Thursday, April 28, 2016

Final Days of Pesach Schedule for Tzemach Tzedek

The following is the Tzemach Tzedek schedule for the last days of Pesach:

Thursday - ערב יו"ט

עירוב תבשילין

Licht Bentchen                                                                                                 7:32pm

Mincha                                                                                                              7:45pm

Maariv                                                                                                               8:35pm

Alos Hashachar                                                                                       4:18/4:44am

Friday - שביעי של פסח

Sof Zman Krias Shma                                                                                      9:22am

Shacharis                                                                                                          10:00am

Please bring your Matzoh and wine for Moshiach's Seudah before Shabbos

Licht Bentchen (Shabbos)                                                                               7:33pm

Mincha (Ashrei)                                                                                                7:45pm

Shabbos - אחרון של פסח

Shacharis                                                                                                          10:00am

Yizkor                                                                                                  approx. 12:00pm

Mincha - followed by Moshiach's Seudah                                                     6:00pm

Motzoei YomTov                                                                                                 8:35pm

!א גוטען יום טוב

הַקְהֵל אֶת־הָעָם הָאֲנָשִׁים וְהַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף ... לְמַעַן יִשְׁמְעוּ וּלְמַעַן יִלְמְדוּ וְיָרְאוּ אֶת־ה' אֱלֹקֵיכֶם

Pesach Perspective (2)

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman

This week’s Parsha Perspective is dedicated by Mr. Binyomin Philipson in memory of his late mother Mrs. Ellen (Elka bas Zisel) Philipson OBM

Is it possible to be spiritual and selfish at the same time? Let us have a look at the words of the Torah that shed important light on this question.

The Torah reading for the seventh day of Pesach (Shmos (Exodus) 13:17-15:26) tells of the “Splitting of the Yam Suf (Sea of Reeds)”  which the Jews experienced a week after their exodus from Egypt.

Vayasa Moshe et ha-am—“Moses made the people journey from the sea.” (15:22) The great miracle had happened. The sea had split and the Egyptian army was no more. The word vayasa - “he made [them] journey” - implies that Moses had to force his people to move on. But why was this necessary? Why wouldn’t they move on their own?

According to Rashi, the enemy was so confident of victory against the Israelites that they bedecked their horses and chariots with gold, silver and precious jewels. These treasures were now being washed up on the seashore, and the Jews were collecting the riches. So they were in no mood to move on. But Moses said they had a date with G‑d at Mount Sinai. As the nation’s leader, he had to compel them to carry on their journey.

The Zohar gives a more spiritual explanation. We are taught that the divine revelation at the splitting of the sea was quite an extraordinary experience. In the words of our sages, “What a simple maidservant saw at the sea, even the great prophets were not privileged to see.” According to this mystical view, it was not the material wealth they were obsessed with, but rather the incredible spiritual delights they were experiencing.

Either way, it was up to Moses to move them along to their appointment with destiny. And the question is this: If it was gold and silver that was delaying their journey to Sinai, we can well understand the need for Moses to hurry them on. But if it was the spiritual experience of inspired revelation, why move on? Why not stay there as long as possible? Surely, the more G‑dly revelation the better!

The answer is that G‑d was calling. Sinai was beckoning. The entire purpose of the Exodus and all the miracles in Egypt and at the sea was nothing more than to receive the Torah at Sinai. That was the revelation that would give the Jewish people its unique way of life and its very raison d’être. Sinai represents our mission, our mandate. Sinai made us G‑d’s messengers on earth. However we may understand the concept of a chosen people, it was the Sinaitic experience that made us that. Any detours or distractions from the journey to Sinai are therefore out of the question - no matter how lofty or spiritual they might be.

It comes as no great shock to learn that gold and silver are not as important as Sinai. But that spirituality, too, must take second place to Sinai - this is indeed big news. And what exactly is Sinai? Torah. And what is Torah? The will of G‑d. In other words, the bottom line is: what does G‑d want? How does He want us to act, to live our lives? So, the big news story here is that even the most amazing spiritual experience, the most extraordinary revelation, is not as important as doing what G‑d wants us to do.

It is a very important message that emerges from this one word, vayasa. It’s not what we want that counts, but what G‑d wants. If we want money and diamonds, and He wants to give us His Torah, then we leave the loot and we go to Sinai. And even if it is a spiritual experience we seek, and G‑d says “Go to Sinai,” we still go to Sinai and we leave the spiritual inspiration for another time.

The following is a true story. It once happened back in the old country that late one night, a wagon driver ran into a yeshivah and cried out to the students to come out and help him. It was urgent, he said. His wagon had overturned, and his horse was stuck in a ditch and was in danger of dying. He needed help to get the wagon upright. It was late at night, and there was no one else he could turn to, so he appealed to the yeshivah students to come to his assistance.

At this point the students’ Talmudic training kicked in, and a long halachic debate ensued. Was it right to leave their Torah study for the sake of a horse? After all, is not Torah study equal to all the other mitzvot combined? On the other hand, the horse provided this Jew’s livelihood. Which takes precedence? The debate raged on and on - and when they finally did decide to go out and help the poor man, it was too late. The horse had died.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in our own spirituality that we become quite selfish. Spiritually selfish, of course, but selfish nonetheless. At the end of the day, it’s not whether we are into materialism or monotheism, money or metaphysics. The ultimate question - and, in fact, the only question - is: what does G‑d want of me at this moment in time? Where should I be and what should I be doing right now?

So, if you find yourself in a quandary or on the horns of a difficult dilemma, ask yourself this very question: What would G‑d want? Yes, sometimes it might be helping a horse out of a ditch. But if that is the call of the hour, then so be it. It might not be very spiritual, but it is the right thing to do.

And if it’s the right thing to do, that makes it very G‑dly.

(Excerpts from - by Rabbi Yossy Goldman)

A Kosher and Joyous Pesach Holiday
and Meaningful and Uplifting Shabbos to all!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Chai Nissan Farbrengen

There will be a farbrengen in honor of ח"י ניסן on Tuesday night, April 26th, at Tzemach Tzedek, after 8:30 Maariv.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Davening Times for Chol Hamoed Pesach for Tzemach Tzedek

Shacharis - Monday thru Thursday                                   6:50, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00am, etc.

Mincha - Monday thru Wednesday                                                             7:00, 7:40pm

Maariv - Monday thru Wednesday                                                              8:30, 9:30pm

Kinus Torah on Monday, after 7:00 Mincha.

Friday, April 22, 2016

First Days of Pesach Schedule for Tzemach Tzedek

The following is the Tzemach Tzedek schedule for the first days of Pesach:

Friday - ערב ש"ק

Licht Bentchen                                                                                                 7:26pm

Mincha                                                                                                              7:40pm

Kabbolas Shabbos                                                                             approx. 8:10pm

Chatzos                                                                                                            12:55am

שבת קודש - א' דחג הפסח

Sof Zman Krias Shma                                                                                      9:29am

Shacharis                                                                                                          10:00am

Mincha                                                                                                               7:25pm

Licht Bentchen/Maariv                                                                                   8:30pm

Chatzos                                                                                                            12:55am

Sunday - א' דחג הפסח

Shacharis                                                                                                          10:00am

Mincha                                                                                                                7:40pm

Motzoei YomTov/Maariv                                                                                  8:30pm

!א גוט יום טוב! א כשר'ן פרייליכען פסח

הַקְהֵל אֶת־הָעָם הָאֲנָשִׁים וְהַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף ... לְמַעַן יִשְׁמְעוּ וּלְמַעַן יִלְמְדוּ וְיָרְאוּ אֶת־ה' אֱלֹקֵיכֶם

Pesach Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman

This week’s Parsha Perspective is dedicated by Mr. Binyomin Philipson in memory of his late mother Mrs. Ellen (Elka bas Zisel) Philipson OBM

We open the Pesach Seder eve with the traditional: Mah nishtanah halailah hazeh... "Why is this night different from all other nights?" which our children ask us. Because, we answer, we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and G-d set us free.

Free? Are you free?

Can a person with a mortgage be free? Can a person with a job be free? Can a person without a job be free?

Freedom! Is there anything more desired yet more elusive? Is there a need more basic to our souls, yet so beyond our reach? How, indeed, do we achieve freedom from the demands, cares and burdens of daily living?

But look at your child. Observe her at play, immersed in a book, asleep and smiling at her dreams. Assured that father and mother will feed him, protect him and worry about all that needs worrying about, the child is free. Free to revel in her inner self, free to grow and develop, open to the joys and possibilities of life.

This is why Passover, the festival of freedom, is so much the festival of the child. For it is the child who evokes in us the realization that we, too, are children of G-d, and are thus inherently and eternally free. It is the child who opens our eyes to the ultimate significance of Passover: that in taking us out of Egypt to make us His chosen people, G-d has liberated us of all enslavement and subjugation for all time.

The child is the most important participant at the Passover Seder. The entire Seder is constructed around the goal to mystify the child, to stimulate his curiosity, to compel him to ask: Why is this night different from all other nights?

The child asks, and we answer. But there is another dialogue taking place -- a dialogue in which we ask, and the child explains.

Take a good look at your child this Passover. Pay her close attention -- enter her mind, view reality from his perspective. The child feels freedom due to his/her absolute sense of trust and security in her parents. So we, the parent and adult, must have that same of sense of trust and security in our “parent” – our Father in Heaven!

For how else might we taste freedom?

(From – content by Rabbi Yanki Tauber)

May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos and
A Kosher and Joyous Holiday of Pesach to all!

Gartel G'mach

Many gartels, especially the thin "shoelace-like" thickness as well as other thicker gartels, have not been returned, missing particularly over the last two weeks. 

With the last bits and moments of Pesach cleaning and organizing still in the air, if any of the gartels from the Tzemach Tzedek Shul Gartel G'mach are found, please return them to the Gartel G'mach!

Thank you!

With best wishes to experience the true and ultimate redemption, while celebrating a happy and kosher Pesach holiday!

Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ta'anis Bechoros is on Friday

A message from Rabbi Lesches:

In certain publications, it was mistakenly published that this year, Ta'anis Bechoros is on Thursday. This is a mistake, as Ta'anis Bechoros is on Friday.

Wishing all a kosher and freilichen Pesach.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Yud Aleph Nissan Learning Campaign

Cheder Chabad Calendar - Zmanim Reminder

The Zmanim listed for eating and burning chametz in the Cheder Chabad Calendar are NOT CORRECT. We pointed this out shortly after the calendar was published last year but want to remind everyone now that Pesach is quickly approaching.

We at Cheder Chabad thank all of you who supported our school through your advertisements and dedications in the calendar and wish everyone a kosher and freilichen Pesach.

Rabbi Yeruchem Cohen, President
Cheder Chabad Board of Directors

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Yud Aleph Nissan Farbrengen

There will be a farbrengen in honor of י"א ניסן on Monday night, April 18th, at Tzemach Tzedek, after 8:30 Maariv.

Global Yud Aleph Nissan Farbrengen Tonight

Mr. Chaim Bloch Sitting Shiva

Boruch Dayan HaEmes - We are deeply saddened to inform you of the passing of Mr. Robert Bloch A"H, father of Chaim Bloch.

R' Chaim will be sitting shiva at the Bloch home, 16 Park Ave, in Monsey beginning Tuesday afternoon through Friday morning.

The Zmanei Tefilla are:

Mincha/Maariv - Tuesday to Thursday: 7:30 pm

Shacharis - Wednesday to Friday: 7:30 am

המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

Davening Times for the week of 1st day Pesach for Tzemach Tzedek

Shacharis - Sunday                                                                                    8:00, 9:00,am

Shacharis - Monday thru Friday                                                6:50, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00am

Mincha - Sunday thru Thursday                                                                  7:00, 7:30pm

Maariv - Sunday thru Thursday                                                          8:15, 8:30, 9:30pm

Friday Erev Pesach - תענית בכורות - Siyum after 7:00 and 8:00 Shacharis

Friday: Latest time to eat Chometz                                                                    10:38am

Latest time to burn Chometz                                                                              11:46am

Friday, April 15, 2016

Pesach Cleaning

Tzemach Tzedek shul is being prepared and cleaned for Pesach.

Please don't bring any chametz to shul, including nash for the children.

Parshas Vayikra - Shabbos HaGadol Schedule for Tzemach Tzedek

The following is the Tzemach Tzedek schedule for Shabbos Parshas Metzorah - Shabbos HaGadol:

Friday - ערב ש"ק

Licht Bentchen                                                                                                7:18pm

Mincha                                                                                                             7:30pm

Kabbolas Shabbos                                                                            approx. 8:00pm

Kiddush not after 6:57/7:00 and not before 7:57/8:00pm

שבת קודש

Rov's Shiur Chassidus                                                                                      9:00am

Sof Zman Krias Shma                                                                                      9:35am

Shacharis                                                                                                          10:00am

Minchah Gedolah                                                                                            1:29pm
Shabbos HaGadol Drasha                                                                               6:15pm

Minchah                                                                                                            7:20pm

Motzoei Shabbos/Maariv                                                                               8:21pm

!א גוטען שבת

הַקְהֵל אֶת־הָעָם הָאֲנָשִׁים וְהַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף ... לְמַעַן יִשְׁמְעוּ וּלְמַעַן יִלְמְדוּ וְיָרְאוּ אֶת־ה' אֱלֹקֵיכֶם

Rabbi YY Jacobson Shabbos HaGadol Drasha

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman

This week’s Parsha Perspective is dedicated by Mr. Binyomin Philipson in memory of his late mother Mrs. Ellen (Elka bas Zisel) Philipson OBM

Sickness stalked the streets of Vilna in 1848; an epidemic had struck, and dozens of townsfolk had succumbed. Every house was filled with the dead and dying. Depression and despair were rampant.

In times of sickness and sorrow, the mind craves answers. People want to know why things are going so spectacularly wrong, and if there is anything they can do to change the situation. People look for someone to blame.

Rabbi Yisroel Salanter, the great ethicist and scholar, was approached by a congregant with grave accusations against the family of one of the leading citizens of the town. The informer was privy to certain distasteful details about a respected family, and he was determined to share his knowledge with the rabbi.

“After all,” he argued, “who knows if the plague isn’t divine retribution for their sins. Perhaps if they can be made to repent, many lives might be saved.”

Rabbi Yisroel refused to be persuaded. “It’s too easy to point the finger,” he said, “blaming everyone else for the tragedies and hardships of life. But tattling and negativity is not the Jewish way. Far better to direct our efforts towards self-improvement and correcting one’s own conduct than to focus on the failing of others.”

We learn in this week’s Torah reading Metzora ([Leviticus] 14:1-15:33) about the metzora: During Temple times, a man or woman who had gossiped or spoken negatively about others would often develop symptoms of tzaraat – a leprous-like condition that renders the sinner ritually impure. As part of the purification process, this person, the metzora, would be exiled from home for a few weeks and forced to live alone, outside the city borders, until the symptoms dissipated.

Rabbi Yisroel continued to explain that the sin of lashon hara, speaking negatively about others, is not necessarily the same as lying. Gossiping is evil, and honesty is no defense. You could be saying the unvarnished, absolute truth, but it’s still a sin. The metzora is sent to solitary confinement not just to wait for his tzaraat to cure, but to reflect on the lack of judgment that caused the sickness in the first place.

Before rushing to blame others or to indict someone else, do an honest analysis of your own behavior. Spend a few weeks in the company of your own thoughts, and you may very well come to realize that the cause of your troubles is yourself.

(Excerpts from - by Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum)

May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!

Yeshivas Bein Hazmanim at Tzemach Tzedek

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Mesivta Lev Tmimim Lubavitch Builds Its Foundation

Winding down its first successful year, Mesivta Lev Tmimim Lubavitch Monsey launched a campaign to set the foundations for its continued growth and preparation for a new entering Shiur Aleph that is already filling up fast.  

On Chof Zayin Adar II they launched their 24 hour Charidy campaign   It got of to a strong start, but very quickly the momentum began to slow and by the evening seemed to have stalled.  The Bochurim remained on the phones all night calling Anash and friends around the world at all time zones and by the late morning, with just two hours to go, a miracle seemed to happen when they were totally inundated with incoming calls and donations.  The campaign ended with an unexpected bonus round exceeding their $300,000 goal by over $20,000.

With 539 online donors and many more offline, Charidy’s team said "the campaign's outcomes showed that this was one of the most successful campaigns, along with the sheer number of donors which was higher than average”.

From a post by Rabbi Gil Hami, the Yeshiva’s Menahel, at the end of the campaign:

...there are no words for me to describe the deep gratitude I am feeling right now.  Gatitude to Hashem, to the Rebbe, and to each and every one of you.  I am totally overwhelmed by the caring and sharing of so many people - family, friends, and even total strangers.  You are all amazing!  I am proud to be part of the Jewish people who are all so interconnected.  We received so much support from all across the spectrum. Religous, non religous, Chassidim, secular, Lubavitchers, Israelis, Americans, Almuni and friends, and everyone else!  !מי כעמך ישראל Who is like Your nation Israel! We are truly one people and the things that unite us are so much more and greater than our differences.   Let's unite to continue increasing in acts of goodness and kindness and overwhelm the world with holiness and goodness to bring Moshiach Now! 

Mesivta Lev Tmimim Lubavitch is till accepting applications for 5777 for Shiur Aleph and Beis and can be reached at

Photos can be downloaded here.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Beis Nissan Farbrengen

There will be a farbrengen in honor of ב' ניסן on Sunday night, April 10th, at Tzemach Tzedek, after 8:30 Maariv.

Davening Times for the week of Parshas Metzorah for Tzemach Tzedek

Shacharis - Sunday                                                                                     8:00, 9:00am

Shacharis - Monday thru Friday                                                         6:50, 7:00, 8:00am

Mincha - Sunday thru Thursday                                                                  7:00, 7:20pm

Maariv - Sunday thru Thursday                                                          8:10, 8:30, 9:30pm

Friday, April 8, 2016

Touger Bris

Rabbi Yossi and Sara Michal Touger will be making the Bris for their son this Sunday, ב ניסן April 10th, at Congregation Beis Menachem, 360 route 306, at 12:30 p.m.

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman

This week’s Parsha Perspective is dedicated by Mr. Binyomin Philipson in memory of his late mother Mrs. Ellen (Elka bas Zisel) Philipson OBM

Did you know that it is possible for a person to be murdered and not even know about it, even carrying on life as usual?

How can this be? This week’s Torah reading (Tazria [Leviticus] 12:1-13:59)) speaks of the affliction known as tzara’at. The commentators explain that tzara’at (a word uncannily similar to tzores!) was a punishment for the transgression of speaking lashon hara. Lashon hara, translated literally, means “the evil tongue” or “evil speech,” which includes slander, gossip and rumors, among other things.

As the old British wartime adage goes, “Careless talk costs lives.” The Talmud relates in the name of Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmani: “Why is the evil tongue called a thrice-slaying tongue? Because it kills three people: the person speaking, the person spoken to, and the person being spoken about.” It may not kill them physically, but it is character assassination.

Maimonides adds a further dimension: sometimes a person may say something that is not quite slander or gossip. Yet, as his statement passes from person to person, it eventually does cause harm, trouble, fright or hurt to the party being spoken about.

For example, even praising a person, if done in front of that person’s enemy who is liable to react negatively, could come under the category of slander or gossip.

Orchot Tzadikim (“Ways of the Righteous” an anonymous book on Jewish ethics written in Germany in the 15th century) comments: “Before you speak, you are the master of your words. After you speak, your words master you.” How often we feel imprisoned by our own words after we have said something that we wish we hadn’t or know we shouldn’t have.

The Midrash relates that Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel asked his servant, Tavi, to buy him something good from the market. The servant returned with some tongue. Rabbi Shimon then asked his servant to buy something bad from the market. The servant returned with more tongue. “How can this be? I asked you to buy something good, you bought tongue; I asked you to buy something bad, you also bought tongue?” Replied Tavi, “It has good and bad. When it is good, it has a lot of goodness. When it is bad, it is very bad.”

We speak thousands of words every day. Words have enormous power. May we merit to use them only for good purposes.

(Excerpts from - from Rabbi Mordechai Wollenberg)

May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Shiur on Hadran with Rabbi YY Jacobson Part 5

The Hadran shiur with Rabbi YY Jacobson will continue tonight at 8:30 at his home, 7 Fieldcrest Drive.

Mazel Tov Blochs!

Mazel Tov to Sharshi and Malka Borisute on the birth of a girl.

Mazel Tov to Chaim and Devorah Bloch on the birth of their first grandchild.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Davening Times for the week of Parshas Tazriah for Tzemach Tzedek

Shacharis - Sunday                                                                                     8:00, 9:00am

Shacharis - Monday thru Friday                                                         6:50, 7:00, 8:00am

Mincha - Sunday thru Thursday                                                                  7:00, 7:15pm

Maariv - Sunday thru Thursday                                                          8:00, 8:30, 9:30pm

Friday, April 1, 2016

MBCM Production This Sunday

The MBCM Production isTHIS SUNDAY AT 7:30 PM in Spring Valley High, 361 Route 59. 

Take a break from Pesach cleaning to enjoy a stunning show by our talented high school girls. 

Parshas Shemini-Parah Schedule for Tzemach Tzedek

The following is the Tzemach Tzedek schedule for Shabbos Mevarchim Parshas Shemini -  Parah:

Friday - ערב ש"ק

Licht Bentchen                                                                                                7:03pm

Mincha                                                                                                             7:19pm

Kabbolas Shabbos                                                                            approx. 7:50pm

Kiddush not before 8:00pm

שבת קודש

Tehillim - Shabbos Mevorchim                                                                       8:30am

Sof Zman Krias Shma                                                                                      9:48am

Shacharis                                                                                                          10:00am

Kiddush/Farbrengen following Davening

Minchah Gedolah                                                                                            1:32pm
Rov's Halochoh Shiur                                                                                      6:20pm

Minchah                                                                                                            7:05pm

Motzoei Shabbos/Maariv                                                                               8:05pm

!א גוטען שבת

הַקְהֵל אֶת־הָעָם הָאֲנָשִׁים וְהַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף ... לְמַעַן יִשְׁמְעוּ וּלְמַעַן יִלְמְדוּ וְיָרְאוּ אֶת־ה' אֱלֹקֵיכֶם

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman

This week’s Parsha Perspective is dedicated by Mr. Binyomin Philipson in memory of his late mother Mrs. Ellen (Elka bas Zisel) Philipson OBM

Sept. 11, 1941:

In Arlington, Virginia, the U.S. Department of Defense starts construction on its new headquarters, the Pentagon.

On the same day, a new immigrant to the U.S., Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, later known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe, writes in his private journal concerning two traits that make a moral and productive human being: “fins” and “scales.”

A few days later, the German army captures Kiev, capital of the Ukraine, and massacres 100,000 people in a ravine named Babi Yar.

Sept. 11, 2001:

The world is shocked when passenger airliners crash into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, killing thousands.

In this week's Torah portion (Shmeinei  [Leviticus] 9:1-11:47) is the passage:  “This may you eat of all that is in the waters: everything that has fins and scales, you may eat. But anything that has no fins and scales, you may not eat.”(11:9-10)

Kabbalah teaches that the physical attributes of fish, and of all animals, reflect their psychological and spiritual qualities. Therefore, when one eats the flesh of a particular creature, the “personality” of that creature affects the person in some way.

On September 11, 1941, the Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote in his journal:

As the armor that protects the body of the fish, scales represent the quality of integrity, which protects us from the many pitfalls that life presents. A man of integrity will not deceive his customers, in spite of the financial profits involved. He will not lie to a friend, despite the short-term gain from doing so. He will not cheat on his wife, in the face of tremendous temptation. Integrity means that one has absolute standards of right and wrong and is committed to a morality that transcends one’s moods and desires.

Fins, the wing-like organs that propel fish forward, represent ambition. A healthy sense of ambition, knowing one’s strengths and wanting to utilize them in full, to maximize his or her G‑d-given potential. It propels us to fulfill our dreams and leave our unique imprint on the world.

Which of these two qualities is more important to cultivate in life—fins or scales? What ought to be the main function of education? Should we concentrate primarily on providing our children with the confidence and skills necessary for them to become accomplished human beings? Or ought we to focus more on raising children with principles, teaching them that it is more important to do right than it is to do well? Are the two equally significant?

The Talmud teaches that all fish that have scales also have fins, but that there are fish that have fins but no scales, and that such fish are not kosher. Symbolically, this means that a human being who possesses ambition but lacks integrity is “unkosher.” Such a person may be full of confidence, driven to make an impact on society. Yet educating ambitious and confident children does not guarantee their moral health.

On the other hand, the Talmud tells us that all fish with scales have fins. While integrity is fundamental, ambition is also important. By mentioning fins as one of the signs of a kosher fish, the Torah teaches us that it is not enough to maintain our own integrity; we must also have a positive effect on the world. The lesson of the Talmud is that if we teach our children to approach life with awe before truth, with an unyielding commitment to serve a transcendent, moral G‑d, they will certainly succeed and develop “fins” as well. Regardless of their other abilities, they will find the drive to improve themselves and to make the world a better place.

The events of September 2001, like those of September 1941, dramatically altered our view of the world. They demonstrated the destructiveness of people with fierce ambition and zeal whose morality is corrupt. In his diary entry of September 11, 1941, the Rebbe was emphasizing that if we don’t want evil to triumph, we must stand up with great determination against human fish who possess fins but lack scales.

(Excerpts from – By Rabbi Yosef Y. Jacobson)

May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!