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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1423
                           Copyright (c) 2016
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        May 27, 2016             Behar            19 Iyyar, 5776

                              A Fork Is...

                        by Rabbi Yaakov Goldberg

There was a time when the Israeli government was involved in gathering
Jewish children from primitive countries and resettling them in Eretz
Yisrael (the Holy Land). First, however, the children were brought to
refugee camps in Europe where they were supposed to make a transition to
Western culture.

When the children were served their meals, in front of them was a full
place setting - a plate, a cup, and silverware. The only problem was
that these children had never seen silverware before and they didn't
know what to do with them. Then, one boy picked up his fork and put a
piece of paper in the prongs and started blowing on it. With this, he
made a little harmonica. The other children saw and they all figured out
what this fork must really be for - making a harmonica - and they all
did the same thing.

Everything in this world was created and designed for a purpose. Yet a
person can always invent his own way of using whatever he wants. But
this is not the real purpose. The real purpose is revealed to us through
G-d's Torah.

Torah in general, and Chasidic philosophy especially, describes the true
objective behind everything in this world, for the world itself and for
ourselves. The Sages say that the only reason gold was created was to be
used in the Holy Temple. The fact is, gold has also been used for many
other purposes: good functions, holy purposes, mundane things and even
idolatry. Nevertheless, the Sages tell us that none of that is the real
purpose of gold. Gold was created only for the Temple.

Many years ago, people in the religious community asked the Rebbe how he
could instruct his Chasidim to broadcast Torah on the radio when radio
is a vessel for so many negative messages. They felt that perhaps radio
was a contaminated medium. The Rebbe expained that if something was
created and exists in this world, then G-d wants us to have it for a
purpose. That purpose is the making of this world into a dwelling place
for Him. The radio was really only created for disseminating Torah and
making the world a more holy place.

This is the true purpose for everything - that we make the world a
fitting place for G-dliness to be seen by the physical eye. This should
be immediately through the revelation of Moshiach.

    Rabbi Goldberg is the dean of Hadar HaTorah Yeshiva in Brooklyn, New
    York. Hadar Hatorah, founded over 50 years ago, is the world's first
    yeshiva for Jewish men with little or no formal background in Jewish
    studies or practice. For more info visit

In this week's Torah portion, Behar, we learn about thethe Sabbatical
Year. The Torah states: "Six years you shall sow your field. and harvest
your crops, but the seventh year shall be a Sabbath of strict rest for
the land, you must not sow your field." (Lev. 25:3)

"If you wonder, 'What will we eat in the seventh year.?' I shall command
My blessing upon you in the sixth year to yield crops for three years."
(Ibid. 25:20-22)

This passage, which speaks of the mitzva of shemita (the Sabbatical year
for the Land of Israel), may also be interpreted in the context of the
world at large and the redemption.

The six years of working the land are analagous to the first six
millennia of the world's existence, when everything is prepared for the
seventh millennium by means of Torah and mitzvot.

Our present generation is near the end of the sixth millennium. This
raises an obvious question: Why should our generation, which is
qualitatively so much lower than all our predecessors, merit to
experience the Messianic redemption? What makes us more worthy than the
spiritual giants of the past that we shall usher in the "seventh year,"
the "day that is entirely Shabbat and repose for life everlasting"? In
other words, we have a metaphorical paraphrase of the question, "What
will we eat in the seventh year.?"

The Divine response is: "I shall command My blessing upon you in the
sixth year." The stature and deeds of the earlier generations were
indeed much greater than those of now. On the other hand, the present
state of moral corruption throughout the world requires an unprecedented
amount of fortitude and self-sacrifice to carry out even our minimal
obligations. This lends our continued observance of Torah and mitzvot a
quality and blessing superseding that of our predecessors. Thus we are
more than worthy to experience the redemption.

We shall merit the "crops for three years," i.e., of the three stages in
the Messianic era: the initial redemption, the later stage of the
resurrection of the dead, and the ultimate "seventh millennium."

     From Living With Moshiach, adapted from the works of the Rebbe
                              by Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet, o.b.m.

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                         High Notes, Low Notes
                            by Mikhoel Pais

It happens every time. When I am seated on the piano bench, my fingers
poised to begin playing, I pause. The audience is waiting for music to
entertain them; this entertainer is hoping to convey a message.

My family immigrated to America from Odessa, a city in Ukraine, when I
was three years old. Our lives were transformed as we poured our energy
into achieving the American dream, joining the notorious melting pot of
cultures, economies and lives.

Coming from a Russian-Jewish family, I was raised with a foundation of
good values and an appreciation for culture. It was no wonder that when
I was six my grandparents and parents took me to Shostakovich Music
School where I began studying voice, dance, art, and, of course, piano.

Right before I started Junior High School, my parents divorced. It was
very difficult for me, though on the surface I didn't show it much. I
began to find comfort in piano music as the only thing that spoke to me,
or rather that I could speak through, and really felt that it resonated
with what I was feeling.

For sixth grade, I was accepted into Bay Academy, the top Junior High
School in Brooklyn at the time, primarily thanks to my piano skills. A
few years later, I heard of a specialized high school called LaGuardia
High School of Music & Art in Manhattan. I began to dream of striking a
real chord in the world. I auditioned for the school and with my
acceptance took my first big step into the professional musical world.
During that first year in high school, I began participating in and
winning piano competitions. I performed in a winners' recital in
Carnegie Hall and traveled to Amsterdam for a music festival. Things
were beginning to get serious.

One Friday night in Brooklyn, I took my first few steps toward the local
Chabad House run by a Russian rabbi, Rabbi Asher Altshul, an Odessit
(originally from Odessa) like me. My mom had told me about it (Odessa

What inspired me to want to go, after my mother suggested it? After all,
mothers make a lot of suggestions. I think it was due to my childhood
memories. In elementary school I had studied in Released Time, and
surely that gave me a warmth to Judaism that drew me closer years later.
I was actually convinced by a non-Jewish friend to go because he told me
that they raffle off Game Boys. I totally went just for that and the
cookies and Sprite. They taught us songs, brachos; we made our first
kippas and glittered them. For years I had the tzitzis that they gave

Growing up, I had heard stories of my family turning to the Rebbe for
his blessing in times of need. When I decided to explore my roots in my
sophomore year in high school, I wasn't sure that there was truth in the
world. But my family's personal interactions with the Rebbe made me

High school was an interesting experience. Vast quantities of
ridiculously liberal propaganda was mixed into the educational program
and a huge number of incredibly talented individuals were all striving
to achieve and succeed, although no one really knew what for. I somehow
didn't imagine pursuing anything but music. Yet, I felt that just making
a buck couldn't be all that life is about. I hoped that with my talent I
could convey something worthwhile, something meaningful, and bring
people to a better place in their make-a-buck lives.

I went off to The Boston Conservatory for a year. But I soon made the
choice to return to New York, closer to Crown Heights, closer to Jews,
closer to the Rebbe. I wanted to find the real spirit inspiring my life
and the world and to channel that in my music.

Although I continued playing piano and studying professionally, I began
to study Torah seriously: Hadar Hatorah Yeshivacation, Torah Ohr in
Miami for a semester and Seagate Yeshiva for several years.

The greatest struggle for me was in identifying myself. Am I a pianist
who is a Jew and a chasid? Or a chasid who plays piano? Is my dream of
being a world-class pianist slipping from my fingers? It was definitely
challenging to find a balance in my life.

When the administrator of the Seagate Yeshiva offered me full-time study
at the school, that proved to be the most difficult choice. A commitment
to studying full time in yeshiva would mean that I wouldn't have the
necessary three to four hours or more per day to practice piano. I
feared that if I accepted, I would be closing the door on any future
career in piano that I could possibly have.

How could I practice and take lessons and put together programs and
organize concerts when from sunrise to sunset I would be praying and
studying Torah? I chose to put Torah first. When I let go of my rigorous
music schedule, a whole new world opened up for me. I suddenly had an
organized day, with even more time than before to practice. I felt that
I had finally given

myself over to Torah and mitzvos, and in doing that I discovered after
all these years who I really am. I began to understand Chassidus better
and was learning to read the Rebbe's sichos in Yiddish, which I had
dreamed of doing. Chassidus began to permeate my day, my outlook, and I
began to learn and see how a simple sky or breath of air is an
expression of G-dliness, a truly divine creation and expression. The
truth I discovered is that even the piano keys, the concert stage, the
world of harmony and sound can be a stage for the spiritual and divine.

As a chasid of the Rebbe, I'm marching out into the world, with my
music, sifting through and discovering the G-dliness within it all.
Through my art, I'm doing my best to give others a taste of life in its
purest form. Music is the perfect tool for that. It makes us feel alive
when we're down because it comes from the deepest parts of our soul. It
can liberate us from the daily rhythm of limitation to appreciate the
infinite world that we live in. With my family, with my classical
arrangements of Chasidic melodies, with my piano students who eagerly
bring life into motionless piano keys and with Torah and mitzvot, I
strive daily to influence the world... one note at a time.

Mikhoel, his wife Nava and their son live in Crown Heights. You can hear
Mikhoel's work at Reprinted with permission from
the N'shei Chabad Newsletter from the column "Delving Deeper" curated by
Yonit Tanenbaum of YQ Media.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                              Shabbat 1800

An annual program at SUNY Binghamton for the past 22 years, "Shabbat
1800" brought together nearly that many students on a recent Friday
evening to celebrate - Shabbat! The program started with candle-lighting
and  Kiddush, and included a full Shabbat meal. Originally named
"Shabbat 1000," the event has been duplicated bu Chabad on many campuses
across the nation.

                              Two Acres at

Chabad at the University of Central Florida recently purchased a
two-acre property down the block from the UCF campus. They will be
building a facility to serve the 6,000 Jewish students who attend UCF.
The new facility will include a lounge, social hall, commercial kitchen,
Jewish library, synagogue, guest rooms and residence for the Chabad
emissaries at UCF Rabbi Chaim and Rivkie Lipsker.

                            THE REBBE WRITES

    Continued from previous issue. In the first part of this letter,
    written in 1964, the Rebbe makes the point that when a house is
    burning, all theoretical and philosophical discussions must be put
    aside to take care of the matter at hand: saving the lives of those
    in the burning building. The Rebbe continues, emphasizing that
    Hitler (may his name be erased) aimed to destroy the Jewish body and

In light of these prefatory remarks, let us - you and I - consider our
position. Surely, in the face of the situation as it now exists, which
is one of continuing deterioration, all debates and philosophical
speculation must be set aside. The existing emergency demands immediate
action - to save Jewish souls, of the old, the middle-aged, and the
young. This is the primary obligation of each and every one of us who
desires to counteract the Hitlerian objective. This obligation is
particularly binding in regard to the immediate environment where one
has been raised, and to which one owes a debt of gratitude for the many
benefits received. More compelling still is this duty for one who has
put his abilities to work in the field of education and has met with
success. So obvious should this be to the thinking and conscientious
person, that it is puzzling that the latter should fail to see it. I can
only explain this as follows:

If the yetzer hara [evil inclination] should accost a thinking person
with the words, "Forget about those spiritual crematoria; instead go out
and have a good time, give yourself up to the pleasures of the flesh!" -
such a line of approach would not of course work. But the yetzer hara
has a better tactic, one that is more "discreet" and "diplomatic." It
takes a different track altogether, somewhat like this: "For a person
like you, mundane pleasures are too trivial. You should think in terms
of universal ideas, ideas that embrace the whole of mankind based on the
most profound philosophies, etc. Here you will find fulfillment of your
soul's mission, for in saving the whole world you will save its
individual parts as well," and so on, and so on. Unfortunately, this
deception succeeds more often than not with many a well-meaning
individual, inducing him to concentrate his attention on some utopian
idea or other, to the neglect of the immediate surroundings.

I simply want to understand how it is possible for a young man who
contemplates what is happening around him to fall into such a

All that has been said thus far - in the hope of your kind indulgence -
is, of course, not intended, G-d forbid, as a rebuke or argument for the
sake of arguing. I simply want to understand how it is possible for a
young man who contemplates what is happening around him to fall into
such a misconception. Surely the daily newspapers cannot delude one into
thinking that all is well and normal. The reports on juvenile
delinquency and crime; the promiscuity among college students; the
rising tide of intermarriage and assimilation, etc., surely must be a
constant challenge to the decent and right-thinking young man, and
should "sting" him into doing something practical, rather than engaging
in some abstract topic of research which, as all will agree, could at
the very least wait for a while; whereas the boy or girl in the college
cannot be left to wait, and unless helped and guided immediately, might
soon be swept away by the tide of intermarriage and assimilation and
irretrievably lost, G-d forbid.
                        Concluded in next issue

                              ALL TOGETHER
Maimonides explains that during the Hakhel gathering in the Holy Temple,
everyone is "obligated to concentrate their attention... listening with
reverence and awe, rejoicing while trembling as on the day the Torah was
given at Sinai. Even those who know the entire Torah are obligated to
listen with exceedingly great concentration. One who cannot hear should
focus his attention on this reading, for Scripture established it solely
to strengthen the true faith. He should see himself as if he was just
now commanded regarding the Torah and heard it from the Alm-ghty.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The Lubavitch Women's Organization (N'Shei Ubnos Chabad) will be hosting
its 61st Annual International Convention this weekend. The over 1,000
women who will attend the convention will come from nearly every country
in the world, from all walks of life and all degrees of Jewish

Each year, the Rebbe would send a letter to the participants of the
convention. I would like to quote from the introduction of a book
containing the letters from the first 25 conventions:

Expressed in these letters, more than anything else, is the Rebbe's
confidence in the Jewish woman's ability to exercise unlimited influence
over her home and environment. In our own generation, as the Rebbe is
utilizing all resources to uplift us all in the preparation for
Moshiach, this expression of confidence in the Jewish woman as one of
our greatest assets is not merely a compliment, but a challenge. As the
Rebbe emphasizes several times in these letters, the existence of the
challenge is itself an assurance that the potential exists within the
Jewish woman to tackle it, and thereby make her irreplaceable
contribution to the strengthening of Judaism and the coming of Moshiach.

Our Sages teach us that in the merit of the righteous women of the
generation of Egyptian Exile we were redeemed, and in the merit of the
righteous women we will see the future Redemption. May this year's
convention be the last one - here in Exile, and may next year's
convention take place in the Holy Land with all Jewish women in
attendance, from all four corners of the world in fulfillment of G-d's
promise that at the time of the Ultimate Redemption all of the dispersed
of our people will return to the Holy Land.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
And G-d spoke to Moses at Mt. Sinai (Lev. 25:1)

Rashi's famous question about the Torah's juxtaposition of Mt. Sinai
with the mitzva of the Sabbatical year can also be interpreted as
follows: The Sinai desert is symbolic of the "wilderness of the nations"
- the time of exile; the Sabbatical year refers to the Days of Moshiach.
The two concepts are juxtaposed to teach us that when a Jew keeps the
imminent Redemption in his consciousness, he can actually have a
foretaste of the Messianic era even now. Human nature is such that when
a person anticipates a great event, the very knowledge that it is about
to occur makes him happy and joyful.

                                                        (The Rebbe)

                                *  *  *

And if your brother has become poor, and his means fail with you, then
you shall strengthen him (Lev. 25:35)

To help another Jew who is stuck in the mire, a person must be willing
to "immerse himself in mud up to the neck" in order to drag him out.

                                           (Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin)

                                *  *  *

When you will come to the Land...  the Land will keep a Sabbath to G-d.

"When you will come to the Land" - when a person organizes his life and
begins to be involved in earthly matters and mundane work, "the Land
will keep a Sabbath to G-d" - it is imperative for the person to know
that the whole intention and purpose of his involvement in earthly
matters is for the purpose of the "Sabbath" - holiness.

                                                   (Likutei Sichot)

                                *  *  *

For six years you shall prune your vineyard. (25:3)

The Jewish people are called a "vineyard": For G-d's  vineyard is the
army of the House of Israel. (Isaiah 5). Each and every Jew must work at
clearing up and pruning his own vineyard - his unfavorable traits such
as jealousy, hatred, lustfulness, etc.

                                                    (Likutei Torah)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
The great scholar Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides), also known as the
Rambam, was an accomplished physician, personally attending the Sultan
of Egypt and his family. He was not the only doctor in the palace, but
the Rambam was the Sultan's favorite, and this provoked much envy and

His rivals lost no opportunity to devise schemes and plots to discredit
the Rambam in the eyes of his royal employer, but the Sultan was not
fooled by the wicked plots. With each failed scheme, the Rambam rose
even higher in the Sultan's estimation.

The Rambam's detractor's never rested in their machinations. Finally,
the Sultan exploded in anger. "You charlatans never give up! How many
times will you come to me with your foolish stories and ridiculous
claims against ben Maimon? This time I challenge you to prove that you
are superior to the Jewish doctor!" The physicians left elated,
confident that they would surely find a way to finally ruin the hated

The following day they appeared at the appointed hour at the royal
palace, an unknown man in tow. "This man, your Excellency, has been
blind from birth, and we, Sire, will cure him before your eyes! Ben
Maimon surely cannot perform this feat, but we can do it!"

The Sultan smirked at these words. "Liars! It is patently impossible to
cure someone who has been blind from birth!" At that, one of the
physicians stepped forward and with a flourish, he applied a layer of
salve to the man's eyes. Everyone stood staring at the man, waiting to
see some sign of a cure. Could it really happen that a blind man would

The silence was broken by the man's joyous cries, "I can see! I can

But before a word was spoken, the Rambam flashed a scarf before the
man's eyes. "What color is this handkerchief?" he asked.

The man responded in a victorious tone, "It is red!"

"Aha!" said the Rambam with a smile. "The fraud is obvious! A blind man
cannot possibly identify colors, which he has never before seen!"

The Sultan rose from his seat and exultantly clasped the Rambam's hand,
exclaiming, "How could I have believed them for a moment!"

The group of deceitful physicians quickly left the room, praying the
Sultan would not punish them in his anger.

                                *  *  *

There was a very wealthy merchant who lived in Lithuania many years ago.
In addition to his business he lived in a fine home filled with rich and
luxurious furnishings. One day, as he contemplated his possessions, he
decided that he had better take out some fire insurance to protect his
property. The agent lived in the town of Horodna, and he so he traveled
there to meet with him.

As he was making his way to the agent's home, he saw the famous tzadik,
Reb Nachum of Horodna, as he went about his rounds distributing alms to
the poor of the town. Despite his great scholarship, Reb Nachum was
extremely modest, and he shunned fame, serving as a lowly caretaker of
the local shul. Nevertheless, he became widely known as a miracle

The wealthy man approached him, saying, "Might I have a few words with
the esteemed rabbi?"

"What can I do for you?" asked Reb Nachum.

"I have come to Horodna to take out a fire insurance policy on my
properties. However, as I happened to meet you here, a thought came to
me. If, instead of giving these 50 rubles to the insurance agent, I give
them to you to distribute among the poor, maybe you will promise me that
I will never suffer a loss from fire."

"How can I make you such a promise?" he replied. "Only G-d can
guarantee. I cannot do what you ask. I can, however, give you my
blessing that the merit of your charity will protect you from all evil,
including fire." The wealthy man was satisfied and he gave Reb Nachum
his 50 rubles and returned home.

On a hot summer day many years later, the wealthy man awoke to the odor
of smoke and the cries of men and women. People rushed from their beds
to see the glow of flames flashing from the roof of the warehouse. Many
ran with buckets to join the fire brigade, pouring water on the raging

Panic increased as the flames seemed to rise higher and higher. Only the
wealthy man stood impassively watching the conflagration. He turned to
the frantic crowd and quietly said, "Reb Nachum gave me his blessing
that my estate would not be destroyed by fire, and I trust that he will
fulfill his word."

No sooner had he uttered these words, than a stiff wind came and
extinguished the flames. The wealthy man recounted the miracle for many
years after always concluding, "Everyone who witnessed it could attest
that it was no normal occurrence. It was an open miracle!"

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
The Torah (Lev. 25:19) states, "And the land shall yield her fruit and
you will eat your fill." The Torahemphasizes "her fruit" because in the
Garden of Eden, the earth was capable of producing fruit on the day it
was plowed and sowed, and even the tree trunks were edible. After Adam
sinned the earth was cursed, and we no longer receive those blessings.
Here the Torah alludes to the days of Moshiach when we will once again
receive these blessings, and the land will produce her fruits according
to her potential.

                                                        (The Rebbe)

                END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1423 - Behar 5776

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