Thursday, 19 February 2009

Teaching Torah - Lay the Table (Parshat Mishpatim)


In the book of Exodus (21:1), G-d commands Moses to teach the children of Israel Torah, "And these are the laws that you shall place before them." Seems quite straight-forward. G-d is talking to Moses and tells him that there are a number of laws that he must tell over to the Jewish people.

The Torah consists of 613 main laws which every Jew is obligated to fulfil in his/her daily life. It's true, some laws can only be done by certain people (for example, men fulfil certain laws, women fulfil certain laws, the Kohanim and Levites perform certain things etc.) In truth, not every Jew fulfils all 613 laws, but together as a nation, every law must be fulfilled. Those laws applicable to each individual much be fulfilled by that individual.

The question is, to what degree would Moses be required to teach the laws? Would it be good enough to simply state over "You may not steal"? Could he simply say "You may not murder"? Naturally each law carries with it thousands of "read the small print" points. While first degree murder is totally forbidden, killing someone who is in the process of attacking another to kill him – is certainly permissible, and in fact a Mitzvah – the necessary thing to do. Likewise, although by most people's standards, embarrassing another person is something called for at times, the Torah calls it murder too.

The blood of a person rushes to his faces, literally emptying out from the remainder of the body, and in this way, the murder takes places. As a consequence of the embarrassment, this person may feel so humiliated, that he may well feel better off not being alive altogether. Embarrassment = Murder. But who would consider it so, without the "read the small print"?

With the myriad of laws, learning Torah becomes a tremendous task. In fact, with the "small" amount of easily available Torah today, including the entire Tanach (24 books of the Bible), the Babylonian Talmud (2411 pages), Jerusalem Talmud, Midrashim (homiletic explanations of Torah,) main Halachic (law) works, Tur, Rambam, Shulchan Aruch etc., main mystical Kabbalistic works, including the Zohar and the writings of the Arizal etc., the average person finds himself at a loss for knowing just what to learn and what to do.

But although the "small" amount of material needed to learn is quite well laid out, this is still nothing in comparison to the literally infinite amount of material available for those managing to work through these "basic works." With all this, the average Jew has no idea how to approach Torah.

What really is the law?! Do the Rabbis agree, disagree, or simply agree to disagree or disagree to agree?! Is there one law or a plethora of different opinions that one can choose to follow? Worse yet, unless one sees with one's eyes what it's really all about, listening in to an average Talmud class can have one wondering if one may well be better off taking the day off and relaxing, than trying to solve an intricate debate which may not have any final conclusion.

Here, in this beautiful verse that G-d says to Moses lies one of the most important lessons being taught to any learned teacher or rabbi. Here lies the secret of teaching correctly and letting others – less knowledgeable, know what to do and how to do it.

Rashi (1040-1105) the famous commentator studied by young and old alike, explains clearly what this verse is really all about:

"These are the laws that you shall place before them":

The Holy One blessed be He said to Moses, "Do not let it arise in your thought to say, 'I'll teach them the chapter and the law (i.e. the Oral Law) two or three times, until it becomes clearly organised in their (own) mouths like it was taught, and I won't burden myself to make them understand the reasons of the thing and it's explanation.'" For this reason it says, 'that you shall place it before them,' like a LAID TABLE and ready to eat in front of EVERY person.

Teaching Torah is not an act of sharing information to another so that they too can simply regurgitate the material off by heart. It is something that must be understood and clear. It is not sufficient to teach over so that the other can read the material as well. Torah is something that must be so clear to another that it is as if everything he needs to know and understand lies before him – much like a table that is laid and prepared for someone to eat off.

So too, just as a table which is prepared can clearly be seen as such; one sees the knives and the forks, the spoons and the cups for real; one doesn't have to imagine what a spoon looks like, what a fork looks like, or what food looks like – let alone to have to imagine it well enough so as to have an actual effect in one's stomach.

So too those who teach Torah must know that their obligation is not to simply share the information with students in the hope that they'll be able to "say it over" for them well enough to write an exam to earn 80% or more. The main thing is that the material is so well taught, that anyone learning it can actually visualise and know what it's about, and he can literally be able to "eat" from the table himself.

It's a tough task. But it's the most important task that every Torah educator faces right now – today – in seeing to it that the next generation will continue to love the taste of the food of Torah – the bread and the wine. That they should be able to implement into their own lives, much like one's stomach digests the food – without the need for one to have to consciously think about the need to get one's insides moving in the hope that this will cause things to happen.

When Torah is taught correctly, everything moves smoothly. Those learning, come to understand clearly what is required of them. In return, they do what is required of them, loving everything they do, and being excited to share this with others. Those who take the path of Moses' initial possible reaction, will end up with students who are academic parrots impressing everyone with their knowledge.

Those taking the correct approach – as instructed in this verse, will bring blessing in to the world, of students and Jews who are humble, understanding Jews who know how to implement what the Torah requires. This is our duty – each and every one of us. Lay the table of Torah for everyone to eat from.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Body and Soul - A Good Team!

The verse in Exodus (23:5) states: “If you see your enemy’s donkey crouching under it’s burden, you may wish to refrain from helping him. (Nevertheless,) You shall surely help him.”
The Baal Shem Tov explains: The Hebrew word for donkey – Chamor, refers to the material – to the physical body. The Baal Shem Tov uses this analogy often in speaking about the body. It really is just a donkey – an animal body used to be the chariot to the fuel inside it i.e. the soul.
Torah, Judaism and Chassidut, are not about destroying the body ever. Contrary to the “great” ascetics and the like and the “great” giants of the generations who stress that the only way to purify oneself is through fasting weeks at a time, whipping oneself, insulting oneself and depriving oneself of every conceivable pleasure in the world, the Baal Shem Tov explains this verse as teaching us what Torah is really all about.
"When you will see the “Chamor” of your enemy...": The start of one’s progress in developing a relationship with G-d, in purifying oneself begins with a person seeing their material self as their enemy. When a person begins to work on himself and improve himself, he will find that at the beginning of his struggle, his physical obstructs and hinders his spiritual growth - the soul sees the body as an enemy and the body sees the soul as its enemy.

"...crouching under its load...”: Under such “hostile” conditions, the Torah and its commandments become a burden to the body, even though the Torah is in a “space of it’s own”, given to man specifically to refine and elevate the physical. Not recognising what is for its own benefit, the body resists the “load.”

One's first inclination may be "to refrain from helping him", to negate the material – to do away with the physicality of things. Says the Torah "nevertheless, you should help him" - cure the “donkey” of its folly, refine and develop its tremendous potential.

How does one do this? First, make the body aware "that he's a horse", bring it to recognise the coarseness of its undeveloped state. Then, "whip the horse so that he should cease to be a horse," directing its energies and resources to positive and G-dly ends."
In other words, make the horse realise that it has a job to do. It shouldn’t simply stand still continuing to think over about its station in life as being a horse. Actually a horse has an important purpose. It acts as a chariot for the one who is using it to get to a destination.
So too, the body is nothing more than a chariot. It is not something ugly or base. Actually it serves a most special and holy mission – to allow its rider – the soul, to travel upon it so that it too may reach its destination.
Together, body and soul work as a team. The soul, appreciating the body for the good that it gives to her, and the body, appreciating the soul for riding upon her and giving it the ability to serve a worthwhile mission in this world.
Together they meet with success!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Judaism in a "Nutshell" - What is Judaism "Exactly"?


What is Judaism really all about? When did it begin? Is it just another religion?

Judaism, contrary to popular belief, is not in fact a religion. One may feel the need to call it a way of life, but it goes far deeper. Before we can begin to understand what Judaism is, we need to agree on one thing. Without this, there is simply no way to progress, to appreciate Judaism, and to be prepared for what it demands of every single Jew – and even of every non-Jew.

A story is told of an atheist. While he had no belief in G-d, he was a master artist. A perfectionist if we could go so far as to say! He approached a learned Sage on an occasion and began insulting him for his belief in G-d. “Do you really believe there is a G-d?” he asked. “Do you really believe there is Someone who created the world? Someone who watches over us, expecting we behave in life according to a certain code? Someone who knows what we do every moment and will bless us for the good we do and who cares if we don’t behave ourselves?! Surely the world came about through a Big Bang! There must have been a cataclysmic explosion of sorts that made everything, bringing all into existence!”

The Sage told the atheist-artist to return the next day, as he needed some time to think over these serious questions. The next day, the artist returned expecting plausible answers – if not more – to his intricate questions. The Sage presented the most exquisite painting to the artist – as a gift! He was overwhelmed at the beauty of the painting. Every detail of a life-scene had been painted to perfection. People could be seen walking… buildings, perfectly painted. The faces of people reflected well who they were. The buildings – even clearer than the real thing!

“Who was the artist who painted such a beautiful image?” asked the artist. The Sage replied, “There was none. A funny thing happened to me yesterday. After you left, I had thought over your question. I had placed a large piece of paper on my table – where all my own paints were, and had thought best how to answer you. I was just about to write down my thoughts on the page, when suddenly, as I bumped the table, the paints spilled all over the canvas. What you see is the result!”

Insulted at the Sage’s answer, the artist explained to the Sage that such beautiful images cannot just happen of their own accord. There certainly must have been an artist who painted such an amazing image! “Likewise,” replied the Sage, “This world too could not simply have come about through some sort of mystical explosion. Rather, in this situation too, there must be an Artist behind the creation. And He must certainly have had good reason to create things in the perfect state as He has.”

Truth or myth?! To begin the road to connecting with the Creator, means before anything, the real approach of realizing that there certainly is a Creator – Someone who has brought creation into existence, just the way He wished – for just the reasons He wants it to be this way. It is really perfect – although missing just a few pieces. Things we need to fix on our own.

We could liken His creation to a fruit or a nut – “coated” and covered over by a hard shell with the luscious fruit inside. Of course, the fruit is perfect just as it is. But it has a layering over it which must be removed before enjoying the sweet taste inside.

So too has the Creator made His world. Everything good can be found in it. But before this good is revealed, there is much work needed to remove the outer layer (there for the good of the fruit of course!) and finally enjoy the sweet fruit hidden beneath the shell and peel created deliberately by the Creator for very good reason.

Who better to remove the shell than the very first man who G-d would create to attend to His world. He failed, breaking the shell into fragments which concealed even more of the tasty fruit. The task would be given to his children. But his son would destroy things even further, and so life continued right until the time of Noah. Noah well knew what the Creator wanted, and did his share to correcting the world, but his generation rebelled, leaving the world in a gigantic mess! And so, the Creator allowed Noah to be saved – together with his family, in the hope that he would repair everything. The task was too great, and Noah erred too. Life continued with each generation doing its best to correct the flaws each had added to the other.

One man took the task of world-refinement most seriously. His name was Abraham. Abraham realised that there was only One G-d in charge of the universe. Acknowledging Him, and trying to convince others of their important role in creation, he began the path that all Jews would follow – serving their Creator, bringing goodness and kindness to the world, and encouraging all the other nations to come closer to G-d. Naturally, whoever wished to could take part in the process of refinement, but seeing the task ahead, all eventually dropped out one by one, until the mission of the refinement of the world would be passed on to Isaac, then to Jacob and his twelve children. They would enter into Egypt – the nakedness of the world itself, a place filled with the most polluted impurity possible. It was there that they would become slaves serving another “god” called Pharoah. Having achieved much refinement there, however, they were taken out by Moses – the servant of G-d, and lead through the desert for 40 years, until ultimately entering the Holy Land. During their trek, they would pass through Mount Sinai, where they received the Torah – the ultimate guide of life. The guide that would teach them everything necessary to do, in order to perfect the world.

With the Torah, G-d gave additional commandments to the nations of the world too. Commandments which had already begun on the first day of creation. While a total of 613 commandments were given to the Jewish people, 7 commandments were given to the rest of the world. A deal had been made with the world. The task of the Jewish people would be to bring refinement into the world through the observance of all 613 commandments. The nations were by no means exempt from their own task, which required the complete observance of 7 commandments.

And so, the history of Jewish life continued, as Joshua lead the Jewish people into the Land of Israel. There would be Judges and Prophets who would lead the Jewish people. There would be Kings and other leaders who would advise – some for their good, and others for their downfall.

The Jewish people would experience the freedom of building a Temple, and seeing its destruction because they had drifted off the path set out for them. G-d granted them another Temple, but through their drifting off the path, losing touch with their obligations, this Temple was destroyed as well. From here, it would be a long wait until the Final Temple would be rebuilt.

This Temple will be miraculous in nature. It will be built by the Righteous Redeemer, a man steeped in Torah as King David himself was. A man who does not depart from the Torah, neither to the left, nor to the right. A man filled with kindness, who brings only good things to the world. Only peace.

What does this mean to each of us? Right now, every person has the obligations imposed upon him. Those who are Jewish, must observe the 613 commandments given to them. Through these commandments, the outer shell concealing G-dliness in the world is stripped away revealing the “tasty fruit” inside. But let no non-Jew feel he is exempt, that he is any inferior – that he has no duty. He too must do what is necessary – 7 commandments (the 7 commandments of Noah, as they are known.) Through these, he too takes part in the rectification of the world, something which began 5769 years ago.

We are all to take part in this process to ultimately bring redemption to the world, where we will all be blessed with a goodness – the likes of which none of us has ever seen or known about before.

There is no fallacy – nor is there any myth. There is just One G-d. He has given the world rules to live by. Through them we get a glimpse into His desire. They fill each person with a sense of satisfaction at life – and a sense of accomplishment. They fill him with a sense of purpose. A sense of love and goodness about everything. They bring peace to oneself, and peace to the world.

Most of all, they bring all to realise the necessity of understanding that life is nothing – without the Torah.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Our Role in Life. Life in True Perspective. Ethics of our Fathers Chapter 1 Mishnah 14


The teaching of the Mishna in Pirkei Avot – Ethics of our Fathers, Chapter 1, Mishna 14, teaches, “He (Hillel) used to say, ‘If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”

The great sage of 2000 years ago, Hillel, is the famous "adversary" to Shammai. Naturally the arguments between these two sages are purely for the sake of heaven. We can be certain that not only was there no enmity between the two, but they were in all probability the greatest of friends!

Hillel's way of thinking was always to go in accordance with mercy, to be filled with compassion and kindness, goodness and giving-in to his fellow man. He did all these things in strict accordance with the laws of Torah, and not in a way of his own personal biases.

Shammai on the other hand was on the side of judgement. Very particular to fulfil every detail of Torah exactly as it should be, it seemed like leniencies simply didn't exist. Hillel's opinion was favoured in almost every circumstance and is the practised law followed until today.

*His* approach was the way to go, since even the world itself was created on kindness (Psalms 89:3) "Olam Chessed Yibane." If we want to succeed in life, to get by with a smile on our faces, we have to mitigate the judgements with attributes and actions of kindness and goodness.

One cannot separate Hillel's statements, however, especially in this Mishna, as all are linked. We cannot assume one part of his statement without taking into account the rest of it, as all are connected.

As he says "If I am not for myself, who will be for me, and if I am for myself, what am I, and if not now, when?" The latter part of his statement is perhaps the biggest clue to the former part. And once again, this too illustrates the total approach of Hillel towards the world and others. Giving, goodness and kindness are hidden within it, and yet when one looks a little deeper, one sees clearly how they are revealed.

Hillel highlights the importance of being oneself. Of having an "ego" of sorts. Of feeling confident enough about oneself, that one can achieve what one must, whether to oneself, to Hashem or to others. Yet at the same time, not becoming overly confident in "Kochi V'Otzem Yadi" - the strength and power of my own hands (Devarim 8:17) - he teaches the balance that the Rambam speaks of. If a person wants to achieve a true balance in things, he can do so by swinging from one side of things to the other. Thereafter, having seen the full spectrum of the issue at hand, he can move back into a balanced role.

So says Hillel - if I should ever become too filled with pride, indeed believing that I am the All-Powerful, that I achieve everything by myself, without any help (from Above), then what am I? This is not the role of a person. A Jew is filled with both an animal soul (and a body) and a spark of G-dliness from above (Tanya chapters 1 & 2). He is indeed both.

However, if he suddenly begins to feel that he is indeed in charge, he takes himself out of his role of being an ordinary human being made of both souls. He exits the norm and enters a realm of something not made for this world. What is he indeed? He is certainly no longer a human. He is not one who can interact with others, since he presumes himself to be of another world. He loses touch with others, being unable to identify and feel their pain. He becomes a "Mah" - a "what" - a being that can no longer be identified.

Hillel goes one step further on this very same topic. If not now when? Hillel believes in the mission of each person. Each of us is required to contribute to this world in a way that will benefit others, and in addition will fulfill Hashem's role of creating a physical world and bringing Hashem into it. An aspect of kindness towards his fellow man, and an aspect of kindness towards G-d Himself! But how is he to do it - what with having to deal with gaining the necessary ego to feel confident in himself, and in
addition, not becoming too arrogant to take himself out of the world. For this Hillel answers, “If not now, when?"

Nevertheless, even as I go about my task of working on myself, my Middot. Even as I work on achieving the correct harmony and balance in my life. A harmony of balance between my body and my soul. A harmony of balance between myself and others. A harmony and balance between myself and my Creator. Even as I work on all these things - sometimes finding myself torn apart - sometimes feeling like the animal side to me, and at other times feeling like an angel - even then I must still pursue my task. Now is the time. No matter where I find myself as I go about achieving balance - of bringing goodness to the world, to others, to Hashem, and to myself - even so, I will not wait until I have achieved the goal of balance. I will not wait until something happens to make me realise I can do it - that I can make a difference. I will do it now! Now is the time to achieve all these things.

When I'm low, I'll pull myself up to try and be a somebody. And when I'm on a high, I'll remember to get back to reality. I'll have two pockets – says Hillel. When I am on a low, I'll pull out the note in my one pocket. It reads "Why was man created after all the animals? To teach that the entire world was created for him." This will lift me up, and I will be a somebody! And when I'm high, I'll read the note in my other pocket, "Even the mosquito preceded you in creation" and get back to reality! I'll continually work on things. But still, nothing will hold me back from achieving the goal of everything - right now! My path is a path of action - says Hillel!

While continually working on myself, I will achieve all the goals I am required to do. Being Hillel - this means bringing further mercy, goodness and kindness into the world - ultimately making the world a fitting abode for the Shechinah - an abode for the indwelling Divine Presence of G-d in the lower worlds.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Forwarding - and Sending - Emails of Kindness. Never too Young to Shine


Isn’t email amazing?! In the last few days, I have personally received news about almost every single happening in the world – all around. I heard of people (who don’t exist) in need of prayer – with demands being made of their most sorry sad situation. I heard of anti-Semitic bank tellers sending the most vicious hate email (and wonder at the real truth behind the “sender”.)And I recalled the variety of emails received in the past regarding various people of the Merkaz HaRav attack who are still in need of healing (although it’s known that these particular emails too were hoaxes!) I thought to myself, what a “wonderful” world. It seems we just can’t get enough of forwarding on – with absolute glee – those things that are simply irrelevant and time wasters for everyone – or contain such hatred, and ugly photographs in them, that nobody in their right mind wants to get home from a hard day of work to stare at such images before going to bed. 

Then I thought to myself of the other side of the coin. We’ve begun a number of exciting projects to help various people in real life situations (unlike the false pictures retouched with Photoshop, and the “sick” people who don’t exist.) Our biggest and most exciting project is our Mikvah project, helping women who cannot afford the expense of visiting a Mikvah on a monthly basis – to immerse at absolutely no cost! WOW! (See more on this blog or go directly to

In contrast to the multitude of emails I see posted on the various newsgroups etc. regarding the hatred the world nations have towards each other – and the enthusiastic prayer requests for people that don’t exist, I thought about the really “enthusiastic” response we received from a variety of people – regarding our own postings to “make the world a better place.” From those who moderate the Jewish newsgroups on the Internet, to individual people. Regarding our postings about every project we do, we’ve had some really welcoming responses – anything from “Please stop posting your things, everybody already knows what you do…” to “We don’t do Tzeddakah things.” (sic) (Although of course the gore is posted daily for everyone who doesn’t already have enough difficulties in life – to really get stuck into and “enjoy!”) It seems much of the Jewish community has had it with people posting about things that do good, can help, bring peace and goodness – and kindness to the world.

But the excitement of a vulgar, frightening email (with no proof of the real culprit behind it) blaming this nation and that nation for apparently putting it altogether gets thrust around the Internet in milliseconds as each person hurriedly types in EVERY email address in their contact lists, and then with much impatience, hits the send button, making sure every other person should get to know the horrid things going on – and make certain to send it out to the next 5000 people as well to make sure the email goes around the world at least 10 times so that everyone knows the “truth.”

Can one possibly imagine the *tremendous* good that could happen in those same milliseconds, if for example, instead of the excitement at sending out vicious emails attacking everyone else in the world for things they never actually did (or of people that don’t actually exist,) people would use their energies to forwarding the positive good of acts of goodness and kindness?! 

I wondered this to myself recently as I thought of friends who continually wonder about the many projects we are involved in and feel somewhat abashed at having to forward the emails concerning our projects to their own friends. And as I wondered, another frightening email was sent, telling us once again of the atrocities of the world – things we should never forget, the “inappropriate” behaviour of the rest of the world, and the need for us to well remember these things. That this is what being a Jew is all about. (Kashrut, Shabbat, Family Purity, Tefillin, Mezuzot, Lashon HaRa, helping another Jew and a host of other really beautiful kindnesses – never seems to enter their vocabulary… but the hatred emails continually come through. They just don’t seem to stop, no matter how much we’ve asked others not to send them.)

Imagine the difference of putting everything into the correct perspective - even for just the millisecond it takes to send an email? Imagine the satisfaction of sending an email to promote another Jew? Not just to give money, but to help them make themselves known so that others will give to them as well. 

Imagine taking all that energy invested in the impatience of sending out those vicious emails, and using that "impatience with another terrible email" for spreading goodness? Of not feeling embarrassed at the acts of kindness of another? Can we ever imagine the goodness that will zoom around the world in split seconds? Imagine the sudden change to the goodness of the world, of an email asking others to help a good cause – and telling friends to send it to their entire address book – so that *this* goes around the world 10 times – and comes back to you afterward (that very night!) Imagine the sudden change that this would create for the entire world? I'm not talking about about a cute picture email which says "please send this to 20 of your friends and you'll become a millionaire in three days time." I'm talking about an email with value - made out in sincerity - to actually help another person. Not something just forwarded on - but rather something composed by none other - than you yourself?

A world where the baseless hatred not just amongst one nation itself – but the hatred caused between different nations due to false accusations and allegations – would suddenly be changed into baseless love. A world where every email that goes out falsely accuses others for the possible good they have?! 

Aharon the Kohain did this very thing (although he didn’t have email, sea-mail or snail mail.) Of course, he never lied. What was so great about him? He saw the great value of every single Jew. He knew that hidden in each one was a true love for the other – a natural love – a G-dly love. When two people would be fighting, he would approach each and tell him that the other was really sorry for what he had done and wanted to make up. Then he would go to the other with the same story. Having felt guilty about the whole episode and the love that the other had for him, both would unite, hugging each other with tears flowing from them – never knowing that such things had never taken place – that Aharon had “fabricated” it all.

But Aharon had not fabricated anything, because in truth, these two people had never really wanted to fight in the first place. Their fight was an external one. Internally all they ever wanted was peace. Aharon showed them that, and they realised it.

When will we learn to advertise good instead of dwell upon the “delight” of the atrocities going on – today? When will we feel ashamed to forward the disgust of the world – and feel honoured and privileged to send out to help others?

Here are my thoughts: 

Sending hate mail (even when it was sent by your other 50 friends) does nothing more than increase hatred – for everyone.

The constant staring at such images destroys the very soul and pulls one down so low, that one feels there is simply no hope in life at all.

What to do? Delete the email before even glancing at it. Besides, if another person doesn’t even have the decency to greet you or share a little about what the article or pictures has done to him – does that email even earn your respect to read it yourself?!

On the side of good: 

Tell those sending those emails to stop! Or simply filter out any email from these people.
For every hating email that comes forwarded to you, send a message back to the sender telling them to focus their energy on sending out beautiful thoughts. (Did they know that this is just as permissible to do – to send the good rather than the negative?) Better yet, forward back an email to them - filled with encouraging words to ACT NOW and do something good for another.
Be of those who send beautiful thoughts to others. Those things that will actively help them, encourage them and show your sincere interest in wanting only the best for them.

What can one small kindness do? What can one candle amongst the darkness of the world do? Does it help to actually be this candle – to light it for another, to be that role model – to take the stand and bring some light where there is nothing at present? 

Watch this video of the Lubavitcher Rebbe where he shares the most wonderful story of a young girl – not even BatMitzvah, who became excited at bringing just a little light into her life – and what it did for her family. 

If this is what it did for her family, imagine what it did for those who came into contact with the family afterward.

Better yet, imagine what one email – one word of kindness can do to transform the entire world – now – to the scale of merit, and ultimately bring redemption to the world – TODAY!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Rivky Holtzberg's Shlichus Lives On


Submitted by Dena Gottlieb of Modiin Ilit, Israel - Thank you.

Sometime during the shiva for Rivky Holtzberg Hy"d, a young woman came into the Rosenberg home. She told Mrs. Rosenberg that she had something for her, and Handed her a small package. Curious, Mrs. Rosenberg opened it and gasped.

Inside was Rivky's diamond ring and one of her nicer Shabbos dresses.
"How did you get these?"

The young woman gently told Rivky's mother, "Let me tell you my story."

"I had been traveling in India. Somehow I ran afoul of the law and ended up in an Indian jail. You cannot begin to imagine what an awful, horrible, primitive place it was... The only redeeming factor is that the jails there are quite disorganized, and those who are in charge are corrupt. Somehow I managed to escape.

"The first place I ran to was, of course, the Chabad House. Everyone knew that that's Where you went when you needed help. Rivky welcomed me, fed me, and told me that it was vital that I get out of the country. I knew that - but I was very afraid. What if they would check me, check my passport? Then Rivky gave me one of her Shabbat dresses and her diamond ring. 'If you look very dignified, a well-dressed married woman with a ring on her finger, they won't look too closely at you. They will leave you alone. A woman with a diamond ring is in a different class. She's a respectable woman. She's not a criminal, someone who has escaped from jail. They won't bother

"I took the dress and the ring and as you can see, I got out safely. And now I have come to give you Rivky's dress and her ring that she lent to me."

Rivky's mother took the possessions of her beloved daughter. Then she told the young woman, "I recently saw Rivky and noticed that she wasn't wearing her ring. When I asked her about it, she told me 'zeh b'shlichut.' It's on shlichus."


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