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The Lamplighter Weekly

Volume 24 Issue 29
August 14-20, 2022 - 17-23 Av, 5782
Torah Reading: Eikev
 Candle Lighting : 7:46 PM
Shabbos Ends: 8:40 PM
Pirkei Avos: Chapter 4
Blessing of New Month: Elul

Parsha Synopsis · A Word From the Rabbi

Essay · Thoughts That Count
Once Upon A Chassid · Tid Bits · Happenings · Notes From Israel


Parsha Synopsis

Deuteronomy:  7:12-11:25

In the Parshah of  Eikev (“Because”),  Moses continues his closing address to the children of Israel, promising them that if they will fulfill the commandments  (mitzvot) of the  Torah, they will prosper in the  Land they are about to conquer and settle in keeping with G‑d’s promise to their forefathers.

Moses also rebukes them for their failings in their first generation as a people, recalling their worship of the  Golden Calf, the rebellion of  Korach, the sin of the  spies, their angering of  G‑d at Taveirah, Massah and Kivrot Hataavah (“The Graves of Lust”). “You have been rebellious against G‑d,” he says to them, “since the day I knew you.” But he also speaks of G‑d’s  forgiveness of their sins, and the  Second Tablets which G‑d inscribed and gave to them following their repentance.

Their forty years in the desert, says Moses to the people, during which G‑d sustained them with daily  manna from heaven, was to teach them “that man does not live on bread alone, but by the utterance of G‑d’s mouth does man live.”

Moses describes the land they are about to enter as “flowing with  milk and honey,” blessed with the “ seven kinds” (wheat, barley, grapevines, figs, pomegranates, olive oil and dates), and as the place that is the focus of G‑d’s  providence of His world. He commands them to destroy the  idols of the land’s former masters, and to beware lest they become haughty and begin to believe that “my power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.”

A key passage in our  Parshah is the second chapter of the  Shema, which repeats the fundamental mitzvot enumerated in the Shema’s first chapter, and describes the rewards of fulfilling G‑d’s commandments and the adverse results (famine and exile) of their neglect. It is also the source of the precept of  prayer, and includes a reference to the  resurrection of the dead in the  messianic age.

A Word From the Rabbi



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Turning Reality On Its Head

A joyous farbrengen was held one evening at the humble home of Rabbi Shmuel Betzalel Sheftel (The 'Rashbatz'). For hours the group of Chassidim sat, toasting L'chaim's, singing, talking, rebuking and inspiring one another. As the clock marked the passing of the night, the meager platters of 'Farbeisen' (food with which to follow up the L'chaim vodka) ran out, so Rabbi Shmuel Betzalel instructed that the lamb being raised in his yard be slaughtered. A hot stew was prepared to fuel the Farbeisen for many an hour to come.

The next morning Rabbi Shmuel Betzalel's wife came in from the yard with the distressing news that the lamb – which constituted the whole of the 'family ranch' – had disappeared! Said Rabbi Shmuel Betzalel: "No, no, the lamb has not disappeared, the lamb is very much here, it has only changed its sound. Yesterday it said meh-eh-eh. . . today it is saying Echo-o-d. . ., O-o-one. . . " (as in G‑d is one).


“Man does not live by bread alone, but by all that emanates from the mouth of G‑d does man live.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)


Did you ever wonder how it is that the highest life forms on planet earth are sustained by the lowlier levels of existence? Is it not strange that man should depend on animals, plants, and minerals for his vitality and nutrition? This question has not escaped the probing eye of the Chassidic masters.

All of nature is divided into four general categories, or worlds: mineral, vegetable, animal and human. There is a substantial difference between a grain of sand and a grain of wheat, or between a flower and a bee, or between a clueless animal and a homosapiance. There is obviously an even greater gap between the lowest in the scale of created matter (minerals) and the highest (man).

According to the natural order of things, the strong are meant to support the weak; the rich can support the poor, not the other way around (not intended as an endorsement of any political ideology or agenda). Therefore it is hard to understand why in the case of nutrition things appear to work the other way around. In what has been dubbed the “Food chain,” the lower creatures support the higher creatures, (not just with a contribution, they expect a total commitment). The mineral/soil realm for example, supports the vegetable kingdom; the vegetable supports the animal kingdom and all three serve to support man.

Bread, for instance, has no life; no mental or intellectual qualities, yet when a person eats bread as well as other foods, it is not only transformed into human flesh and blood, which is in itself an incredible transformation, but also into extraordinary cells of tissue that comprise the human brain, allowing a person to think and to speak.


A child feeding on cereals and other foods grows and develops not just bodily but mentally and spiritually as well. How is this possible? Does bread have mental and spiritual qualities that are passed along to its consumer?

By way of explanation of this deserving question the masters recall the basic principle of Kabbalah that there is a “Spark of G‑dliness” at the core of every created being.  Nothing in the world could exist without having a nucleus of G‑dliness. This Divine spark sustains a given objet; imbuing it with its own unique qualities and characteristics.

When we eat food, our bodies are nurtured by the physical components of the food, while our soul is nurtured by the Divine nucleus. This, then, is the meaning of the statement in our Parsha, Eikev – we do not survive only because of the physical component of bread, but by the Divine word that is within it.

Yet the question seems to linger: How can the “Spark” of something lowly, by comparison, sustain and enliven that which is far superior? This conundrum is actually entirely dissolved in face of the Chassidic view regarding the nature of the vital spark contained within creation. “The lower a thing is,” maintains Chassidus, “The higher its spiritual core, since the sparks contained in the so-called ‘lower’ tiers of creation are actually loftier than that of the higher realms.”

The aforementioned revolutionary axiom, and its broad implications vis-à-vis reality, life and matter, is based on the Kabbalistic assertion that our world – referred to as the world of Tikun (repair) – is the byproduct of a primordial world by the name of Tohu. The collapse of the world of Tohu, as the result of an explosion, has given birth to our world of Tikun. (now, is that where the “Big Bang” theory comes from?)

It is not unlike the physical order of nature, maintain the mystics. When a wall collapses, the uppermost stones fall the farthest, it is similarly the case with the “collapse” of the world of Tohu. The loftiest sparks of the Divine creative force fell farthest from their source and were incarnated within the most mundane creations of our world. This is what Kabbala alludes to in its reference to the 288 Sparks of the world of Tohu that fell after the collapse of that world and the shattering of its Sefirot.

To our eyes, man is the most spiritual of earthly creatures, the animal exhibits a more sophisticated vitality than the plant, and the mineral shows no outward signs of life at all. In essence however, the sublimity of the spark of Divine life in an object is in converse relation to its manifest spiritual status. Thus the mineral has the energy to nourish the vegetable, both contain the nutrition to nourish the animal, and all three sustain human life.

This can be better understood upon contemplation of the power of the “G‑dly word,” so to speak. When G‑d willed to create the universe, there was nothing at first, G‑d created everything out of nothing by saying: "Let there be . . .;” ten utterances in all. The process of creation continues ever since, as we say in our prayers: "In His goodness He renews each day the work of Creation."

 If G‑d should withdraw His "Word" for one instant, everything would lapse back to nothingness as before Creation. It is hence the "Word" of G‑d which is the real bread of life. It is that which issues from G‑d's mouth" that gives life, with all the mental and spiritual qualities to the human being eating it.

This is the meaning of a statement made by the renown Kabbalist; the saintly Ari, that everything, even the "lifeless" objects, such as stones, has a "soul" – a Divine "word," "will," or "power" – hidden within, which is its true essence. It is not physical matter which gives and sustains life. It is not the carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, etc in the bread that sustains man but rather the Divine essence that is hidden in every particle of matter – the "word" of G‑d which created it out of nothing and constantly says to it.

It is this "word" of G‑d which is the real life spark, while the physical matter is but an outer "shell," very much like our body is the outer shell or frame for our inner and hidden soul. It is hence no longer a mystery that the mineral would have the energy to nourish the vegetable, the animal, and even the life of us humans.

The above stated axiom is part of a larger Jewish weltanschauung on life. It supports and is supported by a series of critical components which comprise Judaism’s delicate theological echo system.

For example, the aforementioned converse perspective of a things true significance supports and dovetails a number of other unique Jewish tenets, particularly that of “Hashgacha Protis” (Divine Providence), the notion that G‑d’s Divine oversight extends to every minute particle of matter.

The realization of the fact that at the root and core of everything there is nothing but G‑d and His word, will inevitably lead to a deeper appreciation of G‑d's essential unity, which in turn will bolster the awareness of how much closer we are to G‑d than we could imagine. Knowing these truths, and living up to them in our daily life, is the deeper meaning of the statement in our Parsha: "Not by bread alone does man live. . ."

Most important of all however is the awareness of the fact that only man has the capacity to direct the vital energy within himself toward a G‑dly end. For man alone has been granted the gift of free choice. The animal, vegetable, or mineral cannot sin; their conformity with the Divine will is instinctual and inevitable, and thus devoid of moral significance. Only man can elect to do good and, by the force of his deeds, transcend the creature state to achieve intimacy with the Divine.

So, when man consumes the resources of the physical world, a bilateral transformation takes place. The slice of bread, piece of meat or glass of water confer their superior vitality to the person, imparting to him a spiritual potential that he does not himself possess. At the same time, if the person utilizes this vitality to perform a Divine deed, he elevates the plant, animal, or mineral he has consumed, releasing its vital soul from its mundane encasement, reuniting it with its Divine source.

The phrase "Man does not live by bread alone" related in our Parsha has become a familiar refrain. Less familiar however is the end of the verse: "Rather by everything that emanates from the mouth of G‑d does man live." So, if the point here is that G‑d's emanations are the source of our lives, why talk about bread at all? Bread after all only becomes edible through the toils of man? Wouldn't fruits be a better example of G‑d's astounding power to create and sustain the universe on all levels?

According to our earlier discussion, however, the use of bread as the object of choice is rather consistent, as bread exemplifies the toil of man. The message here is that just as with bread we must perceive the inner “Word of G‑d “ – the G‑dly source and purpose, so too with all the labors of our hands must we seek out the embedded “Word of his G‑d” – the spiritual source and purpose.

In the above light it is clear that man’s every action has significance beyond what the eye can ever behold. A person’s spiritual mission is to introduce holiness and spirituality into all parts of the world subject to his influence. He must reveal the G‑dly essence in all things – animal, vegetable and mineral – in which he comes into contact.

When man realizes his obligation under heaven – when he lives-up to his G‑dly potential, not only does his purpose come into fruition but the entire universe does as well. Conversely, should man neglect his responsibility, he negates not just his own purpose and raison d’être but that of all lower orders of creation brought into existence to serve him.

“Walking in the street one must think words of Torah,” says the Lubavitcher Rebbe. (“Whether to actually pronounce the words depends on the place, if one is permitted according to Torah law to utter words of Torah there.) But when someone goes about not occupied with Torah words, the stone he treads on exclaims: "Bulach! (‘Clod', in Russian) How dare you trample me! How are you any higher than I am?" (Hayom Yom, 7 Adar II).

Through our efforts in serving G‑d through all our actions, as the verse states:  “In all your ways, you shall know Him,” we will certainly transform this world into a G‑dly vessel which will precipitate the Messianic era, BBA.

Gut Shabbos

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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 Challenge of Scripted Prayers

The Biblical commandment of prayer is worded as an enjoinder to serve G‑d with "all our hearts"--which the Sages understood to be a commandment to pray. Originally, everyone offered personalized prayers, employing words which expressed their unique feelings. And as feelings fluctuate, so did every individual's personal prayers fluctuate on a daily basis. Eventually, the Men of the Great Assembly instituted uniform prayer for all Jews, creating the basic text of the prayer book which is used to this very day.

But can a person's relationship with his Creator be scripted? Is it possible to dictate the feelings one should be expressing to G‑d?

In the teachings of Chassidut, words are considered to be "vessels"—vessels for the feelings and thoughts which generate them. Two people can say the exact same words, words which seemingly express the same sentiment, but only the "vessel" is the same, the emotions behind the words can be worlds apart. Two people can tell their spouses, "I love you"; does that mean that their love is the same, in either quantity or quality? Obviously not.

We live in a world largely obsessed with external trappings. Everything is judged by its most revealed dimension, while the essence goes unnoticed. Uniqueness is expressed through a nose-ring or sports car, not through emphasizing character and wisdom. Sometimes it is necessary to have two items which are externally alike in order to appreciate the profound difference which actually exists between the two.

The challenge we have is to create a personal prayer filled with personal feelings and sentiments — while using the same words as the person sitting next to us in the synagogue. This means truly immersing oneself in the prayer, for if the vessels are empty, if the words lack a backing of feelings and concentration, then the prayer which is being offered is actually no different than the prayer of every other John Doe.

And G‑d loves unique prayers…

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.


Thoughts That Count
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And you shall eat and be sated. (Deut. 8:10)

The Maggid of Mezritch once asked a wealthy man what he eats every day. “Bread and salt, Rebbe, like a poor man,” was his reply. The Maggid rebuked him and told him to eat meat and drink wine every day as wealthy men were accustomed to do. Later, when the Maggid’s disciples asked for an explanation, he said: “If a rich man eats meat and drinks wine every day, then he will realize that a poor person needs at least bread and salt. If, however, he eats bread and salt, he will think that his poor neighbor can make do with stones!”

And to serve Him with all your heart (Deut. 11:13)

Rashi explains that this verse refers to the service of the heart, namely prayer. Reb Yisroel of Ruzhin used to take a long time over his prayers; Reb Shalom of Belz would recite his prayers hastily. On this, one of their contemporaries commented that both of them cherished every word of the prayers: the former loved them so much that he could not bring himself to part with them, while the latter—for the same reason – could not restrain his eagerness to make them his. (A Treasury of Chasidic Tales)

And now Israel, what does G‑d ask from you but to fear G‑d and to follow in all His ways, to love Him and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul. (Deut. 10:12)

The Talmud asks, “Is then reverence such a small matter?” and answers, “For Moses it is a small matter.” Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the first Chabad Rebbe, commented, “The Torah speaks here to every Jew. How is this an answer for everyone? Every Jew, whoever he may be, contains a spark of Moses. This gives every Jew the strength to attain awe of G‑d.”

Once Upon A Chassid

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The Horse's Mind

Not on bread alone lives man, but on the utterance of the mouth of G‑d does man live (8:3)

At the core of every existence is a 'divine utterance' that constitutes its 'soul' - its essence and purpose. This 'divine utterance' is the Divine 'words' of creation ("Let there be light", "Let the earth sprout forth vegetation", etc.) which express G‑d's desire that it exist and it's function within His overall purpose of creation. It is the 'divine utterance' which was the original instrument of its creation, and which remains nestled within it to continuously supply it with being and life.

The soul of man descends into the trappings and trials of physical life in order to gain access to these 'sparks of holiness'. By investing itself within a physical body which will eat, wear clothes, and otherwise make use of the objects and forces of the physical existence, the soul can redeem the divine utterances which they incorporate. For when man utilizes something, directly or indirectly, to serve his Creator, he penetrates its shell of mundanity, revealing and realizing its Divine essence and purpose.

Therein lies a deeper meaning to the verse: "The hungry and the thirsty, in them does their soul wrap itself." A person may desire food and sense only his body's hunger; but in truth, his physical craving is but the expression and external packaging of a deeper yen - his soul's craving for the sparks of holiness that are the object of her mission in physical life. - Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok of Lubavitch was once asked by one of his young daughters: how does one explain the existence of angels and other 'spiritual' existences? After all, no one has ever seen an angel…

Said Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok: "We are now riding in a coach discussing angels, and to us, this is a most befitting accomplishment of our trip. But the horses pulling the coach believe that the purpose of the expedition consists entirely of the oats awaiting them at the journey's end, and in the eyes of the coachman, the purpose lies in the wages he will earn to feed his family. So we have three thoughts, three perspectives on the same reality.

"Now tell me," concluded the Rebbe, "just because the horses are thinking "oats" does that in any way lessen the significance of our discussion of angels…?"


Tid Bits
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Does My Son Need a Traditional Bris?
tid bit



Our baby boy was born yesterday and we are deliberating whether to do a traditional bris with a mohel, or have it done by a surgeon in hospital. Now the question I have is, would you accept me and my son into your community if he is not snipped by a  mohel?


Mazel tov on becoming a father! I hope your wife is doing well and wish you both only happiness and much nachas.

Let me say outright, you and your son will always be welcome, no matter what you choose. I don't put any barriers up for someone to be a part of our community.

As a parent, you need to make many decisions that will impact your child’s future. This is one of them. Here are the things you need to know before deciding what to do:

  • A surgical circumcision is not a  bris. Apart from the missing blessings and prayers, the actual cut may be different, which means that one day, when your son realizes that he didn't have a bris, he may require a rather unpleasant procedure to get it fixed. At the very least he will need some blood to be drawn and a blessing said. No big deal when you are a baby, but not quite as easy when you're older.
  • mohel is not an amateur. Quite the opposite. The average surgeon might do a few of these every now and then. An experienced mohel does them almost daily, and has performed hundreds, or possibly thousands, over the years.
  • Many mohels are also medically qualified. Some are surgeons themselves, who will perform a bris in a medical setting if you prefer.
  • The risks involved with either procedure are minimal, but surgical circumcision could arguably be riskier than a traditional bris, as more complications can arise from giving a baby an anesthetic than from just a clean cut alone.
  • The bris is a tradition that stretches back almost 4,000 years. It connects us and our children with all past generations of Jews, who gave their children a bris under all sorts of circumstances. Your son will enter the covenant that started with the first Jew, Abraham, and continues to this very day. The spiritual power of a bris cannot be matched by a surgery that is essentially cosmetic.

Think it through carefully. You don't want your son turning to you years from now and asking, “Why didn't you give me a bris with a mohel? Now I have to go and get it done properly!” On the other hand, if you do it the right way now, he will never turn to you and say, “Why didn't you circumcise me in hospital? Now I have to go and get a local anesthetic to make up for it!”

Give your son a bris, and you give him 4,000 years of Jewish identity that will stay with him forever. Don't leave it for him to fix later. This is one of those things you only want to do once.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.



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