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g-d holds our hands in the darkness of exile and redeems us
A Jews asks: How is it possible, amidst these difficult and challenging times of exile, to properly serve G-d and prepare to usher in the era of the true and complete redemption?! * Even though “darkness shall cover the earth,” that has no bearing on a Jew at all, knowing that G-d Alm-ghty is present with him in every circumstance.
Translated by Boruch Merkur
how can a jew remain unaffected by the darkness of exile?
Toras Emes, the Torah of Truth, tells a Jew that we are presently in the final days of exile and that we have to prepare for the true and complete redemption. Yet, one’s perception may well contradict this truth, leaving him perplexed. He sees the world steeped in darkness, as in the verse, “darkness shall cover the earth, etc.” (Yeshayahu 60:2), and that we are still far removed from experiencing the revelation of G-dly light, certainly not the sublime revelation of the future era of redemption, when “G-d shall be to you for an everlasting light” (ibid 60:19). If so, he reasons, how can one remain unaffected by the darkness of the world? How is it possible, amidst these difficult and challenging times of exile, to properly serve G-d and
prepare to usher in the era of the true and complete redemption?!
G-d returns with the exiles
In response to this, there is a lesson derived from the weekly Torah portion related to today’s daily study – the verse, “And G-d shall return (with) your captivity, etc.” (Nitzavim 30:3): A Jew must know that the Divine presence resides with the Jewish people even as they suffer in exile (and it remains with us until the final moment of exile). And when the Jewish people are redeemed, it shall be in a manner of “‘And G-d shall return (with) your captivity, etc.’ – it does not say, ‘He shall return your captivity,’ but, ‘He shall return with your captivity, etc.,’ inscribing redemption for Himself, for He shall return with them” (Rashi on the verse). Therefore, even though “darkness shall cover the earth,
etc.,” that has no bearing at all, for a Jew knows that G-d is present with him in every circumstance. Accordingly it is understood that when G-d Alm-ghty commands the Jewish people to prepare for the true and complete redemption, and to prepare the entire world for the revelation of G-dly light, by means of illuminating one’s home and environment with the light of Torah and Judaism, it is absolutely certain (without any doubt at all) that each and every Jew can succeed in His G-dly mission, for G-d is with him. Thus, he fulfills his service with joy and with a good spirit, as it is written, “serve G-d with joy.” In fact, his joy adds to the success of his service. In this manner, we will soon merit to go out of exile, as described in the commentary of Rashi (on the verse ibid 30:3), G-d “literally holds the hands of every single person, [taking him] out of his place, as it is said, ‘you shall be gathered one by one, O children of Israel’ (Yeshayahu 27:12).”
(From the address to the N’shei U’b’nos Chabad, 24 Elul 5741, bilti muga)
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Continued on page 13 all, they are very aware of the Bible and our being the Chosen People. Whenever they encounter us, they remind us that we are the Chosen People. Numerous distinguished and older people come to the Chabad house and want to help us. I had an entire staff of volunteers for Pesach. I mentioned the tourist season before. During the other seasons of the year there are torrential rains. Three years ago, right before Yom Kippur, there was a serious storm. At the end of the block, people were swimming. Two story houses were completely submerged, and it was nearly dry here. They all said that the reason our block remained dry is because there is a holy house here. Aside from that, we work very hard on the Seven Noachide Laws. We have a class once a week on the topic and people keep asking for more. There was a Filipino who was very serious about this. He has a command of Chassidic concepts that is better than a lot of people I know. One day, he happened to attend a lecture where they spoke against Chabad and Moshiach and he got up and announced that he had once kept Shabbos but then he understood this is not for him. His role, he announced to the surprised audience, is to help Chabad shluchim, because he knows that the Rebbe is the Messiah. When he finished what he had to say, he began singing Yechi. Does it make an impression on others that the Filipinos are ready to welcome Moshiach? Definitely. I see it all the time, on the non-Jews and on the tourists, who are open to hearing about it, and mainly
with the children. At the last day camp we ran, we spoke about Moshiach. We showed pictures of the Rebbe to the children and described what will happen, and the children accepted it. A few days later, on Rosh Chodesh Kislev, I gave birth and we invited the children to say Shma with the baby. The shliach, R’ Yehuda Friedman, came to us from New York for the bris. One of the girls came into the house, saw him, and began shouting, “Moshiach arrived!” She saw a white beard and Chassidic dress and was sure it was him. I consider the children as shluchim more than myself. What do you mean? Children have a special way of saying things. There’s no fooling around. They can go over to people and say or do things that we wouldn’t dare say or do. My children were born to shlichus and they love it. I try to give them a good time and not to talk all day about what’s hard, painful or upsetting and they accept it beautifully. When we looked for a new building, for example, they were more excited than we were. My oldest, who is three and a half, urged us to write to the Rebbe. Where do you see the Rebbe in your shlichus? What?! The Rebbe is everything! He is the only one who makes things happen here and we see this constantly. For example, there was a couple who came from Eretz Yisroel. He is a kibbutznik, a Kohen, 60-70 years old. She is a divorcee. They spent years together but when they came here, the Kohen latched on to Chassidus. He sat for hours with my husband, came to all the t’fillos, learned Chitas, and was enthusiastic about everything Jewish. She was very upset.
She had come here to tour, and instead of touring with her he was sitting in the synagogue from morning till night. This caused them to separate. It sounds simple, but it’s huge. They had lived together for years, in a relationship that is forbidden for him and her. There was no chance of their separating, and yet the Rebbe ensured that we wouldn’t even have to expend energy on explanations about the forbidden relationship between a Kohen and a divorcee. We consult with the Rebbe about everything. For example, before my first birth which was Purim time, I wanted to return to the US and be near my mother and have a midwife who experienced something like 12,000 births. But the Rebbe’s letter said that on Purim there would be many people at the Chabad house and from this I understood that I should stay here. With my second child the Rebbe also wrote to stay and not to worry. With this birth, I had the midwife I wanted. She was in India and was willing to “pass my way” on her way home. I gave birth on her last night here and it was a quick, good birth and Boruch Hashem worry-free, as the Rebbe had promised. We see the Rebbe’s guiding hand in the numbers of people which constantly change. Sometimes we have many people, several minyanim a day, and sometimes we have less. It’s nice to see how sometimes there is the power of the group, and other times, the one-onone relationship is effective. It’s amazing! Readers are invited to contribute towards the Chabad house of the Philippines at www. chabadph.mycharitybox.com
Issue 851 • �
EACH TISHREI WITH THE REBBE:
A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE
In a sicha of Motzaei the first days of Sukkos the Rebbe spoke about the need for simcha bursting bounds and how even the streets needed to become a “private domain.” Right after this sicha, we four Frenchies, led by R’ Zushe, went out and followed him down Kingston Avenue without knowing what would happen next. When we reached the corner of Montgomery, he found a large garbage can and dragged it into the middle of the street. We put him up there and began to dance around him as he urged us on with his waving hands. That was the beginning.
By Rabbi Yaakov Bitton, Shliach to Sarcelles, France Prepared for publication by Nosson Avrohom
the rebbe’s child
Every Chassid knows that each moment with the Rebbe throughout Tishrei is an elevated experience which provides ‘fuel’ for the Chassidishe chayus for the rest of the year. I personally had the privilege of being with the Rebbe for Tishrei many times, and I divide these visits into two – the Tishreis before I became a shliach and those afterward.
My first visit to the Rebbe took place on 20 Elul 5736/1976. Later, I would go every Tishrei as a shliach. I would go with groups of young people from my place of shlichus, Sarcelles, and be with them throughout their stay. Every year this was a special experience. Every moment is engraved deeply within me. I grew up in Morocco. Our family was very close with the shluchim there, R’ Shlomo
Matusof, R’ Leibel Raskin, and R’ Sholom Edelman. From the age of twelve I would learn Chitas with R’ Matusof’s children. I was actively involved in all their activities until I became a part of the family. My father was a big mekurav of the shluchim and under his influence I became close with the family of shluchim. That year, 5736, R’ Matusof married off one of his children and being only sixteen years old, I accepted the offer to join them on their trip to New York. This was before Tishrei and the plan was to stay with the Rebbe until after Simchas Torah. Until then, I had only heard great things about the Rebbe and I was happy for the opportunity to see him with my own eyes. Of my entire family, I had the biggest connection with the Rebbe and with Chassidus, perhaps because my birth was a miracle of the Rebbe. When my mother was pregnant with me, the doctors discovered that she had serious cardiac problems and they urged her to end the pregnancy. They warned her that the continuation of the pregnancy would put not only the fetus but her own life in danger. My father brokenheartedly spoke to R’ Matusof who of
6 � • Erev Sukkos 5773
course told him to write to the Rebbe. My father sent a letter and asked for a bracha. In the response he received, the Rebbe wrote: Check t’fillin and mezuzos, refua shleima. This answer gave my parents hope. They quickly sent the mezuzos to be checked. It turned out that in one of the mezuzos, the word for “your heart” was erased. Of course, they replaced the mezuza. Needless to say, I was born healthy. I heard this story from my parents many times as I grew up, which strengthened my feeling of hiskashrus to the Rebbe.
how did the rebbe react when someone reQuested chochma?
As someone who grew up in a house and environment of Sephardim, I found it hard to accept the parallel that Chassidim make between the Rebbe and Moshe Rabbeinu. A big tzaddik he certainly was, but not the Moshe Rabbeinu of the generation. I remember thinking about this throughout the flight to the Rebbe, in the company of the Matusof family who were suffused with hiskashrus. An inner voice wanted to diminish my excitement. This issue became irrelevant as soon as I saw the Rebbe for the first time in my life, at Maariv. As soon as the Rebbe walked in, he fixed his gaze upon me. Those moments turned me into a Chassid. Not just the type who says Chitas, but one who tries to do what he can to please the Rebbe. What strengthened my resolve was the electric atmosphere in 770 that Tishrei, pure simcha, nonstop dancing, mutual help and concern for others. The sight of R’ Zushe
Partisan standing there and waving his hand with circles of Chassidim moving around him, is one I will always remember. On Rosh HaShana, the davening with the Rebbe ended at about three, and we went to the dining room. We waited there a long time until the doors opened, but who paid attention to food that Tishrei? The sight of the Rebbe blowing t’kios was so powerful that we felt we were floating. Throughout the davening on Rosh HaShana, it was hard to hold the machzor and concentrate due to the crowding. However, the moment the t’kios began, there fell a deep silence and people stopped moving. Recalling the feeling I experienced then makes me “freeze” to this day. This elevated feeling stayed with me throughout the month, even when the seriousness of the beginning of the month turned into simcha as soon as Yom Kippur was over, continuing through Sukkos and Simchas Torah. *** In the 80’s, I brought a group of young people to the Rebbe and took them for lekach. One of them asked the Rebbe for some
chochma. I’ll never forget how the Rebbe smiled broadly and gave him two pieces of cake and blessed him with bina and daas as well. In 5751, I came with two donors, young fellows who donated a floor of a building for a daycare center that we planned on opening in memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. We had made a model of the building and we passed by the Rebbe for dollars in order to present it to him and receive his bracha. I went first and I gave the Rebbe the model, and then I introduced the donors. The Rebbe inclined his head towards me as someone who does not hear well and asked whether it would be a Beis Chabad. I said it would be a daycare center and that the Chabad house was located elsewhere. The Rebbe seemingly did not hear what I said, and he asked whether it would be a school. I said once again that the plan was only for a daycare center. The Rebbe gave his bracha and we left. I was utterly befuddled. Nothing like this had ever happened to me. It was only several years later that the Rebbe’s surprising questions were understood. In the building there are several floors and we had bought the middle floor for the daycare center. Five years later, the tenants who lived on the first floor had left and we decided to buy it and to move the Chabad house activities there from the crowded old location. Another few years went by and all the tenants who lived on higher floors left too. We bought those floors and transferred our school there. When the move, with 350 students, had been completed, I suddenly realized how farreaching the Rebbe’s vision was.
Issue 851 • �
Rebbe gave us special treatment. A few years earlier, in Tishrei 5737, I received Kos shel bracha and asked for a bottle of mashke for the U’faratzta work being done with the boys in Morocco. It was noisy and the singing was loud and the Rebbe asked, “Ah?” I repeated why I wanted a bottle. The Rebbe smiled broadly and said in French, “Great and outstanding success,” and he gave me a bottle. When I returned to Morocco, I felt energized. I went around to places where Jews congregated and put t’fillin on with them. I would not return home until I put t’fillin on with at least 100 people. I would also go into a certain gentile bar where I knew Jews went. Since I spoke fluent Arabic, the owner liked me, and he himself would announce that he was stopping all the gaming until all the Jews finished putting on t’fillin. Every year there were moving “Tishrei moments” with the Rebbe: sichos, Napoleon’s March, Simchas Torah, the t’kios, the dancing on Simchas Torah. I’ll never forget 5748 and how the Rebbe raised the Torah in the direction of the pyramids, and enormous joy erupted in 770, the likes of which was never experienced before. Speaking of simcha, I was one of the first to start dancing in the street at Simchas Beis HaShoeiva, together with R’ Zushe Partisan. In a sicha of Motzaei the first days of Sukkos the Rebbe spoke about the need for simcha bursting bounds and how even the streets needed to become a “private domain.” Right after this sicha, we four Frenchies, led by R’ Zushe, went out and followed him down Kingston Avenue without knowing what would happen
Rabbi Bitton and his son receiving Kos shel bracha
The first sicha that I heard from the Rebbe was a talk to the menahalim of mosdos. The Rebbe asked that at least 10% of their students be those who can’t pay tuition. I did not imagine that the sicha would later be relevant to me.
The first sicha that I heard from the Rebbe, when I came in 5736, was a talk to the menahalim of mosdos. The Rebbe asked that at least 10% of their students be those who don’t pay tuition. I did not imagine that the first sicha would later be relevant to me. I was a kid at the time. Today, as a menahel of a big school where there are students who don’t pay, I am always reminded of that sicha. I’ve been advised to close down some classes, but the Rebbe’s words remain with me and we always manage with the Rebbe’s kochos. friend from Morocco, Sholom Elharar. During the hakafos, we got a spot in the same pyramid, with him up above while I stood below. At some point, when his hold weakened, he fell and shattered his hand. He was taken out by a Hatzolah volunteer and was brought to the hospital. Every day, we went to visit him and to bring him kosher food. He spent two weeks in the hospital, and every evening, when we came back after visiting him, R’ Leibel Groner came over to us and asked how he was. He told us that he was asking on the Rebbe’s behalf and wanted to know every detail. That is what happened each day until he was released. We were a group of young people, mekuravim of Chabad in Morocco and we felt that the
sPecial day for bachurim from morocco
In Tishrei 5741/1980, I was in Crown Heights with a good
8 � • Erev Sukkos 5773
next. When we reached the corner of Montgomery, he found a big garbage can and dragged it into the middle of the street. We put him up there and began to dance around him as he urged us on with his waving hands. That was the beginning. Every few minutes, more and more people joined us and circles were formed. The street was closed to traffic until morning. In Tishrei 5744, I experienced a miracle. Ten of us bachurim from France went on Tahalucha to a distant neighborhood, a two hour walk away, to bring joy to Jews in a few shuls there. Before we left, we passed 770. The Rebbe came out of his room and escorted us with encouraging motions and his gaze. I saw that the Rebbe was murmuring something. I wondered why the Rebbe bothered escorting
everyone, when surely he had was going to be the third one he tripped. He stuck out his long leg other important things to do. Late that evening, we headed but, being a former soccer player, back to Crown Heights and we I lifted his leg which made him passed by neighborhoods that fall over. He fell hard and even were all black. Many of them worse, he was embarrassed. He congregated in front of the yelled to his friends who gathered houses in large groups. It was around us in seconds. scary and we prayed that we They looked menacing and would make it back peacefully. we were terrified. We didn’t No policemen were in sight know what to do. We couldn’t and some black youth started run because they were faster up with us. We ignored them than us and surrounded us. We and continued walking briskly, prayed that we would extricate wanting to get back in time for ourselves and then, two police the hakafos. We said T’hillim and cars drove up. The policemen Express service Express service reviewed maamarim. Fully quickly assessed the situation and FullyComputerized Computerized On a corner stood a tall black approached the black men. They fellow who tripped every bachur moved them away from Kingston Ave. 331 Kingston Ave. 331 us and escorted us until we nd(2nd Flr)770. NY 11213 reached Brooklyn NY 11213 who passed by. He stuck out his (2 Flr) Brooklyn When I entered 770, I foot for the first one who fell, got up, cleaned himself off, and remembered what I had thought Get your tickets within minutes! Get your tickets within minutes! continued walking. He tripped when I left on Tahalucha about Fax: (718) us. 493-4444 Fax: (718) I up the next bachur who also why the Rebbe had escorted493-4444 got up and continued walking. I felt I had the answer.
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Issue 851 • �
BRINGING MOSHIACH TO THE LAND OF THE ORIENT PEARL
A glimpse into the life of a shlucha who arrived at her shlichus on the very day that the shluchim in Bombay were murdered. * Even in the faraway Philippine Islands, the Rebbe is chai v’kayam.
By Rochel Green
hen I heard that there are shluchim in the Philippines I was taken aback. You
mean, after all the Filipinos we see everywhere in Eretz Yisroel, there are still people left in the Philippines?!
I called Mrs. Tiferes Levy, the shlucha in the Philippines, and reached her as she was escorting guests. The time over there
10 � • Erev Sukkos 5773
was 9:30 at night, so I suppose that there are people there – more than enough too. The government announced a weekly “Sabbath” for various types of vehicles; every day – a different kind of vehicle cannot be driven. Why? Because there are too many vehicles on the road and traffic tie-ups cause high blood pressure. The Philippines is one of the most populated countries in the world.
ready, set, Go!
Did you know what the Philippines are before you arrived there? The truth is that neither I, nor my husband, knew anything about it. My husband knew about Filipinos, because they are foreign workers in Eretz Yisroel, and I knew about them from history lessons. There was a time when the Philippines were under American rule. Aside from that, we knew nothing about the place. When we first looked into it, we discovered a large country with many things, from factories to some of the most advanced hospitals in the world. There was just one thing missing there, a Chabad house. Today, nearly four years later, another couple
joined us a month ago, R’ Yisroel and Mushky Kaplan. They are an hour’s flight away from us. In another two months, we are expecting another couple. What’s it like to be “Nachshons?” My husband, Yossi, always wanted it to be this way. As a bachur, he dreamed about a new shlichus that was far away and challenging. He had helped a shliach to start a new Chabad house and wanted to do this on his own. I too was in the mindset of shlichus. My mother has been teaching for thirty years, twenty of those years in a Chabad school in Florida. Ever since I was little, I’ve breathed chinuch, working with children, and shlichus. As a young girl I helped out at a few Chabad houses, and those experiences help me a lot in running our own Chabad house now. Unlike my husband, I wasn’t planning on going so far away. I thought we would live somewhere in the US or New York, where I was born. It’s so much more convenient as far as being near family, having access to kosher food, etc. In the Philippines, there was nothing. During the first half a year here, we had no meat at all. In
order to have milk, we had to go and watch the milking. So why did you go to the Philippines? “It’s a long story,” Tiferes hesitated, but after I said I like long stories, she decided to give me a synopsis of what happened: We lived in New York the first year of our marriage. My husband learned for smicha and worked in a yeshiva. I worked as a teacher. At the end of the school year, which was shortly after the end of our first year of marriage, they asked me at the school whether I planned on coming back.
Issue 851 • �
a new Chabad house near Australia is the best memorial for the writer of the letter. Aside from the fact that the Philippines is located above Australia, that night was my father-in-law’s first yahrtzait. Wow! Yes, the Rebbe simply pushed us to go there and this helped us a lot later on. We went to the Philippines after the Kinus HaShluchim 5768/2007. The flight was from New York to Hong Kong and from Hong Kong to the Philippines. When we arrived in Hong Kong and looked at the computer, we saw the initial reports about the tragedy playing out in Bombay. When we landed in the Philippines, it was the day the Holtzbergs were murdered. Under other circumstances, we might have been frightened and fled – the Philippines are right in that area, near Thailand and Japan, but we knew that the Rebbe wanted us there and the encouragement we got from him pushed us to unpack and start looking for a suitable place for a Chabad house that would make our future guests feel safe. How many Jews are there in the Philippines? Many. At the moment, we know of 600 Jews, but we are constantly meeting new people. Two weeks ago, for example, my husband was walking down the street (on a day that he was not allowed to use his car) and suddenly, out of nowhere, he heard someone say, “Yechi HaMelech.” He turned around and saw an Israeli. My husband got into a conversation with him, asking who he was and where he knew that phrase from. The fellow said he was from Florida, and it turned out that we have many common acquaintances, so
We work very hard on the Seven Noachide Laws. We have a class once a week on the topic and people keep asking for more. There was a Filipino who was very serious about this … His role, he announced to the surprised audience, is to help Chabad shluchim, because he knows that the Rebbe is the Messiah. When he finished what he had to say, he began singing Yechi.
This was a good time for my husband and me to sit down and discuss our future. At first, we thought we should continue doing what we were doing, learning and working, and go on shlichus later, but then we decided that instead of deciding on our own we would write to the Rebbe. We wrote and opened to an amazing letter. The Rebbe wrote that there are many people in chinuch, especially in Brooklyn, and he recommended that we go far away and open a new Chabad house. We didn’t need a clearer answer than that. I told the school that I was going on shlichus and would not be coming back. At this point, we had no idea where we were going. That same week, the word “Philippines” came up time and again. We heard that a few people were traveling there on business; we heard about people who had visited there; and when we went to a family wedding in Florida the local shliach said to my husband, “What about the Philippines? There is no Chabad house there. Maybe you can do something about it ...” So you did something! We started. My husband began fundraising and we reported to the Rebbe. The Rebbe’s letter said that opening
12 � • Erev Sukkos 5773
we became friends within half a second. He sat in our house from five in the afternoon until one at night. During tourist season in the Philippines, about 15,000 people visit. That’s when we have many opportunities to meet new people. The special thing about our Chabad house is that we keep in touch with everyone, even after they leave us. Recently, a businessman came to spend Shabbos with us. He had been in Thailand and didn’t want to miss out on the Shabbos atmosphere in the Philippines. What sort of programs do you do? We will be moving shortly to a building that will contain all our programs. It will have a mikva, a preschool, a restaurant, a shul … The preschool and restaurant are new projects we are working on. As of now, we are in a neighborhood that is zoned
One of the girls came into the house, saw him, and began shouting, “Moshiach arrived!” She saw a white beard and Chassidic dress and was sure it was him.
for residents only. We chose it because of the feeling of security. Since we can’t run a restaurant here, we set up a sort of take-out option with home cooked food. I consider food as being very important. Through food, you reach people’s hearts. We once had a fellow here who came every Shabbos. He traveled throughout the week and would come back to us for Shabbos. He did this for nearly two months. Each time he would walk into the kitchen just to inhale the smells and be reminded of home. When I saw this, I was moved. Since then, I try to prepare a variety of food, as much as possible considering what I have to work with, so that whoever comes here at my table will be reminded of home. As for a preschool, there are 50-60 Jewish children here, so we have a solid base for a school. It will open for the new school year. We run a day camp twice a year and aside from that we have programs for women. Women work a lot here, so our programs are relaxed with art and conversations over coffee. There are also the less pleasant aspects such as a Jew in the local jail who died and we dealt with his burial. How do you get along with your non-Jewish neighbors? It’s impressive that the goyim are more certain about Moshiach than we are. First of Continued on page 5
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RABBI MORDECHAI MENTLICK A”H
OF THE T’MIMIM
He was the rosh yeshiva of Tomchei T’mimim in 770, the chozer of the Rebbe Rayatz, the “Sar HaMashkim” at the Rebbe’s farbrengens, in charge of baking the Rebbe’s matzos, leader of the group of shluchim to Eretz Yisroel and “father” of the T’mimim.
By Sholom Yehuda Ginsberg
his life in euroPe
R’ Mordechai Mentlick was born in 5672/1912 to R’ Pinchas and Mrs. Mentlick, pious Jews. He was born in Galicia, where there were various Chassidic courts to which his family belonged. His parents and his family perished in the Holocaust. He began learning in Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in Otvotzk around 1937. The Rebbe Rayatz lived there at the time. R’ Dovid Stockhammer from the United States, a very G-d fearing Jew (there are many letters to him in the Igros Kodesh of the Rebbeim) sent his two daughters to Otvotzk so they could marry
yeshiva bachurim. He did this upon the recommendation of R’ Mordechai Chafetz who had traveled to the US on behalf of the Rebbe Rayatz. The two weddings took place with a brief interlude between them. The first was R’ Mordechai Mentlick who married Gittel and a week later, R’ Moshe Pinchas Katz married Mindel. While still in Otvotzk, R’ Mentlick was the chozer of the Rebbe Rayatz, there being no one else up to the job. Although our Rebbe would say a maamer with his eyes closed, previous Rebbeim said maamarim with their eyes open and they would constantly look at one person
so as not to be distracted (the Rebbe Rashab would look at his only son, later his successor). They say that when the Rebbe Rayatz was in Otvotzk, he would look at R’ Mordechai Mentlick and R’ Shmuel Zalmanov (who were known as “der shvartzer (Zalmanov) un der geller (Mentlick)”) when he said a maamer. That he would gaze at them shows how battul and mekushar they were to the Rebbe. The Rebbe Rayatz would sell his chametz to R’ Mentlick before Pesach, as this is the practice of Admorei Chabad, to sell the chametz to a rav who then sells it to the gentile as a representative guarantor.
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R’ Mentlick standing to the right of the Rebbe at a farbrengen
moVinG to the united states
Several years later, the two couples left Otvotzk and set sail to America to their father-inlaw’s home. The Rebbe Rayatz told R’ Mordechai to review Chassidus in each place they would stop along their journey. They arrived in Marseilles in the middle of the week and R’ Mordechai looked for a place where he could review Chassidus. By Erev Shabbos, he still had not found a suitable place and he wanted to remain there for Shabbos. The captain of
the ship refused and told him emphatically, if they wanted to stay for Shabbos, they would have to stay for quite some time until the next ship came along that would be sailing to the US. Loyal to the instructions he received from the Rebbe, R’ Mordechai remained there in order to review Chassidus on Shabbos, and they were only able to sail for the US a number of days later. They found out that the earlier ship, on which they had planned to travel and that had not waited for them, had been sunk by the Germans. Upon arriving in the US, the
Mentlicks settled in Newark, New Jersey. R’ Mentlick became a teacher in Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in 770 and he would travel every day from Newark to Brooklyn and back. Throughout the years, he was very particular about the timing of the s’darim. He arrived for Nigleh at precisely eleven o’clock, when it began. In later years, when he moved to Crown Heights, he would also attend Chassidus on Shabbos morning at precisely eight o’clock. On Yud Shevat 5710, upon the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz, many Lubavitcher
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Chassidim from Brownsville, a neighborhood at the end of Eastern Parkway, went to 770 and wanted to remain there after Shacharis. The Rebbe, who was then called Ramash, told them to return home and said there is no sadness on Shabbos and they had to eat the Shabbos meal. R’ Mentlick then turned to the Chassidim and said emotionally, “We have a Rebbe!” He had already accepted the Rebbe as the Nasi and this demonstrated his hiskashrus to the Rebbe in every detail, all his life. the Rebbe’s cup as soon as it was emptied. R’ Michoel Golomb, mashpia in 770, related, “One Shabbos, it was already in his later years, when he suffered from a serious illness, R’ Mentlick pushed himself and came, as always, to be the Rebbe’s ‘Sar HaMashkim.’ His hands shook, but he persisted and tried to pour the wine into the Rebbe’s cup, albeit without success. The Rebbe took the bottle from him and poured himself. To many it looked as though something ‘otherworldly’ had transpired. Indeed, this was the last time that R’ Mentlick poured wine, for after that he was bedridden until he passed.” R’ Mentlick published a book called Imrei Mordechai with chiddushim on Meseches Bava Basra, according to his unique approach. He also published pamphlets on various topics. Every week, he gave over a Gemara shiur to Anash in the home of R’ Tzvi Hirsh Chitrik a”h. He would give another shiur for Anash every Sunday morning in the Rebbe’s sichos. He would incorporate the sources and footnotes into his class and explain the sicha in wondrous depth. This shiur lasted until his final days. During the years that the Rebbe sent a “General Letter” for Rosh HaShana and Pesach about the meaning of the Yom Tov, he would sit for hours and look up all the sources. A few days after the letter was publicized, he would teach the letter to the talmidim of the yeshiva and Anash with all the sources the Rebbe provided for the letter. If he had questions, he would ask the Rebbe and would receive responses and explanations. As soon as he received them, he shared them with others. R’ Mentlick was in charge of the sh’chita course for the talmidim of the yeshiva. They say that this appointment came from the Rebbe.
R’ Mentlick was the Rebbe’s “Sar HaMashkim” from the start of the Rebbe’s nesius. At the beginning of every farbrengen, he would pour wine into the Rebbe’s cup and continue to refill it during the farbrengen. One time, in 5711, the Rebbe asked R’ Mentlick to pour l’chaim for the participants at the farbrengen. When someone said he wanted mashke from the Alter Rebbe himself, the Rebbe said that in Kabbala and Chassidus there are two approaches to describing the “kav” – whether it is one straight line or it is comprised of dots. Based on this, he explained that all the Rebbeim are one entity. Then, the Rebbe told this person that R’ Mentlick is his “Sar HaMashkim” and they should receive from him. On another occasion, the Rebbe said at a farbrengen, “I am pleased that R’ Mentlick serves me.” Everyone could see R’ Mentlick’s subservience to the Rebbe in every detail, especially in the pouring of wine. The manner in which he went over to pour the wine, with awe and respect, was apparent every time. With kos shel bracha also, he would stand for hours with a bottle and refill
A few years after he arrived, R’ Mentlick was appointed as rosh yeshiva in 770. In his possession was a note that he received from the Rebbe Rayatz which said: I hereby appoint you as the menahel and rosh yeshiva here. From that moment on, those words defined his very existence, his life and his essence, and his students saw him as the loving “father” of the T’mimim. For a while, he switched to Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim on Bedford Avenue where he was the rosh yeshiva. He was replaced in 770 by R’ Chaim Meir Bukiet a”h. He would give shiurim in Nigleh every week. I heard from R’ Y.Y. Wilschansky, rosh yeshiva in Tzfas, that the focus on proper understanding of the subject matter, developing and clarifying the idea from every angle, was apparent in every shiur. He was one of the main editors of Shaarei Yehuda on Shas and some say that the style of his shiurim was like that of his rebbi, R’ Yehuda Eber, who authored that work.
In Elul 5723/1962, the Rebbe spoke about the need for tests. The Rebbe asked that all the bachurim who learned in yeshiva, including the guests who came for Tishrei, be tested on what they learned. In order that there be no delay, the Rebbe asked that the tests begin that same day. The tests started on Motzaei Shabbos. After that, R’ Mentlick was
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in charge of tests. From the beginning of Slichos until after Yom Kippur, you could not speak to him about anything but tests. That is all he was busy with. He would get rabbanim to test the bachurim. The Rebbe asked that guests who came for Tishrei, who were rabbanim, test the bachurim. R’ Mentlick made sure that everyone was tested and he would submit the test results to the Rebbe. In the winter months there were also tests given by the hanhala of the yeshiva in 770 – R’ Mentlick, R’ Piekarski a”h and R’ Labkowski. R’ Mentlick was exacting with every detail, in life and especially with these tests. He wanted every talmid to know the material from beginning to end. In the event that a talmid did not know it, he tried, pleasantly but firmly, to show the bachur that he did not know it. He would do this in a way that would not offend the bachur, but would lead him to understand that next time had to be better. We see a rare reference from the Rebbe to the results of the tests that R’ Mentlick submitted in a letter dated 4 Teves 5726: Many thanks, many thanks for the good news. May you relate good news, constantly all the days… On 20 Shevat 5721, the Rebbe wrote: I received your letter with the good news about the test results that they knew how to answer properly and clearly. Many thanks for the gratification and satisfaction that you caused with this information, and in the measure of Hashem, which is measure for measure but many times over, may you receive good tidings that cause true satisfaction in all your matters.
R’ Mentlick giving a “shiur klali” in the small zal in 770
Loyal to the instructions he received from the Rebbe, R’ Mordechai remained there in order to review Chassidus on Shabbos, and they were only able to sail for the US a number of days later. They found out that the earlier ship, on which they had planned to travel and that had not waited for them, had been sunk by the Germans. torah journals
perfect. He put even more time into his own pilpul. He would have his shiurim written and edited and then he would review what they wrote.”
As a rosh yeshiva, R’ Mentlick was responsible for publishing Torah journals of the talmidim, Pilpul HaTalmidim and Pilpulim U’Biurim. The first one was to publicize the shiurim of the “kanim” (lit. branches; see following section), and the latter was meant to serve as a platform for the other bachurim who wanted to share their chiddushim. When R’ Y.Y. Wilschansky was a bachur in 770, he was asked by R’ Mentlick to edit these journals. He spoke about R’ Mentlick’s exactitude: “R’ Mentlick went over every pilpul and ensured that they were
“the seVen branches of the menorah”
In 770 it was customary, by the Rebbe’s instruction, for the hanhala to appoint seven of the best bachurim in Nigleh to give a pilpul once a week, and seven in Chassidus. The pilpul in Nigleh was given on Friday morning and the pilpul in Chassidus was given Friday night before Kabbalas Shabbos. These bachurim were called, as per the Rebbe’s instruction, the “Seven Branches
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of the Menorah.” R’ Mentlick loved the “kanim” and took care of all their needs. At the end of 5723, when the members of the hanhala had yechidus (they would have yechidus every Erev Rosh Chodesh; it started with every week, then every two weeks and then once in a few months, and then it stopped altogether), the Rebbe asked them why the “kanim” did not review inyanim in Nigleh from the Tzemach Tzedek when he wrote a number of s’farim in Nigleh. the work of cutting the wheat and in the baking. From the moment the baking began until the end, R’ Mentlick did not utter a word. As the Rebbe’s “worker,” he worked devotedly and energetically to the last moment. He would not daven on the day of the matza baking until after he had finished all that was required of him. Only then, did he put on his tallis and t’fillin. Every year, R’ Simpson would receive a piece of matza from the Rebbe on Erev Pesach in appreciation for his work. One time, when the Rebbe asked “Where is R’ Simpson?” and he was not present, R’ Mentlick received the piece of matza instead of him. In later years, R’ Mentlick was appointed in charge of the matza baking. It once happened that while he was traveling in order to cut the wheat, there was a surprise farbrengen with the Rebbe. Despite the feeling of having missed out, he said he wasn’t at all sorry about not being at the farbrengen, since he was involved in work for the Rebbe at that time. After the shluchim were picked, he accompanied them to Eretz Yisroel and when they visited government officials and at the president’s residence. The Rebbe personally sent him to accompany them, which is why throughout his stay in Eretz Yisroel he wore a gartel, even when he met with President Efraim Katzir. For the same reason, he did not visit other places. However, before his return home, he was told that the Rebbe wanted to know whether he had visited the holy places. When he said he had not, the Rebbe told him to stay another day and to visit the holy sites in Eretz Yisroel. Other than that, he did not even visit his only relative who lived in Eretz Yisroel and as soon as he completed his shlichus, he returned to 770.
The Kinusei Ha’Torah programs take place till this day, in 770, on Isru Chag Sukkos, Pesach, and Shavuos. R’ Mentlick was in charge of the Kinus – making sure it happened, inviting and ensuring that rabbanim attended – those who were going to address the Kinus and those who were merely going to attend without speaking. As the person in charge of the Kinus, he would receive challa and water from the Rebbe for the participants. After the Kinus Torah, R’ Mentlick would hold a farbrengen where he distributed the challa and water that he received the day before from the Rebbe. Once a year, R’ Mentlick would put out a booklet called “Kinus Torah,” which contained the explanations and pilpulim that were said at the Kinus Ha’Torah.
his concern for the bachurim
R’ Mentlick was in charge of the fund that helped the bachurim of 770 who were in need, and was extremely dedicated to running it. He took care of all the bachurim, especially the bachurim on K’vutza for whom he and R’ Dovid Raskin were responsible. Every year, on Purim, he would go to the Rebbe’s room and the Rebbe would give him a donation for Kupas Bachurim. Before each Pesach, he made sure that the bachurim were dressed from head to toe, except for two items that he wanted the bachurim to buy for themselves: a yarmulke and tzitzis. His concern for the bachurim wasn’t limited to clothing. Any bachur who needed something was taken care of by him. If a bachur needed shoes, he would be given money to buy new shoes each season. R’ Yaakov Goldberg, nosei v’nosein in 770
on shlichus for the rebbe
R’ Mentlick was appointed by the Rebbe to be in charge of groups of bachurim to Australia, and later, the groups of shluchim to Eretz Yisroel in 5736-57375738. Although these groups were sent under the auspices of the Rebbe’s secretariat, he was the one who actually chose which bachurim would go to Australia and which would serve as shluchim to Eretz Yisroel. In the days preceding the trip, he did not rest for a moment until he had fulfilled the Rebbe’s wishes and had chosen an appropriate group.
There was a special matza baking for the Rebbeim, as is related at length in the sichos of the Rebbe Rayatz. By the Rebbe, the first person in charge was Rabbi Eliyahu Yochil Simpson a”h. R’ Mentlick also took part in
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said that R’ Mentlick once met him and saw that his shoes had holes. He asked him whether he needed money for new shoes. R’ Goldberg, who was embarrassed to take money from R’ Mentlick, said he had other shoes that he would wear. A few days later, R’ Mentlick saw him and asked, “Where are the shoes that you said you have? Do you need money perhaps?” Although he was devoted to the bachurim, he did not let a bachur feel that he could do as he pleased. They say he once asked a bachur where he was during the previous seder. The bachur said he did not feel well and had to go to the doctor. R’ Mentlick inquired – which doctor, where did he live, what hurt him, what did the doctor say, what medication did he prescribe. After all these questions, the bachur was sure that he had finished being cross examined, but then R’ Mentlick said, “But this doctor, Dr. Ness, died a few months ago!”
R’ Mentlick filling the Rebbe’s cup at kos shel bracha
R’ Mentlick’s meticulousness was well known. He was exacting down to the last detail, not only regarding the timing of the s’darim that he was in charge of. R’ Kuti Rapp, mashgiach in 770, relates, “It was the beginning of the 80’s when R’ Mentlick asked me for help. That day, right after Shacharis in 770, there was going to be a test in Yeshivas Chovevei Torah given by R’ Eliyahu Landau. He wanted me to go to ‘Ess ‘N Bentch’ and buy a cup of tea and cake for R’ Landau. He gave me two dollars and asked me to bring the snack to the yeshiva. “Later in the day, R’ Mentlick asked me if there had been any change or had I needed more
money. I told him that it had cost $2.10 and that it was a paltry sum and it didn’t matter. After the Yomim Nora’im, Sukkos and Shmini Atzeres had passed, one day R’ Mentlick came over to me and gave me a dime and said, ‘This is for what I owe you.’ That was R’ Mentlick. He did not forget a thing, even ten cents.” R’ Golomb added, “One time I needed written approval for my brother’s smicha certificate. My brother had started learning it somewhere else and finished in 770. I asked R’ Mentlick to write an approval letter. He arranged with me that I would go over to him after Maariv and he would bring me the letter. “That day, the Rebbe returned from the Ohel late, and Mincha Maariv took place at the same time. In the confusion, I forgot about it. The next day, I went over to R’ Mentlick and asked him for the letter. When he asked me where I was the night before, I said that due to the confusion, I had forgotten. He said, ‘I waited for you here for two hours.’”
R’ Mentlick’s bittul to the Rebbe was unusual even among great mekusharim. He never sat at a farbrengen or at a t’filla with the Rebbe. Although his place was on the first bench on the left of the Aron Kodesh, where he davened, his tremendous bittul did not allow him to sit in the Rebbe’s presence. One time, he even gave his place to a weak bachur who found it difficult to stand on Yom Kippur.
his Personality and style
In general, his manner of speech was unique. He would articulate clearly, word by word, and he used both hands for emphasis. They say that he went to the Rebbe Rayatz and asked for a bracha that he shouldn’t stammer. The Rebbe told him to speak more slowly and forcefully, and the stutter would disappear. I heard from R’ Wilschansky that although some people thought that his slow manner
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When an hour went by and he was still talking, he stopped and said, “I said that I would speak for a few minutes and I stand by what I said. The ‘few minutes’ begin now.”
of speech reflected his slow comprehension, the opposite was true, i.e. despite his slow speech, he thought quickly as was apparent many times. R’ Mentlick was a very “lebedige” (lively) Jew with a perpetual pleasant disposition. Even when things were not good, he would try to give the impression that all was well. At R’ Yaakov Goldberg’s vort (his wife is R’ Mentlick’s niece), they asked R’ Mentlick to speak and he said he would speak “for a few minutes.” When an hour went by and he was still talking, he stopped and said, “I said that I would speak for a few minutes and I stand by what I said. The ‘few minutes’ begin now.” He once saw a bachur who had fallen asleep over his Gemara. He smiled and said, “He is deeply immersed in the Gemara.” “The way it used to be was that before bachurim came to learn in 770, they learned for a while in Morristown. My oldest son learned there too. One day, R’ Mentlick asked to see my son. He grasped him by the head and kissed him warmly. Then he explained to me that he knew the material on the test so well he couldn’t help but kiss him.” Whenever he saw a child, he would kiss him. He himself did not have children and he had a great love for children. R’ Goldberg tells about his great love for children: “I was once in a taxi with my daughter who was a year and a half old. My uncle, R’ Mentlick was also in the taxi and my daughter began playing with his beard. At first he was frightened, “Shall a girl touch me?” and he added, “Is she three yet?” “When I said she was only a year and a half, he let her do as she pleased and even encouraged her to play with his beard.” In connection with this, when he was in the hospital, he did not allow a female nurse to care for
warm and loVinG heart
Rabbi Labkowski, rosh yeshiva in 770 today, tells about the tremendous feelings R’ Mentlick had for every bachur:
him. He asked for a doctor or a male nurse. One time, the doctors called his relative, R’ Katz, to the department. R’ Mentlick had refused to speak for a number of days and they wanted to know what was going on. R’ Katz went into his room and asked him why he wasn’t speaking to the doctors. He maintained that a female nurse had cared for him, but the doctors vehemently said this wasn’t true. It turned out that it was a male nurse with long hair. • • • He became sick with cancer in his later years and was hospitalized many times. When the doctors wanted to operate, the Rebbe said he was too delicate for surgery and it wasn’t necessary. To the amazement of the doctors, R’ Mentlick recovered without an operation and lived for a while afterward. In 5747 the disease went into remission and he made a thanksgiving meal, but a few months later it came back in full force. He passed away on Motzaei Shabbos B’Reishis, 24 Tishrei 5748, at the time that he used to pour wine into the Rebbe’s cup for Kos Shel Bracha. His funeral took place the next day, on Sunday afternoon, and his burial took place when the Kinus Ha’Torah, which he had run for years, began.
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20 � • Erev Sukkos 5773
moshiaCh: a simChas torah PersonalitY
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
the torah readinG cycle of the baal t’shuVa
The annual Torah reading cycle revolves around the Festivals of Sukkos and Simchas Torah. On Simchas Torah we conclude the fifth and final book of the Torah and soon after we begin anew with B’ReishisGenesis. The question has been asked: why does the Torah cycle coincide with Sukkos and Simchas Torah rather than with the Festival of Shavuos, which is the anniversary of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai? The classic answer is that Sukkos and Simcha Torah are the joyous culmination of Yom Kippur, the day we received the second set of tablets. This event represented the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people after they repented for their egregious sin of worshipping the golden calf. Yom Kippur thus represents a renewed and reinvigorated giving of the Torah. The cycle of Torah reading becomes a more poignant experience when it follows the giving of the Torah to a nation that has returned to G-d and internalized the lessons of the Torah. Beginning the new cycle of Torah reading in the aftermath of Yom Kippur reinforces the opinion in the Talmud that a person who returns to G-d—the Baal T’shuva—is superior to the
Jew who has never sinned—the tzaddik. Thus, the Torah reading that is linked to the Baal T’shuva carries more weight than the Torah reading that is associated with the tzaddik. There is still a need for further clarification. If we consider the status of the performance of a Mitzvah, we can easily comprehend why the Mitzvah performed by one who has returned to its practice surpasses the Mitzvah performed by one who was always faithful to it. One can appreciate the notion that one who embraces a Mitzvah after having shunned it demonstrates a greater measure of intensity and conviction. However, here we are discussing the reading of the Torah. What specific advantage is there when a Baal T’shuva reads the Torah over the reading of a tzaddik? And if the Torah reading cycle is connected to Yom Kippur, why do we wait until Simchas Torah – after the Holidays of Sukkos and Shmini Atzeres – to conclude the reading of the Torah and commence again the cycle of the annual Torah reading with B’Reishis?
the two dimensions of the torah–israel relationshiP
Chassidic thought discerns two aspects in our relationship with Torah and Torah’s relationship with us.
First, in the more classic sense, the Torah links us to G-d, its Giver. In the words of the Zohar: “There are three knots. Israel is bound to the Torah and Torah is bound with G-d.” We need to be bound to the Torah in order to connect to G-d. Even though we possess a G-dly soul, we cannot maintain a vibrant relationship with G-d without the Torah. The reason for this is that our G-dly souls exist within the confining parameters of the physical world, our bodies and the influence of our Animal Souls. The Torah, by contrast, is unfettered G-dly wisdom, and is therefore free from all of these worldly constraints and obstructive influences. Torah can, therefore, connect us to the Divine. We depend on the Torah to facilitate our relationship with G-d. In the second aspect of our relationship, the Torah depends on us to elevate it spiritually. There is a part of us that is spiritually superior to Torah, and through our Torah study we instill Higher Divine energy into the Torah. The Torah depends on us to enhance its relationship with G-d’s essence. Chassidic thought explains that the soul exists on two planes. There is the soul that is cloaked within our bodies and is subject to the limits imposed on it by the body, and there is the part of the soul that transcends the body and can never be sullied or
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Through our Torah study we instill Higher Divine energy into the Torah. The Torah depends on us to enhance its relationship with G-d’s essence.
constrained. It is this aspect of the soul that is so inextricably bound with G-d that it even transcends the Divine manifestation within the Torah. We can refer to these two dimensions of the soul as the “Inner Soul” and the “Outer Soul.” We can now understand why we wait for Yom Kippur to start the Torah reading cycle. It is to instill a more sublime Divine energy into the Torah, which we can only do after experiencing a heightened level of our souls. A question still remains, why do we not start the reading of the Torah immediately after Yom Kippur? Why do we wait until after Sukkos?
connectinG to our outer soul throuGh t’shuVa
How do we express the Outer Soul? How do we “break out” of the constraints of our existence to access the soul’s essential energy, the energy that transcends the Divine contained within the Torah? One answer is through T’shuva. By returning to G-d, G-d unleashes the powerful soul energy that heals all of the breaches that were caused by our transgressions. The relationship with G-d that is dependent on and effected by the observance of the Mitzvos has been damaged. On a lower level, T’shuva merely repairs the damage, but the relationship is not as strong as it was before the transgression. In the higher level of T’shuva— the one associated with Yom Kippur—a new relationship is generated based on the “Outer Soul’s” connection to G-d, which can never be damaged or weakened. Thus, after Yom Kippur, when we return to G-d and experience the deeper and unconventional dimension of our relationship with G-d, we then are empowered to endow our Torah readingstudy with unconventional Divine power.
the yom kiPPur-sukkosshmini atZeres-simchas torah continuum
Sukkos, Chassidic thought teaches us, is not independent of Yom Kippur. Whatever transcendent spiritual energies we generate on Yom Kippur have to be internalized within our normal faculties without compromising the sublime nature of these energies. They have to touch and affect our intellect and our emotions. Ultimately, the spiritual energies must even reach our legs and feet. The goal is for our entire being to be engulfed in the light of Yom Kippur. If Yom Kippur is the day when our deepest soul connection with G-d is revealed, Sukkos is the time when we feel the enveloping warmth and joy of that energy. Sukkos is the Divine embrace. If Sukkos would have been any other time of the year, it would have involved an embrace of a far less sublime aspect of G-d. After Yom Kippur, the embrace is at its peak. However, the Sukka, with all of its spiritual energy, remains an external force. It is therefore
complemented by the taking of the Four Species (Lulav-Date Palm, Esrog-Citron, HadasimMyrtles, and Aravos-Willows), waving them in all six directions and then clutching them to our heart. With this Mitzvah, we enable this Divine energy to come into all facets of our lives until it penetrates our heart and affects our emotions. It is no wonder that Sukkos is such a joyous holiday. Surely, there is no greater joy than to discover and experience our soul’s deepest connection with G-d. However, the climax of this process is Shmini Atzeres when, as the Kabbalists put it, “conception” takes place. The seeds of Divine energy take root and are now fully internalized within every part of our being to the extent that it has even reached our feet. They cannot stay put to the ground and we dance uncontrollably with the Torah. We can now appreciate how commencing reading the Torah on Simchas Torah is not just starting another cycle of a ritual; it is introducing a new energy into the Torah.
the simchas torah twins
Hence Simchas Torah has a twin meaning: We rejoice with the Torah and the Torah rejoices with us. We rejoice with the Torah because the Torah informs us about our obligations and instills meaning in our lives. Moreover, we rejoice with the Torah because it tells us how our souls’ connection to G-d actually transcends the connection of G-d to the Torah. And the Torah rejoices with us not only because we have dedicated ourselves to its study,
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but because after Yom Kippur and Sukkos, we are able to realize our essential bond with G-d that transcends the bond with Torah. The Torah is ecstatic because through our attachment to it we infuse it with new vitality, vigor and Divine energy. Simchas Torah thus represents the mutual benefits Torah and Israel receive. We grow through the Torah and the Torah is uplifted through us.
Whatever transcendent spiritual energies we generate on Yom Kippur have to be internalized within our normal faculties without compromising the sublime nature of these energies.
does not mean Moshiach cannot come at another time; it merely underscores the conceptual and spiritual relationship between Moshiach and Simchas Torah. One of the contributions of Moshiach with respect to Torah knowledge will be that he will reveal heretofore dimensions of Torah that were hidden even from Moses. Where will Moshiach receive this unprecedented knowledge that he will impart to the Jewish people? One answer is that in the Messianic Age, Moshiach will experience the unprecedented opening of all dimensions of his soul. Moshiach’s personality is a Simchas Torah personality throughout the year. And Moshiach’s soul will radiate new light and depth to the teachings of the Torah. Moshiach, though, will not keep this Simchas Torah mindset for himself. He will share it with all of us. One way of preparing for the perpetual Simchas Torah of the future is to truly rejoice and dance with the Torah now with the understanding that we enjoy a reciprocal relationship with the Torah: We rejoice with the Torah and the Torah rejoices with us!
the moshiach connection
Of all the Holidays in the month of Tishrei, Simchas Torah stands out as having a special connection to Moshiach. In the hymn that we recite after dancing with the Torah on Simchas Torah day, we mention the fact that Moshiach (“Tzemach”) shall arrive on Simchas Torah. This
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Issue 851 • �
more Children? Come for tishrei!
When the Rebbe promises that there will be more children, he doesn’t mean just one. Within that year, my wife became pregnant yet again, and it was quite thrilling to experience how each birth took place during the month of Tishrei. We now clearly understood the meaning of my amazing dream: The Rebbe promised children, he knew that they would come during Tishrei, and he made sure to add that I shouldn’t forego my trip to Beis Chayeinu.
By Nosson Avraham Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
he following exciting story was told to Beis Moshiach by one of the mashpiim of Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in Eretz HaKodesh. While the subject of our story chooses to remain anonymous, this doesn’t detract from its very unique nature. “I call the two children born to us during the last four years ‘the children of Tishrei,’” the mashpia said as he began his story in a voice filled with undisguised emotion.
the rebbe finds a way
“Ever since 5745, three years before I was on k’vutza, I have been stringent about coming to 770 every Tishrei to spend Yom Tov with the Rebbe. It became a firmly established practice for me, no matter how great
the financial hardships. Once I became a Baal Ha’bayis, married for several years, I could no longer allow myself to come for an entire month as I did when I was a bachur or even during the first years of my marriage. Instead, I would come for either the first half or the second half of the month. In recent years, it has been my custom to arrive during Chol HaMoed Sukkos and remain until after Simchas Torah. During my stay in Beis Chayeinu, I would draw forth tremendous strength to last the entire year. “After the birth of our eighth child, there was a period of three years during which we did not merit to have more children. My wife became pregnant on a number of occasions, but the pregnancies always came to a
premature end for one reason or another. We considered that perhaps it was simply a decree from Heaven, but we couldn’t accept that. Our desire to increase the size of our family was very strong, and the fact was that until then we had never had a break of three years without the birth of another child. We wrote numerous letters to the Rebbe asking that he give us a bracha, yet as the months passed, we began to feel that our dream of more children was fading away. “On the 2nd of Elul 5768, just a few days before I was planning to make my customary visit to my travel agent and order an airline ticket to spend Sukkos in 770, I had an amazing dream. In the past, I had many dreams about the Rebbe where I only saw him, but this time the Rebbe gave me a message. In my dream, I saw my wife and myself passing by for dollars. My wife went by first, and the Rebbe gave her a dollar and blessed her with ‘Hatzlacha Rabba’ (much success). Then it was my turn. As I was about to approach the Rebbe, I thought to myself: Should I take this opportunity to ask the Rebbe to give us a bracha for more children? “The Rebbe knows the needs of every Chassid, but when I came before the Rebbe, I said in Yiddish: ‘Rebbe, nach kinder’ – in other words, bless us with more children. The Rebbe replied, ‘You will have, but come for Tishrei.’ “I woke up shaking like a
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leaf. The Rebbe didn’t express a hope or a wish; he gave a clear promise. However, the Rebbe also said that I should continue to come for Tishrei as I had in the past, to see and to be seen. I was deeply moved by this dream, but I didn’t tell anyone about it. I felt that this was no ordinary dream. It was something real. “Although I had originally planned to go to 770 for Sukkos, as I had done in recent years, I went to the travel agent the following day and asked for a ticket for the first half of the month – Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Thus, I was with the Rebbe for the Days of Judgment and Mercy, and I requested a bracha for more children. After Yom Kippur, I returned to Eretz Yisroel filled with faith and conviction that we would soon have good news to tell the Rebbe – and that’s exactly what happened. A few months later, we had good news... “We were simply overjoyed. Then we came across a small dilemma when we realized the full meaning behind the Rebbe’s instructions. The Rebbe had told me that I had to come for Tishrei, but my wife’s due date was in the middle of Tishrei. Leaving her at home right before the birth with eight children, some of whom were still very young, was no small matter. However, we remembered the Rebbe’s clear message, and we checked with the doctor, who confirmed that the baby was due at the beginning of Sukkos. I arranged a ticket for Rosh Hashanah, and after a few days of spiritual elevation in Beis Chayeinu, I headed back to Eretz HaKodesh. “I arrived home on the day before Yom Kippur, and just two days later, on the day after Yom Kippur, my wife gave birth to our ninth child in a good and
He came to 770 to ask the Rebbe if his father was still alive. The Rebbe heard his question, raised his head, and responded simply, “Da...”
that month. Second, the Rebbe is with us just as he was then, and when a Chassid makes an important request, the Rebbe finds the way to respond.”
endless ProPhetic Vision
At the conclusion of the interview, we asked the mashpia to relate to us one episode that he personally experienced over the years, and he happily complied. “This happened in 5749, a year after k’vutza. When the Rebbe came in to daven Mincha, a middle-aged Jew from Bucharia came up to the Rebbe and asked him something in Russian. The Rebbe raised his head, answered him in Russian affirmative ‘Da,’ and then continued towards the platform. When the minyan was over and the Rebbe returned to his room, many of the Chassidim surrounded this Jew and inquired about his discussion with the Rebbe. The man proceeded to tell them the following moving story: “During the Second World War, his father was in the Red Army. One day, he suddenly disappeared without a trace. This Bucharian Jew was then only a young boy, and when he grew up, he began to inquire about his father’s possible whereabouts. After spending much time searching after him, he eventually heard about the greatness and virtue of the Rebbe, known for his endless prophetic vision. He came to 770 to ask the Rebbe if his father was still alive. The Rebbe heard his question, raised his head, and responded simply, “Da...”
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auspicious hour. “However, there’s more to the story. When the Rebbe promises that there will be more children, he doesn’t mean just one. Within that year, my wife became pregnant yet again, and it was quite thrilling how each birth took place during the month of Tishrei. We now clearly understood the meaning of my amazing dream: The Rebbe promised children, he knew that they would come during Tishrei, and he made sure to add that I shouldn’t forego my trip to Beis Chayeinu. “That’s exactly what I did. As in the previous year, I traveled to the Rebbe for the first half of Tishrei while my wife gave birth to our tenth child during the second half. Our happiness knew no bounds. I was engulfed by many feelings: First, the Rebbe expressed his thanks to us for our faithful efforts in making our customary trip to see him every year for Tishrei, and we merited having two children born during
THE REBBE’S DALET MINIM
For many years, R’ Levi Bistritzky a”h, rav in Tzfas, would present the Rebbe with lulavim and hadasim. Every year, a few days before Sukkos, the Rebbe would pick from the dozens of lulavim and hadasim that he brought. * How did the Rebbe pick a lulav? Where did the hadasim come from? What kind of esrog did the Rebbe use? * From a recorded shiur by R’ Bistritzky.
Prepared for publication by F. Zarchi
had the z’chus of bringing the Rebbe lulavim from which he picked what he liked. I brought the lulavim to “Gan Eden HaElyon” (the Rebbe’s inner sanctum) unlike the later years, when the Rebbe would choose them in “Gan Eden HaTachton” (the hallway outside the Rebbe’s room). It started with my father having an Israeli business partner who would import esrogim, lulavim and hadasim. For many years, I would sit for hours and choose 120 hadasim from Tzfas, with the rows of three leaves perfectly aligned, for the Rebbe. Every year, after I would bring the Rebbe the Dalet minim, when the Rebbe would see my father, he would say to him, “I used the hadasim.” Hadasim were sent to the Rebbe from Argentina and one other place in America. The Rebbe once told my father that from all the places in the world he takes three hadasim, in other words, three from each location,
and the rest of the hadasim are from Tzfas. One year, it was twelve o’clock on Erev Yom Tov when my father got a call from R’ Chadakov, telling him that the Rebbe asked whether he might have a kosher lulav for him. The Rebbe was very disappointed by the lulavim that had been brought to him. He had looked at all of them, and apparently none of them were good enough. Those in charge had put effort into selecting the esrogim, which
were beautiful, while the lulavim had arrived only on Erev Yom Tov and were not very nice. We had about 500-600 lulavim left out of 2000 in the original crates which we hadn’t touched. We closed the business and started going through the hundreds of lulavim. I picked the best ones, about thirty, and rushed over to 770. They let me go inside to the yechidus room. In the Rebbe’s room, in front of the desk, there are two chairs with red upholstery and arms. They are for people who have yechidus who sit down on their own, or those whom the Rebbe says should sit down. The Rebbe arranged one chair and I laid the lulavim over the arms. I opened the string that I had tied earlier and handed the Rebbe lulav after lulav. He examined them and chose a number for himself. I could see that the Rebbe was happy when he found a lulav that he liked. The Rebbe also gave out lulavim and esrogim to many
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shluchim, so he would choose not only for himself, but for them too. When I went on shlichus to Eretz Yisroel in 5736, I no longer went in on Erev Yom Tov. *** I also brought the Rebbe hadasim every year. I would bring in a large bundle of choice hadasim. Unlike the lulav, the Rebbe would not pick hadasim and whatever we brought, he took. The Rebbe was particular about paying, as it says “And you shall take for you.” The word “you” means “belonging to you.” However, there is a dispute among the poskim about whether one needs to pay before Yom Tov or can pay afterward. The Rebbe Rayatz was not particular about paying for the Dalet minim before Yom Tov. Sometimes, the Rebbe gave me money for my efforts, and sometimes the Rebbe gave me money and told me I had to buy my wife a present before Yom Tov. What did the Rebbe look for in a lulav? First, he would take a lulav and look at the spine to ascertain that it was straight. Then he would rotate the lulav to one side in order to see the color and he would do the same for the other side. He wanted to be sure it was green and not white. Then he would take the lulav and examine the tip. He would usually take a lulav with the brown bark so that the lulav would be completely sealed. The Rebbe would take a lulav that was more tightly closed. The Rebbe said a bracha over an esrog from Calabria (Genoa), but he would also accept esrogim from Eretz Yisroel, from Kfar Chabad, and would take them after davening and shake them.
Issue 851 • �
THE REBBE INVITED US FOR TISHREI, ALL EXPENSES PAID
R’ Shlomo Raskin reminisces about Tishrei with the Rebbe.
Prepared for publication by Mordechai Gorelick
“I will never forget Tishrei 5728/1967 all my life,” began R’ Shlomo Raskin. Just one half year prior to that, on Purim Katan, three months before the outbreak of the Six Day War, he had arrived with his parents, his brother and sisters in Kfar Chabad and now, in the first half of Elul, the Rebbe told the Vaad in Kfar Chabad that he was inviting all the new immigrants from Russia to stay with him for Tishrei, on his account! This was announced by letter: B”H Yom Gimmel, the day when “ki tov” was doubled Parshas Ki Seitzei [7 Elul] 5727 Vaad HaRuchni of Kfar Chabad … Greetings,
My request – for them to be the planners and organizers; that those residents of Kfar Chabad who came from our former country during this Hakhel year, and they are twenty and above and have not yet visited here and did not prostrate at the gravesite of the Rebbe, my father-in-law, and would like toTo invite them in my name to visit here for the upcoming month of Tishrei, to prostrate at the grave of the Rebbe, my father-in-law, and for all of us to daven together as one in the shul of the Rebbe, my fatherin-law, to learn Nigleh and Chassidus in his beis midrash. Obviously, all that applies only if their trip will not diminish from the mosdos and their affairs in Eretz Yisroel
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We stood on the bima as close as possible to the Rebbe as you can see in this photograph taken by a gentile photographer.
in general and Kfar Chabad in particular. The trip is conditional on returning to Kfar Chabad. As for those who are married, the trip must be made with the full consent of their wives. P.S. It is understood that the expenses of the trip is not the concern of the travelers and will be arranged on their behalf, with G-d’s help. Due to the brief amount of time, surely they will rush to arrange all this, firstly – compiling a detailed list and sending it here by express mail. Thank you ahead of time for the efforts made in this. R’ Raskin: “In this letter, the Rebbe wrote that his invitation pertained just to those over the age of twenty. My brother Yehoshua was 19 and he planned on celebrating his twentieth birthday
in Tishrei. He asked whether he could be considered 20 already for the purposes of the trip and the answer was yes. “I am a year younger than him and would only be 20 the following Tishrei, 5729, but I asked anyway – through R’ Efraim Wolf a”h – whether I could go too, since in Tishrei 5728 I would be entering my twentieth year. A few days later, I received a reply saying I would receive half of the cost of the trip. With real mesirus nefesh, my father agreed to pay for the other half, which was a large sum in those days, especially for a new immigrant.” The visit to the Rebbe for Tishrei is etched deeply in R’ Raskin’s mind and heart and fueled the fire of his hiskashrus to the Rebbe. “We merited unusual kiruvim from the Rebbe. At the t’kios on
Rosh HaShana, the Rebbe asked that all the new immigrants come and stand on the bima. The bima wasn’t that big, and it was simply impossible for everyone to stand there, but the Rebbe asked that an announcement be made that he would not start t’kios until the last of the immigrants was on the bima. I remember that the young ones in the group hung by their hands like clusters of grapes on the bima while the older Chassidim stood next to the Rebbe. “The same was true for the davening. The Rebbe asked that we stand in the front row. The older Chassidim sat on the first bench, while the young ones squeezed in and stood between the chazzan’s lectern and the Rebbe’s. A chain was put up there to prevent the Rebbe from being jostled. “At the farbrengens we stood on the farbrengen bima, as close
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as possible to the Rebbe, as you can see in the picture that was taken by a gentile photographer and published in The New York Times. “We were moved and shaken by the power of the experience, but while the locals and the regulars saw immediately that this was special, we only realized years later, after we saw how the Rebbe did things over decades, how the Rebbe treated us so very unusually. “I think that this unusual regard for us was not merely to express the Rebbe’s respect for those who had suffered under communism, but it was as though the Rebbe was addressing heaven and saying – see these G-d fearing Jews who left Russia; so that there would be a continuation … especially as this was after the Six Day War, following which, the Iron Curtain was closed for several years.” R’ Raskin tells about his first encounter with the Rebbe: “When I saw the Rebbe for the first time, it struck me that the Rebbe is the leader of the world. The entire world is on his shoulders. The Rebbe’s entire manner and all his actions seemed to broadcast this reality. “Later, when I heard how every sicha and maamer of the Rebbe ended with a promise, a wish and a burning desire for the Geula and the coming of Moshiach, I saw how the leader of the world placed the topic of Geula front and center. That completely changed my attitude towards Moshiach. Before I came to the Rebbe, it was impossible to know this. It was only when you were with the Rebbe for a month and heard the topic of Geula mentioned hundreds of times with such force that it got to you.”
the reBBe ProPhesies aBout the JeWs of russia
The new immigrants who left Russia that year and went to Eretz Yisroel were invited for Tishrei to the Rebbe. In the group were: R’ Avrohom Shmuel Lebenhartz, R’ Mulke Gurewitz, R’ Mottel Gorodetzky, R’ Moshe Goldschmid, R’ Nosson Bronstein, R’ Yona Lebenhartz, R’ Dovid Skolnik, R’ Moshe Greenberg, R’ Moshe Scheiner, R’ Mottel Chazan, R’ Shmuel Chaim Frankel, and many others. It was only natural that right after leaving Russia, they had a tremendous desire to see the Rebbe. The first one to go was R’ Naftali Estulin. He found it hard to accept a situation in which it was possible to see the Rebbe and yet, one stayed at a distance. Since he did not have a family yet, he quickly arranged his papers and spent Tishrei 5727 with the Rebbe. At one of the first farbrengens he attended, he merited special attention from the Rebbe. It was at the 6 Tishrei farbrengen when the Rebbe suddenly said, “The older Chassid (R’ Berke Chein) and the younger Chassid (R’ Naftali) should say l’chaim.” That month, the Rebbe referred a number of times to the Jews who still remained in Russia, as in the meantime only a small group had been able to leave. At that 6 Tishrei farbrengen, the Rebbe spoke at length about the promise, “the wicked government will be removed from the land,” and the Jews of the Soviet Union being allowed to leave. This was open prophecy. In the bracha after Mincha on Erev Yom Kippur, the Rebbe said that soon the gates of the Soviet Union would be opened and masses of Jews would be able to leave.
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WhY does hashem reJoiCe on shmini atZeres?
From a sicha of the Rebbe Rayatz on the night of Simchas Torah 5707/1947.
By Rabbi Boruch Sholom Cohen Edited by Y. Ben Boruch
You need to recognize it in all its clever permutations and refine it, which is only accomplished through the avoda of t’filla.
Very sharP words from the rebbe rashab
itself. It hears the announcements and absorbs them in order to carry them out. A neshama doesn’t jump; it needs to walk. It knows when to walk and when to jump, as in the folk saying, “Until you jump over, you don’t say ‘Hup!’” Chassidim need to be involved in the avoda of t’filla. You need to start davening! At a farbrengen in 5656/1896, the Rebbe Rashab spoke at great length about avodas ha’t’filla. He said: He who is involved in avodas ha’t’filla, the [Alter] Rebbe and all the Rebbeim bless him! A maskil (intellectual) who learns Chassidus and is not involved in avodas ha’t’filla is told: “Get out of here! You are not wanted here. Don’t stand in my presence,” and other very sharp things that I don’t want to repeat. This is aside from what was said many times, that if a person does not bring down haskala (intellectual grasp of divine concepts) into avodas ha’t’filla, that indicates that he understands nothing. His haskala and understanding are not haskala and understanding at all. Additionally, it is improper
neshamos Versus anGels
All information that is received up above comes by way of announcements. These announcements are made by angels. An angel is merely what he announces, for an angel is not an entity onto itself. His sole function is to carry out a given mission, even as he knows that it is not about him and it does not pertain to him. A neshama, however, is an entity onto itself. It knows that… the announcements pertain to itself, as it is the neshama that needs to carry it out. The main avoda is in action, and by doing it, the neshama is elevated…
the essence of the soul would burn the world!
The Rebbe Rashab then asked: Why is it that the essence of the neshama doesn’t come down to this world and only a glimmer comes down? He explained that if the essence of the neshama came down, it would burn up the world. A glimmer of the soul refines and purifies the world. It enters the body, and the animal soul (not the evil inclination) enclothes her. It is sometimes disguised as a pauper, or a rich person, or a comedian, and sometimes even as a nobleman.
a neshama doesn’t jumP
At the Simchas Beis HaShoeiva farbrengen in 5658/1897, the Rebbe Rashab spoke about the difference between angels and neshamos: Angels are excited and in a commotion, because all these declarations don’t affect them except in that they come through them. Therefore, they can be excited and jump at “Kadosh.” A neshama is an entity onto
An intellectual who learns Chassidus and is not involved in avodas ha’t’filla is told: “Get out of here! You are not wanted here. Don’t stand in my presence,” and other very sharp things that I don’t want to repeat.
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because the main thing is actual avoda. different. He goes to the sukka, even if it’s raining when he is exempt according to the din, and he does it out of love! He gets up at six in the morning to say the bracha on the esrog. Since he doesn’t have an esrog he runs to shul to say the bracha on the esrog and to daven. He pawns his work tools in order to buy a little mashke for Yom Tov. When Shmini Atzeres comes, he dances with the Torah in his torn shoes and pays no attention to the curses that his wife heaps on him, and how it’s a pity on the children who are naked and barefoot and the tools he pawned, and after Yom Tov he won’t have a way of redeeming them, and he won’t have the means to begin work after the holiday. Yet he rejoices wholeheartedly… and then all the claims of the accusers fall away and Hashem gives every Jew a good year and this is what makes Hashem rejoice. This is what is meant by Shmini Atzeres itself making the chag. The Rebbe Rayatz concluded: This is a Jew, this sincerity and this devotion, which is why Atzmus chose the neshamos of Israel. We, however, have intact shoes and we ought to dance. When he spoke about this to the Alter Rebbe, the Alter Rebbe said: Yes, he is a Chassid! When I came to Mezritch, I saw the davening and enthusiasm of the Jews in the beis midrash and I thought they were proficient in Bavli, Yerushalmi, Sifra, Sifri, Kabbala and Chassidus. But when I spoke to them, I realized they were Ein Yaakov Jews who knew a bit of Shulchan Aruch, but didn’t know the inner meaning of the Aggados (in Ein Yaakov). I felt downcast by this and said (in wonderment): These too are Chassidim!? The Alter Rebbe concluded to the Tzemach Tzedek: You need to get “sanded down” by spending time around the elder Chassidim who will scour you properly as they scoured me in Mezritch.
tomorrow should be different than today
For avodas ha’t’filla to have the desired effect, there needs to be the Bedtime Shma before that, making a spiritual accounting and finally coming to the conclusion, as R’ Hendel would say, quoting R’ Gershon Ber, that “We must be different!” He [R’ Gershon Ber] would say to himself: Change, and tomorrow will be different than today.
what makes hashem rejoice on shmini atZeres?
On Shmini Atzeres we say in the t’fillos, “Es Yom Shmini Atzeres HaChag HaZeh.” The question is, on all the other holidays, we first say the word “chag” and then the name of the holiday (“Es Yom Chag HaMatzos,” “Es Yom Chag HaShavuos”), so why is the order of the words different on Shmini Atzeres? It is because Shmini Atzeres itself makes the holiday. On Shmini Atzeres, Hashem is pleased that He did a good piece of work in that He gave the Jewish people a good year. On Rosh HaShana the books are opened and the prosecutors make their demands and their claims are correct, because to a simple person the month of Elul is no different than the month of Av, and the days of Slichos are no different than the month of Elul, and so too with Rosh HaShana, the Aseres Yemei T’shuva, Yom Kippur and the four days between Yom Kippur and Sukkos. But when Sukkos comes along, then a Jew is completely
he wished for himself the sincerity of a simPle Person
The Rebbe Rashab repeated in the name of the Rebbe Maharash, who stated in the name of the Tzemach Tzedek: The Alter Rebbe would wish for himself to attain the level of sincerity of a simple person! The Tzemach Tzedek added that when the Alter Rebbe would say this, he had two tears in his eyes. The Tzemach Tzedek found this astonishing, that a baal mochin (great intellect) such as the Alter Rebbe would have a kivutz mochin (compression of the intellect caused by encountering a concept that is beyond its capacity), for as it is known, tears are from kivutz ha’mochin.
yes, this is a chassid!
When the Tzemach Tzedek was 9, the Alter Rebbe told him about the period he was in Mezritch as well as the periods before and after Mezritch, about the Baal Shem Tov and about his father R’ Boruch and his uncle R’ Yosef Yitzchok, who were the Baal Shem Tov’s disciples. When the Tzemach Tzedek was 13 and he had a deep comprehension, he dismissed the davening of simple people and said about one of them: Yeah right, he’s a Chassid.
the maamer that Quieted the hearts
There is a maamer of the
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Rebbe Maharash that begins with “On Chaf-Hei Kislev” (referring to the maamer “Boruch Sh’Asa Nissim” which is a hemshech to the maamer “On ChafHei Kislev”). This maamer is originally a maamer of the Alter Rebbe, recorded by the Chassid R’ Pinchas Reizes, who was in charge of recording the maamarim by the Alter Rebbe in Liozna. In this maamer, the Alter Rebbe disparages excitement of the heart – the Alter Rebbe in his maamarim always praised excitement of the heart – so that once, Chassidim went to daven outside the city because their hearts were so aflame that they could not tolerate the limitations of the city. That is when the Alter Rebbe said the maamer in which he disparaged excitement of the heart and he thus quieted and cooled off the fiery fervor of the excitement of the heart.
there is no time to unPack the bundles
One year, when the dates fell out as it does this year (5707/1946) such that Shabbos B’Reishis is immediately after Shmini Atzeres and Simchas Torah, the Rebbe Rashab spoke about Shabbos having holiness onto itself with its own aspects. He said [with Shabbos immediately following Yom Tov] there is no time to unpack the bundles. The practice of businessmen is that when they return from the fair and they need to start selling merchandise (that they bought at the fair), it takes several days until they unpack the sacks of merchandise that they bought and check it all out. He thinks: It is worth suchand-such and it cost me so much
effort, and then he establishes the price for the merchandise… Likewise it is so with Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, Sukkos and Shmini Atzeres. He received much in the way of resources and he packed many bundles. When there is a break between Simchas Torah and Shabbos B’Reishis, he has time to unpack the merchandise and to set it up for sale, but this time [with Shabbos B’Reishis immediately following Simchas Torah] he did not yet have time to unpack and it’s already Shabbos B’Reishis. On the other hand, there is an advantage in that he knows what is in the packages, even if they are still packed, for they are there and he can say: Ai, what wonderful merchandise I bought! I have this and I have that. It’s still packed but it’s here! And in the meantime, he goes and dances. He cannot forget to unpack the merchandise so that it won’t become rotten and dried out. Sometimes mice can eat the merchandise, which is why he needs to immediately unpack it. The Rebbe Rayatz concluded: For those living in Eretz Yisroel, even when Shabbos B’Reishis is immediately following Simchas Torah, they have a break of one day (because Shmini AtzeresSimchas Torah is one day for them, and Friday is a weekday) and on this day they can unpack the merchandise.
burninG the “refuse”
You need to start davening and become another person! Before that, there needs to be the Bedtime Shma and indeed Chassidim would say Al Cheit during the Bedtime Shma. Al Cheit needs to be recited and not
said mindlessly. Especially after Yom Tov, when he has built up the “refuse of your holidays,” by saying: I am a mekurav. He received Shlishis or shishi (in the Aliyos L ’Torah) and he calls himself a “shlishi’diker” or a “shishi’diker.” Then there is the person whose “refuse” is from the fact that he learned Torah, from knowing how to learn not only Gemara with Rashi but also Tos’fos and commentaries, and he understands them. And he even knows all the maamarei Chazal, and in the Aggados Chazal he also knows the inner meaning. From all this he has built up quite a bit of “refuse.” This is why he needs the Bedtime Shma, to make a true spiritual accounting applied to himself, and then there needs to be avodas ha’t’filla done properly, and by doing this, he fulfills the Supernal Will. The Rebbe Rayatz concluded: Material matters in general are only secondary, but material things need to be for the sake of spiritual matters.
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HOLY GUESTS IN THE SUKKA
By Menachem Ziegelboim
The year that this story took place, the Baal Shem Tov changed his usual practice and immediately after Havdala on Motzaei Yom Kippur, went to the beis midrash to partake of the holiday feast. It was a joyous day and it was a mitzva to eat and be happy. The glow on the tzaddik’s
face was completely unlike the avoda of the day, which had been done with great gravity and merirus (bitterness). Apparently, a black cloud hovered over the Jewish people and the Baal Shem Tov had worked to remove the evil decree. “It was hard work this year,” began the Baal Shem Tov. “A severe decree hovered over Am Yisroel, and only thanks to the
mitzva of hospitality of our brethren in the western lands, were we saved. In the merit of this mitzva, Avrohom Avinu was overjoyed. Avrohom himself sealed the mouth of the accuser.” The Baal Shem Tov’s joy was enormous and he lingered at the table until dawn. The day after Yom Kippur was Erev Shabbos, and the preparations for Shabbos were
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different than other Arvei Shabbos. The great simcha extended into the night and Shabbos day. As the Shabbos day drew to a close, during the third meal, the tzaddik responded to the request of his disciples and he said, “When they rejoice up above over the mitzva of hospitality of village Jews, it would be fitting to travel there to see how they conduct themselves.” After the bentching, Maariv, and Havdala, the order was given to Alexi the wagon driver to prepare the wagon and horses. Within a short time, a small group of disciples was ready to go.
The villager had no idea what was going on. Suddenly, all eyes were upon him. The tzaddik had placed him at the head of the table and he wondered why he was being so honored. What made him better than his fellow paupers?
villager’s home that day, and the next day, they would daven together in the city. Indeed, the following morning, dozens of villagers walked with the Baal Shem Tov’s disciples to the big city, an hour away. The city welcomed the Baal Shem Tov with great honor. The heads of the community begged him to be their guest during the meals. The Baal Shem Tov said that it depended on the consent of his host. The host, with his golden heart, agreed to forgo the great privilege and allow the Jews of the city to enjoy the tzaddik’s presence. So the Baal Shem Tov remained there until the end of Yom Tov, to the delight of the people of the city.
The horses traveled swiftly. The passengers could see cities, towns and villages passing by. They were accustomed to traveling with k’fitzas HaDerech (shortening of the road), and yet, each time they were astounded anew by the open miracle. When it turned light, they saw they had arrived in a city. Some guessed they were in Germany, but they could not ask anyone until the horses stopped. This they knew, that the horses went where they were led by the tzaddik. The horses traveled through the streets of the city and left the city behind. In another little while they had stopped in a village, opposite a big house that looked like an inn. As soon as he heard the neighing of the horses, the innkeeper came out. When he saw that they were Jews, his face lit up. He ran to greet the guests with arms spread wide as he said, “Thanks and praise to G-d! Guests like these for Yom Tov!
Ah, we will surely have a joyous holiday.” The Baal Shem Tov told him he intended on staying in the city for Yom Tov where he would have a shul, a mikva and a fine esrog, which was not commonly found in the home of every Jew in those days. The man said, “We also have a mikva, a shul with a kosher Torah and a beautiful esrog. If you would like, we can daven in the big shul in town, but please dear Jews, do me this favor and stay with us for Yom Tov.” The Baal Shem Tov saw how the man longed to host them and he agreed to stay. He told his talmidim that this is where they would spend Yom Tov. The joy in the man’s house was indescribable. The family members began quickly preparing both for Yom Tov and for their guests. After Maariv, they all entered the villager’s spacious sukka. The tzaddik’s face shone. The mitzva of sitting in the sukka filled him with enormous joy. The villager now found out that the man he was hosting in his home and in his sukka was none other than the Baal Shem Tov, whose name had spread even to western Europe. The next day, the host said to his illustrious guest, “In your honor, let all the villagers go to the city and daven there in the big shul.” The Baal Shem Tov said that he wanted to daven in the
Shortly before they set out again, the Baal Shem Tov asked his host how he could bless him for his hospitality. The simple man said, “Holy rabbi! I don’t lack for anything. G-d gave me a family and money. I have but one request, to merit life in the World to Come.” The tzaddik smiled and said, “If you want my promise, you must come to me in Mezhibuzh.” “Yes, Rebbi,” said the man. “In order to merit Olam Haba it is worth going through fire and water!” “If so,” said the Baal Shem Tov, “take my advice and bring along some wagons laden with barrels of wine. They are worth a lot in our area. May Hashem help
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you make a nice profit.” After the tzaddik departed, the villager set aside all his work and began preparing for the long trip. He had several weeks of traveling ahead of him, since he did not have k’fitzas HaDerech. He bought many barrels of wine and hired wagon drivers and set out. At a certain point, it suddenly began to pour until they could travel no further. The wagon drivers brought them to the nearest inn. The next day, the skies cleared and the sun shone. The villager woke up early, davened and was ready to leave. However, when he went to the place where he had left the wagon drivers and merchandise, he did not find a trace of them! He rubbed his eyes in astonishment, trying to remember where he had left them. He went right back to the inn to see whether they were there, but did not see them and not even the inn! The villager could not understand what had happened. Was it all a dream or had he been hallucinating? He ran about like a madman, but saw nothing. Frightened, he fell to the ground in a faint. He did not know how much time had elapsed and what had happened in the interim. He slowly woke up and found himself in an open field. He tried recalling how he had gotten there, and began to remember the bizarre circumstances. His head hurt and his stomach reminded him that he hadn’t eaten in some time. He did not know what to do next when a group of paupers appeared and were surprised to find a Jew lying on the ground. They quickly offered him help and he began to get back to himself. He drank a little bit and had some dry bread that one of the men took out of his bag. When he had recovered, he joined their group. He went with them wherever they went. Within a short time, he had grown accustomed to his new friends. He wandered with them from place to place, from town to town, and whatever they did, he did too. undergone since he had left home to travel to the tzaddik in Mezhibuzh. “Do you recognize me?” suddenly asked the Baal Shem Tov. “Yes,” said the villager, his teeth chattering in fright. “You are Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov.” The tzaddik looked pleased. “Do you remember that when I visited you last Sukkos, you asked me to promise you Olam Haba?” All at once, the villager remembered everything. He shuddered. He had gone through so much since then. “Yes, yes, though so much time has elapsed since that day.” “You are mistaken,” said the Baal Shem Tov with a smile. “Not even two months have passed since then. As far as the wine, don’t worry. Tomorrow morning all the merchandise that disappeared will arrive.” The villager stared in wonder, not taking his eyes off the tzaddik. He could not believe everything that had taken place. It was all still confusing. He was only beginning to realize that he had gone through a terrible hallucination beyond all comprehension. “You asked for a big thing,” said the tzaddik after a prolonged silence. “Obtaining Olam Haba is not easy. A person needs to work hard, be refined as silver is refined, and distance any blot from his soul. It can be said in your merit that you accepted your suffering with love; you inclined your head in acceptance of the heavenly judgment to the point that you completely forgot your past. In this period of time, your soul was purified. Fortunate are you that you merited to inherit both worlds!”
One day, the group arrived in Mezhibuzh. He knew this because the paupers said so. Nothing was hidden from the Baal Shem Tov and upon their arrival in town, he said to his servant, “A new band of paupers has arrived. Go and find them and invite them to eat the Shabbos meal with me.” When the paupers came to the Baal Shem Tov’s home, he said that each of them should enter to be received by him. When it was the villager’s turn, the Baal Shem Tov said to him, “You will remain with me.” The Baal Shem Tov asked his servant to bring new Shabbos clothes for the guest and to take him to the bathhouse to prepare for Shabbos. During the davening, the Baal Shem Tov had the villager stand next to him, and at the table, he seated him right next to him. The villager had no idea what was going on. Suddenly, all eyes were upon him. The tzaddik had placed him at the head of the table and he wondered why he was being so honored. What made him better than his fellow paupers? With the tzaddik’s influence, the fog of forgetfulness began to lift and he slowly remembered what had happened to him, including all the travails he had
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Beis Moshiach is pleased to present a compilation of stories and thoughts from the book mi’shivchei harebbi by R’ Mordechai Menashe Laufer. the atmosPhere of tishrei 5727 beGan on chaf aV
The Chaf Av 5726/1966 farbrengen was unusual. Shabbos Parshas Eikev, Chaf Av, seemed to actually be the start of the month of Tishrei, physically as well as spiritually. Physically – because of the large crowd who came especially for the yahrtzait of R’ Levi Yitzchok, the Rebbe’s father. The Rebbe davened for the amud and the crowding was reminiscent of Tishrei. At Maftir there was crying, the likes of which there hadn’t been since Rosh HaShana, during the t’kios. As soon as the Rebbe began the Haftarah, he burst into tears, especially at the pasuk, “Why did I come and there was no man; I called and nobody responded?” These two things were reminiscent of Tishrei. Spiritually – at the end of the farbrengen, the Rebbe said a short sicha about Chaf Av being forty days before Rosh HaShana and the forty days before the formation of a fetus. After this sicha, the Rebbe asked for the niggunim “Tzama lecha nafshi,” “Avinu Malkeinu,” “Hu Elokeinu,” and “Shamil.” After this farbrengen, one could already feel the Tishrei atmosphere. Slichos. The Rebbe cried a lot when he said the maamer and said that all Jews are tzaddikim, because every day of the year every Jew has thoughts of t’shuva, and by thinking thoughts of t’shuva, they become completely righteous and even a baal t’shuva etc. In the middle, he stopped for a few moments and you could see on his face how he was making a great effort to refrain from crying.”
all jews are riGhteous
An excerpt from a letter that a bachur wrote on Erev Rosh HaShana 5730/1969: “You surely heard about what happened on the third day of
when the rebbe stoPPed farbrenGinG in the sukka
On 13 Tishrei 5731/1970, R’ Meir Harlig wrote to his friends around the world:
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Torah day, since it was before Shabbos and many halachic questions arise concerning this.”
three stories With imPortant lessons
why the rebbe delayed cominG out for maariV
The night of Yud Shevat 5724/1964 coincided with Shabbos. The crowd eagerly anticipated the Rebbe’s entering the beis midrash, as it was his practice to daven for the amud on this day. Before Maariv, R’ Chadakov came in and said, on the Rebbe’s behalf: If there was nothing to do until Maariv, they could do t’shuva for being lenient when it came to responding amen yihei shmei rabba and boruch hu u’varuch shemo. The tikkun is that those who stand near the chazan should answer loudly. If it is hard for them, because they are in “higher worlds,” then simple people, whose minds are not confused, should stand there and they can respond. All this, he went on to say, applied not only on a day that the Rebbe davened as the shliach tzibbur like on this Shabbos, Yud Shevat, but the rest of the year too.
the time of Geula will be Precious
At one of the holiday meals at the Rebbe’s table during Tishrei 5730, there was talk about the delight Above which is generated by the avoda of iskafia (resisting one’s natural impulses) during galus. The Rebbe’s reaction was: It is indeed very precious and delightful, but the time of Geula is incomparably more delightful.
at the kinG’s table
This is how one of the guests from Eretz Yisroel described the meals during Tishrei 5713/1952 with the Rebbe in the Rebbe Rayatz’s apartment: “I was invited for Rosh HaShana and Motzaei Yom Kippur, to eat together with the Rebbe by the old Rebbetzin (Nechama Dina). On one side were the Rebbe, R’ Shmuel Levitin, R’ Avrohom Sender Nemtzov, and R’ Shmuel Dovid Raichik. On the other side were Rashag, R’ Moshe Dovber Rivkin, myself, R’ Menachem Mendel Cunin, and R’ Chanoch Hendel Lieberman. At the end of the table were two bachurim who served. “The Rebbe Rayatz’s place at the head of the table was vacant. There were challos, a cup for wine, a knife, spoon and fork at his place at the table. “During Sukkos, Shmini Atzeres, and Simchas Torah, I was invited again by the old Rebbetzin to eat with her in the Rebbe’s presence. My place was next to Rashag and the Rebbe sat opposite me. Next to him was R’ Shmuel Levitin.”
daVeninG Versus learninG
R’ Leibel Groner once asked the Rebbe: When learning Pirkei Avos, is it permissible to say Hashem’s name when reading the verses that are quoted? The Rebbe answered, no, just say “Hashem,” because these are incomplete verses. R’ Groner asked: If so, why is it that in “K’gavna” in Kabbalas Shabbos do we say, “Raza d’Hashem Echad U’shemo Echad” with Hashem’s name when it is half a verse? The Rebbe said: In “K’gavna” it is part of the t’filla and so there is no reason not to say Hashem’s name, but in Pirkei Avos it is part of one’s learning.
when the rebbe accePted a Gift
The Rebbe usually refrained from accepting gifts and would quote Mishlei, “one who hates gifts will live.” But there were exceptions to the rule. When the Rebbe visited the talmidim at the first Pesach seder in 5732/1972, which took place in the U’faratzta hall [currently serving as the Kollel], R’ Dovid Raskin told the Rebbe that the carpet laid on the steps going up to the hall was bought by the talmidim especially for the Rebbe. The Rebbe responded, “That is as it should be!” “On Motzaei Yom Kippur 5731, the Rebbe told R’ Chadakov that there wouldn’t be a farbrengen on the second day of Sukkos, on Shabbos Chol HaMoed, or on Simchas Torah. “The next day, after Mincha, members of the Vaad HaMesader and some guests waited at the door and spoke to the Rebbe about this. The Rebbe replied that in general there was no order, and especially in the sukka, and therefore he would not farbreng at all. “The Rebbe said this very loud. He also explained why he wouldn’t farbreng on Simchas
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a sPecial feelinG of connection to a rebbe
On the first day of Sukkos 5730, the talk turned to the topic of not sleeping in the sukka (among other things, the Rebbe said that it is known that the Rebbeim did not see that they should be particular about this custom; and not because of the cold, for there were times that it was possible to heat the sukka). The Rebbe then mentioned the Gemara (Sukka 32b) about Rav Acha, the student of Rav Kahana, who was particular about taking a myrtle with the leaves lined up “two and one,” since the ruling that it was permissible to do so came from the mouth of Rav Kahana. He did this because of his great feeling of hiskashrus (inner bonding) towards his teacher. The Gemara doesn’t tell us this about every one of the great men of the Amoraic period, but only about Rav Acha the son of Rava, because one needs a special hergesh (sensitivity/feeling) for this and only he had it.
The Rebbe farbrenging in the sukka
Nu, if he wants to accept the “yoke of Torah,” let him.
niGGunim from eretZ yisroel
R’ Tuvia Blau related: The Rebbe would sometimes ask someone (with singing ability) who came from Eretz Yisroel to sing a niggun from Eretz Yisroel. For example, “Hoshia es Amecha” is a niggun that was sung by Nadvorna Chassidim and R’ Avrohom Lider brought it to 770. And there are other examples. I would like to tell about a niggun that is sung in Yerushalayim to the words “Ozer Dalim Hoshia Na,” which is actually an old YerushalmiSefardi niggun. On Simchas Torah 5719/1958, R’ Yona Greenwald was asked to sing “M’Zimras HaAretz” (a play on words that refers to a song) and he sang this niggun. But the Rebbe dismissed it and said, “It is not suitable for here.” Then he sang “Eimasai K’asai Mar” and the Rebbe accepted it
accePtinG the yoke of torah
The Judge Chaim Cohen, who served as a member of the Israeli delegation to a United Nations meeting, visited the Rebbe the night of Simchas Torah 5736. When he was given the honor of carrying the first Torah of the second hakafa, he was given a large, heavy Torah. The Rebbe, who saw that it was too heavy for him, asked someone to bring him a smaller Torah. When they tried taking the larger Torah from Mr. Cohen, he refused (apparently, he thought that they just wanted to take it from him without replacing it). The Rebbe, who was watching, said with a smile:
enthusiastically. In 5723/1962 (when I went to the Rebbe for the first time), R’ Avrohom Lider was asked to sing, and he sang “Ozer Dalim” (he obviously did not know what happened with R’ Yona Greenwald) and the Rebbe dismissed it with a surprised shrug of his shoulders. R’ Avrohom said, “They sing it on Simchas Torah in all the shuls in Yerushalayim!” The Rebbe responded, “Over there, perhaps it is after the birur.” Then R’ Lider sang “Ashrei HaAm Sh’Kacha Lo.” The reason for the dismissal of “Ozer Dalim” is apparently because Zionist youth (before the communist revolution in Russia) sang this tune to Bialak’s words “Bein Porat L ’Chidekel,” and it was a sort of anthem. The niggun “Eimasai” is an old Yerushalmi (Chassidic) niggun to the words, “Mosai, mosai, mosai Yibaneh HaMikdash.” R’ Shmuel Elozor Halperin and R’ Eliezer Perlstein married, one after the other, on
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unBelieVaBle knoWledge aBout What is haPPening in eretZ Yisroel
Dr. Mordechai Kirschblum wrote in his book Mikol are signaling to me that the time has come for me to visit the Rebbe, and that is what I will do. What I promised, I Melamdai Hiskalti: will fulfill!” In the twelve years before I made aliya, I was a As soon as I arrived home, I called the Rebbe’s office member of the Jewish Agency, in the American division, as the head of the aliya and absorption department and the and I was told by his secretary that the Rebbe did not Torah education department. This appointment enabled receive people in Elul. In “misnagdic” indifference, I me, even required me, to visit Eretz Yisroel several times a explained that as far as I was concerned I could wait, but my promise to Shazar was pressing on me. I even asked year in order to attend meetings. At one of these joint meetings between the Israeli that for health reasons, I should be given an appointment and American administrations of the worldwide Zionist at a reasonable time and not in the middle of the night. In movement, which was headed by Mr. Zalman Shazar, I the end, I got what I wanted and R’ Chadakov even agreed had to leave in the middle in order to answer an urgent to my special condition. Nevertheless, it was emphasized phone call. In the corridor three distinguished looking that I was given only 15 minutes since the entire thing was Lubavitchers were waiting for the meeting to end, so they out of the ordinary. I was in the Rebbe’s room. The evening was warm and could discuss an important matter with their very eminent friend, the Chabad Chassid, Mr. Shazar. I shook their my head was feverish. The Rebbe received me graciously in a way that was heartwarming. The first thing I said hands and greeted them. The threesome wanted to know where I was coming was: “I know that you can ask me the famous question from. When they heard that I was from the United ‘Where have you been until now.’ There is an answer to States, they wanted to know which city. It wasn’t this difficult question, but let us leave it for the end.” The Rebbe invited me to sit down and said, “I imagine enough for them when I said New York, and they didn’t let up until I specified Brooklyn. Their obvious that you usually take off your hat and you sit while question, asked in a confident tone, was, “If you are wearing a yarmulke, especially on a warm night like this, from Brooklyn, then when did you last see the Rebbe?” and so – please do as you are accustomed and make yourself comfortable.” The simple chesed, which was vital for me, impressed I felt that if I told them the truth, that I had never been to the Rebbe, they would be offended, and so I said, me tremendously. As far as I was concerned, the Rebbe “It has been some time now that I’ve merited seeing the had already won me over as a great and special man who understood people, even regarding their physical needs. Rebbe.” We spoke for a long time about all sorts of important The leader of the three, who was nicknamed “Yona Oseh (one who does) Mitzvos” (Eidelkop), exclaimed, matters. The Rebbe amazed me with his incredible “Listen here, my friend. As soon as you return home, visit knowledge of matters big and small taking place in our the Rebbe, for he is the source of health and parnasa Land. When I left the Rebbe’s room, a group of students who and the source of blessing that will give you success in were sitting and learning greeted me and wanted to know everything you do.” Since, at that time, I had need of a significant what I had received from the Rebbe. I was surprised and I improvement in my health, I resolved to follow up on said, “My young friends, you are constantly in the Rebbe’s what he said. The next morning, Mr. Shazar appeared presence, and for me it was the first visit of my life. You at my hotel. He gave me a large, brown envelope need my information?!” They did not hesitate for even a moment; the youngest containing many pages of highly classified documents. He said, “I brought a detailed report that I prepared for of the group, who later joined the secretariat, R’ Leibel the Lubavitcher Rebbe about my visit to Russia. I left it in Groner, smiled and with impressive sharpness said, “You an open envelope so that you can read it too. I have one know what Chazal say (B’Reishis Rabba VaYechi 94): Just request: that when you go to New York, make your way as these fish are raised in water, and when a single drop to the Rebbe as soon as possible and personally give it to falls from above they greet it thirstily as if they had never him. Don’t send it in the mail and don’t send it with a in their lives tasted the taste of water ...” [so are Israel raised in water, in Torah, and when they hear a new idea messenger. Give it to him yourself.” from the Torah they greet it thirstily as if they had never in I took the envelope and told my friend Shazar everything that happened the day before with the Chabad their lives heard a Torah idea, which is why the Chassidim delegation, and I added, “It seems that from Heaven they wanted to hear a report about this visit with the Rebbe].
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the two days of Rosh Chodesh Elul 5718/1957, in Yeshivas Toras Emes in Yerushalayim. The crowd (led by R’ Tzvi Eisenbach), after singing the Yerushalmi niggun, began fitting the words “Eimasai K’asai Mar” to the tune, as it is sung today. R’ Yona Greenwald brought this to the Rebbe who accepted it at the farbrengen.
kol meVaser three times on simchas torah
At the end of the Simchas Torah night farbrengen 5726/1965 (which began at 7:30 and ended at 12:30), R’ Zalman Duchman was going to announce how the hakafos would be held. The Rebbe told him to say, “Sha shtiler” (be quiet), which he did. The Rebbe told him to say it three times, which he did. The Rebbe told him to announce, “Kol Mevaser, Mevaser V’Omer” three times, which he did, and the Rebbe smiled a bit. The next day, at the farbrengen, which was conducted in elevated spirits (the Rebbe removed the limitations on drinking mashke for that farbrengen), the Rebbe asked that “Kol Mevaser” be announced three times.
The Rebbe motioned that they should continue whistling. He said that it was an opportunity to whistle that was worth seizing.
because now is the time to whistle about all the decrees. They whistled loudly and then they stopped. The Rebbe motioned that they should continue whistling. He said that it was an opportunity to whistle that was worth seizing. Then the Rebbe asked that they announce that whistling was just for that time but afterward, they shouldn’t whistle, even for matters of k’dusha, because it was (the klipa of) Plishtim within k’dusha.
a time to whistle, a time to be Quiet
During the distribution of Kos Shel Bracha after the Simchas
Torah farbrengen of 5730, the Rebbe called for R’ Berel Zaltzman (who had recently come out of Russia) and told him to sing niggunim in Russian and teach them to the crowd, so that on Shabbos Mevarchim they would be able to sing them at the farbrengen. Then the Rebbe told him to whistle and they whistled several times. Then the Rebbe said they should bring him someone who knows how to whistle loudly and he said: You should whistle
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Issue 851 • �
The Rebbe farbrenging in the sukka near 770
in the sukka With the reBBe
While those in Eretz Yisroel are sweating in their sukkos, the Chassidim in Crown Heights are sometimes buffeted by winds and rain. * did the Rebbe wear a coat in the sukka? * What are the similarities between the ushpizin of Yaakov and the Alter Rebbe? * Two stories from the Rebbe’s sukka recounted at a farbrengen by R’ Pinchas Stazgovsky of Kiryat Gat.
By R Studnitz
For many years, the Rebbe held farbrengens in the sukka. This began even before his nesius, when he farbrenged on rare occasions. The Chassidim who were in the sukka with the Rebbe had a rule: if the Rebbe entered the sukka with a coat, you could sit in the sukka with a coat, but if not, then you did not wear a coat, no matter the weather. Sometimes, even when the Rebbe walked in wearing a coat, it was only resting on his
42 � • Erev Sukkos 5773
shoulders and before he said the maamer, he took it off. One Sukkos when the Rebbe farbrenged, everyone sat without a coat despite the pouring rain. One of the old men who was concerned about his health, did not take off his coat. Of all the people present, he became sick after the farbrengen with a miserable flu. He decided to write to the Rebbe. The Rebbe responded that the reason he had taken ill was because there had been a barrier between him and the makif of the sukka. The moral of the story is: if you went to the sukka in order to warm yourself up by the Rebbe’s warmth and the farbrengen, then you didn’t need a coat; but if you came to sit inside your own shell, then you can manage on your own! Let’s see you sit for hours in the rain; even a coat won’t protect you!
There is nothing colder than intellect. The chiddush and breakthrough of the Alter Rebbe was that he brought the light of emuna and enthusiasm for Avodas Hashem into intellect.
the windows of the heaVens oPened
I heard the following story from someone who was present at the Chol HaMoed farbrengen in the Rebbe’s sukka. It was 5727/1966, and the Chassidim sat and waited in the sukka for the Rebbe to come. The Rebbe walked in, put his coat aside, and began to farbreng. What did the Rebbe usually farbreng about on Sukkos? About the Ushpizin in the holy Zohar and the Chassidishe
Ushpizin. This farbrengen was held on the third day of Sukkos, and the Rebbe spoke about Yaakov and the Alter Rebbe. The Rebbe quoted the Zohar that states that each of the Ushpizin who comes to the sukka says a pasuk. What does Yaakov say? “Then your light will break through like the dawn” (Yeshaya 58). Why this pasuk? The Tzemach Tzedek explains that the letters of יעקבare the same letters as ( יבקעto break through). The idea of breaking through is that in every transition from state to state, there needs to be a kind of breaking. As for the dawn, the final moments of night, when the darkness is greatest, there is suddenly a glimmer of light which is called “the light of dawn.” With the breaking of dawn, the night is over. This light has a special quality, which even the bright afternoon light does not have. For even though it is miniscule, it has the ability to break through the greatest darkness of night. Yaakov went to Charan, to Lavan, Besuel, and all the tricksters there. He was the first one to bring the holiness of Eretz Yisroel to the outside. That was minor compared to the tests of
the Covenant of the Pieces and the Akeida that Avrohom and Yitzchok faced, but only Yaakov broke through the darkness that was outside Eretz Yisroel. As for the Chassidic parallel, the Alter Rebbe took faith and brought it into a realm completely opposed to it, i.e. the mind. When you want to move something from faith to intellect, you need to break through, because intellect is the greatest anti-faith there can be. Who is easier to excite about matters of holiness and spirituality – a simple person or someone with a doctorate in physics? There is nothing colder than intellect. The chiddush and breakthrough of the Alter Rebbe was that he brought the light of emuna and enthusiasm for avodas Hashem into intellect. The Rebbe explained all this at the farbrengen. As the Rebbe spoke, it began to pour and there was thunder and lightening. It seemed like buckets were being poured on them from above. Everybody there felt the connection to what the Rebbe was speaking about in that the heavens split open.
to Bring moshiaCh noW!
Issue 851 • �
ADD IN ACTS OF GOODNESS & KINDNESS
SHLIACH OF THE
Uri Revach started his celebrated journalist career twenty years ago. He didn’t dream that his life would change drastically and he would become a shliach in the Israeli broadcasting world. * Today, he lives the life of a Chassid along with his wife and five children, and he brings the Rebbe’s message to hundreds of thousands of Israelis via the television screen.
By Sholom Ber Crombie
wice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, a minyan of employees convenes in a small office at the broadcasting station. They put on t’fillin and hold a minyan for Shacharis. There are producers, editors, photographers, and even the director of the Israel
Broadcasting Authority (IBA), Yoni Ben-Menachem. The door to the room opens more than once during the davening as employees come in to quickly put on t’fillin before going off to work. The one who runs the show, as well as all the activities there, is none other than the reporter for
Arutz 1, Uri Revach. The room that the davening takes place in is his private office that has turned into a shul. There is an Aron Kodesh with a Torah, a Torah library, a bima for the Torah reading, talleisim and t’fillin. All the station’s employees know that when they have a question
44 � • Erev Sukkos 5773
about some point in Judaism, Uri is the man to turn to. At the end of the davening, Uri announces an upcoming farbrengen for employees of the station. He also urges people to attend the ongoing shiurim that take place, surprisingly, in the office of the director. It seems like the typical Chabad house with mekuravim, regular attendees of prayer services, farbrengens and shiurim. Welcome to the Chabad house of the IBA
When you sit down to talk with Uri, you meet a Chassid who lives and breathes Chassidus and hiskashrus. He has the enthusiasm of a shliach and speaks the language of mivtzaim – arranging a farbrengen, preparing for mivtza Chanuka, and putting up a mezuza in the home of one of the mispallelim. For a moment, he seems out of place in the broadcasting offices, but as a shliach who creates an environment, Uri walks the corridors of the broadcasting station as an integral part of the scene. He is loved by the employees and broadcasters and is admired in all departments of television and radio. He feels he has a double shlichus, among the employees and as a Chassidic personality on the screen where he brings the Rebbe’s message to hundreds of thousands of homes in Eretz Yisroel. Last year, Uri covered a number of the big battles over Shleimus Ha’Aretz and Mihu Yehudi, which enjoyed unprecedented viewer response. “It began with an expose of the non-kosher conversions in the IDF which made waves. We did a report during the main news broadcast about the halachic problems with the
Uri Revach (right) with IBA director general Yoni Ben-Menachem and former director of television programming Motty Eden at a menorah lighting
As Uri’s career skyrocketed, his feelings of aversion to the world of the media increased. He began thinking about his constant involvement in lashon ha’ra and rechilus and felt distant from the cruel world of media coverage, which often hurt people in order to obtain another juicy story.
conversions being done in the army and were able to bring this to people’s attention. In the report, there was a quote from the Rebbe in which he spoke very sharply about the rabbanim who pasken not according to Halacha and legitimize conversions and shed blood. “We also quoted Rabbi Gedalia Askserod who explained the problem with these conversions, and this created an uproar in the country. Although it wasn’t a simple matter to go out publicly against these rabbis, we decided to go ahead anyway and we saw this was effective.” Uri said that President Shimon Peres’ wife died the same week that the topic of Mihu Yehudi was raised, and he decided to use his connections to bring R’ Shimon Friedman [AKA Shimon HaTzaddik, see issue #836], then of Kfar Chabad, to speak to him. Thirty years earlier, R’ Friedman had been arrested next to Peres’ house in Ramat Aviv when he tried to speak to him and ask him to amend the Law of Return. When Uri and R’ Friedman went for the Shiva, he finally met with Peres and asked him to amend the law. “As for Shleimus Ha’Aretz,
Issue 851 • �
and the Gulf War. During the war, I would hear the missiles falling in Tel Aviv and I would grab a taxi and go to the nearest hospital to report from there. I remember that the victims were mainly those suffering from fright and shock or those who did not know how to properly use their gas mask and had been injured. During the war, I saw the miracles from up close and it made a tremendous impression on me. I realized there was Someone who was running the world.” Uri did not keep his feelings to himself; they were evident in his reporting. He mentioned the miracles and hashgacha pratis in his reporting and told the listeners how the hand of G-d was blatantly visible during the war. When he had to put together a segment, he always chose those people who spoke about miracles and emuna and bitachon. At the end of the war, Uri realized the dream of every reporter and went into television broadcasting. He was sent to Yerushalayim to work for Channel 2 Israeli television, and he began working as a political reporter. “The work was massive, around the clock, and I was considered a rapacious reporter without scruples. My daily schedule entailed chasing after political stories or machinations that were going on in the upper echelons. From a worldly perspective, I was at the height of my career, but I suddenly felt an enormous emptiness. In hindsight, I realized that I hurt a lot of people including many politicians who suffered from my scathing tongue and my investigations.” As Uri’s career skyrocketed, his feelings of aversion to the
ChaBad house at the israel BroadCasting authoritY
A number of years ago, Uri decided to turn his office at the television department into a shul. He began holding minyanim and shiurim there. Slowly, the place turned into a bustling outreach center. Before long, the place became too small. So with the approval of the former director of television programming, Motty Eden, a wall separating Uri’s office from the next room was taken down. Following an article that was written about Uri’s work, a Torah was donated and the Hachnasas Seifer Torah was attended by many public figures including ministers and Knesset members. For every holiday, a program is arranged for all the employees. On Chanuka, a menorah is set up in the main lobby. Last year, the activities spread to other channels, where Uri went along with a group of bachurim to light menorahs. we quoted the Rebbe in a piece that we did about the Arab takeover in Tzfas. Whenever we quote the Rebbe, I get feedback. People see what the Rebbe said and how pained he was and this makes an impact on them. The P’sak Halacha of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu against selling homes to Arabs generated a storm of opinion and engendered the letter signed by rabbanim.” a long battle until he was finally accepted to serve at the military station. He says this was the first time that he felt Hashem’s hashgacha. “I felt that if Hashem wanted me to be accepted, I would be there, and that is what happened. I had a strong feeling of bitachon in Hashem and hashgacha pratis at that time.” Uri was accepted as a reporter on the economy and social issues at the military broadcasting station. This was not the first time Uri had turned to Hashem. He grew up in a traditional home and Judaism was never foreign to him. “We had Kiddush on Friday night, and we celebrated the holidays and fasted on Yom Kippur. The house wasn’t religious, but it was definitely close to Hashem. I always had emuna within me, but it was hidden. I had to undergo a process to uncover it.” This process occurred at the same time as his success in his career in the media unfolded. “During the years that I worked at Galei Tzahal, I covered a number of significant events including the first tent protesters
rePorts with miracles
Uri began his work in the media when he was a twelfth grader, in a youth program on a radio station in Tel Aviv. At that young age his broadcasting talents were apparent and he was identified as someone whose future career would be as a journalist behind the microphone. He points out that today, twenty years later, he broadcasts his Melaveh Malka program every Motzaei Shabbos on the same channel that his youth program was broadcast on back then. When he graduated school, he signed up to serve at the military station, Galei Tzahal, and hoped to be accepted as a military reporter. However, he was denied a chance to test for the position and had to undergo
46 � • Erev Sukkos 5773
world of the media increased. He began thinking about his constant involvement in lashon ha’ra and rechilus and felt distant from the cruel world of media coverage, which often hurt people in order to obtain another juicy story. At that point, he decided that the time had come to return to his roots. He began attending shul more frequently and attended shiurim at Machon Meir. He also began understanding the concept of Shleimus Ha’Aretz. “I started getting involved in the issue of the possession of the land in Eretz Yisroel and this came across in my reporting. As part of my job, I was responsible for covering the office of the presidency, which was held by Ezer Weizman at the time. I suddenly found myself asking him all kinds of questions about Shleimus Ha’Aretz in interviews. He gave me a look as though to say, why are you asking me all these questions? “That was also the first place where I showed up wearing a kippa. This was when I traveled there after davening with a religious reporter from Galei Tzahal. He had called me to say I had forgotten his kippa on my head. I decided, then and there, that I would always wear a kippa. I remember that when I showed up at the studio, everyone asked me who had died. They were sure I was in the midst of Shiva or was a mourner, G-d forbid.”
Uri Revach (center) farbrenging with Anash and bachurim on one of his visits to 770
When he was sent to report on an attack on Rechov Yaffo in Yerushalayim, he included a description of a woman in the area who proclaimed Yechi. When the editor asked him what this had to do with the story, he explained that its purpose was to portray an appeal for the Geula following the attack.
and kashrus. He still wasn’t fully satisfied though. Something was still missing. “One night, after an exhausting day, I was sitting in a cafe with a friend and telling him about my search for the truth. He told me that he himself came from a Lubavitcher family and all his brothers are shluchim of the Rebbe around the world. He acquainted me with the world of Chabad and described the Chassidic experience. For the first time in my life, I heard about a farbrengen, a mashpia, a shiur in Chassidus and a Chassidic dance. The stories greatly excited me and I asked him to take me to a farbrengen. “A few days later, he called me and invited me to a farbrengen with R’ Reuven Dunin a”h in Kfar Chabad. When I arrived, I immediately felt at home. That was my initial venture into the world of Chabad. “I decided to add Maariv with a minyan to my daily schedule and began attending farbrengens. Through that bachur, I met R’ Daniel Edery of Ramat Shlomo who offered to learn sichos on the parsha with me on a weekly basis. I discovered a world of depth that I did not know existed. The Rebbe’s sichos really touched me in regards to my life’s mission. For the first time in my life, I felt what emuna and bitachon are in a deep way.” This also affected Uri’s work.
Issue 851 • �
first connections with chabad
Uri decided to follow the approach he had taken in his work as a journalist, i.e. he would not take other people’s comments into account. After the kippa he added tzitzis, Shabbos
He felt that he could no longer continue in his usual work as a reporter and decided to leave the world of the media. “As time went on, I felt I simply could not continue to be involved exclusively in stories or exposes that hurt people. I felt suddenly estranged from the predatory world of the media.” Uri left the news station and became a media consultant to the Minister for Religious Matters. That is where he met his wife. “My wife Dikla worked there as an executive secretary, but the interesting thing is that I never saw her. The shidduch idea came from other employees in the office and after we met we decided to marry.” Politicians and many public figures were invited to the wedding. They knew Uri from his previous positions. Many of them, who were unaware of the transformation in his life, did not understand why the wedding had men and women separated and why the groom wore a hat and suit and had a small beard. They got their answers once Uri began what he calls his “forgiveness tour” that took place after the wedding. He felt he had to make amends for hurting people in the course of his work, and he called hundreds of politicians and numerous other people and asked forgiveness. “One of them was Ezer Weizman. I had mercilessly covered a story about his allegedly accepting large sums of money from businessmen before becoming president, without reporting this to the proper authorities. He was eventually forced to resign. I felt that I had to go to him and apologize in person. “When I knocked at his door to his office in Tel Aviv, together with my wife, he was very surprised, but he welcomed me graciously for having come to ask his pardon. Other people thought I was crazy. Some said, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll get over it.’ Others, in their shock, did not understand what I wanted. People could not understand the process I had been through. “Until today, there are people who know me from that time who don’t understand how I’ve changed. Many reporters who meet me today don’t understand the change from the irascible reporter I used to be back in the period before I became a baal t’shuva.” being in 770 really reached me in a deep way and changed my outlook. I felt that I was in a holy place that contained a fire which went out from there to the world at large. The simcha I felt there I did not experience anywhere else.” There was another hachlata that Uri made in 770. He had an offer to return to the world of television, this time as a report for Channel 1. As someone who ran away from the world of ratings and publicity, he initially wanted to reject the offer. “As a baal t’shuva, I was terrified about returning to the screen and the world of the media.” However, his visit to 770 gave him strength. He realized that this job entailed a unique shlichus which he could not avoid. “I made a difficult decision to return to work as a reporter. When we were in 770, I felt that I had kochos from the Rebbe to take this on. I knew that the Rebbe wants us to utilize every means to spread the light and that I had an opportunity to use my job to spread the Besuras Ha’Geula.” He returned to Eretz Yisroel and agreed to sign a contract. At first, Uri had to look for the shlichus in his new job. For example, when he was sent to report on an attack on Rechov Yaffo in Yerushalayim, he included a description of a woman in the area who proclaimed Yechi. When the editor asked him what this had to do with the story, he explained that its purpose was to portray an appeal for the Geula following the attack. Later on, Uri found ways of conveying the Rebbe’s message directly.
triP to the rebbe and hachlatos
The next step in Uri’s journey to Chabad was when, during a Shabbos meal with the shliach R’ Yisroel Lipsker, the shliach said he was going to the Kinus HaShlichus. He described the special atmosphere of 770 and the significance of a trip to the Rebbe. On the spot, Uri told him that he would be joining him. Two weeks later, Uri was in 770, surrounded by thousands of Chassidim including hundreds of shluchim from around the world. The visit to 770 won Uri over and he decided to become mekushar to the Rebbe with all his heart and become his Chassid. He had found what he had been searching for, and it was clear to him that he had to fulfill his shlichus as a loyal soldier of the Rebbe. “When I was in 770, I decided that from that day on, I would no longer touch my beard. Along with the beard came the rest of a Chassidic appearance and I felt happy with my hiskashrus to the Rebbe. The experience of
48 � • Erev Sukkos 5773
Left: At a Melaveh Malka farbrengen in the studio with R’ Betzalel Kupchik. Right: Uri Revach broadcasting Chassidic values.
“When I took this job, Motty Eden was the chairman of the television division. We decided together to shoot the movie, HaMelech HaMoshiach, which was broadcast the night of Tisha B’Av and got an 8.7% rating (of all households in Israel). That was a very high rating by any standard and generated a lot of feedback. People from all over the country were moved by the stories and the living depictions presented in the movie and were astounded by the Rebbe’s personality and leadership. This was a high point as far as conveying a message of Geula via television.” In order to film the movie, Uri spent months collecting live footage. He had stories of couples who had children thanks to the Rebbe’s brachos, interviews with shluchim, and the life story of a young man who returned from the Far East and decided to change his life after visiting a Chabad house, and even an interview with an Arab leader who spoke about the Rebbe’s work in promoting the Seven Noachide Laws. The intense effort that went into the work was apparent in the movie,
which combined excerpts from farbrengens of the Rebbe with the moving stories.
moVies and news seGments with chassidic messaGes
Since then, Uri has brought to the screen hundreds of items and reports about the work of Chabad Chassidim around the world. He enthusiastically covers the life stories of shluchim, conveys the Rebbe’s message on issues of the day, and tries to introduce into every program the message of “The time for your redemption has arrived” in a clear way. He aired a documentary film about Ayal Karutchi of Tzfas and his story of t’shuva. The movie dealt with the topic of learning Chassidus as a response to assimilation. It moved many people who related to the messages conveyed through the story. “There is a special power to the media to influence public opinion. The power of the media is that it shapes people’s views and one is able to convey hardto-digest ideas in a palatable
form.” Whenever there is news about talks that will adversely affect Eretz Yisroel, Uri quotes the Rebbe and conducts interviews with Chabad rabbis who protest these talks. During his years of work at the broadcasting authority, he has covered dozens of activities that oppose the undermining of Shleimus Ha’Am and Ha’Aretz. The highlight of his work is the popular program called Melaveh Malka, which is on the Moreshet station of Kol Yisroel. It is actually a Chassidishe farbrengen that takes place with the mashpia Rabbi Yosef Tzirkus, who farbrengs on timely matters. Any significant upcoming Chassidic date is mentioned, as well as what the Rebbe says about it. There are stories about the Rebbe and about the work of his shluchim. He recently had a program in which the shluchim in the Talbiya neighborhood of Yerushalayim were interviewed. They told about the dollar from the Rebbe that they gave to Mrs. Shalit, which had the date of Gilad’s release on it. “We try to spread light. We always consider which stories
Issue 851 • �
will make people happy and feel good. For example, we once did a segment on the Zalmanov family of Tzfas, which consists of over 20 children, and people said that the piece inspired them. We play tapes from farbrengens and niggunim and expose listeners to the special world of Chassidus. On one of the programs that took place close to 24 Teves, we played a recording of the niggun Dalet Bavos at the gravesite of the Alter Rebbe in Haditch.” Last year, two of Uri’s closest friends were appointed to high positions in the IBA: the journalist Yoni Ben-Menachem, who was appointed director general of the IBA, and the journalist Micky Miro, who was appointed director of the Kol Yisroel radio broadcast network. Uri points out that the two were appointed after R’ Tzirkus announced the new positions at the Purim seuda in his house. “The two of them had not been thinking about these jobs at all. And yet, R’ Tzirkus announced that Mickey would become the director of radio broadcasting and Yoni would become the director general of the IBA.” And that’s what happened. A short while later, in a new round of appointments, the administration decided that the two were suitable for those positions. Since Ben-Menachem’s appointment, the broadcasting company has a shiur in Chassidus in his office once a week, which is attended by many employees. Ben-Menachem frequently attends the shul and helps all the outreach work at the station. Miro helps a lot in the outreach activities within the walls of the station, as well as with the Melaveh Malka program that is hosted on the radio network that he directs. to what the Rebbe said and it definitely gets them to thinking in the mindset of Geula. “When I was a child, I would read a newspaper whose slogan was ‘Without Fear.’ That is how I feel today in my work as a journalist. We need to bring the Rebbe’s message with pride and it will get through. We need to look for the spark of Moshiach within everything, to find how the content is connected with Geula and convey that message. “My job is a shlichus in every respect. There is no other way of looking at work like this. As a baal t’shuva, I was inclined to keep my distance from this world, but it was the charge of shlichus which gave and gives me the energy to continue. When you start the day by learning Chassidus and a Chassidishe davening, you are imbued with the strength for shlichus; and that is what I do, try to bring the atmosphere of Chassidus here to the broadcast authority. “Until Moshiach comes, we have plenty to do. We must constantly work and with Hashem’s help we will succeed in fulfilling the shlichus of the Rebbe and draw the Sh’china down to earth.”
usinG the media to hasten the Geula
“It is possible to instill the Besuras Ha’Geula in every piece of news coverage. Take for example, the movie HaMelech HaMoshiach that enjoyed unprecedented success as far as ratings are concerned, and dealt entirely with Moshiach. That proves that today people want Geula. I feel that we are not doing enough and I am sure that so much more can be done. Conveying the Rebbe’s message on Channel 1 in the clearest way is Geula. When thousands of people hear the Melaveh Malka program every Motzaei Shabbos, they are listening every week
www.moshiachforkids.com Check it out!! Educational and Fun!!
50 � • Erev Sukkos 5773
esCaPe from CharkoV
R’ Zalman experiences miracles as he flees Charkov. * From the life of R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman Serebryanski a”h.
Prepared for publication by Avrohom Rainitz
orld War II began in late Elul 5699/1939. The Germans air bombed Poland and then sent in their soldiers and swiftly conquered the country. The Soviet Union, which bordered on Poland, quickly sent large numbers of soldiers in the direction of the new front and simultaneously began calling up reserves. One of the reserve soldiers who received a notice to report was R’ Zalman.
PromotinG faith in military camP
R’ Zalman first became acquainted with the military establishment about ten years earlier, in 5689. The “white card” that he managed to obtain in 5685 through the bracha of the Rebbe Rayatz saved him for four years, but now he was called up. However, since he had been marked down as someone unfaithful to communist ideals, they were afraid to send him to the front, lest he become a spy for the west. For those unreliable citizens like him they had a special department called the “rear guard army,” in which they had to do hard labor for the military. In these military camps, the communists in charge did their best to instill communist values. Until the communist era, most citizens, even gentiles, were
simple people who believed in G-d. When they were asked, “How are you?” they would reply, “Thank G-d.” Their faith was superficial though, and the communist lecturers were able to confuse them with so-called proofs to the non-existence of G-d, G-d forbid. R’ Zalman stood out among the boorish gentiles. As a clever and learned Chassid, he was able to respond to all the questions of the communist lecturers and to make a mockery of their socalled proofs. The gentiles who worked with him in the labor camp rejoiced to hear his clever responses and when he would finish, they would applaud, “Bravo Zalman.” It was only in the early years that a soldier could contradict the communist leader. As time went by, the communists intensified their religious persecution and whoever dared to contradict them, could expect to be sentenced to jail and exile for the crime of undermining the government. (For a short while, his wife was able to get him and some other Lubavitchers released from army duty. She did some research and discovered that the law requiring service in the rear guard applied only to people who don’t officially work or who work in a religious position, like a rav or priest (l’havdil), those whom
the government considered parasites. The military officials made a mistake regarding this law. Since R’ Zalman and his friends were considered religiously observant, the official considered them “rabbis” which enabled the government to draft them. R’ Zalman’s wife, Bracha, obtained a copy of the original wording of the law and went from official to official, until she reached the regional commander of the rear guard forces. After she proved that R’ Zalman and his Lubavitcher friends were registered as official workers in government factories and were not practicing rabbis, she obtained their release. But in the Russia of those days, these legal proofs could last only a short time. A few years later, the military officials decided that they could draft R’ Zalman and his friends anyway. Once again, they were called every year to present themselves for training exercises in the rear guard army).
what did the jewish Politruk ask for on ereV yom kiPPur?
In the summer of 5697, after the communist regime succeeded in imposing absolute terror over the citizens in the Soviet
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Union, they began drafting into the regular army even those who were marked as disloyal to communism. Terror of the government was so great that they no longer feared that the soldiers would try and spy for the west. R’ Zalman was among those who were drafted. After undergoing fitness and aptitude tests, they decided to train him as a sapper who could blow up bridges and such during a war. Every summer, R’ Zalman had to show up for the reserves for several weeks in which he trained as a sapper. As mentioned, when the war broke out, R’ Zalman was drafted and he began a round of intensive training for his mission to the front. In R’ Zalman’s division, as in the rest of the Russian army’s divisions, there were two commanders, a military commander and a political commander. This latter commander was called a politruk whose job was to oversee the soldiers’ loyalty to communist ideals. This politruk dogged R’ Zalman’s steps when he discovered that R’ Zalman kept kosher and did not eat from the mess hall. He said that R’ Zalman refrained from eating so that he would become weak and be sent home. However, R’ Zalman, who was a physically strong man, dismissed his comments and proved that he had the strength that a soldier needed, despite his not eating treif food, and that he was stronger than the gentile soldiers. On Erev Yom Kippur, R’ Zalman asked the commander to exempt him from military training the next day and offered to do guard duty instead. The commander agreed, but emphasized that R’ Zalman also needed the permission of the politruk. R’ Zalman approached the politruk apprehensively. People said he was a Jew who had abandoned religion, and surely he would figure out why R’ Zalman was asking for guard duty. To R’ Zalman’s surprise, the politruk approved his request, but before signing it he said, “Zalman, I know the reason for your request. Tomorrow is Yom Kippur!” Then in an emotional voice he said, “Pray for me too.” agreement with the Germans to divide Poland, and so Russia stayed out of the hostilities for the meantime. A short while later, R’ Zalman was informed by the army that they had decided to transfer him from the sappers’ unit to the rear air defense unit. This unit was enlarged after the Russians saw the devastation the Germans inflicted on Poland, when they sent dozens of planes over Warsaw and bombed the city. The Russians decided to train thousands of soldiers for anti-aircraft defense in order to defend the cities in the rear during the war. In the summer of 5700, when it came time for reserve duty, R’ Zalman was trained in anti-aircraft artillery fire. He also underwent training for fire containment, in case of fires that might result from aerial attacks.
a simchas torah miracle
R’ Zalman was going to be sent to the front two weeks later, the night of Simchas Torah. Whoever was sent to the front was very likely to be killed. Fortunately for him, a big miracle occurred. The plan was to send R’ Zalman’s division, along with a large shipment of weapons, to the front. By mistake, the weapons were sent before the division was ready. At precisely that time, there was a lull in the fighting and the commanders at the front said there was no need for additional soldiers, and the weapons that had been sent would suffice for the soldiers who were already there. This wonderful news arrived the night of Simchas Torah, shortly before R’ Zalman was supposed to board a train for the front. The commander announced that everyone was free to go home for the time being. R’ Zalman immediately walked to the big shul for hakafos. His older son Chaim, who was standing on the steps of the shul, was surprised to see his father in the distance. After Yom Tov they heard that the Russians had signed an
fliGht to samarkand
In the summer of 5701/1941, the Germans violated the agreement they had signed with the Russians and they launched a large scale attack against the Russians. Russia, once again, joined the countries that were fighting the Germans, and all those subject to the draft were told to quickly report to their units. R’ Zalman was in bed with a fever after coming down with severe pneumonia. R’ Yaakov Gansburg, a young bachur at the time, was staying in his house. When R’ Zalman heard on the radio about the outbreak of war, he begged him to run. R’ Yaakov listened to him and immediately traveled to Samarkand where he stayed for the duration of the war. Afterward, he obtained a polish passport and was able to leave Russia.
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R’ Zalman could not flee both due to his health and because he held a red draft card that listed him as a soldier in the Russian army. The law said that all men from 18-40 had to have either a white draft card that indicated exemption from military duty or a red one that indicated that the carrier was an army draftee. News about the Germans’ approach to Charkov was heard before Rosh HaShana 5702/1941. R’ Zalman and his family deliberated about whether to remain or run. In those days, Russians did not know that Germans were massacring Jews in the lands that they conquered and many Jews, who remembered the German soldiers in World War I, thought it was better to be subject to German rule than to remain under the Soviets. In the meantime, R’ Zalman received notice from the army that as a soldier, his family was permitted, for free, to board a train traveling to the interior of the country, far from the front. After Yom Kippur, R’ Zalman consulted with three friends and they decided that R’ Zalman should remain and his family would leave. R’ Zalman’s wife went with her mother and her three children, Chaim, Aharon and Nechama, on a train arranged by the army, and traveled to Saratov. It was a freight train and several families squeezed into each compartment. German planes occasionally flew over and bombed the railroad tracks. This is why the trip that should have taken two days took eighteen days, and the food they had taken with them was not enough for the trip. R’ Zalman’s son Chaim showed initiative and after discovering that one of the gentile
families on board had a basket full of eggs, he bartered and took one hundred eggs in exchange for some items they had. Thus they were nourished by raw eggs for the remainder of the journey. R’ Zalman’s father, his sister, and her two daughters, remained for a short time with R’ Zalman, but after a few days they also decided to flee. They paid a lot of money for places on a passenger train and also arrived in Saratov. From Saratov, R’ Zalman’s family continued to travel on in the direction of Tashkent, where they stayed with their uncle R’ Benzion Shemtov. While there, his daughter became sick and could not continue traveling. She remained with her uncle, while her mother and brothers continued to Samarkand. Shortly after they arrived, Chaim became sick with pneumonia that infected both lungs, and he was taken to the hospital. He saw the people around him dying like flies. There were so many dead that the hospital staff had no time to bury them all and the stench of the bodies wafted in the air. He realized that if he wanted to live, he had to get out of there quickly, but his temperature was very high and the doctors did not allow him to leave. What did Chaim do? When the nurses came to take his temperature, he put the thermometer under the blanket where he shook it down, and then he gave it back to the nurse. After a few times that he returned the thermometer with reasonable temperatures, the doctors released him. He happily returned home where his family cared for him until he miraculously recovered. The one who helped him was Mrs. Sarah Kievman, who used
her connections and obtained medications from America.
a butter cure
In the meantime, R’ Zalman remained alone, burning with fever, in his home in Charkov. On Shabbos B’Reishis, he felt stronger and he decided to go to shul. That day, the army had distributed the monthly salary to the soldiers and although he needed that money very much, he did not consider desecrating Shabbos for it and he remained in shul. In the following days, as the German forces approached very close to Charkov, the Russian commanders realized that they would be unable to withstand the Germans and they told the soldiers to run away. Many of the gentile soldiers, who were unafraid of the Germans, did not flee but removed their uniforms and went back to civilian life. Although the Jewish soldiers had yet to hear of the German atrocities against their brethren, most preferred to flee and join their families in the interior. The winter began and it was bitter cold outside. R’ Zalman, who was still sick, took along with him a handmade woolen tallis that was very thick and wrapped himself in it to protect himself from the cold. He fled Charkov through the forests that surrounded the city. On his way out of the city, he met two Jews, relatives of his, who had connections in high places in the communist party. They told him that they had a horse and wagon with a large amount of food, mostly butter, which they had planned on selling on the black market. However, now they saw that the roads were full of mud and it was hard to travel in a wagon, and
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He asked to see the red document and when R’ Zalman gave it to him, he ripped it to shreds. Now, said his friend, you have no choice. You are a deserter.
they preferred leaving quickly by train. They had gotten tickets from their friends in the party. They asked him to take the horse and wagon till Saratov and in exchange, he could eat from the food on the wagon. R’ Zalman agreed and considered this outstanding divine providence. He traveled with the horse and wagon for two weeks and at night he stopped in villages along the way where he slept at the homes of the villagers and paid them with merchandise from the wagon. He ate a lot of butter, which greatly helped his infected lungs so that by the time he reached Saratov, he was completely healed.
you haVe no choice: you are a deserter
R’ Zalman still wore his army uniform and held on to the document that stated that he was a soldier on leave and he had the right to travel throughout the country. After he settled in Samarkand, he was supposed to report to the military command in the district where they would certainly send him to the front. Most of the soldiers who had been sent to the front had been killed, and R’ Zalman did not know which was preferable – to go to the army or to remain in Samarkand and be in danger of being caught as a military deserter. He consulted with a friend. The friend had experience and he wanted to absolve R’ Zalman of any doubt. He asked to see the red document and when R’ Zalman gave it to him, he ripped it. Now, said his friend, you have no choice. You are a deserter. In order not to be caught in random identity checks carried out by the police, R’ Zalman grew his hair to give himself an older look and he added twenty years to his ID card. As a man of sixty, he was exempt from the army. A policeman once stopped him and after seeing his papers suspected they were forged, and ordered him to come to the police station. R’ Zalman bribed the cop who then released him. When he had first arrived in Samarkand, he became sick again and was unable to work for a living. Having no other choice,
r’ Zalman finds his family
After bringing the horse and wagon to the owners, R’ Zalman made inquiries about his family. He fortuitously met his aunt, Hinda Deitsch, the wife of R’ Menachem Mendel. She had been in Samarkand already and had returned to Saratov in order to take her daughter, Mirel Kugel, to Samarkand. She told R’ Zalman that his daughter Nechama was with the Shemtov family in Tashkent and his wife and sons were living in Samarkand. As soon as he heard this, R’ Zalman set forth for Tashkent. He spent time in Tashkent until his daughter fully recovered and then took her with him to Samarkand.
his son Chaim went to the market and tried his luck at business. He was able to bring some bread home and mainly, products with fat that could heal R’ Zalman’s lungs. Even during these difficult times, R’ Zalman ensured that Chaim learned Torah. He would get up at six in the morning in order to learn Gemara with a neighbor, R’ Eliyahu Chaim Roitblatt. It was very cold at that hour of the morning, even the water prepared for negel vasser was frozen, but nothing stopped them from learning. R’ Zalman recovered half a year later and found work as a watchman in a factory. At that time, Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim had opened a branch in Samarkand. R’ Zalman told his son Chaim to stop working and he sent him to yeshiva. During the war, thousands of Jewish refugees from Poland stayed in Samarkand and the Russian authorities turned a blind eye to their religious practices. Those were years of relief, relative to the terrible years of persecution that the Chassidim suffered at the end of the 1930’s. R’ Zalman’s sons Chaim and Aharon learned with R’ Roitblatt and with R’ Moshe Robinson. Then Chaim went to yeshiva where he learned Nigleh by R’ Zalman Shimon Dworkin and R’ Eliyahu Plotkin, and Chassidus with the mashpia, R’ Nissan Nemanov. After a while, R’ Zalman began to work in textiles in partnership with his friend R’ Naftali Junik. Like many Lubavitchers, they set aside large sums to support the Talmud Torah and Tomchei T’mimim, which operated in Samarkand and where hundreds of refugee children were educated.
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