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744 Eastern Parkway Brooklyn, NY 11213-3409 Tel: (718) 778-8000 Fax: (718) 778-0800 email@example.com www.beismoshiach.org EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: M.M. Hendel HEBREW EDITOR: Rabbi S.Y. Chazan editorH@beismoshiach.org ENGLISH EDITOR: Boruch Merkur firstname.lastname@example.org
G-D ACQUIRED FOR HIMSELF A MASTER
since it is said of the Jewish people that “they are My slaves,” and since “one who acquires a slave has acquired for himself a master,” G-d must fulfill the will of His “master” (the Jewish people), and the will of the Jewish people is to get out of exile!
Translated by Boruch Merkur
Both the beginning and the end of the Aseres HaDibros, the Ten Commandments, describe the unique relationship of the Jewish people to G-d, a relationship whereby G-d Alm-ghty is, in effect, the servant of the Jewish people. The Aseres HaDibros begin with “I am G-d, your L-rd, Who has taken you out of the Land of Egypt, from the place of your servitude. ” With this Divine act of saving the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, the Jewish people became the slaves of the Alm-ghty (“the exodus was sufficient to make them in servitude to Me” ––Rashi’s commentary on Yisro 20:2), as it is written, “for the Jewish people are to Me as slaves; they are My servants whom I have taken out from the Land of Egypt.” But the Torah rules that “One who acquires a Jewish slave is as if he has acquired for himself a master.” [Thus, G-d’s taking us as His slaves results in His “acquired for Himself a master,” the Jewish people.] And the Aseres HaDibros conclude with [the commandment not to covet the property of others], “all that belongs to your friend.”
Now, Rashi writes in Meseches Shabbos regarding “you shall love your friend as yourself” that “friend” refers (also) to the Alm-ghty, as it is written, “Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend” – “this refers to the Alm-ghty” (Shmos Rabba Ch. 27, beg.). We may, therefore, assert that “(all that belongs to) your friend” mentioned at the end of the Aseres HaDibros, likewise refers to G-d. To that extent, every single Jew is, in effect, the owner or master of “all that belongs to your friend,” referring (also) to G-d Alm-ghty. As our Sages put it, “the righteous decree – “and all of Your people are righteous” – and the Alm-ghty fulfills [their decrees].” Since this is so, when the Jewish people cry out with all their might that they are fed up with exile – “Daloi galus!” – G-d is compelled (as it were) to redeem them, on both accounts. 1) As discussed above, since it is said of the Jewish people that “they are My slaves,” and since “One who acquires a… slave…has acquired for himself a master,” G-d must fulfill the will of His “master” ([the Jewish people] “they are My slaves”), and the will of the Jewish people
is to get out of exile. 2) Similarly with regard to the ownership of the Jewish people over “(all that belongs to) your friend” – “this refers to the Alm-ghty.” This is especially the case insofar as the Torah testifies that “all the predicted dates [for the coming of Moshiach] have passed. Also, regarding repentance (“the matter [i.e., the onset of the redemption] is only dependent upon repentance”), the Torah testifies that they have already repented repeatedly. The Jewish people have repented not just on Yom Kippur – “a time of repentance for all, etc., an auspicious time for atonement and forgiveness” – but also on a daily basis, three times a day (in each of the three prayers – Arvis, Shacharis, and Mincha), requesting in the Shmoneh Esrei, “Forgive us,” and saying the blessing, “Blessed are You, O G-d, the Merciful One, Who readily forgives.” Indeed, “the Torah promises” that through repentance, “they are immediately redeemed,” literally at once. This concept is reflected by the fact that we say the blessing, “Blessed are You, O G-d, Who redeems the Jewish people” immediately following the blessing, “Who readily forgives.” Since this is blessing [which includes G-d’s name, it
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cannot be said in the case of a doubt. Rather] it is something that will certainly be fulfilled, “without any doubt or shadow of a doubt at all” (Igeres HaKodesh Ch. 11). All of the above is in addition to the concept of redemption as it appears in the general parsha, emphasized by the name of the parsha, “VaEs’chanan,” which refers to the prayer of Moshe Rabbeinu to enter Eretz Yisroel, the Holy Land. That is, it is
well known that “every single person among the Jewish people has within him the aspect of Moshe Rabbeinu,” making an impression upon each Jew. In fact, this spiritual inheritance [does not remain transcendent and spiritual; it] also has an impact on the realm of deed [the person’s material life]. Thus, it is understood that the prayer of Moshe to enter the land (“VaEs’chanan”) is also the prayer of every single Jew (in
virtue of the aspect of Moshe within them) to enter the Holy Land with the true and complete redemption. The main thing is that all the above, as it relates to the redemption, should be realized [in the physical world], in accordance with the ruling of the Torah that “action is the main thing.”
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Issue 844 • �
FROM GEORGIA TO YERUSHALAYIM
Rabbi Rachamim Refael Chikvashvili is the spiritual leader of Georgian communities in Eretz Yisroel as well as educational supervisor at the Chabad elementary school in Gilo. He is very successful in his work and connects many Jews to Torah and Chassidus.
By Nosson Avrohom
abbi Rachamim Chikvashvili was born in Kutaisi in Georgia in 5726. His father, Chacham Sholom, was the student of Chacham Yaakov Dobrashvili who learned Torah from the mashpia Rabbi Shmuel Levitin. “I remember many stories that I heard as a child from R’ Dobrashvili about the Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe Rayatz and Chassidim of earlier generations, as well as Chassidic practices. Kutaisi had a large population of Jews and scholars, and the presence of Lubavitcher Chassidim was quite apparent. There were rabbanim there who had learned in Tomchei T’mimim and kept Chabad customs. “About five years ago, I went to visit the Jewish communities in Georgia, together with the gabbai of our shul, Levi Bar Tikva. We went to Kutaisi and although I
left when I was six years old, I remembered a lot. I remembered walking to shul at four in the morning to say T’hillim on Shabbos Mevarchim. Davening began at six.” The Chikvashvili family was religious with strong traditions and simple faith. “When we made aliya in 5732/1972, my father said he was sure he would be drafted into the police force because he thought that the job of the police in Eretz Yisroel was to enforce Halacha and shmiras Shabbos. “At first we lived in Ashkelon, but my father yearned for Yerushalayim. Two years later, he sold everything he owned and bought an apartment in Sanhedria HaMurchevet. There were few Chassidim in this neighborhood and I attended a Chinuch Atzmai school. “When I graduated
elementary school, I went to Beis HaTalmud, a yeshiva that was near our home. I was familiar with Chabad, since there was no such thing as a Georgian who hadn’t heard of Chabad, but I did not know the significance of being a Chassid and learning in Chassidic schools. “My inclination towards Chabad intensified as I grew older, specifically because of the strong opposition in the yeshiva to Chassidus. This was the beginning of the 80’s when anti-Chassidic sentiment was at a peak. I remember when rabbanim signed against the Lag B’Omer parade that Chabad organized in Tel Aviv. In my closet in the dormitory I had a picture of the Rebbe, and bachurim who heard about it asked me to take it down. I did not understand what all the opposition was about, since my father and grandfathers had spoken with great respect of
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R’ Rachamim Refael Chikvashvili (center) with attendees at his shiur
Chassidus. So the opposition had the opposite effect; it aroused my curiosity. I realized that if there was opposition, there must be something to it. “My parents always celebrated Yud-Tes Kislev. For decades, my father had arranged large gatherings on this day and celebrated with feasts. Back in Kutaisi, this day was celebrated as a holiday and many people came to our house for the occasion. This practice was continued in Eretz Yisroel. Every year, dozens of people attended from all over the country. I would bring friends from the yeshiva who enjoyed not only the good food but also the Chassidic niggunim that were sung. “One day, I asked my father why he celebrated Yud-Tes Kislev and who was the Baal HaTanya. He explained what he knew and this aroused my curiosity
“There I was, a clean shaven Litvishe bachur with R’ Chaim of Volozhin’s Nefesh HaChayim, enabling people to do the mitzva of t’fillin.”
in ‘know the G-d of your father,’ as opposed to doing mitzvos by rote. My outlook changed from one extreme to another. “When I went to beis midrash, we discovered that groups of talmidim from other Litvishe yeshivos were learning Chassidus. I found out about this when a group from Yeshivas Itri, led by the bachur R’ Yaakov Shmuelevitz (our beloved Beis Moshiach columnist, may he have a speedy recovery), transferred to Tomchei T’mimim in Kfar Chabad. This was shocking to many people, but it made me happy. “There reached a certain point where in every Litvishe
Issue 844 • �
even more. In yeshiva, there were about ten bachurim who came from Lubavitcher homes, including the Ehrentrau brothers, Wilhelm, etc. “One day, I met one of the distinguished Chabad Chassidim in the neighborhood, R’ Avrohom Kot, and I asked him to learn Chassidus with us. He was happy to oblige and every Friday night we ten or so bachurim would meet to learn maamarim, sichos of the Rebbe and Tanya, of course. His home was opposite the yeshiva and we would go after the meal, secretly, so that none of the mashgichim would catch us. These shiurim opened my eyes. I understood that the chiddush is
Beis HaTalmud. The ones who farbrenged with us the most were R’ Zelig Feldman, R’ Binyomin Zilberstrom, and R’ Avrohom Boruch Pevsner. On Fridays I would go on Mivtza T’fillin with Lubavitcher bachurim to the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv. There I was, a clean shaven Litvishe bachur with R’ Chaim of Volozhin’s Nefesh HaChayim, enabling people to do the mitzva of t’fillin. “There were months when we went to the yeshiva in Kfar Chabad every free Shabbos. There, we enjoyed the farbrengens of R’ Berel Kesselman and R’ Mendel Futerfas. We hung on their every word. The truth was apparent in every word they uttered. “When I was in Shiur Gimmel, the mashgichim were looking askance at me. They let me know that I could not continue in that way anymore. Learning Chassidus would no longer be tolerated. One of them told me, ‘When the ones involved are bachurim from Chassidic homes, that’s one thing, but when you schlep in bachurim who come from long-established Litvishe homes to Chabad … The hanhala cannot allow this to go on.’ “The rosh yeshiva, R’ Schwartzman (born in the Chassidic town of Nevel, d. November 2011), called me in for a talk. He himself kept some Chassidic practices such as wearing a gartel for davening, and in his home I saw Torah Ohr and other Chassidic s’farim. He said to me, ‘You are a fine bachur, but you cannot behave this way in a Litvishe yeshiva. Tomorrow, someone will want to learn the teachings of Rav Kook, and then what will we do? You know that it’s nothing personal;
We asked R’ Chikvashvili a number of questions on the topic of chinuch: What is your “Ani Maamin” (bedrock belief principle) of Chinuch? My “Ani Maamin” is that the teacher must live the concept of chinuch, live Yiras Shamayim, live the Rebbe, live Chassidus, and in this way be a ner l’ha’ir. It all starts with the teacher. A teacher doesn’t go to sleep without finishing the daily Rambam or his regular shiurim. Even if the students don’t see this, they sense it. This is the key to chinuch: being a role model. A teacher can talk and talk and nothing will be absorbed if he himself is not fully immersed in it. You put all of chinuch on the teachers? Yes. There are people who say, “Look, these talmidim had that G-d fearing Jew as a teacher and look where they are today.” So the truth is, there are other partners such as the parents and the environment, but in addition to that, what the teacher instills in the students remains forever, even if at this point one doesn’t see the Yiras Shamayim. In the future, it will come forth. I have met talmidim who went off the derech and came back because they had where to return to. The sweet experience of Torah and mitzvos did not let them rest; it was before their eyes. In your experience, how can we be mechanech (educate) towards p’nimius (internalizing Chassidic values)? Chassidus has power. It is p’nimius ha’kesser (the innermost aspect of the Divine “Crown”); and when we are mechanech with Chassidus, that is chinuch for p’nimius. We may not pay attention to this, but those who go out of the Chabad circle will see how even Lubavitch ziburis (Talmudic term for lowest grade quality) has p’nimius. When you walk in the street, you can tell who Lubavitch is. Why? Because it shows. If a child sees that his teacher lives the Rebbe and translates this into deeds and not just talk, he will get an excellent chinuch for p’nimius. Nevertheless, there are conflicts. How do we overcome them? The conflicts, if there are any, are not with the talmidim but with the parents, when they say something different than the school. So the hanhala and the parents need to be in sync; there need to be principles and goals, no ego. There needs to be clarity and the school has to speak loudly and clearly. At the same time, in order to avoid conflicts, there has to be coordination of expectations. The teacher has to be in touch with the parents; ditto for the menahel and the supervisor. In truth, everybody wants what is good for the child. If the parent realizes there is no power play, but only principles which are carried out with smiles and love and the children are happy, then he will accept that which goes counter to his world view and in the end, adopt those principles for himself. And the recipe for success? When a parent checks out a school, the first thing to check is not the academic level, although this is important. He needs to see whether the kids are happy and if the teachers are happy and smiling, as in the well-known instruction the Rebbe gave to R’ Chadakov. yeshiva there was a Chabad contact person, and when we organized farbrengens or trips to the yeshiva in Kfar Chabad, we would organize it together. I was the Chabad representative in
8 � • 15 Menachem-Av 5772
Yud-Beis Tammuz farbrengen with members of the Georgian community
I myself learn Chassidus, but this cannot be done within the walls of the yeshiva.’ “At this point, I already had a beard and my hat had the typical Lubavitch pinch. They were upset because I had brought a certain Litvishe bachur to Chabad by the name of Refael Becher (today, he is a shliach in Beer Sheva) and some other bachurim from the yeshiva. “After my talk with the rosh yeshiva, I kept a lower profile and the Chassidus classes that had taken place until then in the Chabad trailer for local Russian immigrants were moved to a more distant location, to the Chabad shul, so the mashgichim wouldn’t catch us. At a certain point, I realized that I belonged in Kfar Chabad. I was tested and accepted, but in the meantime I had become engaged to the daughter of R’ Bentzion Michlashvili of Kfar Chabad, so that idea was shelved. The Litvishe yeshiva agreed to retain
That which the teacher instills in the students remains forever, even if at this point one doesn’t see the Yiras Shamayim. In the future, it will come forth. I have met talmidim who went off the derech and came back because they had where to return to. The sweet experience of Torah and mitzvos did not let them rest; it was before their eyes.
me for another few months until I married.”
A LEADER IS BORN
The new couple settled in Sanhedria in Yerushalayim. Their first Tishrei together, 5745/1984, they flew to 770. “Before the flight, I had a dream in which I saw myself handing out brochures in Georgian in many places. Then I passed by the Rebbe with the brochures and he said ‘yashar ko’ach’ to me. That was the first time I had a dream of the Rebbe. “When I told my dream
R’ Chikvashvili with his father
Issue 844 • �
meaningless and forgot about it. “My father, who was a driver for a distinguished There are many programs and activities for women rosh yeshiva, met a Georgian boy in yeshiva and began in the Georgian community. One of the veteran inviting him to Shabbos meals. The moment I saw him, lecturers is Mrs. Chana Shmueli. For nineteen years my heart skipped a beat. I remembered my dream and (three in Yerushalayim) she has been giving classes all recognized the bachur, but I kept all this to myself. When my father asked me, half a year later, whether over the country to Georgian women. “In Yerushalayim, the population is different and I was interested in a shidduch, I knew whom he had the distances make it hard for women from other in mind and I agreed. Half a year later, when I was 17, neighborhoods to attend regularly as they do in small we married. Only then did I tell him about the letter towns,” says Mrs. Shmueli. “I recently sensed that and the dream.” When Mrs. Shmueli’s parents moved to Crown although women demonstrated a great interest, they were not getting more involved in Jewish practice, and Heights because of the father’s work in imports, for four months I stopped giving shiurim. Then I got Chana and her husband and her oldest son who was many phone calls from women who said that even if nine months old visited them. they did not become baalos t’shuva, the shiur was very “My baby did not move. Like all parents, we were important to them. One of the women said she had anxious to see him grow and turn over and crawl, but been on the brink he did nothing. of death and thanks “The night after I received the letter, I The doctors who to the shiurim, she him had a dream, a vision actually, in which examined had recovered. So I said he suffered understood that one I saw my future husband. It was very strange. from childhood ought not to assess paralysis and the effectiveness I thought that dreams were meaningless and naturally, we were of shiurim by how forgot about it … My father, who was a driver for very upset. many women begin “After my father wearing a wig or by a distinguished rosh yeshiva, met a Georgian boy saw the baby and how many women in yeshiva and began inviting him to Shabbos heard the doctors’ start doing mitzvos, diagnosis, he took and I started giving meals. The moment I saw him, my heart skipped us for ‘dollars’ shiurim again.” a beat. I remembered my dream and recognized so we could ask Although Mrs. the Rebbe for a the bachur…” Shmueli does not bracha. When externally identify it was my turn, with Chabad, she I spoke to the feels very strongly about the Rebbe and Chassidus. Rebbe in Russian and asked for a bracha. ‘The child in “There was a time when my parents lived opposite my arms doesn’t stand and doesn’t crawl. The doctors 770, and we grew up with love for Chabad. I wrote say it is childhood paralysis.’ letters to the Rebbe from when I was 12. In my “The Rebbe gave one dollar for me and one for him first letter, written in Russian, I wrote that we were and said, ‘Bracha V’hatzlacha,’ and I moved on. Then religious and there were people who made fun of our I was called back and the Rebbe asked me in Russian piety, saying we were primitive. What should I do? I whether the baby had a letter in a Torah. I said he did also asked the Rebbe whether I would get married and not. The Rebbe said we should buy him a letter, which what kind of home I would have. I wanted to know, we did that same day. even at that young age. “After visiting 770 we returned to Eretz Yisroel and “The Rebbe, by way of response, sent me two coins the first thing I did was give the baby a bath. Then I of ten agurot each and a letter full of brachos. This dressed him in pajamas and – he stood up and turned letter gave me a lot of strength and encouragement. around on his feet. I shrieked so loudly the neighbors “The night after I received the letter, I had a dream, heard me. Today, my son is a young man living in a vision actually, in which I saw my future husband. Ashdod who is learning well and has three delightful It was very strange. I thought that dreams were children.”
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to my good friend R’ Yisroel Dror Cohen of Tzfas, who had given me the final push in my connecting to the Rebbe and Chassidus, he said to me, ‘When you dream about the Rebbe, it’s real. Dreams like these are not categorized as dreams that express vanity.’ He urged me to write about this dream and to send my letter to the Rebbe, and I did so. A few days later I received a response: ‘It was received and at an auspicious time it will be read at the gravesite [of the Rebbe Rayatz].’ “I learned in the kollel for rabbanim for Georgian immigrants, which was founded with the Rebbe’s bracha in Shikun Chabad in Lud. The founder and menahel is my father-in-law, R’ Bentzion Michlashvili. “The mashgiach in the kollel is R’ Aharon Alashvili and the menahalim were distinguished Georgian rabbanim: Chacham Refael Alashvili, my fatherin-law, Chacham Moshe Michlashvili and R’ Yitzchok Michlashvili. I went there nearly every day from Yerushalayim and often was hosted in Kfar Chabad by my father-in-law. There, I met a resident of Kfar Chabad by the name of R’ Yitzchok Krichli, a truly Chassidic Jew who treasured the Rebbe’s teachings. In our conversations, we spoke about how Georgian Jews did not have a newspaper or anything like it from a Chabad perspective although this existed for other k’hillos. “We took the initiative. I brought the material and he translated it into Georgian, a language I did not fully understand. We called our newsletter Torah Ohr. It was made available in all the Georgian k’hillos in Eretz Yisroel and is published till today. A short time
When R’ Chikvashvili was a teacher in the Chabad school in Gilo
later, my brother-in-law Avrohom Michlashvili, who works with Georgian Jews, returned to Eretz Yisroel, and ever since then, the circulation moved into high gear. It has Chassidic stories and a sicha from the Rebbe as well as Inyanei Geula and Moshiach. When I went to the Rebbe in 5751, after publishing the fiftieth edition, my brother-in-law and I submitted some brochures that we published. The Rebbe blessed us with ‘bracha v’hatzlacha.’ I felt that my dream had come true.” R’ Chikvashvili took on educational positions in the Chabad elementary school in Gilo, and then he worked in chinuch in the Chabad elementary school in Netanya while serving as a rav. When he returned to Yerushalayim, he was appointed supervisor of the elementary school in Gilo (see box). In addition to his educational work, R’ Chikvashvili serves as rav to Georgian Jews in Yerushalayim. “After I married, I learned in the kollel in Lud for five years and was tested by R’ Mordechai
Eliyahu and received smicha for rabbanus. Even back then, I began giving shiurim in the Georgian shul located in the Machane Yehuda shuk. The shul is named for Chacham Moshe Dobrashvili. It belonged to Yad L ’Achim, and Chacham Moshe would give shiurim there; he was an active member in the organization. When he passed away in 5739, the shul was named ‘Dibras Moshe’ for him. Later on, I began giving shiurim in the Kol Yaakov shul in Romema and was appointed the spiritual leader there. I inherited the sense of rabbinic mission and devotion to passing the tradition from my father, Chacham Sholom. “I remember that in the 70’s, he would travel to the Georgian community in Beer Sheva every Shabbos because they did not have a rav. His teachers got him involved and he did not ask too many questions. ‘There are Jews who daven without a chazan and baal koreh? I’m going,’ he said. In Tishrei he went to Netanya several times in order to serve as chazan in the big Georgian
Issue 844 • �
The bachur practiced the different sounds and learned the halachos. Since then, every Elul, he blows the shofar all over the base every day. “He is a mekurav to the shliach R’ Segal in Rishon L ’Tziyon. He is on staff at the University of Netanya and has a tremendous influence on his friends. That is the special quality of a Lubavitcher rav: that he can be found everywhere and in every circumstance in order to be mekarev more Jews.” *** When R’ Chikvashvili returned from Netanya, he decided not to neglect the other Georgian shuls in Yerushalayim. Although he lives in Romema, he is involved with all the Georgian k’hillos throughout Yerushalayim in Pisgat Zeev, Neve Yaakov, Katamon, and Kiryat Yovel. He is the one to whom people turn for both happy and sad occasions and for halachic questions. Many people also go to his house in order to write to the Rebbe. As a rav, what challenges do you face? “There are many challenges. First, I need to adjust to every situation and every age. There were times that I gave shiurim in the kollel in Lud in Hilchos Tahara or Hilchos Shabbos, I taught in the yeshiva in Beitar Ilit run by R’ Daniel Goldberg a”h, I worked in the elementary school in Gilo with young children, and worked with Georgian immigrants. Every few hours I had to ‘change hats.’ “As a shliach, especially in rabbanus, a person can’t cast himself in a particular ‘image.’ It might work for other groups, but if I can be mekarev someone, I will be there and it will make no difference how he looks or how old he is. When shlichus
R’ Chikvashvili (on the right side of the picture) when the kollel for Georgian Jews was founded
“I have seen the power of a story, which can accomplish what intellectual gymnastics cannot accomplish.”
neighborhood. A short while later, he was offered a slot on a radio program for immigrants during which he would talk about Judaism in the Georgian language. It is broadcast every Erev Shabbos and he speaks about Geula and the parsha and tells stories about the Rebbe and Chabad leaders. In the shul, he started a night kollel which is subsidized by members of Chacham Yaakov Dobrashvili’s family for whom the shul is named. There are also shiurim and minyanim as well as farbrengens every Shabbos and on special days. *** Rafi Refaeli, one of the bachurim in the Netanya k’hilla, asked him to teach him how to blow the shofar so he would be able to do so for his fellow soldiers at the military base where he served. R’ Chikvashvili bought him a shofar and taught him how to use it.
community there and he took me along to blow the shofar. In 5757 they offered me the position of rav of their k’hilla. “After receiving the Rebbe’s bracha through the Igros Kodesh, I left Yerushalayim for Netanya. I also worked in Chabad schools in Netanya, in the elementary school and giving shiurim in the yeshiva. My wife ran the preschool. We lived in Netanya for four years, during which time I received permission from the Ashkenazi rabbi to conduct weddings. I also did shimush at R’ Wosner’s beis din in B’nei Brak in all aspects of rabbanus, and I learned safrus and sh’chita in order to be able to respond to questions I would be asked.” *** After four years of family and mekuravim in Yerushalayim begging him to return, he decided to go back to Yerushalayim. He returned to the Georgian community in the Romema
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is a person’s focus then he will reach out kindly to everyone and they will reflect the love back to him. Today, rabbanus is not just about paskening Halacha, but being a father and mother to every member of the community, knowing how to listen and help, and especially, loving everyone.” What is unique about working with the Georgian community? “Family is extremely important. Most other communities don’t make as big a deal about a yahrtzait as the Georgian community does. The rav is invited and asked to say Divrei Torah. When you are a Lubavitcher rav, you say Chassidus even if you don’t call it by that name. “Another thing which is typical of the Georgian community is their strong relationships with their own rabbanim. Even all these decades after making aliya, they will only feel connected to someone who is one of them, who is familiar with the nuances and knows the language. The most outstanding trait is emunas chachomim which is transmitted from generation to generation. “When I give a shiur, I start or end with three Chassidic stories and Chassidic customs. Every week, I make sure to have a supply of stories because Georgians feel tremendous warmth for Torah and mitzvos. I have seen the power of a story, which can accomplish what intellectual gymnastics cannot accomplish.”
MOMENTS WITH THE REBBE
R’ Chikvashvili has spent over twenty Tishreis with the Rebbe, but Tishrei 5749 stands out and will never be forgotten. “We went with our oldest child Yisroel Shimshon, today a mashpia in Kiryat Shmuel who works with Georgian Jews in the north. He was two and a half at the time. At Kos Shel Bracha on Motzaei Simchas Torah, at two in the morning, I passed by the Rebbe with my son. The Rebbe poured some wine for me and for my son and then stopped pouring and followed us with his gaze until we went off the bima. “On another occasion that year, at ‘dollars,’ my son asked the Rebbe to come back to Eretz Yisroel with us. The Rebbe smiled broadly and said, ‘Have a good trip’ two times. At the end of the women’s Kinus that was held that month, my wife took our son and when they passed by for dollars at the end of the sicha, our son said, ‘Moshiach now’ to the Rebbe. The Rebbe made a powerful encouraging motion and smiled broadly and answered ‘Amen’ loudly.” will see how involved he is in the subject. However, I asked him anyway and he said: “Activities having to do with Moshiach, aside from their intrinsic importance, have a great effect on other activities. I meet people who learned with me in yeshiva, Litvishe fellows, and they tell me how amazing it is that whatever the Rebbe said in the past is happening before our eyes. In our shul we proclaim ‘Yechi.’ Sometimes, people ask about it but there is no reason to be nervous. A Chassid needs to learn about it and answer clearly. “Writing to the Rebbe through
QUIETING DOWN THE STORM
It did not seem necessary to ask R’ Chikvashvili about Geula and Moshiach since anyone who follows him for just a few hours
the Igros Kodesh is very popular in the k’hilla. Every week, people ask me about writing and women ask my wife. “A few years ago, we flew with one of our children to 770 to celebrate his bar mitzva. First, we wrote to the Rebbe and the answer we opened to said: during the trip, learn the three shiurim established by the Rebbe Rayatz – Chumash, T’hillim, Tanya – publicly. “The truth is, we did not take this literally, but before we landed in New York we encountered a major storm. I had flown many times in my life and had seen nothing like this before. We immediately remembered what the Rebbe had said in the letter. We opened the daily Tanya and I asked my son to repeat it. He read it and interestingly, the Alter Rebbe was talking about the splitting of the sea. When my son sat down, the storm died down. When we landed, a few ladies who had been sitting near us asked my wife what we had read that had quieted the storm! The power of an answer from the Rebbe.”
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By Rabbi Akiva Wagner
he following story was told to me by Rabbi Heschel Greenberg. A woman in Australia, to whom this story happened, shared it herself with Rabbi Greenberg when he was there a few years ago. I am writing it here in first person, in the words of this woman to whom it happened: I hadn’t been feeling well for some time (began the woman in her narrative), and when I finally underwent comprehensive tests, I was presented with the worst possible news: The doctor informed me that I was suffering from a rare and potentially fatal blood disease. His prognosis was that I had at best a few days left to live. I lay in the hospital, miserable and depressed, and prepared for the end. My only brother, with whom I was very close, hadn’t visited me, as he felt unable to face neither me nor my situation. One night, I had a dream. In my dream, I saw myself standing at the beginning of a long dark tunnel (this is in fact a very common dream or vision for those experiencing a neardeath experience). At the other end of the tunnel, I saw my grandmother who had already departed from this world, and she was beckoning to me. I felt as if there was a powerful force drawing me towards her. Although I understood the
significance of joining her, I was also agreeable to do so, eager to leave my misery and suffering behind. Suddenly, I saw a man with a white beard standing behind me on my side of the tunnel (I subsequently identified him as the Rebbe). “Don’t go,” he called to me with great urgency, “hold on tight!” I began to hold on tight, although it is not clear to what I was holding on, and then I awoke. I was visibly excited about what I had seen, to such a degree that a nurse who came into my room at that moment questioned me about the cause of my excitement. I was, however, too uncomfortable to share my experience with her, and I remained silent. But shortly afterwards, when my mother entered the room to visit me, I shared the whole story with her. My mother listened, without interruption, and then said to me: “Wait, I’m going to call in your brother.” My brother was in the waiting room, having forced himself to come to take advantage of what he believed to be his last opportunity to see me alive. As soon as my mother returned to the room with my brother, she instructed my brother: “Tell her what you dreamt last night.” My brother immediately began to relate: “Last night, I
dreamt that I saw you at the beginning of a long dark tunnel. Suddenly, I saw grandmother at the opposite end, beckoning to you. I was filled with fear, when suddenly I saw the Lubavitcher Rebbe standing behind you, telling you to stay put and hold on tight. Then I awoke.” We marveled at the fact that we had the identical dream, and I was filled with new hope and optimism. Needless to say, I recovered. A few months later, when the worst was already behind me, I decided that I should pay a visit to the Rebbe and express my appreciation. Accompanied by Rebbetzin Groner (wife of Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner), we took the trip from Australia to New York and came to the Rebbe. When I was in front of the Rebbe, someone said “This is the lady who had the dream.” The Rebbe immediately responded, “It wasn’t a dream, it was reality!” ••• This Shabbos is Shabbos Nachamu, the beginning of the seven weeks when the focus is on being comforted after the mourning of Tisha B’Av. And we are all well aware of the exact requirement necessary for us to be comforted. There is only one way to achieve that: through the immediate, complete
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and ultimate redemption with Moshiach Tzidkeinu. Here and NOW. We speak about Moshiach, and we learn about Moshiach. But the era of redemption that he will usher in is for us still a dream. “Nachamu,” our comfort and consolation, will be only through that dream being no longer a dream but reality; when galus, instead, will turn out to have been a dream, a too-longlasting nightmare, and will finally came to an abrupt end. It follows that the preparation for this event should be to incorporate this mindset into our present life. Of course, we speak about Geula and about how G-dliness will permeate the entire Universe. But for many of us this remains a dream. The stock market and the latest sports news – these are our present reality. Chassidus, nigleh, and our general relationship with Hashem are more of a dream, something abstract and removed from our real lives. But the Rebbe says to each and every one of us: “It’s not a dream; it’s reality!” Torah and Mitzvos are your reality, Chassidus is your reality, and Moshiach is your reality! All worldly and mundane matters are no more than a fleeting dream (or sometimes a nightmare) – “kachaloim ya’uf.” So, stop living your life in a dream. Wake up and smell the coffee! No. Not the coffee, that’s part of the ‘dream.’ WAKE UP AND SMELL THE CHASSIDUS! In 5751, I was in Manchester with a few other bachurim for a short visit, for the chasuna of a friend. This was during the Gulf War, and the Rebbe’s view on the current events was the topic of many conversations. Thus it
When I was in front of the Rebbe, someone said “This is the lady who had the dream.” The Rebbe immediately responded, “It wasn’t a dream, it was reality!”
the only reality – “Emes Havaya L ’olam.” Anything that connects to Him and to the fulfillment of His directives is reality. All else is nothing more than a dream. In this week’s Parsha we are told: “And you shall know this day and consider it in your heart that the Hashem He is G-d in heaven above, and upon the earth below; there is none else.” The Alter Rebbe, in Tanya, questions this: “This requires explanation. For would it occur to you that there is a G-d dwelling in the waters beneath the earth, so that it is necessary to caution so strongly [and negate this thought by stating that one should] ‘take it unto your heart,’ and come to the realization that this is indeed not so?” The basic answer is along the And, in general, the state of galus is not at all what’s real to us. The message and directive is clear: Wake up Yidden from the dream of galus. Get ready to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu! And then, the whole word will see and recognize that “It’s not a dream; it’s reality!” L ’chaim! May we all live lives that revolve around and focus on the fact that Hashem is the only reality (So, forget about Coca Cola. Drink Chassidus, it’s the real thing), and may Hashem immediately transform our dream into actual and tangible reality, through the immediate revelation of Moshiach Tzidkeinu Teikef U’miyad Mamash!!!
From a written farbrengen directed towards Alumni of Yeshivas Lubavitch Toronto
happened that while we were riding somewhere on a bus, we were approached by a few Poylishe Chassidim who were questioning us about the Rebbe’s position. “Is it true that the Rebbe said that Eretz Yisroel is the safest place?” I was asked. I responded: “The Rebbe always points out that this is a clear Pasuk, that Eretz Yisroel is the land where ‘Einei Hashem Elokecha Ba MeiReishis HaShana VeAd Achris Shana.’” “I also know what it says in the Pasuk,” was his rejoinder, “but I’m speaking practically now.” Indeed, the Rebbe constantly taught us that that which is written in Torah is the only reality. G-d is the only truth,
lines of the above: The Torah is telling us to “take heart” and realize that even on the earth below and in the ocean, where there appears to exist a different reality (other than G-dliness, ch”v), there too remains the ultimate and only truth: “Havaya Hu Elokim, Ein Od Milvado!” This realization is what requires great effort from us, so that even when we deal with the apparent reality around us, we don’t lose focus of the real reality. Even while we’re taking our vacations or going on camp trips, while we’re visiting Disneyland or Universal Studios, or while we’re going parasailing or white-water rafting, we must never forget even for a moment that these pursuits are not real, and not at all what our lives are all about.
Issue 844 • �
DREAMING ABOUT A LETTER FROM BROOKLYN
She was forced to leave the home of her nonobservant parents. She was raised in an ultraOrthodox dormitory in Meia Sh’arim, but she abandoned everything and went out to explore the world. However, G-d eventually brought her back to the leader of the generation, and she received an abundance of blessings and spiritual guidance from him. It’s no wonder that when she gave birth to her daughter at a relatively advanced age, she added a “Hey” to her name as a sign of thanks to the Creator. This is the story of Mrs. Rachel Kolevsky from Kiryat Ata.
By Nosson Avraham Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
ach year, when registration begins for the daycare centers and kindergartens, parents rush to their respective municipalities and local councils. Mrs. Rachel Kolevsky from Kiryat Ata has been the registrar at the city’s department of education for many years. “While I am not a municipal employee,” she explains, “I get a telephone call each year
from the city government just before the start of the registration period, asking me to accept the position.” This year, as Rachel was walking through the hallways of the local community center where the registration takes place, she met Mrs. Shoshana Chazan, the person in charge of registering children for the city’s Chabad kindergartens. While there are
often days when there’s a heavy workload, as many parents come to register their children, there are other times when things are a bit quieter, and the employees have a chance to exchange a few stories. One of the stories that Rachel told to her Chabad coworker was an incredibly revealed miracle that she personally experienced with the Rebbe’s bracha. Rachel Kolevsky later
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told this story again to us, and we present it here to our readers.
SHE NEVER LOST HER BELIEF IN TZADDIKIM
“I was born in Yerushalayim to my non-Torah observant parents,” Mrs. Kolevsky began. “When I was still a young girl, they divorced, and for some reason, they chose to send me to an ultra-Orthodox dormitory operating in the city’s Meia Sh’arim neighborhood. I later heard from my father that the place had been
recommended by a close friend of his. This drastic change was very difficult for me – transitioning from a life where everything was apparently permissible to one filled with laws and regulations. But what did I know anyway? I was only a little girl, and I tried to adapt to the situation as best I could. “The biggest absurdity was what happened when my parents came to visit. There we were, girls dressed from head to toe, davening and studying about Yiras Shamayim and belief in tzaddikim, while my parents,
coming from the outside world, brought an entirely different atmosphere with them. This conflict was one of the reasons why I eventually left a life of Torah and mitzvos, opting instead for the type of lifestyle and education that my parents truly wanted for me. Another factor that led to this decision was the inflexibility of the dormitory staff. They simply couldn’t understand our feelings and failed to recognize the emotional and spiritual conflict we were experiencing. “I left the religious program, completely removed the yoke of Torah and mitzvos, and joined the army. Today, I realize that as much as I tried to run away from the path of Torah, I still adhered to certain modes of conduct and viewpoints based on emunas tzaddikim and other fundamentals of religious observance. When I was already in my mid-thirties, I finally got married to a man from Kiryat Ata, and I left Yerushalayim to make my home in the north.
Issue 844 • �
“We were a very happy couple. Within a year of our wedding, our eldest daughter was born. Our joy knew no bounds, particularly in light of my relatively advanced age. “Not long after the birth, I began to feel sharp abdominal pains. After a series of tests, the doctors discovered that I had a growth of an undetermined nature that had to be removed surgically. The hope was that everything would be restored to normal after the operation, but this was not the case. Months and even years passed, and we hadn’t been blessed with more children. I underwent several fertility treatments without success, and the doctors were rather pessimistic about my chances “Around this time, I met an acquaintance of mine, who saw my downcast expression and asked to know what the problem was. I proceeded to tell her about the doctors’ diagnosis and how I was having a hard time accepting their conclusion. She gave me a few words of encouragement, and told me not to give up so fast. She then recommended that I seek the advice of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. “While I had left the life of Torah and mitzvos in my youth, I still had a strong belief in tzaddikim. In addition, we had heard a great deal over the years about the Rebbe, his brachos, and his unique spiritual powers. Encouraged by my friend’s suggestion, I told her “I left the Diskins’ home filled with confidence and a feeling that only good would come from this encounter. Without even waiting for a reply from the Rebbe, I headed straight for Rothschild Hospital and asked to begin another fertility treatment. Dr. Ivschitz, a prominent physician in the field, administered the treatment. “A few days later, the Rebbe’s blessing arrived: ‘Bracha v’hatzlacha (blessing and success).’ “Shortly after receiving the Rebbe’s answer, I was informed that the treatment had been successful… I was positively overjoyed. Just a few weeks earlier, I was sure that I had about as much chance of conceiving again as I did to grow bananas out of the palm of my hand. Yet, the hospital had just told me quite clearly that I was pregnant. Four months later, while Dr. Ivschitz was conducting a followup examination, he raised the issue of a certain procedure that many medical experts recommended that I should do. He added, however, that he was personally inclined to oppose this procedure. “He left me in a state of serious uncertainty, but he said that I had to decide what course to take. Now I knew whom to ask. I returned to the Diskins’ home and told the Rebbetzin about the new situation. We again wrote a letter to the Rebbe, and within a few days, I received a reply. The Rebbe said that despite the fact that numerous practitioners supported using this procedure, since the doctor in charge of my case does not share this view, it would be preferable if I took his advice. I decided to follow the Rebbe’s instructions, asking for a bracha to have
“Less than twenty-four hours later, I was rushed to the delivery room. I lay there for a whole day as a long and complex process ensued. It was only then that I understood why the secretary had called to inform me that the Rebbe had said, ‘Everything will be all right.’”
for conceiving again. When the surgeons had removed the cyst, an infection developed that created certain complications. As a result, the doctors explained, there was no possibility that I could ever become pregnant again. “I’ll never forget the words of Dr. Pe’er, who told me that there was no chance whatsoever and I should simply forget about having more children. After a few more unsuccessful treatments, my husband and I were resigned to our fate of having only one biological child. We were naturally very upset, but we felt that there was nothing more anyone could do. that I agreed to write a letter to the Rebbe. We decided not to waste any valuable time and immediately drove together to the home of the Rebbe’s shliach in Kiryat Ata, Rabbi Chaim Shlomo Diskin, to meet with his wife, Rochel. My friend explained that after we wrote the letter, Rebbetzin Diskin could send it via fax to the Rebbe’s office in Brooklyn. I happily consented. “Rebbetzin Diskin greeted us warmly. After I told her about what I had gone through, my advanced age (thirty-six), and the doctors’ analysis, she told us to sit down and compose a letter to the Rebbe detailing the chain of events, and so we did.
20 � • 15 Menachem-Av 5772
an easy and normal birth. Needless to say, the Rebbe’s brachos accompanied me every step of the way.”
A FATHER WHO CARES ABOUT US
“Three months passed, and when I was already in my seventh month, I had a most amazing dream. To this day, I have no way to explain it. In my dream, I was leaving my house and heading towards my mailbox, when I saw that I had received a letter from the United States. I asked my husband, Eli, ‘Who would be sending us a letter from America? We have no family or friends there.’ I took the envelope and noticed that the letter was addressed to Rachel Kolevsky, but there was no name of the person who had sent it. We spent a while trying to think who could have sent us a letter from overseas, but we came up with nothing. “When I woke up, I told my husband the whole story, but we both agreed that it was just some meaningless dream. Just two weeks later, I realized that we had been mistaken. In fact, we did have family in America, or to be more precise, a spiritual father who truly cares about us. I went down to check the mail, and I discovered that the Rebbe had sent me the following letter, dated the 20th of Kislev, 5752: In reply to the notification about her condition, G-d Alm-ghty will properly complete the days of her pregnancy, and she shall have a proper and easy birth to a healthy child in its correct
time. The Pan in the letter will be read at an auspicious time at the Tziyon of my holy and revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, of holy and righteous memory, whose soul rests in the treasures of Heaven, may his merit protect us. “This letter really strengthened my faith. I felt that the Rebbe would be with me for the duration of the pregnancy. Every time that some problem arose, I would request and receive a bracha, and everything would work itself out. “Towards the end of the eighth month, there was yet another amazing occurrence. The telephone in our house rang, and when I answered it, I realized that I was speaking with none other than the personal secretary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He informed me that the Rebbe had given me a bracha and there was nothing to worry about. He then suggested that when I go to the hospital, I should take the Rebbe’s letter with me as a segula
for an easy birth. “Less than twentyfour hours later, I was rushed to the delivery room. I lay there for a whole day as a long and complex process ensued. It was only then that I understood why the secretary had called to inform me that the Rebbe had said, ‘Everything will be all right.’ The letter was naturally in my bag, and everyone around me knew about my strong connection with the Rebbe. As the long day came to an end, our younger daughter was born, and we gave her the name Talia. At first, we were considering calling her Tal or Tali, but after all the brachos we had received, we added a letter ‘Hey’ to her name as a sign of thanks to the Creator.”
ALIVE IN THE REBBE’S MERIT
Mrs. Rachel Kolevsky concluded her story with much emotion. While it had been nearly twenty years since the events took place, they remain forever emblazoned in her memory. “Talia knows well how pivotal a role the Rebbe’s bracha played in her birth. When she became a bit older, we told her the whole story in great detail, and she is very proud of it. We recently traveled to Thailand and met with the Rebbe’s shluchim on Phuket Island. Despite the fact that she is not religious, she told them most proudly about her special connection with the Rebbe, in whose merit she was born and lives to this day.”
Issue 844 • �
HalacHa & Geula
THE THREE QUARTER OF AN HOUR RULE
Especially during the summer, we need to be careful about the time for reciting the morning Shma. Since it’s so easy to miss the time, the Alter Rebbe paskens that one should say the Shma ¾ of an hour before the actual time limit! * Is this stringency only for the Shma or for any time-bound mitzva or custom? To what extent can we rely on the accuracy of our clocks? What did the Rebbe add in a yechidus with a bachur and why, because of this paragraph in the Shulchan Aruch, were decrees against the Jews in Russia postponed? * On this and more in the following article.
By Rabbi Mordechai Chaimson Pictures by Mishael Arnavyev
n Parshas Balak (BaMidbar 23:23) Bilam’s prophecy is recorded, in which he refers to the Jewish people as, “they are a nation which rises like a lion.” Rashi explains, “When they get up in the morning they [rise up] powerfully like a lion to grab mitzvos, to don a tallis, to recite the Shma and to put on t’fillin.” In the holy Zohar it says
shocking things about someone who does not recite the Shma on time; specifically that he is shunned by Heaven all that day. Ramak and other commentaries on Zohar explain that since he missed the RaMaCH (248) words of the Shma, the RaMaCH turns into CheReM (excommunication). The Alter Rebbe paskens
that the latest one can recite the morning Shma is three hours after Neitz HaChama (sunrise). He adds that one should be exceedingly careful about it (actually, he mainly warns about how we should conduct ourselves and parenthetically lets us know that the latest one can recite the Shma is three hours after the neitz HaChama).
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This is what the Alter Rebbe writes in his Siddur: “The time for reciting the morning Shma is the first quarter of the day and one should be exceedingly careful especially in the summer not to miss the time… And since the time pieces are not all accurate… and one should not cut it so close – therefore, be careful to finish reciting the Shma by the end of the seventh hour in the summer when the end of the allotted time is ‘three quarters of an hour later.” One could argue that only in the days of the Alter Rebbe the clocks or “time pieces” weren’t precise; today however, when most time pieces are accurate, it is not necessary to say the Shma earlier as an extra precaution. However, the Alter Rebbe gives another reason for his p’sak, namely, that since this is a biblical mitzvah, it is not proper to cut it so close or as we would put it, “go down to the wire.” This applies even now and so we should say the Shma three quarters of an hour before the end of the z’man. The gaon Rabbi Yaakov Landau a”h said, “Once, on Erev Pesach, the Rebbe [Rashab] urged me to finish eating chametz three quarters of an hour before the z’man, quoting his father as saying: Just as the Alter Rebbe writes in his Siddur about finishing the recitation of Shma three quarters of an hour before the z’man, so too with matters that are rabbinic in nature.” From here we see that our Rebbeim were particular about any obligation whose timing is based on a reckoning of hours in the day (in other words, not at the beginning or end of the day and not precisely in the middle either) and even in Rabbinic
The gaon Rabbi Yaakov Landau a”h said, “Once, on Erev Pesach, the Rebbe [Rashab] urged me to finish eating chametz three quarters of an hour before the z’man, quoting his father as saying: Just as the Alter Rebbe writes in his Siddur about finishing the recitation of Shma three quarters of an hour before the z’man, so too with matters that are rabbinic in nature.”
do as the Rebbeim do. *** To summarize thus far: according to the Alter Rebbe, “we need to be careful to finish reciting the Shma” three quarters of an hour before the final time. From our Rebbeim it seems there is reason to be stringent even with Rabbinic mitzvos whose required time is within a certain number of hours into the day. *** We should mention that which the Alter Rebbe states in the laws of Netilas Yadayim, in a case where he is compelled to take a side in a dispute and he says, “It is proper to act according to reasoning X,
matters, that one should fulfill them three quarters of an hour before the time. And although the Alter Rebbe writes explicitly that “in a Safek Shel Torah we should not cut it so close,” which makes it sound like we need not be concerned about this regarding a Safek D’Rabbanan, nevertheless, the Rebbeim were more stringent even with Rabbinic laws. One could maintain that the Rebbeim were stringent in Rabbinic matters only for themselves and their household and this was not intended for everybody else. However, obviously one who is stringent in Rabbinic matters too does not lose out, especially given the fact that Chassidim are mehader to
Issue 844 • �
HalacHa & Geula
and the Rebbe told him to make a good resolution. The way it worked back then was that after yechidus a Chassid was able to submit notes of the yechidus and the Rebbe would review it. Then the notes were returned to the one who submitted them, and this way he knew that he properly understood what the Rebbe said. Rabbi Cohen wrote the horaa about a hachlata in his notes. When the Rebbe edited it he added “bli neder.” This teaches us that we should make good resolutions conditional on their not being vows. *** We will conclude with some inyanei Moshiach and Geula as they relate to the recitation of the Shma and the approach of the Alter Rebbe. On Yud-Tes Kislev 5663/1903, the Rebbe Rashab said a maamer for a select group of outstanding individuals on the topic of “Understanding the known question: If the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov are true, and we would not be able to fight the war against the sitra achra without it, why weren’t they revealed earlier?” He explains there “that 1000 years up Above are considered like one day … Accordingly, from the year 500 of the 6th millennium begins the morning of this millennium … and it’s a mitzva, as it says in Shulchan Aruch, to taste from each dish that was cooked for Shabbos … And in general, the seventh millennium is called ‘the day that is completely Shabbos’ … Therefore, once the 500th year of the sixth millennium began it was a z’chus and mitzva to taste of the Shabbos foods, and therefore, the Baal Shem Tov was sent to the world to reveal P’nimius HaTorah. Whatever secrets of the Torah will be revealed by tzaddikim until the coming of Moshiach is called ‘merely a taste,’ and the main meal will be in the future, but prior to that time  souls in bodies did not have the capacity to taste of the Tree of Life.” He goes on to say that the keitz is in 5666/1906. The calculation goes as follows: At the beginning of the day of the sixth millennium the Jewish people will awaken and rise up, with dawn (the beginning of the day) corresponding to the year 5500 [as mentioned before, the 500 first years are considered like the night of the sixth millennium] and the time of sunrise is the year 5550/1790 [because from dawn until sunrise there is one and a fifth hours … [which is] a tenth of the day which is one tenth of 500]. If we continue to explain the calculation of the years, fifty years are one tenth of 500. Indeed, that is when the light of the Alter Rebbe began to shine in greater force “and therefore, they rose from the slumber of galus, several thousand more souls than in the time of the Baal Shem Tov (which was dawn) … and from that point was brought down in great force the revelation of (Divine) intellect until three hours into the day which is the year 5625/1865. Throughout these years (5550-5625) – which correspond to the first three hours of the day – our Rebbeim spread Chassidus and aroused the Jewish people from the slumber of galus. Then, from the year 5626, the Tzemach Tzedek passed away and the revelation of intellect retreated, which is the (end) time of Krias Shma and then the fourth hour began, which is the time for t’filla. This continued until 5666 and eight months which is the fourth hour, the time for t’filla … therefore
because since it is something that is not a bother, why shouldn’t we remove ourselves from machlokes.” And the Alter Rebbe concludes with the following advice, “It is proper to make such a commitment conditional and to say that you are not committing to this by way of obligation but as a voluntary matter, so that if, on occasion, you are not able to do so … readily, you won’t need to be stringent, and it is fitting, with any stringency you commit to, to do so conditionally.” So when we want to commit to this hiddur brought in the Alter Rebbe’s Siddur, it is good to do so conditionally. The Rebbe would say that when you commit to a stringency or hiddur, do so “bli neder” (without a vow), and then your actions will be desirable and perfect. I also remember hearing from Rabbi Sholom Dovber Cohen, rosh yeshiva of Tomchei T’mimim in Nachalat Har Chabad, that in his youth (5728/1968) he had yechidus before his birthday
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the Geula will be … at this time specifically which is the time for t’filla.” However, he adds and clarifies that “it is known that the avoda of t’filla is specifically with external bittul and the bowing of the physical body and that is the main thing, specifically in a manner of hodaa/submission … and therefore at this time began the birth pangs of Moshiach and great suffering, as is known, in order to implant in the heart of man this aspect of hodaa/ submission.” However, we need to understand why this period of suffering did not begin immediately at the time of t’filla, i.e. from 5626, and why does it last until 5650 when the “birth pangs of Moshiach” were not so strong. He explains, based on the aforementioned view of the Alter Rebbe regarding the times for Krias Shma and t’filla and he says, “there is another reason for this, as Hashem did this in His great mercies to extend the time for Krias Shma according to the view of poskim who count the hours starting from sunrise so it comes out that there is an additional thirty minutes. According to the computation of the years, that would be 25 years. Therefore, that earlier period was extended another 25 years until 5650, which is the end of the z’man Krias Shma starting from sunrise.”
He then adds, “We actually saw how starting from the year 5650 the expulsion from the cities of Russia (and the establishment of the Pale of Settlement) began, along with the great difficulties in making a living. The yoke of galus began to be felt in a much greater way in every city of our country as a result of which, they were awakened from their slumber, the slumber of exile.” What we understand from all this, is that with Hashem’s kindness the birth pangs of Moshiach were pushed off until 5651/1891 because of the legal ruling of the Alter Rebbe and those who follow him, as it is from then that the fourth hour begins, the time for t’filla and hodaa/submission.
In our time, when it is already “midday of the sixth or three hours after midday, very close to the beginning of Shabbos,” then, like the Rebbe says, “there is no reason to wait any longer
adds, “This that the Sages said that it depends solely on t’shuva was in the past, but now (after they have already done t’shuva) it depends solely on the coming of Moshiach himself. All that is needed is that Moshiach should actually come so that “one can point with his finger and say ‘this is Moshiach Tzidkeinu.’”
In our time, when it is already “midday of the sixth or three hours after midday, very close to the beginning of Shabbos,” then, like the Rebbe says, “there is no reason to wait any longer since we have already completed all aspects of avoda and have already done t’shuva, and the matter depends solely on the coming of Moshiach himself.” The Rebbe
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Issue 844 • �
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS WITH THE REBBE
When will the Rebbe move to Eretz Yisroel? * In an interview with Beis Moshiach, Mr. Moshe Ishon, editor of HaTzofeh for twenty years, tells of his many visits to 770 and about his private meetings with the Rebbe, the first of which lasted over three hours. * “I was captivated by the Rebbe’s personality. Whenever I was in New York, I went to 770.”
By Shneur Zalman Berger
ur conversation with the Admur took place when he celebrated his 70th birthday,” is how Mr. Moshe Ishon began his description of the meetings he had with the Rebbe for B’Machane. “It was a particularly special day. Everything looked festive. Guests came from all over the world. The Admur’s house was too small to contain them all, but the Chassidim managed. You won’t find a Chassid who says it’s too crowded for him. They crammed together and waited in the large beis midrash for hours for the Rebbe’s arrival at the farbrengen. “They stood on the window
sills; they hung from the beams. They climbed on one another’s shoulders in order to catch a glimpse of the Rebbe on his birthday. The Rebbe walked into the beis midrash in measured strides and went up to the elevated platform. He took a seat at the head of the table, raised his cup for l’chaim and the crowd of thousands burst into mighty song, a new niggun that was composed especially in honor of the Rebbe’s birthday. The words were from T’hillim, Chapter 71, to correspond to the start of his 71st year. “‘Becha Hashem chassissi, al eivosha l’olam,’ they sang
repeatedly with d’veikus and a quick tempo. The Rebbe listened, sang, and occasionally, with a motion of his hand, a motion that indicated speed, upped the tempo. “Thousands came to farbreng. Hundreds came to bless the Rebbe personally. Politicians came, special emissaries came, among them was the writer Herman Wouk who conveyed greetings from the President of the United States, Richard Nixon. There was also the Israeli ambassador to the US, Yitzchak Rabin, who brought greetings to the Rebbe on behalf of the Israeli government. Representatives
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of Mayor Lindsey came and presented an honorary certificate to the Rebbe from the City of New York. The Rebbe received everyone graciously. He thanked each one of them. He also received thousands of gifts from all over the world, including an album with the signatures of most of the ministers of the Israeli government and all the ‘Who’s Who’ of the State of Israel.” *** Moshe Ishon had a warm relationship with the Rebbe. He wrote letters to the Rebbe and received dozens of letters in return. Whenever he was in New York, he visited 770, whether for
a farbrengen or a long private audience. The relationship grew stronger during the three years of his mission in New York from 1977-1980, as a representative of the Jewish Agency. During this period, Ishon did not miss a single farbrengen with the Rebbe! Those years were the height of the Rebbe’s battle over amending the law of “Who Is A Jew.” The Rebbe demanded that religious Knesset members and ministers work on amending the law. Representatives of Mafdal (the Mizrachi party) in the Knesset and the government did nothing to amend the law, nor did they agree to leave the government
as the Rebbe demanded they do. In sichos of those days, the Rebbe stated the obligation of the religious representatives to take action. Lubavitchers in Eretz Yisroel worked assiduously to amend the law while leveling sharp criticism at the representatives from Mafdal and Agudath Israel. Relations between Chabad and Mafdal representatives were strained and even grew tense. At that time, during the summer of 1970, Moshe Ishon, a senior journalist (later the editor) from HaTzofeh, came to New York. He attended the Rebbe’s farbrengens and had yechidus.
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His first yechidus lasted over three hours, with Mihu Yehudi as the main topic. Ishon wrote up the yechidus for HaTzofeh without taking into consideration what the leadership of Mafdal would say. The reason for his close relationship with the Rebbe at a time when the Mafdal leadership was getting it over the head from the Rebbe was explained in an interview that Beis Moshiach conducted with him. “The Rebbe’s personality and outlook impressed me tremendously. That is why I went to 770 at every possible opportunity, in order to hear the Rebbe’s opinion and take counsel with him. Although I worked for HaTzofeh, I personally am a big admirer of the Rebbe. This is why I often wrote my opinion about Mihu Yehudi and about Eretz Yisroel HaShleima in the spirit of the Rebbe’s sichos even though this opposed the views of the leadership of Mafdal.” When meeting personally with the Rebbe, you spoke to him, but what does a man of Mafdal do for dozens of hours at farbrengens? “I’ll tell you; it’s very simple. Just looking at the Rebbe does a lot.” As a journalist for HaTzofeh, Ishon was sent on special missions by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to the US. As part of his missions he visited many public figures, including rabbis. That is how he reached the Rebbe. His first encounter was at a farbrengen in the summer of 5730: “I stood there, one of thousands packed into the room with their gaze upon the table at which the Rebbe sat and spoke. The farbrengen lasted for hours and included Chabad niggunim and the drinking of l’chaim. People did not drink until they made eye contact with the Rebbe.” It was the first time and Ishon was captivated. This first encounter led to another encounter a short while later, this time in a yechidus that lasted over three hours. This is how he described that first yechidus in an article that he published afterward: The Rebbe stood in his office impeccably dressed. His noble features were framed by a beard shot through with gray. His burning eyes threw off great light. His caressing hand responded to our ‘Shalom Aleichem,’ and within seconds we found ourselves next to his glass covered desk with his image reflected in it like a mirror. On the edge of the desk was a large clock alongside a bell. One of the secretaries told me that when it rang, I was to end the yechidus. The conversation began with information, “Where are you from?” Then the Rebbe explained the Gemara in Eruvin about why Rebbi (Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi) gave honor to wealthy men. He emphasized that “it does not refer to the simple meaning of ‘wealthy,’ but to those ‘wealthy’ in influence, who have the power to take action and those who use their wealth towards positive ends according to the Torah perspective. These are the ones Rebbi honored. The definition of poor people is those who have the ability to do, but they don’t take action. They are punished more than those who lack the means to take action. “Chabad,” emphasized the Rebbe as he continued, “champions’ action. If we value the impact of speech, all the more so do we value the impact of that which is in writing.” Said Ishon, “It was an introduction to the main topic of the discussion, Mihu Yehudi. The Rebbe’s request was that we not divert our attention from the main issue by discussing other matters, albeit important in their own right but of lesser value according to the Rebbe when compared to the big topic: Shleimus Ha’Am.” Indeed, the amendment of the law of Mihu Yehudi was the central topic of this yechidus as well as in later private audiences that Ishon had with the Rebbe. The Rebbe asked him as a journalist to influence, by writing and other ways, those who had the ability to help amend the law so that only halachic conversions would be considered conversions. The Rebbe said: “I have heard of instances when top doctors conclude that they must amputate a person’s arm, leg, eye, ear etc. in order to save his life. I have never heard a doctor suggest cutting off a person’s head in order to save his body. The State of Israel has made peace with the idea of a ‘head amputation’ in the false hope of being able to save a hand or foot, without considering that without a head, the body dies.” “Therefore,” said Ishon, “the Rebbe is unwilling to accept the view of those who think that we should not belittle the achievements the religious have made in the areas of education, Shabbos, rabbanus, and the position of the rabbinic courts in Israel: ‘If religious education is undermined today, there is hope that tomorrow or the day after we will be able, with Hashem’s help, to overcome the problems and restore the crown of chinuch to what it used to be; if today, many desecrate the Shabbos, there is
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hope that in the future this will diminish. But if goyim integrate into the Jewish People, we will never be able to fix this. “‘Years ago, Ben Gurion tried to veer off the path and some time later, the law was amended and all was well. Why don’t they do the same thing today?’ he asked, although the Rebbe did not believe that the religious ministers would change their minds and bring down the governing coalition.” “If so,” I asked the Rebbe, “why doesn’t the Rebbe give up?” This is what the Rebbe replied: “Even when a Jew knows that it is possible that they won’t listen to him, and as it says in the Gemara, ‘You may know for a certainty – but who says it is certain to them?’ Even when attempts at rebuke have been made and they have not been effective, the Halacha is: ‘You shall surely rebuke your fellow – even one hundred times.’ This means that after rebuking him ninety-nine times, and doing so according to all the parameters demanded by Torah, and nothing was accomplished, if he does not rebuke the hundredth time, he is transgressing a positive mitzva of the Torah. ‘You shall surely rebuke’ means that a Jew must do his part without calculating how effective he will be, especially if there is reason to think that his silence will be interpreted improperly. He has no choice, and whether it’s a way of pleasantness or not he must say his piece.” Shortly after this article by Ishon was printed in HaTzofeh, he received a letter from the Rebbe in which the Rebbe corrected how he was quoted regarding the statement of Chazal, “Rebbi gave honor to
Mr. Moshe Ishon at “dollars” on 12 Adar I 5752
“The State of Israel has made peace with the idea of a ‘head amputation’ in the false hope of being able to save a hand or foot, without considering that without a head, the body dies.”
wealthy people,” pointing out that the Gemara was clearly speaking about those who possess actual wealth. The reason that they are deserving of honor is that if G-d entrusted them with the resources to accomplish great things, despite the many difficult spiritual challenges that come with great wealth, they must have tremendous soul powers to withstand those tests. (Igros Kodesh Vol. 26, p. 343) The Rebbe fought mightily to bring about legal and other changes in Eretz Yisroel. Some wondered what right he had to express views from abroad about matters pertaining to Eretz Yisroel. Ishon presented this question to the Rebbe and received this answer: “Every Jew, no matter where he lives, has a portion and inheritance in Eretz Yisroel. This inheritance is at least a cubit by a cubit. As was said a number of times, everything has expression in halacha. Here too. Regarding a pruzbul, it says in the piskei ha’gaonim that every Jew can write one, even though one needs ownership of land to write one, because every Jew has land in Eretz Yisroel. So regarding anything that takes place in Eretz Yisroel, not only does it pertain to all the Jewish people, Klal Yisroel has the right and obligation to state its opinion about it, whether this view is taken into consideration or not.” After a pause, the Rebbe continued: “At first glance, it seems that a Jew can only state an opinion about his own portion which is one cubit by one cubit. But this is not so. Not only can he state an opinion, on the contrary, if
Issue 844 • �
he remains silent he bears the responsibility of everything that takes place there, which he knows about, without his reacting to it.” Ishon also raised the question, “When will the Rebbe go to Eretz Yisroel?” The Rebbe said, “The day will come. I hope it won’t be long.” Ishon: “What about the Chassidim, are they also waiting until the Rebbe makes aliya?” Rebbe: “Whenever a Chassid comes and asks whether to move to Eretz Yisroel, and he does not fill an important position in chinuch or rabbanus, we tell him to go, and give him blessings. The problem is with those who hold critical positions; if they leave their community, it will all fall apart. To those we say: do what a captain of a ship in stormy seas does. The captain is always the last one to leave the ship. First I have to save the passengers.” Ishon: “Does that mean you are in favor of aliya?” Rebbe: “We are in favor of fulfilling the mitzva of settling Eretz Yisroel. Can you find another Chassidic movement that is so involved in building the land?” Another topic that Ishon raised in that yechidus is whether the liberal conversion laws in the State of Israel adversely affected intermarriage and Reform conversions around the world. The Rebbe responded to this strongly. “Yes, today the situation is far worse than it was previously. First, the very fact that an Israeli law recognizes Reform conversions encourages those who seek to throw off the Yoke of Heaven. Second, many goyim – some of whom want to leave the countries behind the Iron Curtain, and some of whom seek work in Israel, who are prepared to turn into ‘instant Jews’ – make aliya and are registered as Jews with all the rights, while remaining outright goyim according to Das Moshe v’Yisroel (Jewish law).” During the conversation, the Rebbe said that he knew of at least 250 or so goyim who went to Israel via Vienna and were registered as Jews without any conversion. Likewise, hundreds of goyim from American countries, mainly South America, went to Israel without converting according to halacha. The Rebbe went on to compare the war to amend the law to the war with the Arab enemy: “The question here is not whether one family or another converted or will convert according to halacha or not. The problem is more fundamental: A few years down the road, will the Jews remain a Jewish nation or will there be a joining of masses of non-Jews? This then, is an existential war, for the existence of the nation is in danger if they bring in hundreds of Tzidoni, Moabite families etc. “Just as it is necessary to fight the Arabs when they force an existential war upon us, so it is spiritually. When there is a danger to the existence of the Jewish people, there is no other way than to fight until the danger disappears.” What is war? “War,” said Ishon, explaining what the Rebbe told him, “means the resignation of the religious ministers from the government, a Parliamentary battle, enlisting public opinion for the emendation of the law, etc.” The Rebbe disclosed that he had received letters from “there” [referring to the Soviet Union] which showed how the law of Mihu Yehudi also affected the future and the existence of Soviet Jewry. The Rebbe said, “A Jew from ‘there’ wrote me, ‘We knew that a Jew is someone whom the holy Torah establishes as a Jew. We were careful about mixed marriages. Even our sons and daughters who went to dance on Simchas Torah near the big shul in Moscow [ed. This was the only religious event that the communists allowed young people to participate in] knew that in order not to be cut off from the Jewish people, they must marry within their nation. However, since in Israel there is a weakening of the Jewish spirit … although the battle continues and Jews make aliya, they bring goyim along with them, some of whom are registered as Jews.’” The Rebbe gave another example of a Jewish woman in the Soviet Union who was married to a goy and before she made aliya, she separated from him. He understood her motives. Now, she is in Eretz Yisroel and some time ago she received a letter from her friend in Russia, “You fool. Why did you leave the goy? In Israel you can register goyim as Jews.” In this yechidus, the Rebbe related a conversation that he had with the Interior Minister, Yosef Burg of Mafdal. “I have no personal complaints against religious ministers as individuals. They are observant of Torah and mitzvos. Dr. Burg was here. I spoke to him about this subject. He is a learned man. He can quote Gemaras and complete a quote from a Gemara, but I do not agree with his approach. I explained my view to him. I don’t know how he will act. This merely tells us that if the religious
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community continues to act weakly regarding Mihu Yehudi, they will treat them disparagingly in other matters too such as rabbanus, Shabbos, chinuch.” Ishon dared to say that the religious-nationalist community did not appreciate attacks from Chabad. “Sometimes, these attacks offend an entire community.” The Rebbe’s response was, “There are things that are interpreted incorrectly. I have already explained why Rebbi gave honor to the wealthy. We too, knowing the strength of the religious ministers in the government, have complaints against them about their inaction. However, we never attacked them personally, all the more so, a community of believing Jews.” The Rebbe expressed his amazement that the law was not amended. “When it comes to Mihu Yehudi, there is no issue of religious coercion; on the contrary, it is they who want to force the Jewish nation to accept goyim, so by right they should agree with the religious community. The government is avoiding amending the laws only because the religious ministers are not pressuring them enough.” The Rebbe directed tough questions towards the government’s Attorney General for not undertaking proper legal measures regarding goyim registered as Jews without any conversion whatsoever. “Why doesn’t the Attorney General investigate how hundreds of goyim are registered automatically as Jews? Would they act similarly with other transgressions of the law?” *** “The hands of the clock showed that it was past two in the morning. The bell in the Rebbe’s
Moshe Ishon with Yitzchak Shamir
“Why doesn’t the Attorney General investigate how hundreds of goyim are registered automatically as Jews? Would they act similarly with other transgressions of the law?”
room rang twice, three times. It was a signal to hurry up, but each time it rang, the Rebbe said, ‘Sit, sit; don’t rush.’ “At nearly 2:30, over three hours had passed since the beginning of the yechidus. We parted from the Rebbe as he escorted us with a bracha on the way to the door. “In the hallway were some elder Chassidim who waited patiently to have yechidus with the Rebbe. Yeshiva bachurim pounced on us to hear what the Rebbe said. They took us to the ‘operations room’ of Chabad. On the wall were telephones, with the country that it was connected to written next to each device. We read: Israel, England, Australia, New Zealand, France, and South Africa – six countries on four continents with whom the Rebbe’s headquarters kept in direct contact via these machines. The Rebbe’s farbrengens were transmitted by direct phone hookup. In the secretaries’ room, spread out on the shelves, were hundreds of booklets about Mihu Yehudi, Likkutei Sichos in three-four languages, Siddurim, records of niggunim, and an archive of letters and newspapers that testified to the spreading of the Chabad wellsprings outward.” Ishon ended his description of his first yechidus with a comparison between his visit to 770 and New York in general: “We left the Rebbe’s building. On the pavement near the building, a few Chassidim walked back and forth like soldiers on guard. This is what they do every evening. As long as the Rebbe is awake, they do not sleep. “Our friend started the car
Issue 844 • �
and headed for Queens. Within 100-200 meters we felt a change in the atmosphere. We could feel the abrupt transition from 770 Eastern Parkway, a building which is part of the ‘New York of Above,’ to the illuminated bridges which connect Brooklyn and Manhattan. Despite the sea of lights illuminating them, great is the darkness which characterizes “New York below.’” *** Less than two years passed before Ishon returned to visit 770. This time it was to attend the Yud-Alef Nissan farbrengen marking the Rebbe’s 70th birthday. It was 11 Nissan, 5732/1972. Numerous and distinguished guests attended this celebration in order to express their esteem for the Rebbe. Lubavitcher friends of Ishon suggested that he go too and he did. He wrote a description of that farbrengen for the military paper BaMachaneh eight months later, on 3 Cheshvan 5733 which we quoted at the beginning of this article. The Rebbe read it and enjoyed it very much. We know this from a letter that the Rebbe wrote to him on Chanuka 5733 in which he thanks him for the article and says that the main thing is that Ishon used his talents for those things that inspire Yiras Shamayim. In 5737, Ishon took a leave of absence from his job at HaTzofeh and went to New York as a representative of the Jewish Agency. “At the first farbrengen that took place after Rosh Chodesh Kislev [5738, following the Rebbe’s heart attack], R’ Groner sent me a bachur to take me to the farbrengen. I sat behind the Rebbe. At the end of the farbrengen, when the Rebbe left, he extended his hand to me and spoke to me about my purpose for being in New York. Since then, during the three years that I was in New York, I attended every farbrengen. Whenever I visit New York, I go to the Rebbe, whether for a farbrengen, a yechidus, or for dollars and a bracha. “I can say that during my stay in New York, from 1977 and on, I did not miss a single farbrengen. I sat behind the Rebbe at every farbrengen. Sometimes, my oldest son, who was a young boy at the time, sat with me and sometimes he sat with the crowd. My wife came with me a few times. At the end of the farbrengens, the Rebbe would stop near me and smile. “During my yechiduyos, which were not short, the Rebbe spoke to me a lot about the importance of hiskashrus and he explained things having to do with spreading the wellsprings outward. The Rebbe also spoke to me about timely matters such as Mihu Yehudi and Shleimus Ha’Aretz. In the articles that I wrote as a commentator and editor, I always wrote in accordance with the Rebbe’s views even though these contradicted the views of the leaders of Mafdal.” Ishon was the editor of HaTzofeh, the newspaper of the Mizrachi and Mafdal movement, for close to two decades. Before taking the job, he had an offer for a different job. He presented his thoughts to the Rebbe: “It was after Tisha B’Av 1980. I had finished my work for the Jewish Agency in New York and I had an offer to work in a senior position for the Agency. I was also offered the position of editor of HaTzofeh. I was very uncertain as to how to make a decision. In a yechidus that lasted two hours, I presented all my doubts to the Rebbe. The Rebbe analyzed it all and told me to take the editing job, which I have been doing now for nearly twenty years.” Ishon’s last encounter with the Rebbe was when the Rebbe gave out dollars for tz’daka on 12 Adar I 5752. *** We began this article with Ishon’s description of the big farbrengen that took place on 11 Nissan 5732, over forty years ago, and we will end with another excerpt from that article: “In honor of the Rebbe’s 70th birthday, the New York Times devoted an entire spread to profile the Rebbe. One of the editors of the paper went to 770. One of the questions he asked the Rebbe was, “Who is to be the eighth Lubavitcher rabbi?’ “‘The Messiah will come and he will rid us of all these troubles and doubts,” replied the seventh, and added smilingly: “He could come while I am here. Why postpone his coming?”
TO BRING MOSHIACH NOW!
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ADD IN ACTS OF GOODNESS & KINDNESS
SHABBOS NACHAMU – REVEALING THE HIDDEN GOOD
By Rabbi Yaakov Shmuelevitz Shliach, Beit Shaan
THE HIDDEN GOOD IN ISRAELI BANK NOTES
Here’s a question for the Israelis among us: How many times in your life did you handle a fifty shekel bill, whether in the grocery store, on the bus, or as a donation to the needy, without reading the small words next to the picture of Shai Agnon (Shmuel Yosef Agnon 1888-1970, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature) in a large yarmulka? The truth is that I myself was surprised when I heard that an excerpt from his writings about the singing of the Levites in the Beis HaMikdash appears there. During these days of Bein HaMeitzarim, at all the special shiurim about the Beis HaMikdash that I attended, after a description of the avoda of the Kohanim which was accompanied by the singing of the Levites I took out a fifty shekel bill and read what it says on it. It’s Agnon’s Chassidishe dream: In a vision I saw myself standing with my fellow Levites in the Beis HaMikdash as I sang with them songs of David, King of Israel. Tunes such as these were never heard since the day our city was destroyed and they went into exile. I suspect that
the angels appointed over the heavenly Chamber of Song, in their fear that I will sing upon awakening that which I sang in my dream, make me forget by day what I sang at night; for if my brothers, my people, heard it they would not be able to withstand their sorrow over the good that was lost to them. I will also quote a few words from the two hundred shekel bill which also fit into the shiurim about anticipating the Geula. On this note there is a quote from former Israeli President Shazar. He explains that the wording “anticipating the Geula” refers to the job of someone like a lookout that stands on the top of the wall and watches to see if and when the danger approaches, or in our case, the Geula. At the end of the quote is a compliment to the Chabad yeshiva in Tzfas and the Chassidim of Tzfas: Those who preceded us established signs whereby the complete Jew can be tested for his faithfulness. Present him with the fundamental question: Did you anticipate the Geula? In other words, not merely did you want or hope for it or believe in it. That is not sufficient. Rather, did you stand on the wall and concentrate your senses and look for it expectantly as one would do in a time of danger … The
lookouts of Tzfas have placed themselves on this high watch tower and watch expectantly.
REVEALING THE GOOD IN EVERY JEW
In a sicha for Shabbos Nachamu, the Rebbe explains that the ten Shabbasos, the 3 of Puranus (retribution) and 7 D’Nechemta (of consolation), correspond to the 3 Mochin (chochma, bina, daas) and 7 Middos (chessed, g’vura, tiferes, netzach, hod, yesod, malchus). In other words, the calamity and the consolation are not two opposing forces but are intended to complement each other. The difference is that Puranus is the hidden good (as in Mochinintellect, where emotions are not displayed), while consolation is
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when the hidden good emerges. In the work of shlichus too, as well as regarding the chinuch of children, a Chassid needs to see the good which is hidden within every Jew. When a Chassid successfully reveals the good in someone else, he can maximize it, uplifting him or her, be mekarev that person and have the good overcome the bad. Sometimes, we look at someone as he appears superficially or based on a few negative words that he said. But the Baal Shem Tov taught us (see HaYom Yom, 2 Elul) that every Jew contains treasures of Yiras Shamayim and good middos and we just need to reveal them. the point. I feel that it’s out of the question for me to put on t’fillin.” R’ Meir Krichevsky, the “shliach Torah” who also knows Russian, learned with Leonid regularly. The two of them often learned together, but Meir too was unable to convince Leonid to put on t’fillin. We also found out that Leonid did not have a bris. Meir tried to talk about this important mitzva but got nowhere. Said Leonid, “I am not opposed but I don’t see the point.” R’ Krichevsky said to me, “You are the Rebbe’s shliach. Maybe you, with the Rebbe’s ko’ach, can convince Leonid to have a bris.” I sat and thought about what I could do that Meir hadn’t done yet. I put a few coins in the pushka and said a few chapters of T’hillim with intense concentration, and I asked Hashem to put the right words into my mouth. I suddenly remembered an idea that I had heard from R’ Meir Varzov a”h who worked a lot with Russian Jews. He said, “A Russian Jew respects an educated person. Show him scholarship, demonstrate knowledge, and this will win him over.” So I prepared a pile of about fifteen s’farim which explain the importance of a bris and put bookmarks in each book at the spot where it spoke about the subject. I brought a Chumash, Mishna, Gemara, Zohar, Seifer HaChinuch, and many other s’farim that address this mitzva. I arranged a meeting with Leonid and he came. I opened book after book and read the divrei Torah and Chazal about the importance of mila. After going through all the s’farim, Leonid said just two words: “When? Where?” We arranged for a mohel and within a week, Leonid was circumcised and was given the name Eliezer. *** From then on, Eliezer was like a different person. The treasures of his neshama were revealed. He became very involved with the Chabad house. You know the expression people use: “He’s his right hand man?” Well, Leonid became the right hand and the left hand, the right foot and the left foot in all the work of the Chabad house. In addition to his job as a manager in a hi-tech firm, he goes to the mikva every morning before davening, he takes care of the yard and the garden of Beis Moshiach, he’s the photographer at all events, he distributes brochures, he arranges shiurim, and he takes care of the technical equipment for gatherings. He produced a promotional album for fundraising in Eretz Yisroel and abroad and another album with all of the community’s celebrations. He is also in charge of the library and the geniza. And it all started when he showed up just to do his mother a favor! That’s the way it is when you reveal the good that is hidden within a Jew.
WITH THE HELP OF A CIRCUMCISION AND A PILE OF S’FARIM
This is the story of Eliezer (formerly Leonid) Bogolovsky, one of the linchpins of the Beis Moshiach center in Be’er Sheva, as told by R’ Avraham Cohen, shliach and director of Beis Moshiach: A number of years ago, there was a Russian woman who came to our center and listened closely to every D’var Torah and t’filla. Considering her thirst for Judaism, I felt this must be a lofty neshama. This was demonstrated in the way she performed every mitzva that she learned about and her strong influence on her entire family. Eventually, her husband also began coming to shiurim and to t’fillos. Then the son Leonid came. Leonid did not seem overly interested in the material that was taught, but he was polite and wanted to please his mother. This is why he kept coming back for davening and shiurim. However, he was simply unwilling to put on t’fillin. As he put it, “I am not opposed to t’fillin, but I don’t see
CHANGE OF HEART FOR A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR
Here is another story from R’ Avraham Cohen: Many years ago, there was a successful contractor who built neighborhoods throughout the country. Every so often I would go and visit him. I would give him matza, a lulav, a calendar, etc. Sadly, he reacted less than appreciatively. Not only did he not want to say the bracha on the
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lulav, he always had something negative to say about Torah and mitzvos. Between the lines I understood that he was very angry at G-d because of the Holocaust, but he never said so explicitly. One day, I tried to crack the klipa of his opposition and said, “Why don’t you put on t’fillin? Give G-d some nachas.” He raised his voice and said, “Nachas?! You want me to give Him nachas? Just tell me how I can hurt Him and I’ll do so immediately.” He went on to tell me how his entire extended family had been killed in the Holocaust and he asked me not to talk to him again about doing mitzvos. I accepted his request but kept in touch with him because one can’t give up on a Jew. I would say, “Shalom, how are you?” “Chag Sameiach.” “Shabbat Shalom.” But nothing about doing mitzvos. He would occasionally make nice donations to the Chabad house, but there was never a word about mitzvos. Time passed and one day I stopped in to say hello. For some reason, I decided to try again and I said, “Maybe you will agree to put t’fillin on one day ...” He got up with a smile on his face, rolled up his sleeve and showed me the marks of t’fillin straps on his arm. I was astounded by this transformation in him and I asked him what happened. He asked me to sit down because he wanted to share with me what he had been going through for the past while. “Although I am still very angry at G-d because of the Holocaust, I accept that He is in charge of the world. In other words, I cannot accept what you say in the davening that G-d is merciful and gracious, but after what I’ve been
“Although I am still very angry at G-d because of the Holocaust, I accept that He is in charge of the world. I cannot accept what you say in the davening that G-d is merciful and gracious, but after what I’ve been through lately, I say again – He is in charge of the world.”
through lately, I say again – He is in charge of the world. “I recently ran into difficulties, strangely enough, in every area of my life. My business was sustaining major losses, my marriage was on the rocks, and even my relationship with my children was messed up. I felt closed in by problems as though – or not “as though” – there was a guiding hand that was persecuting me. “One day, in despair, I went to a bar and began drinking in order to forget my problems. The door suddenly opened and an old friend of mine came in. It seems he already knew my situation and that I was in the bar and he came especially to rescue me. ‘We are old friends,’ he said, ‘and I did not come here to argue with you. I just ask you to come with me now to where I am going to take you.’ “I didn’t have many options and so I got into his car and drove with him to the Chabad rabbi in Rechovos. The rabbi spoke to me. He explained that our relationship with G-d goes both ways. ‘If you follow in My statutes … I will give your rains in the proper time.’ He suggested that I try it, and see the results for myself. “I began putting on t’fillin – as you just saw the marks on my arm – and things began to straighten out including my marriage, parnasa, and my children. I am still angry at our Father in Heaven, but I feel like a child who was away from home a long time and finally returned.” When I left the contractor’s house I thought: See – you can never give up on a Jew. Every Jew believes and you only need to draw it out. Please daven for Yaakov Aryeh ben Rochel for a refua shleima
R’ Avraham Cohen at a Lag B’Omer parade in Beer Sheva
Issue 844 • �
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
MOSES THE POOR MAN?
This week’s parsha recounts Moses’ heartfelt prayers to G-d to allow him entry into the Promised Land. But to no avail. G-d was insistent that he remain behind. The Midrash in its inimitable cryptic and enigmatic style characterizes the dialogue or “dispute” between Moses and G-d by quoting a verse from the Book of Proverbs: “The poor speaks entreatingly, but the rich responds impudently.” The Midrash comments: “The poor speaks entreatingly” refers to Moses. “…but the rich responds impudently” refers to G-d. How can the Midrash speak about G-d in such seemingly irreverent terms? How can one impute impudence to G-d? It is obvious that the Midrash embeds a deeper meaning in these anomalous words that are intended to teach us an important lesson in these challenging times.
THE TWO-PRONGED APPROACH
The following attempt at
deciphering this Midrash is based on the Chassidic work “Imrei Mordechai” by pre-war Polish Rabbi Mordechai Shpalter, with some modifications. There are two ways a tzaddik—righteous person—can come before G-d with a request: The first is a humble prayer, pleading with G-d to grant him his request. The fact that the tzaddik is entreating the Almghty for something suggests that he is “giving G-d the option” to say no. We don’t always get what we ask for. This is known as the poor person’s approach. There is, however, another approach. The Talmud tells us that a tzaddik has the power, conferred on him by G-d, to decree that G-d accede to his request. In this mode, G-d has guaranteed that the tzaddik’s demand will be accepted. This then is the meaning of the application of the verse in Proverbs contrasting the poor with the rich to Moses and G-d. When the Midrash states that, “The poor speaks entreatingly” refers to Moses it means to describe Moses’ decision to petition G-d with prayer and supplication. Moses comes
“The poor speaks entreatingly” refers to Moses. “… but the rich responds impudently” refers to G-d.
before G-d in the most humble fashion. G-d’s response to Moses was, “why don’t you utilize the power I gave you to decree your entry into the “Land of Israel?” By applying the phrase “but the rich responds impudently” to G-d, it is not suggesting that G-d acts impudently but rather that G-d wanted Moses to act in this fashion. G-d wanted to know why Moses did not act impudently and demand that G-d allow him to enter into the Promised Land. G-d, was in effect saying to Moses: If you ask me to allow you to enter the Land, my response is an emphatic “no!” The Torah, in this week’s parsha, records G-d’s precise response: “Enough of your [requests]! Do not speak to Me any more about this matter!” In other words, G-d was telling Moses that if he insists on approaching this matter as a poor person who begs and pleads his case, then he will not succeed in achieving his goal.” If on the other hand, G-d intimated, Moses would approach this matter as a rich man, who employs chutzpah in his demands, and demands entry into the Promised Land, then he would succeed in achieving his desire. The Midrash is thus not referring to G-d’s impudence, G-d forbid, but rather to Moses’
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ability to use chutzpah in getting what he wanted.
WHY DIDN’T MOSES DEMAND?
This interpretation of the Midrash leaves two basic questions unanswered: First, if Moses had the ability to demand his right to enter into the Land of Israel, why did he not take G-d up on His offer to do precisely that? Second, what relevance does this have to us? The answer to both questions hinges on the difference between the situation that existed in the days of Moses, and the situation as it exists today. When we were ready to conquer the Land of Canaan, it was at the beginning of our journey. We had just been forged as a nation and entrusted with a mission to transform the world, one step at a time. The first step was to enter the Land of Canaan, conquer it, settle it and make the land a beacon of light that would ultimately transform the entire world into a G-dly world. We are presently at the end of our historical journey. We are about to leave the period of exile and enter into the Messianic Age.
the challenge of conquering the land and observing all of the commandments associated with it. Moses loved serving G-d and he cherished and craved the opportunity to serve Him in ways that were not possible in the desert. The Talmud seems to support this notion when it states that Moses wanted to enter the Land so he could enjoy the benefits of observing all of the Mitzvos associated with Israel. If he would not enter, he would lose the opportunity but everyone else would go forward and the mission would live on without Moses’ physical presence in the Land. To get going on the first legs of the journey, the people could still be inspired by Moses and by his spirit that is imbued
the Promised Land regardless of Moses’ physical absence.
The lesson for our day and age is now becoming clear. We are now at the very end of the journey. We are at a point where we cannot afford to endure one extra moment of galus. Every day of delay and every additional moment that we tarry in exile with all of its negativity, is taking its toll on us. And we cannot afford to leave one person behind. Every Jew must be liberated from this exile. We cannot, therefore, afford to be like the poor man who begs for salvation. According to the Midrash, G-d’s asking Moses to utilize his chutzpah was actually
We cannot, therefore, afford to be like the poor man who begs for salvation. According to the Midrash, G-d’s asking Moses to utilize his chutzpah was actually reserved for the present day and age.
WHY DID MOSES WANT TO ENTER THE PROMISED LAND?
When Moses requested to go into the Land of Israel, he knew that if he did not enter, it would not prevent the Jewish nation as a whole from entering the Land and carrying on their mission to transform the world by first transforming the Land of Canaan into a Holy Land. Moses’ prayer to enter was a humble request to also be permitted to enjoy
both in the Torah and within the leaders of each subsequent generation. Moses would therefore not utilize his G-d given power to make demands if it was just for his own material and even spiritual benefit. Had Moses’ inability to cross the Jordan prevented the nation from entering as well, Moses would certainly have used holy chutzpah and would have demanded to take the Jewish people with him into the Promised Land. That, however, was not the case. His disciple Joshua would enjoy the same G-dly support that Moses possessed and the Jewish people would take possession of
reserved for the present day and age. Now we must utilize chutzpah to not only implore but demand—as we do incessantly in our daily prayers—an end to galus and all of its attendant ills and we demand that the Redemption be brought about by Moshiach now! When that will happen, another Midrashic source informs us, Moses will return to Israel with all of the resurrected bodies of the Jews that perished in the desert. Then, Moses prayer will be fully answered by G-d in the affirmative: “Yes, you may enter, with all of the Jewish people, from the present and from the past!
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THE T’MIMIM FROM KROLEVETS
Many of the big cities did not have the privilege. it was the small towns that produced t’mimim who were giants of the spirit and baalei mesirus nefesh, whose souls were forged in the forge of tomchei t’mimim lubavitch.
By Rabbi Yehoshua Dubrawski a”h
THE BINDING THREAD
Our small town of Krolevets had the privilege of playing a vital role in the astonishing and extraordinary wandering of Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in the red hell of a country which was Soviet Russia. It is nearly impossible to relate today what Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim was, who the T’mimim were, and what role they filled in the incomprehensible and incomparable life of the Chabad Chassidim in Russia. I am speaking in practical terms of the establishment and maintenance, with mesirus nefesh, of Torah and islands of Jewish life among the stormy waves of bloodletting in the communist sea of death. In short, one can say that one ought to be amazed by the prophetic vision of the Chabad Rebbeim who founded Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim (in 1897). With G-dly and Chassidic powers they implemented the single pioneering act of spreading Torah. Completely alone, they stood like solid granite as they faced off against the Soviet
regime. Chabad paid for this with dozens of human sacrifices shot to death in the cellars of the NKVD or else sent to their slow deaths in distant, frozen Siberia. Obviously, the battle of the Lubavitcher Chassidim was as secretive as possible (otherwise, they could not have done as much as they did), but very active. In the final analysis, those few oppressed Lubavitcher Chassidim were victorious over the mightiest and most merciless power in the world. It is not news to say that Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim was “Holy of Holies” to the Chabad Chassidim under Stalin’s rule. The strongest and most secret rope that always connected Chabad Chassidim with the Rebbe, who was outside the country, was woven of two primary threads which Lubavitcher Chassidim guarded like the apple of their eye: Maamad for the upkeep of the Rebbe’s household and the Rebbe’s yeshiva, Tomchei T’mimim. The poorest Lubavitchers in
Soviet Russia could not allow themselves to withhold money for Maamad (which was sent in roundabout and secret ways) and for Tomchei T’mimim. Just as an illustration: One of the big mashpiim in Samarkand spoke at a farbrengen about the “great and wondrous quality” of a Tamim (a “Tamim” in the life of Chabad in Russia referred to someone who learned in Tomchei T’mimim). He emphasized the good fortune and privilege that were the lot of a talmid in the yeshiva who was the son of a Tamim; the enormous spiritual powers that were passed down as an inheritance, etc. Among the talmidim at the farbrengen was Eli Mishulovin a”h. He was one of the best talmidim in his group (14-15 year olds). After the mashpia finished the farbrengen, some of the talmidim remained and continued to farbreng. Eli was there too, and after having some mashke he burst into tears and complained: Why did he not merit being the son of a Tamim?
THESE ARE THE NAMES
Let’s go back to the bachurimT’mimim from Krolevets. About six or seven bachurim from Tomchei T’mimim learned in
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From right to left: R’ Yosef Goldberg, R’ Berel Gurevitch, R’ Nissan Pinson, R’ Yechezkel Brod
Krolevets during the worst years of persecution. I will mention their names: Yoske Tiraspolier – Rabbi Yosef Goldberg z”l, who later became the famous rosh yeshiva in Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in Brunoy; Berel Zhlobiner – Rabbi Dovber Gurevitch a”h, the famous menahel of Beth Rivka in Paris (and my mechutan); Nissan Pinson a”h – for many years an askan and shliach of the Rebbe in Tunisia (also my mechutan); Shaika Hoffen – R’ Yeshaya Gopin, my second cousin; Shimshon Charitonov a”h – a superlative Tamim from the famous family of singers from Nikolayev; Berel Robinson and Gedalya Bumestrovitz – both bachurim from Krolevets who would join the above mentioned talmidim of the yeshiva.
He was one of the best talmidim in his group. After the mashpia finished the farbrengen, some of the talmidim remained and continued to farbreng. Eli was there too, and after having some mashke he burst into tears and complained: Why did he not merit being the son of a Tamim?
FROM BRESLOV TO CHABAD
I also remember that an older yeshiva bachur passed through our town while accompanying two new talmidim to Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim. The yeshiva
was at its last “stop” before the war years, in Kutais, Georgia. The name of this bachur was Wolosow a”h. The two talmidim were children of Breslover families: Ovadia Shtroks and a bachur’chik by the name of Moshe. When World War II began, Moshe went home (to Uman?) where he perished Al Kiddush Hashem at the hands of the cursed Germans. Ah, what Chabad accomplished for Yidden during Stalin’s time! Truly G-d fearing Jews who were Breslover Chassidim and wanted their children to become B’nei Torah, erliche Yidden, had to send them to the sole secret yeshiva – Tomchei T’mimim. Loyal Breslover Chassidim did this because they had no choice. They knew that this meant that
their sons would no longer be Breslover Chassidim, but they would be faithful Jews. I will mention two of the few Chabad families that sprouted forth from children who learned in Tomchei T’mimim in Krolevets: Brod and Shtroks. They are grandchildren of R’ Yechezkel Brod a”h who came to learn in our town. For this same reason we had children from Skver, Boyan and other Chassidic groups. In the final five years before the war the yeshiva had a little peace at its final stop in Georgia. In my bar mitzva year, my parents discussed sending me there too. But then the war began and my father was sick and my traveling to learn had to be postponed. One of my nephews in town, Leib Shapiro, who was older than me, went to learn in that yeshiva.
Issue 844 • �
SURVIVAL IS NO LONGER ENOUGH
By Rabbi Yisroel Harpaz
The sheep knows it is time to make a stand. The moment of truth has arrived. The wolves are approaching, thirsty for blood – the same blood the wolves and their ancestors have been spilling wantonly for centuries. History has an incredulous way of repeating itself, and at the same time professing innocence by reason of forgetfulness. But the sheep has a keen sense of history. The sheep remembers. This time it will be different, but not the dreamy kind of different that relies on belief in the wolf’s desire for enlightened reason, a dream already betrayed millions of times. This time it will be different because the sheep himself is different. The sheep has evolved, has emerged from the ghettos of brutality, crossed vast wastelands of denial, and avoided the pitfalls of indifference. Each of these challenges served to slow the march, and each taught its lesson, but none could dampen the will to survive driven by the faith in tomorrow. This time it will be different because survival is no longer enough. After passing through the burning furnaces of history, to simply exist is no longer an
option. It is uninspiring. Survival will certainly not inspire the children. And there is so much more at stake, so much more that needs to be done – a destiny to be fulfilled, a new chapter to be written, a new era to be revealed, mysteries to be uncovered. The sheep is now prepared, more than any time in history, to confront the intolerance and hatred for what it is. No more sugar coatings. No more belief in false promises, gentrified facades, and the intrinsic goodness of humanity. The sheep has been down that path before. The wounds may have healed, but the memory – and the pain – remains. This time it will be different because this time the sheep will dictate the terms. Yes, it will be a dictatorship of goodness, but a dictatorship nonetheless. The democratization of destiny has only served to empower the corrupt and to fuel their evil machinations. Today the sheep will seize the power of destiny and claim stewardship of it – not because he craves power but because he knows only he can make it right, that this is the task for which he is chosen and
Driven by selfishness and grief and regret, and knowing that all is lost, all they can muster is a ridiculously obvious and suicidal frontal assault for which the sheep is well prepared. The sheep has been planning for this moment for a long time. The Shepherd will watch closely, but will not intervene. This is the sheep’s moment, and the sheep must walk it, to a certain degree, alone.
uniquely suited, and for which creation itself came into being. It is not just for his own benefit, but for the benefit of a better reality for all life on earth and beyond. The wolves can sense that something momentous is imminent, and it makes them deranged. They gather for one final thrust, rallied by their leaders, for a last desperate attempt to retain their hold on destiny. They lose all sense of tact and self respect to the madness of what is transpiring, the sudden realization that they are (and have therefore always been) on the wrong side of history, and the magnitude of their impending and unavoidable loss. Driven by selfishness and grief and regret, and knowing that all is lost, all they can muster is a ridiculously obvious and suicidal frontal assault for which the sheep is well prepared. The sheep has been planning this moment for a long time. The Shepherd will watch closely, but will not intervene. This is the sheep’s moment, and the sheep must walk it, to a certain degree, alone. Like the great ones who walked before him, it only takes one to cross the threshold and open the gate for everyone. And this battle is not won with guns or strategies or weapons of mass destruction or mass manipulation. It is won with inner strength and wisdom and love and sincerity, and unleashing three thousand years of repressed chutzpah. The moment of truth has arrived. It is time to take a stand. Reprinted with permission from Exodus Magazine
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THE NEVER-ENDING VOICE
By M.E. Gordon
Mrs. Y. sat at the Shabbos table and felt like a queen. The Friday night guests had cancelled, so it was just their own family at the table. The children decided that Mommy and Tatty would be the honored guests at the Shabbos meal for a change, and the children would take care of serving and clearing each course. “You have all done an amazing job with the gashmius,” Tatty remarked after the chicken and kugel were served and everyone was seated. “Now it’s time for some ruchnius. Who wants to give over a D’var Malchus?” Mendel volunteered. “I learned this week about the voice of Hashem Yisborach at Mattan Torah. The pasuk calls it ‘a great voice that did not stop.’ The Midrash asks: what is the meaning of the expression ‘it did not stop?’ The Midrash gives three explanations: that the voice extended itself into all seventy languages of the nations, that the voice continues on in the prophecies of the N’viim and tzaddikim throughout the generations, and that the voice had no echo. “The Rebbe discusses the three explanations. The first explanation shows that the voice of Mattan Torah is unlimited because it affects all the nations of the world; the second shows that it is unlimited in time; but how does the fact that it had no echo show its unlimited nature?” Chani spoke up, “I learned this sicha, too. Can I tell the answer?”
“Okay,” said Mendel, “I don’t mind!” “An echo happens because the sound waves hit a solid object and bounce back. The voice of Hashem was not stopped by any object; it went straight through and affected every single thing in the world!” explained Chani. “Exactly!” confirmed Mendel. “Now we, who received the Torah, can reveal that effect in every place and at every time.” “Thank you Mendel, and thank you Chani,” said Mrs. Y. “That was beautiful! This reminded me of something that happened to me when I was about 13 years old.” “Tell us, Mommy, tell us!” “It must have been around 1971. As you know, I grew up outside of New York, and Zeidy and Bubby had become active members of the small Chabad community. When it became possible to hook-up to the Rebbe’s farbrengens and hear them live, Zeidy was very excited. He arranged for the hook-ups to be broadcast in our city, in fact, in our very own house. Every time there was a weekday farbrengen, all those who wanted to hear it would gather in our living room and dining room.” “Wow!” exclaimed Mendel, “imagine being able to hear the Rebbe as he was saying the sichos that we now learn!” “We didn’t get to hear the Shabbos or Yom Tov farbrengens. One had to be in Crown Heights to hear those, of course,” explained Mommy, “but there
were still plenty of hook-ups on other days.” “The walls of Bubby and Zaidy’s house must have absorbed a lot of ‘the voice of Mattan Torah.’ It must have been so special,” said Chani. “Well, at the time I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have. I didn’t understand much Yiddish then. I did enjoy seeing how many people came and I was proud that our home and family had this z’chus. I usually sat and listened, and sometimes someone would tell me a bit of what the Rebbe said. “One evening I will never forget. We lived in a house with a finished basement. In that basement we had an old television...” “Mommy,” interrupted Chani, “I can’t believe it! A television? In Bubby’s and Zeidy’s house?” “At that time, and in our city, just about everyone that I knew had one. It was considered a standard piece of furniture. All of my friends had new color televisions; some even had more than one. Ours, however, was an old black and white one that was on its last legs. When I asked my mother when she was planning to get a new one, she answered that as soon as this one broke completely, that would be it. Then there would be no more television in our house. Considering the time and place, this was quite a radical decision! “One particular evening when there was a hook-up, I had a great dilemma. There was supposed to be a spectacular program on T.V. that I had a great desire to watch. I knew that
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I could easily go down into the basement and watch it without getting into trouble, but I felt funny doing so with the Rebbe’s voice reverberating from the loudspeaker in the living room. “‘So what?’ said my Yetzer HaRa. ‘You don’t understand a word of Yiddish.’ “‘But your neshama understands,’ countered my Yetzer Tov. “‘There will be more farbrengens this year. It won’t make much difference if you miss this one. Who knows if the television program will ever be shown again!’ answered the Y.H. “‘How can you compare the two? One is holy, the other is klipa!’ cried the Y.T. “‘Klipa? But it is somewhat educational! And everyone in your class is watching it, how bad could it be?’ The Y.H. had an answer for everything. “‘Come on, you’re not going to fall for such foolish arguments,’ the Y.T. pleaded with me. So kids, what do you think I chose?” “You listened to your Yetzer Tov,” all of the children called out together. “Wrong. Sorry to say, I went down to the basement and turned on the T.V.” “MOMMY! YOU DIDN’T!” “Unfortunately the truth is that I did. I sneaked down into the basement, turned on the television, and boom, all I could get was static. No sound, no picture. The k’dusha of the Rebbe’s voice upstairs was too much for the klipa in the basement. It was kaput, finished, never to work again. And that was the end of our television. I was the only one in my class without one, but believe me, I soon realized how much better off I was without it.” Mendel burst out: “So the voice at Mattan Torah, of ‘Anochi Hashem,’ does not stop, all three explanations included!” The above true story was heard from Mrs. Y. herself. The lesson is based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 4 pp. 1092-1098.
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42 � • 15 Menachem-Av 5772