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Bamidbar - The Original Census

Dear Friends,

This week we start reading the Book of Bamidbar, Numbers, the fourth book of the Torah.  The word “bamidbar” means “in the desert,” a reference to where the Jewish people were at the time. But it is also a reference to the “desert” nature of the Torah, in the sense that it is wide open territory for everyone to take advantage of and make their own. The Torah was given to the Jewish people in order for each and every one of us to make it our own, by delving into it and discovering its beauty and inner secrets.

This week's Torah portion of Bamidbar has a particular relevance to the festival of Shavuot. We can find this connection in the opening words of the portion, where G-d commands, "Count the number of all the congregation of the Children of Israel."  When things are counted, they stand in a relation of equality; the greatest man and the least are each counted once; no more, no less. And since, as Rashi tells us, the census was a token of G-d's love, it must have been a gesture towards that which is equal in every Jew. Not his intellect, not his moral standing, but his essence: his Jewish soul. So the point of the census was to bring the soul of each Jew into prominence, to the surface of awareness.

Rashi writes that G-d counts His people all the time; and yet, as Rashi himself points out, they were counted only three times in the first year and once the month after leaving Egypt. Then they were counted only once more during their wanderings in the wilderness, and subsequently only at very infrequent intervals (according to a Midrash, only a total of nine times until today, and the tenth time will be when Moshiach comes). But, if the point of the counting was to reveal the essence of each Jewish soul, then this revelation has a depth which places it beyond the erosions of time--it is operative, literally, all the time.

The differences between the three countings which Rashi mentions were evolutionary stages in a process of revelation. In the first, the Jewish soul was awakened by the love of G-d; in the second, it began to work its influence on the external life of the Israelites; and in the third, it finally suffused all their actions.

The first census was on the Israelites' departure from Egypt, and it aroused their spirit of self-sacrifice to the extent that they followed G-d into a barren wilderness. But it left their emotions untouched.

The second was prior to building the Tabernacle. It reached their intellect and emotions, because they were preparing for the work that was to bring G-d's Presence into their midst. But still the impetus came from outside: G-d's command set them to their work, not inner compunction.

But with the third census came the actual service of the Tabernacle, when the Israelites--by their own actions--brought G-d into their midst. Then all their actions were a testimony to the union of the Jewish soul with G-d.

In this way, the connection between Bamidbar and Shavuot becomes clear. When the Torah was given, Israel and G-d were united in such a way that G-d sent down His revelation from above; and the Children of Israel were themselves elevated. And we read, in preparation for our annual re-creation of the event, the portion which tells us of the third census when the two modes of revelation are brought together.

This Shabbat we bless the new month of Sivan, the month in which the holiday of Shavuot falls.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Shabbat!

Sincerely,

Rabbi Levi Fogelman



The Treasure in the Wall

 Dear Friends,

What a week it has been!

Massachusetts has been one of the hotspots for Coronavirus in the country but thank G-d at least it is predicted that the number of virus cases will begin to start going down.

We consistently pray to G-d for those who need to get better.

At the same time we are told it’s time for the rest of us who remain mostly indoors to build up our immune systems. Exercise, vitamins, good rest and healthy choice foods are the call of the day, as are having a schedule to follow and keep us moving.

Immune system?  Where in this weeks Torah portion do we find talk about beefing up an immune system?  And what spiritual immune system message could there be?

Our Torah Portion this week tells us about a mysterious colored blotch called “Tsoraas“ that suddenly appeared and stayed upon the walls of various homes when the Jewish people entered the land of Canaan.

According to the biblical directive, if the walls of the home contained this impurity, then under the right conditions, the biblical commandment required them to break down the actual walls and only afterwards rebuild it.

The midrash relates that amidst the many unusual and miracle occurrences that happened at the time, was also the fact that when they did break down the walls, they discovered treasures of gold and silver that the enemy nation called Emori had previously hidden and stored behind those walls. More curiously, they were actually told beforehand that there was a “good tiding waiting for them“ as they fulfilled the details of this commandment relating to “impurity”.

What was the message G-d wanted to relate by first placing “an impurity“ on the walls, one that required them first to quarantine the home, and then only later, through the ensuing process, to discover that there was really a treasure there?

The message was clear: One of the healthiest things one can do to build an inner immune system at challenging times even when he/she must go through a long quarantine process, is to know that if we choose to, there can be an unexpected treasure we are uncovering along the way.

We can live in these times with positivity, conviction, and confidence and make our own home a “treasure” home.

We can do this by fulfilling and learning about the eternal and basic Mitzvot that have been the foundation of Jewish homes for thousands of years.

The Jewish family and the Jewish home have been blessed with a strong immune system able to withstand the many unfortunate illnesses and "isms" of time immemorial.

I am considering beginning a 5 week course on Zoom "Judaism at Home", on the meaning of what we do and how we do it, in building a beautiful strong Jewish home.

Please let me know if you are interested in this course by emailing me at rabbi@chabadnatick.com

With G-d's help we will together discover a treasure behind the walls of our own homes that has been there for thousands of years.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Levi Fogelman

Reflecting on Pinchas 5776

                                                                                                                        B"H


    After two political conventions during the past few weeks, it seems everywhere we turn, there are heated exchanges for and against various political movements. Before we should decide what is right or what is wrong with this policy or with another, we should acknowledge that there is an underlying positive energy in the air that permeates the entire scope of the political discussion. All parties are looking to bring about change. Everyone agrees that things just can’t stay the same. There is work to be done and we must do it- but what exactly is the nature of that work? What is the best approach, and who will do it? Yet, all political movements begin with one premise: things just can’t stay the same.

    What can we learn from this regarding our service to G-d?

    This time of year on the Jewish calendar reminds us especially of that “change” energy. We are now in the period of the “Three Weeks,” where we remember the destruction of the holy Temple in Jerusalem and the beginning of the longest exile, predicted by the prophets back then. It is generally a time of mourning the glorious past that the Jewish people and the world had.

    But why so much focus on a sad event that transpired 2,000 years ago?

    The answer relates to spiritual energy and vision. If we view the loss of the Temple in Jerusalem solely as a sad event that happened 2,000 years ago, and leave it at that, we have actually lost the whole point. All good movements for the future need to begin with being disturbed and unhappy with the status quo. We then seek a vision, and utilize that bitterness to become a catalyst for dynamic energy and change. It's all about channeling negative energy to create a positive force.

    In the selections from the Prophets we read on Shabbat these weeks and afterwards, we are given a glimpse of the past destruction followed by a vision of the future and a reminder to return to G-d. We then read about an era when there will be a complete world of eternal peace and tranquility, morality, meaning and connection to G-d through a living Torah.

    The purpose of these days of “mourning” is to inspire us to act on change , re-energize ourselves and actually increase in our activities through Tzedaka, acts of Goodness and Kindness, simultaneously coupled with the light of wisdom through study of Torah, until “the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the water covers the sea.”

Renovation Update - Shul Ready in Time for Purim


In the current Torah Portions, we read about the construction of the Mishkan in the desert. In keeping with the statement of the Alter Rebbe “that a Jew must live with the times” -with the Torah portion of the week, I am pleased to share a brief update regarding our mini - Mishkan Renovation project for the Chabad Synagogue and Center.

We are delighted to let you know that the renovation of the Shul Room is beautiful and has now been completed!

As of this Shabbos, Parshas Tetzaveh and Zachor, the Shul has been moved back upstairs. There is also a bathroom facility available for use. Please join us this Shabbos as we also read Parshas Zachor.

Beyond, the Shul Room, however, there is still renovation work being done which is requiring special attention to detail, and as a result, ends up taking more time than we had wished for. These include: A special design the Ritual Sinks in the Foyer, a particular type of carpet on order for the Library Conference Room, a particular material and cut for the counter of the sinks in some of the bathrooms. (I know its hard, but please join us in being patient!)

Although it is not yet complete, I would, in the meantime, like to take this opportunity to extend gratitude for all those people who have been involved and continue to be involve in the various dimensions of the work it takes to make a community project happen.

As in last weeks Parsha of Terumah – “Gifts”, we would like to thank the many people who contributed for the Renovation Project.

The Torah also mentioned the “Wise Hearted” who were involved in the planning and building.

So thanks to the Building Committee Members Bob Aron, Steve Black, Rob Meltzer , and Shmuel Bollen for their planning from the start, dedicated work in attention to detail, and for their continuous efforts to make this happen in the most beautiful way.

Thank you to Yitzchok Cohen, our Building Manager, for planning, coordinating and executing the moving of the Shul Furniture and setting the Shul back in order upstairs. He was assisted by Dan Nouriel, Shmuel Bollen, Rivka Edwards, Steve Black, and Ben Dain.

Special thanks also goes to the wonderful team of “Ark Builders” from Temple Israel who have volunteered to guide and work with our Chabad Builders Group. The Chabad Group, is headed by Shmuel Bollen, Yitzchak Cohen, Steve Black, Lisa Zemack, and Alon Yaari. They are busy planning to the design of a new Aron Kodesh and other Shul furnishings. They have already begun with the extra effort to refurbish our Mechitzas. Thanks to David Joel, Shmuel Bollen, Steve Black, Lisa Zemack, Cathy St. Germain ,Rivka Edwards and Leib Bollen for a great job in planning and making this happen!

Please join us on Purim to say L"Chaim and rejoice!

Chabad Renovation Project Recap - Week 1

Great Holiday Month/Exciting Plans Underway at Chabad

From A Great Holiday Month to RENOVATIONS for a new updated CHABAD Center

The month of Tishrei at Chabad was celebrated with beautiful services, meaningful events and classes with a very joyous and festive Simchat Torah Finale.

Following the Holiday month, and during the week after the wedding of Mendel and Mushkie Fogelman in Maryland, a Community Sheva Brochot was held at the Chabad Center.

During this week Renovations at the Chabad Center have begun. On Sunday, a group of dedicated Chabad volunteers were working feverishly to prepare the main floor for demolition of the existing internal walls which began on Monday. Yitzchok Cohen and Steve Black were joined by Orit Cohen ,Chana Milman, Dan Nouriel, Saul Berelowitz and Yosef Derkach to help move the entire Shul downstairs and box many books and items for storage in many well planned places in the building. On Monday, all the internal walls and the bathrooms on the Shul floor were removed followed by removal of the ceiling tiles. During the week Building Committee Member Bob Aron arranged the Plumbers, Hvac . electricians and carpenters to visit another time to coordinate the plans and schedules.

During the Renovations, all services and minyans for the Chabad Center will be held downstairs. At the regular times The children’s Shabbat program will be held in its regular place on the second floor. There will be no acess to the main floor and the entrance to the Shul will be in the rear of the building. Parents are asked to take extra caution in supervising their children to respect the separated and cordoned off areas. During Shabbat morning services, the mikvah building will be available for use of its restrooms. However, children are not allowed to be in or around the Mikvah building even for the restroom use unless accompanied by their parent or an adult they have designated.

Many dedicated people have contributed to this special project. There are still opportunities available. To make this project even better. For a personal tour and how you can help , please contact Rabbi Levi Fogelman at the Chabad Center.

For pictures, please click here.

Evening of Tribute to the Rebbe

This past Thursday, July 3, over 150 people gathered at the ChaIMG_3581.JPGbad Center in Natick to mark “Gimmel Tammuz”, the twentieth anniversary yahrtzeit of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory.  This program was a joint effort of 5 Chabad Centers in the Metrowest – the Chabad Centers of Framingham, Natick, Sudbury, Wellesley and Westboro.  This inspiring evening of Tribute also included a memorial service for the three “Holy Souls” of those murdered in Israel.  This event also coincided within a few days of the first Yartzeit of Rabbi Hershel Fogelman of blessed memory, who was among the first Chabad representatives of the Lubavitcher Rebbes in America.

The schedule of this well-planned event included, a buffet with hors d'oeuvres, salads and refreshments, a prayer service for “our boys” the Jewish martyrs, the newly released video “Marching Orders”, and the highlight of the evening – a lecture by the renowned speaker, Rabbi Yossi Paltiel. The video featured popular figures such as Alan Dershowitz, former Senator Joe Lieberman, Joseph Telushkin, Ari Goldman of the New York Times and others, commenting on their awe and recognition of and personal connection with of the Rebbe.  The message of the Rebbe’s focus was clear - always on a positive attitude and action, despite obstacles and challenges. Rabbi Paltiel shared stories of the Rebbe’s personal love and unique connection with individuals like a father to a child as well his tremendous impact on worldwide Judaism. 

Following the lecture was the Maariv Evening service. After that many people stayed on for a “farbrengen” informal gathering, which continued into the wee hours of the night. As evening turned to midnight, there were still about 30 people thoroughly engaged and the gathering continued going strong for the next few hours until about 2:00 am when the last people left.

 FOR MORE PHOTOS OF THIS EVENT PLEASE CLICK HERE.

100 Children Gather at Chabad Center

In a joint effort of many Chabad Centers from Massachussets, a large group gathered at the Chabad Center in Natick this past Saturday night.  The gathering was in honor of "Yud Shvat", a significant date on the Chabad calendar - the anniversary of the passing of the previous Rebbe, as well as, the anniversary of when the Rebbe accepted his role of leadership.  The programming which was geared to the children, leaders of the next generation, included craft, food and stories.  

Please click here for the full story. 




The "Z" Word

Dear Friends,
 

Whenever I hear the word “Zealot”, I usually run for cover. Similar to yelling fire in a movie theater, in todays times we would most likely call for the Office of Homeland Security when the Z word is mentioned.
 

Which is why, in this weeks Torah portion we are surprised, when, Pinchas, who was “a zealot for my Zealotry” is given by G-d a strange reward – “The Covenant of  Peace”!! How does peace fit with zealotry?!
 

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that Pinchas was young, and for sure had much zeal but his youthful energy was not motivated by anger or hatred but by love and peace. This is indicated by the verse describing his lineage as “Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon the Kohen”. The Torah doesn’t usually identify someone with the granfathers name (especially since it is already evident from a previous Torah portion who Pinchas’s grandfather was) so why mention “Aharon the Kohen” here?
 

The answer is that Aharon the Kohen was known for one “who loved, peace, pursued peace, loved people and brought them close to Torah “.  Pinchas’s zeal was, similar to his grandfather Aharon, a person consumed by an energy to do good and create peace. True, when it was necessary, there were some courageous acts he needed to do to accomplish this (and it stopped the plague), but on the inside he was simply out to create an atmosphere of goodness and peace between man and G-d and between man and man. When Pinchas’s act “stopped the plague” and brought peace for the people,  that was the proof that he was motivated by good and not the opposite.
 

The lesson is: We may not run into the same situations that Pinchas had, but we certainly need more of “the real zeal”. When we do the right thing it should also be done with enthusiasm! A sure fire way to know when the motivation is right or not is if the result of our actions themselves bring peace. If they dont’t its probably motivated by negative forces.
 

A second point: In order to counter the flurry of negativity out there in the world today, we cannot afford to be satisfied with a more calculated and cautious approach to our Mitzvot.  If the negative side is so active, how much more quick and energetic should positive things be!   
 

The “3 Weeks” have arrived. (Click here for more info on The Three weeks) While it is a period of semi- mourning for the destruction of the Temple and we inhibit our party activities, it is important that we do not simultaneously diminish the spark and happiness we have when performing our duties as a Jew and in fulfilling Torah and Mitzvos. On the contrary, now is the time to increase with zeal the joy of Judaism!
 

During these next few weeks, please join us at Chabad Natick for increased activities in attending twice daily Minyans, Torah Classes, the Summer Yeshiva series, Challah Baking and true Torah Joy.
 

Best wishes for a joyous Shabbat!
 

Rabbi Levi Fogelman

How Goodly Are Your Tents - Minyan Appreciation

 Dear Friends,

In Parshas Balak the Torah tells us about how G-d transformed the negativity the evil prophet Bilaam intended to place on the Jewish people and transformed his intended thoughts into actual blessings.

One of the blessings and praises (now a part of our daily prayers), Bilaam was forced to recite was: “How goodly are your tents O Jacob, the dwelling places of Israel”. Our sages of blessed memory have remarked that one of the meanings in the words “the dwelling places of Israel” is that “these are the Houses of Prayer and the Houses of Study of the Jewish People”.

This week we were fortunate to enjoy a renewed energy in our Chabad Center of Natick “House of Prayer and Study” with a complete week of regular Minyans both evening and night. As a result of the services we were also able to add to our regular schedule of Torah study sessions and even had 2 Gatherings, one in honor of the Holiday of the 12th of Tammuz ( please see Chabadnatick.com for more info on this holiday). 

“How goodly are your Tents O Jacob and the Dwelling Places of Israel” had particular meaning for me in our Shul this week as many people came to support the thrice daily Minyans to allow me the opportunity to say Kaddish without interruption for my father, Rabbi Hershel Fogelman of blessed memory. Many of you have made commitments to continue to strengthen the Minyan the entire year and I especially very grateful to you for that. Thank you.

Special thanks goes to our esteemed Minyan Manager Yitzchok Cohen for his continuous dedicated efforts in this regard and to Dan Nouriel for his support. As this is an ongoing effort and- with Hashems help – we hope to continue to make the Daily Minyan a solid constant, please feel free to contact Yitzchok Cohen to let him know when you will be able to attend or to be added to his distribution list. His number is 508-479-9463 and his email is stevencoheni@yahoo.com. 

Looking forward to seeing you in Shul this Shabbat!

Rabbi Levi Fogelman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rabbi's Letter

 Dear Friends,

I wanted to express my appreciation for the support that was offered by friends and Members of our community for myself and the Fogelman family through your visits, emails, phone calls etc upon hearing of the loss of my dear father Rabbi Hershel Fogelman of blessed memory.

This Shabbos I will be spending time in Worcester with mother and family. 

As Halacha requires, We will be interrupting the Shiva in honor of Shabbat at 5 pm today Friday, June 14 and resuming Saturday night from 10-11:30 pm. Sunday the family will be getting up from Shiva immediately after morning services which begin at 8:30 am. The address for the above Shiva and minyan schedule is 24 Creswell Road in Worcester MA .

In response to many requests, contributions towards the memory of Rabbi Hershel Fogelman of blessed memory may be made by clicking here and including your personal message in the noted area.

Wishing you blessings and peace,

Rabbi Levi Fogelman 


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