King David, too, was involved with the emotions of the heart. Countless
people have been uplifted by his beautiful, poetic Psalms. The words of
the Psalms, in fact, were so comforting and soothing that they became
the beacon of light for Jews throughout the ages during times of trouble
or difficulty.

As individuals, and as a unified Jewish nation, let us rededicate
ourselves to Torah this Shavuot-Torah study, Torah precepts, Torah

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT

                            The Name Shavuot

"Shavuot" comes from the word "shvua" - oath. On the day that the Torah
was given, both G-d and the Jewish people made a mutual vow to each
other. We swore to G-d that we would never exchange Him for another god
and He swore to us that He will never exchange us for another nation.

                                              (Or Hachaim Hakodesh)

                                *  *  *

                            Torah and Water

The words of Torah are likened to water, and indeed there are many
similarities: Water naturally flows from a higher place to a lower
place. So, too, words of Torah flow from a person who is on a high level
and is understood by someone on a lower level. Water does not keep well
in a container of gold or silver, but rather a simple earthen container
holds it best. Similarly, Torah cannot exist in a haughty person; the
person must make himself into an "earthen vessel," humble and
modest.Water comes down drop-by-drop in the rain, gathers together and
forms rivulets. Torah, too, is studied little-by-little, until a person
becomes a deep repository of Torah knowledge.

                                *  *  *

      The Additional Day of Yom-Tov (the holiday) in the Diaspora

After the Redemption, when the advent of the New Moon and the
proclamation of Rosh Chodesh will once again be determined by the
testimony of eye-witnesses, there will no longer be any doubt as to
which day was sanctified as such because it will then be possible to
inform all Jews of this instantly. It could be argued that even then we
will celebrate the Additional Day of Yom-Tov - simply because Jews have
been accustomed to doing so for so long. This is similar to Shavuot,
concerning which there is no doubt, since its timing hinges not on a
particular date in the month, but on the counting of fifty days from the
fifteenth of the month of Nissan. By then, the emissaries from the Holy
Temple were surely able to reach any outlying community and to inform
them which day had been sanctified as Rosh Chodesh Nissan (and
consequently which day was Passover). Nevertheless, even though Shavuot
thus involves no calendric doubt, an additional day is celebrated so as
not to discriminate between the Three Pilgrim Festivals and downgrading

                                    (The Rebbe, Simchat Torah 5749)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
In honor of the anniversary of the passing of King David on Shavuot, we
present this story from his youth.

Once there lived in the Land of Israel a very wealthy Jew. Upon his
death, he passed on to his wife all of his great wealth. The widow
decided to leave her city in search of a place with less memories. Her
main concern before going on her journey, was to find a place where she
could safely leave her vast inheritance.

She came upon the idea of hiding her gold coins in earthen containers,
which she filled with honey. She then asked one of her late husband's
close friends if he would watch over her jars of honey while she was
away. The friend was happy to oblige.

Months passed. One day, the friend was preparing a festive meal for his
son's forthcoming marriage and they had run out of honey. The friend
remembered the honey which had been left in his safekeeping by the
widow. "Certainly there can be no harm in my borrowing some of the
honey," the friend conjectured. "I will replace it tomorrow," he assured

Imagine the friend's surprise when he dipped a large spoon deep into the
honey and it came out with two gold coins stuck to it. Again and again
the friend dipped the spoon into the honey, and each time it came up
with a small fortune. "No one but the widow and myself know that there
is money in these earthen jars," thought the friend. And with that, he
emptied the jars of all the gold. The next day he quickly refilled the
jars to the very top with the sweet, golden syrup.

A few weeks passed and the widow returned to her home-town. She had
found a suitable home in a different village where she was certain she
would be able to start a new life for herself. When she asked her
husband's friend for the honey jars back he was only too happy to return
them to her. She thanked him for having 'guarded' them for her all this

The widow hurried home with the jars and, once inside, set out to
retrieve the gold coins she had placed there months before. At first,
she did not become alarmed when the spoon came up empty. But as the
minutes passed, and she did not come up with one gold coin, she became
hysterical. She took each jar to the back of the house and poured out
the honey. She searched inside the jars but found nothing.

Beside herself with grief, the widow ran to the "friend's" house, only
to find that he denied any knowledge of the gold coins. "You left jars
of honey in my care and I have returned the exact jars of honey that you
gave me."

The widow had no choice but to take him to court. The judge, however,
noting that there had been no witnesses to the widow's claims that she
had put gold in the jars, could not come to a verdict. He sent the case
to a higher court, which eventually referred it to King Saul, himself.
King Saul, however, also had no clue as to how to decide the case.

While on a walk in the countryside, the widow began to sob bitterly. A
young shepherd noticed her bent and broken figure, and approached to
offer his assistance. The widow smiled at this innocent lad, and told
him her sad story.

"I have an idea that might help prove that the jars were filled with
gold," said young David. 'Go to King Saul, and tell him that David, son
of Jesse, would like to come to his court and to help settle this

The widow was touched at the young boy's sincerity. "My dear child," she
said, "I have been sent to the King by the highest court in Israel, for
they could not reach a decision. How, then, do you think that you will
be able to help me?"

"Certainly G-d will help you. Just maybe, that help is meant to come
through a young, simple shepherd such as I," David replied. The woman
went to King Saul with David's request.

King Saul was intrigued with the young boy's offer and invited him to
come to the court. The "friend" was also summoned to the court. Over and
over, the thief swore on all that was holy that he had returned the
exact same jars that he had been given.

"What do you say about this, my son?" asked King Saul to the young

David asked that one of the jars be brought to him and in this way he
would be able to prove the truth in the widow's words. David lifted the
jar above his head and smashed it against the floor. He then carefully
inspected the shards of pottery that were at his feet. Triumphantly, he
help up one piece of the jar and waved it in the air. Stuck to the
pottery was a gold coin that had been overlooked by the thief, and the

The thief's evil deed had now been proven. All of Israel heard of the
wisdom of the young shepherd, David, who later became one of the
greatest kings of the Jewish people and from whom Moshiach is descended.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
Chasidic philosophy explains that Moshe was humbled when he saw the
Divine service of the "generation of the heels of Moshiach." Moshe, who
received the Torah from Sinai and spoke with G-d face to face, certainly
had no problem attaining the loftiest level of Divine service.
Nevertheless, when he saw a simple Jew thrown about in the diaspora,
fulfill Torah and mitzvot (commandments), he was humbled. At the time of
the "heels of Moshiach," in that terrible darkness, and suffering
inconceivable problems, when a Jew keeps Torah and mitzvot even Moshe
gives homage.

                                         (The Rebbe, Shavuot, 5746)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 772 - Shavuos 5763

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