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Publisher's Foreword To The First Edition

Rosh HaShanah: The Significance of Being Alone

Rosh HaShanah: A Rebbe's Fear

The Sixth of Tishrei: Yahrzeit of Rebbitzin Chanah

Erev Yom Kippur: The Inside Story of Kreplach and Lekach

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Bereishis: Making Light of the Creation

Noach: Looking at Yourself Through Others

Lech Lecha: Bringing and Being Brought Closer

7th of Cheshvan: Brave New World

Chayei Sarah, 19th of Kislev, Chanukah: Three Flashes of Light

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The Nineteenth of Kislev: How the End is Wedged in the Beginning

Yud-Tes Kislev: Chassidus

Chanukah: Light a Lamp for a Friend in the Dark

Chanukah: Is it a Mitzvah to eat Latkes?

Chanukah: Light, not Might

Vayigash: Don't Just Sit There. Do Something!

The Tenth of Teves: Bearing Up, and Giving Birth

Vayechi: A Priest in G-d's Sanctuary

Shmos: Egyptian Heads and Jewish Heads

24th of Teves: The Passing of the Alter Rebbe

Va'eira: Blood and Frogs

Beshalach: Approaches to Life

At the Shluchos Convention 5749 (1989): The Women's Convention of Emissaries

Parshas Shekalim: Fire Insurance

Tetzaveh: The Essence of Moshe Rabbeinu

Purim: The Future of Purim

Purim: The Malady and its Cure

Purim: Living and Loving

Purim: The Dynamics of Revelation

Pesach: The Importance of Little Things

Sefiras HaOmer: Counting [on] the Omer

Sivan: As One Man

Shavuos: The Philosophy of Sleep

Shavuos: Receiving the Torah? No, Giving it!

Tidbits on Torah: A Treasure Beyond Compare

Behaalos'cha: The Lamplighters

Shlach / 28th of Sivan: The Rebbe's Arrival in the U.S.

Chukas: The Value of Life

The Twelfth of Tammuz: Neshamah Resolutions

The 17th of Tammuz: The Good Within

The Three Weeks: From Galus to Mashiach

Matos-Masei: Life's Journeys

The Nine Days: Curtailing, Joyfully

Vaes'chanan: Know Him in All Your Ways

Tu BeAv: On the Way Up

Eikev: Bread from Heaven

Eikev: The Reward for Keeping Mitzvos

Re'eh: Seeing Is Believing

Re'eh: The Laws of Kosher Animals

Re'eh: Living in Eretz Yisrael

Elul: Your Fellow Jew's Gashmiyus

Shoftim: A Spiritual Refuge

Nitzavim-Vayeilech: Taking a Stand on Moving Forward

Brief Themes: Random Thoughts Extracted from Shiurim

From HaYom Yom: Sample Readings from the Rebbe's Calendar

Through the Eyes of a Woman
A Chassidic Perspective on Living Torah

Shmos: Egyptian Heads and Jewish Heads

by Nechoma Greisman, Edited by Rabbi Moshe Miller

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  Vayechi: A Priest in G-d's Sanctuary24th of Teves: The Passing of the Alter Rebbe  

The people of Egypt were very bright. In those days, they were the smartest of all nations, and to this day people cannot understand how they built the pyramids without the assistance of modern machines and technology. To this day we see the mummies that have been preserved for thousands of years, and yet they did not have access to modern chemicals and medical know-how. The Egyptians were masters of astrology, medicine, science and many other fields. Pharaoh was also no slouch. But Pharaoh is a symbol of the anti-Jewish way of thinking.

There is a Jewish way of thinking and a goyish way of thinking. The two are very very different. Pharaoh is the prime symbol of the goyish way of thinking. When you read in the Torah that Pharaoh said this-and-this, take heed. It is not just the Pharaoh of that generation that said that, but all through the generations there is a Pharaoh saying the same thing. That is why HaShem put these things in the Torah -- because He wants us to know how not to think. There is an expression, "Forewarned is forearmed." That means that you are taught in advance how to fight this kind of philosophy or outlook on life.

In this parshah Pharaoh tells Moshe to go mind his own business, to do his own work, and to stop pestering the Jews about serving G-d. This is the eternal statement made by the eternal Pharaoh. "Mind your own business," he says. "You like to learn Torah? Go ahead. I won't bother you. I will not stop you from learning Torah. But don't bother other people; don't make them learn Torah. You want to be a frum Jew? Be a frum Jew, be a tzaddik. But leave other people alone." When you hear people speak like this, you should know that this is the philosophy of Pharaoh and it is anti-Jewish.

Spiritual death is far more severe than physical death according to the Jewish view. If a person loses his life, as long as he has the World to Come, that's the main thing. If he loses the World to Come, then there's nothing. What good is a physical life if it's all over? One's person's love for a fellow Jew should motivate him to enquire into his welfare. This doesn't mean that one is being nosy. Someone told me that once she was very annoyed at a certain Lubavitcher person who seemed to be very nosy and was very interested in her business. This person kept on bugging her, until she lost her temper and shouted, "Why are you bothering me? This is my life. What business of yours is my life?" That is the goyish way of thinking. And it was only years later, when she had changed a lot, that she was able to see that what she took to be annoying pestering was actually a great kindness.

One has to be like a mother. From your own experience you know what it's like when you have to give a dose of medicine, or when you have to remind your children to wear a coat. As a mother you really care about your child, but the response is generally, "Oh Mom, leave me alone, you're making me nervous." If we would really care about another Jew's spiritual life, we wouldn't feel like we were being a pain in the neck. There's too much at stake. The Torah says, "Love another Jew like yourself." When it comes to yourself, you don't say, "Oh, I did enough for myself," do you?

The Mezritcher Maggid once said that he wished we could kiss the Sefer Torah with the same love that his mentor, the Baal Shem Tov, loved every Jewish child. The Baal Shem Tov was one of those very rare individuals who loved Jews because they were Jews, even if they were not learned or bright or rich. If we are trying so hard to raise ourselves to a higher level, how can we be satisfied if other Jews are on a lower level? Try to raise them to a higher level. And if you don't, you can be jeopardizing not only your own mission in life, but also the redemption of the entire Jewish nation from galus. This is a point which the Rebbe quotes from the Rambam very often -- the redemption of the Jewish people could be dependent upon a single action that tips the scales in our favor. So don't think so much. Do not put it off for a week or a day or even for a second. As soon as you have the opportunity to help another Jew, do it -- right away.

HaShem wants to see all the Jews in all their levels, b'achdus -- living in unity and harmony. A building is built of many parts, but every part is connected to every other part to make the whole. Because we are all connected, we could never say, "Well, what difference does it make if someone else out there is stumbling, or is not behaving properly?" That's ridiculous. If the roof is okay, but the basement is about to collapse, the entire building is in danger. You want the whole house to remain standing, don't you?

Let us explain this further, using the analogy of an army. Supposing a general announces that he is coming to inspect his troops. Of course he gives them time to prepare -- to polish their shoes, iron their uniforms, etc. But, if there is even one soldier who is not ready -- if his buttons were not polished, or his uniform was a mess -- he isn't angry at the soldier. He goes to the officer in charge and says, "What nerve! How come you didn't prepare your unit for this review?" In other words, the general does not blame the individual soldier, but the one in charge of him. If you see a little child walking in the street and he looks like a mess, do you blame the child or the mother? You blame the mother, right?

In the same way, the Rebbe says that each of us is responsible for our fellow Jew who isn't yet as he should be, because we can do something about it. We cannot sit complacently and say, "Oh, what's the difference. As long as I'm OK, I don't have to worry." Because the Day of Judgment will come and HaShem may find you guilty for the other person's deficiencies, because you could have done something about it and you didn't. We all come into contact with people who are less knowledgeable than us. We know that if we would care a little bit, and expend some energy, we could dent that person's life in a positive way. This is certainly within the reach of all of us.

When we reach this oneness and unity, we will merit the total oneness and unity, when "G-d is One and His Name is One" will be revealed. But the Oneness of HaShem is dependent on the oneness of the Jewish people. If you want to reach that era when the unity of G-d will be revealed, be warm to your fellow Jews.

  Vayechi: A Priest in G-d's Sanctuary24th of Teves: The Passing of the Alter Rebbe  
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