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Devarim Deutronomy

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1432: Pinchas

1433: Matos-Masei

Devarim Deutronomy

August 5, 2016 - 1 Av, 5776

1433: Matos-Masei

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

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  1432: Pinchas1434: Devarim  

Talking Rocks  |  Living with the Rebbe  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
The Rebbe Writes  |  All Together  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Once Happened  |  Moshiach Matters

Talking Rocks

Did you know that there was once a "pet rocks" craze, with 1.5 million sold? And why not? You could take your pet rock anywhere and not have to worry about it disturbing anyone or making a mess. There weren't any expenses involved once you'd purchased your pet rock - no food, no kitty litter, no license, just you and your pet rock. And, even better than a virtual pet (those came out almost two decades after pet rocks), you could forget about your pet rock for weeks or even months, and it would still be there for you when you decided to renew the relationship.

There was only one drawback with pet rocks. They never responded to their owners' outpouring of love and attention. Pet rocks simply had hearts of stone!

Perhaps, though, in the Pet Rock Era, we were the ones with hearts of stone. Perhaps the pet rocks, and any rocks for that matter, did respond but we just didn't hear them!

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the Previous Rebbe, taught: "When a person walks in the street, he should be thinking Torah thoughts. When someone goes about not occupied with Torah words, then the stone he treads on exclaims: 'Clod! How dare you trample on me! How are you any higher than I am?'"

In the Messianic Era, however, we will have no such problems of not being able to hear these declarations. The Prophet Habukuk said concerning that time: "A stone in the wall will cry out and a beam from the tree will respond." Chasidic philosophy explains that this means that although at present, inert creations are mute and though trodden upon remain silent, in the Messianic Era they will speak. For, at that time, the G-dly energy within everything will be revealed and actualized. Then, a rock or stone in the ground will cry out: "If a person was walking along without thinking or speaking words of Torah, why did he trample upon me?"

Chasidic philosophy goes on to explain that this patch of earth had been waiting for millennia, ever since the Six Days of Creation, for its special moment. All types of living beings have been treading upon it all this time, but it is waiting for someone to walk on it while discussing Torah. If they do not say words of Torah, the earth will protest: "You too are just like an animal."

The Midrash explains that in the Messianic Era, stones in walls and house beams will also no longer be mute. They will reveal all that they heard and saw.

At first glance this might seem a bit far-fetched. However, one need not look any further than forensic science to realize how credible the above scenario truly is.

At the scene of a crime, detectives may dust for fingerprints. Even the cleanest fingers leave traces. The fingerprints are there but we don't see them. At least not until the environment is changed which allows the fingerprints to be revealed.

Similarly, our actions - good or otherwise - leave spiritual prints, so to speak. Though we can't see them, they are there. Today, a fingerprint on an object "talks" when dusted with a special powder. In the Messianic Era, the prints left on rocks, beams and walls will talk as the G-dly energy within everything is revealed. May it take place immediately.

Living with the Rebbe

This week we read two Torah portion, Matot and Maasei. The portion of Maasei ends with the story of the daughters of Tzelafchad fulfilling G-d's words and marrying men from their father's tribe of Menashe.

We were first introduced to the daughters of Tzelafchad in last week's Torah portion of Pinchas when these five women asked for a portion in the land of Israel on behalf of their dead father.

The Torah here mentions them by name for the third time, an honor which is bestowed on very few. Not only that, G-d chooses to close the book of Bamidbar, Numbers, with them. This clearly indicates that there is something about them that is central to the book of Bamidbar.

Machla, Tirtza, Chagla, Milka and Noa.

What are we meant to learn from these great women? How does it highlight the central theme of the book of Bamidbar?

The first thing to know about the daughter's of Tzelafchad is that they were selfless. In the case they brought before the Jewish people, they did not ask for any personal gain but rather that the Torah law be fulfilled, that their father have a portion of the holy land named for him.

They were holy, righteous learned and wise, they were patient and waited until the fortieth year in the desert to make their case. They never took there eye off the goal, to get their father, his rightful part in the holy land.

The book of Bamidbar is all about making our way to the Holy Land. Which for us means not simply living in Israel but living there under Torah rule, with the coming of Moshiach.

How do we accomplish this? First, by being learned and having the wisdom to understand our purpose. To be patient and do the necessary steps to bring it about. Keeping our focus on our purpose and finally, to stand before G-d, now in the last moments of this exile and demand that justice be served, that He send Moshiach. Not for our personal gain but because it is what G-d wants and what the Jewish people rightfully earned.

G-d, being proud of the daughters of Tzelafchad, mentions them three times. If we act like them he will surely be proud and send Moshiach. The time has come.

Adapted by Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz from the teachings of the Rebbe, Rabbi Hurwitz, who is battling ALS, and his wife Dina, are emissaries of the Rebbe in Temecula, Ca.

A Slice of Life

Music is Everywhere

From Speeches of Machon Chana students
by Miriam Goodman (first year student)

Music is everywhere. From the birds chirping outside to the playlists on your smartphone to the tunes on the radio to your very own vocal chords, we can't go a day without it.

From a very young age, I decided I wanted to play the violin. I have always been greatly inspired by musical talent (thank you, daddy). On the other hand, I also have a delicate ear for distasteful dissonance. In other words, harmony makes me feel calm and content while disharmony had the opposite effect. Why do we have a natural tendency to feel specific emotions in response to a collection of frequencies - fundamentally just random particles vibrating in the air? As my audiology professor at the University of Pittsburgh said, "The incredible intricacy of sound is far too complicated and perfect to have developed on its own. Science is just our endless attempt as human beings to try to explain G-d's miraculous work."

Everyone can agree that regardless of where we are or who we are, music undoubtedly has an extremely powerful effect on our inner essence. This is even more so when we are a part of something greater than ourselves. Music awakens our souls. As Jews, we are all connected as one family, the children of Our Creator. I like to think of it as an analogy. We are all playing in one, unified orchestra, each adding our own beautiful melodies to G-d's song.

I cannot thank Machon Chana enough for giving me the opportunity to make life-long friendships, and increase in my study of Torah and observance of mitzvot (commandments). This has truly been an unforgettable year. I am proud and ever-so-grateful to say that I will be continuing my education here at Machon Chana in September, G-d willing.

May we all be gathered as one grand orchestra to give our ultimate performance in Jerusalem with!

by Gabriella Leah Weintraub (second year student)

When I think of Machon Chana and express my experience of being here, to be quite honest I am left speechless, breathless. All I can do is smile from the depths of my soul. And that picture says a thousand words. All the good things I could say would not justify this blessed place. A place to grow where thousands of girls have been before me, a safe haven, a city of refuge, a place of Torah. What comes to mind for me when I think of Machon Chana is community, Torah learning, sisterhood, healing, and family. A place where the Rebbe himself felt comfortable enough to call "home."

What I have gained here is so much more than what one girl could ask for, or a generation could even ask for. For all the Jews before me are now reunited to their source. Here I have learned how to embrace who I am and be proud of it. It made me realize how good and pleasant our lot really is. Our rich, ancient, and original heritage of Judaism. The sole reason I have spent the past two years of my life here at Machon Chana is because I am a Jew, a thing I once before did not even comprehend. For the rest of my life I will cherish the memories I have made here the singing, dancing, farbrenging, learning, sharing. I will remember the tears of growth, joy and awe. Machon Chana has built me into the Jewish woman I am today, and changed me on a fundamental level, I am a different person because of being here and the people devoted to this women's Yeshivah, which will affect generations to come. For that I am eternally grateful.

Rabbi Majeski, with your vast knowledge of Torah, you always find the right words to say to each and every student on her level in the most down to earth and personable way possible no matter what the situation.

Mrs. Gansburg, obm, the beloved dorm mother who I had the privilege of meeting. Though I did not get to know her, I felt I was able to grasp who she was and what the students meant to her.

Rabbi and Mrs. Nemni, our dorm parents, who exemplify for us devotion to family, and you include all of us into your extended family, the fulfillment of mitvzot in the most beautiful way, as well your passionate connection to the Rebbe and his mission for us as Jews.

And lastly, the whole team at Machon Chana, you all contribute tremendously and help us in our journey to Torah. The endless support and care truly goes straight the heart.

For info about Machon Chana Women's Yeshiva visit, email or call (718) 552-2422.

What's New

New Torahs

A new Torah scroll was welcomed amidst a celebration that including music and dancing at the Peltz Chabad Center for Jewish Life. The Hakhel Unity Torah was paraded to the Chamoy Sanctuary at Chabad of Mequon, Wisconsin.

Chabad of Monroeville, Pennsylvania, is welcoming a new Torah scroll that was completed at Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters, 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. The Torah was written for the Beis Yisroel Torah Gemach an organization that lends Torah scrolls to fledgling Chabad Centers around the world until the center is able to write a Torah scroll of their own.

New Mikva

The Chabad House of Zhukovka, Moscow, one of the most fashionable suburbs of the city, opened a new, elegant mikva and spa for the women of the community.

The Rebbe Writes

13 Menachem Av, 5709 [1949]

Greetings and blessings,

...You write that you have become depressed because the level of Jewish life in your city and in the surrounding cities is not good.

Do you think that this is a solution and a means to correct the situation?

You no doubt know that, as the Alter Rebbe (Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism) writes in Tanya, ch. 26, the opposite is true. Sadness weakens a person and holds him back in the battle that he must wage with the yetzer hara (the evil inclination) and with the evil in the world. If he sees that the enemy is strengthening itself, Heaven forbid, he should become even more energetic and should seek methods to become victorious.

Remembering G d's promises: "I will cause the spirit of impurity to depart from the earth,"and "All flesh shall see that the mouth of G d has spoken,"should provide each one of us with the inspiration and strength to carry out the struggle, i.e., his own individual battle on the portion of the front where he is located. No positive activity is ever lost. Even if one cannot see this with his physical eyes, every good thought, word, or deed illuminates the darkness outside and brings the true Redemption closer.

On the surface, the Three Weeks and the Nine Days which have just passed bring sadness. Nevertheless, they contain within them messages of hope and consolation. Our prophets assured us that when, speedily in our days, Moshiach comes, the tearful period of time from 17 Tammuz until Tishah BeAv will be transformed into a period of rejoicing.

In previous eras, when the Beis HaMikdash (Holy Temple) was standing, the physical structure made from wood and stone was also a symbol of the inner Beis HaMikdash that exists within the Jewish people. Indeed, the physical Beis HaMikdash could endure only as long as the spiritual Temple within the Jewish people existed.

After the First Beis HaMikdash was destroyed - the spiritual Beis HaMikdash by the Jewish people themselves and the physical Beis HaMikdash by Nebuchadnetzar, King of Babylon - our people had a twofold mission in the Babylonian exile:

  1. to reestablish the spiritual Beis HaMikdash within their hearts; and

  2. to build the Second Beis HaMikdash in a physical sense.

The Second Beis HaMikdash continued to exist as long as its spiritual counterpart was maintained. Directly after the spiritual Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, the physical dimension of the Beis HaMikdash was also destroyed.

With regard to the Third Beis HaMikdash, by contrast, G-d told us that our objective and mission is - according to many interpretations - to build only the spiritual dimension of the Beis HaMikdash. G d Himself will build the physical dimension. As explained by Rashi and Tosafos, the Third Beis HaMikdash will be built by the hand of Heaven.

For that reason, our spiritual Beis HaMikdash must be built entirely through our efforts: through teshuvah (returning), Torah, and mitzvos (commandments). Every spiritual brick that a Jew fashions can never be displaced. The process of laying these spiritual bricks began at the moment the last portions of the physical Beis HaMikdash werein flames. This is the inner meaning of the story in the Midrash (Eichah Rabbah) that, at the moment the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, Mashiach was born.

The major part of the building of the spiritual Beis HaMikdash,which Jews are required to build in this long and dark exile, has already been erected by the spiritual endeavors of the previous generations and only a small portion has been left for us. Nevertheless, our portion must be permeated with the same holiness as that of the previous generations.

The consequence of this realization is that we should be permeated with the understanding that with every positive activity we perform in our everyday lives that is in accordance with the Torah - no matter how great or how small it appears to our physical eyes - we are laying one of the final bricks in the eternal Beis HaMikdash for our people and for the world at large. Through this, we are doing our part in building the spiritual Beis HaMikdash and the physicalBeis HaMikdash which will be established immediately thereafter, speedily in our days.

May G d grant that we all merit [to see] the building of the physical Beis HaMikdash as well, speedily in our days, Amen.

With wishes for everlasting good in all matters,

From I Will Write it in Your Hearts, translated by Rabbi E.liyahu Touger, published by Sichos In English,

All Together

Bitachon, belief, unites all Jews. All Jews are "believers the sons of believers" who inherited this belief from our Father Abraham, the Father of Believers. Moreover, this belief is the very same in all Jews, in all the ten categories into which Jews are classified by the Torah, though in all other aspects they differ and to the extreme. It is this belief that makes a spiritual Hakhel of the people a reality, unifying all Jews into one kahal - one entity - since their common simple belief also pervades and moves everything in which they differ (as indicated in the verse): listening to, learning, keeping and doing all the words of the Torah.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, 1980, between Yom Kippur and Sukkot)

A Word from the Director

Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman

This Friday is Rosh Chodesh Av, the yahrzeit of Moses' brother, Aaron the Priest.

As the Alter Rebbe explains in Tanya, on a yahrzeit, "all the deeds, Torah, and service for which a person toiled throughout his revealed...and 'brings about salvation in the depth of the world.' "

What was Aaron's special service? Aaron was the epitome of ahavat Yisrael, love for his fellow Jew. He was characterized by "loving peace and pursuing peace, loving the created beings and bringing them close to the Torah." Throughout his life Aaron made special efforts to spread love, peace and harmony among all Jews, especially husbands and wives.

For this reason Aaron was especially beloved, and when he passed away he was mourned by "the entire House of Israel" - both men and women. This was because the love he showed and encouraged among Jews relates to the essential point of the Jewish soul that transcends all division and differences between individuals.

The Hebrew letters comprising Aaron's name - alef-hei-reish-nun - reflect his all-encompassing love:

The alef stands for "ahava," "love," the reish for "rabba," "great," alluding to Aaron's tremendous ahavat Yisrael. The hei and the reish spell "har," "mountain," which is frequently used as a metaphor for love. The letters of the alef itself can be rearranged to spell "peleh," "wonder," indicating that Aaron's love was wondrous and unbounded in nature.

Lastly, the final letter of Aaron's name, the long nun, protrudes below the line, expressing how he extended himself to all Jews without distinction, even those whose behavior was not up to par. Because Aaron's love was unbounded, it had the potential to extend to every single person, regardless of individual nature.

Emulating Aaron's example, let us all resolve to love our fellow Jews simply because they are Jewish, thereby hastening Moshiach's immediate arrival.

Thoughts that Count

Moses said to the children of Gad and the children of Reuben, "Shall your brothers go out to battle while you settle here?" (Num. 32:6)

The tribes of Reuben and Gad wanted to stay in the land east of the Jordan river. Even though the Jewish people are dispersed all over the world, we are emotionally connected, and when a Jew experiences misfortune, Jews all over the world feel compassion. Therefore, Moses asked the tribes of Reuben and Gad, "Can you sit here calmly and enjoy your land when you know that your fellow Jews are engaged in battle?"

(Sha'ar Bat Rabim)

These are (Eileh) the journeys (masei) of the Children of Israel (Bnei Yisrael) (Num. 33:1)

The first letters of these Hebrew words allude to the four exiles of the Jewish people: alef/Edom-Rome; mem/Madai-Persia; beit/Bavel-Babylon; and yud/Yavan-Greece.

(Nachal Kadumim)

Aaron the Priest went up onto Mount Hor at the command of G-d and died there... in the fifth month on the first of the month. (Num. 33:38)

Our Sages said that "the death of the righteous is equal to the burning of G-d's house [the Holy Temple]." The fifth month is the month of Av, the month in which the Holy Temple was burned and destroyed. Another connection between Aaron's death and the burning of the Temple is as follows: The Second Temple, in particular, was destroyed because of causeless hatred. The remedy for causeless hatred is unwarranted love, which was exemplified by Aaron. Aaron "loved peace, pursued peace, loved all creatures and brought them closer to the Torah."

(Likutei Sichot)

It Once Happened

Reb Chaim Ber, the Tzemach Tzedek's shamash (attendant), was suffering from a serious disease of the lungs. This malady, the doctors all agreed, was one that was beyond their powers to cure. "The only thing I can tell you is that you'd better get to Petersburg as soon as possible," stated the local doctor in the town of Lubavitch. "Maybe they can do something to help; I, unfortunately, cannot. But time is of the essence. If you do not leave at once, you'll be signing your own death sentence.

As the Torah's commandment to "carefully guard your soul" was foremost in Reb Chaim Ber's mind, he packed his talit and tefilin and some meager belongings and caught the first train that would take him to the capital.

Reb Chaim Ber arrived at the address the doctor in Lubavitch had given him. After a wait of several tension-filled hours, the chasid was called inside. His heart was pounding as he introduced himself to the doctor. The examination commenced and Reb Chaim Ber waited anxiously for the prognosis.

Much to the chasid's horror, the doctor merely nodded his head in confirmation of the first doctor's diagnosis. Reb Chaim Ber's lungs were too far gone. "I'm very sorry," the doctor stated. "But the most you can hope to live is another three months."

Reb Chaim Ber, however, was not discouraged. Doesn't it state that a doctor is given permission to heal, but not to pronounce judgment that recovery is impossible? For two weeks he visited doctor after doctor, but each one painted the same gloomy picture. Realizing that salvation was not to be found within the natural order, Reb Chaim Ber returned to Lubavitch. He would go to the Rebbe and ask him for his holy blessing.

As soon as Reb Chaim Ber entered the Rebbe's room, the chasid burst into bitter tears. He was comforted by the Rebbe's shining countenance, and he found himself capable of relating his entire story. With bated breath, he waited for the Rebbe's response. When the Tzemach Tzedek finally spoke, Reb Chaim Ber was sure that he was dreaming. "As the Beit Yosef is of the more lenient opinion when it comes to lungs [to ascertain whether or not an animal is kosher], and he is the determining authority in the Holy Land, it is advisable that you leave here to go live in the Holy Land."

Reb Chaim Ber was filled at once with conflicting emotions. On the one hand, the Rebbe was promising him that if he moved to the Holy Land he would live. But on the other, how could he live so far away from his Rebbe? He had been the Rebbe's faithful shamash for years. How could he suddenly cut himself off and go to the other end of the earth, never to behold the Rebbe's holy face again?

And then a very daring idea occurred to the chasid. "Rebbe," Reb Chaim Ber cried out. "I accept what you have told me. I will move to the Holy Land to live out the rest of my life. But Jewish law clearly states that a master who frees his servant must give him a gift. I've been your servant for so many years. By moving to the Holy Land, I will no longer be able to serve you. I only ask that you grant me this one request and give me a 'gift' before I depart."

"And what do you ask for?" the Tzemach Tzedek said gently.

"Rebbe, 'Our desire is to behold our king.' I would like the Rebbe to promise me that even in the Holy Land I will be able to see the Rebbe."

Silence filled the room. The Rebbe's face grew serious and Reb Chaim Ber was suddenly fearful that he had overstepped his bounds. Several minutes passed until the Rebbe again smiled and said, "So it shall be according to your words. I hereby fulfill the request you have made of me."

It was with a joyful heart that Reb Chaim Ber left the Rebbe's presence. He hurried home to tell his wife of the Rebbe's blessing and to prepare the family for their impending move. One thing, however: Reb Chaim did not reveal to a soul the special "gift" that the Rebbe had bequeathed to him.

Years passed and Reb Chaim Ber lived to enjoy nachas from his children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. One day Reb Chaim informed his descendants that he wanted them to gather at his house. When his entire family was assembled, Reb Chaim began:

"My dear children, I have gathered you together to deliver my last will and testament, so that you will know what to do after my death. I know with certainty that today is my last day on earth..."

Reb Chaim Ber was interrupted by one of his sons, "Tatte! What are you talking about. You are perfectly healthy and hale. Why must you speak about such things now?"

As if anticipating his son's question, Reb Chaim Ber began to relate the entire story of his illness and the blessing that the Tzemach Tzedek had given him so long ago. This time, however, he disclosed the secret of the "gift."

"Last night," Reb Chaim Ber concluded, "I saw the Tzemach Tzedek..."

That very day, the Rebbe's faithful shamash returned his holy soul to his Maker.

Reprinted from Beis Moshiach Magazine

Moshiach Matters

In This week's Torah portion we read, "These are their journeys according to their starting places" (Num. 33:2)The Hebrew word for starting places or departures, "motza'eihem," comes from the same root as descendants, alluding to the future Redemption and the ingathering of the exiles that will occur in the Messianic era. At that time, all 42 journeys made by the Children of Israel in the desert will be duplicated by the Jewish people as they make their way back to the Land of Israel.


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