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It Once Happened | Moshiach Matters
by Rabbi Yochanan Rivkin
I love this story and it seems very apt to share right now. Wishing everyone good health, strength and (yes) joy to get through this current challenge.
The two brothers, the famed Rabbi Elimelech of Lizensk and Rabbi Zushe of Anipoli, often wandered about together, posing as simple beggars. They would mingle with the masses, listening, teaching, speaking, helping and guiding whomever and whenever they could.
Once, while they were traveling with a group of vagabonds, members of the group were accused of being thieves, resulting in the entire bunch being thrown into jail. Confident of their innocence and eventual release, the two brothers sat quietly. As the afternoon progressed, Rabbi Elimelech stood up to prepare himself to pray the afternoon service.
"What are you doing?" his brother asked.
"I'm getting ready for the afternoon prayers," replied Rabbi Elimelech.
Rabbi Zushe pointed at the pail in the corner of the room. "It is forbidden," he said, "to pray in this cell, because the odor coming from that pail makes the room unfit for prayer."
Dejected, the holy Rabbi Elimelech sat down.
Soon after, Rabbi Elimelech began to cry. "Why are you crying?" said Rabbi Zushe. "Is it because you are unable to pray?" Reb Elimelech answered affirmatively.
"But why weep?" continued Rabbi Zushe. "Don't you know that the same G-d who commanded you to pray, also commanded you not to pray when the room is unfit for prayer? Be happy that G-d has afforded you the opportunity to obey His law at this time, no matter what it is."
"You are right, my brother!" exclaimed Rabbi Elimelech, suddenly smiling. The feelings of dejection banished from his heart and mind, Rabbi Elimelech took his brother's arm and began to dance from joy as a result of performing the mitzva (commandment) of not praying in an inappropriate place.
The guards heard the commotion and came running. Witnessing the two brothers dancing, the guards asked the other prisoners what had happened. "We have no idea!" they answered, mystified.
"Those two Jews were discussing the pail in the corner, when all of a sudden they came to some happy conclusion and began to dance."
"Is that right?" sneered the guards. "They're happy because of the pail, are they? We'll show them!"
They promptly removed the pail from the cell!
As Jews, we need to know that refraining from a Jewish practice such as attending synagogue because of a danger to life and health is as much a mitzva as engaging in those practices under normal circumstances. We need to joyously thank G-d for allowing us to fulfill his Holy Will, whatever it is. And, perhaps, in merit of that joy, He might just take the pail away...
This week's Torah portion, Vaykra tells us about the sacrificial offerings that were offered in the Sanctuary and later in the Temple. The sacrificial offerings were the primary service done in the Sanctuary and Temple.
The Torah is eternal, meaning that we can and should take a practical lesson from every law and story found therein, and that applies for every person, in every place and at every time.
The main offering in the Temple was the Tamid offering. It was a daily offering brought once in the morning, before all the other sacrifices, and once again in the afternoon, after all the other sacrifices.
What lessons can we learn from the Tamid offering?
Another lesson from the Tamid, is that although it was only brought in the morning and evening, it was called Tamid, which means constant. If it was only brought twice a day, why was it called constant? Because although it was only brought twice a day, its effect was constant, it affects lasted all day long, so it was constant. It was the foundation for all the offerings that came after it, it influenced and affected them.
The same is true for our day. Our day consists of a number of events and tasks, physical and spiritual and we don't always see the G-dly light in them. Even the time that one spends on soul matters are flawed, because it is done from a human perspective, which is commonly wrong, and at times, could lead one astray.
What we have to do, is give ourselves over to Hashem first thing in the morning, before anything else. And that is what we do when we say, "Modeh ani lefanecha melech... I give thanks before You King..." as soon as we wake up. This is thanking G-d for returning our souls, and we call Him "King," a king is one who you give yourself completely over to, your body and even your life. It is proclaiming Hashem your King and giving yourself completely over to Him.
When one brought a sacrifice, the main things that were offered, was the blood that was sprayed on the altar, and the fat that was burned on the altar. The blood is the life force of the body, it represents the life and the passion of the person. The fat is the good stuff, it represents pleasure. What Hashem wants, is that we should give our pleasure and the our passion to Him, that we should make what He wants, our passion and our pleasure.
When you start your day with Modeh ani, all the chores of the daily grind are influenced by this proclamation, your passion and pleasure is for G-d. It's in effect, the Tamid offering of your day, and it brings blessing to you, your home and your family.
The blessings of the home will surely have a ripple effect, it will spread to all of the Jewish people, and it will hasten the coming of Moshiach, when we will once again see the Tamid being offered. May it happen soon.
Adapted by Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz from the teachings of the Rebbe, yitzihurwitz.blogspot.com. Rabbi Hurwitz, who is battling ALS, and his wife Dina, are emissaries of the Rebbe in Temecula, California.
The Wedding Made by a Matza
by Jenny Chana Weisberg
as told by Rabbi Fischel Schachter
What the Bluzhever Rebbe, Rabbi Yisroel Spira, went through during the Holocaust was mindboggling.
The Nazis murdered his wife, his only daughter, his entire family, almost all of his hundreds of Chassidim.
After the War, it took a lot of courage for survivors to remarry. But after his liberation from Bergen Belsen, somebody suggested a match to the Bluzhever Rebbe, a widow who had survived, amazingly enough, with her four children.
And that woman, named Bronya, became the Bluzhever Rebbetzin.
Years later, somebody asked the Bluzhever Rebbe how he knew, despite everything he had gone through, that he wanted to marry his Rebbetzin Bronya.
And the Bluzhever Rebbe shared the following extraordinary story...
At one point, when the Bluzhever Rebbe was in Bergen Belsen, he went to the camp officials to request permission to bake matzos.
And, unexpectedly, they responded, "OK...but whoever wants to make the matzos with you has to write down their name, and we'll submit the request to Berlin."
Most of the Jews, of course, didn't put their names down on the request, because they figured writing their names was as good as writing their own obituaries.
But the Bluzhever Rebbe said, "Look, we don't have anything to lose. We're going to die anyway..."
So the Bluzhever Rebbe and four other men wrote their names down on the request to make matzos. And they submitted it.
But right away they regretted their decision. They feared their request was the same as calling out to the Nazis, "Hey there, please kill us!"
But a few weeks later, the camp officials returned and announced, "OK, who are the five people who said they want to make matzos? Come with us..."
So those five men, thinking those were their last moments on earth, said goodbye to their friends. But, instead of killing them, the camp officials informed them that their request had been approved.
So then the question was, who would get to eat from the matzos? There were only a few small matzos and tens of thousands of Jews in Bergen Belsen.
And then a mother of four children stepped forward and said, "Could you please break off small pieces of the matza for my children?"
The other people there argued, "But your children are still small, they aren't obligated yet to eat matzah."
But she answered them, "My children are the next generation. They have to know what matzah is. They are the future of the Jewish people.
So the Bluzhever Rebbe gave them matzah.
So why did the Bluzhever Rebbe decide to marry that mother of four children after the War? The Bluzhever Rebbe later explained, "Nobody in Bergen Belsen thought about the next minute. You didn't think about the next day, the next week. Survival was second to second.
"And here is this woman who is thinking she's going to survive? And that there's going to be a next generation?
"And I knew that if this woman had that kind of courage, if she was so connected with the story of Passover that she believed we would experience our own personal Exodus from Bergen Belsen, then that was the woman I would marry."
The Bluzhever Rebbe and Rebbetzin Bronya, who lived until 99 and 94, did not have any more children after the war. but the Bluzhever Rebbe raised Rebbetzin Bronya's four children as his own.
And the Bluzhever Rebbes today are those children who ate matzah in Bergen Belsen, in the merit of their mother's astonishing determination and faith.
Reprinted from jewishmom.com
Quarantine Kaddish Service
If you are unable to make it to services to say kaddish for a loved one due to Coronavirus, Chabad is here to help by ensuring that the mourner's kaddish will be said in synagogue in their merit. Visit chabad.org's Coronavirus - Resources, Inspiration and Guidance special section to learn more about how volunteers will lovingly help you memorialize your dear departed.
Chabad on Call Seder to Go
Many Chabad-Lubavitch Centers world-wide are preparing to deliver a "Seder to Go" to people's doors who are homebound or in quanentine due to the Coronavirus. Chabad on Call and Seder to are a joint project of Merkos302 and many local Chabad-Lubavitch Centers. Call your local Chabad if you will be alone this Passover and can benefit from a Seder to Go.
3rd of Nissan, 5738 
Greeting and Blessing:
I am in receipt of your letter in which you write about happenings in the family and ask why such untoward happenings did occur, though you find nothing in your conduct and activities that would justify them.
I surely do not have to point out to you that the question of "why do the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper?" is a very old one, and was already asked by Moshe Rabbeinu [Moses] who received the Torah from G-d and handed it over to each and every Jew as an everlasting inheritance for all times. As you probably also know, the whole book of Iyov (Job) is devoted to this problem and it has been dealt with ever since.
The point of the answer given by our Sages, as it has often been explained at length, is by way of the example of a small child who does not understand why his father who is such a wise and kind person sometimes acts in a way which causes a child pain and tears. It would not surprise any person that the child is not in a position to understand the ways of his father although, be it noted, only a number of years separate them in age, and also in intelligence. At the same time, the child instinctively feels and knows that his father loves him and surely it is everything for his benefit., and not for the benefit of any other child or for his own benefit, since it would be unthinkable that a father who has a one and only son, cause pain to his child for the benefit of a stranger or for his own benefit.
If this is so in the case of a child and his father, where the distinction between them is only relative, in terms of age and intelligence, as mentioned above, how much more so in the case of a created being and the Creator, where the distinction is absolute and unbridgeable. Indeed, it would have been most surprising if a human being could understand the way of G-d, except to the extent that G-d Himself, in His kindness, has revealed some aspects of His Divine Providence and in a necessarily very limited way. Moreover, our Torah, Toras Chayim and Toras Emes [Torah of Life and Torah of Truth], assures us that when a Jew strengthens his bitochon and trust in G-d, Whose benevolent Divine Providence extends to each and everyone individually, and Who is the essence of Goodness, and it is the nature of the Good to do good - this in itself opens new insights into a better understanding of G-d's ways and at the same time speeds G-d's blessings in the kind of good that is revealed and evident.
And, as mentioned earlier, this fact that Moshe Rabbeinu already pondered this question, did not in the least affect his simple faith in G-d and did not in any way affect his observance of the Torah and mitzvos [commandments] in his daily life and conduct, and this is also what he bequeathed to each and every Jew in all future generations.
It is surely also unnecessary to point out that this question that might arise under certain circumstances in the life of an individual can just as well be asked in connection with the long-suffering history of our people in exile for the past 1900 years and more. Yet, here too, despite the persecutions, martyrdom and suffering, our people tenaciously clung to the Torah and mitzvos as their only way of life and it has not weakened their belief in and confident hope of the ultimate true and complete geula [Redemption] through our righteous Moshiach, when it will become apparent that the whole long and dark exile was a blessing in disguise.
Much more could be said in this subject, but I hope that the above will suffice to help you regain fully your true Jewish perspective, especially as what has been written above is not intended to answer the question once and for all, but merely to help minimize the doubts and questions which might distract a Jew from his innate simple faith in G-d and in His infinite loving kindness and justice, which is an integral part of every Jew's heritage.
At this time before Pesach, the Festival of our Liberation, I send you and yours prayerful wishes for a kosher and inspiring Pesach and a fuller measure of liberation from all distractions, so as to be able to serve G-d wholeheartedly and with joy.
P.S. It is customary in a situation where one is bothered by doubts and questions, to have the tefillin checked to make sure they are kosher and to be careful in putting them on every weekday morning, since the mitzvah of tefillin, as put o the arm facing the heart and on the head, the seat of intelligence, is conducive to purifying the heart and the mind and making them more perceptive. It is also customary in such a situation to observe meticulously the laws of kashrus of all foods and beverages consumed.
The Baal Shem Tov, meaning "the Master of the Good Name," was born Yisrael, son of Eliezer and Sara on Elul 18, 1698. His teachings, emphasizing the worth of every Jew in G-d's eyes, lifted the spirits of the Jews at that time. He also attracted some of the greatest spiritual giants of his age to his foundational Chassidic teachings. Two of his main teachings are: to love every Jew regardless of his status; and everything that happens is a result of Divine Providence. When the Baal Shem Tov ascended to the heavenly chamber of Moshiach, he asked, "When will you come?" Moshiach replied: "When your teachings will be spread out."
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This Friday, Nissan 2, is the 100th anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Shalom Dovber (the Rebbe Rashab) in 1920, the fifth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch.
The Rebbe Rashab was only 22 years old when his father, Rabbi Shmuel, passed away. It was not until several years later that Rabbi Shalom Dovber took his father's place and assumed the mantle of leadership.
The Rebbe Rashab once commented: "It says in the writings of the Mitteler Rebbe (the second Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch) that 'Conducting business with complete faith in G-d is an even higher level of service than learning Torah for its own sake.' If that is the case, then it is also that much more difficult to accomplish. One must therefore do all one can to become a proper vessel for earning one's livelihood in the proper manner. It is precisely because of the difficulty involved in this that I hesitated, but finally assumed the position of Rebbe."
In the early days of the Rebbe Rashab's leadership someone once asked the Rebbe's brother, Reb Zalman Aharon, if he thought that the present Rebbe was worthy of his position.
Reb Zalman Aharon answered: "Between every two diametrically opposed points in the world there exists a medium, or mean. For example, between the extremely wealthy man and the poverty-stricken beggar are those in the middle class, and between the person who spends his life doing good deeds for his fellow man and one who is cruel and selfish are those whose deeds place them somewhere in the middle. But between a Rebbe and an ordinary person there is no halfway point: one is either a Rebbe or an imposter.
Before his passing, the Rebbe Rashab told his son and successor, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok (the sixth and previous Rebbe), "I am going up to heaven; my writings I am leaving for you."
May we have not just the Rebbe Rashab's writing but the Rebbe himself with Moshiach NOW!
A man who offers of you an offering to G-d (Lev. 1:2)
The logical order of the above words should be, "A man of you who offers an offering to G-d..." Writes Rabbi Shneur Zalman: "A man who offers" - in order that a man become closer to G-d - "of you an offering to G-d" - he must bring the offering of himself. He must sacrifice his personal "animal," the desire for evil that is called the animal soul.
You may not burn any leaven or any honey as a fire offering to G-d (Lev. 2:11)
"Any leaven" - this is a person who is moody or melancholy all the time - in the morning, evening, on Shabbat, holidays or weekdays. He is always sour. "Honey" - is a person who is always pleasant and sweet, whatever happens. His mood is always good; he's always smiling. You may not burn [either of them] as a fire offering to G-d! You cannot properly bring a sacrifice to G-d from either of these emotions. A person must rule his character traits, even his good traits. For, truly, there are times when one must be "leaven" and times when one must be "honey."
(Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch)
With all your sacrifices you shall offer salt (Lev. 2:13)
The sacrifice symbolizes the revealed part of the Torah, which is likened to meat. The salt symbolizes the hidden aspects of Torah which are more spiritual and abstract. This is why each sacrifice had to be brought with salt. In the same way that salt preserves meat from spoiling, so do the inner, esoteric explanations of Torah preserve the revealed part of Torah.
In his voluminous writings, the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, has documented the profound bond he had with his father, Rabbi Sholom Ber, known as the Rebbe Rashab. The following excerpts afford us a glimpse into the unusual childhood years which formed his towering personality.
From the year 5647 (1887) [when the author was seven years old] until 5649 (1889) I did not see my parents, because throughout this time they visited various health resorts abroad. Only occasionally did they return home for a few days. My lifestyle during those two years made me forget my earlier memories of my father.
The warm closeness which my father showed me from the summer of 5649 onwards erased all traces of the suffering which I had undergone as a result of my wanderings and difficulties in the preceding two years, and once again I recollected everything that I had seen and heard in the years before that period.
On the Sabbath my father would pray at considerable length. He would go there when the congregational prayers began at about 9:30 a.m. The congregation finished at about 11:30 a.m. and he would complete his private devotions at about three or sometimes four.
Usually, even those individuals who prayed at length had completed their prayers half an hour or at most an hour after the congregation had finished.
At this age I recalled that when I had been a very little boy, still taught by Reb Yekusiel, I used to run to shul to hear my father at his prayers. At that time, though, my heart was sad: Why didn't my father daven fast like the whole congregation-like my uncles, for example? Once, in answer to my question, my uncle, Reb Zalman Aharon explained to me that my father wasn't able to read all those letters so fast. This made me really sad.
Once, when I was little, I came to shul and found no one there but my father. He was facing the wall and entreating G-d for compassion. I was utterly unable to grasp why he entreated more than all other worshipers and why he was more in need of compassion than other people.
Suddenly, my father wept intensely. My heart fell within me: no one was there in the House of G-d but my father, and he was weeping. I listened carefully and heard that he said Shema Yisrael and wept, and said HaShem Elokeinu and wept. Then, still weeping, he said from the fullness of his heart and in an awesome voice, Hashem Echad.
This time I could contain myself no longer. I went and asked my mother tearfully: "Why does father daven longer than everyone else? My uncle Reb Zalman Aharon says that father can't pronounce the letters quickly, but why can't he read quickly and properly? Besides, today I saw and heard him crying. Mother, come along with me and I'll show you that Father is crying!"
"But what can I do?" replied my mother. "Can I send him to a teacher? Go and ask your grandmother. Perhaps she will be able to do something about it."
Hastening to follow my mother's advice, I went to put my innocent question to my grandmother.
"Your father is a great chasid and a tzadik," she said. "Before any single word leaves his mouth he first thinks of its exact meaning."
As I now recall, her answer set my mind at rest. From that time on I related differently to my father, for I now knew that he was different from all other people. At every single step I began to see just who my father was. Other people talked, and talked excitedly; my father was silent most of the time, and when he spoke he spoke softly.
In the course of one month in the summer of 5649 I became a different boy. My father showed me such closeness that I felt all the warmth of a father, all the love of a compassionate father. I went to sleep with the thought that now I, too, had a father and a mother to whom to say goodnight, and in the course of the following two years I completely forgot the bitter conditions under which I had previously lived.
In the course of those next two years I attained understanding. I was now able to appreciate the great difference between my father and his brothers, that is, between his aspirations and theirs. For over a year now I had been listening to his discourses of Chasidic philosophy, standing behind my father as he delivered them. My father was expounding Chasidut and I was there to hear it.
In the course of those two years the Sabbaths were holy and the festivals were devoted to prayer and joy. Every Sabbath I would listen to the Reading of the Torah while following attentively in a Chumash, and in the course of the day I would study the commentary of Rashi as well. Rosh Hashana of the year 5650 (1889) [when the author was nine years old] was the first Rosh Hashana on which I did everything like an adult. And from that day on I was a grown-up.
When Moshiach will come, then we will really long for the days of exile. Then we will truly feel distress at our having neglected our avoda (spiritual work); then will we indeed feel the deep pain caused by our lack of avoda. These days of exile are the days to prepare ourselves for the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our time, amen.
(Rabbi Sholom Dovber, the Rebbe Rashab)