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elul: T’SHuVA THROuGH TORAH STuDY
Although repentance is loftier than torah (for which reason atonement is accomplished through repentance even with regard to blemishes in and transgressions of the commandment to learn torah), nevertheless the “revelation” of the entire matter of repentance is specifically through Torah. Indeed, this is the central point of the month of elul: repentance expressed through rededication to Torah study.
Translated by Boruch Merkur
In the address of the holiday of Pesach 5694 (Likkutei Dibburim 116a) my esteemed teacher and father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], describes the spiritual state in Lubavitch in the month of Elul. In the beginning of the passage there he writes: “After Shabbos Nachamu, we would already begin the practice of studying following Maariv, in fulfillment of that which is written, ‘Arise and sing at night.’ When the Shabbos that blesses the month of Elul arrived, we
would already begin to sense the Elul atmosphere, etc.” It is not understood, however, why he arranges the two topics – the increase in the learning after Shabbos Nachamu and the conduct of the month of Elul – in one aphorism, for at first glance they appear to be two separate topics. It is further not understood why in the preceding passage he describes the conduct of [the three-week period of mourning known as] Bein
HaMeitzarim, for the conduct of Shabbos Nachamu is apparently connected with the conduct of Bein HaMeitzarim [and not Elul]. Indeed, the consolation (of Shabbos Nachamu) is for matters associated with Bein HaMeitzarim. Thus, it would seemingly be appropriate to conclude the aphorism regarding Bein HaMeitzarim with the matter of the conduct following Shabbos Nachamu (and thus conclude with something positive), and the subsequent aphorism should begin with the conduct of the month of Elul. The explanation hinges on a well known insight concerning repentance. Although repentance is loftier than Torah (for which reason atonement is accomplished through repentance even with regard to blemishes in and transgressions of the commandment to study Torah), nevertheless the “revelation” of the entire matter of repentance is specifically through Torah. Indeed, this is the central point of the month of Elul [i.e., repentance expressed through rededication to Torah
4 � • 13 Elul 5772
study]. The same principle applies with regard to the service of man: Notwithstanding the fact that the primary service of the month of Elul is the service of repentance, nevertheless this itself is “revealed” through Torah study. That is, in order for one to come to terms with the great necessity of repentance and how to repent and etc., one must add and increase in Torah study, especially the study of the inner dimension of the Torah, which clearly elucidates concepts associated with repentance. Thus, my esteemed teacher and father-in-law, the Rebbe, arranged in a single aphorism the matter of increasing one’s study along with the conduct in the month of Elul, thereby alluding to the fact that the service of the month of Elul – repentance – is connected with the increase in Torah study. The latter point is reflected in the conclusion of the verse, “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me” – whose acronym [in the original Hebrew] spells out “Elul” – “who shepherds among the roses (shoshanim),” for “shoshanim” has two meanings: Thirteen Petals of Mercy (the place of repentance) and those who study (shonim) Torah. *** There are two levels of Torah: 1) The level of rain of Torah, [which corresponds to] inspiration from above brought about from initiative from below. 2) The level of dew of Torah, [corresponding to] inspiration from above of its own accord. This [second] level also exists with respect to the manner of Torah study [attained] by man. Namely, that in this manner, “the speech of man is in the ultimate state of nullification in His essence, to the extent that
one’s speech does not come from himself at all. It is, rather, ‘the word of G-d, which is Torah law’ that is spoken within him automatically and of its own accord” [Footnote 21: a phrase cited from Likkutei Torah, P’kudei 6a], as it is written, “Let my tongue answer your sayings” as one who responds [or repeats] after the reader. The Thirteen Attributes of Mercy are beyond the natural order of Divine manifestation (hishtalshlus), at a level where initiative from below does not reach. From this it is understood that the connection of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy to Torah is primarily with regard to learning Torah in a manner of “Let my tongue answer your sayings.” The connection of learning Torah in the ultimate state of self-nullification to the month of Elul is also alluded to in its mention in the beginning of the portion R’ei (which is read on Rosh Chodesh Elul or on the Shabbos preceding it): “Except to the place which He shall choose, etc.” (12:5), “to the [place of] rest and to the heritage” (Ibid 9), “And it shall be that the place that He, G-d the L-rd, shall choose, wherein His name shall dwell” (Ibid 11) – “Build for yourselves the Chosen Temple in Yerushalayim” (Rashi’s commentary, Ibid). That is, the principle object of the Sanctuary (as well as the Temple) is the place of the resting of the Divine presence, which is the ark. The significance of the ark is: 1) Torah, as it is written (Melachim I 8:9), “There is nothing in the ark save two stone tablets.” 2) There was no service associated with the ark (as with other vessels of the Sanctuary [With regard to
the service of sprinkling blood between the ark’s staves, see Footnote 25 in the original.]); it simply served as a vessel for the revelation from above: “I will testify to you there and I will speak, etc.” An expression of the latter is the study of Torah in the ultimate state of nullification. *** The practical lesson from the above: In the days of the month of Elul – and even in the days preceding it, from Shabbos Nachamu – one must increase in Torah study with regard to both the revealed dimension of Torah and particularly the study of the inner dimension of the Torah. (If one did not fulfill this directive beginning from Shabbos Nachamu until now, one must fulfill it throughout the days from now on, and in a manner of “wisdom is manifold,” as it is explained in Igeres HaT’shuva Chapter 9.) And the study must be with self-nullification – “Let my tongue answer your sayings.” For by doing so, influence will be drawn down from above in a charitable manner (b’ofen d’tzdaka), like the configuration of the name Havaya [Yud-KeiVav-Kei] that illuminates in the month of Elul [Footnote 28: Mishnas Chassidim, beginning of Maseches Elul], [as it appears in] the last-letter acronym of, “U’tzdaka tihyeh lanu ki” [i.e., Hei-Hei-Vav-Yud] – charity, and not just a limited compensation appropriate to the work done – by being positively inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year with regard to one’s abundant fortune in children, vitality, and sustenance.
(From the address of Shabbos Parshas R’ei 5723. Likkutei Sichos Vol. 4, Hosafos, pg. 1342 ff.)
Issue 848 • �
Bais Toras Menachem:
Not Just a Smicha Program
Located in Los Angeles, Bais Toras Menachem is a unique yeshiva. Since its founding four years ago it has been educating young men looking for an alternative to the typical mainstream yeshiva, but yet who want to learn in a high quality program with a chassidishe environment. Its challenging yet warm smicha program, which combines a rigorous course of study with vocational training and individualized attention, has given talmidim the opportunity to flourish on many different levels. Beis Moshiach sat down with Rabbi and Mrs. Mordechai Katz, the founders of the yeshiva, and got the inside story.
How did Bais Toras Menachem begin? It all began when we were looking for an appropriate yeshiva for our then eighteenyear-old son. Our criteria was very well defined: we were targeting a group of sincere bachurim, from good homes, who were looking for a high quality learning program, but for various reasons were not well suited to the “regular” system. Far from being an institution that caters to “second tier” bachurim, Bais Toras Menachem has become a top notch destination that appeals to local students looking for an alternative to the existing yeshivos without relocating, bachurim who wish to avoid the expense and risk of attending an out of town yeshiva, or outof-towners looking for a change and a facility whose smaller size and comfortable environment will enable them to flourish. Through weeks of intensive work, clear acts of hashgacha pratis and many brachos of the Rebbe via Igros Kodesh, the yeshiva opened its doors on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan 5769/ November 2008. It soon became clear that there were many more in the Anash community who would benefit from Bais Toras Menachem’s combination of warmth and learning. So together with Yosef Shidler, a young bachur at the time who envisioned a yeshiva that also offered a smicha program, Bais Toras Menachem evolved into a full-scale yeshiva.
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The benefits of adding this additional facet to the yeshiva were readily apparent. It quickly became clear that while the bachurim were younger than most who would typically pursue smicha, having a clearly defined goal was a strong motivational factor. As a two-year program, the bachurim would need to demonstrate a firm commitment. Our Maggid Shiur Rabbi Levi Chazan developed a demanding program that encouraged the boys to excel, culminating in
a rigorous examination by the esteemed Rav Elchanan Tauber, Mora D’asra and Av Bais Din of K’hal Yehuda in Los Angeles. For what type of bachurim is the program designed? Bais Toras Menachem caters to beis midrash aged students, ages nineteen and up, who want to continue their learning and study for smicha, but in an environment that is typically more relaxed than that of a mainstream yeshiva, allowing for time to pursue other interests, as well as
providing quieter bachurim with an opportunity to shine. Some students need the opportunity to develop and express their talents in a positive way while others are already intent on preparing themselves for their upcoming roles as husbands and fathers, but all are fine, goal oriented talmidim who take both their learning and the ability to obtain a well-respected Smicha very seriously. The curriculum at Bais Toras Menachem includes
Issue 848 • �
with confidence or know when it is time to call a Rav. This is something that is vital for anyone who wants to have a home based on Torah and Mitzvos. Rabbi Levi Chazan is a Maggid Shiur par excellence. His dynamic shiurim are exciting and relevant, with bachurim being tested one cheilek at a time by the renowned Rav Elchanan Tauber. By being tested in this way, the bachurim work towards a clearly defined goal. With each cheilek successfully mastered, the talmidim experience a sense of pride and happiness in their accomplishment, the effects of which can be readily seen in all other aspects of their lives. “It is hard to describe the feeling of nachas we experience when we greet the boys after hearing that they have taken their test and passed with flying colors,” said Mrs. Katz, who serves as the program coordinator. “It is truly a simcha for us all!” A central part of the curriculum is a strong focus on the often-overlooked practical halachos as outlined in the Shulchan Aruch. The halacha shiur, which includes an opportunity to review b’chavrusa, is an integral part of the program. Ensuring that the bachurim have a solid foundation in the basics of Yiddishkait, which can sometimes be neglected in typical programs, Bais Toras Menachem aims to ensure that every bachur is wellversed in crucial areas such as Hilchos T’filla, N’tillas Yadayim and Birchas Ha’nehenin, with mandatory testing and minimum grade requirements in these areas in order to become eligible to be tested for smicha. While there is no doubt that learning is a top priority, offering the bachurim the opportunity
not only smicha studies but also Chassidus, Halacha and Hashkafa and includes opportunities to volunteer in the community with local shluchim, vocational training, a GED program, a college preparatory program and vital recreational opportunities such as music, martial arts, hikes, trips and barbeques. “We are living in difficult times,” explained Rabbi Chazan. “The yetzer ha’ra and his tactics are unfortunately stronger than ever. Desperate times call for desperate measures and it is important that we do whatever we can to combat what our bachurim are constantly facing. We must try and try until we succeed.” The hanhala at Bais Toras Menachem is constantly looking to improve and enhance our program in order to motivate our students and keep them content within the four walls of the yeshiva so that the outside world, with all its distractions, loses its appeal. As the Rebbe discussed on many occasions, when we concentrate on “aseh tov” then “sur mei’ra” automatically takes place. Another strength of our program is that we have many bachurim who are quite worthy of recognition, but in a large, mainstream program, may be
overlooked or unintentionally under-appreciated. Yet, in Bais Toras Menachem, they have a great opportunity to stand out and often become leaders. Among the talmidim at Bais Toras Menachem are married men, who hope to obtain their Smicha by learning during their free time, including their lunch breaks. “Bais Toras Menachem gave me an insight into Jewish learning that was unlike anything I had ever experienced before,” said Rabbi Feivel Glabman. “I had always learned Torah on a superficial level, but going through the Smicha program not only gave me knowledge, it gave me an appreciation of how our Sages of blessed memory put together our whole system of learning.” What are the goals of the program and how are they achieved? While it is well known that the Rebbe encouraged bachurim to receive their Smicha, preferably before marriage, many assume that this only applies to those who plan to take on some type of official position in the rabbanus or as a shliach. In truth, the Rebbe clarified that the purpose of obtaining smicha is for every bachur to one day become the Rav of his own home, giving him the ability to look up a halacha
8 � • 13 Elul 5772
to assist local shluchim in their work provides a hands-on education of another sort, as they assist in various programs including outreach and holiday programs. This enables each bachur to use his particular talents and personality to make a difference in the lives of others, as well as being financially compensated for using those skills in some cases. By offering a program with this extra focus, the bachurim are reinvigorated, and both their learning and their Avodas Hashem are enhanced. By providing the opportunity to develop themselves as individuals, as well as a part of Chabad Anash, our bachurim develop a sense of self-confidence that carries through in all facets of their lives. Additionally, by offering social outlets including Chassidishe farbrengens, Shabbatons and specialized inhouse Shabbos experiences, the bachurim develop a very real and meaningful connection to Hashem, a love of Yiddishkait, a hiskashrus to the Rebbe, as well as an important sense of Chassidishe pride, which should be part and parcel of every yeshiva and smicha program. What is unique about Bais Torah Menachem in contrast to other Smicha programs? By offering morning s’darim in Chassidus and night s’darim
Over a year later, he confided to us that from the moment he made his first donation to Bais Toras Menachem, he saw a marked improvement in his business and he attributed this turn of events to his decision to help support our yeshiva.
yeshiva. “The success of this program lies in the synthesis of these two elements as opposed to the usual sense of perceived conflict between them.” While clearly shlichus is one option for the bachurim, not every bachur will be able to find a position that will support a family as a shliach. Therefore, our bachurim are provided with the opportunity to develop the necessary skills they will need to obtain meaningful employment by helping them obtain GEDs and improving their English and Math skills. Other classes that are offered include computer classes, web design, internet marketing, web optimization and social marketing. The yeshiva is currently in the process of forming an alliance with a local vocational college that would provide an all-men’s cohort giving the opportunity for talmidim to be awarded with an associates degree in a meaningful profession, without ever having to attend a secular college. The stage for this partnership has already been set and the
Issue 848 • �
in Hashkafa and using many motivational tools, the bachurim receive the necessary balance, confidence and pride in their Yiddishkait that will enable them to succeed in their day to day lives for years to come. The Rebbe often encouraged people to develop their individual talents and unlike other smicha programs, Bais Toras Menachem devotes time and resources to this pursuit, with the knowledge that when given a chance to shine, everyone can make a difference in the lives of others. Be it an interest in photography, graphics or music, students are given the ability to develop those talents and the yeshiva brings in teachers to help guide them in these pursuits so that they can fully utilize the abilities that Hashem bestowed upon them. “The fact that these Talmidim are experiencing a sense of accomplishment, productivity and fun in other arenas has only enhanced their sense of spiritual growth on the Limudei Kodesh front,” explained Rabbi Mordechai Katz, dean of the
it has fondly come to be known since Rabbi and Mrs. Katz invested their hearts and souls into this mosad, have been the most productive of my life,” said alumnus Rabbi Eliyahu Piperno. “Rabbi Chazan is the most wonderful Maggid Shiur and there was a perfect blend of Chassidus, Halacha and Farbrengens with respected members of the Los Angeles community. The bachurim in the program bonded as a family and many, such as myself, are Baruch Hashem married and have embarked upon their next stage in life, to build a Bayis Ne’eman B’Yisroel upon the yesodos of Torah and mitzvos, equipped with the practical knowledge gained by obtaining smicha and a knowledge of the halachos that are applicable in my day to day life, both in my workplace and at home.” “In my observations over the past year, I have seen talmidim really grow, as human beings, as Yidden and chassidim,” said Rabbi Yoni Sarue, the yeshiva’s mashpia. “As talmidim in BTM they gain skills in davening and learning, and have more chayus in these concepts, I believe, as a result of the many balanced outlets they are provided with. BTM encourages self-expression and brings out the potential in each of its students.” What does a typical day in the yeshiva look like? The morning starts with a seder in Chassidus, followed by Shacharis and a wholesome breakfast. Shiurim in Shulchan Aruch and hachana for the smicha shiur take up the rest of the morning and a nice lunch break allows for the bachurim to run errands, take a walk in the park or just relax. Rabbi Chazan’s smicha shiur is followed by chavrusa time to review the material learned and Rabbi Chazan is available to respond to any additional questions. The rest of the afternoon is occupied with general studies and vocational courses , after which the bachurim enjoy a nutritious supper, followed by night seder, very often given in a coffee shop or in the backyard of one of Anash. How does the yeshiva meet its financial obligations? Bais Toras Menachem operates on a very tight budget funded by tuition and donations from generous individuals. While the yeshiva cannot afford to give discounts, the administration strives to work fairly with parents to make the necessary arrangements in order to accommodate all talmidim. Baruch Hashem, we have seen tremendous siyata d’Shmaya over the years. In one incident, a local businessman took it upon himself to sponsor the full tuition cost for one of our talmidim. Over a year later, he confided to us that from the moment he made his first donation to Bais Toras Menachem, he saw a marked improvement in his business and he attributed this turn of events to his decision to help support our yeshiva. Baruch Hashem, as a way of showing his appreciation to Hashem for the improvement in his business, he elected to continue his donations to Bais Toras Menachem. What are your plans for the coming year? “As we embark upon our fourth year, we are enthusiastic about achieving new heights in terms of what this program has to offer, and we hope to cater to many bachurim who can benefit from our program,” said Mrs.
Rabbi Yossi Shagalov, a supporter of the yeshiva, had the following to say: I have had the opportunity to farbreng many times with BTM’s bachurim. I can vouch for the fact that a very central goal of the hanhala is to bring the bachurim’s level of hiskashrus higher and deeper. For some bachurim, the Rebbe is portrayed as a leader of Klal Yisroel, but they lack a personal connection. We know the Rebbe is close, now more than ever, but unfortunately, bachurim this age may have never even seen the Rebbe b’guf gashmi. And even if they have, it was when they were infants or very young children. Through many farbrengens and other events the bachurim come out relating to the Rebbe on a personal level, with the hergesh that the Rebbe is personally involved in their lives and has a burning love for each and every one of them. This, I think, is one of the greatest gifts a student can hope to have. yeshiva is actively trying to tap into financial resources to help subsidize the associated fees in order to alleviate the financial burden for our parent body. A great bonus of the varied extra curricular activities is that they provide bachurim the opportunity to share many unique experiences, creating a sense of achdus and resulting in a powerful bond, which continues for years as our students become a “team” and become valued members of the “BTM family.” Many alumni feel so at home in our local community that they often end up relocating permanently and finding employment here. Our alumni, supporters and friends open their hearts and their homes to the bachurim, creating a relationship that benefits all parties involved. “The two years I spent in the “Katz Smicha Program,” as
10 � • 13 Elul 5772
Katz. “We are expanding the staff infrastructure to surround the students with even more experienced teachers and mashpiim, and so that each talmid finds someone they can connect with. We are working on preventing any gaps in the day by filling them with more courses of interest as well as those that will further prepare them for future job placement. “We are extremely thankful for the z’chus Hashem has given
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us to provide bachurim with he wanted to take. But after a structured program which spending a year at Bais Toras promotes a positive learning Menachem, he is extremely experience offered in a well happy with his decision. He balanced, trusting and warm felt as cared for as if he was at home and he is looking forward environment.” Clearly Bais Toras Menachem to another special year in this has found its niche within the unique institution, truly more Anash community. In the words than just a smicha program but a of one parent, “We have no home away from home.” To inquire further regarding words to thank you for opening your doors and hearts to our son. Bais Toras Menachem for the He was at a turning point in his 5773 semester call 323.463.0855. life, unsure of which direction Express service Express service Fully Computerized Fully Computerized
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Issue 848 • �
CHASSID AT WAR
As someone who served in the Reserves, I know that in situations like these you represent all of religious Jewry to the other soldiers, as well as the Rebbe and the Creator of the universe Himself! We spent endless hours talking about Judaism, mitzva observance, etc. * R’ Zev Crombie shares his reminiscences of the first Lebanon War. * Thirty years since the Lebanon War: 1982-2012.
By Zev Crombie
ur reserve unit was drafted towards the end of the war. I remember that Thursday afternoon when I returned home from work and a soldier came to my house with the famous “Tzav Shmoneh” (emergency call for duty). I took a ladder and climbed up to the boidem (crawl space used for storage) to get out my gun and uniform. I left the house with a terrible feeling. I wondered whether I would see my family again and whether I would return on my own two feet. There was something amusing about this story though. After the children saw me climb up to the boidem, my wife put them to sleep. The next morning, when they woke up, one of the little ones looked for me up in the boidem, the place where he had last seen me. He continued looking for me there all morning for a number of weeks, until I finally returned home.
THE REBBE’S BRACHA THAT KEPT ME GOING
In those days there was no email and not even faxes. If the matter was urgent, the only way to ask for a bracha from the Rebbe was to try and call the office and ask one of the secretaries to submit a note to the Rebbe. The phone there was always busy, so that in order to reach them, you had to spend hours dialing and redialing. I did not have time to do this, so I had to do what they say about R’ Mendel Futerfas, and submit a request in my mind. Apparently the pidyon nefesh was accepted and I saw that the Rebbe’s bracha was with me, as I will relate. Throughout the war I constantly thought about how I had received letters from the Rebbe upon the birth of my children. These letters said, “May you merit to raise him together with your wife.” I believed that the Rebbe’s bracha that I would
merit to raise the children together with my wife would be fulfilled.
A SHABBOS MINCHA IN A LINE OF ARMORED PERSONNEL CARRIERS AND TANKS
I traveled to the emergency depot of the infantry brigade in which I served and we spent all of Friday preparing armored personnel carriers (APC’s) for war. Friday afternoon we left in a long convoy for the north of the country. While everyone else went to shul to welcome the Shabbos Queen, I traveled in a line of buses followed by all the semi-trailers that carried our APC’s. Police cars led the convoy and they cleared all the junctions until we arrived at the Rosh HaNikra crossing. We crossed the border into Lebanon as Shabbos arrived and I made Kiddush for my comrades as we traveled on the bus. Our Shabbos
12 � • 13 Elul 5772
The driver of the APC (center): R’ Zev Crombie
meal consisted of a bottle of wine that the military chaplain had given me before we set out, and a few crackers that we took out of our combat rations. The trip took all night with our long convoy stopping often because of terrorist shooting. In the morning, at a stop in a village, a halachic discussion ensued between me and the military chaplain. Irreligious soldiers had gotten off the bus to buy water and had offered to buy some for us, which we could pay for after Shabbos. We were very thirsty and we had no water for netilas yadayim. The issue was: Is it permissible for a soldier to buy water for us and hold onto it until Motzaei Shabbos, at which time he would give it to us? We arrived close to Beirut on Shabbos afternoon and could hear the sound of shooting. We got off the buses (just picture the way it was back then – we went to war on Egged buses!) and transferred the equipment
to the APC’s. I had no question about carrying weapons and ammunition, but I wondered whether it was permissible for me to carry my personal belongings in a place without an eiruv. I finally decided that my personal belongings were essential for me during the war and I carried them too. By the time we had been drafted, the IDF had already managed to conquer the area and our job was just to eliminate any remaining enemy soldiers. We began moving eastward along the Beirut-Damascus axis. We entered the Baabda district and were warmly welcomed by the residents. I remember that as we passed through the streets, all the porches of the houses on both sides of the street were full of people rejoicing at our arrival. We were welcomed with rice, juicy apples and bags of cold drinks. In the days to come, we continued cleaning out the
villages east of Beirut. We did not have enough food or water, but we were most concerned about having enough gas for the APC’s. All along the way, we saw burned out Syrian tanks, but we also saw burned tanks of our own. It was a sad sight. I remember the Mincha we davened one Shabbos. It was when we traveled in a long line of APC’s and tanks through one of the towns. The line moved slowly and stopped occasionally to eliminate terrorists who tried to attack us. One of the times we stopped, I saw that the sun was about to set and I wondered how I would daven Mincha. I could not get off the APC since the area was not yet terrorist-free. The long line of tanks and APC’s would stop every so often. I suddenly noticed that in the tanks moving together with us (that did not belong to our unit) there were a number of Hesder soldiers. I yelled out “Mincha?” to them as though I was in 770
Issue 848 • �
I yelled out “Mincha?” to them as though I was in 770 and not in a Lebanese town swarming with terrorists. We quickly organized for a speedy Mincha that we will never forget.
and not in a Lebanese town swarming with terrorists. We quickly organized for a speedy Mincha that we will never forget. We could not assemble in one place, but each of us stood on the deck of the carrier or tank. With tremendous concentration, we davened to Hashem that we should succeed in our mission and return home safely. One night, we arrived at an olive grove near a Lebanese village and we set up camp for the night. In the morning, I looked for a place where I could daven and discovered that the entire area we were in was full of dry cow and sheep manure. At any other time, I would have moved away a bit and found a cleaner place to daven. That was impossible now because any slight movement away spelled danger from a sniper or even a kidnapping. I didn’t know what to do. On the one hand, it is forbidden to daven near dry manure. On the other hand, finding another place was dangerous. I ended up deciding to daven where I was and I hoped that Hashem would agree to accept my prayer among all the other prayers of the Jewish people. terrifying it is as you wonder where the next shell is going to land. It was during this time that I got up my courage and took out t’fillin and began going from trench to trench to put t’fillin on with people. The response, as expected, was huge. The soldiers begged to put on t’fillin, feeling that this would protect them. I especially remember one fellow who was a member of a HaShomer HaTzair kibbutz (which is virulently anti-religious) in the south. We had spent many days in the Reserves together and he always loved taunting me and describing how the kibbutz members would eat ham and cheese sandwiches on Yom Kippur. May Hashem have mercy on people who are so abysmally ignorant. Anyway, despite being good army buddies in the context of our military duties, he never agreed to put on t’fillin. The only time I managed to pierce the wall of his opposition was on that hill, when the falling shells were landing ever closer to us. I offered him t’fillin and he said grudgingly, “Fine, only because you want it so much.” In the Reserves you meet with people who you would have nothing to do with in civilian life. In our unit we had an interesting combination in the commander and the assistant commander. The commander was very involved in Shalom Achshav (Peace Now, a virulently Leftist organization that curries favor with Arabs). The assistant commander was a leader of Gush Emunim (a Right wing settlement
movement) who lived on a yishuv south of Har Chevron. The rest of the soldiers were divided over the political and societal spectrum. Notwithstanding these extreme differences, when it came time to carrying out some military maneuver, all worked together. Furthermore, in an infantry unit like ours, ranks did not always have significance. Plain soldiers, sergeants and officers evenly divided all the guard duty and jobs (the only exception being that officers were exempt from kitchen duty). Those who served in the Reserves know that in situations like these you represent all of religious Jewry to the other soldiers, as well as the Rebbe and the Creator of the universe Himself! We spent endless hours talking about Judaism, mitzva observance, etc. A topic that came up repeatedly was the Rebbe having said that we need to conquer Beirut and eradicate terrorism. In stark contrast, the prevalent approach in the media was one of capitulation. My comrades in arms were very surprised to hear the Rebbe’s view about subduing terrorism.
A COLD MIKVA IN HONOR OF SHABBOS
One Friday, I tried to think of a way of immersing in honor of Shabbos. In our battle orders there was no difference between Shabbos and weekdays. I often davened the Shabbos t’fillos while on military rounds and often had the Shabbos meals while traveling on the APC’s. The meal sometimes included just a can of dry rations and a few crackers. It was a serious problem for me when we camped
GREAT INSPIRATION TO PUT ON T’FILLIN
Another time, we were camped on a hill as the terrorists began tracking our position with mortars. The shelling was getting closer and closer. Anybody who’s been in this situation knows how
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on Shabbos in an open area and it was impossible to put up a temporary eiruv. I could carry only my weapon and ammo belt. I would not take the rest of my personal belongings and food out of their four cubits. Despite the difficult conditions, I wanted to immerse for Shabbos. One Erev Shabbos I came up with an idea. I suggested to the commander that we take the entire unit on a search mission in the mountains. The entire unit got on the APC’s, the big guns were manned, and we set out. After half an hour, we discovered a stream in a twist of the road. Two carriers remained to guard us while the rest of the soldiers removed their filthy, dusty clothes and got into the water. The water in the stream was melted snow and was therefore freezing cold, but we enjoyed it tremendously. Of course, by the time we returned, we were sweaty and dusty again, but we were all happy over this “immersion.”
R’ Zev Crombie (right) walking with comrades in the Reserves towards their outpost
the area who was watching us and when he saw us crossing, he activated the bomb. To our great fortune, he missed us by a second; otherwise, you would not be reading this article. The noise was so loud that I looked up, thinking all the buildings in the area were collapsing on us. We began shooting in all directions but the terrorist got away. I palpably saw the Rebbe’s brachos. After this miracle I recited the Birkas HaGomel for the first time.
electrical wires and the missile fell and exploded fifty meters from us. I saw once again how the Rebbe’s bracha protected us. After this miracle, I said the HaGomel blessing for the second time.
HITCHHIKING ON A MILITARY HELICOPTER
Going home on leave was a story in itself. During the war, we traveled on Egged buses that came nearly till the front. After a while, the terrorists recovered and began attacking military vehicles with explosives. Going home on furlough was a complicated operation. We traveled only in large protected convoys. One way that I found to get back to my position was to go to the military airport in Haifa and to beg the officer in charge to give me a seat on the military cargo plane that went from Haifa to the military airport in southern Beirut. I wasn’t always able to get a ticket and even when I did, I had to spend endless hours hitchhiking until I got back to my post. One of the times I went on furlough, I saw a military helicopter land nearby. I went over to the pilot and asked him for a hitch home. Such conduct seems crazy by our standards
Issue 848 • �
THE MIRACULOUS CROSSING OF A CULVERT
One evening we spent on a night tour of Sidon. It was a ghost town and not a soul could be seen on the streets. There was the fear of death and we had no idea from which direction trouble would come. A terrorist could be hiding in any house and open fire. We finished our tour by morning, thanking G-d that all had been quiet, and we returned to the main base that was within the city. There was a small culvert at the entrance to this base. We crossed it and no more than a second later, a bomb exploded and the culvert blew up with a terrifying noise. There was probably a terrorist in a house in
THE MISSILE THAT GOT TANGLED IN THE ELECTRICAL WIRES
We spent a Shabbos in an abandoned school. Although many of the soldiers in our unit were from kibbutzim (in those days, those from kibbutzim still enlisted in combat units), they always had some respect for the dos (derogatory term for religious person) who served alongside them. So when it came time for the Shabbos meal, all the soldiers waited for me until I finished davening and would make Kiddush for them all. That Shabbos we experienced another miracle. A terrorist shot a missile at us. This missile was guided by a wire and incredibly, the wire got tangled in the
today, but that’s how things were back then. The pilot, who seemed to be a Leftist, said, “I am happy over every additional soldier who leaves Lebanon.” The reason why the helicopter had come was because an assistant commander in the Artillery Corps had driven over a mine in his jeep and the helicopter had come to airlift him out. After the first aid was administered on location, they took the wounded soldier on the little helicopter which flew back to Rambam hospital in Haifa. Although, during my service, I flew often in helicopters in various training missions, I’ll never forget that flight. We were fifty people in a tiny helicopter, the pilot, the doctor, nurses, me and the assistant commander who lay among us bleeding on the floor. We flew at low altitude southward and passed over southern Lebanon and northern Israel until we arrived at the hospital. All that time, the doctor tried to save the life of the assistant commander. Sitting there squeezed in on the side I watched as life ebbed out of him. When we arrived at Rambam, the emergency team raced to the helicopter to bring the injured man to the operating room. Sadly, he had already died, may Hashem avenge his blood. always adequate for the harsh conditions. Heavy snow fell on these mountains and reached a height of a meter or two. On cold days, the snow was so high that it covered the APC’s out in the yard. Since we were afraid that the engines would freeze and become damaged, we had to turn on the engines every two to three hours and make sure they stayed warm. It was a very hard job, especially at night. Some of the men in our unit had driver’s licenses for APC’s (which we nicknamed Zelda) so we were not assigned drivers. All those with licenses took turns, but each time it was very difficult. You had to get up in the middle of the night and get out of your warm sleeping bag, put on a ski suit and snow boots and other warm clothing, and go outside in the freezing cold and blizzards that raged on the mountaintop where the post was located. Because of the heavy snowfall, visibility was poor and I had to search to find the snow-covered carriers. When I finally located them, I climbed up and used my shovel to remove the snow that covered the driver’s door (which is located on the upper deck). Then I climbed into the carrier and started up the motor until it warmed up. Then I shut if off and returned to the post, frozen to the marrow of my bones. At the post, I met a soldier’s best friend, the sleeping bag which had gotten cold in the interim, and I slept for another hour or two until it was my turn again. Guard duty was also exceedingly hard, since they took place in open positions and you were exposed to the biting wind and the snow that blew into your eyes all night. At the end of any of these guard duties I was utterly frozen. Another problem was bathroom facilities. They were located outside the fence, not far from the gate. During the day it wasn’t that much of a problem, but at night, no one dared to leave the perimeter of the post for fear of terrorists. The problem of kashrus was also very hard since some of the soldiers were from kibbutzim. They took advantage of the scouting rounds that we made outside the post to hunt wild animals. Of course, it was impossible to eat from the kitchen. I brought a small pot and pan from home and every day I cooked my own meals. On Shabbos, the problem was even more challenging. I had no way of keeping the food warm and frozen food is not edible. One Shabbos, I tried to leave a pot of cholent that I had prepared on a stove that heated our post. To my disappointment, the heat of the stove burned the food to a crisp. Another problem on Shabbos was the washing of hands and face. The water in the pipes was cold as ice and it was impossible to wash your face with it. Yet, using the warm water immediately activated the water heater, which made it forbidden on Shabbos.
SHABBOS OBSERVANCE WHILE IN THE RESERVES IN LEBANON
My connection with Lebanon did not end with the war. I returned to Lebanon several times during my Reserve duty, which I did during the winter at posts that the military had constructed on the snow covered al-Shouf district of Mount Lebanon. Working in the snow was an utter novelty for the IDF and the equipment wasn’t
STOPPING AT THE LAST MINUTE
A large part of our work involved the APC’s. We changed jobs every day. Each day, one soldier with a license would drive a carrier while his comrades walked in front of him, clearing the roads up and down the steep mountains. Similarly, since there were a few other division sergeants along with me in our unit, we switched off each day regarding who would be in charge of the team.
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One day, when it was my turn to drive the carrier (see the picture at the beginning of the article), as I took it down one of the steep turns, the carrier’s track suddenly cracked. Usually, when a track breaks, the carrier grinds to a halt. This time, something else happened. Since the track broke right in the middle of a twist in the road, the heavy carrier slid on the snow like on a ski run. The carrier, which weighs two tons, quickly slid on the snow for dozens of meters. We could see the edge of the cliff approaching at a frighteningly rapid pace, but we had no way to gain control of the carrier. It was only when we reached about twenty meters from the edge of the precipice that the carrier finally stopped and we all quickly jumped out, frightened to death. The Rebbe had watched over me yet again. After this miracle, I recited the HaGomel for the third time. Driving the carrier on snowcovered mountains was very hard. The snow covered the roads so that it was impossible to know where to go and what to avoid. In order to solve the problem, we stuck tall poles along the way and when the road was covered with snow, we followed the poles that were higher than the snow. There were many days when even this did not help, and then we were stuck at the post unable to come and go, and without supplies. We had to ration our reserves until the road opened and we could get new supplies. One of my stints in the
R’ Zev Crombie (sitting on the right) fixing the torn track
Reserves when I served at a post in Lebanon ended in an interesting way. One night, as I slept in my sleeping bag, I felt a sharp pain. I woke up and saw a mouse that had apparently thought that my finger was made of cheese. It bit me on the end of my finger and ran away. I did not pay much attention to this (especially as I had once nearly entered my sleeping bag during an exercise in the Jordan Valley when, at the last minute, I decided to check it and found a poisonous yellow scorpion inside). A few days went by until we left the post and arrived at the central base that had been set up at the foot of the mountain. Since we had to stay there for several hours and I was bored, I decided to go to the doctor and tell him that a mouse bit me. The doctor opened up one of his books and told me that all mice
in Lebanon were suspected of carrying rabies. He referred me immediately to a military hospital in the center of Eretz Yisroel and I spent the rest of my service on “vacation” in the hospital where I got a series of shots against rabies. Friends told me later that after I was released from hard work because of a mouse bite, the rest of the soldiers began looking for mice to bite them too. Many years have passed since the war, but from time to time I am reminded of those days and I wonder from where we had the strength to handle all the difficulties. Everything can be used in the service of Hashem and from serving in Lebanon I learned a lesson too. I learned that we all have strengths within us that are far greater than we imagine and when we really want to, we can draw upon these strengths for important goals.
TO BRING MOSHIACH NOW!
Issue 848 • �
ADD IN ACTS OF GOODNESS & KINDNESS
InSIGHT InTO T’SHUv A
AYIn-BeIS: ON T’SHuVA
A selection from the rebbe rashab’s Hemshech Ayin-Beis (pg. 147), dealing with t’shuva at the levels of nefesh, ruach, and neshama. • Presented in the Month of elul, when we make a soul-assessment of our service of G-d throughout the year. • Part 2 of 3
Translated by Boruch Merkur
INWARD T’SHUVA VS. EMOTIONAL T’SHUVA
As we have said, the first level of t’shuva, t’shuva at the level of Nefesh, is repentance for wrongful deeds. (The latter includes succumbing to hedonism, inappropriate behavior [even though the person’s actions may not be outright forbidden]. Indeed, the actions of the hedonist are those of an animal, especially when it amounts to casting off the yoke of Heaven, which is the source of all the various kinds of evil, may G-d have mercy upon us, as discussed in other places.) Certainly when a ruach tahara, a pure spirit, descends upon this person and arouses him to repent for his wrongful behavior, his inadequacies affect him literally in the innermost aspect of his soul, even more so than for having neglected serving G-d by arousing love and fear [i.e., t’shuva at the level of Ruach]. In general, t’shuva at the level
of Nefesh is repentance solely for improper behavior, sincerely regretting one’s misdeeds in the inner aspect of his soul, to the point of motivating him to change his behavior, refraining from his previous ways and changing them completely with a firm resolve, etc. T’shuva at the level of Ruach, on the other hand, is repentance for shortcomings that are more subtle, not having actually transgressed the Torah, G-d forbid. (Such a person is, of course, not considered like an animal; he is merely not considered Adam, etc.) Nevertheless, the second level of t’shuva, t’shuva at the level of Ruach, is more desperate, more driven by emotions than at the level of Nefesh. (This more impassioned t’shuva is when the t’shuva itself [not just the person] is at the level of Ruach.) The reason why repentance for these more subtle inadequacies is with a greater
emotional response than t’shuva at the level of Nefesh is simply because one who is only at the level of Nefesh does not have so much emotional excitement [in serving G-d]. (That is not to say that he has no emotional response at all, for every person contains within him all levels, including the level of Ruach, and so on. However, the enthusiasm of someone at the level of Nefesh is tempered.) Thus, the corresponding t’shuva at the level of Nefesh does not have such an emotional quality, although [as we have said] it is accompanied by the arousal of a more internal awakening in the essence of his soul. Whereas, the soul of one who is at the level of Ruach is more inclined to an impassioned service of G-d. Thus, his t’shuva is with great fervor, repenting with great emotion for his failure to reveal within him the kochos of the G-dly soul [i.e., love and fear of G-d].
T’SHUVA WITH BITTUL VS. T’SHUVA FROM THE HEART
Indeed, enthusiastic t’shuva is superior in the same sense that serving G-d with devotion of heart is greater than serving Him out of duty, even though the latter manner of service – serving G-d with bittul, transcendence of ego, and acceptance of the yoke
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of Heaven – pertains to the very core of one’s being, as discussed above. (The truth is that the failure to serve G-d with love and fear, although it is a subtler deficiency [than deficiencies of behavior, such as outright transgressions or hedonistic behavior] – the resulting blemish is more pronounced, insofar as the person is of a greater spiritual stature. It is thus written, “for man is a tree in the field, etc.”: Just as with regard to a tree that bears fruit, the fruit at the top of the tree, when they fall to the ground, land further away from the tree, so too with regard to the Tree of Life, which bears souls. Whoever is at a greater spiritual height is subject to fall to greater depths, may G-d have mercy. Therefore, one whose soul is
The failure to serve G-d with love and fear, although it is a subtler deficiency than deficiencies of behavior, such as outright transgressions or hedonistic behavior – the resulting blemish is more pronounced, insofar as the person is of a greater spiritual stature.
great enough to approach serving G-d through love and fear, his failure to do so makes him further away from G-d and more predisposed towards evil, G-d forbid. That is, in virtue of the fact that a stain on fine garments is worse [than a stain on inexpensive clothing], etc., the person of high stature [should he fail to achieve his potential] is liable to become more steeped in evil, G-d forbid. Thus, there must truly be a correspondingly
greater repentance for this person’s shortcomings.) T’shuva at the level of Ruach, insofar as it shares the virtue and quality of the aspect of the soul called Ruach, is with more elicitation of emotion (especially if the person at the level of Ruach [also] must repent for some transgression, G-d forbid; then the repentance is indeed with greater fervor.) [To be continued be”H]
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Issue 848 • �
THE CALL OF THE HOUR:
TO REALLY DO WHAT WE CAN, IN UNITY!
We need to forget the nonsense of the machlokes of “Meshichist” and “Anti.” We need to join together as a unit committed to carrying out what the Rebbe wants. Just as the Chassidim of the Rebbe Rayatz, who knew that when they went to start an underground school it might land them a sentence of twenty years of hard labor, and yet this did not stop them, so too we must nullify ourselves to the Rebbe and announce the Besuras Ha’Geula to the world. * A passionate speech delivered by Rabbi Mordechai (ben Rochel, for a refua shleima) Gal, shliach in Ramat Gan, during a Melaveh Malka farbrengen in Kfar Chabad.
Pictures by Arele Crombie
o talk to Chassidim about “Achdus – the Call of the Hour” seems like a joke since there can’t be Chassidim without achdus and there can’t be achdus without Chassidim. If one of the components is missing, then neither one nor the other is reality. On 27 Adar, a year and a half ago, I initiated the Ayeka Campaign that called for achdus among Lubavitcher Chassidim. I
spoke to rabbanim and mashpiim about issuing a Kol Korei to Anash to sit together and farbreng. I did not dream of how much ingenuity would be needed to request of this rav to say this and that rav to say that and a mashpia to say thus and another one to agree to sit with this one, as though they were the worst of enemies. Then I understood. There is a big problem within the Chabad
movement, a problem that is not only ruining the atmosphere, but is causing disunity and dramatically affecting the Rebbe’s ideology, the Chassidic movement, the founders of Chassidus, the fathers of Chassidus and, I would dare say, even all the G’dolei Yisroel going back to our Avos and Adam HaRishon. Because we, the present generation, were given this
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historic task: to bring the Geula to fruition, to expose our fellow Jews to it, starting with ourselves and our families, and then in wider circles to the rest of our Jewish brethren. In short, our mission is to rectify the entire world so that all serve Hashem. And it hasn’t happened! As a Chassid who somehow always managed to maintain my independence, I never had any standing in the larger Chassidic community. To certain entities, I wasn’t even on the map. Whatever I did, I did quietly. This distance enabled me to maintain a broader perspective on what is going on in our midst.
THE IMPOSSIBLE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH THE REBBE BEGAN HIS WORK
I would like to share a personal story about how I got involved with Chabad. I belong to the generation that was born in Eretz Yisroel right after the Holocaust, to parents who arrived in the country as pioneers and patriots. My parents had mesirus nefesh to leave whatever they had and came here to dry up the swamps at a forsaken kibbutz called Dardera, which later came to be called
HaShmura. My parents eventually left the kibbutz to live in Yaffo where a high concentration of Bulgarians lived. I was born in the Ajami neighborhood. Ajami was a neighborhood of immigrants, some from Arab countries and others from Western countries. My most poignant childhood memory is the screams that we heard at night from the homes of neighbors who had survived Auschwitz and Treblinka. These were bloodcurdling screams from people experiencing nightmares. Also part of our upbringing was the indoctrination that a religious Jew with a hat and beard is a nebach, a helpless person. One bullet of a rifle could lead a hundred thousand shattered Jews like these to the gas chambers and wipe them out just like that. This image of the religious Jew, as it was drawn in the hateful caricatures of Der Shturmer, is a pale weakling, trembling like a leaf, who needs merely to see a rifle and one can step all over him and his children. We were taught to oppose such a galus mentality, to no longer go as sheep to the slaughter. Six million people were murdered within a few years; it
was unbelievable. I began taking an interest in the “background music” with which the Rebbe began his nesius. It was a few years after the Holocaust, when people had left entire families behind in the crematoria. An entire nation had been decimated before their eyes in utter wretchedness, and then the Rebbe took over the leadership of the Jewish people. What did he need to broadcast to this nation? Was it “Let us go back to the Siddur and say ‘Our Father, Father of Mercy?’” To once again say, “And You give life to all?” Or “You are great forever, Hashem, resurrecting the dead with great compassion, supporting the fallen, and healing the sick?” How could those survivors accept that? From what emotional place can a leader now turn to people who saw all those horrors with their own eyes? Some people wanted to escape the image of the traditional Jew. They set up military organizations and relied on the power of the Kalashnikov and other weapons. No more trusting our Father in Heaven, G-d forbid. Others fled to the United States where they hoped to begin again in a new world. They did not want to hear
Issue 848 • �
We can choose to be small-minded: Shall we open Igros or not; wear a Moshiach flag lapel pin or not; proclaim various phrases or not. But if that is what we are busy with, we won’t get anywhere in this war. We need to act like Avishai…
about G-d and wanted to free themselves from the burden of religion. This is the background in which the Rebbe began his leadership, and he did it brilliantly. With a handful of survivors who came as refugees from Russia, Lubavitchers for better or worse, with a tremendous depth of Chassidus, with tremendous achdus, with unparalleled mesirus nefesh, obviously as a continuation of the work of the Rebbe Rayatz, he began building a new empire of Judaism. The Rebbe began to, once again, operate the engine of growth of the Jewish people with a far-reaching vision: to bring this nation that had experienced such a trauma, that had gone through the labor pains and the terrible suffering that herald Moshiach, to an entirely new place, to Geula. The Rebbe is the only one who saw the big picture. Other Admurim reacted in fear. Even those who began rebuilding built everything within walls so as to protect themselves from secular influences. The Rebbe came and plowed deeply with Chassidus and took it outward too, u’faratzta, with tanks everywhere, the ten mitzva campaigns, the twelve p’sukim, Tzivos Hashem, and sending shluchim around the world. Slowly, Moshiach began to heal the Jewish people. He succeeded in instilling and reestablishing the Torah perspective of how a Jew ought to behave, how the nations of the world ought to behave, how all of existence ought to operate, and – mainly – where we are heading. In short, the Rebbe created a sort of GPS – based on the cosmic map of the Baal Shem Tov, and before him, the Arizal, and before him Rashbi, back to Adam HaRishon – for where we are coming from and to where we are going. When I met the Rebbe in New York, believe me, I wasn’t that interested in his brilliance. What impressed me about the Rebbe was his leadership, his ability to create achdus, the likes of which I had never seen before. When I arrived in Crown Heights, I observed how I was treated on Shabbos as well as weekdays, with warmhearted generosity. I saw people’s devotion to run and get a blanket for someone who was cold. There was a feeling of achdus and this was the most dominant element I encountered. Then I understood. Among people there are always differences, for we all know that just as faces differ, so do opinions. It’s enough to peruse the Chumash to see Dasan and Aviram, the Misonenim, and Zimri ben Salu to know that there always has been machlokes and it will always be the case within a family. So how could the Rebbe demand achdus? The answer lies in the fact that, from day one, the Rebbe waved a flag very high. He established that there is a much
loftier mission that goes beyond the personal likes and dislikes of the Chassidim, and that we have the privilege of joining him in serving an ideal far greater than ourselves – the ideal of the redemption of the Jewish nation. Then came 5751-5752, when the Rebbe intensified every aspect of the larger plan, including the rationale for the plan, the depth, which included Torah sources from where the Rebbe took these dramatic teachings. The Rebbe announced that every Jew would leave galus. Already in the 80’s, the Rebbe spoke about a king squandering all his treasures and giving all he has to his soldiers through the commanders, Ker a velt haint! The Rebbe emphasized time and again how a person can transform the world today, even without a party and without money. This is what the Rebbe demanded of every one of us. The more we learn the sichos of 5751-5752, the clearer the picture becomes. The Rebbe understood that we were in an enormously auspicious time to realize the ultimate dream of the Jewish people since we became a nation.
THEN I REALIZED – WE GOT CONFUSED!
Then suddenly the wheels came off the bus, machlokes broke out between those known as Meshichistim and those known as anti-Meshichistim. I was deeply saddened when, during the publicity for Ayeka, for achdus among us, I came across derogatory terms from all sides. “We don’t want them.” “Baalei t’shuva.” “Contaminating the camp.” “Heretics.”
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“Erasing the Rebbe.” “Let’s go back to the historic Chabad.” I heard two strains that were polar opposites. Tragically, the disunity was not only in views but in hearts. How could there be such hatred among Chabad Chassidim? How? What did the Rebbe ask? The Rebbe asked that even if you don’t believe the message of Moshiach, you cannot allow that to interfere with your conveying it to your family and people in your environment. Then I understood: we got confused! There are hidden treasures, treasures found in the sichos of 5751-5752, which are a distillation of the entire purpose of Chassidus. Not a distillation of the entire teachings of Chassidus, but a distillation of its role in the world; about what we are supposed to accomplish in the world, namely the revelation of Moshiach here, and in the world at large. The call of the hour is not achdus. Achdus is the vessel! The call of the hour is “do all that you can.” There are some rabbanim today who are Meshichistim and others who are antiMeshichistim; there are mashpiim like this and like that. Each one received an assignment, so what is he doing? He is protecting his own “camp” as though that is the most important ideology there is. This is an opportunity for each one of us, despite his views, despite the new political positioning that he finds himself in, to raise the flag of doing all that he can to bring Moshiach. We are all Chassidim of the Rebbe. We love him and want to do as he wishes. It was always the
case that every time we spoke in a deep and straightforward way about our bond with the Rebbe and the desire to give back to the Rebbe just a drop of what he gives us, there was no Chassid whose heart did not melt and expand. There is no Chassid who does not want to give his all to the Rebbe, but most chassidim don’t know how. So my suggestion is as follows: Every person knows what “all that you can” means. Practically every person knows where he needs to apply mesirus nefesh, what red line he is willing to cross for the Rebbe. Each of us must strengthen his inner truth in order to strengthen the shlichus, to instill a spirit of Geula in his soul, in his household and his surroundings. So too, the mashpiim in their yeshivas and rabbanim in their neighborhoods need to rekindle the fire. We need to forget what was, forget the nonsense of machlokes of Meshichist and Anti. We need to join together as a unit that wants to carry out what the Rebbe wants. First, out of a sense of personal obligation of a Chassid to the Rebbe, because this is what the Rebbe wants now. For this purpose, we need to set aside all personal desires, views, and wants. Just as with Chassidim of the Rebbe Rayatz, who knew that when they went to start an underground school it might land them a sentence of twenty years of hard labor, and yet this did not stop them, so too, we must nullify ourselves to the Rebbe and announce the Besuras Ha’Geula to the world. We have no idea to what extent the world is ripe for the Besuras Ha’Geula. In recent days I showed friends to what extent the world is ready. I
demonstrated it from many different angles, in science, music, art. Even the media, which seems so combative, is ready for a transformation. It’s not only the nations who are being transformed, but all of culture. People are simply seeking renewed contact with G-d. We have a historic task – to convey this to the world. There is no doubt that the vehicle is achdus and love among Chassidim. If there is no love, there is nothing. In the words of the holy Zohar, “We (the existence of our fraternity)
depend on love.” If we sit at a farbrengen and there is no love, there is nothing. There is no farbrengen. If Chassidim sit together and the feeling in one’s heart is not one of hugs and kisses, these are not Chassidim. Unity is the background music we need in order to be real soldiers of the Rebbe.
LOOKING OUT FOR THE KING
I want to end with a story that I’ve been living with for a year and a half, a story from the Gemara which speaks to me. It is with me day and night. I encountered this story for the first time in our Kollel in Ramat Gan when we were learning
Issue 848 • �
He finds his Rebbe suspended between heaven and earth. He does not remain a “small minded” Chassid. He says one of the holy Names, i.e. he uses the lofty abilities given to him and says to the Rebbe, “Change your prayer.” He does all that he can and is able to bring the Rebbe back.
Meseches Sanhedrin daf 95. In Navi (Shmuel I, perek 22) we read about Nov, the city of Kohanim. When Dovid was fleeing Shaul, he arrived in Nov. He was not concerned that Doeg HaAdomi, a great Torah scholar, would inform on him. All Dovid wanted was some food. Doeg reported to Shaul and said that Achimelech gave Dovid food. In his anger, Shaul sent Doeg to Nov to kill the entire city of Kohanim, which he did, except for one child who escaped. Doeg was punished and Shaul and his three sons were killed. After this happened, Hashem came to Dovid and told him that the sin of killing the priests of Nov was his fault. Hashem asked Dovid to pick his punishment; either he would die or his children would perish. Dovid chose to protect his children and said better that he should die in battle. Hashem accepted this. It was Erev Shabbos that day and Dovid went to hunt with hawks. He sent a large hawk into the air, which spotted a deer and signaled to Dovid where to pursue it on his royal horse. Hashem disguised Satan as this deer, which drew Dovid after it towards the land of the Plishtim. When he arrived in Plishtim, he suddenly met Yishbi, the brother of the giant Galyas whom Dovid had killed. Yishbi caught him and said: You are the one who killed my brother Galyas. He put Dovid into an olive press and took a massive beam, placed it on Dovid’s neck and began to strangle him. The Gemara relates that a miracle took place and the earth beneath Dovid gave way and he remained alive. One of Dovid’s generals, Avishai – for our purposes, let us say it was a Chassid of the Rebbe on Erev Shabbos, moments before the Geula – was washing his face when he saw a drop of blood in the water. Rav Pappa said that a dove was hovering and then dove full force into the water. Avishai realized this was a sign, and that the Jewish people, who are compared to a dove, were in danger. He immediately realized that this meant the king was in danger. He ran to the palace to look for him, but nobody knew where Dovid was. That is when he suspected something had happened to Dovid. He ran to the beis midrash and asked the sages whether it was permissible for him to ride the king’s horse. They said in a time of danger it was permissible. He ran back to the palace and took Dovid’s steed, which was accustomed to miracles. As soon as he mounted it, he experienced K’fitzas HaDerech (the way was miraculously shortened for him). In all of Tanach it tells of three men who had the way shortened for them: Eliezer the servant of Avrohom, Yaakov Avinu, and Avishai ben Tzruya. Avishai arrived in Plishtim
and saw Orpa, the mother of Galyas and Yishbi and the other giant brothers. She immediately recognized him, and while she sat there and wove on her spinning wheel, she took the whorl and threw it at Avishai to crack his skull. Avishai moved aside and it missed him. Wanting to taunt him, she said, “Boy, bring me the spindle.” He picked up the spindle and smashed her head with it, killing her. Avishai continued on his way and saw Yishbi mocking Dovid. What did Yishbi do? He grabbed Dovid and threw him in the air and stuck a javelin into the ground, intending that Dovid land on it and die. Avishai instantly said one of the names of Hashem and Dovid hovered in mid-air. The Gemara asks why Dovid himself did not say Hashem’s name when he was greater than Avishai. From here the Gemara learns that one who is bound cannot free himself from jail. There was a big klipa in the form of Yishbi. Dovid, the king of Yisroel, was hanging between heaven and earth. Avishai came and saw his Rebbe suspended in that way. The Gemara goes on to say that Avishai asked Dovid, who was still hanging in the air, “What happened?” It was obvious to him that Dovid did not just “happen” to be ambushed and it wasn’t an accident that he crossed the border. Dovid told him what happened, that Hashem blamed him for the sin of Nov and that he had taken the punishment upon himself rather than have his children suffer. Avishai asked Dovid to change his prayer and ask that the punishment be on his children and not on himself. Let your children take care of
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themselves! We want Moshiach now! Dovid listened to him and changed the punishment. He came down to earth and they both began to run. Yishbi chased after them. They continued running, and Avishai said to Dovid, “We are two lions and he is a dog, and we can’t beat him?” They turned around to Yishbi and Avishai said to him, “Your mother is in the grave.” Hearing this, Yishbi’s strength failed him and they seized the moment and killed him. From that point, the Jewish people proclaimed, “Dovid should no longer go out with us to do battle, lest the candle of Yisroel be extinguished.” *** This story affected me deeply. Who is the hero of this story? The tragic figure of the story is Dovid, the Rebbe. The Rebbe wants us to bring the Geula, but there are obstacles. Who knows what sin is behind it all, what confusion there is in the camp, how many children went off the derech since Gimmel Tammuz? The hero is Avishai, the Chassid who, Erev Shabbos, a moment before the Geula, sees a drop of blood and a dove fluttering. He sees the situation and does not remain indifferent. The first thing he does is go to the beis midrash – Vessels of Tikkun – to ask the sages a question. He doesn’t do things on his own, but as soon as he gets their okay he immediately experiences a shortening of the way. From that moment on, he does not act with his own strength but with far more powerful kochos. He sets out on a journey to find out what happened to Moshiach. He finds his Rebbe suspended between heaven and earth. He does not remain a
“small minded” Chassid. He says one of the holy Names, i.e. he uses the lofty abilities given to him and says to the Rebbe, “Change your prayer.” He does all that he can and is able to bring the Rebbe back.
NO SMALL MINDEDNESS
This is the story that captivated my heart. I share it with you so that each of you can think about it and take the lesson that we are meant to derive. Every Chassid today can help the Rebbe in a powerful way by taking out the hidden kochos he contains within himself. The Rebbe often said that each of us has prodigious strengths. We ourselves have no idea what we have. What needs to be done today is to announce the Besuras Ha’Geula to yourself, your family, your relatives – your part of the world – and to invest every second, every minute, with devotion to the Rebbe’s cause. I affirm with perfect faith that if this miracle really happens and we overcome our machlokes and the despair that has penetrated our ranks, we can achieve the goal. We have the power to bring about the hisgalus of the Rebbe. We can choose to be smallminded: Shall we open Igros or not; wear a Moshiach flag lapel pin or not; proclaim various phrases or not. But if that is what we are busy with, we won’t get anywhere in this war. We need to act like Avishai, to feel the Rebbe and to understand where we have gotten stuck, to try and rescue the tremendous revolution the Rebbe led by putting out heads together. This difficult time is an opportunity for each of us to reveal his inner strengths. In the condition I am in today [Ed: R’ Gal is seriously ill] I’d like
to add something of a personal nature. I made a commitment to spread the message of “do all that you can” in a spirit of achdus. They [Ed: the doctors] have put a sharp sword on my neck and said: This is the amount of time that you have left (B’derech HaTeva) to act. Go and take action. So I am working against the clock. In my condition, things become clearer. There’s no question that if you come to someone and show him a challenge that is far greater than what he expected and in a much shorter time, then all the things
which were hidden emerge. When a person commits to transforming every moment of his life into a day, and every day into a year, he finds that he has all the power to transform the situation. It’s a form of K’fitzas HaDerech. We each contain so much power; we simply need to make use of the time. I would like to bless all of you that we use this achdus, this great love that fills our hearts for Melech HaMoshiach, and that we merit to see the king in all his glory in the third Beis HaMikdash, now! Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed!
Issue 848 • �
ReNOWNeD MeNTOR TO THe BAAl TeSHuVA MOVeMeNT MARkS 50 YeARS Of SeRVICe
abbi Avrohom Lipskier trail-blazed the way in the early days. Before 1962, there were no baal teshuva yeshivas. At a turbulent time when Jewish life was largely in a state of a spiritual desert and the questing youth of that era had virtually no where to turn for guidance, Rabbi Lipskier was handpicked by the Lubavitcher Rebbe to pioneer in the field of Jewish outreach. A little known fact is that Rabbi Lipskier had the merit of starting the first baal teshuva yeshiva: Hadar HaTorah. Rabbi Lipskier taught at Hadar HaTorah until 1967 and then after getting married went to Italy on shlichus. In 1972, he returned to the States. He was offered an outreach position on college campuses. Rabbi Lipskier wrote to the Rebbe and the Rebbe instructed him to accept the offer and gave his blessings for success. In 1962, while Avrohom Lipskier was still a young rabbinical student studying for smicha, young men with long hair and glazed eyes—hippies and the like—were drawn to Crown Heights and would wander into 770. In those days, the locals were afraid of them, afraid that they would hook their children on
drugs and lead them astray. But Rabbi Lipskier related to them and initiated a rapport with many of them. Beneath the jeans and long hair, those young men were sick of materialism, they craved for something deeper. Although they weren’t aware that they had neshamas and had no idea what a soul is all about, they were driven to get in touch with that eternal spark within themselves. And Rabbi Lipskier knew it. Young Avrohom Lipskier offered them “soul food” — Torah, in particular Chabad Chassidus, as expressed in the classic Chassidus text, the Tanya. One-on-one learning lead to small study groups. After a while, Rabbi Lipskier had a class in 770 for these young outsiders. They came and went, but none were unaffected by Rabbi Lipskier’s love and concern for both their physical and spiritual welfare. Making a class with young men so remote from Yiddishkeit was unheard of; it was so new that people did not know who was more outlandish — Rabbi Lipskier or the hippies. However, Rabbi Yisroel Jacobson a”h—the mashpia to the rabbinical students in 770— encouraged Rabbi Lipskier to continue learning with them. The
following year, with a blessing from the Rebbe, Rabbi Jacobson opened Hadar HaTorah and hired Rabbi Lipskier as the main teacher. Towards the end of the spring semester, Rabbi Lipskier advertised a summer learning program in Morristown for college students, called “Live and Learn.” A short while later, Rabbi Gurary, director of Chabad campus activities in Buffalo, contacted Rabbi Lipskier. He said he was bringing five students from the University of Buffalo to spend Shavuos in Crown Heights. “If they don’t go straight from Crown Heights to learn in Morristown, they’ll go in all different directions and we’ll lose them.” It was arranged for the students to come ten days early, and with those five students, Rabbi Lipskier started the summer program. As it turned out, about two dozen other students attended the program that summer, some for a few days or a week, others for longer. One of them, Avrohom Schwarzberg, wanted to continue learning. Rabbi Lipskier advised him to write to the Rebbe. The Rebbe replied, “Since you were successful where you were until
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now, you should stay.” Yeshiva Tiferes Bachurim had begun! Unlike most yeshivas and rabbinical colleges that cater to those aspiring to rabbinical ordination, Rabbi Lipskier attracted and continues to attract many who have little or no interest in becoming rabbis. In fact, many students arrive without even knowing how to read Hebrew. They range in age from just having graduated high school to seasoned military retirees. College kids, Russian immigrants, professionals, university professors, researchers—they always find the door to Rabbi Lipskier’s office open. Some graduate in a few years, others visit for a week, some return to college after a summer or winter break, others go on to become rabbis, but no one leaves empty-handed, or empty-hearted. Rabbi Lipskier takes a personal interest in each individual and helps kindle the spark of Judaism that lies at the heart of every Jew. Every person who has studied with Rabbi Lipskier has emerged to live with more enthusiasm for Judaism. Having spent nearly 50 years as a Rosh Yeshiva for baalei teshuva, Rabbi Lipskier has a unique method of study which begins with giving the students direct access to the original Torah texts. They acquire the tools of language and logic, delve into Talmud and Halacha, and above all, grow in the practice of Judaism. He believes that sincere Torah study must provide motivation to perform mitzvos and help others. What is Rabbi Lipskier’s secret? What is the most important thing he tries to impress upon his students? Rabbi Lipskier says that his primary message is the importance of
the study and implementation of Chassidus, and in particular, a deep and profound attachment to the Rebbe. This approach, he says, is responsible for his success in stirring Jewish hearts and building, not followers, but Jewish leaders. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Rabbi Lipskier’s remarkable service as an emissary of the Rebbe in the fields of chinuch and hafotzoh. Hundreds of stories abound of Rabbi Lipskier’s direct impact on Yiddishe Neshamas, year after year. Rabbi Lipskier has earned not just the respect, but the love, admiration, and gratitude of untold thousands around the globe. They came in with long hair and many questions, and they left with long beards and many answers. Today, Rabbi Lipskier’s former students, many of whom started out as nonpracticing Jews, have seen their Jewish identity and life blossom. Many of his former students work as career professionals in diverse secular fields, many more have gone on to serve in leadership positions of Jewish communities the world over as teachers, yeshiva principals, Chabad shulchim and rabbonim. Others have remained connected as lay leaders in their communities or simply gone on to continuing a life in that position of ultimate responsibility and inestimable value as fathers of their own Jewish families. Rabbi Lipskier’s students believe that his success is based on his vast knowledge, his empathetic heart, extreme devotion to his students, and his humble and unswerving connection to the Rebbe. He seems to “get” anyone and everyone who walks in the door and know just what they need to
hear. Rabbi Lipskier continues to be accessible as a mentor to his talmidim the world over. However, he does not see them as his students, but rather as colleagues and leaders with a mission: to strengthen Jewish life everywhere, filling the physical world with goodness and holiness, making it a place where the Divine presence can ultimately dwell.
Rabbi Avrohom Lipskier is currently the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Tiferes Menachem in the picturesque community of Seagate, Brooklyn—now in its 13 year. The yeshiva and former talmidim will be conducting several new initiatives to mark this occasion, as well as to celebrate Rabbi Lipskier’s (sh’yichyeh) 50 years of ongoing work as an educator and mentor. To contact Rabbi Lipskier or the Yeshiva, please visit: www. Tiferes.org.
Issue 848 • �
We DON’T NeeD
It is the height of foolishness to take America’s views on how to deal with a threat to our very existence into account.
By Sholom Ber Crombie Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
veryone’s been talking about Iran in recent years. While it would seem that the Iranian threat only came into being during the current term of Binyamin Netanyahu, quite the opposite is true. The Israeli government has been involved with this issue since the days when Ariel Sharon was prime minister. Sharon’s vice premier, Mr. Shimon Peres, said at the time that “if the Iranians want to destroy Israel – Iran too can be destroyed”. Sharon also spoke about the Iranian threat before the United Nations. However, nothing has been done – not during that term or in those that followed. If Netanyahu succeeded in doing anything, he put the issue of Iran’s atomic program on the front page – even in the global press. A campaign is now underway on this critical matter as part of the race between the two leading candidates for the Presidency of the United States. The question is: Where have the leaders of the government of Israel been all this time? Why have they made no effort to prevent the construction of Iran’s nuclear reactor, waiting instead until the last minute when it’s
already quite clear that a full-scale war between the Islamic Republic and the Jewish state is on the horizon? What difference is there between the Iranian issue, which continues each day to be a top story in the international media, and the stories surrounding the destruction of the reactor in Iraq thirty years ago and the more recent destruction of the reactor in Syria? Iraq and Syria also thought about destroying Eretz Yisroel r”l, although not with the same maniacal declarations as the president of Iran. Nevertheless, we’re talking about two countries that are no friends of the Jewish People, and events passed there in relative quiet. It would seem that instead of trying to prevent progress on the reactor, Israeli politicians have been spending most of their time turning it into a campaign issue. Peres, Sharon, Olmert, and even Netanyahu benefited from the Iranian story, using it as an excuse for conducting media interviews. It was something too good to pass up... • In recent years, we have heard numerous declarations in Eretz
Yisroel on the Iranian issue, but no action whatsoever has been taken. Instead of preparing our fighter jets and declaring that a proud and fearless people are in charge of the Holy Land, we constantly hear our leaders pleading with Uncle Sam to save us from those who rise up and seek our total destruction. Where’s the Jewish pride in the Israeli leaders who hang onto the Holocaust as justification for our presence in Eretz HaKodesh? They educated an entire generation that the greatest mitzvah is enlisting in the Israel Defense Forces and holding a rifle, so we should cease to be “downcast Jews” going like lambs to the slaughter. Zionism has deceptively used the Holocaust as the only legitimate reason for the Jewish settlement of Eretz Yisroel. They instilled within the proud Israeli the belief that we now have our own army, our own tanks, and our own jets, and if someone rises up who wants to annihilate us, we will stand proudly and defend ourselves. And what happens when we’re actually supposed to stand
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up and fight for our principles? Israel’s proud leaders turn to the Americans and beg them to rescue us. We’ve been down this road before. During the forties, as the Holocaust took its frightful toll, Jews made a similar appeal to America in search of salvation. But the great liberator of the continent of Europe waited until it was too late before it chose to get involved. Thus, if nothing has changed since then, why the need for an independent Jewish state? Israeli policymakers act as if we’re a subsidiary of the United States. They relate to our existence in Eretz Yisroel as all due to the kindness of the Gentile nations, who consented to let us establish a modern state and live here. Anyone who thinks that the Jewish People returned to their homeland because of a decision ratified by the United Nations General Assembly would not dare to take any action without the sanction of the international community. It’s as if they are the ones who permit us to live here and only they can authorize any military action taken in our own defense.
There is nothing more ridiculous than what’s going on today. A country declares its intention to destroy another country, but the country under threat takes no action because it hasn’t received permission from a third country...
the terrorist threat, despite the American opposition and the loss of huge sums of financial aid from the United States. He eventually wiped out the Tamil Tiger separatists, and the lost U.S. funds are being earned back today by a flourishing tourism industry, redeveloped after the tourists returned to spend their vacations on the enchanted tropic island with a renewed feeling of security. Here’s a country where its elected leader decided that he preferred his citizens’ safety to an embrace from the Americans. He didn’t give much weight to Washington’s assertions, because it was quite clear to him that they simply didn’t understand a thing about waging war against provincial terrorists. As a result, it was impossible to take their arguments seriously. Instead of
Issue 848 • �
There is nothing more incredibly absurd than what’s going on today. A country declares its intention to destroy another country, but the country under threat takes no action because it hasn’t received permission from a third country... With all due respect to the security guarantees of the United States and the tremendous financial support it provides to the Jewish state, there’s no logical reason to take America’s views seriously on the internal debate within Eretz Yisroel over how to deal with a threat to our very existence. • A few years ago, the nation of Sri Lanka conducted a war on terror, when its elected president announced to his people that he would deal harshly with
showing weakness, he firmly explained to them that with all due respect to their opinion on this issue, he preferred the opinion of his army chief of staff in matters of regional war tactics. This general supported widescale military operations against the terrorist centers, which eventually led to a complete rout of the enemy. • Regarding Eretz Yisroel, the situation is even more absurd because there are prominent voices within the American community who openly support wiping out the Iranian menace. All that is required is to set out on a military operation and to do what must be done to put this threat behind us. The Rebbe often explained that by its very nature, America is a nation of kindness. It represents the principle of honesty and fair play, and as a result, it wants to conduct itself accordingly. However, the Rebbe continued, the Americans also need to hear direct and candid talk. The Rebbe said on more than one occasion that from a tactical standpoint, it’s inadvisable to show weakness when you’re dealing with the Americans, because America is a country that has greater appreciation for those who stand up for their principles. All of the Rebbe’s arguments are now also being echoed by some very astute diplomatic advisors. Today, everyone understands that it is in the best interests of the United States that Eretz Yisroel remain strong. After the Arab spring and the collapse of regimes throughout the Middle East, America sees Eretz Yisroel as its only solid ally in the region. America has a vested interest in the elimination of the Iranian threat at the earliest possible opportunity. However, America can’t deal with Israeli weakness. When the prime minister turns to Washington and asks the Americans to do the job for us, he becomes a source of embarrassment. Why should America get involved? Why should it dirty its hands when it sees that even the Israelis dare not take any action against Iran? It would be appropriate for Mr. Netanyahu to take a lesson from history. Prime Minister Menachem Begin knew all too well that not everyone agreed with him on the military option against the Iraqi reactor. The opposition leader – today’s state president – Mr. Peres, tried everything he could to prevent the attack. Today, anyone who considers those who opposed the reactor bombing realizes how ridiculous they seem in the eyes of historians. • Lubavitcher Chassidim must now come out with a campaign that Eretz Yisroel is unquestionably the safest place in the world, regardless of whether or not we attack Iran. We have a clear message from the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, the nasi and the prophet of the generation, and we must convey that message to everyone until they properly understand it. All the present hysteria would be totally unnecessary if it would be clear to our leaders that we’re talking about a land given to us by Divine promise from the Almghty G-d, and we don’t need permission to live there. When it becomes clear why we came here, it will become equally clear in whose merit we remain here and defend ourselves. This is the time to bring the message to the citizens of Eretz Yisroel that this land was given to the eternal people as an eternal gift, and we came here in the merit of a promise from G-d. Therefore, we are indeed in the most secure place in the world.
30 � • 13 Elul 5772
5772 Boruch Hashem, Elul 5770
jhanv lkn r"unst e"f ,uthab ,j,
P.O.B. 288 Brooklyn, New York 11225
URG REQ ENT UES T! HUNDREDS OF FAMILIES ANXIOUSLY LOOKING FORWARD FOR YOUR GENEROUS ASSISTANCE!
To every member of the Lubavitcher community:
During this month of preparation for Rosh Hashonoh, the ”head” of the New Year, we fondly recall our Rebbe’s words that this is an especially auspicious time for strengthening our deep bond of Hiskashrus with the ”Rosh Bnei Yisroel,” the ”head” of the Jewish people and leader of the generation. Our Rebbeim explain that an important way to strengthen Hiskashrus is by participating in an organization is Kupas Rabbeinu, which seeks to continue many of the Rebbe’s activities and concerns without change from the way he would conduct them himself.
the Rebbe’s activities and concerns, consequently, by supporting an organization that brings together a number of these activities, the Hiskashrus is greater and stronger. Such
Every year at this time, the Rebbe would call upon us to contribute generously to help needy families with their extra expenses for the coming month’s many Yomim Tovim. This also coincides with the special emphasis during this month of giving extra Tzedokah, (indicated in the Hebrew letters of the word ”Elul,” as explained in many Sichos etc.), as a vital way of preparing ourselves for the new year and arousing Divine mercy upon us. See sicho in the Hebrew text of this letter. We therefore appeal to every individual man and woman to contribute generously to Kupas Rabbeinu, enabling us to fulfill the Rebbe’s desire to help all those who anxiously await our help. The greater your contribution, the more we can accomplish. Please do not forsake them! Your generous contribution to Kupas Rabbeinu will be the appropriate vessel for receiving the abundant blessings of the Rebbe, who is its Nasi, that you may be blessed with a Ksiva Vachasima Tova for a good and sweet year, materially and spiritually. May it help to bring the full revelation of Moshiach - our Rebbe - immediately now! Wishing you a Ksiva Vachasima Tova for a good and sweet year,
In the name of Vaad Kupas Rabbeinu Rabbi Sholom Mendel Simpson Rabbi Yehuda Leib Groner
P.S. Of course, you may send to Kupas Rabbeinu all contributions that you would send to the Rebbe; all will be devoted to the activities to which the Rebbe would devote them. You may also send Maimad, Keren-Hashono (this coming year 5771 – 385 days), Vov Tishrei, Yud Gimmel 5773 - 353 Tishrei Magbis etc. to Kupas Rabbeinu. P.S. Please send all correspondence only to the following address. KUPAS RABBEINU / P.O.B. 288 / BROOKLYN, NEW YORK 11225 Eretz Yisroel address: KEREN KUPAS ADMU"R / P.O.B. 1247 / KIRYAT MALACHI / ISRAEL
Issue 848 • �
IN YeSHIVOS TOMCHeI T’MIMIM
the wanderings of r’ Yehoshua shneur Zalman from rostov to Poltava to Charkov.
Prepared for publication by Avrohom Rainitz
THE TRIP TO ROSTOV
In those days, the winds of communism raged, wreaking havoc and spiritual destruction. Many Jewish youth were swept up in the storm. The few who managed to withstand the powerful currents of heresy were the students of Tomchei T’mimim. The pure Chassidishe chinuch, saturated with faith in G-d, prepared them to fight communism with mesirus nefesh. The reputation of Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim reached R’ Menachem Mendel Serebryanski, R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman’s father. A bachur from the yeshiva in Rostov traveled through Brahin and told about the yeshiva where time had stopped, the progressive atmosphere of “progress” did not penetrate the walls of the beis midrash, and the talmidim conducted themselves as G-d fearing individuals. R’ Menachem Mendel was eager to register his son in the central yeshiva in Rostov, the capitol of Lubavitch at the time. Before sending his son to distant parts, he went to consult with his friend and relative, R’ Boruch Mordechai Perlov (grandson of the Tzemach Tzedek and author of Mishmeres Shalom). At first he said no, apparently
because he wanted R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman to continue learning with his young son. However, after a while he realized that it was in R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman’s best interests to go and learn in Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim. He gave the young man a letter of recommendation for the Rebbe Rayatz as well as a sum of money for a pidyon nefesh. R’ Menachem Mendel’s financial state in those days was so poor that he did not even have the money for the trip to Rostov. He had to sell the few silver items in his possession, and with the money that he got in exchange, he bought tickets for himself and his son to Rostov. This was in the early years of the Rebbe Rayatz’s nesius. Upon their arrival, they had yechidus. The Rebbe welcomed them graciously and after the yechidus he instructed the hanhala to accept R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman into the yeshiva.
ACCLIMATING TO YESHIVA LIFE
R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman, who had never learned in a formal yeshiva, found it hard at first to get used to the yeshiva schedule. In his town of Brahin,
he was known as a bachur with a particularly active nature. So for example, during the transition between the government of the czar and the takeover by the communists, when bands of murderers traveled through the towns and sowed fear among the Jewish communities, R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman was one of the leaders of the defense force. Now he found it difficult when he was expected to sit most of the day and learn. Within a short time, he became acquainted with the special character of the talmidim of the yeshiva, and learned to recognize the p’nimius that burned with a fire of love and fear of Hashem. Chassidus, which he learned for the first time in an organized way, had its effect on him and began changing his middos. He became friendly with the best of the T’mimim at that time. He learned Nigleh with R’ Zalman Kurenitz and he learned Chassidus with R’ Nachum Goldschmid. As he learned, he discovered the tremendous wisdom and rare cleverness of his friends and his admiration for them grew from day to day. R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman, who in the not-too-distant past had been a child of a well-to-do
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family, still had some items of clothing from those better days and he came to yeshiva with a fine fur coat. Within a short time, he noticed a bachur who suffered greatly from the cold and fell ill. He did not think twice but gave the bachur his coat. After a few more incidents in which he helped needy bachurim, he became known as “Zalman der gutter.” In accordance with the yeshiva’s schedule, his day began with two hours of Chassidus as a preparation for davening. After the davening they learned Nigleh for eight hours, and then another two hours of Chassidus. During the Chassidus s’darim they mainly learned the maamarim of the Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe Rayatz. However, the packed day did not suffice for him. Once he had gotten a taste of the sweetness of Chassidus, he wanted to learn more and more. When the day of learning was over, he remained for another two hours in which he studied the Chassidic teachings of the Rebbeim.
Before hakafos, a time considered especially auspicious, R’ Chatshe took the two bachurim for yechidus and pleaded on their behalf. The Rebbe’s response was: They must serve G-d rather than serve in the army.
These actions of the Rebbe became known to the GPU and they waited for him at his house in Rostov in order to arrest him. He found out about this as he was on his way home from Moscow, and he turned back around and settled in a village near Moscow for several weeks. The GPU was determined to arrest him and when Pesach approached and the Rebbe decided to return home, the GPU came to arrest him. It was only after much political maneuvering that they came to an agreement with the GPU. If the Rebbe would leave Rostov, they would leave him alone. A few weeks after Pesach, the Rebbe Rayatz left Rostov and moved to Leningrad. The yeshiva was closed.
THE WANDERING YESHIVA
The yeshiva in Rostov lasted for nearly a year. At the end of the winter of 5681, the Yevsektzia began persecuting the Chabad Chassidim in Rostov. They held a public trial that led to the closing of the yeshiva. The talmidim had to move and they traveled to Tomchei T’mimim in Poltava. They did not last long there either. Within two years, the yeshiva in Poltava was closed and due to the sensitive situation, it was decided to split the yeshiva into two outposts, one in Nevel and one in Charkov. In Tishrei 5684/1923, the Rebbe Rayatz decided to bring the yeshiva back to Rostov so that
it would once again be close by and under his direct supervision. The talmidim were close to the Rebbe and could attend his farbrengens, have yechidus, and receive instructions in avodas Hashem. They were able to see the Rebbe often. During this period, R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman became a big maskil in Chassidus while cleaving to the Rebbe heart and soul. During the winter of 5684, the Rebbe urged Anash to be moser nefesh in support of Judaism. At the 19 Kislev farbrengen that took place in Rostov, the Rebbe made a covenant with some Chassidim who committed to taking care of Jewish matters in their city. A short time later, on a visit to Moscow, the Rebbe made the famous covenant with nine T’mimim (with the Rebbe as the tenth) who swore to go in the path of the Rebbe and be moser nefesh for the dissemination of Torah till their last drop of blood.
SECRET LETTER FROM THE REBBE RAYATZ
In the meantime, the yeshiva in Charkov, which had begun with a small group of talmidim from Rostov, flourished. Within a
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year, the yeshiva grew even more when a group of bachurim came from Kremenchug. Among the bachurim who were sent to Charkov was R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman. He was one of the older bachurim and he soon became an active part of the administration of the yeshiva. Chassidim who learned in Charkov in those days remember him as a “good mother of the bachurim.” He was unusually goodhearted and took care of all the bachurim’s needs. When a bachur fell sick, he would visit him and take care of him. In this role, he was in touch with R’ Yechezkel (Chatshe) Feigin, who was the general menahel of all branches of Tomchei T’mimim. He came occasionally to Charkov in order to personally oversee the development of the yeshiva and assess its needs. R’ Feigin would occasionally deliver instructions and missions to R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman from the Rebbe Rayatz in connection with the running of the yeshiva in Charkov. For the most part, these were the most secret of matters, and years later, R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman said that he often received instructions in writing from the Rebbe and on the letter it said “top secret, to be burned after reading.” Until the end of his life, he was pained about having to burn the Rebbe’s writing, but there was no alternative in those terrible days. R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman would go to Leningrad, where the Rebbe was, for Tishrei. Aside from the z’chus of being in the Rebbe’s presence, he was a partner in the Rebbe’s holy work when R’ Chatshe Feigin asked for his help in the many administrative and secretarial duties the Rebbe had given him. it was hard to live a religiously observant life as a civilian, in the army it was nearly impossible. Not surprisingly, the bachurim did all they could to gain an exemption. At the end of 5685, R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman and his friend R’ Aharon Yosef Blinitzky had to present themselves to the enlistment office. For Tishrei 5686, the mashgiach R’ Chatshe went with the two of them to the Rebbe in Leningrad to obtain his bracha that they succeed in avoiding the draft. Before hakafos, a time considered especially auspicious, R’ Chatshe took the two bachurim for yechidus and pleaded on their behalf. The Rebbe’s response was: They must serve G-d rather than serve in the army. With that answer, they were confident that they would be exempt and indeed, when it was their turn, they miraculously received the “white card,” which meant they were exempt from military service.
THEY MUST BE SERVANTS OF HASHEM!
One of the obstacles that stood in the way of the T’mimim who wanted to learn was being drafted into the Red Army. If
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CARRYING OuT THe ReBBe’S SHlICHuS WITH MIVTZA T’fIllIN
Stories about Mivtza T’fillin
By Rabbi Yaakov Shmuelevitz Shliach, Beit Shaan
THE MIVTZA T’FILLIN OF A 13-YEAR-OLD
I heard a moving story that happened with the boys of the Chabad elementary school in Migdal HaEmek. It was related by the menahel, R’ Moshe Eisenberg, at the celebration and awards ceremony of a learning contest in his school. One of the talmidim lives far from the school, all the way south in Eilat. He is the son of the rav and shliach of Eilat, R’ Yosef Hecht. The boy lives with his married brother and learns in Migdal HaEmek. Transportation to Eilat was arranged for the boys in his class to celebrate his bar mitzva. During the free time between their arrival in the city and the bar mitzva, the young boys put t’fillin on passersby. A few days later, R’ Eisenberg got a phone call from a talmid in the Chabad yeshiva in Ohr Yehuda, a graduate of his elementary school. He told R’ Eisenberg that every Friday some boys from the yeshiva go on Mivtza T’fillin to Givatayim where there is one store owner who always refused to put on t’fillin. “The previous Friday, this man saw us and called out that he wanted to put on t’fillin. Furthermore, he asked how much
a pair of t’fillin costs because he wanted to buy one and put it on every day. “When we asked him about his change of heart, he said emotionally, ‘Last week, I went on vacation to Eilat. I noticed a group of 12-13 year old boys offering t’fillin to passersby. They came over to me too, but of course I refused (you know me). However, the boys would not give up. I finally told them that if they would convince me of the importance of putting on t’fillin I would put them on.’ “‘There was one boy with a hat and jacket who began explaining and convincing me until I gave in and put on t’fillin. The boy had a sparkle in his eyes and spoke with such passion and conviction that I decided to put them on every day.’” R’ Eisenberg made inquiries to find out who the boy was (for he tried to keep it to himself) and he discovered that it was the son of the shliach, R’ Boruch Lipkin, of Merchavia. Apparently, this is something that is passed on by shluchim to the next generation.
to putting on t’fillin, he also commits to putting t’fillin on with his neighbors, colleagues at work, customers, and with whomever he can. Occasionally, they call him and report, “Today I put t’fillin on with five people,” “I had a good day today and put t’fillin on with ten people,” and so on. Sometimes, after relaying the news, he gets a text message which says, “And another one.” R’ Karniel added, that since this Mivtza T’fillin has gained momentum among the members of his community, Hashem helps and he gets pairs of t’fillin donated from all kinds of sources. This enables the dozens of mekuravim to put t’fillin on in dozens of places with dozens, even hundreds of Jews.
FROM THE CHEVRA KADISHA TO THE CHABAD HOUSE
The director of the chevra kadisha in Gedera asked R’ Karniel to come and check a pair of t’fillin that was left in an inheritance of one of the deceased. The director showed him another pair of t’fillin that he had, also from an inheritance. R’ Karniel noticed that these t’fillin were in the style of Chabad. Another look told him that the t’fillin were particularly nice ones, in the Alter Rebbe’s script, and the letters looked freshly written. The director did not know to whom they had belonged but after R’ Karniel explained that they had to belong to someone
AN ENTIRE COMMUNITY IS ACTIVE IN MIVTZA T’FILLIN
The shliach in Gadera, R’ Benny Karniel, says that in his city, when someone commits
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The fellow roared, “Me?! I should put on t’fillin?” As he said this, he went over to the basket on the side of his motorcycle and took out … a pair of t’fillin! “I put them on every day! The first thing I do every morning is put on t’fillin, and only then do I go about my business.”
TWO MONTHS BefORe THe BAR MITZVA
In Migdal Oz, which contains stories from R’ Ezriel Zelig Slonim a”h, he tells a story about when the Mitteler Rebbe was a little boy and his father hired a private teacher for him. This teacher lived with them and taught him every day. Twice a year, before Pesach and Yom Kippur, the melamed went to the Alter Rebbe who paid him for the six months. He always reminded him to return and teach the child after Yom Tov. When it was Erev Yom Kippur and R’ Dovber was 13, the melamed went to the Rebbe once again. The Rebbe gave him his salary, but for some reason he did not remind him about coming back after the holidays. The melamed wondered about this and thought, “Perhaps it doesn’t mean anything, for I will return after Yom Tov regardless.” After Yom Tov, the melamed returned and sat down to learn with R’ Dovber, but he immediately felt that he had nothing to teach the boy. The child knew the material much better than he did. The melamed asked him about this and the child said: Last Tishrei, my father called me in and told me to start putting on t’fillin (his birthday was 9 Kislev and 9 Tishrei was two months earlier). My father told me: Put on the hand t’fillin and that will open your heart; put on the head t’fillin and that will open your mind. That is what my father told me and since then, everything is different. That is when the melamed understood that the Rebbe hadn’t forgotten or made a mistake. The melamed’s job was finished. connected to Chabad, and he would surely want his t’fillin to continue their shlichus in a Lubavitcher setting, the director agreed to give them to the Chabad House. They are now used at one of the t’fillin stands. Yardeni takes advantage of this opportunity to put t’fillin on with people. The mayor is the first one to put on t’fillin and the rest follow him. A group of bachurim from the yeshiva in Lud go to Azor every Friday and put t’fillin on with dozens of Jews. On those Fridays that the bachurim don’t come (like when they have an off-Shabbos or there is a holiday) the residents of Azor take up the slack. These are mekuravim of the Chabad House under the guidance of R’ Yardeni and they man all the posts. A hefty fellow showed up at one of the t’fillin stands. He had an enormous motorcycle. He took off his helmet and his black jacket and the tattoos all over his body were visible. The Chabadnik at the stand was afraid to address him, but he finally mustered the courage and asked, “Would you like to put on t’fillin?”
T’FILLIN ARE LIKE OXYGEN
At Pardes Chana too, Mivtza T’fillin led by the shliach R’ Yosef Kurant is a lively affair. R’ Kurant and the bachurim go from store to store and put t’fillin on storeowners and customers. R’ Kurant tells his mekuravim, “Just as I ask you not to leave the house before putting on t’fillin, I demand of myself that I not leave the house before taking along t’fillin so I can help anybody I meet.” R’ Kurant related: “One day, I went to a factory and asked the owner to put on t’fillin. He said, ‘First put t’fillin on with the young fellow who works for me, and then I’ll put them on.’ The young fellow was shy and preferred that the owner do it first. Each one waited for the other and neither was putting on the t’fillin. They were at an impasse. “R’ Yochanan Butman, shliach in Chadera, was there and he said, ‘I came back last week from the Rebbe and I still remember the instructions we were given on the plane about the oxygen masks in case of emergency. We were told that when traveling with a young child, the first thing the adult must do is put on his own mask and only then, to put one on the child. The t’fillin are like oxygen. The owner must put them on first and then he can take care of his young employee.’
YOU NEVER KNOW
R’ Shimon Yardeni, shliach in Azor, gets compliments about Mivtza T’fillin from the mayor. The mayor was asked to speak at the big dinner that the Chabad House held. He began as follows, “I don’t need to be told what a Chabad house is, and who R’ Shimon Yardeni is. My son did his bar mitzva preparations at the Chabad House. I myself see R’ Shimon coming every Friday to the Derby Bar and putting on t’fillin with all the visitors.” It seems that all the residents of Azor come on Friday to buy lotto tickets at the Derby cafe in the center of town, and R’
36 � • 13 Elul 5772
“Everyone smiled in relief and it was yet another successful Mivtza T’fillin.”
BECAUSE OF A BREAK IN THE BOX
R’ Gavriel Avichzer has been very active in outreach to Israelis in the United States. At one of the farbrengens, he told about how t’fillin saved someone from intermarriage. “There was an Israeli fellow who, unfortunately, had become friends with a non-Jewish woman and wanted to marry her. All explanations fell on deaf ears until I decided to give him a pair of t’fillin; perhaps they would get him back on track. “Not long afterward, the young man happily told me that the t’fillin had saved him from marrying her. He had taken the t’fillin and left them on the table. While he was out of the room, she checked out what those boxes with the black straps were and put them back. A few minutes later, he noticed that she had touched the t’fillin. He was taken aback and scolded her and examined them to see how his new t’fillin looked. “He slowly unwound the straps and noticed that the box in which the hand t’fillin is stored was a little broken in one corner (he did not know that the box is cut that way in order to allow room for the knot of the t’fillin) and that the words, ‘Who is like Your people Israel, one nation on earth’ had been cut. He was shaken up and he began yelling at her, ‘See! You touched the rabbi’s t’fillin and now they’re broken and they are hinting to me from heaven that the “one nation on earth” is broken.’ “After that, they decided to separate and the Jewish fellow
A soldier putting on t’fillin (photo by Meir Dahan)
found a Jewish woman to marry.”
WONDERS OF T’FILLIN IN BEIT SHAAN
R’ Shmuel Reinitz, shliach in Beit Shaan, does a lot of Mivtza T’fillin and he has some nice stories to tell. One day, he went into one of the factories he regularly visits, and there was a customer there, someone from one of the kibbutzim in the area. R’ Reinitz wanted the customer to put on t’fillin too, but the owner got annoyed and began yelling at him, “How dare you ask him that? He came in here on business and you make him crazy with t’fillin?” R’ Reinitz had to leave. The next day, R’ Reinitz met the owner and he apologized for what happened the day before. R’ Reinitz barely finished his sentence, when the owner said: “I am the one who ought to apologize. I couldn’t sleep all night because I yelled at you. I was in a bad mood that day and I didn’t pay attention to how I was talking to you. Please forgive me and continue coming to the factory. I’ll never yell at you again.” Someone else that R’ Reinitz knows, sat with him to write a
letter to the Rebbe. R’ Reinitz suggested that he make a good hachlata, and he decided he would go to R’ Reinitz’s house once a week to put on t’fillin. That is what he did. Once a week he called the rabbi who came outside and he put t’fillin on with him. The man’s son found out about this and he wondered why his father had to go to the rabbi’s house in order to put on t’fillin. The son, who is well-todo, offered to buy his father a pair of t’fillin which he could don himself. The man asked the rabbi for his approval and R’ Reinitz gave him instructions. Since then, the man puts on t’fillin every day, on his own. In another incident, R’ Reinitz went to a big restaurant not on his usual day. To his surprise, the owner was ecstatic to see him. “It’s wonderful that you came today. I prayed to G-d that you would come.” R’ Reinitz subsequently found out that the man had been invited to be the sandak at a bris and he had a feeling that it would be important for him to put on t’fillin that day. His prayer was answered. Sometimes a change in schedule is a good thing.
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“I” fOR AN “I”
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
ELUL AND MITZVOS
There is a well-known teaching of the Sh’lah (16th century Halachic authority and Kabbalist) that the themes of the weekly Torah portion are connected to the Holidays and other seasonal events which occur in that particular week. We are now situated in the month of Elul, the month that is dedicated to stock-taking for all of our actions of the past year. It is no coincidence, then, that this week’s parsha contains the largest number of commandments in the Torah, highlighting the emphasis on Mitzvah conscientiousness during this auspicious month. More specifically, one of the commandments in this week’s parsha involves a person who chances upon a nest with the mother bird crouching on her chicks or eggs. The Torah tells us what one should do if he decides to take the birds: “If you encounter a bird’s nest on the way—on any tree, or on the ground—containing chicks or eggs, and the mother is sitting upon the chicks or upon the eggs: You should not take the mother from upon the young. You should always send away the mother, and then you may take the young for yourself. This will be for your own benefit and you will live a long time.”
The Midrash introduces its comments on this verse with an enigmatic discussion concerning the laws of circumcision. It poses the rhetorical question: “If a child is born circumcised do we still have to circumcise the child?” The Midrash furnishes the answer: “Our Sages taught: One who was born circumcised must undergo a letting of a drop of blood.” What connection is there between these two seemingly unrelated commandments—of sending away the mother bird and re-circumcision? And how does this Mitzvah relate to the month of Elul?
SEND AWAY THE MORNING LIGHT!
To answer these two questions we must preface the novel, allegorical interpretation of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev of this verse. The word tzippor-bird can also be translated as the morning light, as in the Aramaic word tzafra. Morning light is a metaphor for the spiritual inspiration that comes from above. Thus the Torah commands us: If we would experience a spontaneous inspiration—the mother birdtzippor—we should send it away; we cannot and should not rely on the inspiration from above. It
is imperative that we do things with our own initiative. When we rely on the inspiration from above, it will only last as long as we feel that inspiration. It can easily dissipate. If one wants his or her inspiration to last, it must be internalized and reciprocated. This reciprocated inspiration can be attributed to the person and not solely to the “mother-bird” inspiration. Once the person “owns” the inspiration, it has lasting power. We can now understand the connection between the Mitzvah of sending away the mother bird and the child that was born circumcised. Of all actions that represent our efforts at selfimprovement and spiritual growth, circumcision stands out as the most dramatic. It literally and figuratively enables us to remove the obstacles that stand in the way of our connecting to G-d. However, when a child is born circumcised, it suggests the person’s reliance on a process that comes from above, analogous to the “mother bird” phenomenon. To ensure that the person does not rely on the shortlived inspiration from Above, the Midrash cites the law that the child must undergo the ritual of letting some blood. There must be some act on our part to ascribe the natural circumcision
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and its effects to our own efforts.
THE KING IS IN THE FIELD, BUT THE BALL IS IN OUR COURT
We can now also understand the connection to the month of Elul. Elul, our Sages tell us, is an acronym for the four words in the Song of Songs: “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li--I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.” Unlike the Passover season which marked the liberation of the Jewish people that came solely as a Divine effort, the month of Elul is predicated on personal initiative. Elul is a paradoxical month. On the one hand, it is a month that demands us to generate our own spiritual movement towards “our Beloved.” On the other hand, it is the month in which, as the Alter Rebbe coined the expression, “The King is in the field.” He explains that the king on the way to his palace goes through the countryside and allows anyone to approach him with requests and “greets them with a cheerful countenance and a smiling face.” Each and every person has the opportunity and right to approach the king. How do we reconcile the two apparently disparate descriptions of Elul? On the one hand, we are expected to invest our own effort in drawing close to G-d without the support of the Divine inspiration that characterizes the Holiday of Passover. And, on the other hand, we are told that Elul is unique and that G-d is more accessible this month than any other. In one of his published talks, the Rebbe elaborates on this parable, focusing on why, notwithstanding G-d’s accessibility to us in the month of Elul, there are no Holidays
(except for Shabbos) in the entire month. The Rebbe explains that while G-d is fully available to us in the month of Elul—as in no other time—He does not make overtures to us. He simply provides us with an unparalleled opportunity to get close to Him. G-d, however, wants to see us in the context of our most ordinary existence to see who we really are absent the trappings of holy days and experiences. G-d wants to see that even when there is no external impetus for us to approach Him—such as that which we experience on Holidays when G-d’s powerful energies dominate the atmosphere—we, nevertheless, take the initiative ourselves and approach the King. The word “Elul”, as stated, is alluded to in the words “I am to my beloved…” It suggests that in this month we identify the true “I.” In formal settings, such as the Holidays and other inspirational times and places, the true “I” may be concealed by the spiritual veneer supplied by the holy atmosphere. In Elul, we discover the true unadulterated, unadorned “I.”
MOSHIACH AND THE BIRD
The word tzippor-bird is also an allusion to Moshiach. Numerically, the word (when spelled without the vowel, Vav) adds up to the words “zeh Moshiach-this is Moshiach.” The simple connection between the bird and Moshiach is based on the Talmudic statement that dreaming of a bird is an omen that peace is to follow. (Again, numerically, the word tzippor—this time spelled with the vowel, Vav—adds up to the word Shalom-peace.) And Moshiach’s role is to bring peace to the world. However, in light of Rabbi
Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev’s exposition, a deeper connection between the sending away of the mother bird and Moshiach can be discovered. In some people’s minds, there is an erroneous view that Moshiach and the ensuing Redemption is entirely in G-d’s hands. Many people harbor the thought that the what, when, who, where and how of Moshiach is G-d’s province, determined solely by Him. Nothing can be further from the truth. Moshiach and the final Redemption— unlike the first liberation of the Jews from Egypt—is primarily a consequence of our efforts. The Mitzvos that we perform in exile and especially those that we perform in the most sterile, nonspiritual times of exile—akin to the ordinary days of Elul—will bring the Redemption. This is not to suggest that G-d and Moshiach have no role in all of the above. To be sure, the King is in the field. G-d—and His chosen human redeemer, Moshiach—is here and is waiting for us to seize the opportunity to do our part in making the Redemption a tangible reality. Moshiach is waiting for us to say, “We are ready for Moshiach!” And we express that readiness by accepting Moshiach as our leader, following his directives for an enhanced commitment to Torah and its commandments, permeated with a passionate desire to usher in the Era of Redemption. Sending away the mother bird in this context means that to bring Moshiach, who will usher in the age of true G-dly light, we should not rely on G-d’s initiative. Rather, it is our responsibility to do our part and justifiably demand that G-d crown our efforts with success.
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SALVATION FROM DEPRESSION
Seized by a feeling of tremendous panic, I started to scream. Then, with a mother’s instinct, I jumped under the wheels of the tractor...
By Nosson Avraham Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
rs. Ahuva Cohen is a longstanding resident of the Galilee settlement of Yavne’el, near the Holy City of Teveria. She’s been living on this yishuv for decades and has seen it in the best of times and the worst of times. There were leaner days when the local population consisted of only a few dozen families, while today the settlement has expanded exponentially and has grown far beyond anything ever imagined. In recent years, the Chabad shluchim, R’ Shimon Schneersohn, and his wife Nechama Dina, came to live in the new Smadar neighborhood located nearby, and they immediately established a special connection with Mrs. Cohen and her children. She has become a vigorous supporter of the shluchim and their activities on the yishuv and in the surrounding area – and with good cause. When we asked her to tell us about the great miracle that she experienced with the Rebbe’s bracha, she began to tremble as
she tried to find the right words. She admits that it’s not easy to remember those sad and difficult days. Yet, she tells this story at every opportunity, particularly to those Chabad chassidim with whom she meets and also to her friends and neighbors on the yishuv. • “The Rebbe saved me, and who knows where I would be without his bracha? This story took place more than thirty years ago. My husband and I were a happy and content young couple. We already had two sons, and we raised them as any other young couple would care for their first children – with a lot of love and patience. What more could we ask for? I would spend several hours each day with our children, taking full responsibility for their educational needs, while my husband went out to work. Each evening, we would go out together and play with them in the courtyard. “Around this time, we moved into a brand new home in
the settlement’s new Smadar neighborhood. The land still looked like a big construction site. The building and renovations continued to press forward, as tractors and other construction equipment rumbled by carrying stones and gravel. The roads were still unpaved as the neighborhood slowly came into being. “One evening, as we went out into the courtyard, the children began playing near a large tractor. I wasn’t overly concerned since the tractor was parked and its engine was not running. Thus, I felt that there was no reason to worry that something untoward would happen. “Suddenly, the tractor started to roll in the direction of the children. Everything happened in a matter of seconds, and it was clear to me that if I didn’t do something immediately, the children would be crushed. Seized by a feeling of tremendous panic, I started to scream. Then, with a mother’s instinct, I jumped under the wheels of the tractor and pulled the children out. They were no less startled than I was, and they began to cry uncontrollably. I soon understood that my quick action had saved the children’s lives. “Afterwards, I realized that G-d had made a great miracle for us. The gravel and large stones had stopped the tractor from rolling further down the hill. In the meantime, I had sustained some serious injuries all over my body. Boruch Hashem the children had been saved, but I was in deep pain. Neighbors and friends who arrived at the scene didn’t waste any time, and they quickly transported me to the hospital. “That night, the doctors wrapped me in bandages from
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the waist up. I lay in bed, incapable of moving a muscle. I needed the help of family members and nurses just to eat. It was only during the period of my hospitalization that I truly realized what a tremendous miracle I had experienced. During my first weeks of convalescence, I accepted the physical suffering with love as I was thankful that my children had been saved. I knew that I had done what I could to protect them. I tried my best to deal with the situation, passing the time by reading. Numerous people – friends, neighbors, and family members – regularly visited me so I wouldn’t feel alone. However, as time passed, I became more and more depressed. I was in the hospital for seven months, virtually immobilized. “What broke my heart more than anything else was that I desperately wanted to embrace and hold my children, but I was unable to do so. They often stood near me and cried bitterly. They wanted to get closer to me, but this was simply not possible because it might have aggravated my injuries. I became even more sad and downcast. Friends and family tried their best to cheer me up and get me to smile, but their efforts were not successful. Even when I wanted to laugh or be happy, I couldn’t seem to open my mouth. They eventually removed my casts, and my physical condition began to improve dramatically. However, my emotional state inexplicably worsened. I felt that I was getting further away from my children. I couldn’t love them the way I did in the past, and this deeply frustrated me. The great joy of life that I had prior to my injury had disappeared as if it had never been there. People hardly recognized me.
“Then one day, one of my friends in the neighborhood, Mrs. Sara Yuzan, heard about my situation and told me about her sisters who were married to Chabad Chassidim, one of whom lived in Kfar Chabad. She suggested that I let her write a letter to the Lubavitcher Rebbe on my behalf in request of a bracha. As I had heard much about the Rebbe’s greatness, I naturally agreed.
letter, everything started getting back to normal. “Soon my most fervent prayers began to come true. I wanted to have another child and breathe some new life into our family. Then, a short time afterwards, I became pregnant and gave birth to our third child, a beautiful baby boy. We named him Eliran – as an expression of thanks to the Creator for giving us reason to rejoice with the
As soon as the letter was sent, I started feeling better and my overall mood continued to improve. As the days passed, my long-lost joy for life slowly began to return. The symptoms of depression disappeared, as if someone had awakened me from a deep slumber.
“She put me in touch with her sister, to whom I told everything what had happened. She faxed a letter to the Rebbe detailing all that I had gone through and asking that the Rebbe give me a bracha. If I hadn’t experienced it for myself, I wouldn’t have believed it: The results were more powerful than anything I could have possibly imagined. As soon as the letter was sent, I started feeling better and my overall mood continued to improve. As the days passed, my long-lost joy for life slowly began to return. The symptoms of depression disappeared as if someone had awakened me from a deep slumber. “Naturally, a letter with the Rebbe’s bracha eventually arrived, but the fact is that I had begun to come back to my old self long before then. I get chills every time I remember the story. Incredible as it may sound, even before the Rebbe answered my
birth of this child and sending us His messenger, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, to perform these great miracles and wonders.” • As Mrs. Ahuva Cohen concluded her story, she talked about her son and the great privilege that had come her way. “I speak about Torah and mitzvos to everyone I meet, and they all say that there’s nothing in the world like Chabad. I take care of senior citizens living in Kfar Tavor, located not far from Yavne’el, and I see the activities there conducted with great devotion and self-sacrifice by the local shliach, Rabbi Sholom Ber Freiman. “Chabadnikim have a rare form of good heartedness. They are truly joyous people and they are for real. If only the Smadar neighborhood where I live would be filled with Chabad chassidim.”
Issue 848 • �
A fAIR HeARING
By M.E. Gordon
he younger children had finished their dinner, and Esty, the eldest of the Fried children was getting them ready for bed. Mrs. Fried appreciated her daughter’s help, and planned to sit down for a few quiet minutes before the boys would come home from Maariv with Mr. Fried, and demand their dinner. How different Yossi and Heshy were from their older sister. Esty was good-natured, responsible, and mature, while the two big boys were, well, difficult. Mrs. Fried’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a door slamming and two voices raised in argument. “You did!” “I did not!” “Oh yes you did!” Mrs. Fried frowned. The boys were home, and arguing as usual. She was sure that whatever it was that they were fighting about was unimportant. They were constantly trying to knock each other. Yossi came storming into the kitchen first. “Mommy, Heshy took my new pen and dropped it down the sewer!” Heshy was right behind him, waving his arms in anger. “That’s not true! I just wanted to look at it, and Yossi tried to grab it back, and I let go. If he wouldn’t have been so mean, it wouldn’t have fallen out of my hand.” “No, you purposely dropped it in the sewer! You were just jealous because you didn’t win one.” “Why should I care if you won a silly pen? And besides, it serves you right, because you got my homework full of jam when you made your lunch this morning.”
“Mommy, tell Heshy to pay for the pen!” “Mommy, tell Yossi to rewrite my homework!” Mrs. Fried had heard enough. “Stop it, NOW, both of you! I don’t want to hear another word. You are just fighting for the sake of fighting. Even if we bring in the beis din to resolve your complaints, it wouldn’t help. You don’t really want a verdict, you just want to fight!” Mr. Fried walked into the room just in time to hear his wife’s words. “Boys, I will discuss your complaints in a few minutes, and I’ll give you each a chance to speak, as long as you both calm down and talk nicely. First, however, I need to speak to Mommy privately. Are you able to wait a few minutes in peace?” The boys grudgingly agreed, and Mr. and Mrs. Fried went into the study. “You and I have always been careful not to contradict each other in front of the children,” began Mr. Fried. “I took you aside now to tell you that I learned something new today about dealing with this type of situation. I want to discuss it with you, so that we are both on the same page.” “Until now our policy has been not to get involved in the details of their fights. Do you want to try a different strategy?” Mrs. Fried looked confused. “According to a sicha that I learned today, there is a better approach. It says that when two people seem to be fighting for the sake of fighting, it may be true that each side is more interested in being proven right than in discerning the truth. Nevertheless, the court
should take their case seriously, look beyond the animosity and work out the true verdict. Maybe one of the sides really is right.” “So are you saying that we should listen carefully to each of our boys as they present their side of the story, and determine who is right?” asked Mrs. Fried. “Shouldn’t we just get them to stop fighting? Aren’t they just looking for excuses to be nasty to each other?” “Maybe, but what if it started with a valid complaint? Maybe one really has been wronged. Doesn’t he deserve a fair hearing? If we can get the two to come to an agreement, that is even better, but at least if we hear them out to get to the truth and try to be fair, they won’t think that we don’t care, or that the truth doesn’t matter!” Mr. and Mrs. Fried walked out of the room together, ready to try the new strategy. They convened a mini-court after dinner, giving each side a chance to present their case without speaking negatively. They considered each side and presented their decision which was both firm yet fair. The boys accepted the verdict and spent the rest of the evening playing a game together. Later, Mrs. Fried came to their bedroom to remind them that it was time to shut the light. “Goodnight, Yossi. Goodnight, Heshy.” “Goodnight, Mommy. You know Mommy, thank you for listening to us.” “Yeah, thank you Mommy. And you know what? Yossi and I decided to be friends........ at least until tomorrow morning....” The above story is fictional. The lesson is based on Likkutei Sichos vol. 24 pg. 152-156. The application of the sicha to chinuch is the writer’s own extrapolation.
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