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From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parsha Ki Tavo

Dear Friends, 
We are pleased to send you this week’s edition of Here’s My Story
Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick is based in Melbourne, Australia, where he presently serves as the Rabbi Emeritus of Elwood Talmud Torah Hebrew Congregation, as the senior judge of the Melbourne Jewish court, and as the rabbinic administrator of Kosher Australia. He was interviewed in May, 2013.
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Have a beautiful Shabbos.

Warmly,
Rabbi Levitin

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parsha Ki Teitzei

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Dr. David Lazerson – also known as “Dr. Laz” – is an award-winning educator, author, musician, and conflict-resolution specialist. He has written five books including the best-seller Skullcaps ‘N Switchblades, and Sharing Turf, which was turned into the film Crown Heights, starring Howie Mandel as Dr. Laz. He was interviewed in March, 2011.

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Have a beautiful Shabbos.

Warmly,
Rabbi Levitin 

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parsha Shoftim

Dear Friends, 
We are pleased to send you this week’s edition of Here’s My Story
Mrs. Yocheved Daphna and her husband Yehudah reside in Five Towns, New York, where they were instrumental in founding Chabad of the Five Towns. They and their children were interviewed in June, 2013.
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Have a beautiful Shabbos.
Warmly,
Rabbi Levitin 

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parsha Eikev

Dear Friends, 
We are pleased to send you this week’s edition of Here’s My Story
Mr. Mayer Zeiler resides with his family in Nachlat Har Chabad, Israel, where he directs Flocktex Industries. He was interviewed in January, 2008.
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Have a beautiful Shabbos.
Warmly,
Rabbi Levitin 

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parsha Vaetchanan

Dear Friends, 
We are pleased to send you this week’s edition of Here’s My Story
Mrs. Tzirel Weinbaum is the director of the London Jewish Family Centre. She and her husband, Dr. Bunim Weinbaum, reside in Hampstead Garden, a suburb of London, where she was interviewed in August, 2007.
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 here  for the story.

Have a beautiful Shabbos.

Warmly,
Rabbi Levitin 

Parsha Devarim & Tisha B'Av

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Rabbi Shabsi Alpern has been serving as a Chabad emissary in Brazil for the past fifty years. He was interviewed in November, 2010.
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Tisha B'Av
Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the month of Av is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. This  year it falls on Shabbos (July 21, 2018), therefore the fast of Tisha B’Av begins Shabbos at sunset and concludes Sunday evening at nightfall. For more information, click on the following links:
What Is Tisha B'Av?
Tisha B’Av That Falls on Shabbat or Sunday

Let us pray that this day be transformed to a day of joy with the coming of our righteous Moshiach.

Have a beautiful Shabbos.

Warmly,
Rabbi Levitin 

“Shall your brothers go out to battle while you settle here?”

“Shall your brothers go out to battle while you settle here?”
Numbers 32/6:

It was a summer afternoon in Brooklyn - June 1966 at 1:45pm (I looked at the clock), when the famous “Yankel”, who took care of the Mikvah, ran into the Yeshiva and loudly shouted, Men shloked ah yid! (A Jew is being beat up). In less than 30 seconds, all the Yeshiva students, including myself, were out in the street asking, Vu (where)?

Someone pointed North towards Lincoln Avenue. Dozens of students ran weaving through heavy traffic on Eastern Parkway Boulevard towards the location of the assault. By the time we arrived, the police were present trying to control the gathering crowd. The fight was in full swing.

“The Children of Gad and the Children of Reuben”

This time of the year, learning this week’s Parsha, Mattos (Badmindbar 32/1-42), I am reminded of that incident years ago in Brooklyn.

Historical Background:

The children of Israel were en route to the land of Canaan when they were attacked by the armies of Sichon and Og, whose domain lay on the easternbank of the Jordan. Moses led the Israelites into battle, defeated the two kings and conquered their land. The tribes of Gad and Reuben, who owned much sheep and cattle, asked that they be given these territories, which were prime pastureland, in lieu of their allotment in the land of Canaan, which lay to the west of the Jordan.

Moses was extremely upset by their request, and responded:

“Shall your brothers go out to battle while you settle here?”

And now, said Moses, you are repeating the sin of the Spies—a sin which condemned an entire generation and stopped Jewish history in its tracks for forty years. Like your parents before you, you are declining to take possession of the land deeded to you by divine decree. (Bamidbar 13/1-33)

How did the two tribes respond to this accusation? They promised that they would enter the land of Canaan together with the other tribes of Israel and aid them in its conquest.

But how does any of this address Moses' concern? While perhaps a fitting response to Moses' opening words ("Shall your brethren go to war while you sit here?"), it doesn't seem to address the main point of Moses' criticism—that, like an earlier generation of Jews, they were spurning the divine mission to settle the land of Canaan – Eretz Yisroel.

 Surprisingly, however, Moses accepted their proposal and gave them the territories which they requested. He even arranged, at his own initiative, that half of the tribe of Manasseh should join the tribes of Reuben and Gad in settling the lands east of the Jordan.

Why this dramatic shift in Moses' view on the Jewish settlement of the eastern territories? If the two tribes' petition initially struck him as reminiscent of the sin of the Spies, what convinced him to endorse their plan and even expand on it?

Eretz Yisroel – Land of Israel

Bereishis1/1:  In the beginning of G-d’s creating the heaven and the earth.

In the beginning of  – R’Yitzchak said: G-d need not have begun the Torah but from “This month shall be for you (the beginning of the months), because it is the first commandment which Israel was commanded. What is the reason that it began with the book of Genesis? It began thus because it wished to convey the message of the verse, “The power of His acts He told to His people, in order to give them the estate of nations.” So that if the nations of the world will say to Israel, “You are bandits, for you conquered the lands of the seven nations who inhabited the Land of Canaan,” Israel will say to them, “The whole earth belongs to the Holy One, Blessed is He. He created it and He gave it to the one found proper in His eyes. By His wish He gave it to them, and by His wish He took it from them and gave it to us.” (Rashi 1/1)

Later, by Avram, the Torah says, I am Hashem who brought you out of Ur Kasdim to give you this land to inherit it. (Bereishis 15/8)

G-d revealing himself in the burning bush to Moses: I shall descent to rescue it from the land of Egypt and to bring it up from that land to the good and spacious land, to the land flowing with milk and honey.

The Holy Land

Eretz Yisroel has two qualities of Holiness: Inherent Holiness, due to the G-dly presence which rests in it and Acquired Holiness through the nation of Israel.(Tshbaz)

According to Scriptural Law, the obligation to separate the terumot and the tithes apply only to Eretz Yisrael. It applies whether the Temple is standing or not. (Rambam – Hilchot Terumot)

Holiness of the G-dly presence – This land uniquely belongs to G-d. He calls it My Land… The inheritance of G-d… Therefore, no other land is suitable for the Holy Temple and for the resting of the G-dly presence – only in Eretz Yisrael.

The Question

After all is said and done, why did Moses acquiesce (also with G-d’s permission!) to the request of the tribes of Gad and Reuben? “Abundant Livestock”!?

The Holiness of the land – The G-dly presence in the land – The biblical mitzvahs connected to the land – ALL put aside because of livestock!?

In addition, why only did the tribes of Gad and Reuben have an abundance of livestock?

To suggest that the Eastern side of the Jordan had the same Holiness as the Western side, then why did Moses so movingly and emotionally implore G-d to go into the land (Land of Canaan), as expressed in Deuteronomy 3/23:

I implored Hashem at the time, saying, for what power is there in the heavens or on the earth that can perform accordingly to Your deeds and according to Your mighty acts? Please let me cross and see the good land that is on the other side of the Jordan, this good mountain and the Lebanon.

But Hashem became angry with me because of you, and He did not listen to me; Hashem said to me, “It is much for you! Do not continue to speak to Me further about this matter. Ascend to the top of the cliff and raise your eyes westward, northward, southward, and eastward, and see with your eyes, for you shall not cross this Jordan.

He already experienced Eretz Yisrael, if the Eastern side of the Jordan River had the same qualities as the Land of Canaan (the western side of the Jordan).Why were the tribes of Gad and Reuben and half a tribe of Menashe allowed to settle on the eastern side?

At the very least, on the level of Peshat, this needs further thought.

To Be Continued…

Have a good Chodesh and a wonderful Shabbos,
Warmly,

Rabbi Levitin

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parsha Pinchas

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Dear Friends, 

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Mr. Dennis Eckstein presently lives in Lake Worth, Florida, where he was interviewed in March of 2011.

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Have a beautiful Shabbos.

Warmly,

Rabbi Levitin 

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parsha Balak

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We are pleased to send you this week's edition of Here’s My Story

Mrs. Pearl Lebovic and her husband, Rabbi Yechezkel Lebovic, reside in Maplewood, New Jersey, where they lead Congregation Ahavath Zion. They also work as hospital chaplains at the Morristown Medical Center. Mrs. Lebovic was interviewed in March of 2018.

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Have a beautiful Shabbos.

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Rabbi Levitin 

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parsha Chukas

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Rabbi Aaron Dalfin is presently retired from his sweater manufacturing business and spends his time learning Torah. He was interviewed in December of 2010.

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Have a beautiful Shabbos.

Warmly,
Rabbi Levitin 

 

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parsha Shlach

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Mr. Meir Moss is a businessman who lives in Sydney, Australia. He was interviewed in August of 2016.

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Rabbi Levitin 

 

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parsha Behaalotecha

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Dear Friends, 
We are pleased to send you this week’s edition of Here’s My Story
Rabbi Joseph Karasick, who served as president of the Orthodox Union from 1966 to 1972 and chairman of its board of directors from 1972 to 1978, is the author of the memoir, Thirteen Steps. He was interviewed in January of 2016.

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Have a beautiful Shabbos.

Warmly,
Rabbi Levitin 

 

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parsha Nasso

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Dear Friends, 

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Dr. David W. Weiss, of blessed memory, is a scientist who moved to Israel in 1966. He was interviewed in his home in Jerusalem in September of 2015. A very powerful interview. 

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Have a beautiful Shabbos.

Warmly,

Rabbi Levitin 

Farbrengen with the Rebbe

Dear Friends,

As we prepare ourselves for this Holy Shabbos, Parsha Bamidbar (May 19), followed by the Yom Tov of Shavous - Zman Matan Torasenu (the time of the giving of the Torah) Sunday and Monday, May 20-21, I'd like to share with you a section of a farbrengen given by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, OBM. The Rebbe is speaking in Yiddish with translated English captions. Please, click on the image below to see the video.

Pre-Shavuot Farbrengen with the Rebbe, OBM

An hour-long excerpt from a 1982 farbrengen

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Each year, the Rebbe would hold a Farbrengen the night before Shavuot, often touching on topics from Tractate Sotah, which is customarily studied during the Counting of the Omer period, as well as discussing the lessons of the approaching holiday.  

Tractate Sotah in the Babylonian Talmud concludes with a surprising statement of Rabbi Yosef. In the Jerusalem Talmud the tractate concludes with a story featuring Hillel, Shmuel the Small, and Rabbi Eliezer the Great.  

In this pre-Shavuot Farbrengen, the Rebbe delivers a Hadran (studying the tractate’s conclusion); drawing on these colorful personalities to explain the hidden link that connects them, and the deeper lesson which their stories convey.  

  We urge everyone to attend services on Sunday, May 20th to hear the reading of the Ten Commandments.

www.chabadofseattle.org

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parsha Behar-Bechukotai

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Dear Friends, 
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Mr. Peter Kalms is a businessman who has had many interactions with the Rebbe throughout the years. He was interviewed in his home on aMy Encounter trip to London, England, in August of 2007.

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Have a beautiful Shabbos.

Warmly,
Rabbi Levitin 

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