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                         L'CHAIM - ISSUE # 1025
                           Copyright (c) 2008
                 Lubavitch Youth Organization - L.Y.O.
                              Brooklyn, NY
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   Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
        June 20, 2008           Sh'lach           17 Sivan, 5768

                             Cruising Along

With summer almost here, many of us look forward to various activities
associated with water. Swimming, jet-skiing, canoeing, and even relaxing
on a cruise ship - whether for an afternoon or a fortnight.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that we can learn a lesson from everything we
see and hear. From a boat cruise, as well, there is a lesson to be

The natural habitat of man is on terra firma; sailing off to sea is
something different, a bit out of the ordinary. Since the sea is not the
norm for human life, one must travel on sea by a vessel that offers
protection and provides for the person's needs while at sea.

In ancient times and yes, even today, crossing an ocean or travelling
long distances on water, can be dangerous. Thus, when we return to solid
ground, we are enjoined to thank G-d through the special "HaGomel"
blessing. As we read in Psalms (107:23-31):

"Those who go down to the sea in ships.... Let them give thanks to G-d
for His kindness, and [proclaim] His wonders to the children of man."

Going down to sea is symbolic of the descent of the soul into the
physical world and its journey through life. For life in this world is
compared to the stormy sea comprised of much water.

In Song of Songs, it says, "Many waters cannot extinguish the fire of
this love, nor rivers wash it away." Chasidic philosophy explains that
the "many waters" are the difficulties of earning a livelihood and the
tendency to become engrossed in worldly matters. Yet these problems,
pressures, stress and difficulties, cannot extinguish the love - the
hidden love - that exists in every Jewish soul by its very nature and
which radiates from its G-dly soul.

What course should we follow to save ourselves from these tumultuous
waters overwhelming us to the point that we feel that we are "drowning"?
We should travel on the sea in a sturdy ship, a ship fashioned of Torah
study and the performance of mitzvot (commandments). On such ocean
liners the soul will chart a safe course through the stormy sea and
reach its destination in peace.

This is the lesson to be gleaned from an ocean cruise. Just as we can
exist at sea only if we are on a sturdy ship, so too, can we sail or
cruise through life, only on a craft comprised of Torah and mitzvot.

An additional point: when one encourages another Jew to get more
involved in Jewish living and learning, he is not only giving him/her
good advice, he is actually telling him how to stay afloat and alive. If
someone is drowning, G-d forbid, pulling him onto your boat is not just
doing him a favor it is saving his life.

Cruising on a boat also has the aspect of leisure and pleasure, it is
not something which is absolutely necessary. Those who will join the
cruise will choose to do so for the sake of having a good time.

The analogue of this facet of the cruise adds another facet to the
observance of Torah and mitzvot. For not only do we observe Torah and
mitzvot because they are our lifesaver - but we can and should also
derive great pleasure in our Torah and mitzvot. And we should remember
all of this even once we've docked and returned to dry land!

     Adapted from an essay by Sichos in English, based on a talk of
                                             the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Imagine that the owner of a wide network of factories would send his
representative to a new country to see if he could expand his operations
and build a new factory there. The representative goes to the new land,
checks out the conditions, and returns to his boss with a full report,
suggesting that it is not a good idea to build there, and that the land
will not suit the boss's purposes. What does the factory owner do? He
punishes him for bringing back a negative report.

When we look at this week's Torah portion, Shelach, it seems as if we
have a similar situation. Moses sent spies to the Land of Israel in
order to get a report on the conditions there. The spies returned with
the gloomy news: "The people dwelling in the land are strong, the cities
are very strongly walled and great, and we also saw the children of
giants there." The spies were harshly punished by G-d for their message,
and the Torah describes them as having "brought an evil report against
the land."

Why were they punished at all? Were they not merely fulfilling their
mission? Their job was to check out the land, "What it is, and whether
the people dwelling in it are strong...the cities, if they are open
places or fortified," and this is what they did. Is it their fault that
the land was occupied by giants and the cities were reinforced? Should
they have given a false report upon their return?

The true sin of the spies was that they digressed from their mission.
They were only required to describe the Land of Israel, in order for the
Jews to know how best to approach and conquer it in a natural manner.
The spies were not satisfied with a mere description; they had to
editorialize as well and added their opinion as to the likelihood of it
being conquered. When they added their own deductions, this caused the
Children of Israel to lose faith in G-d and begin to despair. The sin of
the twelve spies lies in their comment, "We will not be able to go up
against the people, for they are stronger than us."

The spies' transgression was that their faith in G-d's commandment was
not great enough. When G-d commands that something be done, a Jew must
have faith that it is possible. G-d does not require anything of man
which is above his capabilities. Even a mortal, possessing the minimum
of understanding and responsibility, will not ask a person to do
something which is impossible. Every artisan who fashions a vessel
creates it so that it will fulfill its purpose and not break. How much
more so is this true about G-d. When the King of Kings commands us to do
something, there is no doubt that it is within our grasp, or else it
would not have been commanded.

However, we must remember that although man must be sure of his ability
to perform mitzvot, he must not rely on miracles to accomplish them.
Indeed, mitzvot must be done through natural means, as this is the will
of G-d. A Jew must find the best way according to the laws of nature, to
succeed in his tasks. That is why Moses sent the spies; to discover the
best approach to conquer Israel militarily. The sin of the spies was
that they put all their faith in nature itself, and forgot Who created
that very nature.

                   Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

                             SLICE OF LIFE
                       36 More Children Welcomed

Members of Chabad's Children of Chernobyl office in New York are asked
to spell "Chernobyl" dozens of times each day by people scattered
throughout America.

In 1986, a nuclear reactor blew up. People died instantly, the
government announced that the radioactive debris falling was actually
snow, and cancer rates and birth defects skyrocketed; and yet, people
are still asking how to spell "Chernobyl."

The impact of the nuclear meltdown caused a global reaction. People in
the region suffered physically, mentally, and financially, people
outside of the region suffered from nuclear panic. The years passed and,
as the children of the Chernobyl region began to mature, the affects of
the radiation became increasingly apparent.

By 1990, Chernobyl reached epidemic proportions. The earth, air and
water cycled radioactivity through every part of the Chernobyl
ecosystem; food, drinking water, and oxygen were and continue to be
radioactive vehicles forcing its way into the bodies of innocent
children. Immune systems were shattered; premature death became a grim
reality. And yet, people are still asking how to spell "Chernobyl."

In that same year, 1990, the Lubavitcher Rebbe stood up for the children
who could neither physically nor financially stand for themselves. He
called upon a group of his students to establish Chabad's Children of
Chernobyl (CCOC).

This group united in one paramount goal: to rescue the children of
Chernobyl, bring them to Israel, and to care for them fully once they
began their new chapters of life. From a humanitarian perspective, the
process is simple. From a legal perspective, it is a constant battle.
The bureaucratic red tape in the former Soviet Union is difficult to
penetrate; but, the CCOC staff and supporters have worked tirelessly and
against huge odds to guarantee the children's safety. CCOC is the only
organization in the world to bring children out of the contaminated
areas permanently.

Today, the situation in Chernobyl has worsened. The sarcophagus built
around the reactor to confine the radioactivity is cracking under
pressure; the whole structure can tumble if the cracks continue to grow.
If this scenario occurs the result will be more destructive than the
original meltdown in 1986. The fractures are hazardous in and of
themselves as they have allowed rainwater to seep in, which allows the
semi confined contamination to enter the drinking water when the
rainwater flows out.

And yet, people are still asking how to spell "Chernobyl." Radiation
lurks in the drinking water, the soil, the cattle, the milk, the food
and the air; the longer the children remain in this radioactive
environment, the longer this cycle is pushed forward.

This past month, Jon Voight traveled halfway around the world to meet
Chabad's Children of Chernobyl's 80th Rescue Mission on the tarmac of
Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Voight, best known for his award-winning roles in Midnight Cowboy and
Deliverance, welcomed 36 children from Belarus, Ukraine, and Western
Russia, escorting the first young child - a seven-year-old girl - down
the steps of the airplane.

"It is truly an amazing experience to see these beautiful children
disembark the plane," Voight said. "All of our hard work, our
fundraisers, and our efforts pay off when you see the hope restored in a
young child's eyes."

The children celebrated their arrival with friends and family members
they had not seen in months. A woman from Ukraine was reunited with her
daughter who had been rescued on CCOC Rescue Flight # 79. Everybody
around the mother and daughter watched their reunion in tears of
happiness - they remained in each other's arms for the remainder of the

Young boys were lifted into the air and danced around on the shoulders
of the teenage boys and young men who came to welcome the flight. Jon
was swept up into the celebration as well and the young children laughed
in awe as they saw him bouncing around the airport on the shoulders of a
young man rescued on a past CCOC flight - a flight that Jon himself
helped make possible.

The evening was packed with celebration, high energy, and excitement.
Optimism, hope, and opportunity could be felt in the air - but the
physical pain in the children could clearly be seen as well. The
children have been settled in their new homes in Kfar Chabad, Israel,
and have already started their medical treatment and their roads to

This past month, the CCOC family also extended a hearty "mazel tov" to a
CCOC alumna, Rivky Buchman, upon her engagement to Yosef Astrofsky.

Rivky arrived on rescue mission #23 on April 23, 1996 - her 11th
birthday. Rivky's father died right before she was born and her mother,
after a long illness, literally died in her arms, leaving Rivky all
alone in the world. Luckily, her friends had heard about CCOC and
arranged to send Rivky to Israel.

With the constant help, care and support of CCOC, Rivky responded to
medical treatment for various ailments. After graduating the special
CCOC high school, Rivky successfully completed her Sherut Leumi
(National Service) in Elad. Today she is a successful preschool teacher.

This is what CCOC is all about: giving a chance for a healthy, happy
future to all children.

                               WHAT'S NEW
                       A Tzaddik and His Students

Many Jews are attracted to spirituality but never look in their own
religion to find it. Still more are unaware that chassidic philosophy
and its practice are the "soul" of Judaism. The starting point of the
chassidic way of life is a chassid's connection to his or her Rebbe. But
like many of the more spiritual concepts in Judaism, the role and
function of a Rebbe - and the chassidic movement in general - has been
largely cloaked in mystery or misinterpreted. In A Tzaddik and His
Students: The Rebbe-Chassid Relationship, Rabbi Shloma Majeski takes the
reader on a journey into the spiritual world of the Rebbe-chassid
relationship, explaining the nature and purpose of a tzaddik/Rebbe, his
connection with his chassidim, and the relevance of this phenomenon in
the lives of every human being today. Published by S.I.E.

                            THE REBBE WRITES
                     Freely translated and adapted

                          17 Iyar, 5710 (1950)

It pained me to hear that you have not been feeling well lately, and
moreover, that you have not been careful in following the doctor's

I heard many times from my father-in-law, the Rebbe, the statement of
his father, the Rebbe Rashab:

"See how precious the body of a Jew is to G-d - for its sake has G-d
poured forth so much Torah and mitzvos (command-ments)." For as is
known, Torah and mitzvos were specifically given to souls clothed in
physical bodies and not to angels.

Since the body is so precious to G-d, it follows that we are to be
scrupulous in guarding the health of our body, which G-d placed in our

Our Sages have informed us (Berachos 60a) that "Permission was granted
the healer to heal." Consequently, a doctor acts with the Torah's
permission and moreover, in accordance with its command "and he shall

Thus, most assuredly, even if - by following the doctor's orders - one
must temporarily forgo the fulfillment of a "good custom" or the
observance of a mitzvah in the most scrupulous and beautiful manner, and
so on, the Torah will amply compensate him [for following the doctor's

Forgoing for a short while, i.e., until you feel better, a "good custom"
or observance of a mitzvah in the most scrupulous and beautiful manner
will result in your being able to strengthen your observance of Torah
and mitzvos many more times so, for many long and good years.

                                *  *  *

                         24 Nissan, 5717 (1957)

I was notified about the status of your health, and I hope that you are
experiencing a daily improvement.

To someone like you I certainly don't need to emphasize that our holy
Torah, the Torah of Life, provides the physician with permission to heal
- from which we understand that we are obligated to fulfill the
instructions of the doctor.

Although the thought does creep in at times that one is wasting time
with matters of healing and resting and the like; nevertheless, even a
small degree of reflection - in light of the above saying of our Sages
about a doctor being given permission to heal - leads to the
understanding that the healing process is not a waste of time.

On the contrary - the small amount of time (that the person thinks is
being) wasted results in a profit of much time in the future, time that
can be utilized by the person in the service of G-d "in all his ways" -
in keeping with the directive of our Sages, as explained at length in
Chassidus - with joy and gladness of heart.

With blessings for a speedy recovery and that you may be able to convey
glad tidings regarding all the above.

                                *  *  *

                         14 Teves, 5718 (1958)

You write to me about traveling to Tiberius for reasons of health and
enumerate the pros and cons:

You will pardon me, but your reasons for not doing so are similar to a
merchant who hesitates to open a store since it would entail a monetary
investment - renting a place of business, purchasing merchandise, etc.

However, by not investing, the person denies himself the opportunity to
recoup his investment one-hundred fold; in this world nothing can bring
benefit without first investing spiritual or physical effort or money.
Once the investment is made, however, the return on the investment is

The same is true with regard to your journey: namely that the
unpleasantness associated with your trip to the Hot Springs of Tiberius
pales in comparison to your ability to benefit so many more times over
in terms of improved health for many good and long days and years,
benefits that will result from your taking this trip.

If only you would have traveled there last year... but one does not
remonstrate about the past.

I mention this only to prove that such a journey is not only permissible
and far outweighs any of the negative aspects that you mention, but is
also highly desirable - even benefiting in the long run those who might
temporarily suffer from your undertaking this journey.

With blessings, and hoping to hear glad tidings from you, and to a
healthy winter in all aspects. ...

         From Healthy in Mind, Body and Spirit, translated by Rabbi
                 Sholom B. Wineberg, published by Sichos in English

              What is the reason for dancing at a wedding?

Part of the mitzva (commandment) of "making the groom and bride happy"
is to entertain them with dancing. By dancing around the bride and
groom, the community expresses its support for the couple. The Talmud
relates many instances when the greatest of our Sages set aside their
uninterrupted study of Torah for the sake of entertaining the couple. In
accordance with Jewish law, men and women dance separately with a
mechitza (divider) separating them.

                        A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR
                         Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
This Shabbat we read the Torah portion of Shelach, in which we learn
about the spies who Moses sent to explore the land of Israel before the
Jews would enter it. This was not a commandment from G-d, but a choice
left to Moses' discretion. We learn this from the words of the Torah
portion, "shelach lecha - send for you," i.e., according to your own

The Rebbe explains that the spies' mission described in the Torah
portion can be compared to the soul's descent into the material world.

The mission of a Jewish soul is to descend into this world enclothed in
a physical body in order to make this world a dwelling place for G-d. In
order for the soul to fulfill its mission, it must "explore the land,"
to figure out the nature of the service that must be carried out and
which conflicts and difficulties will arise, and what is the best way to
transform the land into a dwelling for G-d.

This mission, like the sending of the spies, is left up to man's
discretion. Indeed, G-d allows for the possibility of an error in both
cases, because in order to make this world into a dwelling place for
G-d, a person must act upon his or her own initiative, based on his or
her own decision.

The act of the spiritual soul coming down to this physical world and
elevating it to a higher spiritual plane by making it a dwelling place
for G-d is the perfect synthesis of material and spiritual. We have
recently celebrated the holiday of Shavuot, in which we commemorate the
giving of the Torah. The act of bringing the very holy Torah into this
world made it possible to fuse together the spiritual and the physical.
May we imminently experience the ultimate fusion of the two in the
Messianic Era.

                          THOUGHTS THAT COUNT
And you shall ascend the mountain and see the land, what it is (Num. 13:

When you will "ascend the mountain" - attain the highest levels of G-dly
wisdom, then you will "see the land, what it is" - understand the true
nature of physicality and realize that it is without intrinsic worth.

                                                   (Noam Elimelech)

                                *  *  *

And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it is good or bad (Num.

Moses knew that the land of Israel was "good." What he was asking the
Spies here was whether the land would provide enough food to sustain the
Jewish people during battle or if they would have to prepare their
supplies in advance.


                                *  *  *

The land is very, very good (Num. 14:7)

Throughout their 40 years in the desert, the Jews led an overwhelmingly
spiritual existence, their basic needs being provided in a miraculous
manner. However, the word "very" appears twice in this verse to
emphasize and reassure them that the observance of practical
commandments that they would perform after entering the land of Israel
would be far superior, meriting an even higher revelation of G-dliness.

                                                    (Sichot Kodesh)

                                *  *  *

In this wilderness (midbar) shall they be consumed (yitamu) (Num. 14:35)

"Midbar" is related to the Hebrew word for "speech"; "yitamu" is related
to the word "tamim" - "perfect and whole." By speaking holy words, by
praying and reciting the letters of the Torah, a Jew attains the level
of "You shall be whole with the L-rd your G-d," thereby elevating the
"sparks of holiness" that have fallen into the realm of evil.

                                                    (Likutei Torah)

                            IT ONCE HAPPENED
The Jewish Ghetto of Prague was suddenly stricken by a terrible
sickness, which spread throughout the homes of the ghetto. The young
children lost their appetite, grew pale and weak, and suffered from high

All the medicines known to the doctors in the ghetto did not help. The
poor children suffered terribly, and a few of them passed away. Rabbi
Loewe, the holy Rabbi of Prague, ordered a two day fast and continuous
prayers to plead for help and forgiveness.

"No doubt, we have brought this disaster upon ourselves with our failure
to fulfill His Divine commands to the best of our ability. Perhaps, if
we pray from the bottom of our hearts, G-d will reveal to us the cause
of this trouble, and t he means of curing our sick children. G-d always
prepares the cure before He sends the illness."

All the Jewish men and women of Prague fasted and prayed. But nothing
happened and no sign from heaven came to indicate that their prayers and
fasting had been answered.

It was past midnight, and Rabbi Loewe's mind kept wandering back to the
terrible tragedy that had befallen his own community, and for which
there seemed no help in sight. It was a long, long time since he had
made use of the "Golem" he had created and formed out of clay with the
help of the Sacred Name. But now, as he kept pondering the serious
situation that had already cost young lives, he finally decided to call
on the Golem.

The Golem appeared and obediently awaited his master's command. Rabbi
Loewe said to him: "A dreadful disease has struck our children, and no
doctor has been able to help us. Go out among the creatures of the earth
and ask as to who knows what cure there is."

With a heavy sigh, Rabbi Loewe returned to his prayers. If there was any
cure, G-d would certainly reveal it to the Golem, who received his very
life and power from the Divine Name. After what seemed like a long time,
the obedient Golem reappeared before Rabbi Loewe.

"Have you brought me the cure?" the Rabbi asked anxiously. "I scoured
the heavens and earth until I came to the spirit of heat which causes
the fever of man to rise. When I asked him why he was creating all this
sorrow for the people of our community, he replied; 'I have been ordered
to do so by the angel of G-d. It is not up to me to question G-d's
providence. But I advise you to check the mezuzot of the houses of the
community. For, wherever the name of G-d protects the Jewish house
properly, the children are safe.' "

"Why, I should have thought of that myself," Rabbi Loewe reproached
himself. The Rabbi sent for all the members of the Rabbinical Court and
told them: "Go quickly and see if there is anything wrong with the
mezuzot of the stricken houses." They returned with their report: "We
have found that the mezuzot of all these houses had been written by
Rabbi Moshe Sofer, but strangely enough, there is a faded letter in the
Divine Name in each of them!"

"Rabbi Moshe Sofer, of blessed memory, was the holiest man of our entire
community. Why should his mezuzot have faded. There could only be one
explanation. We must investigate whether there is any blame on the
community concerning Reb Moshe, or his family, or his grave. Something
must be at fault, or else his mezuzot would not have faded."

Early the next morning the Rabbi himself went to the home of Reb Moshe.
It was quite obvious that utter poverty was the lot of its occupants.
Everything needed repair. Rabbi Loewe pledged himself on the spot to
make up for all this neglect of one of the community's most faithful and
holy servants.

He knocked at the door, and a weak voice answered: "Who is there?"

After he had identified himself, Rabbi Loewe entered the dark, cold,
bare room. In one corner, on a sack of straw sat the widow; on a sack in
the other corner were two of the Sofer's three children. "Aren't you
supposed to get a weekly pension from the community?" Rabbi Loewe asked
the widow.

"I got the pension the first two months. Ever since then I have not
received a penny. We are living from the little my oldest boy earns by
collecting rags and selling them to the junk dealer."

Within a short while the family was provided with food, clothing and
whatever else they needed. Then Rabbi Loewe called the members of the
council together. It was found that the sexton who was supposed to
deliver the pension to the widow had kept it for himself, knowing that
the woman would not complain.

In the meantime, all the mezuzot were made kosher again, and the
mysterious disease, which had ravished the children of the Prague
ghetto, stopped as suddenly as it had come. No doctor knew how and why.
But Rabbi Loewe knew. He made sure that the injustice to the widow and
children was fully made good. He also ordered that all the mezuzot of
all Jewish homes be checked regularly, at last once a year.

                            MOSHIACH MATTERS
When the Land of Israel was originally divided amongst the tribes, the
Levites - who served in the Holy Temple and were the teachers of Torah -
did not receive a portion. This is because the material nature of the
world prevents a person from being both totally dedicated to G-d and
simultaneously involved with worldly affairs. In the Era of the
Redemption, however, when the world will be refined there will be no
need for the Levites to set themselves aside from worldly involvement.
And hence, they too will receive a portion of the Land of Israel.

                       (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 26 Sivan, 5751-1991)

               END OF TEXT - L'CHAIM 1025 - Sh'lach 5768

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