Once, R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the Alter Rebbe, founder of the Chabad -Lubavitch movement, told his chassidim: “We have to live with the times.”

The chassidim, trained as they were in holding fast to the unchanging standards of the Torah despite the shifting patterns of contemporary life, reacted with puzzlement. They asked R. Yehudah Leib, R. Zalman’s brother, to find out what the Rebbe had meant.

In reply, the Rebbe answered that he had meant that the chassidim should “live with the weekly Torah portion.” Now the Rebbe was not merely stating that the chassidim should study the weekly Torah portion. That was a given, required by Jewish law. What he meant was that they should integrate their lives with the lessons of the weekly portion, that it should be studied not as an abstract, theoretical text, but as a collection of practical and down-to-earth suggestions for living a more meaningful and satisfying life.

As a person tries to “live with the times” in this manner, he gains the awareness that the Torah is not a “religious” book. It is not merely an assortment of dos and don’ts regulating observance. It is a book which penetrates to the core of our beings and helps us live more In Touch with ourselves, our families, and the people and situations around us.

That’s the type of book, everybody would like to read.

Unfortunately, we don’t always understand the Torah in such a manner. Too often, we interpret it with a narrow, parochial slant. And then we’re surprised when people tell us that they don’t relate to what we’re saying.

The Rebbe didn’t let you look at the Torah that way. Torah was real for him, alive. And he made it real and alive for others. He kept you In Touch.

In presenting this sampler based on his teachings, we wanted to provide a reader with tools. The Shabbos table is an important touchstone for Jewish life. It’s a time where the entire family get together and share in a meaningful experience. At that time, it is customary to share a thought from the weekly Torah portion.

When two Jewish businessmen meet, wouldn’t it be nice for them to have a message of serious content to share: For these and similar situations, we composed the In Touch.

We wanted to provide a Torah message that spoke from the heart, that was straightforward, easy to read and easy to relate to. We want the message to be short, but with content. By no means did we want to produce a scholarly text. Indeed, to prevent the text from looking scholarly, we dispensed with references, sources, and footnotes. Although these can enhance the comprehension of the depth of a text, they often hinder its readability. The impression they create is itself a message.

We wanted to make the Torah’s teachings – and the Rebbe’s insights on them – accessible to the broadest possible audience. We wanted it to be easy reading, so we sacrificed these scholarly trappings.

A word of clarification is necessary. It is difficult to write “he or she” all the time. The Torah’s teachings are for women as much as they are for men. Using the term “he,” should not be considered as restrictive. Instead, it should be understood as applying to all people, regardless of gender.

Ideas lead to actions. Appreciating the guidance the Torah can grant us helps us mold our lives in that direction. Understanding the values and principles the Torah teaches encourages us to apply them. Simply put, that means doing one more mitzvah and/or extending oneself one more step to help our fellow man.

Making such changes in our personal lives will lead to changes in the world at large. When the Rebbe accepted his position, he stated that our generation has the mission of bringing Mashiach. That wasn’t a dream. It was the vision of a leader who set a goal for himself and his people. That vision is very real today. As we look at the developments in science and technology, we cannot help but acknowledge how Messianic the world is beginning to look. Our parents – and indeed, ten or fifteen years ago, we ourselves – could never have dreamed of all the comforts and conveniences we have or the abundance of benefits available to us. What is lacking is only the human element, that we be more In Touch with who we are and what G‑d intended us to do.

And so, let’s Keep In Touch.

What Is In Touch

In Touch is a bi-weekly fax-service which communicates a message inspired by the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, focusing on the weekly Torah readings and the Jewish holidays. It is faxed out without cost or obligation to anyone who desires to be included among the recipients.

It is written by the noted author and translator, Eliyahu Touger, and edited by Yossi Malamud.

To Keep In Touch and receive this free service either call 718-363-1619, or send a fax (on company letterhead if applicable) with your name, address, telephone and fax number to 718-953-9720 or 718-735-5464.

In Thanks

Compiling the In Touch is a team effort involving the efforts of many individuals. Deserving of special acknowledgment are my mother, Rosalynn Malamud, for her daily assistance in editing a product worthy of taking pride in, and my wife, Kayli, who has given of her time - and borne with my late hours - to make sure every member of the In Touch fax list receives their bi-weekly inspiration on time.

A chassid does not thank his Rebbe. On the other hand, there is no way to conclude without acknowledging his constant contribution. The In Touch is not “established in his memory,” nor is merely “a way to perpetuate his teachings.” We view it as our way of staying In Touch with him and with the mission he gave us: to prepare ourselves and the world for the coming of Mashiach Now.

Yossi Malamud
Fax A Sicha

Crown Heights, New York
Erev Gimmel Tammuz, 5758