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Wednesday, May 23, 2018 9 Sivan 5778


The first Lubavitch/Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the Tanya and Code of Jewish Law, once remarked that a Jew must "live with the times." His son explained the meaning: A Jew must live with the Torah portion of the week - i.e., he must assimilate the lessons of the weekly Torah portion
Never Too Old
The Torah is eternal, and all matters discussed in the Torah are eternal, even if they seem to pertain only to a particular time. Every facet of Torah has a lesson that is pertinent to every generation.
The spies were sent to report on the promised land and returned with a tale of woe. As a result it was decreed that the entire generation would die in the wilderness and their children would inherit the land. For the next forty years the Jews wandered in the desert, until G-d finally granted them entry into the Land of Israel.
A desert, by definition, is a place that is uninhabited and uncultivated. Yet the Jews lived and flourished there for 40 years. During that time they were sustained by the mannah from heaven and the water from Miriam’s well. The Midrash states that the water of that well caused many plants and trees to blossom.
The journey of the Jewish people through the desert may have taken place many millennia ago, yet the Torah chooses to relate the story in detail because of its relevance to every generation. We, too, have a mission to transform the desert.
It sometimes happens that we look at our surroundings and realize that we find ourselves in a “desert,” devoid of spirituality and inspiration. Most people around us do not recognize G-d, do not observe His commandments and are caught up in shallow, materialistic pursuits. And there are those who do recognize G-d, but perhaps they are unable or unwilling to fulfill the mitzvot.  To one who is living in a “desert” it can seem as though there is no room for G-d to dwell.
Yet we have no right to despair, or to abandon the desert for a more attractive settlement. The Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years but succeeded in changing its very nature, into a place that is hospitable to both G-d and man. This is a lesson for all times. We may find ourselves in a desert, but we have the power and the duty to make the desert bloom, by bringing the warmth and inspiration of G-d’s teachings into the most barren place.
The sense of barrenness and desolation applies not only to our surroundings but to our own psyche as well. Sometimes we examine ourselves and realize that we fall short; we are lacking in inspiration or motivation. Our actions have not borne the fruits we had hoped...
At that point one can fall into despair. How can I change my nature? I have lived according to these habits for so long. Is it possible to change?
For this we learn a lesson from the family of the Levites, which is also discussed in this week’s Torah portion. The men were not inducted into service in the Temple until age 30.  Even at a relatively advanced adult age one can become transformed into a servant of G-d, completely dedicated to the Divine mission. This gives us the strength and inspiration we need to overcome all barriers and transform our spiritual desert.
(The Rebbe, Likutei Sichos vol. 13)

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