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Erev Shavuot, 5763

Sivan 5, 5763
June 5, 2003

Your Shavuot Guide

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Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12


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The Daily Sicha (in Real Audio) - Listen to selected excerpts of the Rebbe's Sichos
[talks] which are relevant to the particular day.


We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, the 345th issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.


This week's issue focuses on the festive holiday of Shavuot, which begins on Thursday night, June 5.

Therefore, we present here "Your Shavuot Guide,"* and other related material about Shavuot.


Our sincere appreciation to L'Chaim weekly publication, published by the Lubavitch Youth Organization, for allowing us to use their material.

Also, many thanks to our copy editor, Reb Mordechai Staiman, for his tireless efforts.


It is our fervent hope that our learning about Moshiach and the Redemption will hasten the coming of Moshiach, NOW!

Rabbi Yosef Y. Shagalov,
Committee for the Blind

Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5763
Brooklyn, New York


*) Published by Outreach Publishing Corp (http://www.outreach770.com).

Reb Yoel ben Reb Yehoshua
Passed away on 14 Iyar, 5761


Dear Friend:

Following Pesach -- the Festival of Our Liberation, comes Shavuot -- the Festival of the Receiving of Our Torah. The days of sefirah (counting of the Omer), beginning immediately on the morrow of the first day of Pesach and ending on the eve of Shavuot, connect these two great festivals.

Many significant lessons can be learned from this, of which I will point out but one:

Our Sages tell us that when Moses was about to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, he told them of G-d's promise to give the Torah to His beloved people following their liberation from bondage. At once they asked when would that happy day be, and Moses replied that it would be fifty days later. Every day the children of Israel counted: One day is gone, two days, three, and so on, and eagerly looked forward to the fiftieth day. For the children of Israel understood that there could be no real freedom -- freedom from any fear of oppression by others, and freedom from one's own evil inclinations -- except through laws of justice and righteousness, which only the Creator of all mankind could make, because He knows best what is good for them. It is not surprising, therefore, that they were so eager to receive the Divine Torah, containing those wonderful laws to guide them and all the world.

Let us also remember that we cannot be truly free men, nor would we be worthy of such freedom, unless we take upon ourselves to observe and do all that G-d commanded us in His holy Torah. Like our ancestors at Mount Sinai, we also must proclaim: "Naaseh v'nishma" -- we will do and obey; and only then will we have lasting freedom. Indeed, it was their determination, while still in Egypt, to accept the Torah that merited them their liberation from enslavement. Likewise at this time, our return to the Torah and its observance, while awaiting the Redemption, will hasten the coming of Messiah and merit us the true and complete Redemption in our own day.

Wishing you a happy Shavuot,

Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson


The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of Lubavitch, issued a call that "The time of our Redemption has arrived!" and "Moshiach is on his way!"

The Rebbe stressed that he is saying this as a prophecy, and asks us all to prepare ourselves for the Redemption, through increasing acts of goodness and kindness.

Let us all heed the Rebbe's call.


Each year when the holiday of Shavuot approaches, we are reminded of the beautiful Midrash that teaches that the Jewish children of every generation are the reason why G-d gave us the gift of the Torah:

When G-d asked what assurance the Jewish people were offering that the Torah would be studied, loved and cherished, the Jewish people offered our Patriarchs as security. But this was not accepted. We then offered the Torah scholars as the guarantors. This, too, was not acceptable. It was only when we offered our children as guarantors that G-d approved our proposal and gave us the Torah.

On the anniversary of an event, the "spiritual energy" that was infused by G-d into that event is at its strongest. This is the reason why, for example, we should do our utmost to celebrate our birthdays properly each year. This is true, too, concerning every Jewish holiday. Which means that on Shavuot -- the celebration of the Giving of the Torah -- the spiritual energy that was invested into that day 3,315 years ago is at its strongest.

What is the special spiritual energy of Shavuot and how can we benefit from it? It was on Shavuot that our ancestors proclaimed, "We will do and then we will learn." So this is the time when we recommit ourselves to the actual performance of mitzvot -- even if we haven't yet learned or don't yet understand their reasons.

Shavuot is also the time when the spiritual energy of our children, being the guarantors for the Torah, is at its strongest. This is the time when we must renew our commitment to provide our children with a proper Jewish upbringing and education as well as facilitating the proper Jewish education of all Jewish children, wherever they may be.

We can begin doing both of the above by going to the synagogue this Shavuot to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments and by bringing along with us Jewish children of all ages -- children in age, children at heart, or children in Jewish knowledge. Be there, and be a part of a 3,315-year-old unbroken chain of Jewish commitment and pride.


Three people in Jewish history are particularly associated with Shavuot: Moshe, King David and the Baal Shem Tov. And these three great leaders were also intimately connected with Moshiach and the Redemption.

As the one through whom the Torah was given to the Jewish people, Moshe is intimately connected with Shavuot. The Torah, in some places, is even referred to as Torat Moshe (The Torah of Moshe). Moshiach will be so like Moshe in his leadership qualities, humility and Torah scholarship that our Sages even stated, "Moshe is the first redeemer and the last redeemer."

Shavuot is the birthday and anniversary of the passing of King David. One of the functions of Moshiach is that he will restore the Davidic dynasty, for Moshiach will be a descendant of King David, a human king.

Finally, we come to the Baal Shem Tov. The Baal Shem Tov, too, passed away on Shavuot. In a famous letter to his brother-in-law, the Baal Shem Tov described a spiritual "journey" when he visited the chamber of Moshiach. He asked Moshiach, "Master, when will you come?" Moshiach replied, "When your wellsprings -- your teachings -- will spread forth to the outside."

The Baal Shem Tov's teachings -- Chasidus -- were recorded and expounded upon by his various disciples. They are a foretaste of the new and deeper revelations of Torah that we are promised will be revealed and taught by Moshiach himself.

This year on Shavuot, when all Jews, young and old, gather in our synagogues to reexperience the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, let us also reconnect with the essence of the holiday and cry out for the ultimate revelation of the Torah and G-d through Moshiach.

Sivan 6-7, 5763
June 5-7, 2003


Shavuot, a Major Festival

Shavuot, the second of the three major festivals, comes exactly fifty days after Passover. It marks the giving of the Torah by G-d to the entire Jewish people on Mt. Sinai 3,315 years ago. In Hebrew the word Shavuot means "weeks" and stands for the seven weeks during which the Jewish people prepared themselves for the giving of the Torah. During this time they rid themselves of the scars of bondage and became a holy nation ready to stand before G-d.

The Giving of the Torah

The giving of the Torah was far more than an historical event. It was a far-reaching spiritual event -- one that touched the essence of the Jewish soul then and for all time. Our Sages have compared it to a wedding between G-d and the Jewish people. We became His special nation and He became our G-d.

The Importance of Shavuot Today

Each year, Shavuot is the special time for us to reawaken and strengthen our special relationship with G-d. We can do so by rededicating ourselves to the observance and study of the Torah -- our most precious heritage.

Every man, woman and child, including young infants, should attend services at least on the first day of Shavuot, Friday morning, June 6, and hear the Torah reading of the Ten Commandments.


Many Chabad-Lubavitch Centers have "ice cream" parties for the children to make the experience even more enjoyable.

For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).


A Pivotal Moment in History

Our Sages tell us that the revelation of the Torah on Mt. Sinai was a defining moment in the history of humanity. What really happened on the sixth day of Sivan, 2448 -- and why is it so significant in our everyday lives today?

"The heavens belong to the Lord," says King David in the Psalms, "but the earth, He gave to humankind." With these words, King David describes the original human condition in a nutshell. We live in a down-to-earth, mundane, material world. The spiritual essence of things is hidden from us. We go through life, trying to do the best we can with what we are given, but without knowing the true heavenly purpose of our existence, we often stumble, and sometimes we fall.

With the revelation at Mt. Sinai, that reality began to change. For the very first time, heaven touched down upon earth, and earthly beings acquired the ability to lift themselves up above the mundane, to unite with the Divine. And the Sages explain that now, ever since the Giving of the Torah, this breakthrough event is re-enacted each time we perform a Divine Commandment. The mitzvot are our everyday, practical means of bringing heaven down to earth, and elevating this material world back up to its spiritual source.

Preparing for Perfection

Had the Al-mighty desired to establish an instantaneous spiritual paradise on earth, surely He could have done so. Clearly, this was not His plan. Even after Sinai, it takes effort and dedication on our part to bring heaven and earth together. We must exert ourselves to do the mitzvot. Each mitzvah we perform (the very word "mitzvah" comes from the Hebrew "tzavta" -- connection) connects the physical with the spiritual. The rewards of a mitzvah are immeasurable: our actions can bring about a powerful revelation of G-dliness in this everyday world, and enable us to actually experience our oneness with G-d.

When, for example, we take physical ink and parchment, write a mezuzah, and place it on the doorpost in accordance with the Torah commandment, we bring heavenly revelation into the home, and raise up those physical objects to a higher spiritual plane. Or when we eat kosher food, and say the appropriate blessings over the food, we elevate the mundane act of eating with holy purpose, and bring spirituality into our inner lives.

So too, with the mitzvot of human interaction. With every Torah-inspired act of kindness we perform, we bring Divine loving kindness down into this world, and make our own human character traits that much more Divine.

The cumulative effect of all these mitzvot is to prepare the world for the ultimate unification of the physical and material, with the coming of the true and complete redemption with Moshiach. Then, there will no longer be barriers between heaven and earth. We will be able to see the very essence of spiritual reality with our fleshly eyes, and we will live together, in peace and harmony, amidst material and spiritual abundance. May it occur speedily, immediately, in our days.


Ordinarily, we are permitted on Yom Tov to prepare only the foods necessary for that same day. This year, however, the second day of Shavuot falls on Shabbat, and the Shabbat meals must, as always, be prepared before Shabbat. Therefore, special action is required so that we may prepare the Shabbat meals on Friday. The Eruv Tavshillin ceremony, performed on Thursday, June 5, before sundown, renders this permissible.

How To Make An Eruv Tavshillin

On Thursday, June 5, by day (before sundown), the head of the household takes a chalah that was prepared for Shabbat, and well over one ounce of some cooked food, such as fish, meat, or hard-boiled eggs.

He hands this to another adult, through whom he grants a share [of this Eruv] to the entire community.

The one who makes the Eruv says:

I hereby grant a share in this Eruv to anyone who
wishes to participate in it and to depend upon it.

The one holding the food then raises it up 4 inches and gives it back to the head of the household, who recites this blessing:

Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom
A-sher Ki-de-sho-nu Be-mitz-vo-sov Ve-tzi-vo-nu Al Mitz-vas Ei-ruv.


Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe,
who has sanctified us with His commandments,
and commanded us concerning the Mitzvah of Eruv.

He then also says:

Through this it shall be permissible for us to bake,
to cook, to put away [a dish to preserve its heat], to kindle
a light, and to prepare and do on the Festival all that is
necessary for the Shabbat -- for us and for all Israelites
who dwell in this city.

The food from the Eruv should be put aside to be eaten on Shabbat. The best time to eat it is on Shabbat afternoon, at the "Third Seudah (meal)."



For local candle lighting times:
consult your local Rabbi, Chabad-Lubavitch Center, or call: (718) 774-3000.
or: http://www.candlelightingtimes.org/shabbos

For a free candle lighting kit:
contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.

For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).

Times shown are for Metro NY - NJ

Thursday, June 5:

Friday, June 6:

  • Everyone, men, women and children, including young infants, should attend synagogue services in the morning and hear the reading of the Ten Commandments.
  • Light Shabbat and Yom Tov Candles,(2) by 8:04 p.m. Say blessings #2 & 3.

Saturday, June 7:

  • Yizkor memorial prayers are said during the morning services.
  • Shabbat and Yom Tov ends at nightfall, at 9:15 p.m.


1. If lighting after sunset, light only from a preexisting flame.

A preexisting flame is a flame burning continuously since the onset of the festival, such as a pilot light, gas or candle flame.

2. Do not light after sunset; and light only from a preexisting flame.

The Shabbat and Yom Tov candles must be lit 18 minutes before sunset. It is prohibited and is a desecration of the Shabbat to light the candles after sunset.


After lighting the candles, recite:


Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom A-sher Ki-de-sho-nu
Be-mitz-vo-sov Ve-tzi-vo-nu Le-had-lik Ner Shel Yom Tov.


Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Yom Tov light.


Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom
A-sher Ki-de-sho-nu Be-mitz-vo-sov Ve-tzi-vo-nu
Le-had-lik Ner Shel Sha-bos V-shel Yom Tov.


Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Shabbat and Yom Tov light.


Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom She-heche-yo-nu
Ve-ki-ye-mo-nu Ve-higi-o-nu Liz-man Ha-zeh.


Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has granted us life,
sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.


We will do and we will listen

When G-d was about to give the Torah to the Jewish people, he offered it first to all the nations of the world. After inquiring what was written in it, each of the nations found something in the Torah that was not agreeable to their way of life. When G-d offered the Torah to the Jewish people, they did not ask what it contained, but immediately exclaimed, "Naaseh v'nishma" -- we will do and we will listen. Because of this unconditional devotion and acceptance of G-d's law, G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people. In addition, He gave two crowns to each and every Jew -- one for the Naaseh and one for the Nishma.

The Best Guarantors

Before G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people, He demanded guarantors who would ensure its preservation. The Jews suggested many great people, but their proposals were all rejected by G-d. Finally, they declared, "our children will be our guarantors" -- the generations to come would continue to observe and cherish the Torah. G-d immediately accepted these guarantors and agreed to give the Torah to the Jewish people.

Indeed, we see that throughout history our people's connection to Torah has been dependent upon the Jewish children. The enemies of our people understood this concept well, and they sought to prevent Jewish children from receiving a Torah education in their attempts to destroy our faith.

As we celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, we must reaffirm our commitment to providing a true Torah education for our children -- our only guarantors.

The Written and Oral Law

The Torah is composed of two parts: the written law and the oral law. The written Torah contains the Five Books of Moses, the Prophets and the Writings. Together with the written Torah, Moses was also given the oral law, which explains and clarifies the written law. It was transmitted orally from generation to generation and eventually transcribed in the Talmud and Midrash. Throughout the generations our people have studied these works, commenting upon them, clarifying their meanings, deriving practical applications of these principles and codifying the laws derived from them. Thus, a continuous chain of tradition extends throughout the generations, connecting the scholars of the present day to the revelation at Mt. Sinai.

The 'Blueprint' for Creation

Speaking metaphorically, our Sages tell us that G-d constantly "gazes into the Torah and creates the world." The Torah is not only a practical guide for our behavior in daily life, but also on a deeper level it is actually the "blueprint" for creation. Everything that happens in our lives is a manifestation of G-d's wisdom, as expressed in His Torah. As such, Torah represents the very source of our vitality, and the key to the fulfillment of our deepest aspirations.

When we study Torah, even on the simplest level, we link our minds and hearts with G-d's true purpose in creating the world. Our actions become a direct expression of G-d's will; our feelings become imbued with His benevolence; our minds become illuminated with His wisdom.

Reliving the Revelation of Mt. Sinai

The Revelation at Mt. Sinai was a tumultuous, awe-inspiring experience. The entire universe, our Sages say, trembled with the piercing sound of the ram's horn. Thunder and lightning filled the skies. Then -- silence. Not a bird chirped. No creature spoke. The seas did not stir. Even the angels ceased to fly, as the voice was heard: "I am the L-rd your G-d . . ."

Our Sages tell us that the Revelation at Mt. Sinai is an event that is not merely ancient history, but an experience that can be relived each time we study the Torah. The awe and delight of Divine revelation are available to us, if we will only open our awareness to G-d's gift and learn it the proper way.

The Ten Commandments

When G-d revealed Himself on Mt. Sinai, our entire people heard His voice proclaiming the Ten Commandments:

"1) I am the L-rd your G-d Who took you out of the land of Egypt.

2) You shall have no other gods before Me.

3) Do not take the name of the L-rd your G-d in vain.

4) Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.

5) Honor your father and mother.

6) Do not murder.

7) Do not commit adultery.

8) Do not steal.

9) Do not bear false witness.

10) Do not covet."

These ten commands range from the highest and most refined concept of the belief in the oneness of G-d to the most basic laws that every society has found it necessary to enforce for not killing and not stealing.


Keeping Secrets

Contrary to popular opinion, it was not just the Ten Commandments that we received on Mount Sinai. The revelation encompassed every dimension of Torah, including the deepest mystical secrets. Our Sages tell us that every Jew at Sinai saw a vision of the Divine Chariot, as described (many centuries later) in the prophecy of Ezekiel. This sublime manifestation of G-dliness is the core of the wisdom of the Kabbalah.

Throughout most of our history, this esoteric, inner dimension of Torah was kept hidden, studied only by the select few. While mainstream Jewish scholarship focused primarily on talmudic logic and practical laws, the mystical aspects of Torah were taught only in private, one on one, to those deemed worthy. The secrets of the Kabbalah were considered too potent to be revealed to the masses.

The Affliction and the Cure

As the centuries passed, the Jews of the Diaspora became increasingly engulfed in the darkness of exile. Persecution and poverty eroded our faith. The spiritual awareness that had been prevalent in biblical times gradually gave way to ignorance and despair. Jewry was "fainting"; powerful medicine was required to revive her.

By Divine Providence, the "elixir" appeared: the esoteric wisdom of Torah began to emerge from private sanctuaries into the public domain. Kabbalistic texts that had been buried for centuries were suddenly unearthed and published. Sages began to promulgate profound teachings that kindled sparks in the hearts of the downtrodden. And with the advent of a remarkable man named Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, the ancient mystical truths were eventually revealed and rendered accessible to every man. The new movement was called Chasidism, and its goal was to unleash the unlimited potential of the human soul.

Inner Vitality, Outer Joy

Chasidism explains the inner dimension of the Torah in practical, understandable terms. Those who study Chasidus find that it has a profound effect upon their lives. Spiritual concepts that may have once been obscure are imbued with new light and new relevance; mitzvot that may have once seemed rote and ritualistic become vibrant, alive and full of significance. Chasidus can transform pessimism into optimism, despair into joy -- and help us reexperience the illumination of the Revelation at Sinai.

Most important, chasidic thought affects our actions. A greater awareness of the Divine inspires us to make this world a better place in which to live. We become more charitable, more just, more appreciative of one another... and ultimately, we help hasten the imminent Redemption of the messianic age.


Chasidus classes are available for people of all ages and backgrounds. For information, call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.

For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).


The modern-day emergence of Torah mysticism into the public domain began with the 13th-century publication of the Zohar -- the kabbalistic magnum opus of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, written more than 1,000 years before.

In the sixteenth century, Rabbi Isaac Luria, known as the "Holy Ari," unveiled his systematic exposition of the mysteries of the Kabbalah. The Ari bestowed an unprecedented richness and clarity upon the esoteric teachings. But his doctrine was accessible only to accomplished scholars. It was not until the 18th-century beginnings of the chasidic movement that the inner dimension of Torah became available to the ordinary Jew.

The Baal Shem Tov (whose yahrtzeit is on the first day of Shavuot), was the founder of modern Chasidism. He and his disciples communicated the highest wisdom in everyday language, bringing mystical joy and enthusiasm to the oppressed masses of European Jewry. Then, two generations later, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi -- the Baal Shem Tov's "spiritual grandson" -- founded the Chabad school of chasidic philosophy. Contemporary Chabad Chasidus expounds the chasidic teachings in rational, readily understood, intellectual terms, and illuminates every facet of the Jewish way of life.


Fruits, Flowers and Greens

It is customary on Shavuot to adorn the synagogue and home with fruits, flowers and greens.

Fruits: In the time of the Temple the first fruits were brought to the Temple beginning on Shavuot.

Flowers: Our Sages taught that although Mt. Sinai was situated in a desert, in honor of the Torah the desert bloomed and sprouted flowers.

Greens: Our Sages taught that on Shavuot judgment is rendered regarding the trees of the field.

Tikun Leil Shavuot

The Torah was given at daybreak. Our tradition relates that the Jewish people did not rise early to be prepared for that revelation, and that it was necessary for G-d Himself to awaken them. To compensate for their behavior it is customary to stay up the entire first night of Shavuot studying Torah. This custom is called "Tikun Leil Shavuot."


Cheese blintzes are served hot, with sour cream or applesauce. They are a special favorite on Shavuot when it is customary to eat dairy products (not hard cheese) before the main lunch meal.


4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 tbsp. sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
pinch of salt


16 oz. cottage cheese
2 egg yolks
2 tbsps. margarine or butter, melted
2 tbsps. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla sugar
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/3 cup oil for frying

Batter: Combine eggs and milk. Add sour cream and blend well. Add flour gradually. Mix well until batter is smooth. Heat on a low flame a small amount of oil in an 8-inch frying pan until hot but not smoking. Ladle a small amount of batter (approx. 1 ounce) into pan, tipping pan in all directions until batter covers the entire bottom of the pan. Fry on one side until set and golden, approx. 1 minute. Slip pancake out of pan and repeat until all batter is used. Add oil to pan as necessary.

Filling: In another bowl mix all ingredients for filling.

Assemble: Fill each pancake on golden side with 3 tbsps. of filling. Fold in sides to center and roll blintze until completely closed. Replace rolled blintzes in pan and fry for 2 minutes, turning once.


Everyone should attend, especially children and infants. 3,315 years ago, the children of Israel stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and received the Torah from G-d. Together they proclaimed: "We will do and we will listen." Each year on the holiday of Shavuot, this historic event is relived as we commit ourselves anew to observing the Torah.

Every Jewish man, woman and child should make every effort to be present in the synagogue at least on Friday morning, June 6, as the Ten Commandments are read from the Torah.

This message is in response to a special call by the Rebbe, that all Jews, especially children who are the "Guarantors of Torah," hear the reading of the Ten Commandments and the account of the revelation at Mt. Sinai on the Holiday of Shavuot.

At a synagogue near you


The most important principle in the Torah is the protection of Jewish life.

It's more important than Shabbat, more important than holidays, even fasting on Yom Kippur.

Right now, in Israel, and everywhere, Jews must stand together in unity and do whatever possible to protect Jewish life.

The Rebbe taught that there are ten important Mitzvot we can do to protect life. See what you can do:

1) Ahavat Yisroel: Behave with love towards another Jew.

2) Learn Torah: Join a Torah class.

3) Make sure that Jewish children get a Torah true education.

4) Affix kosher Mezuzot on all doorways of the house.

5) For men and boys over 13: Put on Tefillin every weekday.

6) Give Charity.

7) Buy Jewish holy books and learn them.

8) Light Shabbat & Yom Tov candles. A Mitzvah for women and girls.

9) Eat and drink only Kosher Food.

10) Observe the laws of Jewish Family Purity.

In addition, the Rebbe also urged every man, woman and child to Purchase a Letter in a Sefer Torah. There are several Torah scrolls being written to unite Jewish people and protect Jewish life.

Letters for children can be purchased for only $1. Send your Hebrew name and your mother's Hebrew name plus $1 to:

"Children's Sefer Torah,"
P. O. Box 8,
Kfar Chabad, 72915, Israel

or via the Internet, at: http://www.kidstorah.org

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