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THE REBBE’S TEACHINGS ARE OUR SHULCHAN ARUCH!
CHASSID WHO HAD 16 THE FREE ACCESS TO THE REBBE’S ROOM
Shneur Zalman Berger
4 Moshiach & Geula 33 Moshiach & Geula 40 Parsha Thought 44 Shleimus Haaretz 49 Viewpoint
IT MEANS TO BE 23 WHAT A CHASSID
WHAT IS YOUR REALITY?
Rabbi Sholom Schwadron
“KIDNAPPING” IN 30 A AKKO
DISTANT VISION 44 Rabbi Binyamin Shlanger
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Moshiach & Geula
MORE ALIVE: EVEN IN THE PHYSICAL WORLD
It makes sense that he should be more present in the supernal realms, given his ascent there, but in what sense is he more present in the physical world? The answer is...that the life of a tzaddik is not corporeal life, as is known, but spiritual life, which is faith, and the fear and love of G-d. * Source materials compiled by Rabbi Shloma Majeski. Translations are in bold. Underlining is the emphasis of the compiler.
Arranged and translated by Boruch Merkur
Having established a clear source in nigla for the eternal life of the tzaddik – for even in death he is said to be alive – it remains to be discussed in what manner that is so. Rabbi Majeski in Likkutei Mekoros cites from the inner dimension of the Torah, selections from Tanya describing how the tzaddik lives on even in the physical world: It states in the Zohar HaKadosh that “The righteous who pass on are present in all the worlds more than when they were alive.” That is, even in this world of action [the physical world, regarding which it is said], “today, to fulfill them [i.e., the Mitzvos] (and tomorrow to receive their
reward)” – the tzaddik is more present, for the actions [he did and inspired others to do and continue doing] grow, and give rise to ongoing generations of “offspring,” from the “light that was planted for the righteous” in the “field that was blessed by G-d [i.e., Gan Eden].” This light shines upon the land and the outer limits, reaching even “us [we] who are here today; we are all alive,” living in his ways, “the holy way it shall be called.” The tzaddik’s presence is increased with regard to service of G-d, Heavenly matters, as well as to worldly matters. Indeed, it explicitly says in the Zohar HaKadosh
that the righteous protect the world [the physical world], and their protection is more prominent posthumously than when they were alive. In fact, were it not for the prayers of the righteous in Gan Eden, the world would not continue to exist for a single moment. And all those who were close to the “sanctuary of G-d” in his lifetime are first to be blessed. An elucidation of the above: It states in the Zohar HaKadosh that “The righteous who pass on are present in all the worlds more than when they were alive, etc.” But it remains to be understood: It makes sense that he should be more present in the supernal realms, given his ascent there [upon his histalkus], but in what sense is he more present in the physical world? The answer is in accordance with what I was taught on the words of our Sages, of blessed memory, that “He dispenses life to all the living”: the life of a tzaddik is not corporeal life, as is known, but spiritual life, which is faith, and [the] fear and love [of G-d].
(Tanya, Igeres HaKodesh 146)
4 � • 29 Sivan 5773
THE G-DLY SOUL: his entire identity
The following segment provides insight into what is different about the tzaddik’s eternal life given that all souls are eternal. The tzaddik lives eternally in a way that suppresses others on account of his G-dly Soul – his true life being spiritual life, as above – for that is his entire identity. It says about the G-dly Soul, “The soul that you have placed within me is pure.” It specifically says, “placed within me,” indicating that the person himself is not the G-dly Soul. The exception to this rule, however, is tzaddikim, the righteous. For with regard to tzaddikim, it is the reverse: the pure soul, which is the G-dly
The tzaddik lives eternally in a way that suppresses others on account of his G-dly Soul – his true life being spiritual life – for that is his entire identity.
Soul, is the person himself, body and flesh, because in whereas his body is called “the tzaddikim, the evil that had flesh of man.” This reversal is existed in the Vitalizing Soul, reflected in the saying of Hillel invested within the blood and HaZakein to his disciples: flesh, has been transformed into when he was going to eat he good and literally subsumed would say that he is going to within the sanctity of the G-dly do an act of benevolence to the Soul. However, with regard to a Express Expressservice service despicable and impoverished Beinoni, since the essence and Fully FullyComputerized Computerized one, referring to his body, for inner quality of the Vitalizing it was considered as something Animal Soul, which stems 331 Kingston Ave.Ave. 331 Kingston foreign to him. In this sense he from the realm of evil, invested nd (2nd(2 Flr) Brooklyn NY 11213 Flr) Brooklyn NY 11213 does “an act of benevolence” within his blood and his flesh, to it by feeding it, insofar as has not yet been transformed he himself is only the G-dly Get to good, the Animal Soul is the tickets within minutes! Getyour your tickets within minutes! Soul and nothing else. The person himself. Fax: (718) 493-4444 Fax: (718) 493-4444 G-dly Soul alone enlivens his (Tanya, Likkutei Amarim 37a)
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Issue 882 • �
For Gimmel Tammuz, a day to strengthen one’s the hiskashrus Rebbe to Melech
HaMoshiach, we spoke with the Chabad rosh yeshiva in Tzfas, one of the Rebbe’s shluchim to Eretz Yisroel, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Wilschansky. * Does Chabad questions? Jews to welcome How Chabad?
should we be mekarev How do we connect people to the Rebbe nowadays? Why are some Chassidim weak when it comes to inyanei Moshiach? How should we treat answers from the Rebbe by way of the Igros Kodesh? * Part 1
Interview by Avrohom Rainitz
THE RE ARE OU
6 � • 29 Sivan 5773
YOU CAN ASK ANYTHING, BUT THERE ARE CERTAIN GIVENS
We are days before Gimmel Tammuz, and around this time of year questions arise. Some religious groups do not favorably regard questions on emuna and they are vehemently opposed to addressing questions on sensitive topics. In Chabad, the approach is different and there is definitely room for questions. Is the floor open to all questions or in Chabad are there also topics that are untouchable? The story is told about a gadol who was at a festive meal and each of the participants was asked to say a d’var Torah. There were big rabbanim present and each one had a turn. At some point, a simple Jew had his turn and he said his d’var Torah, “Shma Yisroel Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad.” The gadol said that as far as the divrei Torah that the rest of them had said, you could come up with a refutation, but on this one there was no possible refutation. The town shochet replied jokingly that nowadays even on a d’var Torah like this you could find a question. This remark was taken very seriously and the shochet was fired from his position. Why? Because there
are principles that are not to be trifled with, not even as a joke. When it comes to principles of faith, there are no jokes. Look at what happens in Parshas Korach. The Jewish people believed in Hashem and His servant Moshe, perfect faith that was based on what they saw and heard how Hashem appointed Moshe to be the intermediary who connected Hashem with the nation. Korach came, and one night he raised some heretical questions and made some disparaging remarks about a tallis that was completely blue and a room full of s’farim. Within a few hours, the entire foundation of faith had been undermined. What was so terrible about what Korach did? He just asked… The problem was that he did not ask in order to understand but in order to challenge Moshe. That’s the point. In Chabad we don’t avoid questions, but the questions have to be asked in order to understand, not to challenge the Rebbe. You can ask everything, but you need to know that there is a foundation, certain principles which are givens. What is considered “Shma Yisroel” and what is up for discussion? By Chassidim, everything the Rebbe said is holy of holies, from
which we cannot budge an iota. When it says something explicitly in a sicha, that is Shma. Any hergesh (Chassidic sensitivity) that a Chassid has that is not explicitly stated in a sicha, even if based on similar points in sichos, is like any Torah pilpul which can be respected, but it can be refuted as well. Even if he is a Chassid, a gadol ba’Torah, a yerei Shamayim, etc. – it is important to set a clear distinction between what the Rebbe said and what a Chassid feels. A Chassid cannot establish things without a clear source in the Rebbe’s sichos. Rashi allowed himself to say “my heart tells me” in his commentary on Chumash, but we understand that only g’dolei Yisroel can say that. When an elementary school teacher reads the Rashi which says, “my heart tells me,” even young children understand that Rashi can say that. If their teacher would say what “his heart tells him,” then even if he were to be a big Chassid, he would be failing his students. We need to repeatedly stress that just as it is out of the question for someone to express opinions about kashrus without sources in Torah, so too, it should be out of the question to express opinions and make declarations about inyanei Moshiach and
EBBE’S TEACHINGS UR SHULCHAN ARUCH!
Issue 882 • �
The problem was that he did not ask in order to understand but in order to challenge Moshe. That’s the point. In Chabad we don’t avoid questions, but the questions have to be asked in order to understand, not to challenge the Rebbe.
Geula without a basis in the Torah literature, particularly in the Rebbe’s teachings. There are many topics and sub-topics that are debated. Can we find clarity on all these topics in the Rebbe’s teachings? Definitely. In the Rebbe’s teachings he deals decisively with most of the topics that are discussed and debated. When you look around and see what the debates are about, it’s very surprising. Why don’t they open the Rebbe’s sichos? At least 95% of the topics are discussed there. The Rebbe’s sichos, especially from the latter years, are our Shulchan Aruch for the present time. Just like someone cannot express opinions in the laws of kashrus without first learning these laws in Shulchan Aruch, so too, a person cannot express opinions about Moshiach before learning Toras Ha’Geula. For some reason, the topic of Geula is seen as one that is open for discussion, where everyone can say an opinion. This is absurd and has been the sorry situation ever since Mivtza Moshiach began. When Tzach promoted the signs saying “Hichonu L ’Bi’as HaMoshiach” (Prepare for Moshiach’s Coming) throughout Eretz Yisroel, there were detractors then too. A Lubavitcher came over to me who has many non-Lubavitcher friends in Yerushalayim. He said that people who, until then, had admired Lubavitch, now looked at him pityingly. He was simply embarrassed to meet them. I told him to go and ask them whether they learned Hilchos Melech HaMoshiach in the Rambam. It was quite likely that they would say there are no such halachos. The truth is, that is what these halachos are called in old editions, but even if you asked them whether they learned prakim 11 and 12 in Hilchos Melachim, which they heard about, most of them probably had not looked at them even once. If that is the case, I said to him, they ought to be ashamed. They never saw what the Torah has to say on the subject, so why are you ashamed by their opinion? Unfortunately, nothing has changed. Those who learn are the ones who are active in inyanei Moshiach and Geula; those who are not active, and might even disparage those who are, don’t learn. It is not possible for someone to learn all the Rebbe’s sichos on inyanei Moshiach and Geula and not start doing something to spread the Besuras Ha’Geula. There is no reason to feel ashamed by those who mock.
MAKE A CHESHBON HA’NEFESH AND BOLSTER THE “V’NIFLINU”
How do you explain the weakness some have when it comes to Mivtza Moshiach? Is it just a matter of not having learned the Rebbe’s sichos or is
there more to it? In order to get involved in announcing the Besuras Ha’Geula, there must be learning that precedes it. “Great is learning for it leads to action.” It’s when you learn inyanei Moshiach and Geula, especially the most recent sichos, that you “live with Moshiach.” “Living” with it leads to sharing it with others. You can see a reference to this in the sicha of Parshas R’ei 5751, where the Rebbe says that even those who still haven’t fully “gotten” the Besuras Ha’Geula need to publicize it, because their relatives and Jews around them don’t need to suffer because they didn’t quite “get” it yet. In this sicha we see that when a person himself doesn’t live with it, it interferes with his wanting to broadcast it. But if we analyze this situation more, we see that the source of the problem is that the “v’niflinu” (pride in being different) is lacking. We were trained to be soldiers of the Rebbe, soldiers who follow the Rebbe with eyes closed, through fire and water, without looking sideways to see how people are looking at us. To be proud of the fact that we are Chassidei Chabad and to feel the need to tell the world about how fortunate we are that we are Chassidei Chabad, and the even greater good fortune that we have a Rebbe, and everyone needs to know what he has to say. When the Rebbe announced Mivtza T’fillin, for example, it was obvious to us all that when we met a Jew on the street, we would tell him that the Lubavitcher Rebbe asked that he put on t’fillin. One could ask, why is it so important to say that this is coming from the Rebbe? Isn’t the main thing that a Jew
8 � • 29 Sivan 5773
put on t’fillin? We didn’t have that question. It was obvious to us all that everything we do needs to be presented as being done because the Rebbe said so. By the way, R’ Dovid Raskin would say in his farbrengens with the bachurim that when you come to a Jew and say do such and such because the Rebbe said to do it, these words have a greater effect than anything else and they are accepted. The Rebbe himself writes a similar thing to R’ Eliezer Karasik, that going to government offices and telling them firmly that Lubavitch wants such and such, has the ability to grant success. The goal of every Chassid was always for the Rebbe to conquer the world and that all Jews become Chassidim of the Rebbe. That is the fuel that pushes us onward. Every Jew we were mekarev was immediately acquainted with the Rebbe, so that another Jew would become a soldier of the Rebbe. This approach is not an invention of the Chassidim. It is the approach that the Rebbe taught us in dozens, and even hundreds of sichos. The Rebbe repeatedly emphasized that we need to bring things in the name of Lubavitch and Lubavitch must conquer the world. The Rebbe said explicitly that every shliach has to know that his goal is to transform the place into Lubavitch. To ensure that this be understood correctly I need to clarify it – there is no question that when a Jew learns Chassidus, that is a great thing, even if he is not mekushar to the Rebbe. There are even letters from the Rebbe to people who were afraid to learn Chassidus because they did not want to become Lubavitchers, and the Rebbe
wrote them that they can learn Chassidus without becoming Lubavitcher Chassidim, the main thing being to learn Chassidus. The learning itself is a great thing, but we cannot forget the goal. This topic is brought numerous times in the Rebbe’s teachings and is also found in edited sichos like in Likkutei Sichos, volume 10, in the first sicha on Parshas VaYeishev. The Rebbe explains that “tying bundles” is the avoda of shlichus. We learn from the verse, “and behold, your bundles turned around and bowed to my bundle” – that “the completion of the work in affecting another is when he gets to bring him to Yosef HaTzaddik’s bundle, Yosef being
the ruler of the entire land of Egypt – the Nasi Ha’dor, to get him to have bittul to the Nasi.” Similarly, in Likkutei Sichos, volume 11, in the third sicha on Parshas P’kudei, the Rebbe says, “There needs to be an involvement and work of each and every person in Torah and mitzvos with his own abilities. Yet, he needs to know that this is only by way of preparation, and he needs to bring all his work to Moshe (within each person and through this, to the extension of Moshe in every generation), the sages of the generation, the ‘eyes of the congregation,’ because ‘Moshe’ of the generation has the ability to raise the Mishkan of the soul of every single person.” When we want to build a
Issue 882 • �
Unfortunately, nothing has changed. Those who learn are the ones who are active in inyanei Moshiach and Geula; those who are not active, and might even disparage those who are, don’t learn. It is not possible for someone to learn the Rebbe’s sichos on inyanei Moshiach and Geula and not start doing something to spread the Besuras Ha’Geula.
Mishkan, and that is the task of the seventh generation, we must bring it all to Moshe. That is the only way to erect the Mishkan. If we want to bring the world to its perfection, to draw G-dliness down to the world, we must bring the world to Moshe-the Rebbe. That is the Rebbe’s chiddush (innovation), something we did not see in previous generations. Since the Rebbe took over the Chabad leadership, he emphasized that the goal is to bring Jews to the Rebbe, to connect them to the Nasi Ha’dor. Why? Because the role of the seventh generation cannot be done without Moshe Rabbeinu. We must connect everything to Moshe and bring all Jews to Moshe. This is why we need to see to it that the Rebbe’s name is publicized in every possible place, whether it’s a flyer or a monthly newsletter, it should include the Rebbe’s picture or articles about the Rebbe and his work, or special gatherings in honor of the Rebbe. It was always a given to every Chassid and shliach involved in hafatza that in every event he does, and with all material he produces, the Rebbe’s picture must appear prominently. The same goes for publicizing what the Rebbe said. Our job is to share the Rebbe’s opinions on all timely matters and to get people to obey the Rebbe’s directives. If it’s about shleimus ha’aretz, for example, there can’t be a person in the world who doesn’t know precisely what the Rebbe, i.e. daas Torah and daas Hashem Himself, has to say. It makes no difference what the person’s personal opinion is, whether he is to the Right or the Left. So too with every subject. When the Rebbe announced that Moshiach is coming and that he himself is the final redeemer, our job is to make sure everyone knows this and prepares for the Geula. But the Rebbe said on occasion that in those places where you cannot quote me directly, just say it without mentioning my name, the main thing being that the message get out? First of all, the Rebbe said that only about specific things. In most cases the Rebbe emphasized that it should be said in the name of Lubavitch. But even in those specific instances, pay attention to what the Rebbe said: only in those places where they won’t accept it if it is said in his name, can it be said without his name. From the negative you derive the positive, that in places where it will be accepted in the Rebbe’s name, it is important to the Rebbe that it be said in his name. This became an even stronger point after the Rebbe’s sicha of Shoftim 5751, in which he
said we should publicize to all members of the generation that there is a Navi and we need to consult with him and obey his instructions. In any case, the Rebbe’s permission to say things not in his name are definitely for certain times and places and is not a blanket allowance to do so on principle. Unfortunately, today we have a lot to fix in this regard. You speak with people who are not involved in inyanei Moshiach and Geula who lack the v’niflinu. There is the sense that they lack the desire to connect the entire world to the Rebbe, so that everyone knows about the Rebbe.
CONNECTING JEWS TO THE REBBE
But maybe it makes sense, as some say, to first be mekarev people to Torah and mitzvos and then to Chassidus and then to the Rebbe? Listen, if you and I were to sit down and devise a strategy about how to lead Chabad, maybe we could come up with alternatives, but that is not what we’re doing. We want to know what the Rebbe’s opinion is. The Rebbe’s opinion on the matter is clear – as soon as you begin the kiruv process, you should connect the person to the Rebbe, to the Moshe of the generation. In a long letter to Anash in Paris, which is printed in Igros Kodesh volume 3, page 54, the Rebbe describes the efforts of a young man who ended up in a city far from a Jewish center, who immediately began connecting Jews to the Rebbe. Suddenly, dozens of letters began coming to the Rebbe Rayatz from that city with requests for brachos. The Rebbe writes that not only should
10 � • 29 Sivan 5773
those Jews be connected to the Rebbe, they should be convinced to send Maamad money to support the Rebbe! What Chassid would have thought, on his first encounter with someone, to speak to him about hiskashrus to the Rebbe and even about sending Maamad? But the Rebbe said this is what needs to be done in the seventh generation. In general, this topic of hiskashrus is the Rebbe’s chiddush. Although in earlier generations there were Chassidim who were mekusharim—if you read the letters of R’ Isaac of Homil, you will see astonishing expressions of hiskashrus – hiskashrus wasn’t a central theme in Chassidic education. The one who placed hiskashrus in the center of the Chassidic experience is the Rebbe. So you’re saying that this policy of not presenting the Rebbe to mekuravim is a new phenomenon and is not the way the Rebbe taught us. It might just be among a few people and it might be subtle, but since this is so important, it has to be spoken about even if it pertains to only a handful of people. The truth is that that handful who barely mention the Rebbe in their work, also feel the need to explain themselves repeatedly. The truth that the Rebbe implanted in their hearts doesn’t let them rest, and we hope that very soon they will realize that all these weak explanations are only attempts to avoid the truth. How do we connect a person to the Rebbe today? You used to be able to bring him to a farbrengen or for dollars. He saw the Rebbe and you just had to finish the work. Today, all the work is on you. How should it be done?
Since the Rebbe took over the Chabad leadership, he emphasized that the goal is to bring Jews to the Rebbe, to connect them to the Nasi Ha’dor. Why? Because the role of the seventh generation cannot be done without Moshe Rabbeinu.
finally managed to get him to understand this, he would come to a farbrengen, not understand a word of it… In recent years, as people have become more flexible, the Rebbe provided us with new approaches so that even those who want everything readymade can connect to him. Take dollars, for example. That was an easy way to connect to the Rebbe. Shluchim would bring their mekuravim to the Rebbe without special preparation, and with the dollar he gave them, the Rebbe connected them to him. Tens of thousands of Jews around the world today have a dollar from the Rebbe. You speak to people who seemingly have no connection with Chabad and then
I think the reality is just the opposite and the work gets easier and easier. I’ll tell you why. Our generation is called the “Instant Generation.” In stores there are all kinds of instant powders. If you want soup, for example, you don’t have to put in much effort. You just add water to the packet and you have soup. People are very pliable today. That doesn’t mean they aren’t smart; it’s that most people accept things readily and love when things are quick and easy. The same is true spiritually. It used to be that in order to bring someone to the Rebbe you had to invest a lot of time on explanations about the Rebbe’s greatness and the need to connect to him. When you
Issue 882 • �
they take out a dollar that they got from the Rebbe and show it to you. Instead of waiting months for yechidus, the Rebbe enabled people to pass by for dollars, and in an instant, something big happened. Sometimes ten people went by in one minute but the dollar received from the Rebbe made an enormous change. That was a new type of hiskashrus. How is it done today? Since the Rebbe said that Mivtza Moshiach is the gateway to everything else, that would also be the way to connect people to the Rebbe. It is the easiest way to connect people to the Rebbe and get them to follow his horaos. When you tell someone that the Rebbe is the man whom Hashem chose to take the Jewish people out of exile and to bring the Geula, and that in order to hasten the Geula he needs to accept the Rebbe’s authority and do what he says, he will happily do so. Who doesn’t want the Geula? Everyone understands that we cannot remain mired in galus. When we come and suggest a way to get out, through hiskashrus to the Rebbe and doing his horaos, people will jump at the opportunity. Just as dollars ratcheted up the rate of hiskashrus to the Rebbe, we see how the rate has increased recently thanks to answers in the Igros Kodesh. People know they can ask the Rebbe and get a bracha. This makes them mekushar to him and want to do his horaos. When ads were placed which said, “write to the Rebbe MH”M and see miracles,” thousands of Jews connected to the Rebbe by writing to him and receiving clear answers in the Igros Kodesh.
ANSWERS IN THE IGROS KODESH ARE LIKE A LETTER COMING FROM THE REBBE’S ROOM
Some people don’t like the idea of publicizing writing to the Rebbe. They feel it demeans the sacredness of writing to the Rebbe. I don’t think that the people who are uncomfortable with it feel that it’s disrespectful, because if that were so, how did they bring groups to the Rebbe for dollars? Doing that also cheapens the whole inyan of hiskashrus to a tzaddik. People would come with no prior preparation and stand on line and receive a dollar from the Rebbe. Shluchim would bring people for dollars who had no knowledge of the basics of Judaism. Why? Simply because they were sure that a look from the Rebbe would ignite their spark. So why not convince people to ask the Rebbe through the Igros Kodesh so that the Rebbe’s answer will inspire them? In a certain way, the attitude toward writing to the Rebbe is more serious than going for dollars. People make preparations and make a good hachlata and only then do they write. When shluchim convinced their mekuravim to go for dollars, many of them didn’t even make those minimal preparations. At that time, nobody saw a problem with that. Just as they were sure that a look from the Rebbe would change the mekurav, I see no problem with publicizing about writing to the Rebbe. You can see how, when a person asks the Rebbe, and all the more so when he gets an answer, that this connects him to the Rebbe and makes a change in him.
How can you compare dollars, which the Rebbe initiated, to answers in the Igros Kodesh, which is something Chassidim came up with? We are ruled by the Shulchan Aruch. When there is an explicit source in Shulchan Aruch for this, and in the Rebbe’s sichos he mentions it, what difference does it make who started it? The Rebbe once said that even in a situation where the Rebbe seemingly cannot answer, you should write to the Rebbe and he will find a way to respond. After Gimmel Tammuz, thousands of people have written to the Rebbe and have received answers in the Igros Kodesh. Obviously, this is a way the Rebbe has chosen to respond to the letters sent to him at this time. Some of the big mivtzaim of the Rebbe started because of Chassidim. Mitzva Tanks or the Torah written for Klal Yisroel were mivtzaim initiated by one or two Chassidim who suggested it to the Rebbe . Is it right to say that those campaigns are not as important since they were initiated by Chassidim? There is nothing more powerful than facts on the ground. If we look around us we see that this is going on and the Rebbe is making miracles. We need to view it as a new revelation that the Rebbe is showing us in order to help us during these times. We need to happily embrace these giluyim and not run away from them! It should be noted that it was the Rebbe who said the Igros Kodesh should be printed and he said this in recent years. If the Igros Kodesh were used just for questions about spiritual matters, that would be one thing, because as you
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mentioned, there is a source for this in Shulchan Aruch. The problem is that many people want answers about mundane matters like business etc. Isn’t that treating the s’farim disrespectfully? A teacher in our yeshiva published a booklet about answers through the Igros Kodesh in Torah literature. He has an interesting answer to your question. If we go back some years, we will remember that when we wanted to send a letter to the Rebbe and due to technical reasons we were unable to do so, we would put a letter in a volume of the Rebbe’s maamarim or in a Tanya. That is what Chabad Chassidim did and the Rebbe referred to this. Interestingly, when people discovered that the Rebbe responds to letters through his holy books, Chassidim began putting their letters specifically into the volumes of Igros and not into volumes of maamarim. Not to minimize the importance and holiness of the Igros, but most of the letters are about material matters. So there is no reason to say that questions about mundane matters are a disgrace to these s’farim because that is what these s’farim are mainly about! We see how the Rebbe prepared a way for us to ask and receive answers even in material matters, through s’farim in which the k’dusha permeates the material. In the introduction to the Igros Kodesh, volume 12, to which the Rebbe gave his approval before it was printed, an entire chapter is devoted to stressing the uniqueness of the series of Igros Kodesh. It says there that the Igros is like the Tanya. When time does not allow for each person to be answered
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personally, a series like this is published which contains the Rebbe’s views on all areas of life and every person can find the Rebbe’s advice on all sorts of topics. That introduction ends with “all this fits with the Rebbe’s directive mentioned before that with any question one should Aruch. If there is no reference there, he asks the Rebbe Rayatz. Along the same lines, when Anash are not sure about something, they usually speak to a mashpia who will check to see whether the Rebbe addressed this. Only in cases where the Rebbe did not clearly refer to the issue will they write to the Rebbe. desk. It’s because the matter is so sacred that it can’t be done wantonly; asking the Rebbe about every little thing and wanting an answer through the Igros is inappropriate. Even in earlier generations they would ask the Rebbeim about material things. They would tell of Chassidim who cried on their way to the Rebbe for wasting the Rebbe’s time about trivial matters. The Rebbe once said that the difference between a Chabad Chassid and a Poilisher Chassid is that a Chabad Chassid rarely asked about material things. But we were taught by the Rebbe that not only is it okay to ask about material things, you need to ask about material things. Back in the time of the Rebbe Rayatz, the Rebbe would tell Chassidim to write to the Rebbe Rayatz about material concerns. I remember even in my time how the elder Chassidim found it hard to digest this. At the beginning of the Rebbe’s nesius people knew to ask about gashmius too. In later years, the Rebbe changed things and said that certain kinds of questions should be asked of hanhalos of yeshivos and other questions should be referred to doctors, and there were questions the Rebbe said to ask rabbanim. At one point, the secretaries were instructed that when people came with these kinds of questions, to refer them to the appropriate person in light of the Rebbe’s horaos. What was the reason for this? If we can be so audacious as to give explanations, it would seem that it was simply a matter of time constraints, not a change in approach, i.e. that people should no longer ask about gashmius. Then too, after they went to a rav
When Anash are not sure about something they speak to a mashpia who will check to see whether the Rebbe addressed it. Only in cases where the Rebbe did not clearly refer to the issue will they write to the Rebbe.
consult with a mashpia, ‘assai lecha rav.’ The obligation of the ‘rav’ is to advise the person based on the horaos and guidance of the Rebbe that are scattered throughout these letters.” There is the feeling that people use the Igros Kodesh in an exaggerated manner. Doesn’t that minimize the importance of writing to the Rebbe and receiving an answer? In principle, you are right. When you write to the Rebbe, you need to think about whether this is something that is befitting to ask. Definitely not everything needs to be asked. Sometimes, the approach of those who ask about every single thing can minimize the value and importance of it. Generally speaking, Anash limit the scope of what they ask. They treat writing to the Rebbe today and getting an answer in the Igros Kodesh just as they always regarded writing to the Rebbe. The Rebbe once said that when he wants to know something he looks in Shulchan We have clear horaos from the Rebbe that each of us should have a mashpia to consult with every step of the way. Just as previously, a person would speak to his mashpia and only if the mashpia told him to ask the Rebbe, would he write to the Rebbe, so too today. We need to consult with a mashpia and write to the Rebbe based on his guidance. The same is true for answers in the Igros Kodesh. Previously, when we received a letter from the Rebbe, it wasn’t always possible to understand what the Rebbe meant, because man is subjective and he can often distort the meaning to align it with what he wants it to say, so we consulted with a mashpia. Similarly, today too, we must consult with a mashpia about answers we receive via the Igros. For those who don’t do so already, mashpiim should be telling their mushpaim that when they put a letter into the Igros Kodesh it is just like submitting a letter to the secretaries and the Rebbe receiving it on his
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or doctor, they would report to the Rebbe and receive a bracha or other instruction. It’s interesting that each time the Rebbe spoke about the need to limit the amount of mail he received, there were many more answers from the Rebbe after that, a hint that the bond with the Chassidim had not weakened; on the contrary. It is also important to note that in 5753-5754 the Rebbe indicated that he wanted to respond to letters. We can learn from this that the Rebbe wants to respond. So lately, after the Rebbe has been seen to answer through the Igros Kodesh, we see clearly that the Rebbe wants to respond. In this time of darkness the Rebbe revealed a new light to us and leads us by the hand. The Rebbe said on Shabbos Parshas Shoftim 5751 that before Yemos HaMoshiach the concept of “your judges and advisors” will be revealed, and here we see how the Rebbe gives instructions, advice and brachos to all.
Sometimes, people do not open to a clear answer and they ask again. Is that acceptable? Let’s go back to the way it was before Gimmel Tammuz when we submitted letters to the Rebbe and the Rebbe responded. It happened then too that the Rebbe did not respond. What did people do? They would say another chapter of T’hillim in the hopes that the Rebbe would respond and they consulted with their mashpia about whether to write again or not. Sometimes the mashpia would advise that they make a good resolution and then write to the Rebbe again. In Tammuz 5755, I was part of a discussion among rabbanim, mashpiim, and directors of Chabad houses. We spoke about Igros Kodesh and one of the mashpiim said that one night he got a call from a friend who had a halachic question and he decided to ask the Rebbe. From the Rebbe’s answer he understood that he was supposed to consult with his mashpia which is why he
called. One of the rabbanim present said this showed that this had gone too far, with people asking questions about halacha. I said that since the Rebbe gave the opportunity of asking him questions through the Igros Kodesh, when a person makes a mistake and asks a halachic question, the Rebbe finds a way to send him to a rav. In the past too, people sent Halacha questions to the Rebbe and the Rebbe referred them to rabbanim. I am sure that after the Rebbe opened this new path for us, he makes sure that no misstep comes about as a result. I can only conclude by saying that the rav who was so opposed to it, today puts letters in the Igros Kodesh and encourages others to do so and sees miracles. If you were to remind him that he opposed it in the past, he would be very surprised. To be continued
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Issue 882 • �
THE CHASSID WHO HAD FREE ACCESS TO THE REBBE’S ROOM
Rabbi Yehuda Leib Bistritzky a”h had a special relationship with both the Rebbe Rayatz and the Rebbe and Rebbetzin.
By Shneur Zalman Berger
number of years ago, I went to the home of R’ Yehuda Leib (Leibel) Bistritzky a”h in order to interview him about Rabbi Eliyahu Simpson. The hours I spent with him were a Chassidishe delight. It’s not every day that I get to interview a Chassid who was a mekurav of both the Rebbe Rayatz and the Rebbe. R’ Leibel’s home was full of s’farim. He loved s’farim and over the years he bought s’farim old and new. Hundreds of shelves adorned the dining room, the foyers and a small library he built in his house. Although we had not previously met, R’ Leibel treated me with great warmth and shared a wealth of Chassidishe memories. He related them
charmingly, smiling his heartwarming smile now and then. He spoke emotionally about the Rebbe Rayatz’s call “L ’Alter l’t’shuva, L ’Alter l’Geula,” and took out issues of HaKria V’HaK’dusha to show me. That was the time when the Torah for Moshiach began to be written. R’ Leibel told how the new issues would come from the printer directly to the home of R’ Simpson in Boro Park. In the shul, located in the Simpson home, they would pack the issues to be sent all over the United States and abroad: “We – a few young bachurim – were excited to work on
spreading the Rebbe’s Besuras Ha’Geula.” R’ Leibel went on to describe the writing of Moshiach’s Torah scroll: “It wasn’t an easy time. There were those who spoke against the message ‘L ’Alter l’t’shuva’ and against HaKria V’HaK’dusha, but the Rebbe Rayatz wasn’t fazed and called the detractors kalbin d’chatzifin [impudent dogs]. “I was present when they began writing the Torah. The first piece of parchment was placed on the table in the zal and each person wrote a letter. Those were days when you could feel the Geula, how close and palpable it was, but … we did not merit it.”
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RESCUE FROM THE CONTINENT OF DEATH
R’ Leibel Bristritzky was born in 5686/1926 in Hamburg, Germany. His father, R’ Mordechai, was a Boyaner Chassid and his mother was the daughter of R’ Levi Lagover, a Chassid and well-to-do man. Black clouds began covering the skies of Germany in his childhood, when the Nazis rose to power. The Jews of Germany began to suffer from the persecution of the Nazis. Even young Leibel was beaten on the street by anti-Semites. His family left Germany for Antwerp where his grandfather, R’ Levi lived. Then the family moved to Holland.
The Bistritzky family celebrated his bar mitzva right before the war began. His grandfather from Antwerp came to participate in the seudas bar mitzva and when he was asked to speak, he reviewed a maamer Chassidus. The threat of war loomed ever greater and the Bistritzky family yearned to move to Eretz Yisroel, but the pogroms perpetrated by the Arabs against the Jews in Eretz Yisroel in 1936-1939 made them fearful of aliya. They turned their efforts toward obtaining visas for the US. The American government did not expedite visas for refugees until they received proof that those requesting visas would not become a burden on
the government. Usually, what happened was that relatives living in the US would take responsibility for the refugees, but the Bistritzkys did not have relatives in the US. The father of the family was a large scale fish merchant and he came up with a clever plan. He sailed to the US and persuaded the company who bought fish from him to deposit $50,000 into a bank account that he opened. With documentation of tens of thousands of dollars in his bank account, he went to the American consul in Holland and got visas for his entire family the next day. They landed in the United States a few weeks before the war began and settled in New York.
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in. We went in and my father pointed at me and said, ‘This is my son Yehuda Leib.’ The Rebbe held out his hand and I shook it. “The Rebbe said to me, ‘Shalom aleichem,’ and looked at me, and at that moment, I felt as though something was cutting right through me. Until then I had seen quite a few rabbanim and Admurim in Europe but I had never felt anything like this. Afterward, the Rebbe told me to sit down. “At this point, my father introduced my younger brother and said that my mother and two sisters were standing near the other door. The Rebbe said they should open the door, and after they came in, my father introduced them to the Rebbe. Then my father asked the Rebbe for a bracha for my grandparents and the Rebbe (who knew them) rose and gave a bracha. “After the yechidus, we went downstairs and all the assembled entered the large hall. The Rebbe came downstairs and spoke into a microphone, something new in those days. Since I was a child who did not speak fluent Yiddish, I had a hard time understanding what was said in Yiddish, but I remember the sight of the masses of people who pushed toward the Rebbe in order to see his face. There were also kids my age, like the children of R’ Simpson, R’ Moshe Kazarnovsky, R’ Sholom Chaskind, and the Sharfstein brothers who later became my classmates.” Thanks to the close connection of his father, Leibel was also a ben-bayis of the Boyaner Rebbe zt”l who lived in the US, but the Admur told the young boy, “You need to be a Lubavitcher Chassid. You can continue visiting me as a friend.”
The Rebbe Rayatz’s letter of blessing upon the birth of their son Levi
“Since, in Lubavitch, they would say that if the Rebbe gives you his hand that indicates something is amiss, I was afraid that this did not bode well for me… When I returned home, I began writing my will. When I finished, I gave it to my wife and went to bed. I suddenly came down with a high fever...”
FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH THE REBBE RAYATZ
A few months later, the Rebbe Rayatz arrived in America. Leibel’s parents went to the kabbalas panim that was arranged and a few days later, Leibel was able to see the Rebbe and have yechidus: “On Purim 5700/1940, my
father took my mother and the children to a farbrengen of the Rebbe Rayatz at the Greystone Hotel in Manhattan. Before the farbrengen, my father went over to R’ Eliyahu Simpson, who was in charge of letting people in for yechidus, and asked permission to go in. “As we stood at the door, the Rebbe motioned to us to come
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UNUSUAL KIRUVIM FROM THE REBBE AND BEIS REBBI
When he first arrived in the US, Leibel attended Yeshivas Toras Emes in Boro Park. Every Friday night he would learn Chassidus with R’ Dovber Chaskind and R’ Eliyahu Nachum Sklar. On Wednesdays he learned with R’ Chadakov. When Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim opened he attended that yeshiva. Leibel enjoyed many special kiruvim (signs of affection) from Beis Rebbi, kiruvim that increased as the years went by. In those days, young bachurim did not attend the Rebbe Rayatz’s farbrengens, but R’ Leibel was allowed to attend. He also became close with the Rebbe and Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka who often visited his parents’ house. Whenever he knew of such a visit ahead of time, he made sure to be there. He often visited the Rebbe in his office on the first floor of 770. Despite his young age, he helped print the s’farim of Kehos including the HaYom Yom, Bod Kodesh, and various maamarim, and also had a share in preparing the S’dei Chemed series for print. He did this work as a volunteer. He made it a habit to go to the Shulzinger Bros. printing house where Kehos books were printed, in order to keep tabs on the new maamarim that were being printed, and to get a fresh copy of whatever was being printed at the time. When the s’farim of the Tzemach Tzedek were published, the Rebbe told him to come to his room and said he would give him a set for free. The Rebbe also gave him a set of S’dei Chemed. There were times R’ Leibel would go to the Rebbe and give him rare s’farim that he came across. He would often ask the Rebbe
Leading his son Levi to the chuppa
questions that came up in his learning of Gemara and Halacha. Each time, before R’ Leibel had yechidus with the Rebbe Rayatz, he wrote a pidyon nefesh which he showed to the Rebbe MH”M who would make corrections. R’ Leibel told me about those audiences with the Rebbe Rayatz: “I would usually have the yechidus alone but it wasn’t easy understanding the Rebbe
Rayatz in those days [due to his stroke and speech impediment]. One time, I asked R’ Simpson to come with me as he did with many others, so he could explain to them what the Rebbe said. He said I should go in myself. I asked him again and again but he did not like to hear that which wasn’t meant for him. When it was my turn, I was sure he would come in with me but he told me to go in and he closed the door, leaving me alone with the Rebbe.”
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ONLY ON HAPPY OCCASIONS
In 5708, R’ Leibel became engaged to Ita Travis, daughter of R’ Shlomo, a Lubavitcher Chassid who had dealings in the oil industry in Texas and who donated generously to Chabad mosdos. R’ Leibel and his kalla and their parents had yechidus before the tennaim. R’ Simpson wrote down what the Rebbe said: “It is customary to wish mazal tov only after the simcha is finalized, but this is a personal simcha for me when we meet together. A long time may pass without our seeing one another. May Hashem enable us to meet only on happy occasions. When two Jews meet there is simcha up above and down below; one simcha generates another simcha.” The Rebbe addressed the women and said that he meant that you don’t say mazal tov until the tennaim, and it was understood that after the tennaim the Rebbe would write mazal tov wishes. After parting blessings, the Rebbe said, “May Hashem make it, indeed, a big simcha. Be well.” When the Rebbe Rayatz passed away, something extraordinary happened: “In 5710, my brother found a thin bichel (booklet) of Chassidus. After I gave it to Ramash (the Rebbe), he thanked me in Russian. When the Rebbe saw that I did not understand, he expressed his surprise and asked, ‘Leibel, you don’t speak Russian?’ I said that due to the desire to distance themselves from communism, my parents refused to allow their children to speak Russian. The Rebbe said, ‘Since it says on the bichel that it belongs to the office of the Rebbe
[Rayatz] but it doesn’t have a name, go to the Rebbe [Rayatz] and ask him what to do. “I took the opportunity to bring my brother along to the Rebbe Rayatz. When I showed the bichel to the Rebbe, he spent time looking through it. On the back of the booklet there was attached a handwritten note with a long story. The Rebbe read it from beginning to end. When he finished, he said, ‘This is very sweet Chassidus. This is Chassidus of my grandfather but I have [the original in] his handwriting.’ “The Rebbe sat in the center, at his desk, my brother stood opposite him and I stood in the corner. The Rebbe held out his hand and I thought he was holding it out to my brother, so I took my brother’s hand and held it out to the Rebbe, but the Rebbe turned to me and held his hand out to me. I didn’t know what to do. Should I cause it to just remain there for nothing? I immediately held out my hand, which is not the custom among Chabad Chassidim. The Rebbe shook my hand and said, ‘Give regards to your father that he should have nachas from you and all the children.’ “Since, in Lubavitch, they would say that if the Rebbe gives you his hand that indicates something is amiss, I was afraid that this did not bode well for me. Full of trepidation, I went with my brother to Ramash and told him what happened. I asked him to arouse mercy before the Rebbe Rayatz, but Ramash dismissed this with a wave of his hand. “Nevertheless, I was still worried. When I returned home, I began writing my will. When I finished, I gave it to my wife and went to bed. I suddenly had a high fever and the doctor who
was called said I had a serious infection and he gave me an injection of penicillin. I was sick for several days and the fever did not come down. I called Ramash and told him about my condition and I asked him to arouse mercy. I told him that I thought my illness was connected with shaking the Rebbe’s hand. “This event I’m describing took place shortly before Yud Shevat 5710, and when the Rebbe Rayatz passed away a few days later, I understood everything. When I said this to Rashag, he was amazed by the incident and said, ‘The Rebbe probably wanted to part from your father.’”
From this point on, there began a bond of hiskashrus between R’ Leibel and the new Rebbe, with the Rebbe displaying many signs of affection for the young Chassid. Leibel lived in Boro Park and on Shabbasos when the Rebbe farbrenged, he would daven in R’ Simpson’s shul in Boro Park, then go home and make Kiddush for his wife, and then walk to Crown Heights. After the farbrengen, he would often accompany the Rebbe to his house. On the way, the Rebbe would talk to him about various topics. One time, the Rebbe asked him why he walked back to Boro Park and did not wait until after Shabbos. R’ Leibel said that as a bachur he had been hosted by the family of R’ Tzemach Gurevitch, but now he felt it would be too much of a burden for him to be their guest that often. The Rebbe did not respond, but the following Shabbos Mevarchim after the farbrengen, R’ Shneur Zalman Gurary invited him to the Shabbos meal in his house. R’ Leibel asked him what made him
20 � • 29 Sivan 5773
decide to invite him but received no response. He assumed the invitation had come about because of the Rebbe. When he wanted to see the Rebbe, he waited in line with everyone else until late at night. One time, the Rebbe said to him, “Why do you need to wait in line for so long? Knock at my door whenever you want, and come in.” But R’ Leibel, as a Chassid and mekushar, did not avail himself of the open door policy. He said he wanted to feel like a Chassid going to see his Rebbe. However, over the years, there were a few times that he went to the Rebbe without waiting, when it had to do with other people’s situations. He owned Bistritzky’s Kosher Gourmet Food on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. There were years when parnasa wasn’t easy and he would tell the Rebbe and receive a bracha. “I was once in a very difficult financial situation and I asked the Rebbe for a bracha. When I went in, the Rebbe read my pidyon nefesh and said, ‘Hashem will help you.’ I told the Rebbe I wasn’t budging until ‘a tzaddik decrees …’ and I cried. The Rebbe looked at me and finally said, ‘May it be as you said.’ “From then on, the situation changed bit by bit and over the years I saw how the bracha was fulfilled.” R’ Leibel was faithful to Beis Rebbi, and over the years was a big help to Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka.
His mishloach manos usually included a special challa that his wife baked, which the Rebbe used for his Purim seuda. On Purim 5728/1968, to mark Mivtza T’fillin which had started the previous year, his wife made a cake in the shape of t’fillin. From then on, each year his wife made a cake in the shape of something of Chassidic significance. When the Rebbe promoted 71 mosdos, the cake was in the shape of little houses. When the Rebbe spoke about “prazos teishev Yerushalayim,” the cake was in the shape of the Kosel. When the Rebbe spoke about l’chat’chilla aribber, there was a fence in the middle of the cake with a Chassid jumping over it. The Rebbe received many mishloach manos, but the cake that R’ Leibel brought was the only one that was on the Rebbe’s table at home on Purim. When the Rebbe would come home, he would look at the cake and the message for that year. Then
He was present when the Rebbe gave out Dalet Minim
At Kiddush Levana on Motzaei Yom Kippur standing near the Rebbe
When the Rebbe spoke about l’chat’chilla aribber, there was a fence in the middle of the cake with a Chassid jumping over it.
CHASSIDISHE MISHLOACH MANOS
R’ z’chus Rebbe with Leibel had a special in that he brought the unique mishloach manos a Chassidishe theme.
he would have it sent to Beis Rivka or Machon Chana. The girls would crumble the cake and make a huge cake out of it from which pieces were given to all. The Rebbe would also send the challa to one of the mosdos. There were years when the mishloach manos were given in a very unusual way. Here are three of them as described by R’ Leibel: “In 5748, after the passing of the Rebbetzin, I brought mishloach manos to 770. I stood near the door and when the Rebbe went to his room after
Mincha, I went over and said I wanted to put this in his room. The Rebbe opened the door and told me to go in. I asked the Rebbe where to put it and he said I should put it on the bed. As always, the Rebbe stood and examined the mishloach manos. “On Purim 5752, about two weeks after 27 Adar I, my son Yingy who was helping out in those days, told the Rebbe that I wanted to bring mishloach manos as I did every year. The Rebbe nodded in the affirmative. When I brought the mishloach manos, standing near the room
Issue 882 • �
an entirely voluntary basis. The purpose of Hatzalah is to provide a speedy medical response in an emergency. Today, his son Yingy runs the organization. *** In the last decade of his life, R’ Leibel and his wife moved to Eretz Yisroel and settled in Yerushalayim. Despite his advanced age, he continued his acts of medical chesed by regularly visiting patients in Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital. He visited the sickest patients and cheered them up. As always, he did this modestly, in a low-key way. Last year, R’ Leibel went back to the city of his birth, Hamburg, for the inauguration of his grandson, R’ Shlomo, as Chief Rabbi of the city. On 4 Sivan, R’ Leibel passed away after a heart attack at the age of 86. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Ita Bistritzky, and children: Mrs. Miriam Sheindel Nelkin – Toronto, Canada; R’ Yosef Yitzchok Bistritzky – Flatbush, NY; R’ Avrohom Yisroel (Yingy) Bistritzky – Crown Heights; Mrs. Raizy Greenwald – Rechovot, Israel; Mrs. Ruchama Clapman – Five Towns, NY; Mrs. Devora Leah (Z.C.) Cohen – Aventura, Florida; R’ Menachem Mendel Bistritzky – Five Towns, NY; Rabbi Shlomo Mordechai Bistritzky – Shliach in Agoura Hills, CA; R’ Shneur Zalman Bistritzky – New York, NY; grandchildren, greatgrandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
Last year, when his grandson was appointed as Chief Rabbi of Hamburg
With his son R’ Levi
were the secretaries, the doctor, the male nurse, and my son while the Rebbe sat. I put the mishloach manos in front of the Rebbe and the Rebbe examined it. “On Purim 5754, the
mishloach manos were prepared early. My wife made a cake in the shape of a doctor with the words, ‘zait gezunt.’ When I arrived with my son and the mishloach manos, the Rebbe was sitting with his hat on. I went over to the Rebbe and said, ‘Yehuda Leib ben Shifra is bringing mishloach manos.’ The Rebbe had vision problems at the time but he nodded his head. I told the Rebbe that Chassidim want the Rebbe to have a refua shleima and the Rebbe answered amen. I said, ‘Chassidim want the revelation of Moshiach,’ and the Rebbe answered amen.”
FOUNDER OF CROWN HEIGHTS HATZALAH
R’ Leibel started the chapter of Hatzalah in Crown Heights on
TO BRING MOSHIACH NOW!
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ADD IN ACTS OF GOODNESS & KINDNESS
THE REBBE ON WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHASSID
Compiled by Yisroel Lapidot Picture: The New York Times
THE KO’ACH OF A CHASSID – AH SHTICK REBBE
As to actual avoda, you need to increase in spreading the wellsprings of Toras Ha’chassidus outward. As the Rebbe, my father-in-law, said, “A Chassid darf machen noch a Chassid” (A Chassid needs to make another Chassid). He went on to explain that the first mitzva of the Torah is “be fruitful and multiply,” and since even the order of Torah is precise (which is why we learn from immediate proximity [of Torah sections]), it is understood that the lesson (Torah being from the root meaning a lesson) from its being the first mitzva is, first and foremost, that a Jew must make another Jew, and likewise, a Chassid needs to make another Chassid. He concluded that the ability of a Chassid to make another Chassid is because a Chassid is “ah shtick Rebbe!” (a Chassid is a piece of the Essence of the Rebbe).
(Sicha Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sarah 5712)
Love is the breath of life in the avoda of Chassidus, that which binds the Chassidim amongst themselves and that which binds the Rebbe with the Chassidim and the Chassidim with the Rebbe. It is both in a way of ohr yashar (direct light) and ohr chozer (reflected light); it knows no barriers and transcends the limits of time and place.
(HaYom Yom 26 Shevat)
a Chassid is that his neshama (and the neshamos of his peers) is a spark and branch of a more general neshama which is that of his Rebbe. As a result, whether in material or spiritual matters, they have a strong bond.
(Igros Kodesh vol. 9, p. 6)
A Chassid, said the Rebbe, is like a goat. Aside from fulfilling its job as a goat and providing milk, it knows no worries about its sustenance, since its owner makes sure to supply it with everything it needs. That is how a Chassid ought to fill the role demanded of him by the Rebbe. Consequently, the Rebbe will take care of all his needs.
(Sichas Acharon shel Pesach 5711)
To point out from what the Rebbe, my father-in-law, said that there are four types of connection between Rebbe and Chassid: 1) the way of teacher and student (mashpia and mekabel), 2) hiskashrus, d’veikus, and complete unity through Torah and avoda, 3) that of father and son, and 4) of luminary and light.
(Igros Kodesh, vol. 20, p. 62)
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CHASSID AND A MISNAGED
One of the main differences between a Chassid and a Misnaged is that the foundational principle of the world view of
Just as Hashem “gives the Torah” (in the present tense) every day, the same is true with tzaddikim who “are likened to their Creator.” Thus, every day the Rebbe turns to him and says: Do such and such. He responds to the Rebbe every day: with 612 strands I obey, but with one strand – every day I take scissors and cut it.
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Since, when it comes to Will and Kabbalas Ol there is no division of parts, it is not possible to go after the majority. Rather, even if there is one detail that he does not obey, even a detail that we were not explicitly commanded, but he, deep inside, knows that this is what is wanted and he needs to do it happily and with gladness of heart, and he doesn’t want to do it, he is rebelling against the king!
(Sicha Shabbos Parshas B’Reishis 5721)
So too with the hiskashrus between a Chassid and the Rebbe – even as regards a matter of a specific detail (one limb); the neshama depends on this limb, both on the part of the Rebbe and on the part of the Chassid: When a person goes to the Rebbe to ask about a spiritual or material concern, it is not because the Rebbe is an expert in this particular matter, but because the Rebbe is a neshama klalis (general soul), like a head which contains the life force of all
the limbs of the body.
(Sicha 12 Tammuz 5710)
THE CHASSIDIM’S CONDUCT AFFECTS THE REBBE
“Because naar Yisroel (Yisroel is a young boy) and I will love him,” through naar Yisroel – the avoda of kabbalas ol, I love him – essential love is drawn down within the one that is loved, i.e. the bond of Etzem (Essence) with Etzem that becomes one.
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WHEN IT COMES TO LISTENING TO THE REBBE’S HORAOS, THERE IS NO FREE WILL!
The practical lesson is: Each person knows that he had, and has, a connection with the Rebbe, my father-in-law, Nasi Doreinu, and the main thing – the Nasi of our generation put himself in such a situation that he would have a connection with him. Therefore, this connection is eternal (whether he wants it or not) and for this reason, he must behave according to the directives of Nasi Doreinu regarding spreading Judaism and the wellsprings outward, etc. As said before, since he has a connection with Nasi Doreinu, this obligates him to act this way and he has no choice to act otherwise. When he claims he has free choice, and if regarding a command of Hashem he has free choice, and G-d’s knowledge does not compel his choice, all the more so is this true regarding a command of Nasi Doreinu, Chassidus says: not necessarily. The knowledge and command from Above do not compel his choice since “the Heart did not reveal to the Mouth.” In other words, this was not revealed and drawn down into the world of speech etc., whereas an order from Nasi Doreinu is drawn down and revealed within speech and also in action, to the point that he was moser nefesh for it. Therefore, it compels his choice. He has no other choice; he must fulfill the horaos of Nasi Doreinu! When he says he will do it later, up Above there is the idea of patience, but when we speak about a command and horaa of Nasi Doreinu, he himself announced and stressed that he meant it to be done now, and he said he means you, and he said it means that it be “like an ax to the tree,” i.e. action; it is not possible to postpone it for later! The only choice he has is to fight Nasi Doreinu, G-d forbid, which means he is fighting his own existence that compels him to act according to the directives of Nasi Doreinu. Since he knows that he has no choice but to fulfill the directives of Nasi Doreinu, and ultimately he will be compelled to do so, better he should do so from the outset, immediately, and in a way of kindness and mercy (for there will be no reason to compel him). As we know the saying from the Rebbe, my father-in-law, who said at the beginning of his nesius, that he desired that the mode of conduct be with kindness and mercy. We also know that he said, “A Chassid is clever,” and therefore, knowing that ultimately he will have no choice and will be compelled to do so, he does so from the outset, and consequently, it is with kindness and mercy.
(Sicha Shabbos Parshas VaYikra 5743)
This is especially the case when speaking of the hiskashrus of Chassidim to the Rebbe which is the greatest hiskashrus. Through naar Yisroel – that the hiskashrus and bittul is like that of a young boy, the bittul of a genuine mekabel and faithful servant, at least regarding matters of practical action – through this “And I will love him. They will become bound up with the Etzem of the Rebbe, which is the Etzem of G-dliness, and it will be “Torah and G-d are all one.”
(Sicha Simchas Torah 5716)
Although the elevation of a talmid (student) by a rav (Torah teacher) is a disproportionate elevation, it is still something that takes place gradually, since the influence from the teacher to the student is through order and gradualness, constriction and extension etc. But with the Rebbe and Chassid, the way the Rebbe elevates the Chassid is unlimited.
(Sicha Acharon shel Pesach 5711)
In general, you need to know that the conduct of Chassidim affects even the Rebbe… From this
we understand the responsibility of Chassidim who are connected to the Rebbe. Since their behavior also affects the Rebbe, so that if he behaves in an undesirable way, G-d forbid, it is not only that he is “one who injures himself” which is prohibited but carries no liability, he also is “one who injures others” for which he is liable. All the more so in this situation when the “others” is the general soul etc. so that the responsibility is far greater.
(Sicha Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sarah 5711)
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WHAT IS YOUR REALITY?
A lecture from the Maggid of Yerushalayim, Rabbi Sholom Schwadron (1912-1997) a”h about the statement of Chazal which says, “Yaakov Avinu did not die” and the difficulty people have accepting this literally. * What did the Rambam tell people who had doubts in emuna and what connection is there to what Rav Yochanan said, in his proof to Vespasian? * Word for word from the book, “L’Haggid.” * Presented for Gimmel Tammuz
[Rav Yitzchak] told him: “I derive this homiletically from a verse. It is written: ‘Do not fear, My servant Yaakov, speaks G-d, and do not dismay, O Israel. For I will deliver you from afar, and your descendants from the land of their captivity.’ A parallel is drawn between him [Yaakov] and his descendants. Just as his descendants are alive, he too is alive” (Taanis 5b). “Yaakov Avinu did not die – but lives forever. This that they embalmed him is because they thought that he had died. It appeared to them that he had died, but he was alive.”(Rashi) have any connection, but in any case, it is worthwhile. We will spend a short time on each point. The Gemara in Taanis daf 5b says: Rav Nachman and Rav Yitzchok were sitting at a meal when Rav Nachman asked Rav Yitzchok to tell him a d’var Torah. He said to him: Rav Yochanan said that we do not talk while eating, lest the windpipe precede the esophagus which is dangerous. Only after the meal will I tell you something. After the meal he said to him: Rav Yochanan said, Yaakov Avinu did not die. [Rav Nachman] said to him: Was it for naught that they eulogized him and embalmed him and buried him? [Rav Yitzchok] said to him: I derive this homiletically from a verse. It is written: “Do not fear, My servant Yaakov, speaks G-d, and do not dismay, O Israel. For I will deliver you from afar, and your descendants from the land of their captivity.” A parallel is drawn between him [Yaakov] and his descendants. Just as his descendants are alive, he too is alive.” Rashi explains, “Yaakov Avinu did not die – but lives forever. This that they embalmed him is because they thought that he had died. It appeared to them that he had died, but he was alive.” It’s an interesting thing that people, especially young ones, say, “What does this mean? A person doesn’t die?!” It’s not that they don’t believe. “We believe,” they say. “But how can that be?” They want to understand.
“WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? A PERSON DOESN’T DIE?”
I think I will touch upon a number of points that may not
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There is a letter from the Rambam to a community who asked him about some questions they had in emuna. Instead of answering their questions, the Rambam sent them a response telling them to check the shochet. They checked the local shochet and found that he had lost sensation and could not feel flaws in the sh’chita knife. Consequently, he produced some treifos. The community wrote to the Rambam: Ruach Ha’kodesh appeared in your house of study, our master, our teacher! The Rambam responded: I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I saw that you have doubts in emuna and I realized it comes from eating treifos, because it says, “and you will become contaminated with it,” and Chazal say (Yuma 39),
The Yerushalmi Maggid, Rabbi Sholom Schwadron a”h was known for the fiery, inspirational and entertaining talks he gave in shuls and yeshivos, especially in the big shul in Zichron Moshe. In 1952, R’ Schwadron began giving a Friday night lecture to the public at the Zichron Moshe shul which continued for the next 40 years. R’ Schwadron was considered a chain in the musar legacy of Kelm, Slobodka, and Novardok. Some of the stories he told were incorporated in the “Maggid” series of books by Rabbi Paysach Krohn. As for his ties with Chabad, all we know is that he had yechidus with the Rebbe on 22 Sivan 5735/1975. When R’ Shlomo Shtentzahl wrote to the Rebbe about a drasha given by R’ Schwadron, the Rebbe’s response was, “In response to your letter … in which you write about the tremendous impact made on the gathering by the speech of so-and-so who inspired people to yiras Shamayim, Torah and mitzvos – fortunate is his lot that he participated in organizing the event ...” (Igros Kodesh vol. 12, p. 305)
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Instead of answering their questions, the Rambam sent them a response telling them to check the shochet. They checked the local shochet and found that he had lost sensation in his hands and could not feel flaws in the sh’chita knife. Consequently, he produced some treifos.
“a sin is metamteim a person’s heart,” and Rashi says, “It stops it up, closes it off, from wisdom.” The Gemara brings proof from the verse about eating treifos and swarming creatures, “and do not contaminate yourselves with them. Do not read it contaminated but stopped up.” Therefore it must be that the stopped up mind and your questions come from eating treifos. How could this happen that you eat treifos, G-d forbid, when you are G-d fearing? I had to say that you did so inadvertently, like through a shochet who was not fit. Unbelievable! This is why I say in the drasha that if there are people that have questions in emuna, they should examine what they eat. It sometimes happens, and maybe more than sometimes, that G-d fearing people don’t think. They travel to distant places or are hungry while on the street, and they eat something and they don’t know what they are putting into their bodies. “Yeah, yeah, it’s kosher. There is a hechsher on the package,” they say to themselves and they trip up. This is how they become stopped up, “contaminated.” I heard in the name of a gadol who gave an analogy: if someone was told that poison was concealed in the fruit on the table, would he eat it? Even if only a small child told him about the slight possibility of there being poison in the fruit, he would keep his distance. So why put food into your mouth whose hechsher may not be good? Because we do not feel it is poison!
YOU ARE TOLD, “YAAKOV AVINU DID NOT DIE” AND YOU STAMMER, YES, BUT …
On this topic of Yaakov Avinu did not die: There is a dispute among the Rishonim about how to interpret it. In the Maharsha there is another explanation, but Rashi and Tos’fos explain it literally, that Yaakov Avinu did not die, that he lives forever. Additionally, Tosafos points out that it does not say “and Yaakov died” in the Torah, but “he expired,” and brings a proof from the story of Chushim the son of Dan in the Gemara Sota where it says that Yaakov Avinu opened his eyes and smiled. So he was alive. The Gemara says in Sanhedrin, “in the future, trees in Eretz Yisroel will produce bread rolls and silk garments.” It is saying that in the Future Time, the trees of Eretz Yisroel will sprout bread rolls, pastries and clothing. The Rambam maintains that the Gemara is speaking allegorically, namely that it will be so good and pleasant and so serene that, as it were, all will grow entirely on the tree. The Rambam expounds from verses
that this is what is meant. But someone who thinks that it can’t be the simple, literal meaning – that clothing will grow on trees, is one of those who has become “stuffed up.” Why? Because if I ask you, how do bananas grow on a tree, do you know? A genius like you has figured out that bananas can grow but cakes cannot? How do bananas sprout altogether? The answer is, Hashem created it this way, that trees produce bananas and just as He created it this way for now, He will create it differently later on. It is all wonder of wonders, as He wishes. You are told, “Yaakov Avinu did not die,” and you stammer and say, “Yes, but ...” What’s the but? How a person lives is something you do know? How he takes bread, puts it in his mouth, it goes in here (pointing at the mouth) and then all sorts of waste exit the body and inside he retains the minerals etc. and he lives! How? It’s because Hashem created him that way, so what difference does it make? When you live routinely, there is no wisdom and no understanding! That is one point I wanted to talk about.
RAV YOCHANAN TELLS VESPASIAN – I HAVE A PASUK
The Gemara says that when R’ Yochanan ben Zakai spoke to General Vespasian in the days preceding the churban, he said, “Shalom to you the emperor, shalom to you the emperor.” Vespasian was angered by this and said: You deserve double capital punishment. First, I am not the emperor, and second, if I am the emperor, why didn’t you come to me until now?
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“You are the emperor,” said R’ Yochanan. What happened? How does he know this? “I derive this homiletically from a verse.” I have a homiletic source that the Beis HaMikdash will fall into the hands of an emperor, as it says, ‘and the Levanon will fall to the mighty,’ and ‘might’ refers to an emperor. Now look. R’ Yochanan ben Zakai was representing all the Jewish people, and he knew that he could be sentenced to the death penalty, but he had a drasha from a pasuk! Unbelievable! It says in a pasuk! And as they spoke, a messenger came from Rome, someone who had been sent maybe a month earlier, and he announced that the emperor had died and Vespasian was appointed as the new emperor. Nobody knew because there were no newspapers and it wasn’t written in any newspapers in Eretz Yisroel. But Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai knew. Let me tell you, that R’ Yochanan knew this is no wonder at all; the Tanaim knew everything. But that R’ Yochanan said this to the emperor based on a pasuk is incredible. And my teacher [R’ Eliyahu Lopian z”l] explained this in the most literal sense.
Said my teacher: To those people, the world is reality and the Torah is testimony, so when they see that it says in the Gemara, “Yaakov Avinu did not die,” they try to interpret it one way or another. To Chazal, Torah is the reality of the world and the world is testimony, and when it comes to reality, no testimony is needed.
doubt returns. But who needs witnesses when facing reality? The reality is he is alive! In such a case, it’s like the witnesses do not exist. They are superfluous. If witnesses are not needed, they aren’t worth anything, as my teacher said. Said my teacher: To those people, the world is reality and the Torah is testimony, so when they see that it says in the Gemara, “Yaakov Avinu did not die,” they try to interpret it one way or another. To Chazal, Torah is the reality of the world and the world is testimony, and when it comes to reality, no testimony is needed.
didn’t die. In this situation, even if hundreds and thousands of witnesses come to bolster either side, the matter remains in doubt. But if they said so-and-so died and suddenly, he appears at the courtroom door, he is alive even if thousands of witnesses testify that he died; there is no doubt. He is alive. Why? Thousands testify that he died? Listen closely to a fantastic principle. Witnesses are useful in a matter of doubt; they only clarify a doubtful matter. If two testify that he died, the doubt is resolved, which is why, if two other witnesses testify against them and say he did not die, the
THERE ARE NO WITNESSES IN THE FACE OF REALITY
My teacher said as follows: if witnesses come before the judges and say that so-and-so died, we believe them because “the matter stands based on two witnesses.” (And in some cases, we even believe one witness.) If another two witnesses come and testify against them saying he did not die, the din is in doubt, maybe he died and maybe he
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A “KIDNAPPING” IN AKKO
Two Arab merchants from Akko’s Old City planned to murder their Jewish competitor, who suddenly disappeared without a trace. In response to a letter placed in Igros Kodesh, the Rebbe wrote that he would return home. However, the police reported that they had found a body along the seashore that matched the description of that missing man. This amazing story had a most surprising ending…
By Nosson Avraham Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
few days before the Pesach holiday, the city of Akko was in an uproar. The red line had apparently been crossed for the umpteenth time. Persons unknown had made an assassination attempt against the mayor of Akko, Mr. Shimon Lankry, as he was driving through one of the city’s main
intersections. Lankry, considered by the Rebbe’s shluchim in Akko to be among the circle of Chabad supporters, was shot and wounded in the chest. Yet he miraculously survived the attempt on his life, and he recently returned to work in his City Hall office. The media in Eretz Yisroel and internationally reported on this serious incident
from every possible angle, and the police conducted a thorough investigation. Such an event shook the foundations of the nation’s criminal justice system. It’s not every day that suspicious forces try to murder the highest elected official in a city in Eretz Yisroel. This act of wanton violence
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brought back old memories for Rabbi Shlomo Frank, a rav in Akko and director of the city’s marriage bureau, of a thrilling story that took place in Akko many years ago. The story began in an atmosphere of great fear and apprehension, but it culminated with an amazing bracha from the Rebbe via Igros Kodesh.
A CALMING REPLY FROM THE REBBE
“This story took place over a decade ago,” recalled Rabbi Frank. “During those years, there was a fierce battle between various local merchants on the import and sale of copper items and other souvenirs. The city of Akko is a tourist attraction. Many people come from all over the world to walk down its lanes and passageways, behold its historic beauty, and hear its ancient stories. Numerous shopkeepers and vendors try to sell their wares to the sightseers and other visitors. Large sums of money change hands in this marketplace, which leads to disputes among the merchants, who are divided into two main groups. “The fact that there are both Arab and Jewish merchants simply made the dispute more vicious. It reached the point of intense hatred, comparable to a munitions factory threatening to explode at any moment. “One Motzaei Shabbos, I received an urgent telephone call from a friend, a supporter of the Chabad community. The fear in his voice on the other end of the line was unmistakable. He told me that his friend, the leader of the Jewish group competing for control of the souvenir market, had disappeared from his home several hours earlier. At first, there was plenty of optimistic
Rabbi Shlomo Frank
reassurance that he would soon return. However, anyone familiar with him knew that he was an extremely well-organized man, and for him to vanish without telling a soul was totally bizarre. The concern over his welfare grew when it was discovered that the front door to his house had been left wide open, and his cell phone was found nearby. “This and other discoveries immediately raised serious fears among his close colleagues that something awful had happened to him. His friend on the phone sounded terrified and distraught. I invited him to come to my house to write a letter to the Rebbe through Igros Kodesh and ask for a bracha. “He didn’t waste a moment and came right over. The Rebbe’s answer was amazing. It was in reply to a Jew who was making a visit to ‘that country’ [the U.S.S.R.], and the Rebbe blessed him that he would return safe and sound to his family. “I read the letter again and again, and I told the man that in my humble opinion, the Rebbe was giving his friend a bracha that he should return home safely, and there was nothing to worry about. “It required a lot of courage
to say something like that. The story of the kidnapping had spread throughout the city and even made the national headlines. In light of all the details, everyone realized that something dreadful had happened to this merchant. Yet, the Rebbe gave a bracha that he would return home. We’re not interpreters for the Rebbe; we’re just the means for conveying the message. The message was clear: the merchant was alive and he would still return home. “It was doubtful whether he shared my faith, but all I could do was to encourage him. We said goodbye to each other, and he returned home to wait. “After the merchant’s friends and family had endured three days of great fear and anxiety, the police announced that they had found a body lying on the seashore. He was about fifty years old and appeared to meet the description of the missing merchant. The various media outlets reported that the police had asked the merchant’s family to come to the hospital in Nahariya and see if they could identify the body. The entire city held its collective breath. Everyone had already lost hope. In fact, when I heard the media reports, I too became concerned. However, I quickly regained my faith in the Rebbe’s answer. “The merchant’s good friend called me again, and in a quivering voice, he updated me on the new developments. For my part, I opened the letter and read the answer again. It was absolutely clear to me that the only message from this letter was that the Jewish merchant would return safely home. “‘But the reality shows something else entirely!’ his friend cried in a voice choking with emotion. I had a difficult
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“The concern over his welfare grew when it was discovered that the front door to his house had been left wide open and his cell phone was found nearby.”
time reassuring him. The only words left to say were, ‘These are the Rebbe’s words, and there’s nothing more to be said. I believe with complete faith in the righteousness of the Rebbe, even if the reality seems to indicate that the worst had happened right before our eyes.” “When I hung up the phone, I took another look at the letter and examined it scrupulously. The truth is that this was a tremendous test of my emuna. “A few hours later, I got another phone call from our mutual friend, who told me that the body found on the seashore was not the merchant’s. Nevertheless, he remained genuinely concerned over his survival, as it had now been three days since he last had contact with anyone – something most uncharacteristic of him to do. ‘If those criminals have him, they’ll show him no mercy,’ the friend said with a tone of sorrow and pessimism. All I could do was try to give him a feeling of hope that everything would work out. “Two more nerve-wracking days passed. There was much speculation as to the fate of the Jewish merchant, but the eventual climax of the whole episode shocked everyone to the core.”
THE SECRET BEHIND THE “KIDNAPPING”
Two days later, the Jewish merchant happily returned home as if nothing had happened. That morning, police detectives from the northern region knocked on the door of one of the local Arab merchants, and they arrested him on charges of issuing a murder contract. Now, the details of the story became clear: It turned out that this arrested Arab criminal had met with someone whom he hired to kill the Jewish merchant. The Arab paid him half the amount in advance. However, the wouldbe assassin apparently had second thoughts, or he may have been working undercover for the police, because he quickly reported what he knew to the authorities. They decided to lay a trap for the Arab vendor. They staged a kidnapping, while they clandestinely kept the Jewish merchant out of sight. They instructed him to fly to Turkey, where he waited in a hotel at
police expense until he was told that he could return. “In the meantime, the police leaked a deceptive report to the media that a body had apparently been found with a description strikingly similar to the Jewish merchant. Hidden cameras were installed, and the ‘hit-man’ came to receive the balance of his fee. When the money was placed in his hands, police detectives came running out of their hiding places and arrested the murder contractor. The Arab was convicted of ordering a contract killing and was sentenced to a lengthy prison term. *** “The amazing story and its stunning finale spread like wildfire throughout the city. As a result, many people learned about the power of a bracha from the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, through Igros Kodesh,” said Rabbi Frank as he concluded his narrative. “For a full week, it was clear to everyone that this merchant was no longer among the living. Yet, the Rebbe’s answer made it equally clear that while he wasn’t home now, he would eventually return home, hale and hearty in body and soul. “Since then, I have written countless times to the Rebbe in Igros Kodesh with other Jews, and we saw many miracles and wonders – but this story tops them all.”
Check it out!! Educational and Fun!!
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MOSHIACH & GEULA
MOSHE DOES NOT SAY ANYTHING OF HIS OWN
By Rabbi Gershon Avtzon, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati
Dear Reader sh’yichyeh, This Shabbos, Parshas Korach, is the Shabbos prior to the holy day of Gimmel Tammuz. We all know that the Alter Rebbe taught that “We have to live with the times,” which was explained to mean the weekly Torah portion. I therefore would like to share a thought we can take from Parshas Korach in connection to Gimmel Tammuz. Parshas Korach is a parsha full of drama. There is the family feud of Moshe and Korach, the rebellion and ultimate death of 250 descendants of Shevet Reuven, and the earth swallowing of Korach, his family and cronies. Yet, there is another melodramatic and otherworldly scene that is recorded by Rashi but one that is often overlooked. The Parsha (17:9-15) tells us the following story: The Lord spoke to Moses saying: “Stand aside from this congregation, and I shall consume them in an instant.” They fell on their faces. Moses said to Aaron, “Take the censer and put fire from the altar top into it. Then take it quickly to the congregation and atone for them, for wrath has gone forth from the Lord, and the plague has begun.” Aaron took [it], just as Moses had said, and he ran into the midst of the assembly, and behold, the plague had begun among the people. He placed the incense on it and atoned for the people. He stood between the dead and the living,
and the plague ceased. The number of dead in the plague was fourteen thousand, seven hundred, besides those who died because of the matter of Korach. Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, and the plague was checked. Rashi, commenting on the above verses states (17:13), He stood between the dead…: He took hold of the angel and held him against his will. The angel said to him, “Allow me to accomplish my mission.” He [Aaron] said to him, “Moshe commanded me to stop you.” He said to him, “I am the messenger of the Omnipresent, and you are the messenger of Moshe.” He said to him, “Moshe does not say anything on his own volition, but only at the bidding of the Almighty. If you do not believe [me], the Holy One blessed is He and Moses are at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting; come with me and ask.” This is the meaning of the statement, “Aaron returned to Moses.” If we stop and think about the above-mentioned encounter of Aharon and the angel of death, we can take a very powerful lesson for Gimmel Tammuz. On Gimmel Tammuz 5754, it appeared that the “Angel of Death” was sent on a mission of death. There are many people that believe that he succeeded. Yet it is our job to quote “the words of Moshe” – the sichos of the Rebbe
– which teach us about the objectives of the seventh generation and the “eternal-life” of the Nasi. We have to proudly tell the world “Moshe – our Rebbe – does not say anything on his own volition, but only at the bidding of the Almighty”! We must teach our children that they can connect with the Rebbe, even today in 5773. One of the best ways to do that is by showing our children that we can still communicate and receive answers from the Rebbe through the Igros Kodesh. This makes them realize that we still have a Rebbe and it is worth sacrificing our physical pleasures and desires for the Rebbe’s cause and call! Before Gimmel Tammuz our connection to the Rebbe was through visible and tangible “wires,” through dollars, t’fillos, farbrengens, Lekach and more. Today the connection is not visible. Our children wonder if there is still a way to connect to the Rebbe. It is our job to tell our children that we live in a wireless era. The cellphone is the biggest proof. All we need to do is “dial the Rebbe’s number” – encourage them to write to the Rebbe through the Igros Kodesh etc. – and you will hear them exclaim “ I don’t know exactly how it works, but I know that the Rebbe Lives!”
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DON’T BRING MOSHIACH
PREPARE THE WORLD
The following is a transcript of a farbrengen held in Morristown, New Jersey in late MarCheshvan 5753, with Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak “Fitzy” Lipskier, of blessed memory. Part 4
TO ACCEPT HIM
PROPHECY VS. WISDOM
The Rebbe gave us a mission to publicize the good news to people around the world that there is a prophet who says, “The time of your Redemption has arrived” and “Moshiach is on his way.” Did you hear that? This is not wishful thinking. Furthermore, the Rebbe used the word prophecy, a term that he had never used before, not even when he started his revolutionary mitzvah campaigns. There’s a footnote in the sicha from Parshas Shoftim 5751: Prophecy – not as a wise person, but as a prophet. There’s a difference. The Gemara states that a chochma has an advantage over a navi because he possesses the wisdom of Torah. On the other hand, there’s also an advantage to prophecy over wisdom. There’s a story from the times of the Tzemach Tzedek about a prediction for the coming of Moshiach in a certain year. When the year passed and Moshiach hadn’t arrived, Chassidim went to the Tzemach Tzedek and asked him why the prediction had not come true. “What do you mean?” he said. “The Likkutei Torah was printed.” Is that an answer? It says in the Zohar that Moshiach was supposed to come in such-and-such a year and he didn’t come. What’s going on? If you understand the question you’ll understand the answer. The answer is very simple: The Rebbe refers to one of the Alter Rebbe’s maamarim, where he writes that a chochma sees things with the wisdom of Torah. You’ve all heard of Atzilus; some of you have even been there, right? Some of you are still there… The chochma sees things in the highest places, but they could stay there. What he saw was true. Where did he see it? He saw it up there. However, there’s one problem: It never came down. It’s not ch”v a lie; it happened in the spiritual realm. But it never materialized in a physical sense. That’s why he’s called a chochma. He saw it with spiritual wisdom in the spiritual worlds, and he tells you what’s going on. There was a messianic revelation (as goyish as it sounds) that Moshiach is coming. It happened – “The Likkutei Torah was printed.” Thus, when the Baal Shem Tov heard from the Moshiach that the revelation of Chassidus brings the Redemption, Moshiach actually came on a certain Torah level. That’s not really what we want, but it did happen. A navi is a different story. He does it through the power of speech, and that’s the whole prophecy. A prophecy comes forth in this physical world with words. The Alter Rebbe says that when a navi speaks as an actual prophet, not merely as a Torah sage, it happens down here. There’s no doubt that it’s going to become a reality; it cannot remain up there.
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REBBE, WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF?
A few years ago on Vav Tishrei, the yahrtzait of his mother, the Rebbetzin Chana a”h, the Rebbe gave out lekach, as is customary before Yom Kippur. The Rebbe davened Shacharis from the amud. You may have been tired from the farbrengen, but the Rebbe was still going strong at nearly ninety years of age. Some people have doubts about Moshiach being old and tired. We’re old and tired; Moshiach is young… After Shacharis, the Rebbe went to the Ohel. Customarily, you don’t eat before going to the Ohel. You have something to drink, as you’re generally not allowed to fast because you’re going to the Ohel. Therefore, he probably had something to drink before he went. He was basically there all day. Of course,
he wasn’t there to relax. He was doing his thing: standing on his feet and talking until eight o’clock at night. He came back to 770, davened Mincha from the amud, and then davened Maariv. You have to keep in mind that by then we had all eaten three meals already. The Rebbe hadn’t had breakfast yet. It’s now nine o’clock, and the Rebbe decided that he’s going to give out lekach that night, prepared with a kuntres and a dollar. To how many people? You know how many. No, that’s not enough. Men, women, and children, he decided – and the Rebbe gets what he wants. It lasted until around two or three in the morning. As I was standing out in the hall I heard Rabbi Yaakov Yehuda (J.J.) Hecht a”h say, “I can’t go up there. The Rebbe has been on his feet the whole day, he’s hasn’t eaten anything yet. Fine, I won’t be saving the Rebbe more
than a fraction of a second – but it just isn’t right.” People started arguing with him that the Rebbe wants everyone to take, otherwise he wouldn’t do it – and he eventually agreed to go up. When his turn came he mustered all his courage and asked, “Rebbe, when are you going to eat? When are you going to take care of yourself?” The Rebbe smiled and replied, “Tomorrow we’ll think about it…” If you have any doubts about the Rebbe, that’s how much he’s “into himself.” The Rebbe would be the last person to say all these things as a prophecy, yet this is the message he wants us to announce everywhere. Furthermore, the Redemption is a reality; it’s already started. You can now begin to see Moshiach’s effect upon the world. He first referred to the Midrash in Yalkut Shimoni in connection with the Gulf War, how the Gentiles are fighting with one another. The Rebbe said
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It’s so interesting. We believe the Rebbe when it comes to everything, except when it comes to this. We’re having a hard time understanding it. Naturally, this is the biggest thing he ever said, the most revolutionary mivtza he ever came up with. All the others by now are just small potatoes.
that Eretz Yisroel is the safest place to be. When people came to the Rebbe for dollars and asked if they should go to Eretz Yisroel, the Rebbe said yes. He added that people shouldn’t go feeling threatened, but wholeheartedly with joy and confidence that it’s safe there. There’s a tragic story about a family that wanted to send their daughter to Eretz Yisroel, but since it wasn’t “safe” there, they were going to send her to England instead. The Rebbe said that Eretz Yisroel is the safest place to be and there’s no reason not to send her there. The parents thought they knew better and sent her to England anyway. Unfortunately, she didn’t last very long. Within a week, she lost her life in a freak automobile accident. you ask me to change myself and become different, that’s something else entirely. When the Rebbe is “free of charge,” when he gives out dollars – he’s the greatest Rebbe. However, when it comes time to pay, when he’s demanding something from us, all of a sudden, it’s difficult. Anyone who thought that he got rid of his yetzer ha’ra, let it be known… Not yet, you still have a yetzer ha’ra. Of course it’s difficult. Yet, at the same time, we have to know and think about it on a daily basis. What is the Rebbe saying? When was the last time we thought about it? The Rebbe says that it’s in the process and he gave examples. The Gulf War is just one of them. Then, he spoke about the prophecy in Yeshayahu, how the nations would scrap their war machines and spend their money on food instead of weapons, as was decided in the United Nations. If the Rebbe says it I know that it’s true. We’re witnessing here a mini-fulfillment of Yeshayahu’s prophecy. As the Rebbe put it, G-d is having a “Moshiach effect” upon the world. Then we have the “ingathering of the exiles”: Jews are being let out without any problems. In some cases, the Russian government was helping to pay for their airlifts out of the country. There was even an article in the New York Times. (“The Times HaKadosh,” the Rebbe once said.) Several
IT EVEN APPEARED IN “THE TIMES HA’KADOSH”
We’re not talking about just another Torah scholar or a great leader. Do you know what a Rebbe is? This is not your average rabbinical personality. It’s above and beyond all that. Look around and understand what’s happening. The same Rebbe, whose record is flawless, says that this is it. You have doubts? People bet on horses with riskier odds. Why is it so hard to believe? It’s very easy to believe everything people say about the Rebbe. However, when
convoys of Jews came out of the war zone in Bosnia, with other people being killed left and right. Yet, not one Jewish casualty or injury was sustained during the entire evacuation. No other ethnic group could make such a claim. The Eibeshter is gathering all the Jews together, and when He does it, they’re untouchable. We still find all this hard to believe. “What? This can’t be true. You mean to say that I’m going to live to see the Redemption?” However, the Rebbe said this forty years ago, and he said it in 5752: This is the seventh generation. We are the first generation of Redemption and the last generation of exile. It’s so interesting. We believe the Rebbe when it comes to everything, except when it comes to this. We’re having a hard time understanding it. Naturally, this is the biggest thing he ever said, the most revolutionary mivtza he ever came up with. All the others by now are just small potatoes. Anyone can relate to them. A year ago, when the crazy Lubavitchers were talking about Moshiach, do you know what they were saying out in the streets? “Chutzpah! How dare you say such a thing? Heretics! Where did you get the right to say ‘Moshiach Now’!? It goes against the Torah to demand from G-d!” They quoted Gemaras, as if they knew what they’re talking about. As time progressed, the Rebbe took no steps back and continued pressing forward. It’s not “We Want Moshiach Now”; that’s history. Whoever sings that niggun today must be living in the past – or he’s a misnaged. The misnagdim would probably sing that niggun today. It’s not so bad anymore. You know why? “We’ll accept anything. You guys are altogether crazy. Now you say
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that the Rebbe is Moshiach. We’ll accept anything but that.” We’ve made progress. The crazier we go, the more they accept. What was crazy last year is not crazy anymore. It’s hard to accept, but if it’s hard for us, what do you want from them?
What are you talking about? UFOs? You’re speaking Chinese. It’s impossible to feel such things. A person can’t spend his whole life in exile and suddenly start feeling Geula. How can I feel free when I’m so caught up in my own inner and outer galus?
sacrifice for Yiddishkait – a thing of the past. That’s why the Soviet Union no longer exists. There’s no need for mesirus nefesh anymore. Why do you think Communist Russia existed until now? There was a need for selfsacrifice. G-d got His taste of it, and the Jews survived – Czarist Russia, Communist Russia, even the freedom of the United States. We’re working on that; it’s worse than Communist Russia. Freedom is the biggest test. It’s very easy to serve G-d when you’re under the threat of the sword, because your self-sacrifice comes out automatically. However, when things are fine and dandy it’s very difficult to serve the Eibeshter. You don’t even feel like crying out to Hashem. You lack nothing; you’ve got it made. The mission is not to help bring Moshiach. You have to prepare the world to receive Moshiach. Start living the Redemption, start feeling the Redemption. Tune in, wake up. No matter how crazy people might think you are, it won’t take away the fact that this is really happening. The problem is that we fail to make the connection: Why should I think that because they let the Jews out of Russia, it has something to do with G-d and His prophecy about the Redemption? What does
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FREEDOM IS THE BIGGEST TEST – MORE THAN COMMUNISM
The Rebbe gave the orders to the shluchim: You have to prepare the world and prepare yourselves, your family, and your environment to welcome Moshiach Tzidkeinu. In years gone by the emphasis was on helping to “bring Moshiach.” Sorry, that’s ancient history. That’s all over with. We’re finished, the Rebbe says. The job was completed. The avoda of “raising the sparks” has ended. We just had to polish the buttons, but that was done already – Judaism around the globe. Self-
the world have to do with G-d? Someone who has a little insight sees what’s going on, and he knows. There’s no coincidence here; it’s not because the Soviet Union collapsed. How could this have happened? After all, the U.S.S.R. was a superpower. What went wrong? The economists and scientists have their own interpretation, and the politicians explain things their way. Everybody knows why. If all these reasons are so true, then how is America still around? There are things that don’t necessarily have a logical explanation. The Baal Shem Tov says that when a Jew sees or hears something, it ultimately has some connection to the purpose of Creation, under the constant control of the Alm-ghty. The Rebbe goes one step further: If you’re not ready to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu, why should everyone else lose out because you haven’t gotten your act together? If you can’t convince yourself, that’s no reason to stop from spreading the word to others. To those who say that the world isn’t ready for this, it’s too revolutionary, etc., the Rebbe says: Maybe you’re not ready, but the world is ready. Go out there and spread the word. Talk to Gentiles; they have no problem with Moshiach. “Moshiach? How’s he doing?” they ask. If you believe the message and feel it, it will naturally be felt out there much better. And if you don’t, so what? Does that mean that the world has to endure more pain and anguish for the time being? That’s a crime. Do the best you can under the present circumstances. Ay, you won’t be the best? At least you won’t be left out and you’ll be doing whatever you can. In the process of helping others, don’t you think that it will clear things up a little for you? Work on it. The Rebbe gave us a formula: Learn about Moshiach and do it properly. Go through the subject from A to Z. Know the Rambam on the qualifications for Moshiach like an expert. Learn Chassidus, especially the Rebbe’s maamarim. How can a Lubavitcher Chassid go a week without learning the Rebbe’s Chassidus? UFOs? You’re speaking Chinese. It’s impossible to feel such things. A person can’t spend his whole life in exile and suddenly start feeling Geula. How can I feel free when I’m so caught up in my own inner and outer galus? However, there is a solution: Learn Torah, specifically on the subject of the Redemption. G-d wrote the Torah and it possesses an unlimited supply of wondrous G-dly powers. It can take an idiot with no feeling for Geula and instill that feeling within him. Only the Torah can do that. “Okay,” you say. “In the meantime, I’ll master the subject of Moshiach, and then I’ll go tell people about it.” Are you crazy? How can you do a thing like that? How can you deprive millions of people from such good news? Do you know what it says about a navi who withholds a prophecy? The worst punishment you could imagine. It’s like saying that you won’t go out on mivtzaim and help others until you become a perfect Jew yourself. “First, I have to learn to put on t’fillin with proper kavana before I put t’fillin on another Jew.” Can you imagine if we had that attitude? You can’t wait for that. We’d never go out on mivtzaim. Why does the other Jew have to wait? He needs you out there. You have to educate people about Moshiach in detail. They still don’t know what it’s all about. They need to hear what Moshiach means to them and that he’s actually coming now. What can you do about it? What should you do about it? Prepare yourself. You have to start thinking Moshiach in a very practical way. Think about Moshiach during davening – maybe you’ll daven better. Everything we do has to be permeated with Moshiach.
IF YOU’RE REALLY A CHASSID, DO WHAT YOU KNOW MUST BE DONE
On the 3rd of Shvat 5752, a little less than two months before Chaf-Zayin Adar Rishon, the Rebbe said (in reference to the previous Rebbe): What can you do for the Rebbe’s speech? You learn his Chassidus and this helps his speech. Everybody wants to do something, and the Rebbe told you what to do. If you call yourself a Lubavitcher Chassid, why aren’t you doing it? The last maamer that the Rebbe gave you with his own hand, do you remember which maamer it was? Do you remember the name of the maamer? Did you learn the maamer? Do you know it by heart? Did you ever learn it inside once? Do you possibly learn it once in a while? A line or two? How could you not? You’re not a Chassid; you’re hardly a misnaged. Worse than a misnaged – you know what to do and you don’t do it. You don’t feel Moshiach? How could you feel it? For the last two thousand years we have been living with a galus mentality. All of a sudden, you are told to feel Moshiach and the Redemption. It’s like asking someone to feel the moon or the effect that Mars has on him. What are you talking about?
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If you walk into 770, it’s easy to scream and sing – but do you know what it means to greet Moshiach? Are you ready? Do you really want it? What are you going to do? Are you prepared for it? This is serious business. If you knew that the king was actually coming to your house tomorrow morning, what would you do? You’d clean up the house. This is a project that everyone would like to do, and I’ll supply you with the paper and the envelopes. This is practical Moshiach. What’s practical about it? Everyone who feels he can should sit down and write at least one letter to someone close to him – a parent or a sibling – over whom he can have some positive influence. There are millions of people out there who would give anything to have a fraction of what we have, and we are depriving them of that knowledge. However, there’s something that we can do about it, and it will only cost you a postage stamp. Send a letter with a newspaper clipping and your own personal note about the Rebbe and his message that Moshiach is on his way. This may sound completely stupid to you, but that’s only because you’re not comfortable with the idea. This project provides you with a solution to two problems. First, you are forcing yourself to become comfortable with the idea. How? Do something about it. You have your own doubts? Go solve them. In the process, at least you will have sent out the Rebbe’s message to another Jew. Successful or not? How many times did you go out on mivtzaim, ask someone to put on t’fillin, and the person said no? You have the same thing here. You send a letter to someone and you didn’t excite him. How do
you know you didn’t? You don’t know what the results are going to be. One thing is for sure: the word got to another Yid. He heard the word “Moshiach.” You think it’s so crazy? It is. So was mivtzaim thirty years ago. Take a look at yourself. Why are you here? Because some meshugganeh did mivtzaim. You did the same thing in the past, but now you’re dealing with a touchy subject. You’re not getting into debates with anybody. You’re writing him a letter and that’s it. You can leave a return address. Don’t worry; no one will come after you. What’s the worst thing that can happen? He’ll write back and call you a couple of names? He thinks you’re crazy anyway, right? What else is new? You have nothing to lose and only everything to gain. I think this is
a worthwhile project. The truth is that as much as we find it impossible to expect that a person can feel the Redemption, and with good reason – as the Rebbe himself said, nevertheless, you have to do it. What did you do for Moshiach this week? Did you at least think about him? Everything else revolves around this main point. Of course, you put on t’fillin with other Jews. Why? The reasons are different now. This is the Rebbe’s campaign, and there can be no question that this is what he wants. You know what he said in 5751-5752. The sichos are printed, and if you don’t understand them, you can sit down and learn them over and over again. See first-hand exactly what the Rebbe said and act accordingly. This is it.
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INFERIORITY/ SUPERIORITY COMPLEX
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
ENTRANCE TO GEHINOM
Korach, Moses’ cousin, symbolizes rebellion and discord, two of the most egregious and destructive forms of behavior. Korach’s punishment, as recorded in this week’s parsha, was for him, his family and all his cohorts and their belongings to be swallowed up in the earth. In the words of the Torah: “They and all that was theirs descended alive to the pit...” The word “pit” in this verse is understood by our sages to refer to Gehinom, the Jewish version of hell. Gehinom is usually understood to mean a purification process for the soul after it separates from the body. Korach, the arch rebel, obviously needed to go through this purification process. In a cryptic passage (Eruvin 19), the Talmud makes reference to three entrances to Gehinom: “One was in the desert, one in the sea and one in Jerusalem.” The existence of an entrance to Gehinom in the desert, the Talmud states, is derived from the abovementioned verse: “‘They and all that was theirs descended alive to the pit...” The sages were obviously
attempting to impart a moral lesson from the Biblical references to Gehinom. There are three places or mindsets that can become the entrances to this nether place. In this essay we will focus on the entry/mindset to Gehinom that is in the desert. This is the mindset that caused Korach to rebel.
THE VAST AND DREADFUL DESERT
The desert the Jews were in and that provoked Korach’s rebellion is described in the Torah (D’varim 8:15) in the starkest of terms: “the vast and dreadful desert, with serpents, vipers and scorpions, and of thirst, where there is no water.” The Rebbe (Likkutei Sichos, volume 2) explains that this description is a metaphor for the present period of Galus. The vastness of the area of desolation is a metaphor for a Jewish person’s sense of isolation. The Jew in exile sees himself or herself as living in a world that is not habitable for the Jew. The Galus Jew sees his Jewishness as an aberration from the world at large and seeks to be like the rest of the world. The Jew fails to recognize
that he or she is a member of the Chosen People; chosen to be a “light to the nations” and not the other way around. This, then, is what the Talmud means when it states that the entrance to Gehinom is in the desert. When one loses self-respect, overwhelmed by the perception that he or she is insignificant, it can cause the Jew to degenerate and descend to the abyss—the entrance to Gehinom. The question, however, can be asked, how does this tie in with Korach’s rebellion? Korach did not seem to be suffering from an inferiority complex. On the contrary, he suffered, it seems, from a robust superiority complex. Korach sought to unseat Aaron and Moses and arrogate the leadership of the Jewish nation to himself. Why would the desert/inferiority complex mentality discussed above have precipitated his downfall? The appropriate metaphor for Korach could have been a mountain not a pit!
KORACH’S DEVALUATION OF EVERYTHING
In truth, Korach’s bluster and arrogance was not a product of
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a superiority complex but of his lack of understanding of what happened at Mount Sinai and devaluation of the true value of Torah, the Jewish people, Moses and Aaron and even of his own spiritual role. In Korach’s mind, the Torah was a Divine source of guidance for society. To keep the world from degenerating into anarchy there must be an ideal system of government. To guarantee that there is equality and equity in society, we must have a system of government that is not subject to the biases and caprices of humans. G-d therefore gave us the Torah, which is an infallible system of laws, to protect society. Korach also recognized the need for the observance of the Mitzvos that deal with our relationship with G-d. However, he considered them as mere symbolic actions that help remind us of our obligations. The Midrash relates that Korach challenged Moses by asking whether a house filled with Torah scrolls required a Mezuzah. In his mind, the Mezuzah functioned as a reminder of G-d’s authority. Why does one need a mere symbolic reminder of G-d’s authority, contained in a Mezuzah, when the entire house is filled with Torah scrolls that speak of G-d’s role in our lives in vivid detail? Korach’s challenge question to Moses revealed his limited understanding of the nature of Torah and its Mitzvos. Korach viewed the Mitzvos given at Sinai as extensions of the Seven Noachide commandments that were given to all of humanity after the Flood. These commandments were essential to ensure stability and civility in society. The difference between the Seven
Noachide commandments and the 613 commandments given at Sinai, in Korach’s mind, was merely quantitative. In addition, he believed that G-d chose the Jewish people simply to be the managers of the Divine legal system, and the Jewish leaders were no more than His upper level mangers and Torahtechnocrats. To Korach, Moses was the CEO of the Jewish nation whose job it was to ensure compliance with the dictates of the Torah. In Korach’s mind there was nothing transcendent about Judaism or about Moses and Aaron. Despite the fact that Korach argued “all of the Jewish people are holy and G-d is within them,” he did not see anything that would render them particularly special. He certainly
than he was or that they were qualitatively on an infinitely higher level of spirituality. His failure to appreciate the uniqueness of Moses and Aaron stemmed, ironically, from his failure to appreciate his own uniqueness.
THE MOTHER OF ALL REVOLUTIONS
In truth, what happened at Sinai was an unprecedented G-dly revolution. It revolutionized the magnitude of G-d’s revelation to the world. It revolutionized humanity’s understanding and appreciation of G-d’s utter transcendence. It revolutionized G-d’s relationship with the physical, demonstrating how the spiritual and the physical are not mutually exclusive
The difference between the Seven Noachide commandments and the 613 commandments given at Sinai, in Korach’s mind, was merely quantitative. In addition, he believed that G-d chose the Jewish people simply to be the managers of the Divine legal system, and the Jewish leaders were no more than His upper level mangers and Torah-technocrats.
did not recognize that any special status had been conferred on Moses and Aaron. Thus, in a subtle way, Korach was indeed a product of a “desert-inferiority complex.” He saw the role of Moses, Aaron, the Jewish people as extensions of all the other nations of the world and the Mitzvos as extensions and amplifications of the Noachide laws given to the other nations. Korach certainly could not countenance the notion that Moses and Aaron were infinitely more receptive spirituality
entities. It revolutionized the concept of how a Mitzvah is not merely a device to make us more aware of and sensitive to our obligations, but is also the channel of Divine energy into the world. The revelation at Sinai enables the world to realize its very raison d’être—to be transformed into a dwelling place for G-d. It revolutionized our view of the Jewish soul and the notion of a Chosen People. The Jew is a conduit to bring G-d’s presence to the world through his or her
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performance of the Mitzvos. Sinai also revolutionized how we view the role of Jewish leaders. They are not just teachers who guide, inspire and uplift the people; they are the “head souls” who channel Divine energy to the entire Jewish nation in the same manner the brain energizes the entire body. A desert mentality is not exclusively reserved for those who suffer from an acute inferiority complex, thinking they are worthless. It also affects those who underestimate their own significance. These people suffer from the Korach syndrome and will also underestimate the value of others. Tragically, the road to Gehinom is paved with the failure to appreciate our own uniqueness. Minimizing our importance or selling ourselves short can have the same tragic consequence as an unhealthy inferiority complex. generation and our forebears. While we are indeed spiritually inferior to bygone generations in some areas, we enjoy superiority over them in many other significant ways. First, we are the beneficiaries of all of their past greatness. We have been compared to the dwarf standing on the shoulders of the giant who can see farther than the giant precisely because he enjoys the giant’s height in addition to his own. Second, despite the tests and trials to which the last few generations have been subjected—both in terms of persecution and the pressures of assimilation – we have, as a people, tenaciously held on to Judaism. This makes us unique even in regard to the greatest and most noble souls of the past. Third, we have been given a taste of the future Messianic revelations in preparation for the future Redemption, when all the fountains of G-dly knowledge will be accessible to us. This “foretaste” is contained in the teachings of Chassidus and has been fed to us by the unprecedentedly lofty souls of the great tzaddikim of the recent past, most notably from the souls of the Baal Shem Tov and the other Chassidic Masters through our Rebbe, who have introduced unprecedented G-dly knowledge and kindness to the world. Fourth, the great Kabbalist, the Arizal, writes that the last generation of exile is a reincarnation of the generation that left Egypt and witnessed the revelation of G-d at Mount Sinai. In light of the Rebbe’s pronouncement that we are the final generation of Galus and will be the first generation of Geula, it is we who are the reincarnation of that lofty generation. (All of the negative features of that generation have long since been expunged leaving only the positive energies in their souls that we have inherited.) Finally, as the Rebbe stressed on many occasions, we have already witnessed some of the events and miracles associated with the future redemption which serve as a sample and the beginning of Moshiach’s efforts to change the world. The Rebbe referred specifically to the miracles of the first Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Empire in this regard. With all of the incredible spiritual wealth that we possess we must not underestimate our ability to change the world and usher in the final, true and complete Redemption.
WE ARE SPECIAL
There are many lessons we can learn from Korach’s ill-fated rebellion. One lesson especially relevant to our times is that we too suffer from an inferiority complex. There are some who misapply Talmudic statements about the relationship between our
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Translated by Rabbi Binyamin Shlanger
THERE ARE JEWISH PEOPLE WHO ARGUE: “WE ARE THE THIEVES. WE STOLE THEIR LAND!”
At the beginning of his commentary on the Torah Rashi opens with the words: “Rabbi Yitzchok says: The Torah need not have begun this way… Why then does the Torah begin with the account of creation?’ The
response is in a verse of Psalms (111.6) ‘He makes known to His People the might of His hand in giving to them the inheritance of Nations (the Land of Israel).’ When the Nations of the world will say to Israel: You are thieves..... You conquered the Lands of the Seven (Canaanite) Nations, they (the Jewish people) should respond: The entire world belongs to G-d. It was He who
created it and gave it to whom He saw fit. By His will did He give it to them, and by His Will did He take it from them and give it to us.” Rashi quotes, “He makes known to His people the might of His hand in giving them the inheritance of Nations” (a message to His People).” At this point we are not yet speaking of any contention made by Gentiles,
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but rather of a situation whereby there are Jewish people who will come and argue (even before the conquest of the Land of Israel), “how was it that G-d permitted us to conquer the land of Israel – it belongs to the Nations!” The response which G-d gives goes as follows: He shows the might of His creation to His people. The Land of Israel (and indeed the entire world) is an act of creation by G-d. He is Master over the Land of Israel given at one point in time to the nations. Therefore, He is entitled to subsequently grant it to the Jewish People. Rashi continues his commentary: “If the Nations will contend.” Here there arises a difficulty. We can readily understand that before the conquest of Eretz Yisroel there is a need to explain how could the conquest of the Land of Israel take place? It belonged to the Nations! But after the conquest – what need is there for this explanation? Rashi explains that it is quite conceivable that Gentiles will come with a claim against the Jewish Nation – you are thieves! How do you justify holding on to the Land of Israel? Therefore, in order to respond to the Gentile, the Torah opens with the account of the Creation to tell him that it was G-d who created the Land and therefore “with His Divine Will did He initially give it to them, and subsequently by His Divine Will did He take it from them and give it to us.” There remains a wonder: How do we know that a Jew is obliged to respond to a gentile’s accusation “you are thieves!” The answer lies in the name “Rabbi Yitzchok.” In tractate Brachos (7b) Rabbi Yitzchok says that when things are going well for a gentile it is forbidden to taunt or provoke
This talk took place about twenty six years ago. The words of the Rebbe at that time were so absolutely unreasonable and beyond the realm of reality. And yet, behold, we see what distant vision he had! We see what is taking place before our very eyes!
him. One should take note of him and not be overwhelmed when he comes with a storm of protests. When however the Gentile accuses – you are thieves, this very same Rabbi Yitzchok quoted by Rashi states that the verse explicitly stipulates that you are obliged to respond to the Gentile with the greatest force, because only then will all claims become null and void.
(From a public talk dated Shabbos Parshas B’Reishis, 1971)
THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL WILL STAND ON THE SIDE OF THE ARABS
(Interview with Mr. Ariel Sharon discussing some of his meetings with the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Recorded in the Kfar Chabad Magazine issue 684) “The Rebbe always amazed me on subjects that I never anticipated would happen. For example, his descriptions of how to defend the Suez Canal and Sinai were astounding. At that time I was battling by the BarLev line because I saw danger in the coming days. And in the framework of the battle I also publicized the letters which the Rebbe sent to me regarding that line. In these letters the Rebbe analyzed the dangers from a defense point of view of setting up such a line, and he anticipated the catastrophes which would befall us in its wake. It is to my pain that the vision of which the Rebbe wrote there came true in
the fullest sense! “At a different meeting I spoke to the Rebbe regarding settling the Old City of Jerusalem and Hebron. The Rebbe said to me words that sounded at that time so far from reality. He said that very serious things would take place at these places in the future, and added, that in his opinion, the day will come when the Government of Israel will oppose Jewish People from settling there, and will stand on the right hand side of the Arabs in the fighting between them and Jewish People. “This talk took place about twenty six years ago. The words of the Rebbe at that time were so absolutely unreasonable and beyond the realm of reality. And yet, behold, we see what distant vision he had! We see what is taking place before our very eyes!” Dear Reader, Pease take a few moments to copy, paste, and email this sicha to 10 friends, asking your friends in turn to email the same to 10 further friends, ad infinitum. Thereby you will be taking a strong and active part in the Rebbe’s battle to protect the lives of millions of Jewish people whose lives are so endangered. This is, as the Rambam writes, Milchemes Hashem, and we will see it through to the final Nitzachon! Please go to http:// beismoshiachmagazine.org/truepeace/ where you will find the current sicha.
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DEVOTED SHLIACH AND BELOVED MASHPIA
R’ Sholom Dovber (Berel) Shur, shliach to Eretz Yisroel, was a great disseminator of Chassidus in Yerushalayim, in places and among people not yet exposed to the light of Chassidus. * To mark his tragic passing on 3 Tammuz 5753.
By Dov Levanon
R’ Berel Shur a”h was born in Montreal on 4 Teves 5714 to R’ Chaim Shneur Zalman and Esther. His first teacher was his grandfather, R’ Dovid Aryeh Leib Morosov, the oldest son of the famous Chassid, R’ Chonye Morosov (may Hashem avenge his blood). As a child, he once found money in the street. He knew the Halacha that one who finds money in a public place can keep it but he shared it with his classmates. This conduct, which he displayed in his childhood with material possessions, is one that he maintained when he was older with his spiritual possessions – whatever he had, he shared. When he learned in Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in Montreal, although he was young, fourteenfifteen years old, the rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Isaac Schwei loved to talk to him, not only on subjects they were learning in yeshiva but
by the mashpia, Nemanov.
ON SHLICHUS TO ERETZ YISROEL
In 5736, he was chosen by the Rebbe to be part of the group which was sent on shlichus to Yerushalayim. He was one of the shluchim who learned in Yeshivas Toras Emes and in the Tzemach Tzedek shul in the Old City. In 5738 he married Hadassah, daughter of R’ Nosson Vogel of London. As a newly married man, he wore what was a novelty in Eretz Yisroel, an electronic watch with a regular watch dial. One of his friends, R’ Yehoshua Mondshine, who saw him wearing it, was told, “It’s a watch that inspires me to t’shuva. The second hand does not sweep around the dial like it does on other watches; it stops for a fraction of a second before moving on. This teaches me that
also on matters of conduct and guidance. He would have the young bachur help improve the spiritual standing of his friends, raising the level of the yeshiva higher and higher. He learned in 770 from 5731 until 5735 when he was sent by the Rebbe to learn in Brunoy. There he was greatly influenced
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time is passing and doesn’t stop, even if it seems when you look at it that it has stopped for a moment.” The shluchim were sent to Eretz Yisroel in order to learn in the kollelim in Yerushalayim and Tzfas. It was first in Shevat of 5739 that the Rebbe wrote them a letter and suggested various options of how to continue their shlichus. Various possibilities were raised and only a few of them, who were initially sent to Yerushalayim or Tzfas, remained in those places. At that time, R’ Shur’s position was clear: he was remaining on shlichus in Yerushalayim. He lived in the heart of one of the ultraOrthodox neighborhoods, a place where the light of Chassidus had not yet reached. From there, he disseminated Chassidus not just directly but also indirectly, just by being there. His Chassidic appearance and demeanor won people over.
R’ Mendel Futerfas wishing mazal tov to R’ Berel Shur at his l’chaim
MASHPIA IN SHIKUN CHABAD IN YERUSHALAYIM
In the morning, he was a mashpia in the big shul in Shikun Chabad. Many distinguished people and talmidei chachomim would go to hear him when he farbrenged. There was a good reason for this – R’ Berel would spice what he had to say with things that he heard in his youth from R’ Yehuda Chitrik, R’ Peretz Mochkin, R’ Zev Gringlass, and R’ Nissan Nemanov. Many nonLubavitchers would go to the shul on Shabbos Mevarchim, knowing that R’ Berel would farbreng. What many people didn’t know was that it affected his health. He had a weak constitution and after these farbrengens he would have to lie down, but that didn’t stop him.
R’ Berel was also the Baal Koreh in shul. One year, when he finished the Torah reading for Mincha on Tisha B’Av, he said, “What a Chassidishe parsha! Few verses, but so much Chassidus!” “And you will seek Hashem your G-d from there and you will find,” “and you will return to Hashem your G-d,” “You were shown to know that Hashem is Elokim, there is nothing but Him,” “and you shall know this day and place upon your heart that Hashem is Elokim.” During the third Shabbos meal he would eat in a Poilishe beis midrash where he would speak words of Chassidus. The crowd listened avidly and enjoyed the wealth contained in Chassidus, which R’ Berel knew how to present to his listeners. His special gift of being able to explain things along with a luminous countenance and love that he had for every Jew also endeared him to the yeshiva bachurim with whom he would farbreng on special occasions.
Many of them, thanks to him, established times to learn Chassidus and some of them even became T’mimim. He would also give shiurim to N’shei Chabad and never missed a shiur, no matter the weather.
He worked in diamonds for which he had to use advanced
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left this work and began working in the t’fillin business. In choosing a leather craftsman and a scribe, personal financial considerations took second place. The most important things to him were the personalities and parnasa needs of the people he worked with. He found more spiritual satisfaction in this work even though his profits were not always enough to cover his expenses and effort. Sometimes, he himself would bring a bar mitzva boy his t’fillin and would say l’chaim with him and some warm words, infusing the occasion with Chassidic life.
R’ Berel put a lot into chinuch and came up with original ideas now and then. One year he took the slaughtered Kaparos chickens in order to show the children, who had never seen how meat is koshered. Every year in Elul he would go to his daughter’s school to blow the shofar for the girls, since girls don’t usually have the opportunity to hear the blowing of the shofar on weekdays and even on Rosh HaShana they don’t necessarily get to see the blowing of the shofar from up close. R’ Berel had a talent for music and a good voice. Many referred to him as a “baal menagen,” but he saw it differently. He said that someone with a sharp ear and a good voice, who can listen to a recorded niggun and sing it nicely, is not a baal menagen but a parrot. A baal menagen is someone who contemplates a niggun, davens with it, and lives with it! *** Tragically, he died suddenly at home on the morning of 3 Tammuz 5753, leaving a void that has not been filled. May his memory be a blessing.
R’ Berel with his father in Montreal. Behind them is his brother-in-law, Yosef Yitzchok Silberstein
machinery. One of his friends took an interest in this and asked to see how these machines worked. R’ Berel took a diamond and began demonstrating as he explained as follows: You take a neshama and check it closely to see whether it has a stain or even a speck that blocks the luster of the neshama. Now we have to remove the stain. To do that, we have to know its qualities so that our actions don’t cause harm instead of fixing it. We have two options; to use radiation or to
use fire. It is not enough to know which is more suitable; we also have to know the right amount so as not to use too little or too much. It all must be done with love and care and even putting it through fire must be done with kindness and mercy. After all that, even if the cleaning process went well, there is no comparison to a neshama after a cleansing to a neshama that did not have a stain in the first place. *** After a number of years, he
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ARE YOU A VISIONARY?
By Rabbi Yisroel Harpaz
I always accepted the age-old axiom that “seeing is believing.” It is difficult to argue with an even experienced or witnessed; no amount of rational manipulation or fancy sophistry can alter the facts once you’ve seen them with your own eyes. But apparently we can manipulate what we are and are not able to see through psychological mind games. According to a recent study published in the journal Psychological Science, people’s vision is affected by how they think about their vision. Think differently, and it could improve your vision. Participants in the study were subjected to various kinds of tricks that convinced them that they could see exceptionally well, even though all participants had normal vision. The tricks employed varied depending on the experiment. In one test, army cadets were told that they were being considered for admission to a pilot’s course, which they knew only people with exceptional eyesight were offered. In another test, the order of the letters in an eye chart were reversed so that the smaller letters were on top, where people usually expect that they can see. In a third test, participants were given a motivational essay to read before the test, while others were told to perform eye exercises that would improve their eye test results, which was not true. In each case, others participated and performed
the same tests without being told anything. The results? Since the manipulation techniques used were experimental, the results were mixed. But, in several of the experiments, about half of the participants who were tricked into thinking they had better vision actually improved their visual acuity test results. The researchers are quick to point out that it’s not because of any physical effect on the eyes or brain. The tricks “may be effective because they prime the belief that exercise improves vision,” they write. “Mind-set may boost visual performance without sharpening vision itself,” comments psychologist Daniel Simons of the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign. “Experimental manipulations in the new study, such as reversing the arrangement of an eye chart, may have made volunteers more willing to guess when they felt a bit unsure,” Simons says. “Such guesses stand a good chance of being right.” Let’s leave the debate about whether the participants’ vision actually improved, and to what degree, to the probability theorists and physicians. I would rather focus on the results: The bottom line is that people are able to see things they would not otherwise have seen – or guess with confidence about
what they were seeing – simply because they thought they could. In other words, this experiment seems to prove that “believing is seeing.” I find this conclusion astounding. By extension, we can apply the same rationale to metaphysical vision. Often, we plough through life, bouncing like a pinball from one bump to the next. Some bumps send us ricocheting off in a different direction, some cause us to get stuck for a while, some cause flashing lights and sirens to go off, and some win us the jackpot. All the while we are mindful of the fact that there is a black hole at the bottom of the game that we have to do everything to avoid falling into. But all we have are these two measly paddles to whack at the ball if it gets too close to the hole. The point is, that if you don’t see the big picture, it can sometimes seem like a ridiculous, sadistic, absurd roller coaster. The question is, can we extricate ourselves from the blur of this reality – this game – long enough to catch our breaths, get our bearings, and catch a glimpse of the big picture – the grand vision of what it’s all about? If the results of the Psychological Science experiment hold true, then we can if we believe that we can. If you think you can live with clearer vision, then you will – or at least you’ll make good guesses (which is still better than bouncing around the game without a clue). So how do we attain the objectivity and resolve necessary to believe in our own sense of vision? That’s what friends are for. And how do we compensate when we feel like we’re losing our vision, or struggle to find it in the first place? For that, you need a specialist in metaphysical vision, also known as a Rebbe. Reprinted with permission from Exodus Magazine
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