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The Lamplighter Weekly

Volume 20 Issue 7
Feb. 11-17, 2018-26 Sevat-Rosh Chodesh Adar, 5778 
Torah Reading: Terumah
Candle Lighting: 5:58 PM
Shabbos Ends: 6:53 PM


Parsha Synopsis · A Word From the Rabbi
Essay ·
Thoughts That Count
Once Upon A Chassid · Tid Bits · Happenings · Notes From Israel


Parsha Synopsis

Exodus 25:1-27:19

The people of Israel are called upon to contribute  thirteen materials—gold, silver and copper;  blue-,  purple- and  red-dyed wool; flax, goat hair, animal skins, wood, olive oil, spices and gems—out of which, G‑d says to Moses, “They shall make for Me a Sanctuary, and I shall  dwell amidst them.”

On the  summit of Mount Sinai, Moses is given detailed instructions on how to construct this dwelling for G‑d so that it could be readily  dismantled, transported and reassembled as the people journeyed in the desert.

In the Sanctuary’s inner chamber, behind an artistically woven curtain, was the  ark containing the tablets of testimony engraved with the Ten Commandments; on the ark’s cover stood two winged  cherubim hammered out of pure gold. In the outer chamber stood the seven-branched  menorah, and the table upon which the “ showbread” was arranged.

The Sanctuary’s three walls were fitted together from 48 upright wooden boards, each of which was overlaid with gold and held up by a pair of  silver foundation sockets. The roof was formed of three layers of coverings: (a) tapestries of multicolored wool and linen; (b) a covering made of goat hair; (c) a covering of ram and tachash  skins. Across the front of the Sanctuary was an embroidered screen held up by five posts.

Surrounding the Sanctuary and the copper-plated  altar which fronted it was an enclosure of linen hangings, supported by 60 wooden posts with silver hooks and trimmings, and reinforced by  copper stakes.

A Word From the Rabbi



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An Infinite G‑d in a Finite World

Once, on Rosh Hashanah, the Alter Rebbe Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, asked his son the Miteler Rebbe to share some of the thoughts upon which he had reflected during his Davening-prayers earlier that day.

The Miteler Rebbe proceeded to enumerate the various liturgical passages and Kabalistic intentions upon which he had reflected. The Miteler Rebbe then inquired of the Alter Rebbe regarding his own meditations.

Instead of the profound and lofty ideas for which the Miteler Rebbe was prepared, the Alter Rebbe indicated that his thoughts were focused upon his “Chair and Shtender-lectern,” (a reference to the Divine that is manifest within physical matter).


Dear Rabbi,

Why does the Jewish religion seem to obsess over insignificant details? How much Matzah we have to eat, which spoon I use for milk and which for meat and the right way to tie my shoelaces? It seems to me that by focusing on minutiae, it misses the bigger picture. Is this nitpicking really the substance of spirituality?

(I actually already sent you this question over a week ago and didn't receive a reply. Could it be that you have finally been asked a question that you can't answer?!)


Dear Rob,

I never claimed to have all the answers. There are many questions that are beyond me. But it happens to be that I did answer your question, and you did get the answer. I sent a reply immediately. The fact that you didn't receive it is itself the answer to your question.

You see, I sent you a reply, but I wrote your email address leaving out the "dot" before the "com." I figured that you should still receive the email, because after all, it is only one little dot that’s missing. I mean come on, it's not as if I wrote the wrong name or something drastic like that! Would anyone be so nitpicky as to differentiate between "yahoocom" and " yahoo.com"? Isn't it a bit ridiculous that you didn't get my email just because of a little dot?

No, it's not ridiculous. Because the dot is not just a dot. It represents something. That dot has meaning far beyond the pixels on the screen that form it. To me it may seem insignificant, but that is simply due to my ignorance of the ways of the web. All I know is that with the dot, the message gets to the right destination; without it, the message is lost to oblivion.

Jewish practices have infinite depth. Each nuance and detail contains a world of symbolism. And every dot counts. When they are performed with precision, a spiritual vibration is emailed throughout the universe, all the way to G‑d's inbox.

If you want to understand the symbolism of the dot, study I.T. If you want to understand the symbolism of Judaism, study it.


(Email circulation)


I recently read a story of a certain, so called, Rabbi who had decided one December to accept an invite to play the role of “Santa” for a bunch of underprivileged kids in his community. Upon reading his account and how inspiring the experience had been for him, I could not help but puzzle over the man’s conflicted identity and values.

I soon realized that the key to my puzzlement lie in the fellow’s own words: “The question of stumbling across customs and religious boundaries did not concern me,” asserted Rabbi Santa, “I’d always believed in encouraging people to be less rigid about maintaining those rigid lines… So I practiced my sonorous and ‘Ho, ho, hos.’”

When contemplating the nature of the Being of All Beings and His essential characteristics, which incidentally is part of our Jewish obligation, the fact that He has neither body nor form or any other physical limitation, looms as a cardinal axiom.

A basic premise of Jewish theology is to know that G‑d is inexorably too vast to be restricted or defined by any substance or matter. The very definition of the word “G‑d” implies the ultimate of boundlessness and transcendence.

The trouble with that principle is that it tends to leave G‑d a tad removed from us mortals; it tends to exclude Him from our physical and mundane daily activities. What, after all, would a supreme G‑d want with a material and finite world? What difference can pewny man possibly make to an Almighty being?

Does the fact that He created us necessarily imply that He is interested in our physical actions? There appears to be many a created entity that does not hold the continued interest of its maker.

While the Almighty certainly had good reason for creating a physical universe and its earthling inhabitants, goes the thinking, it is certainly not their earthy and mundane characteristics which attract His interest, but rather their higher intellectual and emotional qualities and potential.

It is for this very reason that in many cases the search for G‑d and spirituality leads its seeker to a form of worship that negates the physical dimension. Since G‑d is infinite and exalted, He is thought to be aloof. He is thought to be removed from the physical and corporeal aspects of life. Hence the way for man to interact with G‑d is by virtue of his higher human faculties, i.e., knowledge, love, etc.

If there is any use for the lower physical dimension, it would have to be limited to the extent that it serves to enable the higher senses of intellect or emotion. However, physical matter and activity, in and of themselves, are not perceived to be plausible means of Divine service and interaction. Certainly, an infinite and transcendent creator would not prescribe this sort of service.

This type of thinking has led many people to the popular mindset of “Belief without action.” In fact the majority of people who profess to believe in G‑d fall, to varying degrees, into this category. To them the observance of Mitzvos or rituals that do not serve a logical, tangible purpose (Mitzvos between man and G‑d) is a senseless endeavor.

“Does G‑d really care whether I wait six full hours between meat and milk instead of five hours and fifty minutes,” they muse? “Has He nothing better to do than fret over the size of the piece of Matzoh I eat on Passover, or whether I eat it at all?

Are we really to believe that when a piece of dough is baked within eighteen minutes, it is a consecrated and holy artifact – fit for the exalted Mitzvah of ‘Matzah,’ but when it lingers for one more minute unbaked, it becomes the unholy and repugnant item of severe sin – ‘Chametz?’ Why would one minute make such a big difference to G‑d?”

“What good does it do for an infinite G‑d, or anyone else, whether or not I wrap the black straps of Teffilin around my arms, or whether I observe the sundry laws of Shabbos or Kashrus?” There are those who would argue that it is actually demeaning to suggest that an almighty and unbounded G‑d would concern Himself with such seemingly trivial matters.

Judaism, however, stands firm in its belief to the contrary. Perhaps one of Judaism’s most revolutionary contributions to theology and the G‑d/man relationship is the notion that G‑d can be found in the finite as much as the infinite; that we serve G‑d with our hands as much as with our brains.

G‑d’s true greatness and infinitude is expressed in the fact that He is not excluded from the finite. While most things that are infinite lack the characteristic of finitude, G‑d, who is the ultimate and quintessential model of infinitude, cannot be banished from the finite, for that in itself would constitute the gravest of limitations. He is hence referred to as “The G‑d of opposites.”

When this notion is taken to its logical conclusion, it’s not just imperative that G‑d be present in physical phenomena in a general manner, but rather that He be present in the most extreme and minute aspects of the physical dimension.

Hence, asserts Jewish theology, G‑d’s presence can be found in all types of finite objects and human behaviors; that the finest margins of time, space, shape, substance, color and, of course, human actions, make a consequential difference to Him.

For reasons known to Him, there is higher Divine will and favor in specific activities that are carried out within the framework of a given time or place, be it the blowing of the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah or the four species on the holiday of Sukkos, or any of the other multitude of Divine commandments.

In light of the above we can understand why in this Week’s Parsha, Terumah, G‑d expresses a desire for a “dwelling” place in our lowliest of worlds. “This is what man is all about,” writes Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi in the Chassidic classic, Tanya. "This is the purpose of his creation and of the creation of all the worlds, higher and lower; that there be made for G‑d a dwelling in the lower realms.”

The Mishkan; the portable sanctuary built by the children of Israel in the Sinai Desert following the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, was the first such dwelling to be constructed – one which serves as the prototype for all subsequent efforts to make G‑d at home in the physical world.

His interest in every aspect and detail, from its construction to its design, is now understood. We can now comprehend why an infinite G‑d would involve himself with the shape, size, color and substance of every component and nuance of a physical structure, down to the finest detail.

No less than 13 chapters in the Book of Exodus are filled with the details of the Sanctuary's construction, from the dimensions of every pillar to the colors in every tapestry. In contrast, the Torah devotes one chapter to its account of the creation of the universe and three chapters to the revelation at Mount Sinai, and conveys many complex laws by means of a single verse, or even a single word or letter.

Fifteen physical substances, including gold, silver, copper, wood, wool, linen, animal skins, oil, spices and gemstones — representing a cross-section of the mineral, vegetable and animal resources of the physical universe and the human resources invested in their workmanship — were forged into an edifice dedicated to man's service of G‑d, and in which G‑d, in turn, chose to commune with man.

Through our service of G‑d with all elements of our being, from the highest of intellect to the most detailed of action, may we build for Him a magnificent Temple, both personally as well as cosmically, with the coming of the righteous Moshiach, BBA.


book mockup.png  Gut Shabbos! 

Rabbi Kahanov is the founder/director of Chabad in Northeast FL, consisting of 6 Chabad Centers
He is also the author of "What Chabad Really Believes"
If you like this, you might be interested in purchasing his book click here for more information 



The Glory of the Single-Minded Person

Most of us have at least one single-minded person in our lives. It may be someone at the office, a family member, a neighbor or a friend. The subject of their single-mindedness can be anything — a cause, a political opinion, an obsessive hobby, a worshipped celebrity. It may be virtuous or ominous, fascinating or boring, intelligent or silly. Single-minded people come in many shapes and forms, but they all share a seeming inability to talk about anything else, even — apparently — think about anything else.

Single-minded people are not much fun. But there is something about them that elicits our amazement, even admiration. They have devoted themselves to something unequivocally. Imagine what we could achieve if we could make such a commitment to the things we truly care about!

Not that we'd want to become a single-minded person. But we would like to have some of that single-mindedness mixed into the concoction of our character. Perhaps one part in five, or one part in fifteen. Just enough to impart that extra oomph! to our lives.

Our sages tell us that, "Gold was created only so that it should be used for the Mishkan." The Mishkan was the portable "Tabernacle" built by the Children of Israel in the desert as a "home for G‑d in the physical realm." According to the Chassidic masters, making a home for G‑d in the physical realm is the purpose of everything that we do; the Mishkan was simply the prototype, the model which empowered us — and taught us how — to replicate it in our personal universe.

Fifteen materials were used in the construction of the Mishkan — gold, silver, copper, three types of dyed wool, linen, goat hair, ram and tachash skins, acacia wood, olive oil, aromatic herbs and precious stones. Our sages explain that these represent a cross-section of the various "kingdoms" in creation (the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, and the animal kingdom) and also correspond to the various components of the human being and the heavenly bodies — all of which are to be included in the home for G‑d we make in the physical world.

"Gold was created only so that it should be used for the Mishkan." And yet, G‑d also allows the use of gold in wedding rings, teeth fillings, and gilded moldings in ornate hotel lobbies. Apparently, G‑d does not envision our world as a single-minded place.

G‑d already has single-minded creations — they're called angels: there are angels of mercy and angels of judgment and angels of love and angels of awe, but no angel possesses more than one characteristic or serves more than one function. (That's why Abraham was visited by three angels — one to inform Sarah that she will have a son, a second to heal Abraham and rescue Lot, and a third to destroy the evil city of Sodom — no one angel can do two kinds of jobs).

Humans are not built that way. G‑d wanted us to be multi-faceted beings — beings who use the same material to build Him a temple, seal their marriages, fix their teeth and add some ritz to their travel accommodations — and have it all somehow add up to this place for Him they're making in their lives.

Yet a bit of single-mindedness is always a good thing. That's why one of the materials used in the Mishkan was the hide of a tachash. According to the Jerusalem Talmud, the tachash was a gloriously colored animal that was created specifically to be used in the making of the Mishkan — it did not exist before that moment, and has not existed since. If the purpose of creation is to make "home for G‑d in the physical realm", then there should be at least one element in creation that is used exclusively for that end, in the most literal sense.

The interesting thing, however, is that the tachash is described as bedecked with many brilliant colors. Apparently, there's more to single-mindedness than meets the eye.

By Yanki Tauber; based on the teachings of the Rebbe.

Thoughts That Count
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From every man whose heart prompts him, you shall take My offering. (Ex. 25:2)

It was G‑d's will that the opportunity be available for each and every Jew who so desired to participate in the great mitzva (commandment) of building the Tabernacle by bringing an offering. Why was no special blessing recited before this donation - and in general before giving charity - as before other commandments? The reason is that if a blessing were required before doing this mitzva, a Jew might take too much time making his preparations: he might first wash his hands, make sure that he has the proper intentions and the like, and the unfortunate poor person could, in the meantime, die of hunger! (Rebbe Simcha Bunim)

And they shall make an ark of shittim wood, two-and-a-half cubits its length, one-and-a-half cubits its breadth, and one-and-a-half cubits its height (Ex. 25:10)

The dimensions of the ark were measured in "halves" to teach us that a Jew must be humble and "brokenhearted" when learning Torah, as the Talmud states: "Words of Torah endure only in one who makes himself as if he does not exist." (The Admor of Sasov)

Once Upon A Chassid

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On the Neva

They shall make for me a sanctuary, and I shall dwell amongst them (25:8)

G‑d desired a dwelling place in the lowly world - Midrash Tanchuma

The physical existence was not created to be overwhelmed and shattered, but to be developed into a "dwelling for G‑d", a place where the Divine Presence is 'at home' and freely expressed. Thus, the mitzvos were given to be acted out within the natural world - so that man utilize his own natural powers and the natural resources of his environment to implement the will of G‑d.

So a mitzvah that is performed in a 'spiritual' manner, a mitzvah that is disconnected from our worldly reality, is lacking the basic function of the mitzvah: to develop the natural world, as it is, as a vehicle to express the all-pervading truth of its Creator. - Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe

During his imprisonment by the czarist regime, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi was held in the Peter-Paul Fortress, situated on an island in the Neva River in Petersburg. The investigation into his 'crimes' was being conducted by the czar's intelligence organization, which was housed in a building on the mainland. So Rabbi Schneur Zalman was frequently ferried across the river for questioning.

One night as the small boat was making its way across the Neva, the sky cleared and a quarter moon illuminated the skies. Rabbi Schneur Zalman, wishing to avail himself of the opportunity to 'sanctify the new moon' (Kiddush Levanah),asked the official in charge to stop the boat. The official refused.

Suddenly, the boat came to a complete halt. Nothing the ferryman could do would advance it a single oar-sweep. The Rebbe stood up in the boat and recited the first few verses of psalm 148 which prefaces the blessing on the moon.

But Rabbi Schneur Zalman refused to perform a mitzvah by availing himself of more than natural means. So he released the boat, allowing it to continue on its way. Again he requested of the official that the boat be stopped. Only after his request was granted and the boat came to a natural standstill did he proceed to perform the mitzvah of Kiddush Levanah.

Tid Bits
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New Milestones, Renewed Commitment at Chabad Women's Emissaries' Banquet
tid bit
For the more than 3,000 women who filled every table—every inch of the ballroom at the New York Hilton Hotel in Midtown—it came as no surprise that such significant news would be reported the same night they honored one of the most significant people in their lives: Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, of righteous memory. At the gala banquet marking the 30th anniversary of her passing and the closing event of the annual conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Women Emissaries (Kinus Hashluchos), it was announced that a young couple will soon be moving to Reykjavik to open Chabad of Iceland.

Meaning every major capital city in Europe now has a Chabad center.

The center in Iceland headed by Rabbi Avi and Mushky Feldman will be the country’s first institutional Jewish presence; Feldman will be the country’s first permanent rabbi; and aside from congregations formed by British and American troops during World War II, theirs will be the first synagogue in the country’s 1,000-plus years of history.

The Rebbetzin: An Ongoing Role Model

Still, the overall theme was one of inspiration, especially of the ongoing role model the women emissaries have in the Rebbetzin, they say.

“I wish I could have known her,” acknowledged Esther Kosofsky, 56, of Chabad of Longmeadow, Mass., and the daughter of the founder of Lubavitch Chabad Academy there, Rabbi Dovid Edelman. “Yet since her passing, she has become more and more alive for me.”

“The Rebbe and the Rebbetzin worked part and parcel for their vision of the world. He was the public person out front; she was the strength behind him,” explained Kosofsky. “She gave us the Rebbe, but in the years since her passing, we’ve got her, too.”

 “It’s a very empowering time,” agreed Mushkie Gurary, 23, co-director of Chabad of Lake Balboa in Van Nuys, Calif., who attended her very first conference as an official emissary. She and her husband, Rabbi Eliezer Gurary, went out on shlichus last May.

Of the gala in particular, Gurary—one of the Rebbetzin’s many namesakes—stated: “It’s a day of strength for all the Mushkas.”

 ‘Nobody Has a Walk in the Park’

Strength and resilience were emphasized by the keynote speaker, Mariashi Groner, co-director of Chabad of Charlotte, N.C., with her husband, Rabbi Yossi Groner. She said when they arrived in the Southern U.S. city more than 30 years ago, they set out to start a preschool. They found 16 families ready to sign up, but then their plans started going awry.

Their existing space was inadequate, and arrangements for a more ideal place fell through two weeks before school was to begin. “I had 16 children and nowhere to go,” she said. “We had exhausted every possibility, and nothing came through. We were at a loss.”

In the end (and with the Rebbe’s written encouragement), the school did work out. But it was a test of faith—one that Groner stressed is a necessary ingredient for moving forward.

“Nobody has a walk in the park” in life, she said. But the goal is to make it a meaningful walk. And that requires the ability to have objectives—and to keep redefining them.

“The Rebbe wanted us to be partners in his global vision and made it clear that we must not stop, not give up and certainly not be satisfied with our past accomplishments. When did the Rebbe tell us that success was a magic number or a specific job title?” she posed.

“I’m not suggesting that we stop striving for success; on the contrary, the Rebbe demanded that we maximize our potential to the fullest degree. The Rebbe told us that when we have one, we need to strive for two, and when we have 100, we should strive for 200. But what I am proposing is that we revisit what we tell ourselves success looks like.”

Success, she went on to say, can mean reaching one person, touching one Jewish soul at a time.

Chana Nisilevitch of Beth Habad Kehilat Chné-Or in Aubervilliers, France, just north of Paris, came to the Kinus for the first time this year. In fact, she admitted that with two children under 18 months and work piled up, she initially felt she couldn’t go. So she asked advice from her mashpia, her spiritual mentor, for validation to stay back—and got the opposite response.

“You just come,” the mentor advised the 27-year-old, who with her husband, Rabbi Yekusiel Nisilevitch, has been an emissary for four years. “And I’m really happy to do that, to be part of the group. It’s very special, this 30th year.”

 ‘Forging Ahead on All Fronts’

Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, and Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, addressed the group as they do every year.

Kotlarsky, who announced the development of the new Chabad center in Iceland, spoke about the demands and responsibilities of women emissaries, and their constant emphasis on chinuch, Jewish education—on helping educate every person who walks in their homes. But while they work year-round to inspire others, the conference represents a time when they are invigorated as well.

He went on to note that Chabad emissaries are “forging ahead on all fronts around the globe. With every passing week and month, new young couples are off to new destinations, and the Jewish world watches in awe with admiration and respect and gratitude.”

To that end, the annual roll call was read aloud by four young new emissaries: Chani Silver (Curaçao), Sheera Bluming (Bahamas), Chani Edelkopf (Montenegro) and Mushky Feldman (Iceland). It began with Chabad of Angola and ended with Chabad of Zanzibar.



Notes From Israel

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