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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 666
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                           Copyright (c) 2001
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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             THE WEEKLY PUBLICATION FOR EVERY JEWISH PERSON
   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
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        April 27, 2001       Sazria-Metzora        4 Iyyar, 5761
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                           Moving To Moshiach

                            By Yehudis Cohen

Do you remember a time when there was something new going on in your
life? Attending a different school, getting married, having a baby,
moving to a new neighborhood, redecorating your house?

If you're like most people, this new aspect of your life was
all-consuming, at least for awhile.

I can relate. We recently moved. "It has a lot of potential," the real
estate agent had said with a smile when he showed us the house for the
first time. Seven months later, with workers still leaving their power
drills out for my children to find and with the fumes and sounds of work
going on around me as I try to concentrate on my work, I can relate.

"All-consuming" meant that wherever I went and with whomever I spoke,
eventually (sooner more often than later) I would somehow bring "the
house" into the conversation. It was always on my mind. Not that I ever
planned to blab about it to total strangers while waiting in line at the
supermarket or bore my friends who were sick of hearing about it. But I
was so involved with choosing paint colors (did you ever realize how
many shades of white there are?) and light fixtures and sending out
change of address notifications and packing boxes that I was literally
consumed by "the house."

Which doesn't mean that I didn't work on L'Chaim and cook supper and
organize monthly women's programs. But now everything was colored by my
involvement with - on a constant  basis -  fixing up, moving into and
unpacking "the house."

It occurred to me a few weeks ago that my obsession with the house was a
glimpse of what the Rebbe meant when he said that everything we do
should be infused with the intention of bringing Moshiach and the
awareness that we are on the threshold of the Redemption.

Through studying Torah in general and topics connected with Moshiach and
the Redemption in particular, the Rebbe said we hasten the Redemption -
an era of inner harmony and international peace, an end to poverty and
sickness, and unbounded knowledge. But even more, we actually begin to
"live with Moshiach." The desire for the Redemption would take up much
of our head-space and bubble over into our conver-sations.

This fixation with Moshiach (or in my case, "the house") does not mean
that we disengage ourselves from any healthy pursuits in which we
currently participate. On the contrary, we should continue our
activities and infuse them with thoughts and talk about Moshiach and the
Redemption. "Mei-siach"-"from talking" has the same Hebrew letters as
"Moshiach." By studying and then sharing what we've learned with others
about Moshiach, we live, breathe, sleep and think the hopes and
aspirations of the Jewish people for the past two thousand years.

*********************************************************************
           LIVING WITH THE REBBE  -  THE WEEKLY TORAH PORTION
*********************************************************************
The name of a Torah portion is indicative of its contents and theme. The
name of the first of this week's two readings, Tazria  (literally "when
[she] shall conceive") is therefore surprising at first glance, as the
entire portion deals with the affliction of leprosy rather than
conception and birth. In fact, the Biblical plague of leprosy was the
most severe form of spiritual uncleanliness, leading our Sages to
declare, "The leper is considered as if dead."

Tazria, however, is an allusion to the positive, inner purpose of all
the afflictions and punishments that are prescribed in the Torah, as
will be explained:

G-d is the epitome of goodness and loving-kindness. He doesn't punish
anyone for the sake of being punitive. His sole intention is to refine
and purify the person, to remove the "shell" that was created by his
sins, and to elevate him to a higher level. All of the Torah's
punishments, even the most stringent, are for the ultimate good of the
recipient.

This is also the inner intention of the Biblical plague of leprosy
(tzara'at), as distinguished from the modern day illness known as
Hansen's Disease. As Maimonides explains, the physical manifestations of
tzara'at were miraculous in nature, and were visited on an individual
for the sin of lashon hara (gossip). "The first symptoms would appear on
a person's house; if he repented, the house would be purified. If he
persisted in his wickedness until the house was destroyed, the leather
garments in his house would begin to change... If he persisted in his
wickedness until they had to be burned, the clothing he wore would be
afflicted." It was only if a person did not return to G-d after all
these warnings that any symptoms of tzara'at would appear on his body.

Once this happened, the afflicted person had to temporarily leave the
rest of society and dwell in isolation. The purpose of this period of
separation and reflection was to transform the former sinner into a new
entity, one that was purified and refined.

The name of the Torah portion, Tazria, thus reveals the true objective
of all the Biblical plagues: the "birth" of a new being, a purer and
holier Jew.

This is also the inner meaning of the Jewish people's exile. During the
exile, we "sow" mitzvot and good deeds that they may "grow" and flourish
when Moshiach comes. The reward we will receive in the Messianic era
will not be dissociated from our present service; on the contrary, it
will be the natural outgrowth of all the "seeds" we are planting now.

May we merit to see this immediately.

                           Adapted from Volume 22 of Likutei Sichot

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                             SLICE OF LIFE
*********************************************************************
                   Ariel Sharon and the Rebbe: Part I

It was shortly after the Six Day War in 1967 when a group of Chabad
Chasidim set up a tefilin stand in front of the newly-liberated Western
Wall in Jerusalem. Among the tens of thousands of Jews who put on
tefilin was Ariel Sharon.

Among those present that day at the Wall was Rabbi Chaim Gutnick of
Australia, who was visiting Israel. When Rabbi Gutnick had a private
audience (yechidut) with the Rebbe not long afterward, he told the Rebbe
about having seen Sharon. "Nu, and what happened next?" the Rebbe had
asked.

Unfortunately, a terrible tragedy took place in the Sharon household
only a few weeks later. Ariel Sharon was at home with his two sons, Omri
and Gur, when all of a sudden a shot rang out, followed by a scream.
"Gur was 11 years old," Sharon later recalled. "Just minutes before he
had walked into my room, given me a mock salute and announced that he
was going outside to play. I heard the shot, walked outside and found
him on the ground, blood pouring from a wound over his eye. I picked him
up and ran. I could see that he was dying in my arms.

"This is something a person thinks that he can never overcome, that it
is impossible to continue with your life. At that moment, your whole
world is destroyed. I thought so, too. The pain is constant and
unrelenting; it is always there. But people are tested all the time.
Some people are able to withstand even the very worst trials and
continue to function. I was fortunate to have the strength to do this."

When Rabbi Yitzchak Gansburg, a Chasid living in Kfar Chabad, heard
about the accident, he visited Sharon to perform the mitzva of
comforting a mourner. As he recalls:

"When I got there it was early evening. Arik's house was filled with
army generals, including Chief of Staff Yitzchak Rabin. As soon as he
saw me he called me over into a side room and asked me what I, as a
religious person, thought about the tragedy.

"I said to him, 'Look, I'm only a simple Jew. I don't know what to tell
you. The only thing I suggest is that you write to the Lubavitcher
Rebbe. He will give you the right answers.'

"He didn't understand why he should suddenly write the Rebbe a letter. I
explained that the Rebbe is the leader of the entire Jewish people, and
that every individual Jew's pain is the Rebbe's pain. He decided to
write a letter that very night. I told him I would come back the next
morning to pick it up."

The next day Rabbi Gansburg arrived with several other Lubavitchers.
"First we prayed the evening service and Sharon said Kaddish. Then he
gave us his complete attention. He told us that his son Gur had a real
Chasidic neshama (soul). We left him a talit and tefilin and a
prayerbook. When we told him that the Rebbe had asked about him during
yechidut, he said that he had been very emotionally inspired while
standing at the Wall. Before we left he asked us to please ask the Rebbe
to write him a few words of encouragement, as the tragedy had affected
him to the depths of his being. His close friend Zev Amit walked us to
the door and told us that Arik had been looking forward to our visit."

The Rebbe's letter of response to Sharon was sent to Rabbi Gansburg, who
personally delivered it to him. "Sharon read the letter very carefully
and we discussed it for an hour and a half."

It was around that time that the Jewish Agency sent Sharon to the United
States. When Rabbi Gansburg heard about the impending trip, he suggested
to Sharon that he take the opportunity to meet the Rebbe in person.

Upon his return from America, Sharon told Rabbi Gansburg about his first
yechidut with the Rebbe. "Before I went in to the Rebbe," he told Rabbi
Gansburg, "I assumed I would be meeting a Chasidic Rabbi whose only
field of expertise was in Torah. I was astounded when the Rebbe began to
talk about defense issues so authoritatively one would have thought he
was a general in the IDF! He spoke about the different kinds of weapons
in use by the Israeli forces. The Rebbe even asked me why we were using
a certain gun instead of a superior model. The Rebbe was so thoroughly
familiar with all our military vehicles it was as if he was receiving
daily intelligence updates!"

 The newspaper Maariv ran an article about this first encounter between
 the Rebbe and Sharon:

"This past Thursday, General Sharon had a very instructive meeting with
the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The meeting began at 1:00 a.m. and concluded at 3
in the morning. The Lubavitcher Rebbe demonstrated an unusual degree of
knowledge about Israel's military, security and politics, as well as
international relations, particularly the goings-on in Washington. The
Rebbe also showed an extremely detailed knowledge of the battles of the
Six Day War.

" 'Our greatest mistake,' the Rebbe told General Sharon, 'would be to
withdraw from our new borders... We must stop trying to please the
gentiles. This approach has never helped, and it will never help. There
must be no hesitation on the part of Israel. We must uproot the exile
from Eretz Yisrael.'

"The Rebbe added, 'If the government were to decide that the
newly-liberated territories should be settled, and issued a call to
world Jewry to that end, I am sure that a half-million young Jews would
respond to the challenge.'

"Regarding the various solutions now being put forward involving either
full or partial withdrawal, the Lubavitcher Rebbe said that these plans
are liable to cause a worsening of tensions in the future. 'These are
solutions that defy the natural order,' the Rebbe declared. In his
opinion, the current borders of Israel are its natural borders.

"The Rebbe added painfully that everything that goes on in the Israeli
government is immediately known to the world at large. 'Why doesn't the
Israeli army state its opinion [about the borders] forcefully?' he asked
General Sharon. 'It's a political issue...' Sharon replied. The Rebbe
responded with a dismissive wave of the hand. 'It is not a political
issue, it is a matter of security. I believe in full faith that we can
and must settle the territories.' "

                        Continued in next issue.


                             Reprinted from Beis Moshiach magazine.

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                               WHAT'S NEW
*********************************************************************
                           Torah Teen Resort

Torah Teen Resort is entering its fifth successful summer. Run by
N.C.F.J.E., the "organization with a heart," this four-week camp for
teenage boys in the Catskill Mountains offers all the amenities of a
regular overnight camp experience such as trips, sports, camping,
workshops, and hiking as well as hands-on Jewish living. The Torah Teen
Resort experience emphasizes personal growth and leadership skills. This
year's program runs from June 28 - July 26. For more info call
1-800-33-NCFJE or e-mail them at torahteen@juno.com. You can also visit
their website: www.members.tripod.com/torahteen.

*********************************************************************
                            THE REBBE WRITES
*********************************************************************
                       18th of Iyar, 5720 [1960]

Greeting and Blessing:

I received your letter of the 27th of Nissan, and I was very pleased to
read in it that your visit in London was enjoyable and beneficial to
you. I trust that you will be in communication with your friends
there...

With reference to your general frame of mind, I believe I have written
to you before about the importance of having absolute faith in G-d, by
which I mean the sense and feeling that G-d's Benevolent Providence
watches over all the daily affairs of every individual and in every
particular. If you will take time out to reflect upon your own affairs
you will undoubtedly see how the Divine Providence has participated in
them...

We are at present in the period connecting the Festival of Pesach, the
Season of our Freedom, with the Festival of Shavuoth, the Season of our
receiving the Torah. Both Festivals complement each other in that they
brought to the Jewish people not only freedom from moral and physical
slavery, but also good health and freedom from all kinds of distractions
and difficulties, in order to be able to serve G-d in good health and
with a happy frame of mind.

With blessing,


                                *  *  *



                       20th of Iyar, 5726  [1966]

Blessing and Greeting:

I am in receipt of your letter of May 9th, in which you write about your
son and his emotional state, etc.

You are certainly quite right in thinking that he should not be taken
out of the Yeshiva and placed in a public school. Those who think that
this change would help his state of mind are very much mistaken, for the
effect upon Jewish children in general, and your son in particular,
would be in the opposite direction.

As for the question of where there is a Jewish place where he could be
accom-modated, it would be well for you to inquire from the Torah
u'Mesorah organization in New York City or similar organizations.

When you write to me next, please mention his Hebrew name and also your
Hebrew name, as is customary in such a case, and I will remember him in
prayer.

With blessing,


P.S. With regard to seeing me personally, it is not necessary, inasmuch
as my advice to you would be the same as mentioned above.


                                *  *  *



                       12th of Iyar, 5729 [1969]

Prof. - , M.D., Ph. D.

Department of Neurology

Greeting and Blessing:

I duly received your letter in connection with the "Evening with
Chasidism" which was arranged by the Friends of Merkos in the Twin
Cities.

Although the letter reached me with some delay, after I had already
received reports on the success of the affair and the warm response that
it had evoked, I was very pleased to receive your letter and to note
your personal interest and leading participation in the activities of
the Friends of Merkos. However, this acknowledgment is intended to be
more than a matter of protocol, for the important thing is that the
affair should have continuity, since the response was primarily in the
form of aroused interest and by way of introduction to practical things
to follow. And although you and your friends are surely doing everything
possible in this direction, I trust that these lines will add some
stimulation, in accordance with the saying of our Sages, "Encourage the
energetic." An important outcome of this and similar affairs is the
raising of funds for physical facilities to carry on important youth
activities and functions. All the more so that soon vacation time will
be with us, and it will be necessary to intensify these activities, for
which suitable premises are, of course, a first prerequisite.

I am confident that your personal efforts, as well as the concerted
efforts of all the Friends of Merkos in the Twin Cities, will meet with
the deserved success, especially as we have the promise, "He who is
determined to purify himself and others (according to the emphasis of
the Alter Rebbe [Rabbi Shneur Zalman], founder of Chabad) receives help
from On High."

Considering the vital cause, the help from On High should be very
considerable.

I take this opportunity to express my gratification also at your
reporting on Rabbi Feller's inspiring leadership, and of the growing
number of fellow Jews who take advantage of the educational activites of
Lubavitch. No doubt your good self and other faculty members set a fine
example to others.

May you all go from strength to strength in this direction.

With blessing,

*********************************************************************
                            RAMBAM THIS WEEK
*********************************************************************
4 Iyar 5761

Prohibition 62: swearing a vain oath

By this prohibition we are forbidden to swear a vain oath. It is
contained in the Torah's words (Ex. 20:7): "You shall not take the name
of the L-rd your G-d in vain." This means swearing that an existing
object is not what it is in fact; that something exists which is
impossible; swearing to violate any of the Torah's commandments; or
swearing to a self-evident fact.

*********************************************************************
                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
*********************************************************************
It is traditional to study Ethics of the Fathers on Shabbat afternoons
in the weeks between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot. Accordingly,
this Shabbat we focus on Chapter 2, which contains the following Mishna:

"Rabbi [Yehuda HaNasi] said: Which is the right path that a person
should choose for himself? ...Be as careful in [the performance of a
seemingly] minor mitzva as of a major one, for you do not know the
reward given for the mitzvot."

The Torah contains a total of 613 command-ments. Some of them are very
particular and pertain to a specific time and place, such as the law
that all fourth-year fruits of certain species grown in the Land of
Israel be brought to Jeru-salem and eaten there. Other mitzvot are
broader in scope, such as the prohibition against making images for the
purpose of worshipping them.

In general, mitzvot are divided into three categories: statutes,
testimonies, and judgments. Statutes are commandments that are entirely
above and beyond our understanding. We do not know why we are supposed
to observe them.

Testimonies are commandments that we would never have come up with on
our own. But once G-d commanded us to obey them, we can under-stand
their rationale. They "make sense" to us.

Judgments are commandments that are compelled by logic, rational laws we
would want to keep even without the Torah. Human understanding alone
would have led us to realize their necessity.

The difference between all these categories of mitzvot- minor and major,
rational and not - stems from how much we as human beings are able to
understand the "why" behind them. In terms of their essence, however,
all mitzvot are an expression of G-d's will, and are the same. The
common denominator is that when a Jew does a mitzva he connects himself
to G-d, and in this respect all mitzvot are alike. The converse is also
true: If, G-d forbid, a Jew transgresses even a tiny "little" one, the
damage he inflicts affects the entirety of his connection to G-dliness.

So, "Be as careful in [the performance of a seemingly] minor mitzva as
of a major one," for "big" or "small," you're still making G-d happy by
doing what He wants.

*********************************************************************
                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
*********************************************************************
When a woman conceives and gives birth to a male, she shall be impure
for seven days (Lev. 12:2)

In principle, spiritual impurity is caused by the departure of holiness.
A holy place or object becomes unclean when the sanctity that once
rested on it is no longer there. (It is for this reason that a dead body
is considered impure, i.e., the soul that animated it has departed.) Our
Sages taught that only G-d holds the "key" to the miracle of birth; only
He can "open" the womb or keep it closed. Every birth is therefore a
manifestation of holiness, after which the sanctity departs, creating a
state of spiritual impurity.

                                                (The Kotzker Rebbe)


Upon the completion of the days of her purity for a son or for a
daughter (Lev. 12:6)

Up until the "completion of the days of her purity" the newborn is
referred to as a "male" or "female"; only afterward does the Torah call
the baby a "son" or "daughter." According to the Torah, 30 days must
elapse before a neonate is considered out of danger.

                                                  (Meshech Chochma)


And on the eighth day shall he be circumcised (Lev. 12:3)

"How great is the Sabbath," it states in the Midrash, "that an infant
isn't circumcised until he has passed [at least one] Shabbat." Another
explanation: Experiencing the Shabbat sanctifies the infant, rendering
him worthy of entering the Covenant of Abraham.

                                                    (Yalkut Yehuda)


On the day of his purification he shall be brought to the kohen (priest)
(Lev. 14:2)

Why does the leper have to be brought to the kohen on the same day he is
purified? The Biblical plague of leprosy was the consequence of the sin
of lashon hara (gossip); when a person habitually engages in a certain
behavior, it becomes second nature. On the day the leper was purified,
the urge to fall back into his old habits was aroused. He was therefore
brought to the kohen for an infusion of strength to be able to resist
it.

                                                    (Rabbi Hershel)

*********************************************************************
                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
*********************************************************************
"Where will we be staying?" Reb Yeshaya Berlin asked Rabbi Shmuel of
Lubavitch (known as the Rebbe Maharash, fourth leader of Chabad, whose
birthday was this past Wednesday, 2 Iyar) upon their arrival in Paris.

"At the Alexander Hotel," the Rebbe replied. The Chasidim accompanying
the Rebbe on this special trip were surprised. The Alexander Hotel was
famous as one of the most luxurious establishments in the city. Members
of royalty and other high-ranking dignitaries were its usual guests.
"Common" people, no matter how wealthy, never dreamt of crossing its
threshold. Yet this was where the Rebbe wished to stay.

The Rebbe then told the Chasidim that he would do the talking, as none
of the other members of his entourage spoke French. In fact, the Rebbe
Maharash was fluent in many foreign languages, among them Russian,
French and Latin. He was also extremely well read in a wide range of
subjects and disciplines, in addition to his outstanding scholarship in
both the revealed and esoteric aspects of Torah.

At the front desk of the hotel the Rebbe announced that he was
interested in reserving a suite of rooms. "There are several suites
available at present," the clerk replied, "at a cost of 200 francs per
night." It was an almost unimaginable sum of money in those days.

But the Rebbe wasn't satisfied. "Perhaps you have something better?" he
inquired. "I wish to stay on the same floor as the game room," the Rebbe
insisted. The clerk consulted the register for a moment. "You're in
luck," he told the Rebbe. "There's an empty suite next door to the
casino." He then quoted a price far higher than 200 francs. The Rebbe
asked to reserve three rooms - one for himself, two for the rest of his
entourage - but the Chasidim were in no financial position to stay at
the Alexander, and found lodging elsewhere.

The Rebbe went up to his quarters and remained there for several hours.
In the meantime, the Chasidim came back from their hotel and waited
outside the Rebbe's room.

The Rebbe's face was very serious when he eventually opened the door.
Much to everyone's astonishment, he then strode purposefully over to the
hotel's gambling casino and went inside.

Needless to say, the players at the gaming tables were unaccustomed to
guests of the Rebbe's stature joining them in their pursuits. Eyebrows
were raised throughout the hall. Trailing after him, the Chasidim were
just as baffled as the gamblers. But, from long experience they knew
that Rabbi Shmuel certainly had his reasons.

At one of the tables sat a young Jewish man, engrossed in a game of
cards. In front of him was a goblet of wine, from which he sipped every
now and then. The Rebbe walked over and sat down next to him.

For the first few minutes the Rebbe said nothing and the man continued
playing. Then the Rebbe suddenly stretched out his arm and placed a hand
on the young man's shoulder. "Young man," the Rebbe said, "it is
forbidden to drink the wine of gentiles."

The Rebbe paused a moment to let his words his words sink in.
"Non-kosher wine dulls the mind and the heart," he continued, adding the
admonition, "Be a Jew." Without further ado the Rebbe stood up, wished
him a good night and left the casino.

The Rebbe Maharash was clearly very agitated. Reb Yeshaya Berlin later
commented that he never saw the Rebbe in such an emotional state.

A few hours later the young Jewish man was seen making inquiries as to
the whereabouts of the gentleman who had spoken to him in the casino.
The Chasidim rushed over to show him where the Rebbe was staying, and he
was admitted.

The private conversation that ensued lasted several hours. The next
morning, the Rebbe Maharash left the hotel.

"It has been many generations since such a pure soul has come down to
earth," the Rebbe later explained, referring to the young man.
"Unfortunately, it had fallen into the depths of kelipa [the forces of
evil]."

Whatever was discussed, the encounter proved to be a turning point in
the young man's life. No longer estranged from Yiddishkeit, he returned
to full observance of Torah and mitzvot soon afterward. Today, his
descendents are G-d fearing, religious Jews.

This was the extent of the Rebbe Maharash's love for his fellow Jew,
even one he had never met before.

*********************************************************************
                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
*********************************************************************
Why do our Sages describe Moshiach as a "metzora" (one afflicated with a
disease resembling leprosy, where blotches form on the skin) and the
Holy Temple as "a house afflicted with 'leprosy' "? Since there are
blotches of evil in the world that prevent the light of redemption from
being manifest, the power of these lights is turned inward and is
reflected in the leprous blemishes to be visited on Moshiach and the
Temple. Ultimately, however, "the metzora will be purified" and the
inner light identified with him will be expressed throughout existence.
Then, "the spirit of impurity will be removed from the earth."

                         (From Keeping in Touch by Rabbi E. Touger)

*********************************************************************
            END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 666 - Sazria-Metzora 5761
*********************************************************************

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