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867: Achrei Mos

868: Kedoshim

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L'Chaim
May 6, 2005 - 27 Nisan, 5765

868: Kedoshim

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Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


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  867: Achrei Mos869: Emor  

Postage Due  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
The Rebbe Writes  |  Rambam this week  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

Postage Due

Have you ever submitted something through the post office - an application, a refund form, contest answers - and then waited anxiously for the response? You calculate the days. How long should it take to get from here to there? Five to 10 business days. And how long should it take for them to read it, process it, approve it, accept it (write the check)? At the most, say, three days. Another five to ten days on the way back.

Two weeks. For two weeks you try to put the anxiety out of mind, to think of other things. It can't come sooner, can it? There's no sense in counting yet, is there?

But of course you still worry, still review, still mentally redo and regret. Did I include this information? I should have told them about this event or that action. Did I include a return envelope?

And so you go over every step, wonder about every nuance - did they get it? And several times a day, you check for the mail, even when it's too early. If the mail is usually delivered at 11 a.m., by 10:45 you're waiting.

Days pass, there's no news, and you begin to worry. Did it get lost in the mail? And then, to your chagrin, the letter comes back - postage due. You forgot to put a stamp on the letter! Is it too late? You get a new envelope, hurry to the post office, and pay for overnight shipping. Oh, please let it be on time.

Sometimes we might feel our prayers come back "postage due." We do everything right - go to synagogue, get a prayer book, follow along, say the words, etc. But we don't "pay" for them to go anywhere. We don't "pay" attention, focusing on the meaning of the words. We don't pray with intention, with love and fear of G-d. Indeed, we may even allow thoughts foreign to the purpose of prayer to not only enter but to dominate our minds. (Will my ball team win? How will that presentation go?)

In such a case, we may feel that our prayers come back "postage due." We did not pray with the proper intention. We had no kavana, no focusing of the mind on G-d's greatness, on our love and fear of Him. Indeed, would that we had prayed with no intention at all, rather than ally our prayers with distracting, foreign thoughts.

Are such prayers useless? Should we throw them away, so to speak, as "postmarked" past the deadline?

No, for there is no deadline for prayers, even those said without proper concentration or full focus. As explained in the Tanya (the basic book of Chabad Chasidism) when we pray without intention, "entertaining alien thoughts," we can still "mail" our prayers heavenward. For, since our intention is for Heaven, that is, even though our thoughts may have wandered, we still prayed to G-d and only to G-d, therefore we can easily "put a stamp" on our prayers. When later we do "pray with proper intention, [then] even one full prayer [properly prayed] gathers from the prayers of the whole year" and elevates them all with itself.

And since G-d has no deadline, so to speak, once we pay the "postage due" - pray with intention - our prayers are postmarked and received.


Living with the Rebbe

This week's Torah portion Kedoshim, contains the commandment: "Sanctify yourselves and be holy." Man is commanded to sanctify himself even within the parameters of Torah law. Not only must he heed both positive and negative mitzvot, but he must also sanctify himself in those areas which the Torah has deemed permissible.

One might think that because these areas are not specifically spelled out in the Torah, this commandment is less important than others which are explained in great detail. But it is precisely this personal sanctification which has the power to bring the Final Redemption closer to reality.

Although learning Torah and performing mitzvot (commandments) requires the individual to subjugate, to a certain extent, his own personal desires to G-d's will, this in no way ensures that his inner nature will be purified and refined. But when a person, of his own accord and of his own volition, consistently behaves in the same dignified and respectful manner, no matter what the endeavor, it demonstrates that the Torah's holiness has penetrated his inner being and that he is totally committed to G-d.

At the same time, this imbues one's entire life with meaning, not only those areas directly involved with religious observance. A person who strives to sanctify himself at all times, however mundane his activity, reveals the G-dliness within all of creation and proves that no aspect of life is too insignificant to be used in the service of G-d.

This commandment has particular meaning for us now, as we stand on the threshold of the Final Redemption, for one of the main changes that will occur when Moshiach comes is the revelation of G-dliness that will suddenly become apparent. When Moshiach comes we will realize that G-d is indeed everywhere and that truly "there is nothing besides Him."

At the present time, holiness is manifested in a limited way. Today, it is the physical objects we use to perform mitzvot that are related to as holy. During the Messianic Era, however, we will easily recognize the G-dliness inherent in every detail of creation.

When Moshiach comes, G-d will be perceived as He exists - without any limitations whatsoever. G-d's desire to establish a dwelling place for Himself "down below" will be totally fulfilled and the purpose of creation realized.

Sanctifying even the most mundane aspects of our lives, therefore, not only prepares us for the imminent Redemption, but serves to bring Moshiach even closer.

Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe


A Slice of Life

Inspiration Times Three
by Steve Hyatt

Inspiration can come in all shapes and sizes. A little while ago, during a gathering at Chabad of Northern Nevada, a visiting rabbi told a story of a wagon driver who considered his job mundane and uninspiring.

One day he went to his rebbe (the fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe, known as the Rebbe Maharash) for some words of inspiration. When he finally had a chance to speak with the Rebbe privately, he was so nervous, all he could say was, "I am a simple wagon driver."

The Rebbe Maharash looked at the man and told him that his job afforded him a unique opportunity each day to lift his eyes to the heavens and to recognize G-d in everything.

Given the fact that our shul is located at the base of the magnificent Sierra Nevada Mountain range, the entire group seated around the table could relate to the Rebbe Maharash's insightful words. Despite the enormity of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and the unmatched splendor of nearby Lake Tahoe, three of the most inspirational examples of G-d's blessings in Northern Nevada may be Moshe, Chana and Rochel Cunin, five-year-old triplets of Rabbi Mendel and Sarah Cunin.

Recently, on the first night of Passover, when it came time for the "Mah Nishtana," the three popped up to stand on their chairs and beautifully and melodically chanted the questions that Jewish children have been asking their parents for over 3,300 years.

The Cunin triplets are members of Northern Nevada's first-ever Jewish pre-school. Despite the fact that they are just beginning to read and write, the triplets and their classmates have memorized myriad songs, prayers and passages as part of their daily lessons. Each member of this fledgling pre-school is an inspiration to their parents, friends and neighbors in our small Jewish community.

Some of the parents of the students, who previously were uninterested or unaware of their Jewish heritage, have watched their children flourish in the warm embrace of the Gan Sierra Pre School. Their young children inspire them to cultivate and build stronger Jewish roots at home.

During the Seder when the Cunin triplets stood up on their chairs, with smiles from ear to ear, and gleefully sang their songs and asked the Four Questions, I watched the reaction of the adults around the packed room. It was as if everyone of them was suddenly transported back in time, to a moment when they were the little ones standing on their chairs, singing for their Zaydes, Bobbes, Moms and Dads. As Moshe, Chana and Rochel sang each question from memory, the adults at the table let their minds drift back to a much simpler, loving, time in their lives.

In today's busy world, many of us think it is too late, too difficult, or to embarrassing to go back to our Jewish roots, to explore the teachings of Torah, and to live more observant lives. But in reality, it is never too late to take the first step toward a more spiritual, Torah-based life. A simple call to any Chabad House in the world will be met with an open, sincere, accepting invitation to learn at your own pace, information about our people, traditions, and rich heritage.

On the day before the first night of Passover, a Reno resident sent a letter to the local newspaper in which he questioned the ability of modern-day Jews to follow the Torah and its teachings in today's turbulent world. The writer stated clearly that he felt the commandments that G-d gave to Moses and the Jewish people are simply too difficult, challenging and unrealistic for "modern" human beings to follow. He was arguing that people simply do not possess the capacity to follow ten commandments, let alone 613.

After reading the letter to the editor I immediately realized that the writer had obviously never been to a Chabad House, that he had never sat down at a Shabbat table illuminated by the ambient glow of candles, and that he had most definitely never seen three inspirational members of the Reno Jewish community, who because of their parents and wonderful teachers, demonstrate daily just how easily one can make Torah part of one's daily life.

The Cunin triplets serve as inspiration for our entire community. As I watched them at the Seder I asked myself, if three five-year-olds can learn to honor Shabbat, eat kosher food, say kiddush on wine, light Shabbat candles, celebrate holidays, say blessings before and after eating, why is it so difficult for an adult to do so as well. If a five-year-old can see G-d's wondrous hand in the world around them, why can't we? If a five-year-old can proudly jump up on her chair and belt out the Four Questions, why are we so frightened to let a boss know that we need several days off to celebrate Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur or Passover? We don't want to be embarrassed or admit our ignorance about subjects of which we are unfamiliar. Sometimes it takes a little inspiration to capture our attention, motivate us and refocus our efforts in the right direction.

Inspiration can come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes we can be inspired by the glories of nature. Sometimes by inspirational community leaders and sometimes by three small members of our community who live, breathe and sing the joys of our heritage.

Steve Hyatt is the Human Resources Director of the Reno Gazette-Journal and can be contacted at shyatt@rgj.com

What's New

New Emissaries

Rabbi Chesky and Chani Tenenbaum will be arriving soon in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where Rabbi Tenenbaum will serve as administrator and progam director for Chabad of Upper Montgomery County.

Rabbi Yehuda and Faya Lipskier are establishing a new Chabad-Lubavitch Center on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, in the West 60s.

Rabbi Mendy and Tzipi Lipskier are moving to Chandler, Arizona to start a new preschool, Camp Gan Israel summer day camp and spearhead youth and teen programming at Chabad of the East Valley.


The Rebbe Writes

Erev-Shabbos Parshas Achrei Kedoshim, 5734 [1974]
To All Participants in the Institute for Brides and Grooms
Oak Park, Michigan

Blessing and Greeting:

I was pleased to be informed about the resumption of your annual series of lectures on the basic Jewish concepts affecting brides and grooms. May G-d grant that the sessions should be carried out with the utmost Hatzlocho [success] and effectiveness.

In accordance with the age-old Jewish custom to relate current events to the weekly Sedra [Torah portion], we are now reading in the Torah about the concept of holiness. Indeed, the Sedra Kedoshim begins with the Divine command, "You shall be holy, for I, G-d your G-d, am holy." This clearly brings out the point of what is expected of Jews, namely, to advance on the road of holiness to such an extent as to attain such a high level of holiness which is almost like G-d's Holiness. At the same time, these very words also explain how it is possible for a human being to attain such a high level of holiness. The answer is, "For I, G-d your G-d, am holy. In other words, it is of G-d's Holiness that you partake and what makes it possible is that every Jew has a soul which is "actually a part of G-dliness Above."

Such holiness is attained through the observance of the holy Mitzvoth [commandments] in general, as explained in the Tanya (ch. 46). But it is particularly connected with the Mitzvo of Taharas Hamishpocho, the purity and holiness of the Jewish family, as can also be deducted from the commentaries of our Sages to the said verse.

While, no doubt, these concepts will surely be fully discussed at your sessions, you will of course put the proper emphasis on the actual observance of the Mitzvoth, in accordance with the principle of Our Sages that the"essential things is the deed."

With blessing for Hatzlocho and good tidings in all above,


26th of Nissan, 5714 [1954]

Sholom uBrocho [Peace and blessing]:

I have received your invitation to the Bar Mitzvah of your elder son -, which will take place on Shabbos, p[arshat]. Emor, 5th of Iyar, and I wish you Mazzal-Tov on this occasion.

It would be superfluous to speak of the importance of Bar Mitzvah to you, to whom Jewish traditions and customs are personal experiences. However, I would like to emphasize that there is a significance and a message in the fact that the Bar Mitzvah is taking place at this time between Pesach [Passover] and Shovuoth.

The days of Sefirah [counting the omer] connecting the Festival of Our Freedom with the Festival of Our Receiving the Torah, are a period of transition and preparation, from freedom to FREEDOM. True freedom, to the Jew, cannot mean only freedom from external forces of evil, but also, and especially, inner freedom and harmony which only the Torah can give us and help to attain.

I trust that - will fully realize that his Bar Mitzvah marks a transition from 'slavery', in a sense, to full freedom, from any childish inclinations and habits to a life in full accord with the Torah and Mitzvoth incumbent upon every fully grown Jew. I send him my prayerful wishes to walk along this happy path with determination and joy, inspired by the Chassidic way of life of his ancestral home. And may you have much Yiddish Nachas [Jewish pride] from him and your other children, bless them.

With blessing,


Rambam this week

1 Iyar, 5765 - May 10, 2005

Positive Mitzva 98: Impurity of Food and Drink

This mitzva is based on the verse (Lev. 11:34) "Of all the food which may be eaten...and all drink that may be drunk" Food and drink can become impure if they have come in contact with a source of impurity.


A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

The 2nd of Iyar (May 11 this year) we commemorate the birthday of the fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel, known as the Rebbe Maharash.

One of the most memorable and pithy maxims that we have from the Rebbe Maharash is the saying, "L'Chatchila Ariber" - which means, "In the first place, go over."

The Rebbe Maharash mentioned this concept - which has been the constant battle cry of Lubavitch outreach workers all over the world - in reference to one who finds himself faced with an obstacle. "The whole world says, first try to go under or around an obstacle. If this doesn't work, then go over it," the Rebbe Maharash noted. "But I say, 'In the first place, go over,'" he declared.

What does it mean to go over an obstacle right away rather than trying another method to pass an obstruction? In confronting obstacles to all good endeavors, one should take the most ambitious and aggressive approach. One cannot remain passive, hoping that the situation will change by itself or that the obstruction will magically disappear. It must be approached as a challenge. And, as such, it should be afforded one's utmost attention and energy.

In addition, when working at overcoming obstacles, we have to keep uppermost in our mind only positive thoughts and the image of the endeavor successfully accomplished. For this, too, will aid in our ultimate triumph and success.


Thoughts that Count

Every man shall fear his mother and his father, and My Sabbaths you shall keep (Lev. 19:3)

The Talmud teaches that there are three partners in the creation of a human being - the mother, the father, and G-d. It is, therefore, not sufficient for a person to honor only his parents; the third partner, G-d, demands His due as well: "And my Sabbaths you shall keep."

(Shuva Yisrael)


And you shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18)

The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, once related: As a four year old, I asked my father (Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber), "Why did G-d create two eyes and not one, as He did with the mouth and nose?" My father began explaining by asking: "In the Hebrew alphabet there are both the letter shin and the letter sin. What is the difference between them?" I answered that one has a dot on the right side, and one has a dot on the left side. My father explained: "There are things in the world at which we must look with the right eye, with love and affection, and things that we must see with the left eye, as if from a distance. For instance, we must look at the letters in a prayer book and at another Jew, with our right eye, and at candies and toys with the left..." This implanted love for a fellow Jew firmly in my heart. One must look favorably upon every single Jew, no matter who he is..."

(Likutei Dibburim)


You shall not go up and down as a talebearer among your people (Lev. 19:16)

A person's eyes and ears are not under his control, but his mouth is.

(Zohar)


It Once Happened

There is a story told of the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism, concerning a chasid who was in the publishing business. He wanted to publish and print Torah books, but he needed a government permit from the Minister of Education. He was very concerned about receiving it because the government wasn't favorable toward the Jews and was especially unwilling to print any sort of Jewish literature or in any way disseminate Jewish teachings. The printer, therefore, went to the Alter Rebbe, for a blessing and advice on what to do.

He was told to go to the city of Vilna, and there to speak to a certain individual who was the melamed (a teacher of young children). He was very puzzled because the Minister of Education was not in Vilna, but in S. Petersburg, and the melamed was a simple, ordinary person with no particular political insight or connections.

Nevertheless, if the Rebbe sent him there, he would go. In the city of Vilna he met with the melamed, who was equally puzzled. He said, "I have no idea why the Alter Rebbe would send you to me. I am an ordinary person. I have nothing to do with any kind of political issues, nor do I have any important connections."

The two of them went to a third chasid who had a position of some authority in that town. He did have some political connections, but nevertheless he also couldn't fathom the Rebbe's reason for sending the printer to their town. All three men being chasidim, decided that if the Alter Rebbe had sent him, then this had to be the place for him to be. The Rebbe's rationale would eventually become apparent.

A few days later the three of them were outside in the street, when a stranger walked by. According to his apparel and bearing, this stranger seemed to be some sort of a nobleman. He stopped and looked directly at the melamed and then said to him, "I'd like to meet you tomorrow. Could you please come to my hotel?"

The following day, the melamed went to the hotel, and the nobleman said to him, "Don't you remember me? Don't you recognize me?"

"No," the melamed replied. The noble continued, "Do you remember the town of X that you lived in as a child?" The melamed stared at him, "Yes, of course, but how do you know?"

The stranger began, "I'll tell you a story. Do you remember that in your town there was a boy who was an orphan, and the people in the town did everything they could to raise this child and to help him. But this boy was very rebellious and violated the Torah and the Jewish way of life. Eventually they took the boy and punished him by embarrassing him publicly. They tied him up, and people walked by and ridiculed him. Then somebody came over to him and untied him, allowing him to run away. Do you remember such an incident?"

"Yes," answered the melamed. In fact, he himself was the one that released the boy. The stranger finally identified himself as that boy, and said: "I want you to know that all my life I have felt indebted to you. I have always wanted to pay you back, but I never knew where you could be found until I just happened to see you yesterday. I want you to know that I'm in a position to help you. I'm a very wealthy person, and I'd like to repay you for what you did for me. I hold a high government position - I am the Minister of Education."

When the melamed heard these words, he nearly fell off his chair. Turning to the Minister of Education, he replied, "Thank you very much for your offer, but really, I didn't do it for money. But I would like to tell you a little story which will explain to you how we just 'happened' to meet yesterday." He recounted how the Alter Rebbe had sent a person who needed a permit from the Minister of Education to visit Vilna just at this time. The Rebbe had, for some unexplained reason, referred the man to him, the melamed. And now, this meeting shed light on the Rebbe's actions. He added, "The greatest favor you could do for me is to grant this person permission to print his books."

The great insight of the Alter Rebbe astounded the group of men. Obviously, the Rebbe had seen that the Minister of Education would be in the city of Vilna, and the Minister owed a debt of gratitude to the melamed. For this reason he sent the chasid to the city of Vilna to meet the melamed, so that all these three would meet. The Alter Rebbe was able not only to see into the future to know where the Minister of Education would be, but he also saw the past and knew the whole story of how this melamed had freed the little boy.


Moshiach Matters

Our Sages (Sanhedrin 91b) state that our people will be resurrected with their blemishes and (afterwards) be healed. And they elaborate more in Bereishit Rabbah 95:1, stating: "Just as a person departs, he will return. If he departed blind, he will return blind.... Just as he departed clothed, he will return clothed.... Afterwards, I will heal them." From the Zohar, Vol. I, p. 203b, it is evident that the healing will come from the sun, as our Sages state (Nedarim 8b).

(From a letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe written in 1946)


  867: Achrei Mos869: Emor  
   
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