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Mar 26, 2001, 6:45:02 AM3/26/01


Just as the birthday of a people is celebrated each year with
rites and a ritual, so, too, the birthday of an individual Jew
should be appropriately observed. An individual's birthday can be
utilized to strengthen and increase all aspects of Judaism,
starting with Jewish studies, prayer and charity. These good
practices should be observed on the birthday and good resolutions
for the future should be accepted.

Most importantly, invite your family and friends for a festive
gathering (to celebrate the mitzvah) on your birthday and the
joyous party will encourage others to accept good resolutions. The
happiness that is generated will imbue your future observance with
enthusiasm and zeal.

One's birthday is a time for reflection, when one should
earnestly remember and think about those aspects of his or her life
needing improvement, and make good resolutions for the future.

Children should be taught the spiritual importance of a birthday
and they should celebrate with their friends in a way that they
will increase Torah, mitzvot, and good resolutions. Small children
will be even more impressed by this suggestion and will be more
enthusiastic in carrying it out.


The following are the "Chabad Birthday Customs and
Practices:" [1]

1. It is customary to have an aliya--be called to the Torah, on
the Shabbat preceding your birthday. When the birthday occurs
on a day that the Torah is read you should also be called to
the Torah on that day.

2. On your Birthday increase your contribution to tzeddakah--
charity before the morning and afternoon services. When the
birthday is on Shabbat or Yom Tov--give the extra charity
before Shabbat or Yom Tov (preferably--also after).

3. Put more time and effort into your prayer. Pray with greater
concentration, meditate on the greatness of the Creator and
put more intensity in your recitation of Tehillim--Psalms as
well. (If possible, read at least one complete book of

4. Study the psalm which corresponds to your new age, and which
you will be saying daily through the coming year. (E.g. when
one reaches the age of 20 he begins reciting Psalm 21.)

5. In addition to your regular, daily Torah study periods--on
your birthday study an extra lesson in the revealed Torah--
Nigleh, and the esoteric teachings--Chasidus. This is in
addition to the daily quota of Chumash, Tehillim, Tanya and

6. Study a Chasidic discourse by heart (or at least a part
thereof) and review it in the presence of a group of people
on the birthday. This may also be done at another auspicious
time in connection with your birthday; especially at the
Shalosh Seudah--third meal--of the following Shabbat.

7. Reach out to your fellow Jews and teach them Torah and
Chasidus, with true ahavas Yisroel.

8. Isolate yourself in seclusion for a while on the day of your
birthday and retrospectively review your conduct for the past
year--see what needs repentance and improvement, and make
good resolutions for the future years.

9. Accept upon yourself some new act of piety or more zealous
observance in some area of action--all within your grasp.

10.Celebrate a happy party with your family and friends in
honor of your birthday--give praise and thanks to the Holy
One, Blessed Be He, -- if possible say the blessing of
"Shehecheyanu" on a new fruit--with happiness and the joy of
a mitzvah.
1. Adapted from "Sefer Haminhagim"--The Book of Chabad-Lubavitch
Customs, published by Kehot Publication Society, 770 Eastern
Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11213.


Would you consider turning your yard into a petting zoo complete
with a camel, a draft horse, a bull, ponies, two llamas, a yak, a
goat, a chicken, a turtle and a boa constrictor? One grandmother
did, for the joint first birthday celebration of her two
granddaughters. The $1,200 price tag included entertainment, gifts
and 102 Dalmations decorations. Or maybe your child would prefer a
catered birthday party with a clown, pony rides, a horse and a
fountain spewing apple juice?

These are just two examples of birthday parties that, as one
psychologist notes, "set up lifelong expectations that might be
unrealistic. It is important on birthdays to help a child avoid
valuing materialism over family and friends."

In a drive to reinstate good, old-fashioned values and, at the
same time, keep expenditures down, many parents are opting to get
off the birthday bandwagon while they still can.

So far, so good. But you're probably wondering what birthdays
have to do with Judaism. The notion that there's nothing Jewish
about birthdays is so prevelant that a prominent and knowledgeable
Jewish radio show host and writer recently wrote that there is no
inherent meaning in birthdays within Judaism.

Thirteen years ago, the Rebbe initiated an innovative campaign
to make birthdays meaningful for both children and adults. The
Rebbe encouraged people to celebrate their birthdays in the
traditional Jewish manner.

Jewish teachings explain that a birthday is a time when mazalo
gover--the particular spiritual source of a person's soul shines
most powerfully. The Divine energy that was present at the time of
your birth is once more present and dynamic on the anniversary of
your birth each year.

Therefore, your birthday is a perfect time to enhance the
quality of your life in the year to come. Things you can do on your
birthday to get the most out of your soul-power include spending
time in self-evaluation, making a positive resolution for the
coming year, giving charity, studying Torah, and organizing a
birthday party with friends and family. At the gathering make sure
to share with friends some of what you learned on your birthday.

After hearing about the Rebbe's suggestions for birthdays, one
public school teacher was so taken with this meaningful way to
celebrate that she incorporated some of these recommendations into
her students' classroom birthday parties. She asked each child to
make a positive resolution and to share with the other students
something meaningful and valuable they had recently learned.


All of us look forward eagerly to the times when we have "good
luck." You might be surprised to know, however, that in fact we
have such a day. Our Sages tell us that on our birthday our luck is

Thirteen years ago, the Rebbe called upon all of us to utilize
this special day in our lives by making a gathering of family and
friends. The Rebbe's call is in accordance with the Midrash that
says, "And we rejoice on that day and make a celebration." At this
celebration--gathering, the Rebbe suggests we make good decisions,
resolutions and commitments for our New Year.

As to those of us who may be afraid to make new commitments, we
can only offer the following story that the Rebbe once told:

"A man made a commitment to give a sum of money to charity that
he simply could not afford. Yet, after he made the pledge, he found
that he was given new sources of business that hadn't been
available to him before. He was then able to make good on his
promise, and, much, much more."

The Rebbe explained that "this man was given new sources because
he made the commitment."

Birthdays are most definitely a proper time to make these new
resolutions and commitments. For, certainly if we make new
commitments to increase in time given to a particular mitzvah,
project, or charity, the Al-mighty will in turn, give us the time,
energy, or money needed to fulfill that commitment.

And, what's more, the Al-mighty will do so "His way," in His
bountiful measure of goodness and kindness.

Our birthday will indeed be our luckiest day of the year!


How will you celebrate your next birthday? Hardly a question you
would consider of deep, religious significance, right! Yet, on a
birthday Judaism says there is a lot to celebrate, even if you have
turned thirty-something.

Our Sages tell us that on a birthday our mazal--good fortune, is
strong. Generally, when our fortune is strong, it's a great
opportunity to make bold moves. So why not contemplate some new

We can use this transitional time to take stock of our
achievements to date, make new beginnings, and accept new
commitments for the year ahead.

On the anniversary of our birth, we embark on a New Year, a new
stage in our development. Take advantage of this occasion and
arrange a birthday gathering. But not just your average birthday
party with food, drinks and music--though that, of course, can be a
part of the celebration. Spend some of the time in the company of a
few of your closest friends. Be introspective, explore the state of
your spiritual life, and set your Jewish house even more in order.

Just be sure the party isn't all talk and no action. Start
fulfilling some of the good resolutions you'll probably come up
with right there. And do something practical, like making a
contribution to a charitable cause.

* * *

Mr. D. is a highly successful businessman. Like many others, he
always thought birthday parties were only for children.

When he heard, however, that the Rebbe has been encouraging
people to make birthday celebrations, he said to himself, "I'm
going to have one. After all, if I tell my friends the Rebbe is
requesting it, they will realize I'm not expecting presents."

Mr. D. called his friends; they all came, and had a wonderful
time. During the height of the reception, he spoke. He thanked his
friends for coming and then said, "It is customary to bring gifts
to a birthday party. I know that you're all good friends. I know,
too, that if I asked you for a birthday gift, you'd give me
whatever I wanted. So, I'm going to take this opportunity to ask
you all for a present."

A heavy silence fell on the room until he began to speak again.
"I will ask each of you to do something good in honor of this day.
I will not tell you what to do; I depend on your good judgment and
friendship. I am sure you will pick something appropriate."

As the guests were leaving, one of them came over to him and
said, "This was the best birthday party I ever attended. It was
such a pleasure."

Let us all try to instill the same type of enthusiasm into our
birthday celebrations as Mr. D. did, and certainly then our guests
will react in a similar manner.


By Rabbi Yossi Tewel

It was 1971. My grandmother was in Maimonides Hospital in
Brooklyn. At the time we had no experience with hospitals and

At our annual yechidut--private audience--with the Rebbe, my
father (o.b.m.) handed the Rebbe a note asking, amongst other
things, what we could do for my grandmother. The Rebbe looked at us
with a big smile and asked, "Whose birthday is it today?" No one
responded; as far as we knew it wasn't any family member's
birthday. The Rebbe glanced at the note and once more he asked with
a smile, "Whose birthday is it?" Again, no one responded.

The Rebbe then said to my father, "In connection with your
mother, there is a precious young man named Yudel Keller. His
father has connections at Maimonides Hospital. Call him when you
leave my office (it was about 2:45 a.m.) and ask him in my name to
do the maximum he can."

When we left the yechidut my father did as the Rebbe had said.
Then he thought about the Rebbe's question as to whose birthday it
was. What with the hardships of life in Poland and the Holocaust,
he did not know the date of his Jewish birthday.

The next day, at the hospital, my father asked his mother when
he was born. She said his birthday was the 18th of Av. It should
come as no surprise that that very day was the 18th of Av! My
father quickly went back to "770" (World Lubavitch Headquarters).
Before the afternoon prayers, when the Rebbe saw my father, he
smiled broadly. My father said, "Rebbe! I know whose birthday it is
today, mine!" The Rebbe again blessed my father and encouraged him
to fulfill the customs of a Jewish birthday, including having an
aliya, studying extra Torah, giving extra charity, etc.

In 1988 I became involved with various Bikur Cholim
organizations (for the welfare of the sick). I became acquainted
with a number of doctors, including a Jewish doctor who is an
authority on radiation oncology. Whenever we met, Dr. R. always
asked me questions about Lubavitch and the Rebbe.

A few years passed. When the Rebbe had a stroke on the 27th of
Adar I, 5752 (March 2, 1992), Dr. R. asked me what would become of
the Rebbe's prophecies. I assured him that whatever the Rebbe said
would come true.

Near the end of the summer, I came to Dr. R.'s office to show
him an MRI. I had planned on leaving the test with the secretary
and phoning later for the busy doctor's opinion. I was shocked when
the doctor called out, "Tewel, you're here! I need you!" Dr. R.
told his secretaries to hold all calls as he ushered me into his
office. "Tell me about Rabbi Schneerson," he said. "Is he really as
big as they make him out to be?"

"Whatever you've heard about the Rebbe," I told Dr. R., "is just
the tip of the iceberg. But the Rebbe's greatness doesn't come from
the fact that he is a prophet or does miracles. It is much more
than that. The word 'Rebbe' stands for 'Rosh B'nei Yisrael'--the
head of the Jewish people...".

Dr. R. asked me to tell him a few miracles of the Rebbe that
"defy gravity," as the doctor put it. I told him a few stories but
I emphasized to Dr. R. that the Rebbe concerns himself with every
Jew. Then I told the doctor about my father and his birthday.

I explained to Dr. R. that a number of years ago (in 1988), the
Rebbe came out with a campaign to celebrate one's Jewish birthday.
I told him that a birthday is a personal Rosh HaShanah. He asked me
if I could tell him when his Jewish birthday is. "Sure," I said,
promptly dialing the number of a computer program for just that
purpose. Moments later I turned to Dr. R. and said, "Happy
birthday. Today, the 13th of Elul, is your Jewish birthday!"

The doctor was flabbergasted. But he was even more surprised
when I abruptly told him that I had to run to another appointment
but would return later.

I called my brother Pinye (Pinchos) and we put together a
mini-birthday farbrengen (gathering). Fifteen minutes later we
returned to Dr. R.'s office. He was delighted and touched when we
told him we were going to celebrate his birthday. The doctor took a
yarmulka--skullcap--out of his drawer, made a blessing on the
birthday cake, and we shared Torah thoughts.

Finally, Dr. R. said, "I'll tell you why I asked so many
questions about Rabbi Schneerson. I have a non-Jewish colleague. He
called me this morning at 4 a.m. 'Rabbi Schneerson came to me in a
dream,' he told me excitedly. He related that he had happened upon
one of the Rebbe's televised talks. 'I don't understand Yiddish but
I was mesmerized by Rabbi Schneerson. I always watched his
televised talks. When I heard that he had a stroke,' my colleague
said, 'I called the Rabbi's office and offered my services.'

"My friend," continued Dr. R., "sent the Rebbe a get-well card
and in the card asked the Rebbe ten questions, both personal and
work related. He also wrote that he hoped that very soon the Rebbe
would recover and would be able to answer the questions. One week
passed, two weeks passed, and there was no response, not even an
acknowledgement from the Rebbe's office. My colleague became very

" 'I was sleeping,' my colleague continued, 'and I dreamt that I
saw Rabbi Schneerson! When he saw me he broke into a beautiful
smile. 'Thank you for your good wishes,' the Rabbi told me. 'There
is no reason to be upset.' Then he started answering my questions
one by one. I woke up in a cold sweat. I remembered every word he
said and everything made perfect sense. I couldn't fall back
asleep,' my colleague concluded, 'so I called you.'

"That is why I wanted to speak with you today to find out what
you think about this," Dr. R. told us.

I told the doctor that if his friend had the privilege of
communicating with the Rebbe and of recognizing the Rebbe's
greatness, then he had a responsibility to share his experience
with others.

A month later I ran into Dr. R. at a Sukkot fair during the
intermediate days of the holiday. "Yossi, since you told me about
the Rebbe I haven't been the same. Before Rosh HaShanah I bought
myself a talit--prayer shawl--and went to shul on both days. I
fasted on Yom Kippur. I bought a lulav and etrog for Sukkot. And
now I've brought my grandchildren here so they can see thousands of
Jews enjoying the festival."

This past year, on the 13th of Elul, my brother and I called Dr.
R.'s office to wish him a happy birthday. "Thank you so much for
your good wishes, how did you remember?" he asked. "How could I
forget?" was my response.

Thirty years ago, with a simple question to a simple chosid, the
Rebbe started a chain of events that continues bearing fruit to
this day.


The Rebbe's slogan is: "The main thing is the deed." We
therefore present from the Rebbe's talks suggestions what we
can do to complete his work of bringing the Redemption.

Celebrate Your Birthday

This Tuesday, the 25th of Adar (March 20), marks the 100th year
since the birth of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, the Rebbe's wife. On
this day in 5748/1988, in connection with her 87th birthday (about
a month after her passing, on 22 Shevat), the Rebbe spoke about the
significance of birthdays and the importance of celebrating them by
gathering together with friends and relatives. The Rebbe said:

"A Jew has the ability to utilize his birthday, instead of
letting it pass as just another day, he can make it a holiday with
emphasis on more Torah and mitzvot. One's birthday is a time for
reflection, when one may remember and think about those aspects of
his life, which need improvement and repentance. This should be
achieved by increasing Torah and prayer on the birthday, as well as
charity and other mitzvot. Add to this a happy gathering of family
and friends with the goal of accepting good resolutions, and the
power of the birthday will guarantee the fulfillment of the good
promises in the future.

"A birthday is a day in which one's mazal or fortune is
strongest. On one's birthday one can rejoice in the knowledge that
on this day his soul descended to this world in order to serve G-d
through Torah and mitzvot."


To find out when your birthday falls on the Jewish calendar,
call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center, [2] or visit:
for a "Hebrew/English Calendar" and type in your civil birthday.
You'll be given the corresponding date on the Jewish calendar and
when it occurs this year.

Children can join the "The Jewish Birthday Club."

Celebrate your birthday in a traditional Jewish manner,
de-emphasizing the materialism and concentrating instead on family,
friends and spiritual growth.
2. For a listing of the Centers in your area:

In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).

* In loving memory of *
* Ben Horav Avrohom Yehoshua Marlow, *
* head of the Bet-Din (Rabbinical *
* Court) of Crown Heights, *
* Passed away, on Friday Morning, *
* 20 Sivan, 5760 (June 23, 2000) *

* *

* *

* *

= End of Text: Living With Moshiach, 25 Adar, 5761 =

Yosef Shagalov, Editor Virtual Jerusalem, Ltd.
Moshiach "The Jewish World from the Heart of Israel"

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