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From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin‏

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin for Parsha Chukat

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Dear Friend,
I am pleased to share this article entitled, "An Enduring Marriage" recently published in Here's My Story.

Rabbi Meilech Leib DuBrow, a Kosherfit Master Coach, is the founder of Kosher Health & Fitness, based in Los Angeles, where he was interviewed in September of 2011.

To read this story, please click on this link: http://myencounterblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/230.-Nasso-5777.pdf.

Be well. Have a beautiful Shabbos.

Warmly,
Rabbi SB Levitin

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin | Article to Commemorate Yahrzeit of Holy Rebbe

“My beloved, My Brethren and Friends”
Epistile 27, Iggeret HaKodesh, Tanya, Vol. 4

In memory of the Holy Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn obm, on the 23rd anniversary of his passing. Gimmel Tammuz – 3rd Day of Tammuz. Corresponding this year, to Tuesday June 27th.

The title of this article, taken from Epistle 27, was written by the Alter Rebbe in his letter of condolence to his chassidim in 1788, after the passing of his colleague and mentor, the saintly R. Mendele of Vitebsk (or Horodok), who had settled in the Holy Land in 1777.

My wife and I just visited the Reb Mendele’s grave site on our recent visit to Eretz Yisroel before Shavous. My maternal grandfather, Zedi Nissan obm, and my two uncles, Reb Yisroel and Reb Meir obm, are buried not far from his holy grave site in Tveria (Tiberias).

From the Alter Rebbe:

 “Having first duly inquired after the welfare of those who love [G-d’s] Name. I have come to speak to the heart of the smitten, who are sighing and groaning over the passing of R. Mendele, and to console you with redoubled support with what my ear has heard from others and with what I have understood myself, regarding the idiom used by our Sages to signify the passing of a tzaddik (righteous person – holy) – he has left life for all the living. For a tzaddik lives by this faith and by the awe of G-d [which leads] to life, and by the flashing of fiery sparks of his love [for G-d, that is even greater] than life, investing in them – in his faith and awe of and love – the life of his Ruach [moreover, of his Neshamah] throughout his life.” [Epistle 27, 164-5.]

The Alter Rebbe continues:

“G-d elevates his Ruach and gathers up his soul unto Himself and he ascends from one elevation to the next, to the very highest of levels, he [then] leaves over the life of his Ruach, the deeds in which he has formerly labored with Israel, the labor of a tzaddik for life, to every living being, that is, to the soul of every living being who is bound to his soul by the thick ropes of a magnanimous love, and an eternal love, that will not be moved forever. For any man who eagerly desires life [and who seeks] to cleave to the living G-d, through his service his soul will cleave and will be bound up in the bond of life with G-d, in the life of the Ruach (literally, the life-giving ‘breath’) of our nostrils of which we have said, ‘In its [protective] shadow we shall live among the nations.” [Epistle 27, 166-8.]

These powerful words give us a glimpse into the life of a tzaddik and the impact that a tzaddik has on his generation.

“Found in All the Worlds More than During his Lifetime” [Zohar]

“This, then, is the meaning of the statement in the sacred Zohar, that ‘when a tzaddik departs he is to be found in all the worlds more than during his lifetime.’ That is, even in this world of action, (in the mundane world of which it is written), this day – to do them, the departed tzaddik is found more [than during his lifetime], because the action [of his disciples] continues to produce successive generations of offshoots.”

Gimmel Tammuz – Third of Tammuz, 5754, June 1994

I will always remember those tragic words, when I received the call from New York right after Shabbos: “der Rebbe is avek” (the Rebbe has passed away). It is very difficult, even today – twenty-three years later – to verbalize the feelings and emotions that pulsated through me as I heard those words.

Those first moments, hours, and days; while dealing with my personal emotions, balancing my responsibilities as the Rebbe’s Shliach to the Pacific Northwest, together with being a son, husband, father, already grandfather (thank G-d), was very difficult to say the least. Following the funeral, which hundreds of thousands participated in, and the seven day mourning period that followed, organizational meetings, etc. took place on all levels. The question echoed, “Where do we go from here?”

There is a quote from the Midrash about Jacob, our forefather, which says, “Because the seed of Jacob is alive, so he is alive.”

The absolute resoluteness among Chassidim, and especially among the Shluchim (emissaries) worldwide, was not only to perpetuate “the message,” but to expand it, deepen it and disseminate it on a broader level than ever before. Twenty-three years ago, social media was still in its infancy, but as these years have passed the vast teachings of the Rebbe in all areas of Torah have reached, impacted, and transformed literally millions and millions of people from within the Jewish community and mankind in general. The huge reach of global media communications, including Chabad.org, the largest Jewish media site in the world, has led the way in this dissemination.

The words of the Alter Rebbe: “because the action [of his disciples] continues to produce successive generations of offshoots” is living testament to the Rebbe’s spirit, guidance, and blessing continuing to permeate our collective and individual lives.

The Enduring Presence

From the very first recorded letters that the Holy Rebbe wrote to Rabbi Michoel Lipsker obm, after the passing of his holy father-in-law in January of 1950, 20th of Shavout 5710, “It is for sure the will of my holy father-in-law that there should G-d forbid, not be any slackening in our work.” And he then urges Rabbi Lipsker “as per my discussion with my father-in-law, a few days before his passing, concerning the education of Jewish children in the countries of Africa, you should be the one to assist in this holy endeavor.”

Rabbi Lipsker accepted the position and spent many years in Morocco and Tunisia developing a whole network of educational institutions in very precarious times and under very perilous conditions.  Rabbi Lipsker and the thousands and thousands of Shluchim who followed him are the embodiment of the Rebbe’s continued spiritual presence.

We all rededicate ourselves to continue this holy mission with joy and spirit, gaining our guidance from the vast Torah teachings of the Rebbe until the day of the coming of our righteous Mashiach speedily in our time.

Be well. Have a beautiful Shabbos,

Warmly,
Rabbi Levitin

From the Desk of Rabbi Levitin for Parsha Shlach

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Dear Friend,
I am pleased to share this week's edition of Here's My Story for Parsha Shlach, entitled: "Remove the Dirt".

Mr. Louis Goldstein is the owner of A-Z Paper Products in Sydney, Australia, where he was interviewed in July of 2016.

Please click on this link to read this article: http://myencounterblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/232.-Shelach-5777.pdf.

Have a beautiful Shabbos.

Warmly,
Rabbi SB Levitin

Beha’aloctecha (When You Raise Up) | June 2017

The name of this Parsha, Beha’alotecha (when you raise up), refers to how, after the princes of the 12 tribes offered up their sacrifices at the inauguration of the Tabernacle during the first 12 days of Nissan 2449, G-d had Moses instruct Aaron concerning how to kindle the wicks of the Candelabrum. Specifically, Aaron is told that when he kindles the lamps, he must ensure that each of them is able to continue burning on its own.

The Torah then continues describing the events of 1 Nissan by recounting how the Levites were installed into their office on that day: they had to be ritually purified from defilement, be shaved, and collectively offer up a special set of sacrifices. The community then had to lean on them and Aaron had to lift each of them up individually.

On the same day, G-d told the Jewish people that they would be expected to observe the rites of the Passover sacrifice in two weeks, the first anniversary of the Exodus. When the day came, however, there were a few Jews who were unable to observe the rites on the account of being ritually defiled. They complained about being left out, and for their benefit G-d instituted the compensatory holiday of the Second Passover, to be observed each year one month after Passover. Anyone who cannot participate in the Passover rites on time on account of being ritually defiled may do so on the Second Passover holiday.

The Torah then continues its description of how G-d readied the people for their journey from Mount Sinai. First, it describes how G-d would signal the people it was time to move: The cloud that continuously hovered over the Tabernacle would position itself at the head of the people’s encampment and lead them. Moses would then entreat G-d to protect them on their journey. Finally, the priests would blow trumpets in a specific musical sequence in order to signal the people to get ready to depart.

On 20 Iyar, 2449, the people set out from Mount Sinai. They miraculously covered three day’s journey in one day, but instead of acknowledging this miracle, some of the mixed multitude used it as an excuse to complain. G-d’s corrective response was immediate: fire broke out among them and among the elders who were responsible for teaching them proper attitudes, killing the guilty.

Unfortunately, once these individuals from the mixed multitude started complaining, their attitude spread – first among the rest of the mixed multitude and then among the Jews themselves. Some of them began to complain about their lack of meat (even thought they had plenty) and about the blandness of the manna (even thought it was delicious). The spirit of unjustified complaining even affected Moses, who complained to G-d about the impossibility of leading the people on his own. In response to the people’s and Moses’ complaints, G-d showed the people that He was indeed capable of providing for them. He further had Moses select 70 new elders to assist him, granting them the gift of prophecy.

So ended the events at the people’s first encampment, where they stayed for one month. They then journeyed to their second stop. Moses’ sister Miriam had overheard his wife Tziporah remark to no one in particular that he had separated from her. Miriam was unaware that Moses had done this at G-d’s bidding in order that he be ready at all times for Divine communication, which must be received in a state of ritual purity. Had Miriam confronted Moses personally, he would have explained this to her and thereby quieted her indignation over his apparent disregard for Tziporah. But instead, she chose to involve Aaron, and the two of them, jumping to conclusions, voiced their unjustified complaints against Moses.

In response to Miriam’s slander, G-d struck her with tzara’at, a supernatural disease that, as we have seen, afflicted people guilty of slander. Moses prayed for her recovery, and G-d told him to quarantine her for a week, after which she would be healed. Thus, the people remained at their second stop for a week. Despite their two delays, however, they were poised at the end of this Parsha to proceed directly into the Promised Land.

The connection between the optimistic mood of the preparations for travel described in the first half of the Parsha and the depressing series of complaints and Divine corrective punishment in the second half is found in the name of the Parsha. G-d’s instruction to make sure that the lamps of the Candelabrum burn on their own allegorically means that we should ensure that our own souls, the souls of those around us, and indeed the whole world be aflame with Divine consciousness. When this happens, we can elevate all aspects of our lives – even our rebellions and complaints – by revealing their inner, Divine source. Deep down, the reason we complain is because we know that we are not living up to our divine mission: the shallowness of our relationship with G-d leaves us profoundly unsatisfied, causing us to complain.

The lesson of Parsha Beha’alotecha, then, is that whenever we feel ourselves starting to complain, we should realize the deeper reason why we are doing so, and instead of giving free reign to our thoughts of mutiny, realize that what we must rebel against is our own inattention to G-d’s call to dedicate ourselves fully to making ourselves and our milieu into His true home. Our complaints, if we still have them, will then be properly motivated, and G-d will grant our requests, just as He gave the Second Passover to the Jews who complained about being left out of the rituals for no fault of their own.

Have a beautiful Shabbos.

Warmly,
Rabbi Levitin

 

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