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Mitzvah Tank Activities

Bochurim Dancing on the Manhattan Bridge at the Mitzvah Tank Parade
The Menorah That Lit Up My Life
Kislev 16, 5774 · November 19, 2013

Two years ago during Chanukah, two of our Baltimore events turned out for various reasons to be disappointments for us. One was a menorah lighting at Johns Hopkins University, and the other was a parade of “Mitzvah Tanks” which was supposed to cover the downtown area. Rabbi Gopin (theshliach at Hopkins) and I just accepted it for what it was, and moved on to other programs and projects. After all, even Babe Ruth didn’t always hit home runs.

Not exactly so, as you will discover in the following story, which appeared in the Jewish Press.

Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan, Chabad of Maryland

Two years ago I was in Baltimore on business, and happened to pass by the public menorah in front of Johns Hopkins University just as the first light was being lit. My eyes welled with tears. Although I was raised a secular Jew, my family has always celebrated Chanukah. To be away from my family that first night of the holiday felt cold and lonely. Now, seeing the lights of the first night’s flames of that big menorah, my heart lit up also, and I felt the warmth of my people all around me.

The next day I was walking by the waterfront, and a young man in a black hat ran up to me and politely asked, “Excuse me, are you Jewish?” Somewhat surprised that anyone would care, I answered in the affirmative.

“Do you know that it’s the second night of Chanukah tonight?” he asked earnestly.

I nodded.

“Do you have a menorah?” he inquired, looking a bit anxious.

“No,” I replied.

“Do you want one?” he asked hopefully.

“Do you have one?” I asked, almost shouting with joy.

“Yes, I’ll get you one!” he replied, almost as excited as I.

He ran off, and returned moments later with an entire menorah kit in a box: little brass candleholder, box full of the right number of candles, and complete instructions. Also a DVD full of Chanukah stories, how-tos, even recipes. I politely declined the offer of a doughnut (fried foods are traditional on Chanukah, but I have to pace myself), and raced off to my hotel room to examine the contents of the box and watch the DVD.

Childhood memories of Chanukah lights, my father telling stories of the Maccabees, the miracle of how one day’s worth of oil somehow lasted for eight days . . . it all came flooding back. I knew I had been given a gift that Chanukah in Baltimore: the gift of the return of Judaism to my life, and of my life to Judaism.

All this because of a menorah on the steps of a public institution. And all because I “happened” to be passing by that day, and the flame of the menorah ignited the spark that had been sleeping in my Jewish heart for nearly 50 years.

When I returned to Seattle the following week, I called a rabbi for the first time in my life. I told him what the menorah in Baltimore had stirred in me. Over the next two years, with his wise and gentle guidance, I found my way as a fully observant Jew. The spark that was rekindled by a public menorah is now a steady burning flame.

How grateful I am to live in a country that is founded on the right to worship as we choose, in the manner in which we choose. I thank our founding fathers who crafted the Constitution of the United States of America, which recognizes our freedom to express and practice our religion. And I thank those who have the courage, in these sometimes dark times, to defend those rights.

We never know how many hearts and lives are touched and, yes, even transformed by the sight of the miraculous Chanukah lights, shining into the darkest reaches and reminding us of miracles long ago and not so long ago.

All those selfless souls whose courage and staunch commitment fuel the kindling of light the world over deserve our heartfelt gratitude. I know they have mine.

Reprinted with permission from The Jewish Press

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By Laura P. Schulman    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

Dr. Laura P. Schulman, MD, is a physician/musician living in Seattle.
Image and Influence
Kislev 16, 5774 · November 19, 2013

How much do our parents and grandparents influence us? Of course, the genes we inherit from them determine lots of important things about us—from our cholesterol levels to when we will go gray. But what about emotionally or spiritually?

I’d like to suggest that they influence us more than we might care to admit. We also tend to underestimate the potential they have in molding the value systems of the next generation.

A powerful case in point is a story in this week’s Parshah. Joseph is sold into slavery down in Egypt, and winds up in the house of Potiphar. His master’s wife casts her lustful gaze on the handsome young man and repeatedly attempts to seduce him. Joseph is consistent in his refusal to even consider her advances. Then, one day, the entire household goes to the temple for a special occasion. She feigns illness in order to be home alone with Joseph. He comes to the house “to do his work” (Genesis 39:11). Rashi offers two interpretations: the simple, that he came to work; and another, that he actually came to do his “work” with her!

Determined as he was, on this occasion Joseph was beginning to falter. Morale and morality were weakening, and it seemed as if he was about to succumb to the temptress’ entreaties.

Then suddenly, something happened to help Joseph regain his senses and self-control. What was it—did they come home early? Did the postman ring the bell? Says Rashi: there appeared before Joseph a vision, one so potent that it restored his composure there and then. What was that image? Quoting the Talmud, Rashi says it was “the image of the visage of his father.” Joseph suddenly saw the face of his father, Jacob, and with that his moral resolve was restored.

Was this a telepathic message transmitted from the Holy Land? According to the simple reading, at that stage Jacob didn’t even know that Joseph was alive. He had been missing and presumed dead, devoured by a wild animal. The straightforward understanding of this Talmudic passage is that Joseph remembered his father and envisioned his patriarchal face, the classical image of the sage with the long white beard. And with that image in his mind, Joseph found renewed spiritual stamina to resist temptation.

Some might understand this episode as Joseph not wanting to disappoint his aged father. Others might see the image as a catalyst evoking in Joseph his own latent spiritual resources. Either way, with Jacob’s visage in his mind, Joseph wasn’t prepared to lose the moral high ground. He couldn’t and wouldn’t do it to his dad. And, through his father, Joseph remembered who he was—a proud son of Jacob and grandson of Isaac and Abraham.

Such was the effect Jacob had on Joseph, and such is the effect every father and mother, grandfather and grandfather, can potentially bring to bear on their offspring. Of course, they would have to be respected by their children as men and women of stature for their image to represent any kind of moral symbolism. If the image of a parent or grandparent would send a signal to the young person to, say, “go for it, my boy!” then clearly the system will fail. I can safely say that if not for the image of my own father and grandfather and their subtle influence on me, I would never have become a rabbi. They didn’t push me at all, but their influence was profound. Just their image, their character and very being was enough to guide me in the right direction during my own wavering moments of youthful indecision.

Joseph was nearly lost way down in Egypt land, but that one image of his father saved him from sin and helped him go on to achieve greatness. May we all be good role models, and may our own images help inspire our children and grandchildren.

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By Yossy Goldman    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

Rabbi Yossy Goldman was born in Brooklyn, New York. In 1976 he was sent by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory, as a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary to serve the Jewish community of Johannesburg, South Africa. He is Senior Rabbi of the Sydenham Shul since 1986, president of the South African Rabbinical Association, and a frequent contributor to His book From Where I Stand: Life Messages from the Weekly Torah Reading was recently published by Ktav, and is available at Jewish bookshops or online.

Alex Clare – Where Is The Heart

a snap shot of touring in 2013


Directed by Keith Rivers
Edited by Ryan Frey
Filmed on the road

Israel in the Philippines; Alex Clare Observant Pop Star – November 19, 2013

Judaism, Sacrifice, and the Education of Alex Clare

by Rabbi Tzvi Gluckin
Before he became famous, the observant pop star gave up his career in order to stick to his Jewish beliefs.

Devastation & Hope in the Philippines

by Lt. Libby Weiss
An Israeli soldier’s first person account.

Just Breathe: Marriage & Stress

by Rabbi Tzvi Sytner
Challenges can strengthen our relationships.

It’s Only Money

by Yael Mermelstein
A thanksgiving reminder.

New York Legalizes Gambling

by Rabbi Yaakov Salomon
Good news or bad news?

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The Metamorphosis, a Study: Nabokov on Kafka (1989)


(DVD description)

Vladimir Nabokov, widely considered to be one of the world’s greatest writes (“Lolita”), was also a remarkable professor at Cornell University. Here, we have Christopher Plummer (“The Sound of Music,” “Cyrano” — Tony Award® winner) as witty Nabokov, providing an entertaining insight to “The Metamorphosis,” Kafka’s perplexing story about a man who wakes up one morning to discover that he has turned into a beetle.

One of the most widely read and studied short stories of all time, Kafka’s greatest work is humorously and intensely brought to life.

Directed by PETER MEDAK
Adapted by S. A. J. THOMAS
Edited by GARY HINES

Copyright © 1989 WQED / Pittsburgh in association with Kingston International, NJ and PBS. All rights reserved.

• This program is available on DVD from at… or from MontereyMedia at….

(No copyright infringement intended. All material property of WQED / Pittsburgh and Kingston International, NJ.)

Judaism and Zionism

Kafka grew up in Prague as a German-speaking Jew,He was deeply fascinated by the Jews of Eastern Europe, who he thought possessed an intensity of spiritual life that was absent from Jews in the West. His diary is full of references to Yiddish writers.Yet he was at times alienated from Judaism and Jewish life: “What have I in common with Jews? I have hardly anything in common with myself and should stand very quietly in a corner, content that I can breathe”In his adolescent years, Kafka had declared himself an atheist.Source Text and Foto Wikipedia read more...

Select Section This Day, In Jewish History : 24JEWISH ALERTS large selection in each section

Today in History August 22


Highlights of this day in history: The last Jewish settlers leave the Gaza Strip; President Bill Clinton signs welfare reform into law; Black Panthers’ co-founder Huey Newton killed; Sci-fi author Ray Bradbury and singer Tori Amos born. (Aug. 22)


This Day, November 19, In Jewish History by Mitchell A. LevinCleveland Jewish News (blog)

The Crusades ushered in one of the darkest periods in Jewish history. In the name of Christianity, the Crusaders would leave a path of death and destruction for 
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This Day in Jewish History / Hannah Primrose, king-maker of Haaretz

This Day in Jewish History / Hannah Primrose, king-maker of ungrateful Gladstone, dies young. Both families were horrified at the union of ‘Hebrew-looking’ 
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This Day, November 19, In Jewish History by Mitchell A. LevinCleveland Jewish News (blog)

The Crusades ushered in one of the darkest periods in Jewish history. In the name of Christianity, the Crusaders would leave a path of death and destruction for 
See all stories on this topic »

Select Section Jewish Communities: 24JEWISH ALERTS large selection videos and feeds in each section

General Assembly of Jewish Communities over 4000 delegates from across world meet in Israel


Intentional communities initiative aims to put Jews back in touch with Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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Polish Forbes magazine apologizes to Jewish leadersJewish Telegraphic Agency

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — The Polish edition of Forbes magazine apologized for three articles about the restitution of prewar property of Jewish communities 
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On Sunday night, the media tycoon-turned-politician showed up at one of Rome’s most famous Jewish restaurants, where the head of the Jewish Community of 
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Monument to Polish Righteous Gentiles sited in former ghettoJewish Telegraphic Agency

It should be the initiative of and with the money contributed by the Jewish communities,” said Rolat, who is a resident of the United States, during Friday’s news 
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Canadian Jews raise over $100000 for PhilippinesCanadian Jewish News (blog)

8, the Jewish community has stepped up to help out the devastated country. UJA Federation of Greater Toronto reports that as of Nov. 15, it has raised more than 
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Critics challenge Warsaw site for monument to Polish righteous Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Scholars from the Polish Centre for Holocaust Research and representatives of the Polish-Jewish community have objected to constructing the monument at the 
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The air is filled with small talk in Hebrew, Farsi and everyone’s common language, German. Nobody talks about politics or nuclear bombs. It’s just a bunch of 
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Discovering your Jewish identity – it’s never too lateJerusalem Post

After the Holocaust, her family assimilated into Christian culture. Due to the struggles of living aJewish life in that part of Europe, her mother married a Christian 
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Shiva Jewish-saying the kaddish prayer for your Loved One


Jews pray three times a day, morning, afternoon and night. The morning prayer is the longest and the mourners say at least one Kaddish at the beginning and several at the end. For the afternoon and evening prayers, the mourners say the Kaddish only once or twice at the end.

Sons say Kaddish for their fathers and mothers for the first eleven months after their passing and every year on the anniversary of their passing (according to the Jewish calendar).

But let’s say there is no son– or maybe there is, but perhaps he’s been relocated by his employer to Karachi where it’s not easy to find ten Jewish men three times a day. In this case, you have two options:.

1. Ask another relative.

If there is no son to say Kaddish, another male– preferably a close relative– should say the Kaddish. (Some are of the opinion that first preference goes to a son-in-law.1) However, that should not be a person who has both parents still alive. If you wish to say Kaddish for someone but both your parents are, thank G_d, still in this world, you should ask your parents’ permission.

2. Ask someone else.

In a case where there is no son or relative who can make it to a minyan to say the Kaddish, someone else should be asked to do it in their stead. This person will need to be told the Hebrew name of the deceased and the Hebrew name of the deceased’s father. It is best if the relatives pay this person a stipend. Many rabbinical colleges provide this service in return for a donation. You can also access such a service by visiting our site

Mishnayos Service
Shiva Jewish-saying the kaddish prayer for your Loved One

Select  24JEWISH ALERTS videos and feeds Jewish News חדשות יהודיות

מבט – הרב מצגר במעצר


חמישה חודשים אחרי שנעצר ושוחרר מחוסר ראיות, הרב הראשי לשעבר מצגר חוזר לתא המעצר.

החשד: קבלת שוחד במליוני שקלים ושיבוש חמור של החקירה שנוהלה נגדו.
המעצר הבוקר מגיע אחרי שהמשטרה גייסה שני עדי מדינה בפרשה.

הדיווח של איציק הלפרין וורד פלמן.


US Jews back religious holiday plans: changes make it easier for US Jews to observe holidays


Jewish groups in America have been quick to support new federal government proposals which facilitate which allow workers to take time off work for religious holidays. The new proposals allow Jews and members of other faiths to celebrate published religious holidays, and have one year to make up the loss of working time.

Looted Nazi Art: Lawyer for family of Jewish art dealer says Germans mishandled Nazi art find

The lawyer for the family of Jewish art dealer Alfred Flechtheim says the German authorities’ handling of a billion-dollar art find in Munich is a “political disaster”.

UN Secretary General visits Auschwitz and warns of continued threat from European anti-Semitism


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has visited the site of World War II Nazi death camp Auschwitz to pay tribute to Holocaust victims on the first day of his visit to Poland for the UN climate conference.

Nazi War Crimes: 94-year-old Minnesota man may finally face charges over role in WWII Nazi massacre

A retired Minnesota carpenter, shown in a June investigation to be a former commander in a Nazi SS-led unit, ordered his men to attack a Polish village that was razed to the ground, according to testimony newly uncovered by the Associated Press.

JPostTV: One year later, residents of Kiryat Malachi try to move on

The Jerusalem Post revisited the site of devastation at Kiryat Malachi on 1 year anniversary of deadly rocket attack during Operation Pillar of Defense.
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JPost Daily News:


Israeli aid for Typhoon Haiyan victims: IDF Field Hospital staffed by over 100 Israeli medics


Following the devastation in the Philippines caused by Typhoon Haiyan, Israel has been leading international humanitarian aid efforts, with 125 IDF medical and rescue experts already deployed into the south-east Asian state.

Granddaughter of Hamas’ Haniyeh treated at Israeli hospitalCleveland Jewish News

JERUSALEM — The granddaughter of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was admitted to an Israeli hospital. One-year-old Amal Haniya crossed from Gaza 
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Simon Cowell might become a Jew, will visit IsraelCleveland Jewish News

The X-Factor judge, who has a Jewish father but was raised Roman Catholic, has been inspired by his Jewish soon-to-be baby mama (and maybe soon-to-be 
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Former ambassador: Iran more of a threat to US than to IsraelCleveland Jewish News

Former Israeli Ambassador Yoram Ettinger discussed that view, among others, during a visit to the Cleveland Jewish News office Nov. 18. “Israel is not a prime 
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Promised Land, Golden Land: Why Jewish Survival Depends on Tablet Magazine

Promised Land, Golden Land: Why Jewish Survival Depends on BothIsrael and  the well-known Hebrew newspaper Ha-Melitz, published in St. Petersburg, 
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Next State Attorney: Shai NitzanArutz Sheva

Nitzan appointed to head Prosecution despite his perceived partisanship over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. By Tova Dvorin, Arutz Sheva Staff.
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US Military Chief: We Would Back Israel in Event of Iran StrikeArutz Sheva

 security pact with Israel, hails Jewish state as ‘example of what could be’ in the  CNN notes that Dempsey also credited Israel with being “an example of what 
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Groups Demand Govt. Show ‘Backbone’ on High Court RulingArutz Sheva

Groups that support Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria on Monday the Land of Israel by preserving the existing communities, and setting up new ones.”.
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The Jewish and Israel support community in Philadelphia is in shock over news of plans to close the local Israeli consulate in order to open a new consulate in 
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Hollande Urges Israelis, Palestinians to CompromiseWall Street Journal

France’s Middle East outreach comes amid a warming of ties with theJewish  and definitive halt to the settlement activity,” Mr. Hollande said in a joint news 
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The air is filled with small talk in Hebrew, Farsi and everyone’s common language, German. Nobody talks about politics or nuclear bombs. It’s just a bunch of 
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After the Holocaust, her family assimilated into Christian culture. Due to the struggles of living aJewish life in that part of Europe, her mother married a Christian 
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Today’s Best Bet
“CUFI Standing for Israel” with Ambassador Yoram Ettinger, 7 p.m., John Carroll University, 1 John Carroll Blvd., University Heights. 216-397-1866.

This Day in History
2008: Israeli archaeologists excavating what they believe is the tomb of biblical King Herod said today they have unearthed lavish Roman-style wall paintings of a kind previously unseen in the Middle East and signs of a regal two-story mausoleum, bolstering their conviction that the Jewish monarch was buried here.

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Rabbi Oirechman Tallahassee Tanya Lesson 2 October 10, 2013
Kislev 16, 5774 · November 19, 2013
Today’s Tanya Lesson
Kuntres Acharon, Essay 7

Tzedakah, as we shall presently appreciate, sensitizes the Jew who practises it so that the superrational degree of Chochmah in his Neshamah is able to light up the innermost recesses of his heart.

As mentioned in the introduction to Kuntres Acharon, the Rebbe observes that this is one of several Essays that would appear to belong more logically in Iggeret HaKodesh. The Rebbe also notes that the subjects discussed in this essay are elaborated upon in Likkutei Torah, beginning of Parshat Re’eh, and in the maamarbeginning Amar R. Yehoshua ben Levi, BeChol Yom…, which the Previous Rebbe delivered in 5688 (1928).

וצדקה כנחל איתן בעמוס, (סוף סימן ה׳)

It is written, “…and charity like a mighty river” (1Amos, end of ch. 52).

The verse begins by saying that justice should become manifest like water that gushes into revelation from the hidden depths of the earth; it goes on to say thattzedakah (“charity”) should likewise reveal and maintain its intensity like the surging current of a mighty river (Heb.: nachal eitan).


The meaning in spiritual terms is,

כמו שנחל איתן הוא המשכה הנמשכת מבחינת איתן

that [tzedakah] resembles a mighty river which issues from the state of eitan.

“River” suggests a downward flow, in this case emanating from Chochmah, which is termed eitan.

For this word, as is known,3 has three meanings: “vigor”, “toughness”,4 and “antiquity”.5 All three meanings relate to the soul’s element of Chochmah, and are reflected in the tripartite written form of the letter yud (commonly representingChochmah), which comprises the basic point of the letter and its upper and lower tips.

This level of eitan (Chochmah) flows down into the intellectually expansive “river” called Binah.

שהיא בחינת נקודה בהיכלא

In this state it is known in Kabbalistic terms as6 “the point in its chamber,”

This phrase can refer either (a), as above, to the seminal point of Chochmah being drawn into the broad chamber of Binah, or (b) to the essential self-nullification of the soul that derives spontaneously from Chochmah (which transcends the loving self-nullification that is consciously produced by the meditation exercised by Binah) being drawn into the innermost point of the heart — the “chamber” for the issue fromChochmah.

ותרין רעין וכו׳

and as7 “two comrades [who are inseparable].”

The continued existence of all creation depends upon the constant union in Atzilutof the Supernal Sefirot of Chochmah and Binah.

ואותיות איתן משמשות לעתיד

The letters that spell the [Hebrew] word eitan [each] indicate the future tense.

At a deeper level, this term thus hints at future revelation: in the Time to Come there will be a revelation of the spiritual degree called eitan.

פירוש: אנא עתיד לאתגליא

This means,8 “I am destined to reveal myself”; that which is presently in a state of concealment is destined to become manifest in the Time to Come;

כמו שכתוב: הנה ישכיל עבדי וגו׳

as it is written,9 “Behold, My servant will prosper…” — i.e., in the future.

והיינו, שיתגלה אז אור אין סוף ברוך הוא ויחודו יתברך תוך פנימיות נקודת הלב

This means that at that time — with the arrival of Mashiach, about whom the verse states “My servant will prosper” — the [infinite] Ein Sof-light and the Divine Unity will be revealed within the innermost point of one’s heart,

על ידי המשכת נחל איתן, הוא הארת חכמה עילאה שיאיר בפנימיות הלב

by the calling forth of the “mighty river,” which is a radiance of the Supernal Wisdom that will illuminate the inwardness of the heart,

ליבטל ביחודו יתברך בתכלית, מעומקא דלבא

so that one will be nullified utterly in the Divine Unity, from the depths of one’s heart,

אחרי הסרת הערלה מתאוות הגשמיות וכו׳

after it has been cleared of the [obscuring] orlah of physical lusts, and so on.

When the metaphorical orlah (lit., “foreskin”) will then be removed (as in the verse,10 “And you shall excise the orlah of your heart,” and likewise,11 “The L‑rd your G‑d will circumcise your heart”), nothing will hide the innermost core of the heart. It will then be possible for the heart to experience the utter self-nullification of the Neshamahto G‑d, that derives from the revelation of Chochmah in the soul.

This essential soul-level reflects all three above-mentioned connotations of eitan — the resolute “vigor” of the soul’s essence, its unswerving “toughness”, and the hoary “antiquity” of this bequest to the Jewish people from the Patriarchs of old.

והנה עתה, בגלות החל הזה

At present as well, during the exile of this folk,12

יש גם כן עצה יעוצה, להאיר קצת אור ה׳ מבחינת איתן לתוך נקודת פנימיות הלב, כעין לעתיד

counsel is offered [herewith] as to how to bring a glimmer of the illumination of the light of G‑d from the state of eitan into the innermost point of the heart, as in the Time to Come.

והיינו, על ידי שמעורר על ניצוץ אלקות שבנפשו, בחינת רחמים רבים העליונים

This is [attained] by arousing the abounding Divine mercies for the G‑dly spark within one’s soul.

כי באמת, כל זמן שאין האדם זוכה שיתגלה אור ה׳ מבחינת איתן בנקודת פנימיות לבבו

For in truth, so long as a man does not merit the revelation of the light of G‑d from the state of eitan in the innermost core of his heart,

ליבטל ביחודו יתברך מעומקא דלבא, עד כלות הנפש ממש

so that he becomes nullified in the Divine unity, until the very expiry of the soul,

אזי באמת יש רחמנות גדולה על הניצוץ שבנפשו

then the spark within his soul is indeed to be pitied.

כי הניצוץ נמשך מבחינת חכמה עילאה ממש

For that spark is drawn from the state of the Supernal Wisdom itself,

וכשאינו יכול להאיר מבחינתו לתוך פנימיות הלב

and when it cannot illuminate from its own state — from the state ofChochmah that is utterly nullified to G‑d — into the innermost core of the heart,

ששם מקום גילוי הארה זו

which is the proper place for the revelation of this illumination,

הרי זה בבחינת גלות ממש

then it is really and truly in exile.

For what is exile if not the shackling of one’s gifts?

ועל ידי רחמים רבים העליונים, יוצא מהגלות והשביה

Through the plentiful Supernal mercies, however, that are drawn down upon the soul, it goes out of exile and imprisonment,

ומאיר לתוך נקודת פנימיות הלב בחינת אהבה רבה זו

and illuminates the innermost core of the heart with this great love,

כנודע ממה שכתוב: ליעקב אשר פדה את אברהם

as is known from the verse,13 “For…Jacob who redeemed Abraham,”

וכמו שכתוב בלקוטי אמרים, פרק מ״ה

as expounded in Likkutei Amarim, ch. 45.

The Midrash14 teaches that Abraham was saved in the future merit of Jacob, who was destined to descend from him.

In spiritual terms:15 When Abraham’s characteristic attribute, kindness and love, remains latent within a Jew, it is revealed and redeemed by Jacob’s characteristic attribute — mercy.

Since we are speaking here of Supernal Mercy, there must first be a sufficiently vigorous “arousal from below” that will cause it to descend to this lowly world. The required arousal initiated from below must therefore spring from the palpable realities of this lowly world. In plain words, as the Alter Rebbe will now conclude, this is the practice of tzedakah.

ומודעת זאת כי אתערותא דלעילא, באתערותא דלתתא דוקא תליא מלתא

It is known16 that an arousal from above is specifically dependent on an arousal from below,

דהיינו, על ידי התעוררות רחמים רבים בלב רחמנים וגומלי חסדים

meaning [that the abundant mercies from above are secured] by an arousal of great mercies in the hearts of “the compassionate…and the kindly,” as Jews are characterized in the Gemara,17

להשפיע השפעה גשמיית, זהב וכסף וכו׳

so that they bestow physical gifts of gold and silver, and the like.

ולכן פעולת הצדקה היא פעולת נחל איתן ממש

Thus the effect of tzedakah is actually the effect of the “mighty river”(nachal eitan).

For the “arousal from below” expressed by the practice of tzedakah draws forth the loving self-nullification of the vigorous essence (the “eitan”) of the soul, so that it becomes revealed — through the “river” of Binah — within the innermost core of man’s heart.

The Alter Rebbe now goes on to write that one’s tzedakah should be given unstintingly, without regard for limitations. Just as a person in jeopardy spends without limit in order to save his life, so, too, should one hold one’s own G‑dly soul in high regard, and give tzedakah boundlessly.

והנה מודעת זאת מה שכתוב: עור בעד עור, וכל אשר לאיש יתן בעד נפשו האלקית

All know the verse,18 “Skin for skin,”19 i.e., a person will protect one limb at the expense of another, “but all that a man possesses he will give for his soul” — he will give away everything in order to save his life. The Alter Rebbe adds a word to the quoted verse, so that it ends, “…for his G‑dly soul.” One should be willing to forego everything for the sake of his G‑dly soul,

להאירה באור החיים, אין סוף ברוך הוא

in order to illumine it with the light of life — the Infinite One, blessed be He.20

1. Parentheses are in the original text.
2. Verse 24.
3. Sefer HaMaamarim 5703, p. 71ff.
4. Sotah 9:5.
5. See I Kings 8:2 and Targum there.
6. Cf. Zohar I, 20a.
7. Zohar III, 4a.
8. See Likkutei Torah, Parshat Re’eh 18d.
9. Yeshayahu 52:13.
10. Devarim 10:16.
11. Ibid. 30:6.
12. Ovadiah 1:20. The phrase may alternatively be translated as “this valley.”
13. Yeshayahu 29:22. Note of the Rebbe: “The verse states beit Yaakov (‘the house of Jacob’). However, Sanhedrin (19b) and Bereishit Rabbah (63:2) explain plainly that it is ‘Jacob who redeemed Abraham.’ The phrase is likewise cited in many other sources. Indeed, this too is the meaning in the continuation of this very verse (quoted in Sanhedrin, loc. cit., and elsewhere): ‘Now will Jacob not be ashamed….’”
14. See Bereishit Rabbah, loc. cit.
15. Note of the Rebbe: “Cf. Tanya, ch. 45.”
16. Zohar I, 88a, et al.
17. Yevamot 79a.
18. Iyov 2:4.
19. Note of the Rebbe: “At the end of Epistle XVI in Iggeret HaKodesh, this verse is quoted [in its entirety] as well. This is not the case at the end of Epistle X [which quotes only the conclusion of the verse, ‘but all that a man possesses he will give for his soul’], and so too in many other places. Evidently, since the opening phrase (‘skin for skin’) signifies a limited degree of tzedakah (as in the plain meaning of the verse), this phrase is quoted only when the Alter Rebbe speaks (also) of this degree of tzedakah.”
20. The conclusion of this letter appears in Igrot Kodesh (Letters) of the Alter Rebbe (Kehot, N.Y., 5740), p. 95.
The Tanya of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, elucidated by Rabbi Yosef Wineberg    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

Translated from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun.
Published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, all rights reserved.

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Jewish Heritage at the Springfield Museusms | Connecting Point | Nov. 18, 2013

Stuart Anfang, past president of Temple Beth-El in Springfield, joins us to discuss the temple’s Centennial celebrations and a new exhibit he curated at the Springfield Museums: “One Hundred Years of Jewish Life in the Valley: From Shtetl to Suburb.”

Todd Herzog at the 2011 Biennial

odd Herzogs music and lyrics nourish the soul and raise the spirit. Todd shares his talents through CDs, concerts and performances in a variety of settings often joined by youth choirs. This video is from Todd’s performance on the Cherry Blossom stage at the URJ Biennial. Please visit Todd’s website at

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RCCS 2013 Miracles Auction
The Together Event! Join us on Nov 26th for a spectacular online event
Master of ceremonies Charlie Harary, Esq
Special Message by Hon. Mayer Rudolph Giulani - Survival of a Hero
Special Guests: Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi, Mordechai Weinberger, LCSW. Special Messages: Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky
Featuring: Shloimy Gertner Yossi Green
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