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The Lamplighter Weekly

Volume 21 Issue 16
   May 19-25, 2019  14-20 Iyar 5779
Torah Reading: Behar
 Candle Lighting: 8:01 PM
Shabbos Ends: 9:00 PM
Pirkei Avos: Chapter 4

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


Parsha Synopsis

Leviticus: 25:1-26:2

On the mountain of Sinai, G‑d communicates to Moses the laws of the  Sabbatical year: every seventh year, all  work on the land should cease, and its produce becomes free for the taking for all,  man and beast.

Seven Sabbatical cycles are followed by a  fiftieth year—the Jubilee year, on which work on the land ceases, all indentured servants are set free, and all  ancestral estates in the Holy Land that have been sold revert to their original owners.

Behar also contains additional laws governing the sale of lands, and the prohibitions against  fraud and  usury.

A Word From the Rabbi



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Faith VS Anxiety

Two men in the same town came into sudden wealth. They both hit upon the idea of burying their treasures in the ground. Each picked a landmark on their respective properties, paced 50 steps and dug a hole.

Chaim, the more anxious of the two, kept looking over his shoulder to make sure he wasn’t being watched before placing the treasure into the ground. The more trusting Berel, on the other hand, took no such precautions. Alas, unbeknownst to him, he was noticed by a dishonest neighbor who eventually stole the treasure.

Still, it was Chaim the worrier who, after many sleepless nights, decided to check on his gold. To his bad luck, after locating the landmark, he counted the wrong amount of paces before digging into the ground.

Imagine his horror when he found that there was nothing there. Certain that someone stole his fortune, he could find no peace. Eventually the stress got the better of him and he died – his fortune safely intact.

Berel on the other hand, whose fortune was long gone, never even thought of checking on it. Poor as he was, he lived a long happy life believing that he was the wealthiest man in the world.

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“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

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Worry, Fear, and Anxiety, are ailments we could all do without. Yet most of us wrestle with them daily on some level. One definition for worry is "to torment oneself with disturbing thoughts."

Worry, or Anxiety, is a prevailing problem; as common today as it ever was. Anxiety disorders are not only common in the United States, but they are ubiquitous across human cultures. In the United States, according to statistics, one year prevalence for all anxiety disorders among adults ages 18 to 54 exceeds 16 percent.

“Anxiety disorders are more common than you think,” warns the National Institute for Anxiety and Stress. “Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older. That’s about 18% of the population in a given year.

Anxiety disorders are the number one mental health problem in America, surpassing even depression in numbers. Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. workplace $46.6 billion annually; 88% of this figure is from lost productivity” asserts the Institute. Anxiety and fear are interrelated. Fear causes anxiety, and anxiety can cause fear, say experts.

In the laws of Shmittah, presented in the first of this week’s double portions, the Torah instructs that every seventh year the land of Israel must lie fallow – no harvesting or planting is permitted. The Torah proceeds to reassure that if the residents of the land will keep the Divine directives of the Shmittah and the Jubilee years, “The land will yield its fruit and you will eat your fill and you will dwell securely upon it.”

In light of this resolute Divine pledge, the immediately following verse seems exceedingly curious: “If you will say, ‘What will I eat in the seventh year? Behold! We will not sow and not gather-in our crops!’”

Why would the Torah anticipate this type of question in face of the Almighty’s explicit guarantee, and obvious ability, to sustain and provide for the inhabitants, despite (and because of) their observance of the laws of Shmittah?

Even more perplexing is the fact that in presenting the question, the Torah makes reference to the seventh year. This is troublesome because normally the harvest of the previous year serves as provisions for the following year. Accordingly, in the seventh year there should be abundant supplies from the sixth year’s harvest. If at all, it is with regards the eighth year to which the concern should apply.

As is often the case, the Torah alludes here to a profound psychological phenomenon – the ever-common syndrome known as “Anxiety.”

Mental health experts agree that there is a fundamental difference between fear and anxiety. Fear is a normal emotion that occurs when a person is confronted by an actual threat. Anxiety is a pathologic emotion that appears even when there is no real danger or legitimate cause for worry.

Sometimes anxiety is due to chemical imbalance and can be classified as an illness. In that case it may require medical attention. More often, however, the anxiety we experience in life is the result of insecurity and lack of faith in G‑d.

A person of faith trusts that the Creator of all beings will take care of him, as is so plainly declared in the first chapter of the Grace After Meals, which we recite daily: “Blessed are you . . . who, in His goodness, provides sustenance for the entire world with grace, kindness, and mercy. He gives food to all flesh, for His kindness is everlasting . . .”

There is clear evidence that the worry in our lives is intensely affected by our theology. We cannot separate the two. A person who trusts in the Al-mighty is undoubtedly confident that no harm will become him as a result of his fulfillment of the Masters explicit commandments – the laws of Shmittah included.

On the other hand, the one who lacks faith, not only worries about the results of the Shmittah, i.e. the eighth year, but is concerned about the seventh year as well.

In other words, in using the seventh year as the object of possible apprehension, the Torah seeks to relate a powerful message: If you are a person of faith, then you will know real peace of mind – you will be as secure about the tomorrow as you are of the today – you will be as secure about the eighth year as you are about the seventh.

If, however, you lack faith in G‑d, you will likely be as worried about today as you are about tomorrow. You will be as anxious of the present – despite the full granary or bank account – as you are of the unforeseen future – as anxious about the seventh year as you are about the eighth.

A study of people will confirm this intuitive Torah prediction. Many people of limited means are contented with what they have and live relatively tranquil lives. On the other hand, many in our society who are in possession of considerable wealth are paralyzed by fear and anxiety. What they need is a good dose of true faith.

Letting fear and worry take over comes from taking on responsibilities that belong to G‑d. He has a plan for all of us, He is with us always. "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it robs today of its strength."

So, when you are beset with worry, fear and anxiety, remember the words of Isaiah (41:10) “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your G‑d. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

By placing our trust in our Heavenly father we will gain the strength and confidence to live healthy meaningful lives and focus on the true mission of transforming the world into a garden of peace and Divinity, with the coming of the righteous Moshiach 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 


A Culture of Dependency

On the face of it, those advocating transforming our capitalistic culture into a welfare state should be commended for their generosity and concern for their less fortunate fellow citizens. After all, what could be nobler than to demand that society’s wealth be redistributed fairly, guaranteeing equality of opportunity and freedom from hunger to all?

In practice, providing money and welfare to individuals and communities without demanding a reciprocal commitment from the recipient has only ever proved a recipe for disaster and continued dependency. In the Talmud, beneficiaries of charity are described as "eating the bread of shame," which is why Maimonides recommends providing a poor person with a job, or other method of self-sufficiency, rather than a no-strings-attached provision of welfare. In advertising speak: a hand up, not a handout.

The fact that entire communities, from Aboriginal tribes in Australia to the migrant population of Europe and the so-called Palestinian refugees of Gaza, have been allowed to spiral into a culture of entitlement and despair brings discredit to the community in general and to the aid officials in particular who allowed once proud people to become sullied by the expectation that others are responsible to provide the solution to their own issues.

Even people who have spent decades happily self-sufficient can be similarly morally destroyed upon retirement. Their "freedom from work" too often degenerates into a pale and lonely existence. Take away from otherwise healthy senior citizens any real reason to get up and get dressed in the morning, and those who don’t quickly find replacement creative outlets will quickly wither away into irrelevancy.

Had G‑d so desired, He could have created a universe where all man’s needs, physical and spiritual, are fully supplied up front. To do so, however, would be to create a race of moral degenerates with no purpose other than self-indulgence. With nothing to reach for, nothing to achieve, we’d be left wallowing in our own individual pools of sluggish turpitude.

This would help explain the Torah’s prohibition against lending money on interest. Contrary to the anti-Semitic perception of the Jews as a race of usurers and moneylenders, we have been specifically enjoined against the practice. Shakespeare’s Shylock speaks the truth when he declares that it was the Gentiles of those times who drove us reluctantly into money lending as a profession by excluding Jews from the guilds and forbidding us from owning land.

Lending money to those in need is generosity of the highest order, and free-loan funds, known as gemachs, have always flourished in Jewish societies. In Melbourne alone dozens of such foundations have been established to supply short-term loans of cash or other goods.

However, lending money on interest to another Jew is strictly forbidden. Aside from the reality that borrowers are often forced ever further into debt and many find it almost impossible to escape from the interest-trap, usury has a deleterious effect even on the lender. To earn money from one’s ingenuity, skill or effort is healthy; to receive a kickback for nothing is inherently destructive.

The money one earns from interest is almost dishonest, equivalent to eating the bread of shame. You’re not working for your sling-back, not producing or contributing to the development of the world. The other guy is doing all the work, and you are just piggy-backing on his efforts.

G‑d created us with an inbuilt need to succeed, to conquer our personal demons and to write our own success stories. To allow oneself to slumber away in a cocoon of indolence and dependency, relying on others to provide, with no sense of personal obligation, is to turn our back on reality and it demonstrates a total lack of faith and responsibility.


Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum is spiritual leader of Moorabbin Hebrew Congregation and co-director of L’Chaim Chabad in Moorabbin, Victoria, Australia.

Thoughts That Count
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And G‑d spoke to Moses at Mt. Sinai (Lev. 25:1)

Rashi's famous question about the Torah's juxtaposition of Mt. Sinai with the mitzva of the Sabbatical year can also be interpreted as follows: The Sinai desert is symbolic of the "wilderness of the nations" - the time of exile; the Sabbatical year refers to the Days of Moshiach. The two concepts are juxtaposed to teach us that when a Jew keeps the imminent Redemption in his consciousness, he can actually have a foretaste of the Messianic era even now. Human nature is such that when a person anticipates a great event, the very knowledge that it is about to occur makes him happy and joyful. (The Rebbe)

And if your brother has become poor, and his means fail with you, then you shall strengthen him (Lev. 25:35)

To help another Jew who is stuck in the mire, a person must be willing to "immerse himself in mud up to the neck" in order to drag him out. (Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin)

When you will come to the Land... the Land will keep a Sabbath to G‑d. (25:2)

"When you will come to the Land" - when a person organizes his life and begins to be involved in earthly matters and mundane work, "the Land will keep a Sabbath to G‑d" - it is imperative for the person to know that the whole intention and purpose of his involvement in earthly matters is for the purpose of the "Sabbath" - holiness. (Likutei Sichot)

For six years you shall prune your vineyard. (25:3)

The Jewish people are called a "vineyard": For G‑d's vineyard is the army of the House of Israel. (Isaiah 5). Each and every Jew must work at clearing up and pruning his own vineyard - his unfavorable traits such as jealousy, hatred, lustfulness, etc. (Likutei Torah)

Once Upon A Chassid

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Highly Connected

For they (the Jewish people) are my servants, whom I have taken out from the land of Egypt - they cannot be sold into slavery (25:42)

My deed of ownership precedes and voids any other. (Rashi's commentary)

In redeeming us from Egypt the Almighty made us subject to Him alone, and thus inherently and eternally free: no force or law on earth has any jurisdiction over the Jew. (Rabbi Yehudah Lowe of Prague-the 'Maharal')

The mikveh (ritual bathhouse) in Primishlan, home to Rabbi Meir'l Primishlaner, was located at the foot of a steep hill. Even under the best of conditions it was a precarious climb down to the bathhouse and back up to town; but during the winter months, when the hill was covered with ice, the slope was completely impassable: also the most agile and daring of the young men were forced to give up after the first few steps. From the first freeze to spring thaw, the townspeople were forced to take a long, roundabout route to the mikveh.

All but one. The elderly Rebbe of Primishlan would walk down the icy slope every morning to immerse himself before praying. Straight as a rod, he would make his unfaltering way to the bathhouse and back.

One day, two young skeptics set out to prove that there was nothing extraordinary about Rabbi Meir's daily trip. But their attempt met with dismal failure: bruised, bloodied, and with half a dozen broken bones between them, they walked nowhere for a good few weeks. Later, one of them asked Rabbi Meir'l: "How do you do it?"

Said the Primishlaner: "When one is connected above, one does not fall below. Meir'l is connected above, so he does not fall below."

Tid Bits
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Love Distorted
tid bit
Three boys followed the elderly man’s penetrating gaze and listened attentively to his words. He was their father; they were his devoted sons. He was traveling far away for an extended period of time, and as the time of his return was unknown, he was leaving explicit instructions. He wanted his boys to disseminate his scholarly ideas and ideologies to improve the world around them.

That night, his sons reminisced about their shared childhood. Their father was a genius, brimming with unique theories and philosophies. Yet first and foremost, the message imbued to them from when they were young toddlers was about the love and responsibility they ought to feel for each other. This fostered the strong palpable love they shared, which so many others envied.

As time passed, the boys pondered the best approach to carrying out their father’s wishes. They chewed over his ideologies and processed his many ideas. Three brothers, each unique, each so special—each one so different from the other. Each of their creative minds found a different twist to their father’s words; each of their hearts led them towards a different path. All true, yet all so diverse.

The brothers explained one another their take on matters. And each one strongly felt that their brothers were misinterpreting their father’s legacy. How it hurt them so that their dear brothers could be so mistaken. And so they explained, and explained—to no avail. Each stood their ground. Their fierce love for their father (and brothers) wouldn’t allow them to simply follow their own path while leaving the others behind. Their brothers must know what they so clearly saw as the truth.

The situation rapidly deteriorated. The love was still there, but the brothers could respect each another no longer.

This would have carried on, if not for a wise friend. He met the brothers and asked them to close their eyes and recall their earliest memory of their beloved father. Without understanding where they were heading, they complied. One recalled his father kissing him at night, telling him how precious family is. The other two recalled their father stopping a squabble and warning them to always look out for each other.

The wise friend sighed. “You are all trying to spread your father’s wisdom. Yet in the process, you are overlooking the most important thing your father tried to imbue in you—respect for one another. True love doesn’t force its opinions on the other, but makes room for his path alongside yours in harmony.”



Each of Rabbi Akiva’s disciples was a scholar in his own right; each felt that he, and only he, truly understood his master’s ideas. Their love for each other caused them to try and force their understanding on their peers. But their love was misguided; it allowed room for only their own path. They lacked the understanding that true love means loving someone different, and respecting these difference. Realizing that another’s understanding may be very different than your own, but very much the same—in the sense that it, too, is truth.



Dear brothers and sisters, we all share the same one G‑d and the same one Torah. Yet we are each unique, and each of us has a different path pulling his or her heart closer to G‑d. Let us not forget what is most important to a father. Our Father in heaven is waiting for us to embrace our diverseness; to make space beside our own path for another’s.

I have no doubt that is what our Father is waiting for. And then He will envelope us all in His embrace and show us how the many paths all stem from the same place—love for Him. Infinite truth has infinite expressions.

We are all so different. Yet all the same.

Esther Scharf is a writer and teacher who currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. 

Notes From Israel

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