LIVING WITH MOSHIACH
Weekly Digest About Moshiach
Parshat Tazria, 5765
28 Adar II, 5765
April 8, 2005
Family Purity -
The Torah Perspective On Married Life
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"I BELIEVE WITH COMPLETE FAITH IN THE ARRIVAL OF THE MOSHIACH.
"AND THOUGH HE MAY TARRY, I SHALL WAIT EACH DAY, ANTICIPATING HIS
Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12
THIS PUBLICATION IS DEDICATED
TO THE REBBE,
RABBI MENACHEM M. SCHNEERSON
Click here, to see pictures of the Rebbe
The Daily Sicha (in Real Audio)
- Listen to selected excerpts of the Rebbe's Sichos
[talks] which are relevant to the particular day.
We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, the 415th
issue of our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.
In this week's issue, we focus on:
1) One of the Rebbe's Mitzvah Campaigns, "Mivtzah Taharat
Hamishpacha -- The Jewish Laws of Family Purity."
The observance of the Jewish Laws of Family Purity, is one of the three special
mitzvot entrusted to the Jewish Woman.(1)
2) Shabbat Parshat HaChodesh, the forth of four special Torah readings
read in the synagogue on the Sabbaths before the month of Nissan --
Shekolim, Zachor, Parah and HaChodesh.
3) As our Sages have enjoined us to begin preparing for each holiday thirty
days before the holiday begins,
Therefore, we begin in this week's issue, to focus on the upcoming 8-day
festive holiday of Pesach, which begins this year, on Saturday night,
4) Beis (the second day of) Nissan (Monday, April 11), the
Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber (1860-1920), the fifth Rebbe of
Chabad-Lubavitch, known as the Rebbe Rashab.
Marriage and sexuality are treated very carefully by the Jewish tradition.
It is no coincidence that in Torah-conscious homes the divorce rate is much
lower than the national average.
Taharat Hamishpacha, the attitudes and practices for happy married
life help to develop genuine communication and love between husband and wife
and bring to the world healthy, loving children.
The detailed laws of Taharat Hamishpacha require much explanation.
Many couples of all ages have turned to observing Taharat Hamishpacha.
Contact your local rabbi or Chabad-Lubavitch Center for more information.
For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).
For a Global Mikvah Directory, go to:
Our sincere appreciation to L'Chaim weekly
publication, published by the Lubavitch Youth Organization, for allowing
us to use their material.
Also, many thanks to our copy editor,
Reb Mordechai Staiman of blessed
memory, for his tireless efforts.
It is our fervent hope that our learning about Moshiach and the Redemption
will hasten the coming of Moshiach, NOW!
Rabbi Yosef Y. Shagalov,
Committee for the Blind
27 Adar II, 5765
Los Angeles, California
1. The other two are: Mivtzah Neshek --
Shabbat Candles, and Mivtzah Kashrut --
The Jewish Dietary
In honor of
Rabbi & Mrs. Yosef Yitzchok and Gitel Rochel
On the occasion of our wedding,
Sunday, 13 Nissan, 5764
In the beginning of this week's Torah portion, Tazria, the Torah states:
"If a woman conceived seed, and bore a male child." According to the Ohr
HaChaim's commentary, this verse alludes to the Jewish people and their
Final Redemption with Moshiach. "A woman" is symbolic of the Congregation
of Israel; "conceived seed" alludes to the Jews' service of mitzvot
and good deeds; "and bore a male child" refers to the ultimate result of
this process -- the birth of the messianic era.
The Final Redemption is referred to as "male" as an expression of its strength,
for after Moshiach redeems the world there will be no possibility of further
exiles, and the messianic age will last forever. This same concept is expressed
in a midrashic reference to the tenth and final song that will be sung by
the Jewish people with Moshiach. The tenth song is called "shir,"
the masculine form, whereas the nine songs that have already been sung are
termed "shirah," the feminine form.
In order to understand why the Jewish nation is symbolically a woman we need
to examine the Hebrew word for woman. Eve was called isha ("woman")
"because out of man ("ish") was this one taken." The word isha
therefore expresses the woman's relationship with her husband, and reflects
her innate desire to reunite with him.
Similarly, in the spiritual sense, G-d is "male," whereas the Jewish people
is "female." Just as Eve was created from Adam, so too is every Jew's soul
"taken" from within G-d himself, being a "veritable piece of G-d Above."
Accordingly, every Jew's innate desire is to reunite with G-d, the source
of his being. Material wealth and physical pleasures can never satisfy the
Jew's longing for G-d; neither can spiritual delights totally satiate this
yearning. Consciously or not, throughout his life the Jew seeks this union
with G-d; it is the driving force of his existence.
To continue the metaphor of the "seed," this innate desire to unite with
G-d must be sown precisely in the ground, finding expression in practical
mitzvah observance. A seed planted in the air will never sprout; good
intentions and positive feelings toward Judaism alone will never yield the
desired results. Only through actual Torah study and the observance of
mitzvot does the Jew cultivate the "seed" and allow it to grow.
Of course, the underlying objective of the Jew's service in the world is
its ultimate "germination" -- the messianic era. Translating one's positive
feelings into action -- doing one more mitzvah, performing one more
good deed for a fellow Jew -- is what will bring the revelation of Moshiach
and the redemption of the entire world.
The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of Lubavitch, issued a call that
"The time of our Redemption has arrived!" and "Moshiach is on his
The Rebbe stressed that he is saying this as
a prophecy, and asks us all to prepare ourselves for the Redemption,
through increasing acts of goodness and kindness.
Let us all heed the Rebbe's call.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR DEAR FRIEND AND COPY EDITOR
Reb Mordechai ben Reb Shaul
Passed away on 22 Tamuz, 5763
Springtime happens to bring with it one of the most colorful, widely observed,
and vividly recalled Jewish holidays -- Passover. In fact, one of the three
names by which Passover is mentioned in the Bible is "the Holiday of Spring."
Our Sages enjoin us to begin preparing for each holiday thirty days before
the holiday begins. When our Sages made this suggestion, they had in mind
learning the laws pertaining to the holiday. The holiday of Purim falls thirty
days before Passover, which serves as an easy reminder of when to start
preparations. Many people use Purim, and the thirty-day guideline as a reminder
that it's time to start getting serious about cleaning the house, and getting
the chometz (leavened foods) out of the house, for Passover.
We've already passed the thirty-day mark. So, certainly, it's not too soon
to make plans for where you'll be spending the seders. Also, check
out your local supermarket or grocery store and see if they'll be stocking
the kosher-for-Passover food that have a reliable Rabbinical
supervision that you will need for the eight-day holiday. If they don't
have everything, find out who does.
In addition, call your local rabbi, or Chabad-Lubavitch Center to order
shmurah matzah -- special hand-made matzah just like the Jews
used when they came out of Egypt -- at least for the two seders.
With the first crocuses starting to peep their heads up, even through the
frost, it's really time to start thinking about Passover. This year, bring
the "Holiday of Spring" into your thoughts, now.
When it comes to getting ready for Passover; teamwork is essential to do
the job right. If you consider the task of removing all traces of
chometz from your possession as an adventure, it makes it more fun
and rewarding. And when you're having fun, everyone wants to join in.
Start early enough -- traditionally we start preparing for a holiday 30 days
before the festival -- and consider cleaning according to the ABC's.
Attack the attic. Go through all of those storage spaces that accumulate
chometz during the year.
Beware of bedrooms, books and even briefcases. Even if your policy
is no food in bedrooms, crumbs wind up there. Chometz also wedges
itself in books if you eat while you read.
Clear the cabinets, chairs, car and closets of chometz. This
is a perfect time to have the carpets cleaned, too.
Deal with the drawers and desks.
Eliminate your ego. What does ego have to do with Passover and
chometz? To make a long chasidic discourse short, chometz contains
leaven and rises. Matzah doesn't have any leaven and therefore remains
flat. As we rid our physical surroundings of leaven, we should try to eradicate
our pompous, haughty and self-righteous aspects, those parts of our personality
which grow and rise.
Face the freezer and all furniture. And, if you've contemplated cleaning
your upholstery, now is the time.
Go for the garage, garbage cans and wastebaskets.
Hide the high chair. Unless you still need to use it. If so, thoroughly
scrub it, and cover the trays.
Ignore the idea to quit. You're nearly half-way through!
Joyously de-chometz the jig-saw puzzles and all other toys.
It's easy not to be happy when you have 300 pieces of Lego to clean -- all
with Cheerios meshed in. But think of all the quiet playtime these toys
encourage. And think of all the joy that the children give you when you're
playing with them -- the kids, that is, not the Lego.
Keep at the kitchen and kitchen appliances. The kitchen is "not within
the scope of this article." Ask a rabbi or rebbetzin how to do it!
Lather the luggage. Go through your suitcases and carry-on bags.
Make-over the medicine cabinet. Many non-prescription medicines contain
chometz and should be dealt with properly. If you must take medicine
during Passover, consult your rabbi (probably a nice guy who would love to
hear from you).
Nurture your needs. Take a break. Sit down with a drink and relax
for a few minutes. While you're relaxing, peruse one of the many interesting
Haggadahs available today and you'll be preparing yourself mentally
for the holiday, as well.
Overtake your office. Unless you're taking the whole week off, you
have to clean your office for Passover.
Peruse your pockets, purse and porch for chometz.
Quarantine your quarterback. Or, for that matter, anyone who goes
running through your ready-for-Passover rooms with chometz.
Ready the refrigerator. Use up all those open jars and then clean
Scrub the stroller. If you don't have one, help someone who does.
Tackle the telephone. It's probably sticky if you talk while you're
Unclutter the utility room.
Validate the vacuum cleaner by throwing out or emptying the bag after
you vacuumed the last chometz.
Wash the wall where all the cake batter splatters when you bake.
Xerox your favorite recipes which can be used for Passover since your
cookbooks are probably so full of chometz that they are unsalvageable.
Yield chometz from your yacht. Although, if you have a yacht
you're probably not doing most of the cleaning, anyway.
Zee, it wasn't zo bad after all!
This Shabbat is Shabbat Mevorchim, the Shabbat before
the new Jewish month. Literally translated, it means a Shabbat in
which we bless the upcoming Jewish month. This Shabbat Mevorchim is
special because it is the Shabbat before the month of Nissan,
which is often referred to as "the month of Redemption."
On the surface, calling Nissan the month of Redemption is explained
by the fact that Nissan is the month in which we celebrate
Passover,(2) the holiday that commemorates the Jews' redemption
from Egyptian slavery. But the month of Nissan is also connected to
the Final Redemption, as our Sages say, "In Nissan, our people were
redeemed, and in Nissan, they will be redeemed in the future."
This Shabbat represents the transition from the month of Adar
II to the month of Nissan. Both months contain within them commemorations
of miraculous events. In Adar II we celebrate the downfall of Haman
and the victory of the Jewish people, and in Nissan we celebrate our
freedom from slavery.
The difference between the events is that the miracles of Purim occurred
within the natural order of the world, while the miracles of Passover transcended
the natural order. The story of Purim can be traced through a natural sequence
of events. But by cloaking miracles in the natural order of the world, we
are actually elevating the natural order.
That is our true purpose on this earth, to elevate the physical to the spiritual
and have G-dliness revealed on this plane.
Another concept that the two months have in common is redemption. Adar
II celebrates redemption from Haman's wicked decree, and Nissan celebrates
the redemption from Egypt. Shabbat is also a kind of redemption, a
weekly redemption from mundane cares and worries to a place of light, joy,
song and Torah-study.
May all of these redemption's be stepping-stones to our complete, final,
and ultimate Redemption, the coming of Moshiach.
2. This year, Passover begins on Saturday night, April 23.
This Shabbat is one of the four special Shabbats preceding
the Yom Tov of Pesach. It is called Shabbat Parshat
HaChodesh. We read a special Torah portion from the book of Exodus which
states: "This month shall be the head month for you. It shall be the first
month of the year."
Shabbat Parshat HaChodesh always falls either on the Sabbath when
we bless the month of Nissan or on the first day of Nissan
The month of Nissan is special in that it is a month of miracles --
not the everyday miracles of human existence, or hidden miracles such as
those that took place on Purim. But, rather, Nissan contains revealed
miracles that are higher than nature itself.
With the command that the month of Nissan, a month of revealed miracles,
be designated as the first and "head" of the months, the Torah emphasizes
that in all the months of the year, whether we see open miracles, miracles
in the cloak of natural events, unusual success or a seemingly unchangeable
cycle of nature, we must realize that G-d is the Creator of the Universe,
the sole Master of the world, who directs and cares about even the smallest
detail of the world and each individual person.
If each and everyone of us would sit down for only a brief few moments and
pay close attention to what has happened to us personally, we will detect
minor and major miracles that happen in our personal lives.
Many times we are just too busy to stop for a moment and take stock of what
has happened. But we shouldn't pass it off as another "natural" happening.
It is a miracle of G-d, whether it has occurred in the month of miracles,
or in an average day.
Monday, Beis (the second day of) Nissan (April 11), is the
Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber (1860-1920), the fifth Rebbe of
Chabad-Lubavitch, known as the Rebbe Rashab.
The Rebbe Rashab lived in the town of Lubavitch in White Russia, which had
been the center of the Chabad movement. However, in 1915 the Rebbe and his
chasidim were forced to leave the town of Lubavitch as the battles
of World War I were approaching. They settled in the town of Rostov, which
seemed to be a safe distance from the fighting. But in 1920, the Communists
tightened their control over Rostov. This, however, did not discourage the
Rebbe Rashab from continuing with his work of inspiring and encouraging his
fellow Jews in all areas of Torah and mitzvot.
Only hours before his passing, the Rebbe Rashab told his chasidim,
"I am going to heaven, but my writings I am leaving with you." Although he
wouldn't be physically present, the chasidim could connect to him
through his teachings.
A scant perusal of the Rebbe Rashab's writings brings to light the following
"A single act is better than a thousand groans. Our G-d lives, and Torah
and mitzvot are eternal; quit the groaning and work hard in actual
spiritual work, and G-d will be gracious to you."
"Cherish criticism, for it will place you on the true heights."
"When Moshiach will come, then we will really long for the days of exile.
Then we will truly feel distress at our having neglected our avoda
(spiritual work); then will we indeed feel the deep pain caused by our lack
of avoda. These days of exile are the days of avoda, to prepare
ourselves for the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our time, amen."
"And this is the main thing in these last moments before Moshiach, that we
don't go according to our intellect and our reasoning. Rather, we should
fulfill Torah and mitzvot above and beyond what reason dictates."
"The avoda of serving G-d according to Chasidus comprises all
kinds of levels... the level of 'corpse' does not need much elaboration;
but, thank G-d, there is also 'revival of the dead' in spiritual work. A
corpse is cold; there is nothing as frigid as natural intellect, human intellect.
When one's natural intelligence comprehends a G-dly concept, and the emotions
latent in intellect are enthused and moved by the pleasure-within-intellect
-- that is true revival of the dead."
May we immediately merit the Final Redemption, when all righteous Jews (and
all Jews are considered righteous!) will be resurrected with the Revival
of the Dead.
There is a beautiful story concerning the Rebbe Rashab, illustrating the
high esteem in which he held every Jew.
One of the Rebbe Rashab's followers, Reb Monye Monissohn, was a wealthy gem
dealer. Once, when they were sitting together, the Rebbe spoke very highly
about some simple, unlearned Jews.
"Why do you make such a fuss about them?" Reb Monye asked the Rebbe.
"Each one of them has many special and noble qualities," explained the Rebbe.
"I can't see any of these qualities," said Reb Monye.
The Rebbe remained silent. A while later, he asked Reb Monye if he had brought
his package of diamonds with him. Indeed, Reb Monye had brought the diamonds,
but asked the Rebbe if he could display them later, when they could be seen
to their best advantage.
Later, Reb Monye took the Rebbe into a different room and arranged the diamonds
for him to see. Reb Monye pointed to one gem in particular, extolling its
beautiful color and quality.
"I can't see anything special in it," the Rebbe said.
"That is because you have to be a "maven" to know how to look at
diamonds!" explained Reb Monye.
"Every Jew, too, is something beautiful and extra-ordinary," the Rebbe said.
"But you have to be a "maven" to know how to look at him."
. . . Although what follows is self-evident, its importance requires it to
be emphasized, at any rate briefly.
To begin with, it is obvious that the said blessing of healthy offspring
both physically and spiritually is largely dependent upon the conduct of
the parents. For, just as the physical health and constitution of parents
have an impact on the physical health of the children, so it is also mentally
Indeed, as every intelligent person understands, the spiritual aspect is
stronger than the physical, so that the order should be reversed, namely,
that the spiritual impact is predominant.
Inasmuch as the Torah, which is called the "Torah of Truth," declared that
Jews are "believers, the sons of believers," meaning that in addition to
one's own belief in G-d, one has the cumulative heritage of countless
generations, beginning with our Father Abraham, the first believer, that
the Source of blessings is G-d, the Creator and Master of the universe. If
a human being who introduces a certain system must give guidelines as to
how the system works, how much more so is it to be expected that G-d would
provide guidelines which were revealed at Sinai with the Giving of the Torah
and mitzvot, which were transmitted from generation to generation,
not only in content, but also in the exact terms. Thus, the Torah provides
the guidelines as to how Jews have to conduct their lives, especially their
family lives. But inasmuch as a human being, however perfect he may be, is
liable to fail occasionally, G-d has provided the way in which it can be
rectified, namely by way of teshuvah -- repentence, which, as our
Sages declare, was created even before the world. And teshuvah is
effective not only in respect to the future, but also retroactively to a
large extent, inasmuch as G-d is omnipotent and is not restricted in any
It is a matter of common experience that it is part of human nature that
parents will make every sacrifice for the benefit of children, even in a
case where the benefit may not be certain, but has prospects.
All the above is by way of introduction to my earnest plea that regardless
of how it was in the past, you will strengthen your commitment and adherence
to the Will of G-d, the Creator and Source of all blessings, particularly
in the area of the strict fulfillment of the laws and regulations of family
purity which, aside from the essential aspect of their being Divine imperatives,
have the Divine Promise of reward in terms of healthy offspring, physically,
mentally and spiritually.
Needless to say, when it comes to carrying out the commandments of G-d, it
is absolutely irrelevant what neighbors or friends might say when they see
a radical change in one's everyday life.
Herein is also the answer to many questions, including the question of why
this or that mitzvah has to be observed. For a human being to question
G-d's reasons for His mitzvot is actually contradictory to common
sense. If one accepts them as Divine commandments, it would be presumptuous,
indeed ridiculous, to equate G-d's intellect to that of a human being. By
way of a simple illustration, which I had occasion to use before: one would
not expect an infant to understand the importance of nutrition as set forth
by a professor who has dedicated his life to this subject, even though the
difference between the infant and the professor is only relative in terms
of age and education. There can be no such comparison between a created human
being and the Creator, where the difference is absolute.
It should therefore be a matter of common sense to understand what the Torah,
the Torah of Truth, explains clearly, that whatever doubts and difficulties
a Jew may have in matters of Torah and mitzvot are only tests of his
faith in G-d. It would be illogical to assume that G-d would impose obligations
which are beyond human capacity to fulfill. Indeed, if one has more difficult
tests, it only proves that he has greater capacities to overcome them.
In summary, just as when we received the Torah and mitzvot at Sinai,
we accepted them on the basis of Naaseh [we will do], first and then,
V'nishma [we will hear, i.e. understand], namely on the basis of
unconditional obedience and readiness to fulfill G-d's mitzvot regardless
of our understanding them rationally, so has our commitment been ever since.
And while we must learn and try to understand as much as possible, prior
knowledge and understanding must never be a condition for living up to the
guidelines which G-d has given us in regard to our actual way of life and
"When our forefathers were in the wilderness, on the eve of their entry into
the Land of Israel, they were commanded to be vigilant with the
kashrut of their vessels, and with the purity and sanctity of their
"In our days, too, in these last few moments of exile we must be particularly
vigilant with respect to these two commandments -- kashrut and the
laws of family purity. For aside from their intrinsic significance as basic
and perpetual principles of Judaism, they are also a special preparation
and catalyst for our anticipated entry into the land of Israel with our Righteous
I am in receipt of your letter... in which you write about your background
and some highlights of your life.
In reply, I will address myself at once to the essential point in your letter,
namely your attitude towards religious observance, as you describe in your
letter, and especially to the particular Mitzvah which is most essential
for a happy married life, namely Taharat Hamishpacha. You write that
you do not understand the importance of this Mitzvah, etc. This is
not surprising, as is clear from the analogy of a small child being unable
to understand a professor who is advanced in knowledge. Bear in mind that
the condition between the small child and the advanced professor is only
a difference in degree and not in kind, inasmuch as the child may, in due
course, not only attain the same level of the professor, but even surpass
It is quite otherwise in the difference between a created being, be he the
wisest person on earth, and the Creator Himself. How can we, humans, expect
to understand the infinite wisdom of the Creator? It is only because of G-d's
great kindness that He has revealed certain reasons with regard to certain
Mitzvot, that we can get some sort of a glimpse or insight into them.
It is quite clear that G-d has given us the various commandments for our
own sake and not in order to benefit Him. It is therefore clear what the
sensible attitude towards the Mitzvot should be. If this is so with
regard to any Mitzvah, how much more so with regard to the said
Mitzvah of Taharat Hamishpacha, which has a direct bearing
not only on the mutual happiness of the husband and wife, but also on the
well-being and happiness of their offspring, their children and children's
It is equally clear that parents are always anxious to do everything possible
for their children, even if there is only a very small chance that their
efforts would materialize, and even if these efforts entail considerable
difficulties. How much more so in this case where the benefit to be derived
is very great and lasting, while the sacrifice is negligible by comparison.
Even where the difficulties are not entirely imaginary, it is certain that
they become less and less with actual observance of the Mitzvah, so
that they eventually disappear altogether.
Needless to say I am aware of the "argument" that there are many non-observant
married couples, yet seemingly happy, etc. The answer is simple. First of
all, it is well known that G-d is very merciful and patient, and waits for
the erring sinner to return to Him in sincere repentance. Secondly, appearances
are deceptive, and one can never know what the true facts are about somebody
else's life, especially as certain things relating to children and other
personal matters are, for obvious reasons, kept in strict confidence.
As a matter of fact, in regard to the observance of Taharat Hamishpacha,
even the plain statistics of reports and tables by specialists, doctors and
sociologists etc., who cannot be considered partial towards the religious
Jew, clearly show the benefits which accrued to those Jewish circles which
observed Taharat Hamishpacha. These statistics have also been published
in various publications, but it is not my intention to dwell on this at length
in this letter.
My intention in writing all the above is, of course, not to admonish or preach,
but in the hope that upon receipt of my letter you will consider the matter
more deeply, and will at once begin to observe the Mitzvah of Taharat
Hamishpacha, within the framework of the general Jewish way of life which
our Creator has clearly given to us in His Torah, which is called Torat
Chaim, the Law of Life. Even if it seems to you that you have some
difficulties to overcome, you may be certain that you will overcome them
and that the difficulties are only in the initial stages.
I understand that in your community there are young couples who are observant
and you could discuss this matter with them, and find out all the laws and
regulations of Taharat Hamishpacha. If, however, you find it inconvenient
to seek the knowledge from friends, there are booklets which have been published,
which contain the desired information, also a list of places where a
Mikvah is available.
[For a Global Mikvah Directory, go to:
Next I will refer to the various undesirable events which occurred in your
family, which left you confused, as you write. In view of what has been said
above, it is not entirely unexpected. For, inasmuch as the essence of a Jew
is to live in accordance with G-d's command, it is clear that if one disturbs
the normal flow of this kind of life by disobeying G-d's command, it is not
surprising that one should feel confused, lacking the true faith in G-d,
which is the only terra firma for a Jew. Moreover, inasmuch as the
Mitzvot are also the channels through which to receive G-d's blessings,
it is not surprising that a lack of observance prevents the fulfillment of
I repeat, it is not my intention to admonish with regard to the past, but
if you want to follow my advice, I urge you to begin from now on to live
the Jewish way of life with a firm resolution and determination, and this
will surely bring you the fulfillment of your heart's desires for good.
. . . It is fitting to emphasize that the Jewish people received the Torah
in the only fitting manner, namely "We will observe (first) and we will
understand." In other words, we accepted the Torah and Mitzvot without
question and unconditionally, whether or not we understood the
Mitzvot, or whether or not they are to our liking. At the same time
we know that we have to try to learn more about the deeper significance of
the Mitzvot. The same is true now, inasmuch as the Torah is ageless
and eternal. May G-d grant that this should also be in your case, and may
you have good news to report.
(From a Letter of the Rebbe
Dated 14 Sivan, 5724 )
. . . The following remarks are in response to your request to comment on
this vital subject.
In a Jewish household, the wife and mother, the Akeres Habayis [mainstay
of the home], largely determines the set-up and atmosphere of the entire
G-d demands that the Jewish home -- every Jewish home -- be quite different
from a non-Jewish home, not only on Shabbat and Yom Tov, but
also on the ordinary weekdays and in "weekday" matters. It must be a
Jewish home in every respect.
What makes a Jewish household different from a non-Jewish household is that
it is conducted in all its details according to the directives of the Torah,
Torat Chaim [the living Torah] -- meaning that it is the Jew's Guide
in daily life -- given by G-d. Hence the home becomes an abode for G-d's
Presence, a home for G-dliness, one of which G-d says: "Make Me a sanctuary,
and I shall dwell among them." (Exod. 25:5).
It is a home where G-d's Presence is felt not only on Shabbat and
Yom Tov, but on every day of the week; and not only when
davenning [praying] and learning Torah, but also when engaged in very
ordinary things, such as eating and drinking, etc., in accordance with the
directive, "Know Him in all your ways."
It is a home where meal-time is not a time for indulging in ordinary and
natural "eating habits" but a hallowed time to serve G-d, where the table
is an "altar" to G-d, sanctified by the washing of the hands before the meal,
reciting the blessings over the food, and Grace after the meal, with every
item of food and beverage brought into the home being strictly kosher.
It is a home where the mutual relationship between husband and wife is sanctified
by the meticulous observance of the laws and regulations of Taharat
Hamishpacha, and permeated with awareness of the active third "Partner"
-- G-d -- in creating new life, in fulfillment of the Divine commandment:
"Be fruitful and multiply." This also ensures that Jewish children are born
in purity and holiness, with pure hearts and minds that will enable them
to resist temptation and avoid the pitfalls of the environment when they
grow up. Moreover, the strict observance of Taharat Hamishpacha is
a basic factor in the preservation of peace and harmony (Sholom Bayis)
in the home, which is vitally strengthened and fortified thereby -- obviously,
a basic factor in the preservation of the family as a unit.
It is a home where the parents know that their first obligation is to instill
into their offspring from their most tender age on, the love of G-d and also
the fear of G-d, permeating them with the joy of performing Mitzvot.
With all their desire to provide their children with all the good things
in life, the Jewish parent must know that the greatest, indeed the only real
and eternal legacy they can bequeath to their children, is to make the Torah
and Mitzvot and traditions, their life source and guide in daily life.
In all that has been said above, the Jewish wife and mother -- the Akeres
Habayis -- has a primary role, second to none.
It is largely -- and in many respects exclusively -- her great task and privilege
to give her home its truly Jewish atmosphere. She has been entrusted with,
and is completely in charge of, the Kashrus of the foods and beverages
that come into her kitchen and on the dining table.
She has been given the privilege of ushering in the holy Shabbat by
lighting the candles on Friday, in ample time before sunset. Thus, she actually
and symbolically brightens up her home with peace and harmony and with the
light of Torah and Mitzvot. It is largely in her merits that G-d bestows
the blessing of true happiness on her husband and children and the entire
. . . This is the great task and mission which G-d gave to Jewish women --
to observe and disseminate the observance of Taharat Hamishpacha,
and of the other vital institutions of Jewish family life. For besides being
the fundamental Mitzvot and the cornerstone of the sanctity of Jewish
family life, as well as relating to the well-being of the children in body
and soul, these pervade and extend through all Jewish generations to eternity.
Finally, it is to be remembered that the Creator has provided each and every
Jewish woman with the capacity to carry them out in daily life in the fullest
measure, for otherwise, it would not be logical or fair of G-d to give
obligations and duties which are impossible to fulfill . . .
(From a Letter of the Rebbe
Dated 18 Elul, 5735 )
It gave me pleasure to hear that you have begun to involve yourself in the
subject of Family Purity, which as a result of our many transgressions has
been so neglected and abandoned; moreover as a result of misplaced embarrassment
there are pious, G-d fearing Jews who are ashamed to talk about this.
How true are the words of my father-in-law that the evil inclination is called
"the smart one," because it clothes itself in garments that suit each individual
respectively, to make him lose his sensibilities.
As he said in the name of his father, the Rebbe Rashab: "The evil inclination
is called the animal soul, not because it is necessarily a senseless animal,
but because oft times it is a fox, the most shrewd of animals, and one needs
great wisdom to understand its tricks. And sometimes it clothes itself in
the guise of a righteous, upright, humble person of sterling character. In
each individual the animal soul is in accordance with his specific essence."
Thus we see clearly in the case at hand, being that the characteristic of
shame is one of the three characteristics of the Jewish people who are
compassionate, bashful and kind.
The evil inclination makes use of this trait to hold back vital talk that
affects the happiness of husband and wife and their children thereafter until
the end of time . . .
(Free Translation of a Letter from the Rebbe
Dated 21 Marcheshvan, 5711 )
. . . One of the most inspiring lessons of Purim is the extraordinary courage
of Mordechai the Jew, who "would not kneel or bow down," despite the physical
vulnerability of our people being "spread and scattered among the nations"
-- a tiny minority against an overwhelming majority.
Yet, it is this uncompromising stance that brought triumph over all adversaries,
so that "for the Jews there was light, joy, gladness and honor," and the
awesome respect of their detractors.
The teachings of our Torah, like the Torah itself, are of course eternal,
including the lessons of Purim; particularly since we are still "spread and
scattered among the nations," including our brethren in the Holy Land, for
they, too, are surrounded and besieged by numerically overwhelming hostile
But Purim teaches us that the strength of our Jewish people, as of every
Jew individually, is in our G-d-given capacity of "not kneeling or bowing
down" to any force that is contrary to our Jewish essence, which is rooted
in the Torah and mitzvot.
Indeed, yielding to any influence that is alien to our Jewish spirit and
way of life, far from winning good will and respect, must necessarily bring
forth contempt, be it overtly or covertly. For what is one to think of a
cringing Jew who is willing to compromise his true Jewish identity and noble
traditions going back to the time when the world was steeped in barbarism?
Needless to say, the true Jewish spirit, as exemplified by Mordechai and
Esther, must not remain in the abstract, but must be translated into concrete
behavior in everyday life, in keeping with the basic principle of our Torah
that "action is the essential thing."
Certainly this is to be expected of young people, who are generally blessed
with a greater sense of urgency and doing. Especially young couples who start
out on their own, establish a home on the foundations of Torah and
mitzvot, raise a family in the true Torah tradition, and build "an
everlasting edifice" in the fullest sense.
And here, of course, a great deal depends on the akeret habayit [the
pillar of the home], in whose hands G-d has entrusted major responsibilities
for the character and actual conduct of the home, such as kashrut,
Shabbat observance, Family Purity, raising the children, and so forth.
This in no way diminishes the husband's full share of responsibility in this
Divinely-blessed partnership, and they must consistently encourage each other
to upgrade all things of goodness and holiness, Torah and mitzvot;
but there is no getting away from the fact that it is the young wife and
mother who bears the noble calling of akeret habayit.
. . . It should be noted, in conclusion, that there is no greater emphasis
on the historic role of the Jewish woman in Jewish life than in the events
that brought about the miracle of Purim, as related in the Megilah,
which is named not after Mordechai, nor Mordechai and Esther jointly, but
solely after Esther! . . .
(From a Letter of the Rebbe
Dated 7 Adar II, 5741 )
Jewish Institute for Brides and Grooms
Your letter reached me with some delay. Thank you very much also for the
enclosures dealing with your activities and programs.
I hope that you are making efforts not only to maintain your activities in
high gear, but also to extend them from time to time. For, needless to say,
a marriage in Jewish life is an institution which is called Binyan Adei
Ad -- an "everlasting edifice." And in order that it should be so, the
marriage of a bride and groom should be in full compliance with the instructions
of our Torah, which is called Torat Chaim [Torah of life], because
it is not only the source of everlasting life in the Hereafter, but also
the true guide in life on this earth.
The analogy of a marriage to an "everlasting edifice" is not merely a figure
of speech, but there is an important idea and instruction in it.
Just as in the case of any structure, the first and most important thing
is to ensure the quality and durability of the foundation, lacking which
all the efforts put into the walls and roof and decorations, etc. would be
of no avail, and so it is in regard to a Jewish marriage which, first of
all, must be based on the foundation of the Torah and mitzvot, then
follows the blessing of the joy and rejoicing of the beloved couple for the
rest of their lives.
In view of the above, it is also clear that there is a standing obligation
upon everyone to help a bride and groom to establish such an everlasting
edifice, and it would be totally unjustified to think that it is a matter
of their own personal life, in which no one has a right to interfere.
Surely when one sees someone bent on harming herself or himself and their
children, or about to do something which might lead to self-destruction,
G-d forbid, one will not consider it "interference" or "encroachment" to
try to prevent that person from harming himself.
Similarly, when there is an opportunity to help someone with a lasting benefit,
surely it is an elementary duty to do so, how much more so where the benefit
is a truly everlasting one.
I send you my prayerful wishes to continue your good work in helping young
couples to establish truly Jewish homes, homes that are illuminated with
the light of the Torah and mitzvot, above all with the observance
of the laws and regulations of Taharat Hamishpacha. May you do so
with deep inspiration and with ever growing hatzlacha [success].
(From a Letter of the Rebbe
Dated 27 Marcheshvan, 5726 )
. . . A Jewish marriage is called Binyan Adei Ad -- an "everlasting
edifice." In order that the edifice of marriage should indeed be strong and
lasting, everything connected with the wedding, as well as with the establishment
of the couple's home, should be in full compliance with the instructions
of Torah. For our Torah is called Torat Chaim, the Torah of Life;
it is the source of everlasting life in the Hereafter, as well as the true
guide to life on earth.
The analogy of a marriage to an "everlasting edifice" is not merely a figure
of speech, but contains also an important idea and moral. In the case of
any structure, the first and most important step is to ensure the quality
and durability of the foundation. Without such a foundation all the efforts
put into the walls, roof, decorations and so on, would be of no avail. This
is even more true of the structure of marriage; if its foundation should
be unstable, what tragedy could result! This is why a Jewish marriage must,
first of all, be based on the rock-solid foundation of the Torah and
Mitzvot; then follows the blessing of the joy and happiness of the
beloved couple for the rest of their lives.
In every matter concerning the observance of Torah we follow the principle
that "all Jews are responsible for one another." Not only are we to practice
the Mitzvot ourselves, but we should also interest and assist others
in their observance. In view of this it is clear that there is a standing
obligation upon everyone to help a bride and groom establish an "everlasting
We should show them how and why to maintain a kosher kitchen in their new
home. We should introduce them to the beauty of Shabbat, and show
them how the laws and regulations of Taharat Hamishpacha bring sanctity
to marital relations. Let no one think it is a matter of the young couple's
own personal life, in which no one has a right to interfere. Such a viewpoint
is totally unjustified. Surely when one sees someone bent on harming herself
or himself and their children or -- worse still -- about to do something
which might lead to self-destruction, G-d forbid, no one would consider it
"interference" or "encroachment" to try and prevent that person from harming
himself. Similarly, when there is an opportunity to help someone with a lasting
benefit, it is surely an elementary duty to do so -- especially where the
benefit is a truly everlasting one.
(From a Letter of the Rebbe
In response to your letter of . . .,
At this auspicious time, I will mention all of you at the holy resting place
of my saintly father-in-law, each regarding his individual needs.
You should check your tefillin and the mezuzot in your home
to ascertain that they are all kosher, according to the law.
Regarding what you wrote about your wife, that since the birth of your first
child you have not yet been blessed with more children:
On the whole one must be steadfast in one's faith in G-d, the Creator of
the world, who is the essence of good, that He will fulfill your heart's
desire for healthy children.
Nevertheless, the proper thing to do is to increase one's care in the observance
of the laws of Family Purity and modesty, though I hope that the basics are
being adhered to -- in a matter of grave importance the performance of the
mitzvah should be with utmost precision, according to the directives
of our holy Torah (a Torah of life) -- and to have unwavering faith in the
Giver of the Torah and the commandments, that He will fulfill the desires
of your heart in the near future.
About your difficulty in earning a livelihood, the teaching of our holy Torah
is well known . . . to increase in the giving of charity frequently,
particularly at the propitious times, namely every weekday after prayers
in the morning.
In general you should perceive these two matters as a test, in the manner
of the verse, "For G-d your G-d tests you to know if you love Him."
When it is seen Above, that one is strong in one's faith in G-d, and one
rises in the general observance of Torah and mitzvot, especially in
the above-mentioned, the test is nullified and there is an increase in blessing,
salvation and success.
With blessings for good tidings in all of the above.
P.S. Certainly you make a practice of saying the three daily portions of
Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya, as we have heard many times
from my father-in-law that they are uniform for all people and auspicious
for many things.
(Free Translation of a Letter from the Rebbe
Dated 8 Iyar, 5718 )
I was pleased to receive your letter of the 15th of Shevat, in which
you write about the successful initial meeting on Taharat Hamishpacha,
and the fruitful beginnings.
It is, of course, unnecessary to emphasize to you the paramount importance
of this cause. Nor do I think that it would require a great deal of persuasion
to convince the other participants in the meeting of the vital importance
of Taharat Hamishpacha.
Suffice it to say that even where a person may not be so meticulous insofar
as he or she is concerned, yet there is no limit to the love and devotion
of parents to their children, their readiness to spare no sacrifice for their
Even if the observance of the laws and regulations of Taharat
Hamishpacha entailed a certain effort or even sacrifice on the part of
the parents, surely it would be done eagerly, knowing that in addition to
the essential thing of the need of observing G-d's commands for their own
sake, these observances have a direct influence on children, and through
them on grandchildren and so on. Of what account, therefore, is a temporary
inconvenience or effort by comparison to the everlasting benefit in terms
of good health, physical and spiritual, and true Nachas, etc. All
the more so since the inconvenience or effort are smaller than imagined.
May G-d grant that this vital activity of Taharat Hamishpacha in your
community should grow and expand, bringing even more and more members and
participants, and may the observance of this essential law and regulation
stimulate also the general observance of the Torah and Mitzvot, where
there is always room for improvement.
(From a Letter of the Rebbe
Dated 16 Adar I, 5725 )
I was pleased to receive the report about your activities, and may G-d grant
that they should continue and expand with much hatzlacha [success].
In the present days, having concluded the Three Weeks, which are connected
with the sad events of the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash [Holy
Temple], and having entered the period of the Seven Weeks of Consolation,
which bring us the good tidings of the forthcoming Geulah [Redemption]
and restoration of the Beit HaMikdash -- every action which is connected
with the strengthening of Yiddishkeit in general, and with the special
Mitzvah Campaigns -- notably those most pertinent to Jewish women:
candle-lighting, kashrut and Taharat Hamishpacha -- in particular,
is especially significant.
For, as mentioned in the well known prayer Umipnei chatoeinu ["Because
of our sins"], the only cause of the sad events in the past, the Destruction
and Exile, was the neglect of Torah and mitzvot.
Therefore, through rectifying and removing the cause, the effect will also
This is why every activity to spread Yiddishkeit is so vital, especially
the efforts to provide the right influence and proper chinuch [Jewish
education] for Jewish daughters, since this is the way to raise generation
after generation of fully committed Torah-true Jewish families, in an endless
I send my prayerful wishes to each and all participants in these endeavors,
which are at the same time a wide channel to receive G-d's blessings also
in all personal needs.
May G-d grant that you should have good news to report in all above,
(From a Letter of the Rebbe
15 Menachem Av, 5735 )
In answer to your letter in which you outline the events of your life from
the time of your marriage until today, the impressions of this and your desire,
After carefully reading your letter, my opinion is that in spite of all the
undesirable happenings, there is absolutely no basis to disrupt a Jewish
home, which according to the marriage blessings is an eternal edifice, and
especially since these occurrences were experienced at a time of moving from
place to place, not only in the physical sense but also in the spiritual
Since moving into the state of married life and from country to country are
major transitions -- and primarily taking into account the greatness of peace,
particularly peace in the home, about which G-d says, "It is better that
My name be erased, so as to achieve peace between man and wife" -- it is
imperative that you lay open your grievances before a rabbi (understandably
in the presence of your husband), so that the Rabbi will hear both sides,
a fundamental condition for elucidating the truth. And certainly you will
find the means to rectify and improve the relationship, understanding that
you both wish for this -- this wish being a sacred obligation, as our Sages
point out in various places, and as we say every morning that this is "from
those things whose fruit we eat in this world and whose benefit we derive
in the next."
I hope that you will think into these lines, though they are few in number,
with an introspection that befits the seriousness and importance of this
matter, and may G-d grant you success.
With blessings for good tidings in all of the above.
(From a Letter of the Rebbe
Dated 22 Adar I, 5719 )
. . . It is certainly unnecessary to emphasize that the more one devotes
oneself to matters of Torah and mitzvot, the more blessings are bestowed
by G-d upon all involved, and the more one is provided with one's needs.
Although it is uncomfortable to write what follows, I consider it my duty
to speak up and not to avoid the issue.
In many cases, the situation you have described is the result of their parents
not having properly observed the laws of Family Purity at the moment of
If, G-d forbid, this is true concerning the matter of which you wrote, it
is self-understood that when one wants to change the outcome, one must first
set to right the underlying cause.
Although at first glance this may seem to be something which has already
happened and exists in the past, our holy Torah offers advice, teaching that
"nothing stands in the face of repentance."
The repentance must obviously be great, "a double repentance," involving
both parents' firm principles of Torah regarding Family Purity, and also
to do the same, as the Midrash stated, "You have saved a soul, etc."
For G-d Al-mighty will ensure that through their efforts, many Jewish children
will be spared by virtue of their parents' observance of Family Purity, which,
in turn, will cure their own child. May G-d Al-mighty help you find the
appropriate words to convey this, words that emanate from the heart, to bring
about the desired effect.
With blessings, and awaiting good tidings,
P.S. I am taking this opportunity to encourage you to undertake the learning
of the three daily portions of Chumash, Psalms and
Tanya, for, as the Previous Rebbe said on many occasions, this applies
equally to every Jew and is a remedy for many matters.
(From a Letter of the Rebbe
Dated 5 Shevat, 5718 )
. . . Everything is by Hashgocho Protis [Divine Providence], and it
is significant that this reply is written on Rosh Chodesh Elul, a
time of special opportunity for every Jew, as you know. I only mention it
in compliance with the suggestion of our Sages, "He who has 100, desires
200; and having attained 200, desires 400." In other words, your accomplishments
in the past should be a constant source of stimulation for greater achievements
in the future, particularly as this is for the benefit of the many. Moreover,
in the area of Chinuch [Jewish education] every effort is eventually
greatly rewarded and multiplied in the form of a chain reaction. And the
Zechus Horabim [merit of the multitude] also helps. May G-d grant
that you should do this in peace of mind and happy circumstances.
I take this opportunity also to express my appreciation of the help which
you have shown to our workers in... No doubt here too, you will continue
your good efforts in an ever-growing measure.
In this context, I would also like to mention a point to which I had occasion
to call attention last night, in connection with Rosh Chodesh Elul,
a most propitious time . . .
I refer particularly to the campaign which has been urged recently to strengthen
Taharat Hamishpacha. I pointed out that a special effort should be
made in reference to women who have reached the age of . . . the so-called
"change of life." It should be explained to them that by proper preparation
and going to the Mikvah this one time and undergoing tevila
[immersion] in the proper manner, it would purify them for the rest of their
lives. In view of this, surely the effort involved (even if this be an effort)
is infinitesimal by comparison to the results which can be achieved. It would
be easily accepted in many, if not most, cases.
In addition to the merit of this thing in itself, it would also have the
effect of "one Mitzvah bringing another Mitzvah in its train,"
namely, having done this themselves, these women could be enlisted to use
their influence with younger women to spread the idea of Taharat
Hamishpacha. All the more so that it often happens that mothers and
grandmothers who have become observant of the Mitzvot in many areas,
and would like to influence their daughters and granddaughters in the area
of Taharat Hamishpacha, hesitate to do so in case they are asked,
When is it that you went to the Mikvah the last time?
May G-d grant that you should have good news to report in all above.
With esteem and blessing for a Kesivo veChasimo Tovo . . .
(From a Letter of the Rebbe
Dated Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5735 )
What is a mikvah? Why is it so central to living Jewishly?
To answer these questions, we share excerpts from "Total Immersion: A
Mikvah Anthology," edited and with an introduction by Rikvah Slonim
(published by Jason Aronson Inc. and reprinted with permission of Mrs. Slonim).
The world's natural bodies of water -- its oceans, rivers, wells, and spring-fed
lakes -- are mikvahs in their most primal form. They contain waters
of divine source and thus, tradition teaches, the power to purify. Created
even before the earth took shape, these bodies of water offer a quintessential
route to consecration. But they pose difficulties as well. These waters may
be inaccessible or dangerous, not to mention the problems of inclement weather
and lack of privacy. Jewish life therefore necessitates the construction
of mikvahs -- mikvah pools, and indeed this has been done by
Jews in every age and circumstance.
To the uninitiated, a modern-day mikvah looks like a miniature swimming
pool. In a religion rich with detail, beauty, and ornamentation -- against
the backdrop of the ancient Temple or even modern-day synagogues -- the
mikvah is surprisingly nondescript, a humble structure.
Its ordinary appearance, however, belies its primary place in Jewish life
and law. The mikvah offers the individual, the community, and the
nation of Israel the remarkable gift of purity and holiness. No other religious
establishment, structure, or rite can affect the Jew in this way and, indeed,
on such an essential level. Its extraordinary power, however, is contingent
on its construction in accordance with the numerous and complex specification
as outlined in Halachah -- Jewish Law.
Immersion in the mikvah has offered a gateway to purity ever since
the creation of man. The Midrash relates that after being banished
from Eden, Adam sat in a river that flowed from the garden. This was an integral
part of his teshuvah -- repentance -- process, of his attempt at return
to his original perfection.
Before the revelation at Sinai, all Jews were commanded to immerse themselves
in preparation for coming face to face with G-d.
In the desert, the famed "well of Miriam" served as a mikvah. And
Aaron and his sons' induction into the priesthood was marked by immersion
in the mikvah.
In Temple times, the priests as well as each Jew who wished entry into the
House of G-d had first to immerse in a mikvah.
On Yom Kippur, the holiest of all days, the High Priest was allowed entrance
into the Holy of Holies, the innermost chamber of the Temple, into which
no other mortal could enter. This was the zenith of a day that involved an
ascending order of services, each of which was preceded by immersion in the
The primary uses of Mikvah today are delineated in Jewish Law and
date back to the dawn of Jewish history. They cover many elements of Jewish
life. Mikvah is an integral part of conversion to Judaism.
Mikvah is used, though less widely known, for the immersion of new
pots, dishes and utensils. The Mivkah concept is also the focal point
of the Taharah -- the purification rite of a Jew before the person
is laid to rest and the soul ascends on high. The manual pouring of water
-- in a highly specific manner -- over the entire body of the deceased serves
this purpose. Mikvah is also used by men on various occasions; with
the exception of conversion, they are all customary. The most widely practiced
are immersion by a groom on his wedding day and by every man before Yom Kippur.
Many chasidic men use the mikvah before each Shabbat and holiday,
some even making use of mivkah each day before morning prayer (in
cities with large populations of observant Jews, special mikvahs for
men facilitate these customs). But the most important and general usage of
mikvah is for purification by the menstruant woman. For the menstruant
woman, immersion in a mikvah is part of a larger framework best known
as Taharat Hamishpacha --Family Purity.
Most Jews see the synagogue as the central institution in Jewish life. But
Jewish Law states that constructing a mikvah takes precedence even
over building a house of worship. Both a synagogue and a Torah Scroll, Judaism's
most venerated treasure, may be sold to raise funds for the building of a
mivkah. In fact, in the eyes of Jewish Law, a group of Jewish families
living together do not attain the status of a community if they do not have
a communal mikvah.
This is so for a simple reason: private and even communal prayer can be held
in virtually any location, and venues for the social functions of the synagogue
can be found elsewhere. But Jewish married life and therefore the birth of
future generations in accordance with Halachah, is possible only where
there is accessibility to a mikvah. It is no exaggeration to state
that the mivkah is the touchstone of Jewish life and the portal to
a Jewish future.
"What do you want most for your wedding day," Chaya Sara Zarchi, coordinator
of the Campaign for Taharat Hamishpacha remembers asking the young
woman sitting in front of her. "I want my mother (who was no longer alive)
to be at my wedding." "Jewish tradition teaches," explained Chaya Sara, "that
three generations back of ancestors are at one's wedding. You mother will
surely be there. But if you go to the mikvah you will make your mother,
and all of your ancesters, especially happy.
"'But will I be able to see my mother?" the woman asked. "I don't know if
you'll be able to see her," answered Chaya Sara, "but she will be there,
and she will be happy." The young woman learned the laws regarding immersing
in a mikvah and went before her wedding day. "She told the
mikvah attendant," concludes Chaya Sara, "that she felt her mother
was there with her."
by Rebbetzin Frida Sossonkin O.B.M.
In the summer of 5712 , the Russian government suddenly closed and
sealed the mikvah in Tashkent that was located in the backyard of
the shul. Several weeks later I heard that there was a mikvah
available. I asked my friend about the rumor and she told me that when I
would need it she would go with me.
The night that I had to go to the mikvah I prepared myself and off
we went. Soon we came to the backyard of the shul. My friend called
the woman who used to work in the mikvah who lived in the same courtyard.
She went to the side of the old mikvah, lifted a cover on the ground,
and uncovered a well. (A mikvah is kosher only when the water is connected
with a "living" source of water). Since Tashkent is in the mountains where
it seldom rains, they had to dig very deep to make the well.
It was summertime and the Rabbis said we could use this well as a temporary
mikvah until they could find a secret place to build a permanent one.
They put a table on the bottom of the well, and connected two long ladders
and put them on the table in the well. The temporary mikvah was ready.
When I stepped down, the cold air of the well hit me. As my toes touched
the water I automatically pulled out my foot because the water was as cold
as ice. I cupped some water in my hands and wet my feet with the cold water.
I tried again to put my foot in the water, but it was impossible. I decided
to give up, to leave the well without immersing myself. I knew that it was
not proper, but I would wait until a proper mikvah was built.
At that moment I heard two other women entering the yard to use the
mikvah. From their talking I recognized the voice of my friend Zlata.
I realized that if they saw me coming out of the mikvah without having
immersed they would go straight home. I now felt three times the responsibility
I had felt before these women came. I decided to immerse in this
mikvah no matter what.
I had once heard that when one of the great Sages studied Torah, he would
bite his fingers in deep concentration until blood would come, but because
he was so involved in his studies, he didn't feel the pain and he didn't
see the blood. I knew that if I could completely distract my attention and
concentrate on something else, I would not feel the cold and I would be able
to immerse my entire body in the ice cold water.
And so, I began to think about one day in my life -- 21 Shevat, 5711
. My husband, Reb Asher (of blessed memory) had been arrested by the
KGB nine months before. The KGB ran a powerful and cruel regime and this
was its most bitter year. They arrested thousands of innocent people, especially
During the first month, I was able to bring kosher food for him three times
(once every ten days). When I came the fourth time with the food, I was told
that he had been sent away to another city for interrogation. Where? They
"didn't know" . . .
The next day I received a note to come to the interrogator on Friday. I went.
Finally in the afternoon they brought me to the interrogator who interrogated
me for four hours. And then, he allowed me to leave! I was able to come home
and light my Shabbat candles on time. The next Friday they interrogated
me again. During that year they arrested many Chasidim and I was very
worried about what would happen to my children. Every time I went out of
my house I knew that a KGB agent was following me. I could not meet, or talk
to my friends. I could only talk to G-d.
Eight months passed and I still didn't know the whereabouts of my husband.
I didn't know if he was still alive. Nine months after my husband was arrested,
on 21 Shevat, 5711 , I lost my two children in a fire.
Standing on the steps of the ladder, down in the well, deeply engrossed in
the events and emotions of that day, I no longer "felt my body" and I jumped
into the water. I didn't feel the cold. I knew how to swim, and I wanted
to swim out of the water to the surface of the well, but I couldn't because
there wasn't any air in my lungs, and I couldn't breathe. I begged G-d to
help me and to save my life for the sake of my husband and our third (now
only) child (my husband came home in 5716  and in 5717  our son,
until 120, was born). I suddenly found myself on the surface of the water.
I finished immersing and came out of the well. I touched my body and it was
ice cold. Only slowly did my blood begin to circulate. When I came out, Zlata
went down into the well. I stopped to listen. Suddenly, a cry came out from
the well: "It's too cold. I can't take it. I'm going out." Then she began
to weep, and so did I, and still weeping, she immersed herself. She came
out and said that she would never come to this mikvah again. The other
young woman went quietly into the mikvah, immersed herself quietly
and came out.
I was proud and relieved. After that night Zlata permitted the Rabbis to
build a mikvah in her yard, and with G-d's help, we also built a
mikvah in our kitchen. The building of our mikvah took place
with much self-sacrifice and many miracles.
Even though the communists (may their names and memories be erased) closed
the only mikvah in Tashkent, with G-d's help and with the self-sacrifice
of many Jews, we kept the mitzvah of family purity and we were able
to build two secret mikvahs.
In 5724 , thank G-d, we miraculously came out of Russia. We left our
home to a Lubavitcher family. They promised us they would take care of the
mikvah and the mikvah remained open for women.
In 5727  there were two earthquakes in Tashkent. All the buildings
around our home collapsed. But our house with the mikvah remained
(Reprinted from the N'Shei Chabad Newsletter)
The following story appeared in the newspaper, Dos Yiddishe Vort,
in the 1960s and took place sometime during the mid 1930s.
Dorothy Schiff, the publisher of the Washington Post and later the
New York Post, was a very wealthy and influential Jewish woman. Amongst
Mrs. Schiff's friends was Dr. Jacob Smithline, a heart and lung specialist,
who was in close contact with the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok
Schneersohn. In fact, there are numerous letters from the Previous Rebbe
to Dr. Smithline in the volumes of published letters of the Previous Rebbe.
In one of these letters to Dr. Smithline, the Previous Rebbe had asked the
doctor to do his utmost to spread the message of Taharat Hamishpacha
-- the laws of family purity.
Dr. Smithline undertook this mission from the Previous Rebbe and at every
opportunity wrote about and spoke publicly about the subject. He also published
booklets in English detailing the laws of this mitzvah and sent many
copies to the Previous Rebbe in Riga, at the Rebbe's request. Whenever Dr.
Smithline spoke to groups of women about women's medical issues he always
"smuggled" in the subject of Taharat Hamishpacha.
At one point, Dr. Smithline asked Dorothy Schiff if she would be willing
to host a group of her friends in her home -- all of whom were wealthy and
influential women, mostly Jewish -- so that he could speak to them about
"women's issues." Mrs. Schiff agreed and Dr. Smithline was the guest speaker.
Dr. Smithline began the evening with a discussion on the medical advances
that had taken place relating to women's issues and then spoke about Taharat
Hamishpacha. The doctor opened the floor to questions and a lively discussion
A few minutes passed and Mrs. Schiff asked the doctor and guests if they
wouldn't mind following her into a different part of the house, for she had
something to show everyone.
Mrs. Schiff took the guests through her house to a lower level. She stopped
in front of a beautiful wooden door. When Mrs. Schiff opened the door, Dr.
Smithline gasped. To everyone's great amazement, beyond that door was a kosher
mikvah (a mikvah is a specially constructed pool of water integral
to keeping the laws of Taharat Hamishpacha).
Mrs. Schiff began to tell everyone the following story about how she came
to have her own private mikvah in her home. Her father, Jacob Schiff,
was a pillar of the American Jewish community. Mr. Schiff tirelessly helped
the Jews in Russia, especially during World War I. Throughout his life, Mr.
Schiff did everything he could to uphold Judaism in America though not a
"strictly Orthodox" Jew himself. The climate being what it was during his
lifetime, Mr. Schiff never envisioned that the observance of Torah and
mitzvot would actually flourish. He saw only the decline, G-d forbid,
of Judaism here.
Mr. Schiff wanted very much that his children would remain involved with
and committed to Judaism. Thus, he encouraged his three daughters to keep
the mitzvah of Taharat Hamishpacha. To this end, he helped
each one of them build her own, private mikvah in her home.
This, Dorothy Schiff concluded, was how she had this beautiful mikvah
in her home and observed the laws of Taharat Hamishpacha.
by Yehudis Cohen
"For seven years after we were married we weren't able to have children,"
begins Yocheved Daphna. There were no known medical causes, nor were there
suggestions from the doctors she and her husband, Yehuda, had consulted.
Yocheved met someone who was close to Chabad who kept encouraging
Yocheved to go to the Rebbe for a blessing. "I grew up in a 'Modern Orthodox'
family and the whole concept of a Rebbe was foreign to us. But this person
was persistent and I finally agreed. 'What could it hurt,' I figured."
Together with Rabbi Yerachmiel Benjaminson of Tzivos Hashem, and the
friend who had spoken to them about the Rebbe, the Daphnas came during "Sunday
dollars," when the Rebbe was distributing dollars for tzeddakah
(charity). Yocheved recounts, "The Rebbe gave our friend three dollars
and a blessing that he and his wife should have children. The Rebbe then
gave my husband dollars for tzeddakah and said, 'You should give these
dollars when your wife becomes pregnant.' The Rebbe told me to relearn the
laws of Taharat Hamishpacha."
Six months passed and Yocheved had not become pregnant. During that time
she had been hit by a bicycle while crossing the street, winding up with
a broken knee, broken teeth and time in a wheelchair. "Rabbi Benjaminson
told me that we should go back to the Rebbe again. But beforehand we should
have our mezuzot checked. We followed his advice and found that nine
out of our ten mezuzot were not kosher."
Another four months passed and the Daphnas decided it was time to go to the
Rebbe once again. On the Sunday, a week before they went to the Rebbe, Yocheved's
parents went. "My younger brother's wife was pregnant with what was to be
my parents' first grandchild. My mother had planned on asking the Rebbe for
a blessing that everything should go well for my sister-in-law. On the spot,
however, she got 'confused' and asked for a blessing that her daughter should
have children. The Rebbe gave my mother three dollars.
"The following Sunday we went to the Rebbe," continues Yocheved. "Just days
before we had attended the bris of our friends' triplets, the friend
who had brought us to the Rebbe ten months earlier. I asked the Rebbe again
for a blessing for children and the Rebbe told me, 'The Holy One Blessed
is He is going to give you good news.' The Rebbe gave me three dollars. My
husband had been unemployed for a year. He asked the Rebbe for a blessing
for parnasa -- livelihood. 'You will have truly good parnasa
very soon,' the Rebbe told him. The Rebbe gave Yehuda three dollars."
Yehuda was involved in a deal to open a chain of frozen yogurt stores in
Israel. He already had a 200-page agreement with the company. Yehuda decided
to ask the Rebbe if his parnasa should be based in America or in Israel.
The Rebbe told him, "You are here and you have to search for parnasa
in the country you are in."
When they left the Rebbe, Yehuda told Yocheved, "But the business in Israel
is a sure thing!"
Yocheved told him, "You can't believe that the Rebbe's blessing for children
is true but what he has to say about your business deal isn't true!"
Before leaving Crown Heights the Daphnas purchased a book on Taharat
Hamishpacha, to review the laws as the Rebbe had advised to Yocheved
ten months earlier. "That month I became pregnant with triplets," says Yocheved.
When Yocheved was in her fourth month their house burned down. It was five
days before Passover. They moved into Yocheved's parents' home.
A month later, the doctor noticed in a sonogram that there was a hole in
the heart of one of the triplets. "We wrote in to the Rebbe and the Rebbe's
response was not to do any tests. We weren't such Chasidim then,"
Yocheved laughs, "so we did tests but only non-invasive ones. When the test
was over, the specialist said there was no hole."
The Daphna triplets were born on 5 Elul, 5752 , eight months
after Yocheved became pregnant, 9 months to the day that the Daphnas had
been to the Rebbe the second time. Their two sons had their bris on
time, on the eight day.
"My husband was all the while looking for a business to invest in. The triplets
were getting bigger. It was just over a year since our fire. We were paying
a mortgage on a house that was uninhabitable. My husband was ready to close
on a deal to buy a kosher pizza shop in a popular area and wrote to the Rebbe
for a blessing. The Rebbe's secretary called us to say that the Rebbe's response
had been, 'with mazal and blessing.'
"On our anniversary, which is 11 Nissan, we were working out the final
details until 4:00 a.m. Then, all of a sudden, in the morning, the owners
of the pizza shop called to say that they had decided not to sell. We were
crushed," recalls Yocheved.
But, with a blessing from the Rebbe of "You will have truly good
parnasa very soon," bigger things were in store for the Daphnas. Just
hours later, Yehuda got a phone call from someone with whom he had incorporated
a private security business 2 years previously, though they had never done
anything with it.
"We got a contract at a major airport. We need people, uniforms, equipment,
within 6 to 8 weeks," his partner told him. Yehuda, whose 20 years of experience
in Israeli intelligence had been the impetus for opening a security business,
points out that the way the Rebbe had expressed the blessing for
parnasa 2-1/2 years before had been unusual.
The Rebbe had told Yehuda to "search" for (rather than "find")
parnasa. And that is what Yehuda's successful business, thank G-d,
is today: "Searching" for security's sake.
by Jeanette Anne Cohen
August 1998 -- that meant Maurice and I would be married for forty years.
Forty years of love, life and laughter, four wonderful children, three wonderful
grandchildren and one on the way. No reason to be discontented.
But there was something that bothered me, especially since my daughters had
become Lubavitchers. Maurice and I had been married in a Reform temple. I
wanted to be remarried in a religious ceremony and have a kosher
ketubah -- marriage contract. I wanted to be married under the stars,
under a tallit -- prayer shawl -- with Rabbi Wineberg (the local Lubavitch
Rabbi in Johannesburg, South Africa) officiating.
Sounds simple enough. First hurdle, Maurice. When I blurted out what I wanted,
he looked at me as if I needed to be certified. He doubled over with laughter
while protesting that we were already married. I was so overwrought I burst
into tears (not my usual style). That brought the laughter to a halt. When
Maurice saw how serious I was he asked if I was "proposing" to him. I nodded,
still sniffling. "Jeanie," he pleaded, "Don't cry, I accept, I'll marry you!"
So that's how it all happened. I thought that "getting married" again just
meant the chupa -- wedding canopy -- and a party. But Rabbi Wineberg
and my daughter Neria had other plans. Mikvah! I balked!! I told Neria
not to push me -- I'd think about it. The idea didn't excite me in the least.
In fact, I felt quite aggressive about it.
I know many will laugh and even sneer at what I am about to write, but on
numerous occasions in my life on really important and even not so important
matters, I hear the Rebbe's voice. It happens in the early hours of the morning
(I go to sleep very late). He repeats his message. This time, the words were
plain and simple: Mikvah-Mikvah-Mikvah. The dye was
Phone calls were made and on the appointed Sunday, I, a sixty-year-old
"kalla" -- bride, found myself entering an absolutely beautiful
mikvah in a nearby suburb. I was attended by an extremely kind and
gentle lady; she made me feel like a young bride as she guided me through
all the preparations. The prayer she gave me to say was so beautiful I wanted
to read it over and over again.
Now for the "big guns" -- the immersion. The pool-room had a certain holiness
about it, something not quite tangible. I found myself feeling really excited
and nearly fell in!! What followed was quite wonderful though it had its
moments of humor. I'm quite slim and lightweight and kept bobbing around
and knocking into the sides. Eventually, I got into the rhythm and managed
to touch the bottom.
I left the mikvah building after about an hour, my face void of its
usual make-up, my hair just hanging. Never in my entire life had I felt more
beautiful, more spiritual and more worthwhile.
I walked back to my car but my feet didn't touch the ground. I heard the
birds twittering in the trees, yet I felt as if my entire body was in a vacuum.
I sat in my car for about half an hour reliving the past hour. I was filled
with the urge to be better. Inwardly I felt so peaceful yet excited. I said
a private "thank-you" to the people who had urged me to "do" mikvah
-- particularly to my daughter, Neria, whose quiet insistence could straighten
the tower of Pisa or even cause the Rock of Gibraltar to tremble!!
That afternoon, a bewildered Maurice found himself whisked off to the men's
mikvah by his son-in-law. Golf in the morning, mikvah in the
afternoon and getting married at night. That's what is called living in the
This time the tears were tears of joy. At sunset in the Torah Academy courtyard,
under a tallit, with Rabbi Wineberg officiating, surrounded by close
friends and relatives, attended by my beautiful daughters and baby grandson,
a sixty-year-old kalla circled the love of her life. No bride half
my age could have felt younger or more joyous. Maurice broke the glass with
all the vigor of forty years ago. Mazal Tov! Mazal Tov!
The local kosher restaurant did us proud. The tables groaned with delicious
food, beautiful flowers and the wine and Black Label flowed freely. What
a simchah! What a wedding! To health! To Life! LeChaim!
(Reprinted from the N'Shei Chabad Newsletter)
The most important principle in the Torah is the protection of Jewish life.
It's more important than Shabbat, more important than holidays, even
fasting on Yom Kippur.
Right now, in Israel, and everywhere, Jews must stand together in unity and
do whatever possible to protect Jewish life.
The Rebbe teaches that there are ten important
Mitzvot we can do to protect life. See what you can do:
1) Ahavat Yisroel: Behave with love towards another Jew.
2) Learn Torah: Join a Torah class.
3) Make sure that Jewish children get a Torah true education.
4) Affix kosher Mezuzot on all doorways of the house.
5) For men and boys over 13: Put on Tefillin every weekday.
6) Give Charity.
7) Buy Jewish holy books and learn them.
8) Light Shabbat & Yom Tov candles. A Mitzvah
for women and girls.
9) Eat and drink only Kosher Food.
10) Observe the laws of Jewish Family Purity.
In addition, the Rebbe also urged every man, woman and child to Purchase
a Letter in a Sefer Torah. There are several Torah scrolls
being written to unite Jewish people and protect Jewish life.
Letters for children can be purchased for only $1. Send your Hebrew name
and your mother's Hebrew name plus $1 to:
"Children's Sefer Torah,"
P. O. Box 8,
Kfar Chabad, 72915, Israel
or via the Internet, at:
The Rebbe's slogan is: "The main thing is the deed." We therefore present
from the Rebbe's talks, suggestions what we can do to complete his work of
bringing the Redemption.
"Purim is thirty days before Passover.(3) As Rabbi Shneur
Zalman of Liadi writes in his Code of Jewish Law, thirty days before Passover,
we should begin studying the laws of the holiday.
"Similarly, since the celebration of the Passover holiday involves many expenses,
it is proper that efforts be made to provide everyone who lacks with their
"Although there are organizations involved with these activities throughout
the entire year, there must be an increase in these efforts in connection
with the Passover holidays, providing them with both food and clothing so
that they can celebrate the holiday in an ample manner, as befits 'free people.'"
(The Rebbe, 16 Adar, 5751/1991)
3. This year, Passover begins on Saturday night, April 23.
Jewish Women and Girls Light Shabbat
For local candle lighting times:
consult your local Rabbi, Chabad-Lubavitch Center, or call: (718) 774-3000.
For a free candle lighting kit:
contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).
Times shown are for Metro NY - NJ
Friday, April 8, Erev Shabbat Parshat Tazria:
Light Shabbat Candles,(4) by 7:10 p.m.
Saturday, April 9, Shabbat Parshat Tazria:
Blessing of the New Hebrew Month,
Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 8:13 p.m.
4. The Shabbat candles must be lit 18 minutes before
sunset. It is prohibited and is a desecration of the Shabbat
to light the candles after sunset.
5. Rosh Chodesh Nissan is on Sunday, April 10.
Laws of Shabbat Candle Lighting for the Blind
Shabbat Candle Lighting Blessing
"Let There Be Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide
to Lighting Shabbat Candles.
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