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From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parshat Mishpatim

Dear Friend,

I am pleased to share with you this week's Here's My Story entitled, "Early Years - Paris" for Parsha Mishpatim.  

Mr. Berel (Bernard) Lax worked in the textile business for many years. He was interviewed in his home in London, in May of 2007 and again shortly before passing away in 2010.

Please click on the link to read this article: 

Warmest wishes for a Beautiful Shabbos.

Rabbi Levitin 

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin for Parsha Yitro

In Memory Of: The 29th Yahrzeit of Rebbitzen Chaya Mushka (obm) 22nd day of the month of Shevat

Three Simple Words

It happened in a downtown Seattle elevator. I had just concluded putting on Tefillin with a friend at his office (we meet monthly), when I entered the elevator filled with a young group of professionals.

As is my habit I did my rabbi “shpeal” and asked “have you ever ridden in an elevator with a rabbi?”

The reply was a hesitant “no” among the heads that shook back and forth.

I then asked, ‘would you like a rabbinical blessing?” The answer this time was a unanimous “yes” from the passengers. 

I proceeded to give them my blessing, as I always do. It was then, in that crowded elevator that I had my epiphany. I looked around at these young people and said: “Can I make a suggestion? How about when we all wake up in the morning and we open our eyes, we say the following three words: ‘Thank You G-d.’”

The electric response was immediate and felt by all, when they almost in unison said: “Thank you, rabbi, very powerful.”

In the last nine months in whatever setting I find myself, whether being driven by a Muslim taxi-driver in New York, or filling-up at a gas station, or waiting in line at the airport, I make it a point to share this thought with whomever I encounter whenever the opportunity presents itself. The universal response has been 100% positive, with words of thanks and genuine gratitude in every single instance.

This really hit home two weeks ago when, dropping off my car, a parking lot attendant looked me in the eye and said to me: “Rabbi, I haven’t missed a day in three months.” Stunned, I searched my brain for a memory of his face and recalled the three words that had made such and impact on his life: “Thank You, G-d.”

The Rebbe and The Senator

The famous senator from New York, Senator Moynihan, had sought our Holy Rebbe’s (obm) council on his personal affairs. After the Rebbe had advised him with regard to these matters, the Rebbe asked if he could request a favor from the senator.

The senator later told Rabbi Groner, one of the Rebbe’s secretaries: “Here it comes, I thought to myself. Just like all the others, he’s also looking for the payoff.”

But what did the Rebbe ask him?

“There is a growing community in Chinatown, whose people tend to be quiet, reserved, hard-working, and law-abiding – the type of citizens most countries would treasure. But, because many Americans are so out-going and the Chinese are, by nature, so reserved, they are often overlooked by government programs. As a U.S. senator from New York, I suggest that you concern yourself with their needs.”

“I was overwhelmed. The Rebbe has a community of thousands in New York and institutions all over the country that could benefit from government programs. I am in a position to help secure funding for them, but the Rebbe didn’t ask about that. He was concerned with Chinatown. I don’t think he has ever been there, and I’m certain that most people there don’t know who he is, but he cares about them. Now that’s a true leader.”

E Pluribus Unum: “Out of the Many, One”

This week we relive the experience of all of us gathered at Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments and the whole Torah. The powerful first commandment: “I am Hashem, your G-d, who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery” continues to resonate throughout the ages.

Rambam (Maimonides) in the first chapter of his seminal work, Mishneh Torah, begins: “The foundation of all foundations and the pillar of wisdom is to know that there is a Primary Being who brought into being all existence. All the beings of the heavens, the earth, and what is between them came into existence only from the truth of His being.”

Accepting this fundamental belief in the “Primary Being” as the source of ALL creation, with acceptance of the belief in G-d, we can then agree that diversity and freedom of personal expression are not only acceptable, but also something that should be encouraged with mutual respect. As the Talmud expresses itself (Sanhedrin 38a): “As facial features differ, so too, the working of no two minds are alike.” 

“Or, as our sages expressed in Tanchuma, Pikudei, (sec. 3): In describing the human body as a world in microcosm, consisting of many limbs and organs, each with its own structure and function. These differences allow the body to work successfully as a unified organism. Our organs and limbs are pervaded by a consciousness of self. Organs do not exist as independent entities, but as part of a whole. The body’s health depends on this interrelationship. Illness and infirmity in any part detracts from the health of the entire body.  Similarly, the development of harmony and oneness in society need not be impeded by the existence of divergent qualities among its citizens. Every person has unique gifts: differences between people should be seen as resources to be shared by all, rather than as sources of competition and strife.” (Adapted from Eliyahu Touger’s, work In G-d We Trust.)

The Gate to G-d’s Unity and Faith

The Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (obm), founder of the Chabad Chassidic Movement, in the second section of his monumental work of Tanya, entitled, The Gate to G-d’s Unity and Faith, begins with the following words describing the two verses representing the pillars of Judaism: “Let us understand at least in small measure, the statement of the Zohar, that Shema Yisrael […] is yichuda ila’ah (higher-level Unity) and Baruch shem kvod malchuto leolam vaed is yichuda tata’ah (lower-level Unity). The Rebbe, in the twelve chapters that comprise this section of the Tanya discusses the multiplicity of levels in the Unity of G-d. This is an exceptional and profound philosophical discussion about the creation and its connection with the Creator (G-d).

On a Shabbos in the year, 1967, at a Chassidic Farbrengen, the week following the first English translation of this section of the Tanya, the Rebbe (obm) said the following: “one of the reasons that the directive had been given to translate this section of the Tanya into English was for the nations of the world (that they should be able to learn and understand it).”

I remember standing there as a student, among the thousands of Chassidim, and seeing the elders who sat behind the Rebbe look at each other in shock when the Rebbe said those words. It was a seismic statement that rippled throughout the gathering and has impacted all those who heard it to this very day.

As we prepare for this Shabbos, to receive the Ten Commandments and all of Torah, let us rededicate ourselves to the eternal G-dly charge of being a “light unto the nations” and by bringing all of humanity to a recognition of their Creator and adherence to His laws.

Wishing you all a happy and meaningful Shabbos.

Rabbi Levitin


From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Parshat Beshalach

Dear Friend, 

I am pleased to share with you this week's Here's My Story entitled, "the Show Must Go On" for Parsha Beshalach.  

Mrs. Leah Gniwish is the founder and CEO of Delmar Jewelers International and has been named Vendor of the Year by Zales in Canada. She was interviewed in her home in Montreal, Canada in January of 2011.

Please click on the link to read this article:

Warmest wishes for a Beautiful Shabbos.

Rabbi Levitin 

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin for Parshat Bo

Dear Friend,

In commemoration of the 67th Yahrzeit of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe obm, Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Schneerson, this coming Monday, the tenth day of Shevat – February 6th, 2017, we would like to share this article with you. This is also the date that our Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson obm, assumed the leadership of the Chabad Lubavitch movement.

For over 50 years, Rabbi Zushe Posner has served as a Chabad emissary in Lod, Israel, where he was interviewed in December of 2009.,%205777.pdf

Have a beautiful Shabbos. 

Rabbi Levitin

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