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Rabbi Sholom Dovber Wolpo
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G-D’S RETURN WITH THE JEWISH PEOPLE FROM EXILE
Translated by Boruch Merkur
1. Rashi questions the wording of the verse, “G-d, your L-rd, will return (with) your captivity,”1 saying, “The verse should have read, ‘He will return your captivity.’” The intent here, in Rashi’s analysis, is: a) Instead of saying, “V’shav” ((He) will return (Himself) [i.e., in the reflexive tense]), the verse should have said, “V’heishiv” (He will return (your captivity)); b) Why does it say, “G-d, your L-rd”?2 Prior3 to this verse it says that the necessary preface and cause for “V’shav” [i.e., the resulting “return” of your captivity] is, “You shall return to G-d, your L-rd,” defining a causal relationship, measure for measure. That is, if “You shall return (to G-d, your L-rd), then “(He) will return, etc.” Thus, it is apparent4 that the return (whether it is “V’shav” [i.e., G-d should cause Himself to return] or “V’heishiv” [i.e., G-d should return others, namely, “your captivity,” the exiles of the Jewish people]) refers to “G-d, your L-rd,” the Holy One Blessed Be He. Rashi answers [the question he posed regarding the unusual occurrence of the word “V’shav”]: “Our Rabbis5 learned from here6 that the Divine Presence resides with the Jewish people, as it were, amidst the suffering of their exile. But He has inscribed redemption for Himself when they are to be redeemed, for He will return with them.” We must understand the following: a) Earlier, in the Torah portion Shmos,7 Rashi had already remarked that the fact that G-d appeared to Moshe Rabbeinu “from amidst the [burning] bush” is “because ‘I am with him [i.e., the Jewish people] in [their] suffering.’” How then could Rashi say here that we learn this for the first time “from here” that the Divine Presence resides with the Jewish people amidst the suffering of their exile when we already know this from the portion Shmos? b) “I am with him in suffering” is an explicit verse8 [in Tanach]. Thus, it is unnecessary to learn this concept “from here” from an analysis of another verse.8* c) In the verse, “G-d, your L-rd, will return,” it says only that G-d returns from exile. Where does Rashi infer the emphasis that “the Divine Presence resides with the Jewish people...amidst the suffering of their exile”? From this verse we only know that the Divine Presence is with them9; not that He is with them in suffering per se, a concept that is apparent in the verse, “I am with him in suffering,” or the verse, “Amidst all their suffering, He suffers.”10 d) Since Rashi remarks that “the Divine Presence resides with the Jewish people...amidst the suffering of their exile,” it is already clear, necessarily, that when the Jewish people leave exile, the Divine Presence will also leave exile.11 Why must Rashi make specific reference to the fact that “when they are to be redeemed, etc., He will return with them”? e) Even if Rashi wants to mention this explicitly (notwithstanding the fact that it is seemingly selfunderstood) in order to elucidate the terminology, “G-d, your L-rd, will return,”12 he should have only said, “when they are redeemed, He will return with them.” What is his intent with the words, “He has inscribed redemption for Himself”? 2. Rashi continues after the citation quoted above: “Moreover, we could say that that the day of the ingathering of the exiles is so great and with so much strife that it is as if He personally needs to literally hold the hand of every single person [to extract each one] from his place [in exile], as the concept is expressed in the verse, ‘You, the Jewish people, shall be gathered one by one.’13 Indeed, this concept is also found with regard to the gentile nations, as it is said, ‘I shall return the returnees of the Ammonite people.’”14 The following must be
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understood: a) Why must Rashi utilize two explanations? The fact that Rashi does not suffice with [the latter part of his response, beginning with the words], “Moreover, we could say,” can, at first glance, be explained, as follows. The words, “G-d, your L-rd, will return” (meaning that G-d will return, as it were, from exile) suggest that He is found in exile, as it were, even prior to the time of “(He) will return,”16 and not only that He will go there on “the day of the ingathering of the exiles” in order to extract the Jewish people from there. Thus, there is a need for the explanation “that the Divine Presence resides with the Jewish people, as it were, amidst the suffering of their exile, etc.”17 However, the following is still not understood. Why does Rashi need, “Moreover, we could say, etc.,” not sufficing with the first explanation?18 b) The verse speaks about the redemption of Jews. Why then does Rashi conclude with, “Indeed, this concept is also found with regard to the gentile nations, etc.”?2 c) The quandary is even more puzzling. In order to cite proof that G-d will take every individual out of exile, it would have sufficed for Rashi to quote the words, “You…shall be gathered one by one,” omitting the words, “the Jewish people,” which appear at the end of the sentence [in the original Hebrew, making it seemingly extraneous here]. This inclusion indicates that Rashi wants to emphasize that the fact that “He personally needs to literally hold the hand of every single person [to extract each one] from his place [in exile]” is also applicable to the Jewish people [and not just the gentile nations]. (The latter is also inferred from the verse that is central to our discussion, “G-d, your L-rd, will return (with) your
captivity” (according to the second interpretation), as follows. The fact that “He personally needs to literally hold the hand of every single person, etc.” is in virtue of the fact that G-d is “your L-rd.”3) If so, why does Rashi follow this with, “Indeed, this concept is also found with regard to the gentile nations, etc.”? d) Why is the lengthy discussion, requiring proofs from the works of the Prophets, etc., relevant here? e) What does Rashi intend to add with the word “literally,”4 thereby negating the usual interpretation of G-d’s “hand,” mentioned in his commentary on the Torah portion VaEs’chanan?21*
Jewish people, even9 during the time of exile. The fact that it is apparent to all that G-d gives special attention to them [protecting them] – being one sheep among seventy wolves, but it remains safe10 – illustrates that G-d is with the Jewish people (as learned earlier regarding the exile to Egypt, the first (and root11) of all exiles, “The L-rd will be with you”12). An example of the latter concept is what is said of the Jewish people when they are redeemed: “the Divine Presence is with them.” It is understood, however, that this concept is distinct from what is referred to in the verse, “G-d, your L-rd, will return (with) your captivity (and not “with you” and the like). The term here (that G-d’s
The concept that G-d is found with the Jewish people in exile in order to protect them from the “seventy wolves,” on the other hand, means the exact opposite! He is there in order to help them; certainly He is not in “exile.”
3. The answers to all these questions will emerge from a prefatory discussion of a concept that is common to all of the Patriarchs5 – that [it was said of them that] G-d is with them. The simple meaning of this statement is as follows. The Patriarchs enjoyed treatment from On High that was beyond the natural order, to the extent that everyone perceived that their success came from G-d.6 Thus,7 the verse emphasizes that G-d was with them (although He is omnipresent – “in the heavens above and upon the earth below”24* – as it is written, “I fill the heavens and the earth”8), meaning that He was with them and He protected them in a manner that was plainly revealed, [for which reason] they experienced [a miraculous degree of] success, etc. The same principle applies to the
“return” occurs with your captives (with your return, returning from exile)), indicates that prior to the redemption, G-d is (restricted, as it were, in the lands of the gentiles, and of consequence) distanced and expelled, as it were, from His “home.”13 The concept that G-d is found with the Jewish people in exile in order to protect them from the “seventy wolves,” on the other hand, means the exact opposite! He is there in order to help them; certainly He is not in “exile.” Thus, Rashi says that here there is a different meaning to “the Divine Presence resides with the Jewish people…amidst the suffering of their exile.” Namely, that He is indeed suffering, as it were, from exile. Therefore, there must be, “G-d, your L-rd, will return (with) your captivity.”
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4. The above discussion sheds light on what Rashi says, “Our Rabbis learned from here, etc.,” notwithstanding the fact that it is (at first glance) an explicit Scriptural verse: “I am with him [i.e., the Jewish people] in [their] suffering.” From the verse, “I am with him in suffering,” we know31 only32 that on account of the great fondness G-d has for the Jewish people, when the Jewish people happen to be in a predicament – may G-d have mercy upon us – G-d is also troubled by it, as it were. (Thus, G-d revealed Himself to Moshe “from amidst the bush” (of prickly thorns), in order to indicate that He shares in the sorrow of the Jewish people.32* That is, He is troubled and “pricked [by a sharp thorn],” as it were, by the suffering of the Jewish people, may G-d have mercy upon us.) The fact that He is troubled by the suffering of the Jewish people still does not mean that He is in exile,33 but only that the suffering and misfortunes of Jews cause Him to suffer.34 However, from here, from this verse (in the portion Nitzavim), “G-d, your L-rd, will return,” our Rabbis derive the teaching “that the Divine Presence resides with the Jewish people, as it were, amidst the suffering of their exile” – the Divine Presence Itself is together with the Jewish people, as it were, in exile.35 5. This line of reasoning, however, begs the following question. Since G-d Himself is “amidst the suffering of their exile” – that is, He too is in exile in the lands of the gentile nations, as it were – how can He redeem Himself together with the Jewish people? Logic clearly dictates and it is readily discerned – even a five-year-old sees – that “a bound person cannot free himself”!36 In response to this question, Rashi says, “He has inscribed redemption for Himself when they are to be redeemed.” Prior to going into exile, He had “inscribed” (for this had occurred once before – in the desert) that when the time that “they are to be redeemed” will arrive, when the Jewish people need to be redeemed from exile, then the [angels called] Sarim (who, together with G-d, rule over the Jewish people, as it were) will have no say36* with regard to [the eventuality that] “G-d, your L-rd, will return.” That is the intent of Rashi with, “He has inscribed redemption for Himself,” meaning that he has “inscribed” [i.e., predestined] for Himself a redemption. One might think that since “He has inscribed redemption for Himself,” when the time for the redemption arrives, G-d Himself will be freed from exile first and only then will He redeem the Jewish people. Rashi, therefore, adds, “He will return with them,” for the event of “G-d, your L-rd, will return” will be “with your captivity,” concurrent with the return of the Jewish people.37 And as long as the ingathering of the exiles of all the Jews has not been completed (even if a single Jew still remains in exile), “the Divine Presence resides with the Jewish people…amidst the suffering of their exile.” 6. After all the above discussion, the following is still not understood. It is true that on account of the fact that “the Divine Presence resides with the Jewish people…amidst the suffering of their exile,” a distinction also emerges with regard to the redemption (that G-d will return from the suffering of exile), however, the innovative concept here is primarily associated with the exile [i.e., G-d resides with the Jewish people amidst their suffering in exile]. Then why does the verse say with regard to the redemption, “(He) will return…your captivity” [suggesting the primacy of the concept of His redemption, unlike the emphasis on the exile in Rashi’s commentary]? For that reason, Rashi continues, “Moreover, we could say” – that the words, “G-d, your L-rd, will return,” signify another concept,38 one that pertains to the ingathering of the exiles (the concept of redemption). Namely, since the ingathering of all the Jewish people, from all the places of exile is a difficult thing to accomplish, therefore, the verse states, “G-d, your L-rd, will return,” for such a great and difficult task can only be accomplished by G-d. 7. However, the latter explanation begs the question of the “five-yearold who begins to learn Scripture”: If the ingathering of the exiles is a difficult task, this difficulty would not be limited strictly to the ingathering of Jewish exiles. (In fact, since the Jewish people are considered as a single person,39 the ingathering of the Jews would be easier than that of the gentiles, l’havdil, who do not have a connection between them.39) Therefore, why does the verse emphasize that the “return” is on account of the fact that “G-d (is) your L-rd”? For that reason, Rashi goes on at length and in detail, quoting the verse: “The day of the ingathering of the exiles is so great and with so much strife that it is as if He personally needs to literally hold the hand of every single person [to extract each one] from his place [in exile], as the concept is expressed in the verse, ‘You, the Jewish people (the concept of extracting each one from his place applies also to Jews40), shall be gathered one by one.’ Indeed, this concept is also found with regard to the gentile nations, as it is said, ‘I shall return the returnees of the Ammonite people’” (since [with regard to the ingathering of the Jewish exiles] it is “so great, etc. (there must be), He personally, etc.”), but this is not so in other cases (that they [i.e., the gentiles] shall be gathered one by one).
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8. Still we must understand the following. All matters are determined by Divine particular providence [i.e., every single detail of events, regardless of how minute and seemingly insignificant – even, for example, the number of times a leaf turns over in the wind as it falls to the ground – is under the supervision and determination of G-d]. Thus, also regarding the “gentile nations” (for example, the Ammonite people, mentioned above) there is Divine particular providence, (that is, not only will the nation (of Amon) in general be returned from exile, but also) determining which people of the nation (of Amon) will be redeemed and in what manner. Therefore, it follows, at first glance, that “hold[ing] the hand of every single person” must also apply to the “gentile nations.” This matter will be clarified by analyzing two diverging streams of thought regarding how far – or to what degree of detail – Divine providence extends. The opinion of Rambam41 is that Divine providence only extends to human beings. In seeming contrast with the Rambam’s view is that of the Baal Shem Tov, who opines that Divine providence applies even to the mineral kingdom, as well as the plant and animal kingdom. However, the following well known insight of Chassidus42 resolves the two approaches, explaining how the statement of the Rambam actually does not contradict the approach of the Baal Shem Tov.43 There are two general manners of providence from Above: a) as it is plainly revealed, b) as it is clothed within the concealment and the garments of nature, and the like. Rambam’s statement – that there is no Divine providence over the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms – only applies to the revealed providence from On High. [That is, only man is governed by revealed Divine providence, whereas the concealed providence from G-d
applies to everything.] Accordingly we can understand why it is said specifically regarding the Jewish people that G-d will “hold the hand of every single person,” notwithstanding the fact that also regarding the exiles of the “gentile nations” it is certain that providence determines whom among them will be redeemed and in what manner. Namely, because the providence that is upon the individual people of the gentile nations is concealed within the garments of nature in a manner that exemplifies the providence extended to the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms,44 being that “You [the Jewish people] are called ‘man,’ but gentile nations are not called ‘man.’”45
extends to the Jewish people always, even amidst the time of exile. However, during the time of the darkness of exile, intellectual contemplation is required to perceive this Divine providence, which was not the case at the time when the Temple stood nor will it be so of the [future Era of] Redemption. Thus, with regard to the concept of redemption, it is “literally [that He] hold[s] the hand” (without any concealment), whereas regarding exile it says, “He will not fail [to grasp you with His hands],” mentioning only “His hands” [not the word “literally,” indicating a concealment of Divine providence]. The latter explanation also sheds light on the use of the word
The specific Divine emanation connected with an individual Jew (whom G-d holds literally by the hand) should go out of exile, notwithstanding the fact that other Jews remain in exile...
Of consequence, when we are speaking about “(He) will return” or “I shall return,” which indicate an action that is overtly recognized as being performed by G-d (as discussed above, at the end of Section 6), the following distinction applies. “I shall return,” referring to the “Ammonite people,” is only regarding the nation in general. Whereas, with regard to the Jewish people, the “(He) will return” also applies to every Jew as an individual (since with regard to every single Jew it is said, “G-d, your L-rd” (Havaya Elokecha) in the singular46 [not the plural, “Havaya Elokeichem]) – “He personally needs to literally hold the hand of every single person…‘You, the Jewish people, shall be gathered one by one.’” Divine particular providence
“literally,” as follows. The Divine providence of “[He] hold[s] the hand,” which is invested within the garments of nature, also applies to the “Ammonite people,” however, without mention of “literally” [a term reserved for the Jewish people, indicating that the Divine providence that extends to Jews is without any concealment]. 9. Expressed in the lexicon of the “wine of the Torah” [i.e., the inner, mystical dimension of the Torah]: According to the above discussion, it is still difficult to understand: Since regarding the ingathering of the Jewish exiles, every individual Jew is significant in the eyes of G-d, it follows that until the last Jew is redeemed, the Divine Presence remains, as it were, “amidst the suffering of their exile.” Thus,
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the following question emerges: How can it be said that G-d redeems the Jewish people in a manner of “hold[ing] the hand of every single person,” for at the time when He “literally hold[s] the hand,” saving a Jew from exile, in a manner of “(He) will return (with) your captivity,” He is saved together with the first Jew from exile?! We must, therefore, say that the level regarding which it says, “He… hold[s] the hand of every single person,” is [only] a contracted and individualized emanation of G-dliness, which, so to speak, is connected with and becomes apportioned to46* every individual Jew. Thus, it is possible that the specific Divine emanation connected with an individual Jew (whom G-d holds literally by the hand) should go out of exile, notwithstanding the fact that other Jews remain in exile.47 Whereas, the redemption of the aspect of the very root [or essence] of the Divine Presence (ikar Sh’china), which transcends division, will only occur when all Jews are redeemed. In fact, the latter point is alluded to in Rashi’s saying, “But He has inscribed redemption for Himself when they are to be redeemed,” as follows. The redemption “for Himself” (l’Atzmo) (the Divine Essence (Atzmus)) will take place “when they are to be redeemed” (“they,” in the plural), when all the Jewish people are redeemed. And as Rashi emphasizes also with the expression, “for He will return with them,” as mentioned above at the end of Section 5. 10. This concept is alluded to in Rashi’s wording of the phrase, “He has inscribed redemption for Himself when they will be redeemed”[in the passive tense]. For, at first glance, it will be readily apparent that the redemption of the Jewish people will be by the hand of G-d, as it is explicitly mentioned in several places and as Rashi mentions (in the section beginning with the words, “Moreover, we could say”), “He personally…hold[s] the hand of every single person.” Why then does Rashi employ the phrase, “when they will be redeemed,” suggesting that they will be redeemed in a manner that is virtually automatic (instead of, “when He redeems them” [which would emphasize the role of G-d in the process of redemption])? The answer emerges from a discussion49 of two different descriptions of G-d’s Creation. Creation, as it is attributed to G-d’s name Elokim, is described as being [active], “Elokim created,” whereas Creation as it is associated with the aspect of G-d signified by the word “He,” [with its connotation of being] hidden and concealed, is described as: “He commanded and they were created” [in the passive tense]. The aspect of Divinity that is connected with redeeming every Jew individually, “every single person from his place [in exile],” comes about through “His hands, etc.” [insofar as He “hold[s] the hand of every single person”], and thus it is self-evident that it is G-d Who “holds the hand, etc.” Whereas, when speaking of how “(He has inscribed redemption for) Himself,” signifying the very Essence of G-d, which will occur “when they will be redeemed,” the complete redemption of the entire Jewish body50 – at that level, “they will be redeemed” in a manner that is virtually automatic. 11. Another concept is alluded to in the commentary of Rashi we are discussing: Notwithstanding the fact that the concept of “He has inscribed redemption for Himself when they will be redeemed” will take place after the completion of “He…literally hold[s] the hand of every single person [to extract each one] from his place [in exile],” nevertheless, Rashi first mentions the concept of “when they will be redeemed, etc.” and only then “He…literally hold[s] the hand of every single person, etc.” The reason for this [counterintuitive] order is that the redemption of the entire Jewish people is the purpose51 that brings to “He…literally hold[s] the hand of every single person.”52 Rashi thereby introduces an instruction in the service of G-d. Namely, when a Jew wishes to redeem himself from his personal “exile,” he must recognize and do all that is dependent upon him so that all Jews should also leave “exile.” Indeed, one might otherwise think as follows. So-and-so is at the depths of lowliness, to the extent that he is presently still in exile, whereas he is at the ultimate height, already “prepared” for the Redemption. If so, why should his redemption be bound up with and dependent upon another’s? However, the verse at the beginning of the Torah portion Nitzavim teaches us that even the “stance” (nitzavim) of “your leaders” (rosheichem) can come about only after it has been established that “All of you stand together today,” an expression which includes even “those of you who chop wood and those of you who draw water.” When we follow this order, we have the promise that “‘All of you stand together today’ – a reference to the day of great judgment (Rosh HaShana)” – namely, that we stand53 and are found to be meritorious in judgment,54 and we receive an inscription and sealing for a good and sweet year, including a year of redemption,55 “G-d, your L-rd, will return your captivity,” meaning that G-d will personally extract every Jew – “You, the Jewish people, shall be gathered one by one” – very soon indeed.
(Likkutei Sichos Vol. 9, pg. 175-183; from the address of Shabbos Parshas Nitzavim VaYeilech 5727)
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NOTES: 1. Nitzavim 30:3. 2. See Footnote 2 in the original. 3. 30:2 4. Which is not so in the mention of, “G-d, your L-rd,” in the numerous other occurrences of this phrase later in the Torah portion. 5. See Sifri B’Haalos’cha 10:35, Massei 35:34; Megilla 29a. (But see later Footnote 11 in the original.) 6. It is significant that Rashi writes, “Our Rabbis learned, etc.,” for the simple reading of, “G-d, your L-rd, will return your captivity,” is that He will cause the Jewish people to return. However, since it says, “V’shav, etc.” (and not “V’heishiv”), the Scripture is teaching (an additional concept). Namely, that G-d will return with them. We may assert that this is the reason why Rashi writes, “The verse should have read, ‘He will return your captivity,’” instead of, “It does not say, ‘He will return your captivity’” (as he writes in the portion Savo 26:2, “It does not say, ‘every beginning,’” especially insofar as also the Sifri and Megilla state, “‘V’heishiv’ is not said”). Thus, Rashi employs the phrase, “The verse should have read, ‘V’heishiv,’ etc.,’” to suggest that, even according to the final conclusion of the matter, the meaning of “V’shav” includes that of “V’heishiv.” 7. 3:2 8. T’hillim 91:15 8*. And if the verse, “I am with him in suffering,” does not suffice, Rashi should have said in Shmos, “Our Rabbis learned from here, etc.” 9. As the superficial reading of the deduction from this passage is learned in Megilla ibid. 10. Yeshayahu 63:9 and as per the words of our Sages on the two passages (Taanis 16a). 11. See Footnote 11 in the original. 12. But this is a stretch, because since, “when they are to be redeemed, etc., He will return with them,” is self-understood (from Rashi’s earlier comment – that “the Divine Presence resides with the Jewish people... amidst the suffering of their exile”), the answer to his question, “the verse should have read, ‘He will return your captivity,’” is necessarily understood. 13. Yeshayahu 27:12. 14. See Footnote 14 in the original. 15. See Footnote 15 in the original. 16. Especially since it says, “G-d, your L-rd, will return (“V’shav,” not “V’heishiv”) (with) your captivity” (i.e., the meaning of “(with) your captivity” (es shvus’cha) (according to what is alluded to by the word “V’shav”) is like “with your captivity” (im shvus’cha), thus) it is logical to say that “G-d, your L-rd,
will return” [i.e., G-d’s return, as it were] parallels [the return of] “your captivity,” the return [of the Jewish people] from exile. See further in the text proper, etc. – see Footnote 16 in the original.) 17. See Footnote 17 in the original. 18. See Footnote 18 in the original. 19 See Footnote 19 in the original. 20 See Footnote 20 in the original. 21 Which is not the case in Rashi’s commentary on the beginning of the portion VaYishlach. 21* 4:31. 22 VaYeira 21:22; Toldos 26:3, ibid 28; VaYeitzei 28:15. 23 VaYeira ibid, Toldos ibid 28. 24 See Rashi VaYeira ibid. 24* See D’varim 4:39; commentary of Rashi ibid 4:35, etc. – see Footnote 24* in the original. 25 Yirmiyahu 23:24. 26 Although, in general, during the time of exile this [miraculous degree of] success is not readily perceived, as it was in the times of the Holy Temple, etc. – see Footnote 26 in the original. 27 See Ester Rabba 10:11; Tanchuma Toldos 5. 28 For which reason, in the descent to Egypt there needed to be the promise “you will also go up” – from the 4 exiles (Rashi Shabbos 89b, entry beginning with the words, “I will descend”). And see [the discourse] beginning with the words, “The voice of my beloved,” of 5709 and the references there. 29 VaYechi 48:21. Also with regard to the other exiles it is written (VaEs’chanan ibid), “He will not fail to grasp you with His hands” (which echoes, “He personally…holds the hand,” in Rashi’s commentary on the verse central to our discussion). 30 For which reason Rashi cites the words, “(with) your captivity,” because this terminology proves (see above Footnote 16) “that the Divine Presence resides with the Jewish people…amidst the suffering of their exile,” and not just in a manner that resembles [what is suggested in the verse], “The L-rd will be with you,” which is said regarding the exile in Egypt. See Footnote 37. 31 Thus, Rashi is unable to say that we learn from here (Shmos 3:2) that “I am with him in suffering,” because it is explicit in Scripture, as discussed above in Section 1. 32 Especially since we may assert that there it is in accordance with the commentary of the Meztudos: “I will be with him in order to save him.” 32*See Footnote 32* in the original. 33 The fact that in the exile to Egypt the Holy One Blessed Be He hints to Moshe only the concept of “I am with him in suffering,”
we may assert that the connection of G-d to the Jewish people in this manner – that He resides with them in the suffering of their exile – only began after the Giving of the Torah. 34 This sheds light on the fact that it is specifically here (not in the portion Shmos ibid) that Rashi writes, “as it were.” 35 Like the example of a king in his palace who suffers from the affliction of his son who is in exile compared to one who descends with his son into exile or is also incarcerated with him in prison. 36 Brachos 5b, where this concept is explained. 36* See Footnote 36* in the original. 37 We may assert that also for this reason Rashi cites the words “with your captivity.” 38 Without ruling out the first interpretation, for which reason Rashi writes, “Moreover, we could say” (and not, “An alternate interpretation” (davar acher) or the like, as is commonly found in Rashi’s commentary). 39 See Rashi VaYigash 46:26. 40 See Footnote 40 in the original. 41 A Guide to the Perplexed 3:17. 42 D”Ch 13a. 43 See Likkutei Dibburim Vol. 1, pg. 166 ff; HaYom Yom pg. 108; among others. 44 See A Guide to the Perplexed ibid Ch. 18. 45 Yevamos 61a, beg. 46 See Footnote 46 in the original. 46* Similar to the “second soul” that exists within every single person [i.e., Jew] “a literal portion of G-d from above” (Tanya Ch. 2, beg. See glosses of the Tzemach Tzedek there, Igeres HaKodesh Section 7, among others). 47 See Footnote 47 in the original. 49 Likkutei Torah Shir HaShirim 14c, discourse beginning with the words, “Thus the poets will say,” 5691, 5684, and in several other places. 50 See Footnote 50 in the original. 51 See Footnote 51 in the original. 52 Similarly with regard to every individual person, first he redeems the very essence of his soul (the aspect of Tziyon), which transcends division, and thereafter he redeems the revealed powers [of the soul] (“every single person”), and then also his Animal Soul and body, which are equated in terms of superficiality to the gentile nations (“the returnees of the Ammonite people”). 53 As per the commentary of Rashi (VaYeishev 37:7), “‘stood upright’ (nitzava) – it remained standing erect in its place.” 54 See the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov in HaYom Yom, pg. 90. 55 See Footnote 52 in the original.
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A SLICHOS TOUR IN OLD TZFAS
Menachem Mendel Arad joined Ascent’s “Slichos Tour,” together with a group of commanders and officers from the IDF. * They started out at Ascent and ended with a moving recitation of Slichos in the Sephardic Ari shul. They heard about the significance of forgiveness, about renewal, and about the ability to return to “my inner self,” along with the power that each one of us has to transform our world to a world of Geula. * Ah! The tour is about to begin, won’t you join us...
By Menachem Mendel Arad Photos by Moishy Assoulin
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pon arriving at the first station on the Slichos Tour, on the rooftop porch of Machon Ascent in Tzfas, I was greeted with the ancient, captivating notes of niggunei Miron. About thirty IDF commanders and senior officers were sitting with their eyes glued to the two musicians from the Agadetah band, Yaniv Shamay and Amram Amar. They combine Chassidic niggunim and ancient piyutim from Slichos with authentic instruments in the Far Eastern style. The niggunim play on the heartstrings, both the revealed and the hidden, and successfully draw forth rousing melodies from the depths of the hearts of the audience. At the end of the musical performance, Doron Haggi, of Ascent’s staff, spoke about the purpose of the tour and about Ascent. “Ascent was founded under the direction of the Lubavitcher Rebbe by three Chabad Chassidim who came to Tzfas. Originally, Ascent was meant for American tourists, but over the years, it has opened its doors to all Jews, especially groups from the army, for Shabbatons, workshops, and lectures.” Doron told them about his army experiences, his becoming a baal t’shuva and his shlichus in Italy, and concluded with, “I feel both a desire and an important sense of mission to take you on this uplifting journey, thus thanking you for the holy work that you do for us and for all the Jewish people.” Haggi, who used to be a comedian, spoke about the meaning of t’shuva, but included a nice measure of humor which got us all comfortable with one another as well as with the concept of t’shuva. “T’shuva is renewal. We all want newness; even buying a pair of new shoes is an expression of the desire
of renewal. We want to renew our relationship with our wife, to refresh and improve our relationship with our children, to remind ourselves that we are good people. And also to examine ourselves, just as in the army they conduct an investigation in order to be more effective. We want to see what is the best way to renew ourselves and to enter the new year, not downcast by our failures, but happier and wiser, experienced by our failures too, and of course, also by our successes. “The desire for renewal is that which helps us search for the root of the problem and want to fix ourselves, to ‘shower,’ to detox, from the anger, the lust, and to return to our ‘essential me,’ as Jews and truly good people.” In walked Eyal Karoutchi, dressed in white, almost as if he just landed from the Tzfas of an earlier era. In his right hand was a whorled Yemenite shofar. After a loud blast on the shofar, he invited us to join him on a winding tour through the old city. Karoutchi, from the Chabad community in Tzfas, spent twelve years in the Far East where he studied yoga, meditation, holistic healing, and self-awareness. When he went to the yeshiva in Ramat Aviv, he decided to channel all his enormous knowledge to improving self-awareness according to Chassidic teachings. Karoutchi, who is also a senior lecturer at Ascent, is a fascinating person, and his fantastic humor sweeps along the last of the cynics and the skeptics. “Welcome to Tzfas,” he announced dramatically. “In Eretz Yisroel, there are four cities that are referred to as holy: Yerushalayim, Chevron, Teveria and Tzfas. We know there are four basic elements in nature: fire, earth, air and water. The kabbalists revealed to us that each of the holy cities corresponds to one of the elements. Teveria, which
lies on the shores of the Kinneret, is water. Chevron, which has the Meoras HaMachpella where the Avos and Imahos are buried, is earth. Yerushalayim, which has the Beis HaMikdash where korbanos were brought on the altar, is fire. And Tzfas, the city where Kabbala was written, is associated with air-ruachruchnius. “Each thing has its physical side as well as its spiritual side. In a person, the body is physical and the neshama is spiritual. The Torah also has two aspects, material and spiritual. The stories and mitzvos in the Torah are the physical side; the inner meaning of the stories and the intentions and feelings that lie behind the mitzvos, are the spiritual aspect. “Kabbala is the spiritual aspect of Torah. Kabbala speaks about that which is beyond, about the soul within everything. Not just ‘what happened,’ but ‘why did it happen.’ Not just ‘what needs to be done,’ but ‘why must it be done.’ “So the secrets of Torah are called Kabbala. On the one hand, this teaches us that we have to be recipients of the secret. Oftentimes, the information is super-rational and we simply need to receive it. On the other hand, if we add the letter Hei to the beginning of the word, we get ‘HaKabbala,’ since the secrets of Torah speak about that which is parallel to our universe.” Karoutchi went on to talk about the revelation of the wisdom of Kabbala, mainly in Tzfas, and even I and the photographer, residents of Tzfas, discover that this tour, which had not yet begun, was revealing new dimensions to what we knew from childhood.
A TOUR THAT BIRTHED A TANYA CLASS
On Ascent’s open porch, we looked west at the horizon, toward Miron. On the mountain with two
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Chanoch L’Naar. They said that in order to adapt the Slichos tour to suit every Israeli, they do not mention the concepts of t’shuva and mitzvos. This enables every person to connect to the messages of forgiveness and renewal in their own way. R’ Shachar spoke about a religious-nationalist couple who came on a Slichos tour with only a few people. The dynamics between the tourists in general, and especially with the couple, was very special. During the tour, they spoke not only about Kabbala and the holy Arizal but also about Chassidus and Tanya. At the end of the tour, the husband, a teacher in a yeshiva high school, wanted to buy the book on Tanya authored by R’ Nadav Cohen, a senior lecturer at Ascent. Later on, he contacted R’ Shachar and excitedly told him that he hadn’t been at peace until he obtained special permission from the yeshiva’s administration where he worked, to give a Tanya shiur to his students as part of the yeshiva curriculum. When the tour takes place during the day (tours in the old city take place all year), the tourists also go to the candle factory where they enjoy the unique gifts. Since the Baal Shem Tov says that we can learn a lesson in avodas Hashem from everything, the guides point out the difference between Shabbos candles and Havdala candles. “We bring in Shabbos with candles that are separate. When we part from Shabbos, we use braided candles. The Shabbos works that way on the family, bringing everyone together.”
Doron Haggi, a lecturer for Ascent, speaks to officers about the purpose of the tour
When the earth began to shake, he gathered all those who were in the shul and told them to lie on the ground. The quake intensified and the entire building around them collapsed; only the small area that they were in remained intact. Even the ceiling that covered that area remained intact, suspended in the air, without a wall or any support to hold it up.
peaks, we could see the antennas of the air force on the right peak, and under the left peak we could see the roof of the grave of the Tanna, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Those present were given a brief overview of the life and legacy of R’ Shimon bar Yochai. During the evening and night, more and more groups of tourists left Ascent for the old city; sometimes, hundreds of tourists will traverse this route in one night. In the meantime, I take the time to form my impression of the other guides and listen to how they convey their messages and watch how the tourists respond. Not all the guides are baalei t’shuva. Some are born and bred Chassidim like R’ Leibush Kaplan and R’ Shneur Shachar, teachers in Yeshivas
MIRACLE IN THE SHUL
We headed for one of the most ancient shuls in the old city, the Ashkenazi Ari shul. According to tradition, and as the sign says in the entrance, this is the chakal tapuchin kadishin (lit. the garden of holy apples; a kabbalistic reference). From
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here, the Arizal and his students went forth to greet the Shabbos Queen. It is exciting even for someone who has just heard of the Ari for the first time, as he is presented with many wondrous stories about his life. When they were told the story about the Ari suggesting to his talmidim that they welcome Shabbos in Yerushalayim, and his talmidim said they would ask their wives, upon which the Ari said they had forfeited an auspicious time to bring the Geula, the group of command staff protested, “What’s wrong with speaking to your wife?” Eyal explained the Rebbe’s sicha on the story by saying, “When the general gives an order, even if it sounds like a suggestion, there is no time to consult, not even with your wife. You simply charge towards the goal.” The Arizal lived only two years in Tzfas and passed away at the very young age of 38. However, during those two years, he transformed the world of Kabbala. One of his big innovations is that in our times, the secrets of Torah no longer need to remain a secret. Now it is permissible and a mitzva to reveal this wisdom. Later on, Kabbala expanded through the teachings of Chassidus and it has reached a point where it is accessible to all. The shul was renovated after the major earthquake on 24 Teves
5597/1759. During the Ari’s times, this was the place where the famous Kabbalas Shabbos of the Ari and his talmidim took place. The Kabbalas Shabbos prayers, that are recited in every community today, were formulated in Tzfas 500 years ago. The great kabbalists said we need to prepare for Shabbos properly, not only physically but spiritually too. So they would go out to the fields on Erev Shabbos and sing and dance as they welcomed the Shabbos Queen. Today too, we welcome Shabbos with simcha and song. “During the War of Independence many miracles took place. One of them happened in this shul. A piece of shrapnel entered the shul in the middle of the davening, just as the congregation was bowing down for Modim. The shrapnel passed over them all and entered the bima where there remains a hole today.”
PRAYER ACHIEVES HALF
Another stop on our interesting route was the shul of R’ Avrohom Dov Auerbach of Ovruch zt”l, who made aliya in 5591/1751. Upon arriving in Tzfas, the Chassidic community appointed him as their rav. Although he was a Chassidic rav, he was also accepted by the Sephardim and the perushim. “In this shul, one of the greatest
miracles to take place in Tzfas occurred. In 5597/1759, there was a devastating earthquake which nearly destroyed the entire city. Many Jews were killed. When the earthquake began, R’ Avrohom Dov was davening Mincha in shul. When the earth began to shake, he gathered all those who were in the shul and told them to lie on the ground and hold on. The quake intensified and the congregants were sure that the building would collapse on them. The entire building around them collapsed, the walls fell, and only the small area that they were in remained intact. Even the ceiling that covered that area remained intact, suspended in the air, without a wall or any support to hold it up. “To commemorate this miracle, a sign was put up that remains there until today stating, ‘How awesome is the place of the beis midrash of R’ Avrohom Dov, Admur of Ovruch zt”l, who foresaw the great earthquake in Tzfas in 5597/1759 and in his great merit, half of the beis midrash was saved from destruction and the Admur and his followers survived.’” As we passed the shul belonging to the Kossov congregation, the guide was happy to inform the tourists about the natural continuity of Kabbala through Chassidus, and the uniqueness of Chassidus in that
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student of the Arizal, R’ Suleiman Ohana. The older Torah was written 600 years ago in Spain by R’ Yitzchok Abuhav. It was written in a unique manner, with extra holiness and purity. Each time he wrote G-d’s name, he would immerse in a mikva 26 times, the numerical equivalent of G-d’s name (Hashem’s name appears in the Torah 1820 times)! After completing the Torah, he asked that it be read only three times a year, according to the acronym כשר – Kippur, Shavuos, Rosh HaShana. Till today, it is read only on these three holidays. Numerous people come from all over the country and the world to see this special Torah. The shul was built several hundred years ago, and like the rest of the shuls was destroyed during the earthquake. However, the southern wall which houses the Aron Kodesh with the ancient Torahs survived the quake. The shul was rebuilt with the generous donation of the Italian philanthropist, Rabbi Yitzchak Goyatos (Guetta) in the 1840’s. Its reconstruction was done with the help of the greatest architects in Israel, and with consideration for the original design and in line with the theme of the song, “Who Knows One” (from the Hagada): One – a central bima; two – two flights of stairs going up to the bima; three – three holy arks; four – four supporting pillars, and so on. The shul is active throughout the year and during Slichos it is full, with groups arriving from all over the country to pray. The tour winds its way through the picturesque narrow streets of the old city. Every name of a shul is a fascinating journey into history, like the shul of R’ Yosef Caro, author of the Shulchan Aruch, and the shul of his student the holy Alshich, who was one of the dayanim in Tzfas. “They say that R’ Moshe Alshich asked the holy Ari repeatedly to let him learn Kabbala with him, but
ASK FOR MOSHIACH
The Sephardic Ari shul is on the left, right before you go down to the cemetery and the Ari’s mikva. It is the most ancient among the shuls of Tzfas. It was built in the 14th century, before the holy Ari arrived in Tzfas. The Jews who davened there over the years were originally from North Africa and their nusach ha’t’filla was Sefard, hence the name the Sephardic Ari shul. They say that the Arizal davened in this shul or that he went to this shul in order to meet with Eliyahu HaNavi in an alcove on the side of the shul. Right before entering to daven in this holy place, Eyal said, “This is an auspicious time. You can ask for what you need and what you want. I just want to make a small request. In addition to making your personal requests, add a general request that the world be set straight, once and for all, with the coming of Moshiach.” Chassidim brought the abstract ideas of Kabbala down into practical language. “Not just to intellectually explore supernal worlds, but to understand how it is connected to us, and to channel this knowledge into making a richer life, a life full of joy, a life of Torah and mitzvos done enthusiastically.” The tour through the winding alleyways of the old city, at night, is magical—the uniquely designed houses, the archways and narrow passageways that are dimly illuminated, some only by the light of the moon.
THE ANCIENT SHULS OF TZFAS
On our way to the Abuhav shul, we could see the rocky view of Miron on the horizon. A discussion ensued about R’ Shimon bar Yochai and his legacy. It is always amazing to see how R’ Shimon merited that his name is familiar to all, and all kinds of Jews visit his grave. I overheard discussions among the tourists who spoke about the positive outlook the tour gave them: to accept others, to learn from everyone, to be aware of the enormous treasure of Jewish history, and other comments about unity that warm the heart and soul. In the shul named for R’ Yitzchok Abuhav, one of the g’dolim who lived in Spain 600 years ago, we saw three holy arks. The one on the left serves as a g’niza for worn out holy books; the middle one contains the sifrei Torah that are used regularly, on Shabbos, Yom Tov, Rosh Chodesh, Monday, and Thursday. The one on the right is the most interesting. It contains two of the oldest sifrei Torah in the world. The one that is 450 years old was written by the
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the Ari kept pushing him off,” said Karoutchi. The crowd, despite the late hour, listened closely. “Then one day, after much importuning, the Ari said, “Now you will see that from heaven they do not want me to teach you Kabbala. Go out to the fields of Tzfas today, to the place where I welcome the Shabbos. If you see me welcome her, that is a sign that in heaven they want you to learn it; if you don’t see me, that is a sign that they don’t want it.’ “So the Alshich HaKadosh went out to the field. He sat under a tree and waited for the Ari. Then, before the Ari arrived, a strong sleep overcame him and he slept deeply. When the Ari finished Kabbalas Shabbos, he asked one of his talmidim to rouse R’ Moshe so he would not sleep alone in the field. The Alshich then understood that he wasn’t meant to learn Kabbala with the Ari.”
IN TZFAS, EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT
“Tzfas has seen many miracles over the years; the biggest ones took place during the War of Independence in 1948. There were only 1500 Jews in Tzfas at the time, and 12,000 Arabs.” As Karoutchi said this, he was standing in the Kikar Hamaginim, which is the business, cultural and tourist center today. The small plaza is full of tiny restaurants and diverse galleries, but as a tour guide imbued with gratitude to Hashem, he managed to transport the soldiers in the group to the events of not so distant history. One Friday, the British left the city so that the Jews and Arabs could fight it out on their own. The meager Palmach forces arrived and miraculously managed to conquer Tzfas. One of the famous miracles happened when the residents of the city operated a Davidka (“Little
One of the irreligious ones said, “Do you want a rational answer or a religious answer?” The reporter said he wanted a rational answer. So the commander said, “The Creator descended on Tzfas and won the war for us. Any other answer is simply irrational.”
David”), a homemade, primitive cannon which was extremely loud, but very inaccurate. In incredible hashgacha pratis, as they used the Davidka, it began to pour. At the sight of rain that came after the shelling, the Arabs were so frightened by what they thought was an atomic attack (it was believed that it would rain after an atom blast) that overnight, the entire Arab population fled from Tzfas. When a reporter came after the war and asked the commanders how they had managed to capture the city, one of the irreligious ones said, “Do you want a rational answer or a religious answer?” The reporter said he wanted a rational answer. So the commander said, “The Creator descended on Tzfas and won the war for us. Any other answer is simply irrational.” For those who think that miracles are part of history, the guide said with a smile, “In our generation too, we witnessed great miracles during the second Lebanon war, when 471 Katyushas landed in Tzfas over 33 days and there were hardly any casualties.”
WAITING WITH TEA AND COOKIES FOR MOSHIACH
There we were, standing in front of Moshiach’s Alley. “Before telling the story of the alley, let us remember what we spoke about during the tour. We spoke about the wisdom of Kabbala that descended to the world in stages. The Zohar was written by R’ Shimon bar Yochai and then there were the teachings of the Arizal. But the study of Sod was still not commonplace. “The Baal Shem Tov, who lived 300 years ago, began the
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Chassidic movement and he began disseminating Sod to the masses. He said that on Rosh HaShana 5507/1742, he had a spiritual experience, in the course of which he rose to the supernal realms and saw Moshiach. He asked Moshiach: When are you coming? Moshiach answered: When you disseminate the secret teachings to the masses, then I will come. “Sod is the neshama of Torah, and by learning Sod we reveal our neshama. This is Geula. When the main thing leading us will be our neshama, the G-dly spark, and not the ego, then will we start feeling the Geula. Then we will live in a world without hatred, jealousy and competition, traits that come as a result of our not feeling our neshama. “This alleyway was named
Moshiach’s alley because of a woman who lived here a generation ago. Her name was Yocheved Rosenthal and she lived in constant anticipation of Moshiach’s coming. She knew that we need to await him everyday, and even if he tarries, we still await him. She would go to the alley every day and put out tea and cookies, hoping to be the first to greet him. We too can take something from her simple faith and wait each day for his coming, and never give up hope.”
THE STEPS THAT GO UP AND DOWN IN TZFAS
We headed back to Ascent. Karoutchi got our attention before we went back in. “I would like to mention one of the great innovations of the teachings of Sod: hashgacha pratis. Sod teaches us that nothing
happens by accident; everything is directed from above. Everything we see and hear is not coincidental. We were directed to see it so we can learn a lesson. So what do we learn from walking through the alleyways of the old city of Tzfas? “You surely noticed that throughout the tour, we walked on a slope, either upward or downward. From this we can learn that life is full of ups and downs. We just need to remember that every descent is for the sake of a later ascent, because the difficult ascents are actually for our good; we just can’t climb too quickly so that we don’t fall. Let us slowly go up and up in holiness.” It was two in the morning and Tzfas was silent. Only the sound of cicadas broke the silence. It was time to connect to the Creator.
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URG REQ ENT UES T! HUNDREDS OF FAMILIES ANXIOUSLY LOOKING FORWARD FOR YOUR GENEROUS ASSISTANCE!
To every member of the Lubavitcher community:
During this month of preparation for Rosh Hashonoh, the ”head” of the New Year, we fondly recall our Rebbe’s words that this is an especially auspicious time for strengthening our deep bond of Hiskashrus with the ”Rosh Bnei Yisroel,” the ”head” of the Jewish people and leader of the generation. Our Rebbeim explain that an important way to strengthen Hiskashrus is by participating in an organization is Kupas Rabbeinu, which seeks to continue many of the Rebbe’s activities and concerns without change from the way he would conduct them himself.
the Rebbe’s activities and concerns, consequently, by supporting an organization that brings together a number of these activities, the Hiskashrus is greater and stronger. Such
Every year at this time, the Rebbe would call upon us to contribute generously to help needy families with their extra expenses for the coming month’s many Yomim Tovim. This also coincides with the special emphasis during this month of giving extra Tzedokah, (indicated in the Hebrew letters of the word ”Elul,” as explained in many Sichos etc.), as a vital way of preparing ourselves for the new year and arousing Divine mercy upon us. See sicho in the Hebrew text of this letter. We therefore appeal to every individual man and woman to contribute generously to Kupas Rabbeinu, enabling us to fulfill the Rebbe’s desire to help all those who anxiously await our help. The greater your contribution, the more we can accomplish. Please do not forsake them! Your generous contribution to Kupas Rabbeinu will be the appropriate vessel for receiving the abundant blessings of the Rebbe, who is its Nasi, that you may be blessed with a Ksiva Vachasima Tova for a good and sweet year, materially and spiritually. May it help to bring the full revelation of Moshiach - our Rebbe - immediately now! Wishing you a Ksiva Vachasima Tova for a good and sweet year,
In the name of Vaad Kupas Rabbeinu Rabbi Sholom Mendel Simpson Rabbi Yehuda Leib Groner
P.S. Of course, you may send to Kupas Rabbeinu all contributions that you would send to the Rebbe; all will be devoted to the activities to which the Rebbe would devote them. You may also send Maimad, Keren-Hashono (this coming year 5771 - 385 5774 – 385 days), Vov Tishrei, Yud Gimmel Tishrei Magbis etc. to Kupas Rabbeinu. P.S. Please send all correspondence only to the following address. KUPAS RABBEINU / P.O.B. 288 / BROOKLYN, NEW YORK 11225 Eretz Yisroel address: KEREN KUPAS ADMU"R / P.O.B. 1247 / KIRYAT MALACHI / ISRAEL
PREPARING FOR TISHREI
IN THE REBBE
By Shneur Zalman Berger Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
“Even now, as darkness has been covering the world for so many years, when I came and saw that the enthusiasm for the Rebbe was far greater than what I had previously experienced, my spirit was uplifted. The holiness has remained undiminished.”
uring these days of late Elul, as thousands of people pack their suitcases and make their own spiritual preparations for a trip to the Rebbe, I have chosen to go back about three months. 770. The Shabbos before Gimmel Tammuz. It has been nineteen years since Gimmel Tammuz 5754. The thoughts and reflections leading up to that eventful Shabbos brought me to a very powerful question: How is it possible that those who had never seen the Rebbe – believe in him, cleave to him, and desire nothing more than to be with him as they eagerly wait for his imminent hisgalus? During my stay in Beis Chayeinu, I looked with great amazement at my ten year-old son, who had come to 770 as the winner of a children’s raffle for Tzivos Hashem members in Eretz HaKodesh. He had been born a few years after that day of darkness, yet he stubbornly declared
that he wanted to daven all the t’fillos in “the Rebbe’s minyan.” Why? He has no logical explanations, as this is a feeling from the heart. Rational arguments are nowhere in sight. This represents the influential power within the realm of holiness. I was only a young boy when I came to the Rebbe for the first time, and I was naturally swept up by the exciting and holy atmosphere. I saw the Rebbe during davening three times a day, went up for dollars, participated in farbrengens, etc. When we saw the Rebbe, everyone wanted to see him again and again, as we forged an inseparable bond with him. These are matters of the soul with no logical or rational basis. Even now, as darkness has been covering the world for so many years, when I came and saw that the enthusiasm for the Rebbe was far greater than what I had previously known and heard, my spirit was uplifted. The holiness has remained undiminished. “Lecha Dodi...” The melody
seeps into my mind. My son and I grabbed a spot along the eastern side of the farbrengen platform facing the Rebbe’s podium. This was the same place where I stood for davening during my first visit to the Rebbe. It’s hard to describe the feeling... As I was trying to collect my thoughts, an authentic Chassidic tumult took place right in front of me. The group of guests from Brazil, dressed in their elegant suits, began to dance “Lecha Dodi” with great fervor, showing everyone that even the “newcomers” to Lubavitch can connect to the Rebbe with such great enthusiasm. In the days that followed, they brought an atmosphere of tremendous excitement to the Rebbe’s minyanim and the Gimmel Tammuz farbrengen. As is customary among this group, they danced on the tables while passionately singing the words of one single wish: “Yechi Adoneinu.” *** It was a Shabbos meal at the home of one of the Chassidim in Crown Heights. My host spoke openly about the great difficulty of
18 � • Erev Rosh HaShana 5774
“New” and “old” at Beis Chayeinu
believing in the Rebbe’s hisgalus: “Many years have passed and it won’t become any easier... Moshiach will surely be revealed, but no one knows exactly how.” He said his piece, and I realized that there was no point in arguing with him. After we made a few L’chaims, he repeated what he said earlier. At this point, I decided to try and respond. “Let’s do a little test,” I suggested to him. I asked him to pose the following question to his five year old daughter: “Who is the Moshiach?” The girl responded simply and enthusiastically, “The Rebbe!” The stunned father then asked her, “So where is he?” The daughter replied with absolute certainty: “Here.” I then suggested to my host that we ask the same question to his son who learns in yeshiva. The bachur didn’t understand the question, as he replied unwaveringly that the Rebbe is Moshiach and he is here with us. His older daughters responded in a similar manner. In fact, these young people express their pure faith perhaps better than we ever have. They know who the Moshiach is, and they also know where to find him.
*** It was Shabbos afternoon in 770. The farbrengen began at half past one and continued until Mincha. At one point, I sat at a table where a group of T’mimim was farbrenging with their friends who had just celebrated their aufruf during the Torah reading in preparation for their upcoming weddings. “L’chaim...L’chaim...” One of the T’mimim burst into song, and everyone soon joined them. As the T’mimim began to sing another niggun, I recalled the years when I was a yeshiva bachur. The Rebbe would give over sicha after sicha about mivtzaim, spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus, going on shlichus, Moshiach and the Redemption. We would listen to weekday sichos via live hook-up, and get the sichos from Shabbos early the next week – first in synopsis form, and eventually fully edited. Naturally, the T’mimim would immediately set out to fulfill the Rebbe’s instructions. Thinking about shlichus and carrying out the longstanding (and brand new) orders of the Nasi were an integral part of a Tamim’s daily routine...
*** It’s the night of Gimmel Tammuz. An evening of unity. The driving rain that had fallen in recent days forced the organizers to bring all the participants into Beis Chayeinu, instead of blocking the main thoroughfare. 770 was filled to capacity, as several thousand Chassidim came to this event, while many more waited outside. Everyone together saw film clips of the Rebbe demanding unity and the hisgalus of Moshiach, followed by clips of him encouraging the singing of “Yechi.” People from across the Chabad spectrum sat together in an aura of tremendous unity, as they saw and heard the Rebbe’s holy words. A moment of true achdus, without speeches, without a head table – just the Rebbe. And who organized this event? “American bachurim.” These were the young students of the yeshiva g’dola – “Oholei Torah” in Crown Heights. While they had all been born after Gimmel Tammuz, they were the ones who came united with great enthusiasm to organize this holy event. As I mentioned before, there wasn’t and there won’t be any logical explanation. This was all from the power of the Rebbe, who continues to instill strength within us beyond all nature, along with a true desire for hiskashrus to the leader of our generation. Fortunate are we to be Chassidim of the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach. *** Now, three months after this emotional visit, there’s a bit of an uproar in our home as we prepare for the month of Tishrei. I am planning on making the trip with my ten-year-old son, who had previously won a raffle and had been the first child in the family to travel to the Rebbe. In effect, he already won – literally and figuratively. The aura of holiness surrounds him, and it exhorts him to ask me if he could come for Tishrei as well. However, now my older daughter presents her case. She argues that she’s old enough and she too wants to go to the Rebbe. The Rebbe draws them ever closer...
Issue 894 • �
CONDUCT OF A YESHIVA BACHUR
DURING ELUL AND TISHREI
A compilation from the Rebbe’s teachings about the benefit of staying in yeshiva and properly using the time of Elul and Tishrei.
Presented by R’ Chaim Ashkenazi a”h.
way without affecting their Sephardic practices.
THE CUSTOM OF THE COUNTRY IS THE OPPOSITE OF HEALTHY INTELLECT
May you increase your effort in your holy work, despite the custom of the country which is the opposite of healthy intellect, and even the intellect of the nefesh ha’sichlis (the intellective soul), and not just the intellect of holiness, that at the end of Elul and the month of Tishrei they diminish the avoda of chinuch al taharas ha’kodesh … Of course, my intention is not to rebuke but to inspire contemplation yet again. Perhaps the time has come to improve matters, at least a bit.
(Igros Kodesh vol. 9 p. 312)
NO TIME FOR VACATION
The efforts need to be in the opposite way [of beginning the holiday intersession before Tishrei], i.e. during the Yomim Nora’im, Aseres Yemei T’shuva and Yom Kippur, [yeshiva bachurim] need to be together in the same institution where they receive guidance in Yiras Shamayim. The benefit in this and in publicizing this conduct is inestimable, both for the talmidim themselves, and even more so, for their environment.
(Igros Kodesh vol. 7, p. 347)
GOING HOME FOR TISHREI – ILLOGICAL CHOICE
That talmidim go home for the entire month of Tishrei is behavior that makes no sense and is the
opposite of the intent in the guidance toward Yiras Shamayim. For if this is necessary all year round, there is no better and more auspicious time for this than during Slichos and the Yomim Nora’im, etc. If it is not possible to change this practice, at least fortify them with spiritual sustenance, both for themselves and for the places they are going to. If it is possible to at least keep back the older ones in yeshiva, at least for Rosh HaShana, Aseres Yemei T’shuva, and Yom Kippur, use this time to draw them close to the customs of Chassidim and their ways. Although you should not tamper with their customs, the good ones passed down through the generations, still, there are Chabad customs you need to tell them so they can conduct themselves in this
THE TALMIDIM SHOULD BE IN YESHIVA
What I’ve already written about vacation, my view is known. That some leave yeshiva for home during the days of Slichos and most of Tishrei, in all yeshivos in general and all the more so in a yeshiva where the point is learning Torah with fear of Heaven, this is obviously the complete opposite of rationality.
In a number of things already, Chabad was the pioneer and many others followed.
20 � • Erev Rosh HaShana 5774
Even, if for some reason, you must give vacation during these weeks, you must try very hard that the talmidim be in yeshiva at least most of these days. Obviously the teachers and roshei yeshiva who are needed for the benefit of the talmidim, need to be in yeshiva during these days even though it is likely that their families will not be too pleased by this. But the merit of the many depends on them. Going on at length about this is unnecessary.
(Igros Kodesh vol. 9 p. 234)
yeshivos, but it is worth trying if it is only possible. In a number of things already, Chabad was the pioneer and many others followed.
(Part of a letter from 5714 to the hanhala of the yeshiva in Lud)
A DETAILED PLAN
Surely you are arranging a detailed plan for the days of Slichos and the upcoming month of Tishrei. I would appreciate a copy being sent here.
(Igros Kodesh vol. 11 p. 323)
GOOD NEWS ABOUT THE TALMIDIM STAYING IN YESHIVA
I was pleased to receive your letters in which you write about what happened before Rosh HaShana and afterward about the talmidim staying on etc. You revived my soul with this news that brought me joy, that you are going step after step in preparing matters so they will be vessels for the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu. You should not falter or be fazed by it seeming to be slow, less than anticipated, because it is impossible to assess the truth of the progress. Based on what is alluded to at the end of Igeres HaT’shuva that the movement of the shadow on earth just a handbreadth is relative to (and thus also causes) the movement of the sun in the sky thousands of miles...and even more so without end etc.…. With blessings for success in your holy work. I await good news that brings me joy about Tishrei, from Anash in general and your mushpaim in particular.
(Igros Kodesh vol. 8 p. 14)
“FOOD” FOR THE DAYS OF AWE AND THE DAYS OF JOY
Now too, my opinion is that you need to guide the talmidim … regarding the days of Slichos and the month of Tishrei. If that is impossible, at least some of them should be in the yeshiva and you need to provide them with “food” for these days, both for the Days of Awe as well as the Days of Joy, according to their abilities and their environment. Surely you should utilize what was explained on Shabbos Mevarchim Elul 5711 and enclosed is a second printing of that.
(Igros Kodesh vol. 9, p. 253)
Regarding vacation during the summer, obviously it is better for the talmidim to be in yeshiva at the end of Elul and during the Aseres Yemei T’shuva than in Av, but it is also obvious that you should not give vacation in both Av and Elul, and the Aseres Yemei T’shuva.
(Igros Kodesh vol. 11 p. 135)
CHABAD AS PIONEERS
As my view has been in the past, the T’mimim, at least the older ones, should be in the yeshiva and its atmosphere at the end of Elul and during Tishrei, at least during the Aseres Yemei T’shuva. Of course, you must take into consideration the options and what is done in other
SPIRITUAL SUSTENANCE TO LEARN AND TEACH
I think I already wrote you last year that if the talmidim must go home for Tishrei, they need to be provided with spiritual food for the road, i.e. instructions in behavior and easy maamarim that they can learn
Issue 894 • �
THE WAY IT WAS IN LUBAVITCH
Some of what the Rebbe said to the hanhala ruchnius of Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim – 770 during Elul 5713: 1-Since it is the month of Elul now, and this ought to be apparent, you need to tell the talmidei ha’T’mimim how it was in Lubavitch. 2-I suggest that after Maariv (at 10:30), the talmidim should sit for a quarter of an hour and learn timely maamarim such as in Shaarei T’shuva the maamer Im Yihiye Nidachacha” or from Derech Chaim, Likkutei Torah Drushei Rosh HaShana, etc.
(A diary entry from R’ Moshe Levertov)
IT PAYS TO BE IN YESHIVA
You write about your efforts to get the talmidim for whom it is appropriate to remain in yeshiva for the month of Tishrei. Obviously, my intention was only that it be in a way that it should be voluntary. You did well in also explaining it to them in this way, but I also said that they can be certain of the benefit in this if you will be on the scene. Then you can use the time in a manner fitting to the spirit of Chabad. Because this is a matter of mesirus nefesh to them, you need to show them that it’s worth it for them … Perhaps it would be worthwhile for you to spend at least some days of Aseres Yemei T’shuva with them.
(Igros Kodesh vol. 7, p. 371)
SURELY THEY WILL IMMEDIATELY BEGIN LEARNING
In response to being told that the talmidim had arrived from Eretz Yisroel, the Rebbe wrote (Elul 5728): May it be in a good and auspicious time in everything and I will mention them at the tziyun for the aforementioned and for a k’siva va’chasima tova. Surely, they will immediately begin learning, Nigleh and Chassidus, with the diligence fitting for the greatness of these days...
(Igros Kodesh vol. 25 p. 179)
IN ELUL, THE MASHPIA NEEDS TO BE IN YESHIVA
During the Simchas Beis HaShoeiva farbrengen of 5710, the Rebbe said to one of the mashpiim in the yeshiva: How is it possible that a mashpia in Tomchei T’mimim leaves his work in Elul, a month of t’shuva and mercy, in order to sell esrogim, and before Pesach, to sell matza?
(Toras Yemei B’Reishis p. 79)
AN INCREASE IN TORAH, MITZVOS AND AVODAS HA’T’FILLA
I gave instructions about a study schedule, and there are those who shirk this with various excuses. The Aseres Yemei T’shuva is not a time for outings. During the Aseres Yemei T’shuva one needs to increase in the study of Torah, the avoda of t’filla, and the fulfilling of mitzvos b’hiddur. The inner meaning of fulfilling mitzvos b’hiddur is also the avoda of t’filla. Especially those who came here from various places, who “are given the stringencies of the place they came from and the stringencies of the place they come to,” especially those coming from Eretz Yisroel (as in the p’sak of the Rambam) – they need to increase in Torah study and since they need to learn more, they also need to increase their avodas ha’t’filla for this gives the strength to learn Torah. Avodas ha’t’filla is not an additional factor but something essential to Torah study. [The Rebbe greatly demanded the learning of Nigleh and Chassidus and avodas ha’t’filla and then said:]
THE BACHURIM’S BEHAVIOR IS THE MASHPIIM’ S RESPONSIBILITY
On Erev Sukkos 5736, the Rebbe spoke to one of the mashpiim. The mashpia complained that the bachurim do not go to the mashpia. The Rebbe replied: Woe to those mashpiim who wait for them [the bachurim] to come to them. The mashpiim need to seek out the bachurim. Bachurim come for Tishrei and wander around Kingston Avenue and the hanhala of the yeshiva does nothing. I wanted to speak about this at the 13 Tishrei farbrengen but since it was broadcast over the phone too, I refrained.
(From a t’shura that was published by Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in South Africa)
“Woe to those mashpiim who wait for them [the bachurim] to come to them. The mashpiim need to seek out the bachurim.”
where they are, and especially that they should be able to speak publicly or teach publicly. But this is only if there is an absolute necessity [in their going home]; your efforts should be to accomplish the opposite.
(Igros Kodesh vol. 7, p. 347)
22 � • Erev Rosh HaShana 5774
I wouldn’t mention it just like this; rather, perhaps this will help. There are those who write a pidyon nefesh (requests for spiritual and material blessings). Aside from reading them at the Ohel, I read these pidyonos at the desk of the Rebbe, my fatherin-law, where he sat and learned and davened [when the Rebbe said this, he cried]. And the pidyon nefesh is drawn down into thought, speech, and down to action. Due to lack of time, they cannot all be read. However, everything is by divine providence and the panim that are read draw down what is needed upon those that are not read. On Yom Kippur I read them again and on Hoshana Raba another time. Everyone needs to increase in
learning and the avodas ha’t’filla, for by doing so, the requests that were made will be drawn down. I asked that everyone write in his pidyon nefesh his set times for learning Nigleh and Chassidus and the avodas ha’t’filla. Since people do not think alike and do not look alike, those who wrote should be blessed and those who still did not write can still write. As I said before, I read the panim another time on Yom Kippur and Hoshana Raba, and the main thing is to actually take action. As for the talmidei ha’yeshiva, there are different departments and there are those who came here from different places… That means, the one who received more regarding
the inyan of t’filla, should influence another in this regard. And one who has more of an affinity for the learning of Nigleh, should influence others regarding learning Nigleh. And one who has more of an affinity for learning Chassidus, should influence one who does not have this as much... I give over my shlichus so that each who can publicize and write these points that were spoken about before, should write them. There is no need to worry that someone else preceded him because it won’t hurt if several write. What one misses out on, someone else will fill in.
(Some points from the sicha of VaYeilech 5722, printed in Sichos Kodesh p. 709)
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Issue 894 • �
The Yomim Nora’im, as well as the days of joy that follow, Sukkos and Simchas Torah, are particularly propitious for rising above one’s personal matters and going to the Rebbe. Each of us must see to it that others go to the Rebbe too. Whoever is able to go, must go; no excuses.
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg
GOING TO THE REBBE A
s you know, Rosh HaShana, according to the teachings of Chassidus, is not just a day of judgment but is mainly a day of coronation of the King and binyan ha’malchus (establishing the kingdom). On this day, we transcend even our year-round positive activities of Torah and mitzvos, and try to reach the King Himself, Hashem, who also transcends being the Commander of mitzvos. “Accept My kingship, and then I will make decrees for you.” On this day, we plead to our Father in heaven, “reign over the entire world in Your glory,” “and reign, You alone Hashem, over all Your handiwork.” This is why the “mitzva of the day is the shofar,” like when you coronate a king, as described in Tanach and explained at length in Chassidus. The revelation of Hashem’s kingdom is through the kingship of Moshiach, with the true and
complete Geula, as it says throughout the t’fillos of Rosh HaShana. For the Geula is when everything we say in those prayers will be fulfilled, “and You alone will reign over all Your handiwork on Mount Tziyon, the dwelling of Your glory, and in Yerushalayim, the city of Your sanctity,” “and everything that has been made will know that You are its Maker,” etc. This is why, during these days, we emphasize turning to Moshiach himself. Not just carrying out his orders, consulting with him, and believing in everything he says, but also, and mainly, the essential core of the Rebbe MH”M himself, which is above even those details, as important as they are. Hiskashrus to Hashem is through hiskashrus to the Rebbe who is the memutza ha’mechaber (connecting intermediary), “I [Moshe] stand between Hashem and you to tell you the word of Hashem.” By obeying the Rebbe’s instructions, we connect to and attain acceptance
and fulfillment of Hashem’s decrees; through Hiskashrus and devotion to the Rebbe himself, we connect with Hashem Himself. This is why, in 770 we proclaim “Yechi Adoneinu” three times before blowing the shofar, the start of “binyan ha’malchus,” as well as at the end of Yom Kippur, the culmination of “binyan ha’malchus,” as was done in the Rebbe’s presence, starting in 5754, when we saw him. We need to bring Jews to the Rebbe, to the Rebbe himself; not just to learn his teachings, not just to carry out his instructions, not just to consult with him and listen to his advice and believe his prophecies. All of that is an outgrowth of the core issue which is above all those details, i.e. hiskashrus and devotion of the essence of us all with the Rebbe himself. May the following story serve as a memorial to the Chassid, R’ Zushe Wilyamowsky a”h, known as Zushe Partisan, whose entire life was
24 � • Erev Rosh HaShana 5774
devoted to this task, connecting Jews to the Rebbe. Like Yehoshua “who did not budge from the tent,” R’ Zushe passed away from this world in the sukka of 770. This was on the second night of Sukkos 5747. *** During our first months on shlichus as bachurim in the yeshiva in Migdal HaEmek in 5738/1978, Chabad activity in the city was lowkey. Of course, we did Mivtza T’fillin at various points in the city, and during Tishrei we went on Tahalucha to nearly all the shuls to bring joy to Jews and review teachings of the Rebbe, but it wasn’t much more than that. We considered our main task to learn in yeshiva and hardly thought about outreach activities. We had no awareness about the importance of regularly reviewing sichos in shuls, arranging shiurim, Mesibos Shabbos, children’s rallies, and did not even consider making a Yud-Tes Kislev farbrengen. Today, these are things that are a “given” for anyone who considers himself a Chassid. There were technical reasons why we didn’t undertake certain activities. The instruction to make Lag B’Omer parades was given in 5740. The Rebbe started Tzivos Hashem in 5741. In general, awareness about the Rebbe, mivtzaim, and shlichus still hadn’t made real inroads in Eretz Yisroel. Only a few Chabad houses were on the map in Bat Yam, Kiryat Gat, Afula and a few other places where “Nachshons” jumped into the water and went on shlichus regardless as to the prevalent attitudes. It still was not a “given” that our raison d’être is to carry out the Rebbe’s shlichus and that wherever one is he needs to seek out ways to spread Judaism and Chassidus. About two weeks before Yud-Tes Kislev, R’ Zushe suddenly “landed” amongst us. They said about him that he stood at the junction at Kfar Chabad and hitched a ride
and wherever the car that stopped for him was going, whether south to Beer Sheva or north to Tzfas, to Afula or Eilat, he went. He went all over and stayed for several hours or a few days in each place, as necessary. He went especially to places where there were shluchim or Lubavitcher Chassidim in general, and he would encourage those who needed it and push to action those who needed the push. He went around as though he had all the time in the world, as though he was looking for something to do. This is how he sniffed out and knew just what was going on. He did things in his unique way, in a manner that nobody knew what he was doing or whether there was even a purpose in his having shown up, aside from
You think you know when you are successful and when you aren’t. You think the entire thing was one big disappointment. The Rebbe does his part; he has his ways, when to come, to whom, how, and in what manner. And you, just make sure you don’t ruin things.
the one who needed to know. R’ Zushe would sit on his own and write in large crowded print over big sheets of paper. When he was asked what he was writing, he would say with a smile: It’s a military secret. They said he was the Rebbe’s spy and that along with urging Chassidim to take action, he would report to the Rebbe what was going on everywhere. So R’ Zushe landed at the yeshiva in Migdal HaEmek and went here and there, arranged something with this one and spoke to that one, in his inimitable manner. Then he turned to us, the bachurim-shluchim, and said, “Chevra, a Yud-Tes Kislev farbrengen must be arranged!” All attempts to get out of it were futile. “The Rebbe wants it and that is what must happen!” he said
fervently. Since we had no response to that, we had no choice but to start and think of how to do it. We certainly did not dream of advertising on a big scale, renting a hall, having a catered meal and inviting rabbanim. We had a serious problem with money for a bottle of vodka, some cake and drinks, a problem that R’ Grossman solved by giving it to us from the yeshiva’s kitchen. We arranged things with the gabbaim of the Rambam shul, where the event was scheduled to take place, and got their permission. That Shabbos, we went to nearly all the shuls in town and spoke about the significance of Yud-Tes Kislev. We invited everyone to the farbrengen
which was to take place the night of Yud-Tes Kislev at the Rambam shul, right after Maariv. After so much effort on our parts, we expected, perhaps due to lack of experience, that we would have a nice crowd. The big night arrived and after all the preparations and excitement of arranging an event like this for the first time, almost all by ourselves, we eagerly waited for Maariv that night in the Rambam shul. We saw that we had actually come to complete the minyan for Maariv with a congregation of about eight old men who were willing to listen to us for five minutes but soon the shul had to be closed and they would go home. We were extremely disappointed. After all that effort on our parts, there were just a few old people who
Issue 894 • �
wanted to go home. But since we were there already, we poured the mashke, told the story of the arrest and release, sang some niggunim, and even danced and rejoiced with those men who halfheartedly agreed to remain for nearly an hour and even more. Then we returned to yeshiva despondently. Two years went by and we had already forgotten the story. It was finally our turn to go to the Rebbe for K’vutza. One day, as we sat and learned in 770, the door opened and in walked one of those old men, an old-time resident of Migdal HaEmek. We greeted him warmly, like an old acquaintance that we hadn’t seen in a long time. We stood around him and spoke and then someone asked: What made you come here to the Rebbe? You won’t believe it, he said. Do you remember that gathering and farbrengen we had two years ago in the Rambam shul? Yes, we remembered, and we still recalled the bitter disappointment that we felt a long time afterward. Well, he said, you should know that it is thanks to that occasion that I am here now. I said to myself at the time, if we had such a big simcha and experienced such interesting things just on the Yom Geula of a Rebbe, then what is a Rebbe actually all about? I decided that I had to go and see the Rebbe himself, and that is why I am here. *** You think you know when you are successful and when you aren’t. You think the entire thing was one big disappointment. The Rebbe does his part; he has his ways, when to come, to whom, how, and in what manner. And you, just make sure you don’t ruin things. Set yourself aside and have the privilege of being the one to bring the Rebbe to every corner. These days, the Yomim Nora’im, the days so associated with “accept My kingship” up Above, as well as the days of joy that follow, Sukkos and Simchas Torah, are particularly propitious for rising above one’s personal matters and going to the Rebbe. Each of us must see to it that others go to the Rebbe too. Whoever is able to go, must go; no excuses. And be aware that we are indeed going to the Rebbe. We daven in the Rebbe’s minyan, attend the Rebbe’s farbrengen, etc. And we do it matter-of-factly, without explanations, for by getting into discussions about it, questions, answers, and explanations, even if they are all correct, we lose it all. All the explanations will not help generate the genuine feeling which all of us know and feel, after all the “questions” ruined it. This is why it must be done matter-of-factly as in the aphorism of the Chassid, R’ Yaakov Mordechai of Poltava, an aphorism the Rebbe repeated many times, “Azoi, azoi iz der inyan” (this is the way it is). We go to the Rebbe matter-of-factly, we daven with the Rebbe matter-of-factly, we attend the Rebbe’s farbrengen matter-of-factly, etc. After all that, we need to repeat to ourselves that going is not enough; we have to actually “get” to the Rebbe. That requires more effort. But, as I said, this comes after actually going to the Rebbe, spending the time, money and effort and demonstrating that the desire to go to the Rebbe and be with the Rebbe is not merely theoretical. Chassidim discussed which is more important, going to the Rebbe or wanting to go to the Rebbe. They concluded that that the desire to go is more important, but what is the indication that you truly want to go? If you go! Otherwise, it indicates that you don’t want to go but are just prattling. Someone who cannot go, for whatever reason (and we know that the Rebbe said that if it will adversely affect the shlichus, he should make redoubled efforts to “get” to the Rebbe even when he can’t physically go), is given all the kochos to be with the Rebbe even if he cannot actually be there. During Tishrei, which contains the letters of rosh (head), we get the kochos for the entire year of “being [associated with] the head.” May we be connected to the Rebbe MH”M all year, and may this consume our entire lives. Let us bring every Jew to the Rebbe. Furthermore, not just Jews, but as the Rebbe stressed, all members of the generation. They should all be connected to the Rebbe. To do this, we need to utilize all means at our disposal: the Rebbe’s teachings, his letters, videos of the Rebbe, and all the gimmicks available, all for the one purpose of “rectifying the world with the kingdom of Shin-Dalet-Yud.” In particular, we were told to publicize the miracles that the Rebbe does in our time, whether through answers in the Igros Kodesh, through dollars, kos shel bracha and mikva water. We see that someone who has a miracle through the Rebbe’s wine or water, or someone who opened to an answer from the Rebbe to his particular situation, doesn’t need to hear explanations about the Rebbe being “chai v’kayam.” He sees supernatural things and is ready to accept and believe things that he cannot presently see. And again, the purpose is not just to get people to listen to the Rebbe’s instructions and counsel, but to bring the entire world to “accept My kingship” before and beyond “I will make decrees for you.” This is expressed in the proclamation which is about accepting Moshiach’s kingship. Through Moshiach, Hashem’s malchus is revealed in the world. Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu, Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed!
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MOSHIACH & GEULA
EVEN THE BODIES OF TZADDIKIM RETURN TO DUST BEFORE THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
Rav Mari said: [Even the bodies of] tzaddikim are destined to become dust [in the grave], as it is written, “And the dust shall return to the earth as it was” (Koheles 12:7). There were once some diggers who were digging on Rav Nachman’s property. [They unwittingly came upon a corpse, that of Rav Achai bar Yoshiya, a sage who had died generations earlier. Having been disturbed in the grave, the body of] Rav Achai bar Yoshiya snorted at them. Frightened] those who had been digging returned and told Rav Nachman: A [dead] man snorted at us! Rav Nachman approached the gravesite and asked the corpse: Who are you? The deceased replied to Rav Nachman: I am Achai bar Yoshiya. Rav Nachman asked: [How is it that your body has not decomposed?] Indeed, Rav Mari has said: [Even the bodies of] tzaddikim are destined to become dust [in the grave]. Rav Achai bar Yoshiya responded: Who is Rav Mari? I do not know him [and therefore, I pay no heed to his teachings]. Rav Nachman answered: But Rav Mari quotes a verse [in support of his position]. Indeed, it is written in Scripture, “And the dust shall return to the earth as it was.” [The natural process of decomposition is intended to turn the corpse into dust in the grave. How is it that your body has not done so?] Rav Achai bar Yoshiya replied: He who has taught you Koheles Navi, where it is written, “You will recognize that I am G-d when I open your graves”** [indicating that it is only G-d Who may bring forth the dead; unless He grants permission, the dead may not do so on their own]. [Going back to the question of how Rav Achai avoided decomposition] Rav Nachman said to him: Is it not written, “For you are dust and to dust shall you return” (B’Reishis 3:19) [suggesting that everyone must return to dust, even those who did not succumb to jealousy]. Rav Achai responded to Rav Nachman: [With respect to tzaddikim] that verse speaks about [what will take place in the Messianic Era] a moment before the Resurrection of the Dead*** [but until then, the bodies of tzaddikim will remain preserved in their graves].
(Maseches Shabbos 152b)
evidently did not teach you Mishlei. For [you apparently are unaware of] the verse [that] states, “The rotting of bones is [caused by] envy” (Mishlei 14:30) – implying that the bones of anyone who has envy in his heart will rot, whereas the bones of anyone who does not have envy in his heart will not rot. [Rav Achai bar Yoshiya was claiming that since he had not been guilty of jealousy throughout his life, his body remains preserved, free of the mortal fate of bodily decomposition.] Rav Nachman touched the corpse and determined that it was indeed real [and not an illusion]. He told the corpse: Let the master arise and come to my house. Rav Achai bar Yoshiya replied: Now you have demonstrated that you [are not merely ignorant of Mishlei but also] you are not well-versed in
* I.e., the bodies of tzaddikim will eventually rot and become dust, just like the bodies of other persons. (See Rashi ––Note 18 of the Artscroll Schottenstein Edition) **Yechezkel 37:13. I.e., G-d will bring forth the dead during the Messianic Era; until then, we are not granted permission to arise. (Rashi ––Note 26 of the Artscroll Schottenstein Edition) ***I.e., the bodies of the righteous will not decompose until just before the Resurrection; at that moment, they will return to dust so that their bodies may be resurrected like all others. (Iyun Yaakov, words beginning with “Rav Mari said to him”; cf. Maharal ––Note 29 of the Artscroll Schottenstein Edition)
Issue 894 • �
MY FIRST TISHREI WITH THE REBBE
By Rabbi Sholom Dovber Wolpo Prepared for publication by Shneur Zalman Levin
particularly remember Tishrei 5726/1965. We arrived at 770 on Thursday, 19 Elul 5725. Our hearts beat rapidly. The moment we had waited for had finally come. We immediately went into the secretaries’ office and I gave R’ Binyamin Klein the letters and the esrogim. When I left the office, the rest of the bachurim arrived from the airport (I had come before them), and they said that the minute they arrived the Rebbe came to 770, and when he got out of the car he turned around and looked at them twice and then entered 770. I missed that and did not see the Rebbe. I saw the Rebbe for the first time when he came in for Maariv. I was very keyed up and emotional. I made a spiritual accounting and remembered everything that had happened, being immersed in the physicality of eating and drinking, etc. It is a bitter feeling when you know that in another few minutes you are going to have to face the Rebbe, Nasi Doreinu, bare and bereft of everything. I remember it till today, that at 9:32 the Rebbe came out of his room and entered the beis midrash. In my excitement and great trepidation upon seeing the
Rebbe for the first time, I forgot to say the SheHechiyanu blessing, as is customary (I said it later on when I saw him again). The Rebbe looked over the bachurim and guests once and twice. Each time he looked at me with his holy eyes, I was seized by trembling and I lowered my gaze. I tried to prove to myself that this was no dream but I was really standing near the Rebbe. How did I deserve this? Each of us had submitted a note to the Rebbe in which we informed him of our safe arrival and requested a bracha. The answer that I (and some other bachurim) received was, “azkir al ha’tziyun.” Some bachurim submitted one note which they all signed and the Rebbe responded: In a good and
auspicious time in everything. I will mention them at the tziyun for the above-mentioned and a k’siva va’chasima tova. Surely you will immediately enter into the schedule of learning Nigleh and Chassidus with the diligence fitting these great days when the final letter Yud is already revealed from “v’dodi” after twenty days of preparation since Rosh Chodesh Elul, two Yuds of the final letters of “Ani l’dodi.” We are promised: When a person sanctifies himself etc. he is sanctified a lot from above. On Shabbos, the Rebbe davened in the big beis midrash downstairs in honor of the guests. I remember that I stood next to the Rebbe and could see him throughout the davening; so too the next day. At Mincha on Erev Shabbos and at Kabbalas Shabbos, I saw the Rebbe take out a handkerchief and wipe his eyes. It was heartrending to see the Rebbe cry. On Motzaei Shabbos after 1:00, the Rebbe came for Slichos which were said with great inspiration. At the end, he began banging on the lectern and everybody danced. The Rebbe began urging on the crowd with his hands and he turned to the crowd and everyone danced. One of the most uplifting moments was, of course, the blowing
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R’ Wolpo learning in 770
R’ Wolpo asking for a bracha at Kos shel Bracha
of the shofar. It began already with the reading of Maftir, which the Rebbe read with terrible sobbing. When the Rebbe went to Maftir, everyone got up on the tables and entire rows of bachurim and balabatim literally fell from that height. Tables, chairs and boxes broke. A lot of time went by before all was quiet. After the Haftora, he placed the tallis over the three large bundles of pidyonos and cried a lot, and then he cried again by the recitation of LaM’natzeiach and the verses before the blowing of the shofar. Even someone with a heart of stone would shudder at the sight of the Nasi Ha’dor crying because of our sins and asking that Hashem provide what everyone needs, materially and spiritually, that which was requested in the pidyonos. At the farbrengen which took place on the second day of Rosh HaShana, the Rebbe devoted a lot of time talking about the Jews in Russia behind the Iron Curtain. During the farbrengen, the Rebbe gave R’ Mendel Futerfas, R’ Asher Sasonkin, and R’ Mordechai Aharon Friedman, two bottles of mashke each, for them to distribute.
The Rebbe got up on a chair and danced, he motioned that we should dance, and it seemed as though everyone had forgotten they were fasting.
The Rebbe suddenly began to sing “Tzama Lecha Nafshi,” and indicated that we should continue singing. Then again, the Rebbe sang alone, “Kein Ba’kodesh,” and told us to continue singing, then the third line, and each time he sang alone and then we sang. There was a sicha afterward in connection with this pasuk. During the sicha, the Rebbe mentioned the Jews in Russia and cried copiously. At a certain point, the Rebbe had us sing “Avinu Malkeinu” and “Hu Elokeinu.” In the middle, he stopping singing and was serious. The crowd slowly quieted down and he began the maamer, “Min HaMeitzar.” Toward the end of the farbrengen, the Rebbe had us sing the niggun of “Dalet Bavos” and “Nye Zhuritse Chlopsi.” Everyone “went out of their restraints” as the Rebbe danced a lot and roused the crowd with his hands.
LIKE AN ANGEL OF G-D
Yom Kippur was also a day that is unforgettable when you spent it with the Rebbe. Before Kol Nidrei all the bachurim stood near the Rebbe’s room and the Rebbe came out wearing a kittel and tallis that nearly covered his eyes. He blessed the bachurim with a g’mar chasima tova and that the learning should lead to action, hiddur in the fulfillment of mitzvos and an avodas ha’t’filla that would have an effect on thought, speech, and action. At the end of Yom Kippur, when they sang the March and the Rebbe got up on a chair and danced, he motioned that we should dance, and it seemed as though everyone had forgotten they were fasting. It was quite a sight to see the Rebbe in his white kittel and tallis covering his head, like a veritable angel of G-d.
Issue 894 • �
GEMARA IS FOR
As thousands of children are returning to school and yeshiva bachurim are sitting down to their Gemaras with their compact print and small letters, what should be done with those who find it hard to learn Gemara? * How can you train a child to understand deep concepts? * How can we take the ox and the donkey and make them relevant to today’s kids? * This, and more, in an interview with educator, R’ Yeshaya Weber, developer of a method to evaluate and facilitate Gemara learning for everyone.
Interview by Nosson Avrohom Photos by Ezra Landau
he child is having difficulty with Gemara. His teacher recommends a tutor. The child learns reluctantly with the tutor and doesn’t make much progress. His devoted parents decide to take him to be evaluated, but the teacher doesn’t understand the precise problem within the numerous evaluation pages. More importantly, he has no idea how to help the child. R’ Yeshaya Weber identified this problem over thirty years ago. He started Machon Ruth and Yad Tzvi for remedial education for children with learning problems, and Machon Achiya to train teachers, and felt that
the usual professional tools were not enough for those children who have a hard time with limudei kodesh, particularly with Gemara. “The usual evaluation does not give a precise picture of the child’s difficulties in learning Gemara and does not pinpoint for us how to treat the problem.” Slowly, with the guidance of professionals, R’ Weber began developing his method which is called simply HaShitta (The Method), which evaluates the child by having him learn Gemara. R’ Weber sits with the boy and as they learn, he sees what his difficulties are
as well as crystallizes an approach to handling them. “In the past fifteen years, we have treated thousands of children with this method and the results speak for themselves,” he says with enormous satisfaction. Just moments before we began the interview, parents of an older boy thanked him because his solution had given their son the desire to learn. With his unique method, R’ Weber is creating a revolution in many religious schools in Eretz Yisroel and around the world. He has worked to train teachers so that they themselves will know how to expand
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Issue 894 • �
RABBI YESHAYA WEBER
R’ Weber was interested in chinuch from a very young age. “When I was a boy, I did some mischief and then checked to see the reaction of the teachers. One put me in my place, while another justified what I did. Afterward, I went over to the one who censured me and said, ‘You should know that your approach is correct.’ I felt that he really cared about me.” The big influences in his life were his father, R’ Elimelech a”h, and his uncle, the mashpia R’ Moshe Weber a”h, as well as other outstanding personalities in Yerushalayim of the previous generation. “My father always taught me to look at the neshama, to evaluate and learn from people not based on their external appearance. True greatness lies hidden from the eye, he would repeatedly say.” When he was a young boy, his family moved to the United States because of a strong friendship that his father had with R’ Uriel Tzimmer a”h who had also emigrated. “My father was very close with Chabad and the Rebbe, but he did not want me to learn in a Chabad yeshiva. He sent me to learn in Yeshiva Torah Vodaas, but I wanted to learn in Chabad. This was the basis for the yechidus that I had together with my father in Shevat 5726. “The topic came up and the Rebbe said that the Rambam writes that a boy needs to learn where he wants. The Rebbe asked: Why is this Halacha written in the Laws of Honoring Parents and not in the Laws of Talmud Torah? He said that this is because this is true respect for parents. If a boy learns in a place he doesn’t like but where his parents want him to learn, then after a while he will drop out and this will cause his parents great aggravation. If he learns where he wants to learn, and he has the desire to learn and is successful, there is no greater honoring of parents than this. “Even before that yechidus, when we arrived in New York at the beginning of Nissan 5722, my father took me to the Rebbe who was busy giving out matzos. My father on the Method. The results are seen within all sectors of the religious community and he has acquired a reputation of being successful. He publicized the principles of the Method in his book called Ohr B’Shvilei HaGemara (Light within the Pathways of the Gemara) that was published twelve years ago. He says his sole interest is to increase the number of those who
introduced me to the Rebbe who said to my father: I know him because he sends me letters. “From when I was a child in Yerushalayim, I would write to the Rebbe and share my thoughts and ask for a bracha. I was thrilled that the Rebbe identified me out of the hundreds of thousands of letters he received.” R’ Weber said that the Rebbe was very involved in his chinuch. His father had yechidus a number of times in order to receive guidance in this area. He gave up on his desire that his son learn in a non-Chabad yeshiva and made peace with his switching to Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in Montreal. Later on, after he married, he founded a kollel in Montreal together with R’ Zalman Morosov. Two years later, he moved to Eretz Yisroel and was one of the founders of Nachalat Har Chabad. “Upon R’ Nosson Wolf’s request, I learned with the new immigrants who were coming at that time from Russia. I taught them to read and write and did mivtzaim with them. That was my first chinuch attempt.” Later on, he returned to Yerushalayim and worked as a teacher in the Chabad elementary school in Shikun Chabad, where he was very successful. Throughout these years, he received guidance and brachos from the Rebbe for his educational work. “In 5737, I had yechidus and I asked the Rebbe for a bracha for my work. The Rebbe said: Great and outstanding success with your children, these are the students.” Over the years, he has worked as a guidance counselor in elementary schools all across the religious spectrum. “During the years that were the hardest in terms of the war waged against the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, I was a guidance counselor in a Litvishe elementary school. The fact that I was a Lubavitcher did not bother anyone. People knew that what matters to me is the students’ success.” Indeed, it is remarkable to see how he has received brachos and encouragement for his Method from all segments of religious Jewry and how his Method has attracted many teachers.
learn Torah. “The Torah belongs to every Jew. There is nobody who cannot learn it. Over the years, I have learned that all the obstacles can be turned into challenges and every child can be successful. However, it is vital that the unique problem of each child be pinpointed and treated appropriately.” After evaluations, precise guidance is given to teachers and
trainers who themselves have undergone training in the Method as well as specialized testing. They give the children tutorial lessons so that the children begin making progress. What is the Method? Can a parent reading this article get tips to help his son? We asked R’ Weber and got practical advice. His professionalism and years of experience speak for themselves.
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A BIBLICAL OBLIGATION TO GIVE A CHILD THE ABILITY TO LEARN TORAH
Before talking about how to teach Gemara, from what age should we start trying to get the child to appreciate learning and what is the best way to do this? There must be a good bond between the child and the Torah. A child must feel that his relationship with Gemara is different; that it’s not just another subject. It’s not math or geography that you can like or dislike. The Torah is a value that exists within the soul of every Jew and pertains to all. It’s just that we need to know how to give it over to our children. A parent who will sit at the Shabbos table and ask every time, “Nu, what did you learn this week,” will get a laconic reply and the conversation will be over. The child feels that the importance of learning is just in the knowledge. His father has to come up with different questions each week so that the interest level will be higher. The Alter Rebbe says that a Jew must live with the times, take the weekly sidra and live with it by connecting it to what is going on that week. The same is true here. When a parent teaches a child to live this way, the Torah becomes something real, a way of life, and this must start before the child is born and then when he is very young and as he grows up. I remember how ten years ago a couple came to me from Nachalat Har Chabad with their thirteen old son. They came to consult with me about which yeshiva to send him to. Their son was astonishingly good at Gemara for his age. I was surprised. From what I knew of them, they weren’t so involved in Gemara study. I dared to ask how their son became so outstanding in his learning. The grandmother had come along. She heard the question and said proudly,
She heard the question and said proudly, “What do you mean? From when he was born I wrapped his crib in pages of Gemara.”
“What do you mean? From when he was born I wrapped his crib in pages of Gemara.” Why did you need to develop a method and found an institution with an emphasis on Gemara? Doesn’t it have to do with learning in general and not the particular subject? There is a Biblical obligation to enable every child to learn Torah and Gemara is included. There are some in the educational system who have a hard time providing a professional response to the special needs of those who have trouble learning or in realizing their potential. This is why individualized instruction is the only means to fulfilling the mitzva. For other subjects there are institutions and many ways of tailoring the material to the student. Over the years, I have seen that many who are involved in this work are lacking professional training that would enable them to pinpoint the problems and their causes, and to match a teaching method to the learner’s needs.
Even those who underwent professional training in special education do not necessarily have the tools to practically apply what they know to teaching Gemara with its special requirements. They are unable to identify the specific difficulties and lack the strategies to address them. We provide the background and professional knowledge needed to develop the child. We try to emphasize the unique characteristics of Gemara learning and the tools needed for learning it. Let’s be honest. There are boys who don’t like to learn. Maybe our
insistence on their learning Gemara will cause them such frustration that it will end up turning them off completely from a religious life? I have a lot to say about that, but the basis of it is as I already said. Gemara is not just another subject for which you need to achieve a certain level of competence, and whoever does so passes the course. If that is the goal, we might as well just give up. The real idea here is that learning Gemara is the access point to the Oral Torah. Gemara contains the principles; through the Gemara you understand what Chazal are saying, you learn how to draw conclusions etc. Gemara is the Torah material that develops the student’s abilities which will help him in all subjects. When we understand this, then our role is to get the child to understand the Gemara and immerse himself in it. There is a widespread mistake in that teachers and parents are used to one method of learning and a child who does not understand it remains
Issue 894 • �
behind. Then we think, maybe it’s not for him. With our Method, we employ the five types of intelligence: understanding of concepts, reasoning, reading comprehension, assimilation and expression. Hashem created us differently and each child is strong in one aspect of intelligence. We need to find out who has which one and to make the learning accessible to him and provide him with the tools to succeed. Our job is to create a proper and suitable convergence between the student and the material by utilizing the child’s G-d given abilities. In my years of experience, I have seen students who did not like to learn; why should they when their teachers served it up to them incorrectly and they only experienced failure? After finding their strength and providing them with the tools, they were very successful. So you’re saying that every child can learn Gemara and it makes no difference what his intellectual level is? Yes. There is a Maharsha on the pasuk, “Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe,” where he says that it’s an inheritance; every child already has the entire Torah. The Maharsha teaches that someone who says a certain child is incapable is robbing him of his inheritance. The question is to what extent we adults are guiding the child correctly and believing in him and his abilities. We need to be bar poel (“effective ones”). The Rebbe Rayatz says that a good teacher is not someone who is a Torah scholar but someone who is an “effective one,” he impacts his student and makes him into a “vessel.” That is what is important. We are Chassidim and we were taught to look inward. Chassidishe teachers were always more focused on developing a child’s personality and this is a foundation in Lubavitch, absolute devotion to a child. If there is devotion and love and the knowhow to provide the right tools, then there is no reason why a child cannot be successful in learning. There is a problem which I constantly bring up, which is that the number of students in today’s classrooms is not in line with what it says in the Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deia siman 245, s’if 9. It says that if there is a class with more than 25 students, you need to open another class. There are many classrooms with a much higher number of students. The Pis’chei T’shuva there says that the number 25 was just in the days of the Talmud. In our days, halevai we would fulfill our obligations towards ten students. What are the main problems that hold a child back from enjoying learning Gemara? I think that the biggest problem is us, the adults; we have a hard time with Gemara and we bequeath this to our children. If we were more professional, this subject would be the absolute favorite. In addition, there are some very real difficulties like the language of the Gemara, the style, the density and complexity of the language and concepts. In the Gemara there is a lot of fluidity; things are left open and unresolved until, sometimes, pages later. Children by nature don’t like to get involved in intricacies, back and forth, ten possible explanations until they get to a punch line. A child by nature wants a beginning, middle and end in ten minutes. Our job is to get the child to love Gemara learning anyway. I can say with confidence: a child who really loves Gemara will find it much easier to handle difficulties in life. In Likkutei Torah Parshas VaEschanan, the Alter Rebbe says that the back-and-forth of the Gemara is drawn down from the highest place, even if there is no practical halachic outcome, for this is the Will of Hashem. I heard from R’ Sholom Chaim Deitsch that the Rebbe said to people in yechidus that he wants the bachurim to have a koch (excitement) in the question of why Sumchus doesn’t hold like the Chachomim and vice versa. Is it hard? Yes, but our job is to simplify it and get the child to relate to the learning and to handle the difficulties by providing him with the tools he needs. How can a teacher, who has 35 students and has to deal a lot with discipline, identify the type of intelligence within each boy and then teach the same material in so many different ways? Nobody said the job of teachers is an easy one. As to your question, I am sure it is not beyond the realm and is doable. The teacher can start with the basics, with the p’shat of the Gemara and have most of the students with him, and then continue and explain the topic on higher and deeper levels. Every sugya has a logical and simple key idea which the teacher can start with. After all, every boy knows that one plus one equals two, and from there he can continue and learn the entire sugya. A good teacher can, even in the middle of a lesson, figure out the boy’s type of intelligence. A teacher doesn’t sit in an ivory tower, removed from what is going on in the classroom. The learning is conducted through a dialogue with the students. It’s just that he has to first learn what the intelligences are so he can understand where each student is at. In addition, I would recommend that every teacher have a personal conversation with each student, one that he initiates and not as a reactive measure to something happened, so he can get to know them. In a course that I participated in recently, a teacher claimed to me that he has students who are strong in all the intelligences. I told him, tomorrow, when you enter the classroom, don’t ask the strong students questions about
34 � • Erev Rosh HaShana 5774
information, but ask questions that test their understanding of concepts. When he came back the next day to the course, he told me in astonishment that the boys he thought were weak answered nicely, and the ones he thought were strong in their knowledge had no reasoning skills. It’s those children with problems with paying attention and concentration who have excellent reasoning skills and conceptual understanding. True, they need special treatment and a teacher who can handle them in the classroom, but I believe that they too can fit into a class. A teacher must ensure that every student has a place in the classroom and a part in the learning. A teacher needs to go home and tell himself: it was not that the student who was disruptive is no good; rather, I did not expand the circle of learners and I did not explain it enough to draw that student in. Many parents as well as teachers promise and give prizes to motivate children. We know that
A child by nature wants a beginning, middle and end in ten minutes … A child who really loves Gemara will find it much easier to handle difficulties in life.
over the years, while reward prizes get bigger and bigger as time goes by. Real prizes of encouragement include nice words, listening, caring, a push in the right direction and admiring words so that the child feels that the biggest prize is when he learns well. He takes pleasure in the learning. Yes, at first you give prizes, but you cannot allow the prize to be the sole motivation to learn. You can write a letter of appreciation to a child with some positive messages. In my experience, it’s worth a fortune.
the Rambam talks about giving children nuts. What do you think about this? I am opposed to giving prizes for learning. You don’t give a prize for learning well; the learning should be a given. If a child gets used to receiving prizes every time he behaves well, there will be no end to it. A parent came to me and said he had given his son everything, even a plane ticket. He has nothing left to excite him. He asked me what he should do. I told him that getting a child used to the system where he receives a salary for good behavior or otherwise he won’t behave is untenable. The right way of giving prizes is by way of encouragement, but not as payment. Prizes of encouragement are minimal and then diminish
PRIVATE TUTORS NEED TRAINING
It is common for parents to pay for tutors. A teacher with thirty students in a class cannot focus on the individual and parents hope that a private tutor will help their
Issue 894 • �
children. What do you think? A tutor, even one who knows how to learn, needs training even more than a classroom teacher. The job of a tutor is not only academic, but in most cases is a form of treatment. The boy who comes to him is a boy with certain problems for which he needs private tutoring, so that when he no longer has a tutor he can manage on his own. However, today, the situation is such that there are many cases in which the tutor not only does not help, but he adversely affects the boy’s progress. There are many other situations in which the tutor props the child up on crutches and when he leaves, the crutches fall along with the child. When you pick a tutor, it is not enough that he be good at learning; you have to see that he has training in the field of instruction. explain. During the learning, even if he makes a mistake, don’t correct him. Hear him out till the end. When he finishes, start spending time on points that he explained correctly which can be developed. You can gently ask him whether, when he said such, if he meant thus, in order to lead him to the conclusion which he should say in his own words. Never interrupt him to correct him. I will always guide a boy and never teach him. You can ask him to read again and again and ask him whether he meant this or that. Let him lead and remember that he doesn’t like being corrected; his confidence is undermined. Even if, when I guide him, I’m already telling him 90%, let him say the final word. That gives him the confidence in learning and he’ll do it happily. It is important for the father to His diagnosis was not ADD, but an emotional problem which affects his self-confidence. Ever since he was a little boy, he suffered from teasing and harassment and he absorbed it all. I saw that his problem in expending effort and proving himself is that he is afraid he will be laughed at. I prepared a special program for his parents, to first learn with him the concepts of the Gemara, not to read a line of it; just to learn the concepts. Later on, they can learn the Gemara inside. In general, I would recommend that every teacher adapt and simplify the material of the Gemara so there won’t be a single student who does not understand it. It should even be done with those things that seem easy and simple. You can never know how a student understands it. Let me tell you a story. A mashgiach came to me with a talmid whom he thought had psychological problems. The student said he had stomach pains but he was examined and nothing was found. That is why they concluded he was suffering from emotional problems. He asked me for my opinion and I said I am neither a doctor nor a psychologist, but I had him send me the boy. I asked him questions in the Gemara and I saw that he knew it backward and forward, better than me. When I took a Gemara and asked him to read and explain, he was unable to. I went on to ask him questions about his daily life, such as how does water get to the faucet? What was Avrohom’s test of Lech Lecha? It was like I was speaking a foreign language. He did not know what to say. I saw that his memory is excellent but he was extremely weak in comprehending basic concepts. In elementary school he managed to maneuver with his memory, but when he went to high school where he was asked comprehension
There are many children whose behavior is like those who have ADD but their problem is actually an emotional one.
A tutor must learn how to properly relate to a child; otherwise, a lot of money is wasted and parents will be disillusioned. Parents come to me, who have spent tens of thousands of shekels on tutors, and they don’t understand why there is no change. I ask them: How can there be a change? From where should the tutors, who know how to learn but not how to teach, know how to set the child straight? How can a parent who reads this interview know how to learn Gemara with his son? I will answer in generalities without getting into detail. A basic principle: a parent who learns with his son should always let him read. Even if you are a talmid chochom and a teacher yourself, even a rosh yeshiva, let the boy read himself and
be patient. If you are overwhelmed, don’t learn with your son. Better not to learn with him than to do so under pressure. You talk a lot about the personal relationship between teacher and student, about having a personal program etc. Can you give an example of a child and the type of personal program for Gemara that would work for him? I’ll tell you about the most recent evaluation I did, before this interview. Parents came with their son, a sixteen year old, with various problems, who received a lot of remedial help. He does not belong in a special education classroom because he is capable, but he is very weak in a regular classroom. The boy has gaps in his ability to adjust, a child with “disabilities” in professional jargon.
36 � • Erev Rosh HaShana 5774
questions, he shriveled up. When his mother asked me what I thought, it wasn’t easy for me to tell her because everyone told her he was a genius. I finally told her what I thought, “Your son’s strength is in memorizing, but not in comprehension. He repeats things like a parrot.” She thanked me and said I was first one to tell her the truth and that she had suspected the same. When his teachers were asked how he was in learning, they would say, “If only everyone understood as he does.” The boy knew this secret about himself. Being afraid lest it become known, he developed stomach pains. If he went to a psychiatrist, he would certainly have been given pills and treatment. He was given a program and he returned to yeshiva and changed from one extreme to the other. Of course, his stomach pains vanished. He married and just recently I met the mashgiach who spoke to me about him and he told me that this former talmid was doing wonderfully.
TRANSLATING THE GEMARA INTO RELEVANT TERMS
The Gemara speaks a lot about concepts that don’t seem to have any relevance to us. Consequently, the child is likely not to find it interesting. How should the Gemara be presented so that it is relevant to our lives? In every sugya you can find a practical relevance. In order to understand the Gemara, it must be made relevant to the child’s reality. For example, a child learns about a lender who lends a cow and it “dies while working.” I would translate that to a drill that I borrowed from a neighbor which stopped working as I used it. Or, for example when talking about cases of negligence for which a person is obligated to pay, I will ask, “Why?” Because a person needs to take responsibility for how he impacts on his surroundings. You can’t say you just care about yourself. The same is true for someone who left a rock and a knife on a roof and the wind blew them off and someone got hurt. I would bring 1001 examples of situations like that in our daily lives, the bottom line being that a person must take responsibility for himself and his actions. When you explain it to a child in this way, and relate the concepts in the Gemara to situations that he encounters in daily life, he connects to the Gemara and you end up training him through the Gemara learning.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF GETTING THE PROPER TREATMENT
You referred to children with attention problems; you deal a lot with children who have this issue. How do you handle them? I will not learn with someone who is diagnosed with ADD without him being treated. It’s a waste of time. If medication is what will help him concentrate, what use will anything else be when his problem is distracting him? However, in the same breath I want to say the following. There are many children whose behavior is like those who have ADD but their
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problem is actually an emotional one. You can learn with them properly, going from the easy to the more difficult, gradually, and they do well. R’ Moshe Halberstam a”h (of the Badatz Yerushalayim) told me once that there was a very mischievous child in his town whose pranks were known throughout the vicinity. I am sure that if he lived nowadays, he would be placed in special education, but when he turned eleven, he began putting all his energy into his learning. He became a leader of Klal Yisroel and his name was R’ Meir Shapiro, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin. So even children like that can harness their energy towards holy things. There was a time when I had your son to learn with you. The son feels responsible to learn with his father; whatever he learns he needs to teach to his father, who shows him that he enjoyed learning with him. This greatly motivates the child. It’s an incredible personal example that makes Torah learning beloved to a child. The father shows the child how important Torah is to him. The story is told about a rav and a balabus. The rav’s children turned out okay, but the balabus’ children became rabbanim and maggidei shiur. The two fathers once met and the rav asked: How did this happen? The balabus replied: When you went home, what did you talk about? How what the other rabbi said was incorrect and only you were correct. comes home and has Torah stories to relate, this brings simcha to the home.
YOU CANNOT BE MEKUSHAR WITHOUT LEARNING GEMARA!
To what extent does your being a Lubavitcher Chassid play a role in your educational projects? Do you consider it a shlichus? If I didn’t see it as a shlichus, I would not be investing so much energy and money. When I finished learning in the yeshiva in Montreal, I could have gone on shlichus like the rest of my friends. I have a lot of friends who are shluchim, but I saw my shlichus in chinuch. I wanted to use my talents and so, with the Rebbe’s brachos, I went out to help Jewish children. I work not only within Chabad, but mainly outside of Chabad. People from all groups know that we are Chabad and nobody is bothered by that. Some of my students opened an institute in Williamsburg. My dream is for the Method to reach all communities so that more children can benefit from it and love learning Gemara. What do you say to parents who say that the most important thing to them is that their son be mekushar to the Rebbe? It is less important to them that he know the Gemara well. It shows a complete lack of understanding of what hiskashrus is. How do you connect to the Rebbe? By learning his sichos and maamarim. My question is: how can a bachur understand the sichos that are full of quotes from the Gemara if he doesn’t learn Gemara? Moreover, the Rebbe asked and begged, time and again, that bachurim be immersed in and “live” with their Gemara learning. Not for naught does it say in Pirkei Avos, “V’lo Am HaAretz Chassid.”
How can a bachur understand the sichos that are full of quotes from the Gemara if he doesn’t learn Gemara?
a group of children here with ADD with whom I learned Gemara in a mathematical format that required concentration of no more than five minutes. I spoke to them in shorthand, in code, and they wrote using few words, and they absorbed an entire inyan with lightening speed and without much explanation. Those who work with these children know that they are highly intelligent, but I can definitely understand a teacher who cannot handle them in the classroom without them being treated. Parents who did not learn in their youth, like baalei t’shuva, or fathers who never got into learning – how can such a parent review the Gemara with his son, not to mention getting his child to enjoy it? That is often asked. Some parents have come to me and asked that, and I say that someone like that can make learning beloved to his son more than others. You ask When I went home, I said, my dear children, come hear the wonderful Torah I heard today. Did you also hear something? If so, I’d like to hear it. The father enjoyed hearing Torah from his children and they tried listening in order to please their father. The rav contradicted others, and so his children had no desire to learn because they didn’t want him to contradict them. I’d like to mention here that people think that learning with a son is only the father’s job, but the mother also has a job. Between the courses served on Shabbos, she can listen to the Torah being said and ask questions and take an interest. She can show her son that she finds this important and fascinating. That is the biggest encouragement to a child. You don’t have to wait for the Avos U’Banim program. Learning with a child has no set time. Showing that you cherish Torah can happen at any time. A child needs to know that if he
38 � • Erev Rosh HaShana 5774
TRANSITION TO A NEW DIMENSION
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
As we approach the end of 5773 and ready ourselves to enter into the New Year of 5774, we read the parsha Netzavim-VaYeilech. In some years, the two portions are separated; the first part (Nitzavim) is read before Rosh Hashanah and the second section (VaYeilech) is read during the Shabbos that follows Rosh Hashanah. This year we read them together before Rosh Hashanah. What lesson can we learn from VaYeilech in conjunction with the transition into a new year? Parshas VaYeilech begins with an enigmatic verse: “Moses went, and he spoke the following words to all Israel.” This verse is followed with the words: “Moses said to them, ‘Today I am one hundred and twenty years old. I am no longer able to lead (you) out and bring (you) back. G-d said to me, ‘You may not cross this Jordan.’” What does the Torah mean when it says that Moses went? Where did he go? If it means that he went to the place where the Jewish people resided rather than that they came to him, the question then is, why? Furthermore, in last week’s parsha, Ki Savo, the Torah explicitly states that Moses summoned the
people. In the beginning of Nitzavim (the first half of this week’s parsha) Moses states: “You are all standing today before G-d…” implying that the entire Jewish nation was already standing in the presence of Moses, in proximity of the Mishkan, the Sanctuary in the desert. Why then would he have to go to them if they were already there? And if we were to suggest that Moses sent them away and, instead of calling them back, he went to them, the question then will be why did he send them away in the first place? And if, for whatever reason, he wanted them to leave but then decided to speak to them again, why did he not summon them back as he had done in the past?
TO THE HOUSE OF STUDY
The Midrashic translation of the Torah attributed to the Sage Rabbi Yonoson ben Uziel states that Moses went to the House of Study before addressing the people. Why, at this point, would he have had to go to the House of Study? What did he say to the people in these final words that warranted going to the House of Study first? Moses was the head of the Academy and the source of all Torah knowledge; with whom did he have to consult to know what to
teach? Furthermore, the message Moses imparted in this week’s parsha contains very little legal material which might have required additional study and research. One answer to these questions lies in a major shift in the subject matter of the text of the parsha that follows Moses’ going to the Jewish people. In the preceding verses, and indeed throughout most of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses rebuked the people, recounted their past history in the desert, reiterated the hundreds of commandments they were given and exhorted them to abide by G-d’s laws. In this section, however, Moses changes the subject to his personal future and that of the Jewish people. Moses tells them he will no longer be allowed by G-d to lead them, and that his successor Yehoshua will assume leadership; it is Yehoshua who will lead them into the Promised Land. We can now suggest the reason Moses went to the people rather than summoning them to him.
MOSES THE KING
As long as Moses performed his role as leader of the Jewish people, he enjoyed the status of a monarch.
Issue 894 • �
The way the Torah determines the length of a generation is by the particular mission given to each generation. Each succeeding generation has a unique and very specific mission which complements the universal one we received at Sinai.
HOW LONG IS A GENERATION?
The lesson we can learn here is that every generation has its own particular mode of service, leadership and approach to the Torah. This doesn’t mean that every generation is given the right to alter the Torah; it does suggest, however, that each generation finds its own approach to understanding Torah and an emphasis that is relevant to that particular generation. But how is a generation determined? In colloquial usage, a generation is a span of about 20 to 25 years. However, that is not the way a generation is calculated by the Torah. For example, the Midrash tells us that there were twenty six generations from Adam to Moses over an expanse of 2,400 years! We are told that there were another seven generations from Moses to King David, yet the expanse of time was only around 400 years. The way the Torah determines the length of a generation is by the particular mission given to each generation. All of us, from Sinai onward, have the same general mission, which is to study Torah, perform Mitzvos and make this world into a dwelling place for G-d. Nevertheless, each succeeding generation has a unique and very specific mission which complements the universal one we received at Sinai. How can we determine which particular role and mission characterized each period in history? The answer is that the particular mission of each generation can be determined by study of the leader of that generation. Each leader possesses a special soul, well suited for that particular time. If that leader remains the leader for 40 years, which was Moses’ tenure of leadership, then that was a 40 year generation.
Moses was not just the ultimate teacher of Torah, the ultimate prophet, he was also a monarch. This fact is stated later in the Torah when it says, “And there was a king in Yeshurun.” According to one interpretation (see Ibn Ezra) this refers to Moses. Indeed, the Talmud (Z’vachim 102) states clearly that he had the status of a king. As their king and leader it was his royal prerogative to tell them to meet him wherever he might be. In his role as their teacher, it also was important that he make them come to him. A student must not only be prepared to learn, but must also actively seek out knowledge. The student shows his or her thirst for knowledge by making an effort to come to the teacher, wherever the teacher resides. Moses’ calling the people to himself was prompted by both roles in which he served, as monarch and teacher.
Moses demonstrated by his actions that he was transferring the position of king and leader to Yehoshua. Without the authority as the monarch, Moses reversed the procedure of having the nation come to him. Now, Moses went to the people to deliver his final message.
A NEW STUDENT
Moses was also the supreme teacher, authority and transmitter of Torah. Whenever we speak of him, we refer to him as Moshe RabbeinuMoses our teacher. However, the Torah had to be transmitted to the next generation in an unbroken chain that links the revelation of G-d at Sinai with every successive generation until this very day. Moses, as the first recipient of Torah from G-d, was now forging the next link in the chain of tradition by transferring the teachings of Torah, and the Divine authority given to the Sages to interpret it, to his most trusted disciple, Yehoshua. Moses the supreme Torah authority was now handing over that responsibility and awesome power to Yehoshua. This might explain the abovementioned commentary of Rabbi Yonoson ben Uziel, who says that Moses went to the House of Study before addressing the people with his final message. Since Moses wanted to demonstrate that a new link in the chain of tradition was being forged he made the symbolic gesture that he, too, had come to listen to the teachings of Torah now entrusted to Yehoshua.
All of this changed at the moment Moses transferred the leadership of the Jewish people at G-d’s command to his trusted disciple, Yehoshua. Moses, in the message that begins VaYeilech, removed himself from the leadership position and handed it over to Yehoshua. Moses says as much in the next verse: “I am no longer to lead you…” Rashi explains that he meant that he was no longer permitted by G-d to be their leader, despite the fact that he had not lost any of his vigor. It was time for the transition of leadership to a new leader and a new generation.
40 � • Erev Rosh HaShana 5774
When Moses delivered his final soliloquy, revealing that he was commanded to relinquish leadership in favor of Yehoshua, he signaled that a new generation charged with a new mission, had been born. Thus, Moses went to the House of Study to discover the nature of the new mission. For as long as Moses remained alive—even if it was only for a few hours—he wanted to follow the new leadership. Moses, the most humble person to have lived, was now ready to become the disciple of his own disciple.
Moses, the most humble person to have lived, was now ready to become the disciple of his own disciple.
OUR GENERATION’S MISSION
When we reflect on our generation, the Rebbe—the leader
of our generation—made it clear This then is one of the messages that our mission is to finish the contained in our reading VaYeilech task of bringing about the ultimate before Rosh Hashanah. As we come Redemption by bringing the Divine to the end of the year and stand on presence into this world. Although the threshold of the New Year, we we cannot now see or hear the Rebbe, mirror our generation’s position standing he remains our leader; our mission is of service Express Express service on the threshold of the last generation of exile and the first unchanged. Indeed, it cannot change Fully FullyComputerized Computerized since we have yet to bring about generation of Geula. As we make the the true and complete Redemption. transition, we must be prepared for a 331 331 Kingston Kingston Ave.Ave. Our mission will only change when radically new dimension of life. nd Flr) Flr) Brooklyn Brooklyn NY 11213 NY 11213 (2nd(2 Moshiach is fully revealed and he May we all be inscribed and ushers in the Era of Redemption. sealed for a good and sweet Until then—which we pray, hope year; a year of true and complete Get Getyour your tickets tickets within within minutes! minutes! and believe will be imminent—we Redemption! Fax: Fax: (718) (718) 493-4444 493-4444 have our work cut out for us.
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Issue 894 • �
R’ Zev Crombie, who went with his wife to Sri Lanka in order to help their son and daughter-inlaw who are on shlichus in this Moslem country, wrote a diary of his impressions.
FROM A FATHER’S PERSPECTIVE
e belong to the vast majority of Anash who enjoy living in an established Chabad community. We have regular minyanim, shiurim, kosher food, a mikva, farbrengens, and everything else that comprises the comfortable life of a Chassid. When we have the opportunity to see life on shlichus from up close, we are astounded by the daily mesirus nefesh that it requires. In the army, soldiers serve in many different functions and only the elite serve in special units. Shluchim, are the Rebbe’s elite forces. They are on the front lines in a daily war to reveal Moshiach, and in order to accomplish this, their lives are vastly different than most of Anash and far less comfortable and convenient. Our trip to Sri Lanka was because of a request that
grandparents often get: could we please babysit the grandchildren? In Sri Lanka, there isn’t (yet) a Shifra and Puah organization. There isn’t even a good neighbor whom you can ask to watch the kids for half an hour. What is a mother to do when she is also the teacher and she has to go to the hospital to give birth? That is precisely why we flew all the way to Sri Lanka. We brought about 100 kilograms of food products with us, most of which are daily fare for us, but for shluchim, especially for their children, are luxuries: milk products, cottage cheese, Bamba, potato chips, etc. All the things that a child can buy at a local grocery store in Crown Heights or in Tzfas are a reason for celebration for children on shlichus. Even a simple thing like naming a baby becomes a big deal. Mendy and Talia really hoped to give a name on
Shabbos and they made great efforts to arrange a minyan, but there was no minyan. There were nine people and the tenth did not show up. To go out to the street and look for a tenth man is quite a task in a city of millions of non-Jews. They had no choice but to wait for Monday and to use the Internet for 770live. On Monday, when they got up to reading the Torah in 770 (we had davened Maariv already), we followed the reading. When they got up to the Mi Sh’Beirach for a new mother we heard the gabbai in 770 name the baby (it wasn’t a big surprise; her parents named her Chaya Mushka). What about chickens for Yom Tov? What do you do when the problem is not the expense but endless complications? We, who are used to such conveniences in our Chabad community, don’t always
42 � • Erev Rosh HaShana 5774
R’ Zev Crombie davening Shacharis in the Chabad house in Sri Lanka.
appreciate what we have. In order to have chicken for Yom Tov, it is necessary to locate a shochet who will be willing to go to Sri Lanka and fly him in especially to shecht chickens. It is also necessary to arrange for a slaughterhouse, to buy hundreds of chickens, kasher them, store them, etc. After seeing how much effort and money are involved, you feel foolish about the things that annoy you. It’s all a matter of perspective. Over the years, we grew accustomed to a pampered life so that sometimes we lose perspective. My work at a hostel for the severely handicapped people taught me to appreciate all those things we take for granted. When you care for people who cannot get from one place to another without asking someone to move them, who can’t eat without someone feeding them, who can’t even go to the bathroom
on their own, you get a very different perspective on life. After caring for people like these and hearing someone sound off about trivialities, you ask yourself, doesn’t this person realize how fortunate he is with what he has? Why does he not realize that the difficulties he is talking about are really trivial? The same is true after visiting shluchim and seeing what they have to contend with. You get a completely different perspective toward the problems that sometimes preoccupy people. In their first years on shlichus, there was no mikva and in order to immerse before davening, Mendel brought a large water cistern (the kind they install on rooftops), and that is what he used each morning. After the murderous attack in Bombay, Mendel and Talia moved to a house surrounded by a wall
with a guard at the entrance day and night (he has another important job – every day he sweeps the endless number of leaves that fall off the trees in the yard). Their private quarters are located on the upper floor of the house. The ground floor is used as the shul and Chabad house. The house has a spacious yard where Mendel built a mikva. It also serves the families of tourists. Now, immersing is far easier. It is still a primitive mikva that is built within a simple shed and in order to immerse you need a bit of acrobatics, but it is a major improvement. Mendel told us about a tourist who did not have children for a number of years and after immersing in his mikva, she had a son. Only a few Jews live in Sri Lanka. Most of the people who frequent the Chabad house are Israeli tourists who hike through the magnificent
Issue 894 • �
R’ Mendel Crombie and R’ Avrohom Haronein at the slaughterhouse
The shliach and his son supervising the milking
jungles and surf on the gorgeous beaches. Or, they are businessmen from all over the world who come in search of good deals. One of the few Jews who lives in Sri Lanka is a woman who fled Germany after they took her father to the concentration camp in Dachau. Till today, she takes pride in being the only Jew in the world who is a citizen of Sri Lanka. Now, with the birth of Chaya Mushka, there is another Jew with Sri Lankan citizenship. There was no minyan on Shabbos morning. Not for Mincha either. Then a car drove up with tourists who were returning from the beaches. Apparently they were a bit sheepish about showing up in a car on Shabbos, which is why they would not come in but sat outside on the porch. We looked out the window and saw four men. Inside, we were: Mendy, the shochet R’ Haronein, me and another two guests. Together we were nine. Mendy repeated the story about the two holy brothers, R’ Zushe and R’ Elimelech, who were arrested and sat in jail. One of the brothers complained that he couldn’t even daven because of the bucket of waste that was in the center of the room. The other one said, the same
One who commanded us to daven is the One who commanded us not to daven when there is a bucket of waste. Said Mendy, the same One who commanded that we should read from the Torah said not to read if there is no minyan. When Shabbos was nearly over, the guests overcame their reticence and came in, and they were five! We excitedly took out the Torah and read the sidra, hurrying to finish by nightfall. On Sunday morning, we woke up early for a long trip to the slaughterhouse located somewhere in the jungle. Mendy uses this place, since it is the only one in Sri Lanka that allows him to shecht there. R’ Haronein of Kfar Saba came to shecht with great mesirus nefesh. He left whatever he was doing in order to help with the sh’chita out of true Ahavas Yisroel. It was long and exhausting, and the following night all I could think of was slaughtered chickens. We returned when it was already dark and found the Chabad house full of tourists who packed the house and porch. They formed a minyan and R’ Haronein farbrenged with them until late at night.
Obtaining milk in Sri Lanka is another complicated venture. In order for the children to have milk, they need to go to a farm to supervise the milking. The farm is in one of the suburbs of Colombo, in a poor neighborhood. There are only four cows and the owners live on the farm. As Mendy described their lives on the farm, there is no advantage for the humans over the animals! Since all the cows together provide only about twenty liters of milk each time, it is necessary to go there every week or two to replenish the supply. Tourists show up at the Chabad house throughout the day and night. Although most of them wear shorts and undershirts, have long hair, and earrings etc. nearly all of them happily accede to the request to put on t’fillin. It is almost certain that if we would meet them in Eretz Yisroel and suggest that they put on t’fillin, they wouldn’t even acknowledge us. Here, in a foreign land, they are incredibly receptive. Girls wrap shawls around themselves when they come to the Chabad house and join the shiurim. A tourist calls from one of the distant beaches and says they are a number of Israelis who will be celebrating Rosh HaShana on the
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beach. She asked Mendy to send them wine and challos with someone, so that at least they would be able to make Kiddush. Another tourist, with a long ponytail, would be observing the holiday in a town in the mountains and so he sat with Mendy in order to write down the order of the t’fillos for Rosh HaShana. All the hardships take on a different slant Erev Rosh HaShana, when dozens of guests arrive for davening and Yom Tov meals. Many guests are tourists taking a break in order to celebrate Yom Tov. Some of them know the t’fillos and some of them have apparently never opened a Siddur. There were also businessmen and employees at the embassies, some of whom are married to nonJews. Yet, they each felt something that motivated them to come on this day to be with their fellow Jews. When Mendy began davening Maariv with the moving tune that is used wherever Anash live, and I saw the astonishing mix of Jews all around me, I could not help but be amazed by it all. The same was true when we sat down to the Yom Tov meals, and the next day at the davening, the shofar blowing, Musaf and Tashlich. To think that all these dozens of Jews got to daven and hear the shofar … Even the next day, when we were only nine men and we had no minyan
R’ Zev Crombie putting t’fillin on with a tourist
and Torah reading, these Jews still got to daven the Rosh HaShana davening and hear the shofar. The lives of shluchim are not easy. They follow the path of the frogs during the Plague of Frogs. When Hashem struck Egypt with frogs, He did not designate where
each frog should go. Some frogs did their mission in Pharaoh’s bed and some entered the ovens … We salute the shluchim, especially those who are not fazed by the hardships and go on shlichus to forsaken places. Let us give them our support!
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SHLICHUS INFUSED WITH YEARNING FOR THE REBBE
Although Tishrei is the time when the King returns from the field to the city and enters His palace, accompanied by all those who went out to greet him in the field, there are some who remain in the field to gather up the stragglers and connect them with the King. At a time when every Chassid yearns to be with the Rebbe, the Shluchim make the supreme sacrifice to remain in their place of Shlichus, in order to prepare the world for the ultimate coronation and celebration.
By Rabbi Yaakov Shmuelevitz Shliach, Beit Shaan
BETWEEN EILAT AND UMAN
R’ Shimon Eisenbach has been on shlichus in Eilat for over twentyfive years. R’ Eisenbach’s shul, Netzach Yisroel, has 300 people davening there every Shabbos. Since his youth, R’ Eisenbach has been known as someone who always yearns for the Rebbe and 770. Even as a bachur, he went to the Rebbe every year. When he came of draft age, the Chassidim in Yerushalayim told him that he’d be better off not going for a year, because he would be engaged soon, and he would want to go to the Rebbe and remain until the wedding. The army only allowed trips abroad once in three years. But Shimon did not listen to
them. He listened to R’ Mendel Futerfas who said, the moment you are able to go to the Rebbe, you go. You don’t cancel a trip because of a possible future trip (see box). Shimon went on K’vutza, he went after K’vutza, and he went again as a chassan. Even then, there were some Chassidim who advised him to wait and travel after he married, but he didn’t wait. He ended up going after his wedding too, and then many more times, as many as possible. Erev Rosh HaShana 5770, he suddenly felt a strong desire to spend Rosh HaShana with the Rebbe. He was already humming the Avinu Malkeinu that you only hear at the Rebbe and he had almost ordered a ticket, but in the end, shlichus won
out. 300 people looked forward to hearing him speak on the night of Rosh HaShana, there were the t’fillos and the t’kios. He had to stay home. On the night of Rosh HaShana his shul was packed with local people as well as many guests. R’ Eisenbach was ready to begin his sermon. The door opened and someone somewhat unusual-looking walked in. He was a Chassid with a heavy beard, curly peios, a round, broad-brimmed black hat, and he wore a coat of the style that Breslover Chassidim wear. This was not the sort of look one often encountered in Eilat. R’ Eisenbach wondered how a Breslover Chassid had ended up in Eilat for Rosh HaShana. Then it occurred to him that the man looked familiar. He had seen his
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picture in an advertisement. Ah, he remembered that this was Shuli Rand, a well-known actor (the star of the movie Ushpizin) and singer who became a baal t’shuva and was famous for his lectures, songs and performances. R’ Eisenbach wasn’t 100% sure; in any case, he had to begin his speech. After the davening he would find out. When the davening was over, the people went over to the rabbi to bless him and be blessed for a good, sweet year. The guest waited at the end of the line. He wanted some private time with the rabbi. R’ Shuli and R’ Eisenbach exchanged greetings and then Shuli said, “Believe me; I don’t know how I ended up here on Rosh HaShana. I can’t believe this happened to me. I am utterly broken. For the past seven years, I have spent Rosh HaShana in Uman. I don’t have to tell you how inspiring that is. Thousands upon thousands pray and cry out together in genuine Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shamayim. This year too, I planned on going to Uman for Rosh HaShana, but due to family reasons,
GO, WHILE THE GOING’S GOOD
The story took place in the time of the Rebbe Maharash. Many Chassidim waited to have yechidus with the Rebbe. Each Chassid went through his own preparations for that moment. There was one Chassid who spent several months preparing, but according to his reckoning, he needed more time to prepare. He had already begun formulating what he was going to ask the Rebbe, but in the meantime, he definitely did not feel ready. The Rebbe was accepting people for yechidus, one by one, with the assistant overseeing the process. Then something peculiar happened; there were no more people for yechidus. The Rebbe waited for the next Chassid, but there was no one. What did the assistant do? In the distance, he could see the Chassid who was still making his preparations and he told him, “You are having yechidus now.” The Chassid tried to explain that he hadn’t finished preparing, but the assistant grabbed him and pushed him to the Rebbe’s doorway in such a way that he had no choice but to enter. Within seconds, the Chassid managed to tie on his gartel. From memory, he told the Rebbe about his spiritual state and asked for a bracha and guidance. The Rebbe blessed him and gave him guidance in his Avodas Hashem and the yechidus ended. There are no words to describe how furious the Chassid was with the assistant. “How could you do that to me?” The Rebbe Maharash passed away a few weeks later and then the Chassid went to the assistant, wanting to kiss his feet. “How fortunate for me it is that you pushed me in to see the Rebbe! Thanks to you, I received guidance from the Rebbe that will accompany me for the rest of my life. Thank you and G-d bless you!” The lesson from the story, as heard by (the then Tamim) Shimon Eisenbach from R’ Mendel, is that when you have the opportunity to go to the Rebbe, go. Don’t delay. If there will be another opportunity later on, with more advance preparation, then that is fine and well.
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day and on the second day of Rosh HaShana. He also attended the farbrengen that afternoon. R’ Eisenbach asked him to say a few words to the people attending the farbrengen. R’ Shuli agreed and said as follows: “I must tell you that up until two days ago, I didn’t dream of what kind of Rosh HaShana awaited me in Eilat. I came here brokenhearted. But the moment I walked into shul and saw a Chassidic rabbi, I poured out my heart to him. I came to realize that here too, in Eilat, it is possible to receive an abundance of holiness and Yiras Shamayim. I want to tell you that I have never had a Rosh HaShana like this in my life. I’ve been in Uman and other places, but today I can tell you that I’ve experienced inspiration the likes of which I’ve experienced nowhere else. Yasher ko’ach to your rabbi who enabled me to experience this unique spiritual high.” As a postscript, R’ Eisenbach says: “A few months ago, we had a memorial gathering in our shul for a woman from Eilat. One of her sons became a baal t’shuva and became a Breslover Chassid. As we sat around the table, the Breslover told me that he had met Shuli Rand in Yerushalayim and had told him that he came from Eilat. ‘When Shuli heard that I’m from Eilat, he was so excited. He said he had to tell me what a special Rosh HaShana he had there.’”
Who are these people? the sign says ‘Yerushalayim’ and eisenbach is in Eilat?
I could not go. I began thinking what could be a substitute for Uman. I considered going to Miron, maybe to the Kosel, but in the end my family and I had to be here in Eilat with my in-laws. I was feeling so down; what kind of Rosh HaShana would I have in a city that is all about touring and entertainment?” R’ Eisenbach replied that he was living in Eilat for twenty-three years and he celebrated all the holidays with his congregation. There was a special atmosphere; and although he yearned to be with the Rebbe in 770, he still felt happy at the privilege to be in Eilat for Yom Tov, on Shabbos,
and weekdays too. “This is where I raise my children in the way of Torah and Chassidus, and they are all healthy and happy.” “If that’s the case,” said Shuli, “I’m changing my mind. If you are living here for twenty-three years and despite your longing for the Rebbe you are happy and proud to be here on shlichus, I see that I too can find holiness, chizuk, and inspiration in this place. I will join you for the entire holiday and I hope that I will also feel the holiness and the shlichus as you do.” Shuli attended shul the next
Check it out!! Educational and Fun!!
48 � • Erev Rosh HaShana 5774
MOSHIACH & GEULA
WILL WE FAST ON YOM KIPPUR WHEN MOSHIACH COMES?
By Rabbi Gershon Avtzon
Dear Readers sh’yichyu, We are quickly approaching the holy month of Tishrei. In the first ten days of Tishrei there are two fast days: Tzom Gedalya and Yom Kippur. In this article, we will discuss their status in the times of Moshiach. These two fasts are fundamentally different. The fast of Yom Kippur is biblical, as it is written (BaMidbar 29:7): “And on the tenth day of this seventh month, there shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall afflict your souls. You shall not perform any work.” It is a day which at its core manifests the intrinsic bond of the Jewish people with Hashem. The fast of Gedalya however, is a rabbinic enactment and is associated with the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. It was the final step in the complete expulsion of the Jewish people from Eretz Yisroel. It is the denouement to the catastrophic events which began with the siege and breach of the walls of Yerushalayim followed by the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, and for which we fast on the 10th of Teves, 17th of Tammuz and 9 of Av. Regarding the latter four, the Rambam (Hilchos Taanis 5:19) writes: “All these [commemorative] fasts will be nullified in the Messianic era and, indeed ultimately, they will be transformed into holidays and
days of rejoicing and celebration, as [Zechariah 8:19] states: ‘Thus declares the Lord of Hosts, ‘The fast of the fourth [month], the fast of the fifth [month], the fast of the seventh [month], and the fast of the tenth [month] will be [times of] happiness and celebration and festivals for the House of Yehudah. And they shall love truth and peace.’’ [Parenthetically, the Rebbe teaches us how to see the positive aspects of these fast days even during the last moments of exile. For example: 9 Av is the birthday of Moshiach; the number 17 (17 Tammuz) is the numerical value of the Hebrew word “Tov-good.” See also sicha of Tzom Gedalya 5751.] The fast of Yom Kippur however will be observed even in the times of Moshiach. This is because it is not connected with the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, but rather with connecting to Hashem through T’shuva, which will be relevant even after Moshiach comes. The Rebbe points out one possible exception to that rule: “If Moshiach will appear during the Aseres Yemei T’shuva-Ten Days of Penitence, it is possible that we will be allowed to eat and drink on Yom Kippur, as it will fall out during the seven days of dedication for the third Beis HaMikdash.
“This was the case with the HaMikdash, whose first Beis dedication began on the eighth of Tishrei, and the people of that time ate and drank on Yom Kippur. How much more would this be the case with the third Beis HaMikdash, to which the the Zohar relates verse, “The glory of this latter House shall be greater than that of the first.” It is reasonable to assume that its greater glory will be apparent not only (as with the Second Beis HaMikdash in its structure and its duration, but also in its dedication – which at the very least would equal that of the first Beis HaMikdash.” (See Seifer HaSichos 5749 , Vol. I, p. 12.)
Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www. ylcrecording.com.
Issue 894 • �
‘DO YOU KNOW WHAT RUSSIA IS?’
We brought up the idea of going to Russia in order to print the Tanya but the Rebbe ignored our questions. * One time, when we brought Tanyas to the Rebbe and it seemed like a good time, R’ Leibel Zajac asked once again about going to Russia. * The Rebbe negated this out of hand * Part 1
By Rabbi Shneur Zalman Chanin
DON’T GET THE EXISTING ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED
The early 90’s were years when Ezras Achim flourished in Russia under the direction of the devoted Chassid and askan, R’ Moshe Slonim a”h. He was the one who arranged the trips of the shluchim from New York to areas all over Russia. He started doing this even before perestroika, when the communists ruled with an iron fist. He increased his activities ten-fold after the fall of communism. To R’ Moshe’s credit let it be said that he was a man of action, one who took action himself and pressed others into action, and a brilliant scholar. He would turn over worlds, the main thing being that the Rebbe’s wishes be carried out. This is why we thought he was the best person for our plans of printing
R’ Moshe Slonim a”h
the Tanya throughout Russia. As we anticipated, R’ Moshe liked the idea and expressed his willingness to devote himself to this in order to give the Rebbe nachas. He said he would convey to the activists in Russia all the printing instructions that he would get from us. We were sure that we were all set and the historic project of
printing the Tanya throughout Russia would begin. But after a week or two we suddenly received the Rebbe’s response that we should print the Tanya ourselves without involving any organizations, and that we should not work with organizations that were already operating in Russia. When we received this answer, we did not know what the Rebbe was referring to, as we hadn’t spoken to any organizations other than with R’ Moshe Slonim. Why would the Rebbe warn us about this? It was only several months later that we found out that the Rebbe told someone that the reason for this was that, right after we spoke with R’ Moshe, the Rebbe received a letter from a certain chassid in Russia complaining, why wasn’t he given this Tanya printing project? So the Rebbe said not to get any
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R’ Leibel Zajac receiving a dollar from the Rebbe
existing organization involved.
THE REBBE DID NOT REACT
Months went by and the collapse of communism was well under way, and it seemed like a fait accompli. We very much wanted to print the Tanya throughout Russia and to make a big deal of it. We figured that Russia was a wonderful place to carry out the Rebbe’s instruction to print the Tanya wherever Jews lived, because there were hundreds of cities with Jewish communities that had never had a Tanya printed there. Since the Rebbe had told us not to work with existing organizations, we had to find a reliable person who would want to do this and who would also have the technical knowledge of how to get the job done. We
could not think of anyone who met these requirements and tried to contact people in Russia, but nothing panned out. It seemed that this project could not get off the ground. The truth is that someone who was never in Russia, especially Russia of those days, cannot fully understand what it meant to print the Tanya in Russia and how difficult this was. I heard from my father about the severe shortages in Russia, from wool for weaving to flour for baking. I did not fully grasp what “there is none” meant, until I saw it for myself when I finally went to Russia to print the Tanya, as I will relate. In the meantime, we contacted R’ Zev Wagner who lived in Moscow and had government connections. He promised to help and he was able
to obtain printing permits for us for public places as well as other things. At the end of Iyar 5751/1991, we were told that he had obtained permission from the leadership of the shul in Leningrad to print the Tanya in that city and its environs. Naturally, we immediately sent R’ Wagner’s letter to the Rebbe as well as the permits, but the Rebbe did not respond.
DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU’RE ASKING?
On Rosh Chodesh Sivan 5751, we wrote to the Rebbe that as a follow-up to the previous time that we gave the Rebbe 31 (lamed-alef) Tanyas, and the Rebbe had said it was an inyan of Hashem’s name AlefLamed which is strength and he blessed us that we start working
Issue 894 • �
R’ Leibel Zajac presenting the bookcase of Tanyas to the Rebbe
with more strength and print additional Tanyas – now we wanted to inform the Rebbe that I had finished printing 62 Tanyas which was double E-l, and nearly all of them were bound already. We wrote to the Rebbe that some editions were missing, but in the meantime we would print several more Tanyas, so that in the end we would print more than double the 31 we had printed at first. When the Rebbe received the Tanyas, we saw that he was pleased. He asked that next time we print more Tanyas. After seeing how pleased the Rebbe was, my friend R’ Leibel Zajac wrote to the Rebbe that after seeing that nothing was happening with the printing of the Tanya in Russia, and since he very much wanted to carry out the Rebbe’s horaa and to print in Russia, therefore, he wanted to travel to Russia himself on condition that I join him. Together we would arrange for a mobile printing press and we would go from city to city to print the Tanya. Once again, the Rebbe
ignored this request. During those weeks, we brought new Tanyas to the Rebbe several times. Each time, when giving them to him, the Rebbe said that more Tanyas should be printed wherever possible. One time, when giving the new Tanyas, R’ Leibel said to the Rebbe that we had already written about the idea to print dozens of Tanyas throughout Russia but we had not received a response. The Rebbe made as though he did not hear what R’ Leibel said and gave us his brachos for the Tanyas we had brought. Once again, he urged us to print more, but he did not respond to the idea of printing Tanyas in Russia. One time, we brought the Rebbe an entire bookcase of Tanyas on wheels. There were more than 100 editions of new Tanyas and we had built a nice bookcase to contain them all. On it was a map with all the places where the Tanyas had been printed. When the Rebbe saw the mobile bookcase his face lit up.
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The Rebbe entering his room and R’ Groner bringing the mobile bookcase of Tanyas into Gan Eden HaTachton
He smiled broadly. When R’ Leibel saw that in k’dusha there is significance in numbers, and the more Tanyas there were, the more nachas the Rebbe had, he wanted to ask: Perhaps the time has come for us to travel to Russia to print the Tanya? We were alone in Gan Eden HaTachton and R’ Leibel got up the nerve to say: Since, up until now, he had not received a response to his idea of going to Russia to print the Tanya, he wanted to take this opportunity to ask: Perhaps the time had come? Suddenly, the Rebbe’s smile disappeared. He looked frighteningly somber and he said to R’ Leibel, “Do you know what Russia is? There is nothing there, no paper, no ink, not a glass or
a plate, so of course there is no printing press. How do you want to print Tanyas there?” Leibel said, “We will bring one from here.” The Rebbe said, “Do you hear what you’re saying? You will go to Russia with a printing press, with paper, with ink, with a generator, etc. Do you think that they will meet you and welcome you at the Foreign Office with diplomatic protocol? “Do you know who will welcome you? Policemen will welcome you and the first thing they will do will be to confiscate everything, then they will arrest you for bringing propaganda into Russia. It will take six months until we find out where you are and another six months to extricate you. And for this you
want to go there? “And what about the anguish of the families? Do you hear what you’re saying?” There was silence in the room for a few moments. Then the Rebbe smiled broadly and took the Tanyas and went into his room. Leibel did not expect such a reprimand. He knew that Russia had been a communist country, but he thought that after perestroika it had become a free and democratic country. Obviously, after such a response, we dropped the idea. Until one day, when we received a surprising horaa from the Rebbe. But that’s for the next article.
Issue 894 • �
CHABAD’S “MILITARY OPERATION” IN THE WAKE OF THE YOM KIPPUR WAR
A fascinating account by journalist Menachem Barash a”h about a special operation waged by Chabad Chassidim among IDF soldiers on the front lines during the Yom Kippur War. * Presented to mark forty years since the Yom Kippur War.
he huge Chabad operation bore all the signs of a typical military operation. Targets: All divisions of the army on land, in the air and at sea; on all the fronts – in the Sinai, west of the Canal, Merchav Shlomo (as the southern Sinai was called then), the Golan Heights, the Jordan Valley, and bases in the center of the country. Mission: To make contact with commanders and with as many soldiers as possible and bring them the Rebbe’s message and blessing. Mission Forces: A unit of Tzeirei Chabad, augmented by dozens of young people serving in the army
who utilized brief respites from military tasks to man the operation command center so as to ensure its success. Aid services and tactical support in the field were secured by the IDF General Staff, the Chief Education Officer. This also included commanders of the various services and commanders in the field. Commander in Chief: The Lubavitcher Rebbe who mobilized the “forces” from his headquarters in New York. It all went like clockwork with effective planning and incredible precision. Secrecy shrouded the mission from beginning to end because that is what the Rebbe ordered. The mission lasted a few weeks with tens of thousands of soldiers participating. *** “It began,” said Chanoch Glitzenstein, who ran one of the divisions, “a few days after the ceasefire. To be more precise, it was on Motzaei Shabbos, Parshas Noach, October 27. Nine Lubavitchers from Eretz Yisroel were still in New York, having spent the Yomim Nora’im
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MENACHEM BARASH a”h
and Sukkos with the Rebbe. They were suddenly called into the Rebbe’s room and the Rebbe said: Due to the events that transpired on Yom Kippur, I request that some action take place whose purpose will be to encourage the soldiers on the front lines, to raise their spirits and to infuse them with new hope. Take some bottles of mashke with you from Kos shel Bracha (that is considered to be on the level of the ‘wine that was preserved from the Six Days of creation’), and take some silver coins and go to the Israeli soldiers in their camps and on their bases. Serve them mashke and drink l’chaim. Give each soldier two coins, one for tz’daka in my name and my shlichus and the other for his personal use or to keep as a kameia (charm), and also copies of two letters that the Rebbe wrote during the battles to the soldiers who asked him for a bracha. Not one soldier in the IDF should be overlooked. This operation needs to be done with the knowledge of the General Staff of the IDF and with its explicit permission. In each of the units that will spread out to all the army bases, it would be desirable to include someone who spent the Yomim Nora’im with the Rebbe who can explain the significance of the war and the results. Not a word should be publicized before carrying out this mission to its end.” That is what the Rebbe instructed, and he gave his shluchim his blessings. When the shluchim went home and told the leadership what the Rebbe had said, the Chabadnikim got enthusiastically to work. Within a few days, a headquarters was set up, the “forces” were enlisted, and then they were divided into units. The army command accepted the idea enthusiastically, although for certain time-related reasons there was some delay in carrying out the activities. In the end, full cooperation was secured. The army provided Chabad with vehicles, security, escorts, guidance and even special flights to distant bases. Chabad prepared tens of thousands of booklets with: the Rebbe’s blessing to the Israeli The writer and journalist, Menachem Barash, passed away in Yerushalayim at the age of 88 ten years ago. Barash was one of the first Israeli journalists in Eretz Yisroel. He started out with the Jewish Telegraph news agency (JTA) as soon as he made aliya in 1935. Then he worked as a reporter for Cheirut and in 1946 he began working for Yediot Acharonot in which he served in various capacities. During the siege of Yerushalayim in the War of Independence, it was Menachem Barash who led the news corps in Jerusalem. As a reporter, he wrote nearly all the news, copied the newspaper on a copying machine, and even went out on the streets in the evening and personally gave out the paper he wrote to the besieged residents. For many years he worked as editor in chief of the newspaper in Yerushalayim and also wrote articles on Jewish and religious topics, covering a wide array of issues relating to Yerushalayim which he loved so much. He often covered the Chabad movement and the Rebbe. He wrote about Lubavitch during the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and many other times.
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soldiers, two letters of the Rebbe along with Divrei Torah from the Tanach and the Oral Torah, and some of the Rebbe’s views about the war and the lessons learned, the holiness of the land, and the obligation to protect it in its entirety and to keep it secure. T’fillin, mashke, cups, pastries, and coins were loaded in boxes into the cars and planes and the operation began.
WEARING A COIN AROUND THE NECK
R’ Glitzenstein: “First, we went to the bases located in the Center Region command. Chabad in Yerushalayim took responsibility for this section of the front. A hundred of us went, for three days and nights, from base to base, from camp to camp, from outpost to outpost. The Home Front Command and the Education Officer did all that they could to make it easier for the units to reach their destinations and carry out their mission. Vehicles, drivers, escorts, and security were provided. Wherever we went, the commanders already knew about our coming and were ready to welcome us. It went something like this. First we entered the command tent. We offered t’fillin to the commanders. Nobody was opposed and all put on t’fillin.
We gave them the booklets with the Rebbe’s message and brachos; we poured cups of mashke and drank l’chaim, to the life of the country, to the lives of the soldiers, and to a quick victory over all enemies of Israel. We gave out the coins, one for tz’daka in the Rebbe’s name and the second for personal use. Then we left. “The commanders gathered the soldiers. One of the members of the group addressed them and explained the purpose of our mission. We told them that throughout the war the Rebbe did not stop thinking of Israel and the battlefronts and he prayed nonstop for them. We read portions from what the Rebbe said at farbrengens that took place throughout the summer months, in which he hinted to the possibility of war and the need to prepare practically and spiritually-religiously. “In response to questions, the Rebbe’s position on current problems, the war, the settlements etc. was clarified. We drank l’chaim with each soldier and explained to them about the tz’daka and the coins that the Rebbe sent them. The soldiers were excited about keeping one coin as a segula in time of danger. They asked whether it was permissible to drill a hole in it so it could be worn around the neck. While drinking the mashke,
the soldiers wanted to know what Kos shel Bracha is and what is the significance of drinking l’chaim.” After inspiring words mixed with Divrei Torah and Chassidishe stories, big circles formed and hundreds of soldiers joined along with the Lubavitchers and sang and danced. The singing and dancing went on for hours; in certain instances, late into the night. “In the Jordan Valley, we were sixty men who broke up into fourteen units. For three days and three nights we combed through all the positions and all the camps. Soldiers grabbed up the coins, drank the mashke and took in the Rebbe’s words, sang and danced, and participated in Evenings with Chabad. They enjoyed the experience.” In the booklets that were distributed, the Lubavitcher Rebbe notes that the soldiers who were called up and went to war are on the level of tzaddikim gemurim (completely righteous), for the war began on Yom Kippur which atones for all sins. In one of the sichos, the Rebbe stressed that we all must learn from the soldiers who put “naaseh” before “nishma,” and who stand strong in carrying out the orders of those appointed over them. The Rebbe repeated what he said earlier, about the special position the Jews have among the nations, that we have
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vanquished our enemies until now and will be victorious in all wars until the coming of Moshiach. Over 100,000 copies were distributed during the campaign. Tens of thousands of additional copies were left in camps and with the Education Officers to be given out on other occasions. The amount of mashke for l’chaims that was consumed was enormous. They mixed into it from bottles of mashke that the Rebbe sent. Tens of thousands of bottles were opened during the campaign in order to provide a small cup for every soldier. Israeli soldiers were called upon to trust in Hashem and not to fear. As a segula, the Rebbe suggested that the soldiers put on t’fillin every day and give more tz’daka and, as much as possible, to do these two mitzvos together with learning Divrei Torah, even the smallest amount, from the booklets they were given. Days later, the signal was given to begin the campaign in the Golan Heights. Groups of Lubavitchers reached all the way to the Chermon and visited all the outposts and strongholds. Chabad songs and the words of the Rebbe echoed in Syria too, along the ceasefire line. After the Valley and the Golan it was the turn of Sinai, the west bank of the Canal, Sharm-el-Sheikh and the navy. The Lubavitchers boarded missile boats and all the other ships of the navy and were received with appreciation and joy by the commanders and soldiers alike. In the Golan they met Moshe Dayan and offered him mashke. He smiled and said he was pleased with this campaign. “You drink the mashke,” he said. “I will drink grapefruit juice.”
THE WOUNDED MAN RECOVERED
As is the way with Chassidim, there was no lack of miracle stories,
performed with the Rebbe’s power. A few days ago, a letter arrived from a wounded soldier who is hospitalized in Beer Sheva. He wrote, “I am severely wounded. The pains in my foot are terrible. Yesterday, Chabad came and visited and brought mashke from the Rebbe’s Kos shel Bracha, and they gave out coins to keep and for tz’daka. I did not drink immediately. I left the mashke for the next day. This morning, I woke up and put on t’fillin, as the Chabadnikim suggested. I gave the coin to tz’daka and drank l’chaim from the Rebbe’s mashke. What can I tell you? It’s unbelievable. The pain in my foot went away and I have already asked the nurse to try and get me out of bed. I am sure that I will be able to walk on my two feet. Please, write thanks to the Rebbe … he is amazing … he is amazing … He not only cheered me up; he healed my foot.” The chairman of the local council of Kfar Chabad, Mr. Davidowitz, said that when he was at the Rebbe for the Yomim Nora’im, the Rebbe gave him a bottle of mashke to distribute in Kfar Safiriya (the old
Arab name for Kfar Chabad). On his return to the Kfar, he heard that one of the young people from the Kfar had been severely injured in a tank battle and was hospitalized and unconscious. He immediately thought, perhaps this is what the Rebbe had in mind and he went to the hospital. Friends said that the soldier was hit by a missile and that his watch stopped in the attack. After thinking it over, Mr. Davidowitz realized that it was precisely that day and that time that the Rebbe gave him the bottle of mashke for Safiriya. When he said this to the doctor who was treating the soldier, he agreed to put a drop of the mashke into the man’s mouth. To the amazement of the doctor, the man opened his eyes and regained consciousness. There are more stories like this. The commanders did not have enough words to praise Chabad for their remarkable work. The Chabadnikim do not hide their pride and great satisfaction over the “bridgehead” that they managed to secure, and the path they paved to the hearts of the Israeli soldiers.
Issue 894 • �