Kislev 2, 5749 * November 11, 1988
THE WEEKLY PUBLICATION FOR EVERY JEWISH PERSON
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
Published weekly by:
Lubavitch Youth Organization
1408 President Street.
Brooklyn, New York, 11213 USA
Rabbi Shmuel Butman - Director.
Mrs. Yehudis Cohen - Editor.
The Table of Contents contains links to the text. Click on an entry in the Table of Contents and you will move to the information selected.
"Scientists since the time of Linnaeus have given scientific names to and characterized to some degree about 1.4 million species of plants, animals and microorganisms. But the estimates of the actual number that exists range, according to the models employed, between 5 million to 30 million and more."--E. O. Wilson, biologist from Harvard University as quoted in the New York Times.
Have you ever wondered how, with between 5 million and 30 million species of life on earth, we know exactly which animals are kosher and which aren't? According to the Torah, "Among mammals, you may eat [any one] that has true hooves that are cloven and that brings up its cud" (Leviticus 10:3). It then lists four types of non-kosher animals that have either split hooves or chew cud, but not both, which are not to be confused with the kosher types.
And, later on, the Torah enumerates ten varieties of animals that have both signs and are therefore kosher (Deuteronomy 14:4-5).
Over the thousands of years since the giving of the Torah, our scientific knowledge has been expanding. It wasn't too long ago, relatively speaking, that we thought the world was flat and you could fall off if you sailed too far. Today, of course, we know better, which doesn't mean to say that we've reached our limit of knowledge or understanding of the universe.
But isn't it interesting, in fact, quite amazing, that in all these thousands of years since the Torah was given, no other kosher animals other than those ten kinds enumerated have been discovered? And, that further, we have not found, even on the most remote islands or in the deepest jungle, any other species of animal that chews its cud or has split hooves but no both?
By setting aside time every day to study the Torah, you'll find a lot more than just interesting facts about kosher and non-kosher animals. You'll learn about Jewish history, law, ethics, and you!
In the course of this week's Torah portion, *Toldos*, the Torah relates that Isaac dug several wells to supply his family and animals with much-needed water. The first few wells he dug fell into the hands of the Philistines. Undeterred, Isaac dug more wells, in an attempt to uncover the "wells of living water."
Isaac's calling was digging wells--removing earth and stones until fresh fountains of living water sprang up.
Isaac's physical action paralleled his spiritual way of life. Spiritually, he was also a "digger of wells." Throughout his life he attempted to remove the earth and stones," or the mask of materialism and corporeality of the physical world, thus revealing the "wells of living water," or the spirituality inherent in all matter.
When working, Isaac was not dismayed by the seemingly endless dirt obstructing the springs of water. He was also undeterred by the antagonism of the Philistines. Moreover, even when several of the precious and hard-earned wells were captured by the Philistines, Isaac doggedly continued to dig.
Logically, we might think that Isaac should have been discouraged by the obstacles in his path. The Philistines ruled the region where he lived. What is more, Isaac's attempts had repeatedly met with failure.
However, Isaac did not stop to analyze the situation with cold logic. He knew that his Divine mission in life was to "dig wells" (in the spiritual as well as the physical sense) and he committed himself to this task with self-sacrificing devotion and with the conviction that he would eventually reach the source of "living water."
Isaac's mission in life teaches us that we must continually try to influence others in matters pertaining to Judaism. It might even be necessary to "dig beneath the surface" until their hidden "fountains of living water"--their Jewish souls--spring forth of their own accord. However, one must not be dismayed if earth and dust meet the eye; like our forefather Isaac, we must not be deterred by difficulties.
Chasidic philosophy emphasizes that there is a Divine spark within each and every Jew. Hence, we are like Isaac, who strove to reveal hidden wells, and with selfless devotion and determination we will eventually reach a "fountain of living water"--the G-dliness within us all.
From "A Thought for the Week,"--Detroit.
Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
NOT JUST TOYING AROUND
The phone kept on ringing that first *Shabbos*. We sat there just listening and counting. Thirty-five, thirty-six. It just didn't stop. Forty-eight, forty-nine. I decided that if it rang fifty times, it was a real emergency and I would pick it up. On the fiftieth ring, I picked up the phone.
"We thought you weren't going to answer the phone on *Shabbos*," sang a chorus of young voices. "And that was the last time I ever did answer the phone on *Shabbos*," says Miriam Goldstein, a Cleveland stockbroker turned *chasid* fifteen years ago, and more recently president of her own Jewish toy company.
Miriam grew up in a home that was warm to Judaism. "I used to go to shul on *Shabbos* instead of art classes like all of my friends."
Years later, after Miriam's brother passed away, she knew she wanted to speak to a rabbi. She looked in the Yellow Pages under "clergy" and called down the list. No one could see me when I needed them. Either I had to make an appointment for weeks later or I had to be a member. I was about to give up when I read an ad sponsored by Chabad in the Jewish paper. It mentioned that you could call if you had any problems you wanted to discuss with a rabbi. I called, and the rabbi asked, "Can you come now?" I ran right over.
Miriam sat with the rabbi for two hours and he invited her for a *Shabbos* meal. She went with a friend and they enjoyed themselves immensely.
The next week, Miriam went to register her son at the Hebrew day school. Without even discussing it with each other, her friend showed up there, too. We laughed.
We knew what we were supposed to do and decided to go about it in a sensible way. But I told Rabbi Alevsky [head of Chabad activities in Cleveland] that if I saw one flaw, I was through with the whole thing. He said, "You're on." Miriam never had to make good on her threat.
Miriam's husband, Jerry, does not share her enthusiasm for returning to Torah Judaism. But she is quick to point out that he never once said no to anything she wanted to do. He is very supportive of her new company, and the press releases he writes to introduce her new toys exudes pride. They've been married for 23 years and for fifteen of them Miriam has been involved with Chabad.
Miriam became involved with her present endeavor, "Mitzvah Toys," in an unusual way. She was making Bar Mitzva celebrations for her son in four different critics. "There was separate seating for the men and the women at the Bar Mitzva. For most of the people there, it would be their first time at such an event. I didn't want it to be intimidating." Miriam proceeded to design centerpieces with miniatures of mitzvot. There was a kosher kitchen, child's room complete with a tiny tzedaka box, prayer book, and *mezuza*, little candlesticks on a lavishly set *Shabbos* table, and much more.
"Small is emotional," Miriam explains. "People were so busy looking at and enjoying the centerpieces that they forgot to feel uncomfortable." When everyone kept insisting that she had a talent for miniatures, she decided to pursue her newfound hobby.
Presently, although her miniatures are not yet on the market, two of her toys are. One is a toy television that plays a Jewish song while pictures of children doing Jewish things revolve on the screen. The other is a "Shema Doll" which attaches to a crib. When the string is pulled a tune for the "Shema" prayer starts playing while the little doll covers and uncovers his/her eyes. "Mitzva Toys" are the very first Jewish toys to incorporate Jewish tunes.
Whether discussing plans for new toys, or one of her four children, or recalling the "follies" of her youth, Miriam's eyes are always sparkling and laughing. She brings warmth and enthusiasm for life into everything she does.
JEWISH DISCOVERY WEEKEND
Students are invited to attend a weekend of Jewish self-discovery sponsored by the Lubavitch Youth Organization. Scheduled specially to coincide with winter break, the weekend offers an opportunity to be involved in highly stimulating discussions with noted speakers from around the world. Accommodations are in the homes of families in the Lubavitch community of Crown Heights, where one can get a firsthand experience of the warmth and hospitality that makes this community so unique.
The dates for the weekends are December 23-26 for women and December 30-31 for men. Scholarships are available. For more information, call (718) 953-1000 or 493-8581.
TAKE A HIKE
Every week, hundreds of youngsters and adults come to tour the Lubavitch community in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. the hour-long tours (which usually last up to three hours) include interesting and lively discussions and visits to all the "major" attractions in the vibrant Jewish community. Recent tours included groups from Sutton Place Synagogue in Manhattan, confirmants from the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation and the confirmation class from the Washington (D.C.) Hebrew Congregation. Tours for groups are available on request. Just call the Lubavitch Youth Organization at (718) 953-1000.
BEAUTIFUL INSIDE AND OUT
A unique program was attended by Jewish women of Broome County. Ilana Harkavi, makeup artist to stars such as Cher, Marlo Thomas and Cicely Tyson, was the special guest at the October 30 event. Mrs. Harkavi shared her personal story of her return to her Jewish roots, did a complete make-over on one of the lucky participants and shared her techniques and advice with the audience. And elegant dessert buffet delighted the women. This program was sponsored by Chabad of Binghamton.
AHAVAT YISRAEL-THE WHOLE TORAH?
A famous Talmudic story relates how a prospective convert to Judaism asked the Sage Hillel to teach him the entire Torah while standing on one foot.
Hillel answered that one must fulfill the commandment of *Ahavat Yisrael*, love of one's fellow Jew, and that the rest of the Torah is commentary. (He followed with the less-known conclusion, "Go learn!)
In the Torah there are two categories of commandments. One group governs interpersonal relations, prohibiting theft, gossip, falsehood, etc. Another category deals with matters between a Jew and G-d, such as eating kosher, having mezuzot on one's doors, observing the Sabbath, etc.
We are immediately struck with an obvious question. *Ahavat Yisrael* will ensure fulfillment of the first category, since love for an individual means that one would not do anything to harm the individual.
However, *Ahavat Yisrael* does not seem to include all of the other *mitzvot*, which are between the person and G-d. How could Hillel claim that it is the entire Torah?
*Ahavat Yisrael*, in and of itself, is also difficult to understand. Proper fulfillment of this mitzva requires feeling for every single Jew, regardless of how he might behave and how undesirable his personality might seem. *Ahavat Yisrael* must be felt even for a Jew on the other side of the world, whom you have never seen.
This seems to be an impossible task. One cannot feel love unless one feels something positive and attractive about the other person. How can one develop a feeling of love without having seen anything desirable in the person's character or even seen him at all?
The answer is that one must look to the essence of his Jewishness, that which makes him a Jew.
GET TO THE POINT
The sole element which spans all variants of time, philosophy, language and culture is the possession of a Jewish soul.
Regardless of his level of Jewish commitment or knowledge, the Jew possesses a unique Jewish soul. This soul, the irrevocable inheritance of every single Jew, is pure and unsullied, holy and powerful.
To truly have *Ahavat Yisrael*, one must be able to ignore the outer trappings of physical appearance, the niceties of personality and etiquette, and the vestiges of an imperfect upbringing. One must penetrate to the core, and sense the existence of the soul within.
Rabbi Schneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidic philosophy, explained that, "the basis and root purpose of the entire Torah is to elevate and exalt the soul high above the body." This spiritual dimension of *Ahavat Yisrael* is what makes it the entire Torah, for spiritual elevation is what the Torah is all about.
LEARN TO LOVE
Actually, every mitzva has a spiritual dimension. Eating kosher food, for example, is tantamount to saying that there is an existence beyond the physical which is also significant. The kosher laws proclaim that it is not sufficient to merely consider the taste. nutritional value, and price of the food. One must also think of the food's spiritual value, and its effect on the soul.
However, a person might keep kosher even without giving much thought to its spiritual importance. He might be eating kosher because his ancestors did so, for example, or because he finds it culturally satisfying.
True, he is fulfilling the mitzva of keeping kosher, and this mitzva will lead him to do others, but the manner in which he does the mitzva limits its ability to enhance his spiritual progress.
*Ahavat Yisrael*, on the other hand, cannot be done merely out of habit. Although some people have a nature which enables them to tolerate, and even love, a vide range of individuals, there always comes a point at which love becomes impossible.
The only way to feel love for every single Jew, without exception, is to relate to his spiritual existence, his soul. Therefore, it is specifically *Ahavat Yisrael*, from among all the mitzvot, which is the paradigm of the entire Torah. Its proper fulfillment brings with it the spiritual elevation which is the basis of the entire Torah.
RONI means "my joy." It can also be used as a feminine name.
RIVKA means "to bind." Rivka was the second matriarch, wife of Yitzchak (Isaac) and mother of Jacob and Esau. Although she grew up among coarse people, she distinguished herself by her kindness and generosity, proving that she was truly a member of Abraham's family.
We can never take our children for granted. We see a living example from this week's Torah portion and our ancestor, Yitzchak. Yitzchak had two sons: Yaacov was a great person, but Esau was very evil.
Some of us might not be so worried that our children won't turn out right. We might think, "My child has two things going for him: he's from a great family and, in all modesty, he's my child. It can't happen to me."
Well, as painful as it may be, it has to be said. It can happen in any family and to anyone. No one was greater than Yitzchak. He was the son of Abraham. He was a G-dly sacrifice. It happened to him!
We can not and must not take our children for granted. If we do, they'll resent it. We must give them time, teach them, guide them, show them the proper path, and then we can hope, that with G-d's help, we will merit to have the results of Yaacov.
For it says of Yaacov, "His bed was complete," meaning that all of his children followed in his ways and were completely righteous.
Good luck to all of us.
Rabbi Shmuel Butman
Dovid and Meir had been childhood friends. From the earliest they could remember, they were partners in Torah study. After they both married, Dovid mysteriously disappeared and Meir didn't see him for many years. Meir did, however, hear that Dovid had joined the disciples of the Besht (or Baal Shem Tov) and eventually became the Rabbi of Nikolayev.
Meir eventually inherited his father-in-law's business and divided his time between business and Torah study. On one of his many trips to a fair in a far-off city, he was staying in an inn where he saw a group of *chasidim* rejoicing.
"What are you rejoicing about?" asked Rabbi Meir.
"Rabbi Dovid of Nikolayev is here," they answered him.
Rabbi Meir realized that they were speaking of his childhood friend, and asked the *chasidim* where Rabbi Dovid was. They pointed to a closed door. Rabbi Meir knocked on the door. "Dovid, open the door for me!"
Rabbi Dovid opened the door and recognized his old friend. They fell on each other in great excitement.
"Why did you go to the Baal Shem Tov?" Rabbi Meir began.
"Remember when you and I used to discuss that we wanted to learn Torah *lishma*--for its own sake--but we were not able to reach that level? I heard that in the Besht's circle, they learned Torah *lishma*."
"And what made you stay, once you got there?" asked Rabbi Meir.
"When I came to the Besht," answered Rabbi Dovid, "I didn't find what I was looking for at first. But the *chasidim* encouraged me to stay a while longer. I stayed the eve of *Shabbat* and managed to be in the Besht's room when he read the holy book, Song of Songs. Truly, it was something to hear. I felt as if a tumult was being made in the heavens. But I still wasn't convinced that this was the place for me.
"Yet, the Besht's *chasidim* convinced me to stay on, at least until they observed the *yartzeit* of one of his parents. The entire night of the *yartzeit*, the Besht stayed in his room repeating the six books of the *Mishna* by heart. The *chasidim* were certain that this phenomenon would convince me. I waited until the night of the *yartzeit*, and there was truly something to be awed by. However, I still was not convinced.
"Stay until the night after the *yartzeit*, the *chasidim* told me, 'for the Besht will fast for the entire day and then, at night, he will make a big meal for the greatest of his students. If you attend this meal, it is impossible that you won't be totally drawn to the Besht.' 'But prepare yourself well,' they warned me. 'Most people fall asleep during the meal.'
"I agreed to stay. I rested well in preparation for the evening. I even said special prayers to help me stay awake. At the meal, the Besht sat at the head of the table, surrounded by his *chasidim*. He began to expound on the meditations for immersing in the ritual bath (*mikva*). "One of his students stood up and said, 'Rebbe, the Arizal [Rabbi Yitzchak Luria] explains this concept differently.'
"The Besht's face went a fiery red, and then a deathly white. Immediately, I became exhausted and could not stop myself from falling asleep. While asleep, I saw many people running somewhere. I asked the people where they were going and they told me that in a few minutes the Besht was going to expound on some deep concept. I, too, began to run.
"We arrived at a large building and I saw two seats in the middle of the hall. I was told the seats were for the Besht and the Arizal. I managed to stand right near the Besht's chair.
"The Besht began to expound on the mediations for immersion in the ritual bath. After he finished his lecture, the Arizal asked him many questions and the Besht answered him. Thus proceeded the exchange until the Arizal acknowledged the truth of the Besht's words.
"Immediately thereafter I awoke to find myself once again at the festive meal with the Besht. The Besht once again began to expound on the meditations for the *mikva* and the same disciple said once more, 'But the Arizal explains differently.'
"The Besht looked straight at me and said, 'Dovid, stand and tell us what you saw!'
"And that," concluded Rabbi Dovid, "is how the Besht captured my soul." When Rabbi Meir heard this story, he decided to travel together with Rabbi Dovid to the Besht and eventually became one of his greatest *chasidim*.
"And Jacob went out from Beer-Sheva, and went toward Charan" (Genesis 28:10).
The Torah is always succinct in its choice of words. The above verse could have said, simply, "And Jacob went toward Charan." However, the inclusion of the first part of the verse teaches us that the departure of a righteous person from any place makes an impression on it. For, during the time that a righteous person is in a city, he constitutes its glory, its splendor, its own. When he departs, all those things go with him. (Rashi)
"A ladder was standing on the ground and the top of it reached to heaven" (28:12).
Prayer is the ladder that connects our souls with G-d. Although it stands "on the ground," beginning with no more than acknowledgment of G-d's greatness, its top (the *Amida*, or silent prayer) reaches this level through the prior attainment of understanding inherent in the *Shema* itself. (*Hayom Yom*from the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe)
The Hebrew word for "ladder" (*sulam*) has the same numerical value as "money" (*mamon*). This teaches us that money is like a ladder--it can be used to ascend and come closer to the heavens, or with it one can descend to the depths. Everything depends on how we use it and for what purpose. (The Baal Shem Tov)
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