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featured Articles WEEKLY columns
CHABAD VICTORY IN KOSTROMA
CHASSIDIC 14 REVISITING PETERSBURG
4 D’var Malchus 23 Parsha Thought 39 Moshiach & Geula
REBBE’S 26 THE TEACHINGS ARE OUR
THE SIDE OF 34 AT THE REBBE RASHAB
THE THIRD INTIFADA 40 HAS ALREADY BEGUN
Sholom Ber Crombie
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HOW COULD MOSHIACH COME ‘UNEXPECTEDLY’?! ALL DAY I AWAIT HIS ARRIVAL!
“B’hesech ha’daas” cannot mean “unexpectedly,” its literal meaning, for one of the 13 Pillars of Jewish Faith is that “I await his arrival every day.” Clearly, anticipating the redemption is something that is encouraged by our Sages, contrary to the literal interpretation of this saying... * The time of the redemption is something that necessarily transcends daas, a quantum leap over all rational calculation.
Translated by Boruch Merkur
MOSHIACH: BEYOND REASON
“Chukas – statute” [a law that has no apparent reason] alludes to the transcendence of logic, l’maala mi’taam va’daas. The connection of this concept to the redemption is brought to light by the Talmudic dictum (Sanhedrin 97a), “There are three things that come b’hesech ha’daas (literally: unexpectedly): Moshiach, a found item, [and a scorpion].” Here, “b’hesech ha’daas” cannot mean “unexpectedly,” its literal meaning, for one of the 13 Pillars of Jewish Faith is that “I
await his arrival [the coming of Moshiach] every day.” [Clearly, anticipating the redemption is something that is encouraged by our Sages, contrary to the literal interpretation of this saying.] In fact, three times a day we ask G-d for the redemption in the Shmoneh Esrei prayer: “may our eyes behold Your return to Tziyon.” Throughout the week [i.e., apart from Shabbos and holidays] we also ask, “May the scion of Dovid, Your servant, quickly flourish” – a prayer and supplication that can also be understood as a promise [i.e., “our eyes shall behold Your
return to Tziyon,” and, “the scion of Dovid, Your servant, shall quickly flourish.”] The correct meaning of “hesech ha’daas” is transcending daas, transcending the intellect and reason. That is to say, the daas, the knowledge attainable in our times [the time of exile] is incomparable to the daas that will be revealed with the advent of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, when there will be the fulfillment of the promise, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of G-d” – “You shall all know Me.” The above pertains to the unique quality that characterizes the era of redemption, but the same is true regarding the time of the redemption. [That is, the moment when the redemption begins inherently evades prediction.] The time of the redemption is something that necessarily transcends daas, a quantum leap over all rational calculation. Thus we see that when it came to the exodus from Egypt, redeeming the Jewish people on Pesach, the Alm-ghty “sprang upon the keitz, the predicted date of redemption” redeeming the Jewish people earlier than planned]. (Moreover, also regarding Pesach the term “chukas” applies, “zos chukas ha’Pesach – this is the statute of
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the Pesach [sacrifice]” [providing further support to the notion that redemption is connected with transcending calculation and reason].)
BUT ALL PREDICTED DATES FOR MOSHIACH’S COMING HAVE PASSED!
True, even according to the calculations and predictions of the kitzin, the dates forecasting the redemption, Moshiach should already have come by now. Many centuries have passed since the time regarding which it was said, “kalu kol ha’kitzin – all predicted dates for Moshiach’s coming have passed.” In fact, now we have already completed all aspects of the service of G-d, including “polishing the buttons,” as stated by my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, leader of the generation.
redemption,” by means of drawing down, into “gola,” the Alef – the Alufo Shel Olam, G-d, Master of the Universe – making it “geula.” However, the main thing is that the redemption should come about immediately mamash, literally, and b’poel mamash, in physical reality, in accordance with all the interpretations of the word “mamash,” including the connotation suggested by the expression “mishus ba’yadayim – feeling with the hands (i.e., OUR TIMES: AN ERA THAT tangible reality),” literally within the physical world. The Express Expressservice service IS PURE AND SANCTIFIED redemption shall indeed take Fully FullyComputerized Computerized But all of this indicates place within the yesh ha’nivra, the especial connection of the created existence, which unites 331 Kingston Ave.Ave. 331 Kingston redemption to the present time, with the yesh ha’amiti ,” the true NY 11213 nd nd (2 Flr) Brooklyn (2 Flr) Brooklyn NY 11213 an auspicious time, a time that is existent Being, G-d Himself. pure and sanctified for the true (From the address of Shabbos and complete redemption. It Get is tickets within minutes! Getyour your tickets within minutes! Parshas Chukas, 7 Tammuz 5750, in our time that we transform Fax: (718) 493-4444 Fax: (718) 493-4444 bilti muga) “gola – exile” into “geula –
And this is especially the case in the wake of Jews serving G-d in manner of “chukas” – “B’chukosai teileichu – you shall walk in my statutes” – referring to serving G-d in a manner of self-sacrifice, transcending reason. Indeed, the Rebbe Rayatz, my father-in-law, stated that the service of this generation – “our deeds and our service,” the deeds and service of our generation – is characterized by self-sacrifice. […]
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CHABAD VICTORY IN KOSTROMA
Rabbi Nison Ruppo arrived in Kostroma in the winter of 5753. The Rebbe Rayatz had been exiled to this city by the communists and he remained there for about ten days. Kostroma has a high assimilation rate, and yet the community is aware of the Chassidic history of the city and is proud of the fact that the Rebbe stayed in their community for ten days. * A YudBeis Tammuz interview with a shliach.
By Nosson Avrohom
he Chag Ha’Geula, YudBeis Tammuz 5767, will go down in the Jewish history of Kostroma as the day that marks the renewal of the community that was nearly eradicated. Many years ago there were laws that prevented Jews from living there. This was followed by communist decrees which led to an assimilation rate as high as 95%. “There are only a few families here where both parents are Jewish. We find the children whose mothers are Jewish and try to save the next generation by having them marry Jews,” says the shliach, R’ Nison Ruppo.
About ten years ago the shul in which the Rebbe Rayatz davened in during his exile, which was under lock and key for many years, underwent major renovations and was officially reopened. Once again, the Jews of Kostroma could be proud. A touching moment during the celebratory farbrengen was during the speech of the shliach and chief rabbi of Russia, Rabbi Berel Lazar. “A few weeks ago, I met the president of Russia who promised to provide the Jewish museum with one employee’s salary from his personal money.
This is not the first time he is making a donation, but it is the first time that he is donating from his personal salary. “Today, Yud-Beis Tammuz, I was informed that the money was transferred. Today, on Yud-Beis Tammuz, the Chag Ha’Geula of the Rebbe Rayatz, we were shown another aspect of the tremendous revolution taking place here in Russia. Russia has become an open supporter of Jews,” said R’ Lazar to the applause of the crowd. That festive event marking the opening of the shul was precisely 80 years since the
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The Chabad shul in Kostroma
Chag Ha’Geula and 100 years since the founding of the shul in Kostroma. Since the galus and Geula of the Rebbe Rayatz in this city, Kostroma probably did not see a gathering of Jews such as this with public figures coming to honor the Jewish community. The heartwarming sight of the district leader alongside the rabbi of Russia, the mayor, local government representatives together with shluchim of the Rebbe, stood out on this very special Yud-Beis Tamuz 5767 in Kostroma. R’ Lazar’s speech was broadcast on a number of
stations. He pointed out that, “Aside from 80 years since the Chag Ha’Geula and 127 years since the birth of the Rebbe Rayatz, if we break down the number 127 we see that it is 100 years since the founding of the shul, 20 years since Judaism has been flourishing in the CIS, and 7 years since R’ Ruppo began working in Kostroma.” The mayor said, “Jews can now operate with their heads held high, without fear.”
Kostroma is the city closest
to Moscow. With his shy smile, R’ Ruppo pointed out that he is the shliach who is closest to the center of shlichus in Moscow. He himself was born in Moscow 34 years ago. “Boruch Hashem, both my parents are Jewish, but their world view was no different than many other Jews who intermarried. The only Jewish thing I knew was that we are Jews and we bought matza once a year for my grandmother who ate it together with bread. “I attended the schools of goyim, ate their food, celebrated
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“The mayor, who is not Jewish, was invited too. In her speech, she said she knew about all the problems the Jews had back in the day, which made it necessary for the rav to hide his true job, ‘and today we have R’ Nison who works openly and we are happy about this.’”
their holidays and generally did not feel any different than them. I remember that when I was older, I went with my mother to the big shul in Moscow to buy matza for my grandmother. This was during the period when communism was already waning and the line for matza was longer than usual. In general, there was a tremendous interest in Judaism at the time, especially among the young generation who eagerly swallowed up any information on Yiddishkait, the Jewish people and Eretz Yisroel. “At a certain point, the person in charge announced that they had run out of matza, but not to worry, because there would be a new supply on Sunday. He promised that they would be baking more matza on Saturday. To the few who said it was forbidden to work on Shabbos, a fact which many knew, as did I, he said: Jews won’t be baking the matza, gentiles will. Ignorance was widespread. “My mother once told me that she had stomach problems and since she began eating kosher, the problems stopped. I did not know what kashrus was and my mother tried explaining that it was only permissible to eat vegetables and meat slaughtered by a Jew. Those were the first Jewish concepts that I learned. “When I was bar mitzva, I celebrated a little and that was only because of the prevalent spiritual arousal at the time. If my bar mitzva would have been a few years earlier, it would not have been marked at all. I raised a cup of champagne and my father explained that in Judaism at this age you become an adult. “When I was fourteen my mother took me to a shul for the first time. Most of the Jews who went to shul remained outside. Inside there were a few Jews who read in a language that was unfamiliar to me. The service was more of a Jewish social event and display of Jewish identity than t’filla. People simply did not know anything. A few remembered something from their grandparents. I remember how one day, my mother brought home a booklet about the mitzva of mezuza and it mentioned the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I asked who he was but she did not know. “In the summer of 5753, I was registered for day camp with the Jewish Agency. They did their best to convince Jews to make aliya. There was no Judaism in camp; it was more about identifying with Israel. When camp was over my mother registered me for Camp Gan Israel. She had gone to the principal of the Jewish school, and he had suggested that before school began it would be a good idea to send me to camp. “I received my first, massive dose of Judaism in camp. On the first day, I wore tzitzis and on the second day, I put on t’fillin. On the third day, I agreed to
undergo a bris. The interest was so enormous that out of seventy children who attended camp, 56 of them had a bris on the same day. Only three declined and the rest were already circumcised. “I finished camp having resolved to keep kosher. I did not know much about kashrus, but I was given pamphlets and when I went home, my mother thought it was a passing fad like many of my childhood meshugasin. She soon realized that I was serious about it. “I attended the school of R’ Kurevsky for a few months where I learned Hebrew, among other things, but this wasn’t enough for me. I then attended Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in Marina Roscha.” The Ruppo family made aliya in the winter of 5753 and settled in Petach Tikva. R’ Lazar sent a letter with Nison to the shliach there, R’ Binyamin Rabinowitz, asking him to put him into a school suitable for a Chassidic boy. However, Nison’s mother insisted that he do his matriculation. She even went to the Kosel for this purpose, putting a note in the wall. Nison lasted only a few months in the yeshiva high school Kfar Ganim. “One of the graduates of the yeshiva in Nachalim who became interested in Chabad, R’ Matti Brandwein, taught a Tanya class there. I liked it and I asked my mother to send me to yeshiva. That is how I ended up in Ohr Simcha in Kfar Chabad. Many young Russian kids learned there and the atmosphere was special. I learned there for a year and a half and from there I went to the yeshiva in Tzfas which shaped my life and my shlichus. During the two years that I learned there I was given the foundation for my Chassidic life. My feeling of
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Winter camp for Jewish children in Kostroma
A Jewish wedding in Kostroma
hiskashrus to the Rebbe I owe to the rabbanim and mashpiim in that yeshiva.”
LETTER FROM THE REBBE
In 5757, as a talmid of the yeshiva in Tzfas, Nison went on Merkos Shlichus to cities in Russia. He began his trip in Nizhny Novgorod and also visited Kostroma, which is considered a small city with only a quarter of a million people and not a large Jewish community. “I was surprised to see an active shul while in other cities of the CIS that had bigger communities, there were still no shuls. Although it was a small city, some Jews decided to open a shul that would serve as a Jewish center. R’ Moshe Tamarin of Moscow would come occasionally to support the Jews of the community. “After some days of shlichus there, I continued on my way. I did not imagine that I would come back to live there. “In 5759, I went on K’vutza to 770, after which I did not know what to do next. I very much wanted to continue spreading Chassidus in Russia, but I had some good offers for
outreach positions in the US. On the one hand, all the terms that I was promised in America were tantalizing; on the other hand, I knew that in Russia I would be able to do my best work. I wrote to the Rebbe and opened to an answer in volume 18 of Igros Kodesh, page 90. I couldn’t have asked for a clearer answer. The Rebbe negated the suggestion to work in New York and sent me to places that really needed me. “When I finished learning for smicha in 770, I went to work in the mesivta in Moscow. There were seven students at the beginning of the year; by the end of the year there were twenty students. We put a lot of effort into educating them and urged shluchim to send more talmidim. Today, I meet some of them, real T’mimim, but back then we had to teach them everything from the ground up. “A year later, I was appointed as the rosh yeshiva of the yeshiva that had opened in Donetsk. At the end of the year I returned to Eretz Yisroel where I was drafted. “When I finished my military service I returned to Moscow. I asked R’ Lazar, who knew me well, to give me a city where I could work on a permanent
basis. I was given Kostroma, a small city, but a location with a lot of potential work. I didn’t have to do much research, because I already knew the place from my previous visit. I left that same day. “The community had asked for a permanent shliach in the past, but due to the size of the city, they had preferred sending shluchim to larger cities. R’ Lazar then decided that the time had come for this city, which is significant in Chabad history, to have a shliach. “We arrived there on 27 Adar 5760. The first thing we did was make a Jewish summer camp for families. I remember that the first Jewish family we visited was a family I had met in Liadi at the beginning of my Merkos Shlichus trip. They told me back then that they lived in Kostroma. “Their ignorance of things Jewish was so vast. She told me that 16 years earlier, the community decided to pull themselves together; they had asked the Jews of the city to come to the shul on Shavuos. On the table in the lobby of the shul was a paper and pen so everyone could sign in.
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meant and I briefly explained and added, ‘If you keep Shabbos, we can drink the milk that you milk yourself.’ She took me seriously and began keeping Shabbos. At a later point, she and her sister, a university professor, committed to keeping kosher. “Because of her work, she moved to another city and left us her apartment so we could open a preschool. She made aliya a few years ago and settled with her family in Yerushalayim. I recently visited them and they are a beautiful religious family. She has six grandchildren and her son learns in kollel all day. I ate in her home and thought about how far they had come and what a difference the Rebbe made in their lives. will not get an aliya to the Torah or any other honors. We work hard with Jewish youth so that at least, in the next generation, there will be fewer instances of intermarriage, but the situation is bad.” R’ Ruppo and his wife run a shul which is a Jewish center, as well as directing a preschool and a Sunday school. A large percentage of the Jewish community participates in his programs. The shliach also runs camps and seasonal programs throughout the year along with weekly shiurim for boys and girls. The community runs a museum and a Jewish library with many Jewish books translated into Russian. There is also organized humanitarian aid which includes food packages for the needy. “I am the father and mother of the k’hilla in every way, from the smallest thing to the biggest.” Every year, R’ Ruppo sends groups of boys to Moscow for brissin. Many people have committed to kashrus and t’fillin. This is how a Jewish community that was nearly wiped out comes to be flourishing anew. “In the area of Kostroma there is a special artistic metalworking school, which is attended by students from all over the world. One day, an Israeli fellow of Caucasus origin came to me. His name is Shmuel Shmailov. He had won the Israeli championship title in wrestling, and worked as a metalworker. He came to the school in order to study the craft. Before coming here, he became involved with Chabad in Rechovos; they referred him to us. He told me that he first heard about Chabad from two fellow wrestlers, Georgians. The relative of one of them is a big donor today to Chabad in the CIS. He comes to us on Yom
R’ Ruppo at the steps leading down to the mikva in the shul’s cellar. The Rebbe Rayatz used this mikva.
On the wall in the entrance hang documents from the archives that we were able to get hold of concerning the Rebbe’s stay in the city and his release document.
“Two years later, on Pesach, the community rented a hotel nearby that was run by a local Jew. The community organized buses on Yom Tov. That woman had a strong feeling for Judaism and she knew that on Yom Tov and Shabbos you bake challos. Over Yom Tov, she baked challa from an authentic Jewish recipe. This woman is a doctor of biology and works in the dairy industry. After we had settled in the city, she asked me how one koshers milk. “I asked her why she was asking and she said it was because she noticed we did not drink milk and she wanted to bring us milk from her place of work. I told her that she had to be Shomer Shabbos in order for us to drink the milk. She asked me what I “There are many other families in Kostroma, like this family, that have become stronger in Torah and mitzvos, but unfortunately, every family that makes significant strides in this way leaves the city.”
CHANGES IN KOSTROMA
R’ Ruppo has a daunting task in uniting the community and fighting assimilation. “The problem of assimilation is enormous and it exists throughout the former Soviet Union. We work with whomever there is; Jews will learn the 613 mitzvos with us and gentiles will learn the Sheva Mitzvos. People here know that if they are not Jews according to Halacha, even if they regularly attend shul, they
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Tov and Shabbos, walking all the way. “There is another young religious man with a beard and tzitzis, originally from Russia, who learned about Judaism in the US while studying Chinese medicine. When he completed his studies, he went to Kostroma in order to heal people using the Chinese method. He sees this as his mission. He also comes to us every Shabbos, walking hours each way, and availing himself of all the community’s services as though he lived in B’nei Brak or Yerushalayim. “When I look back over the twelve years we have been working here, I can’t help but get emotional. Quite a few families changed their way of life and have become religious. The only sticking point is that they leave for Eretz Yisroel.” When on shlichus in a city like Kostroma, history plays a part in day to day activities. “There are still descendents of R’ Kugel in Kostroma. He is the one who hosted the Rebbe Rayatz during his exile. The Rebbe, in one of his sichos, referred to the joy of R’ Kugel’s son when he heard of the release of the Rebbe and how he climbed a fence and stood on his hands. R’ Kugel had a daughter, Raizel (see box), who was 12 at the time and is around 100 now. She made aliya and lives in Beer Sheva. Her mind is clear and she has six grandchildren. Four grandchildren made aliya with her and the other two live in Kostroma. The greatgrandchildren learn in our preschool and take part in all our programs. We sent one of her great-grandchildren to learn in the mesivta in Moscow. We sent another great-grandchild, Esther, to Moscow. However,
THE HOUSE THE REBBE LIVED IN
The house in this picture, according to R’ Ruppo’s research, is where the Rebbe Rayatz lived when he was exiled to Kostroma. The Rebbe lived in Kostroma from 5 Tammuz until 14 Tammuz. R’ Eliyahu Chaim Altheus, R’ Michoel Dworkin, and Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka were with him. The house was located on 3 Nikitaskaya Street in Kostroma and was razed forty years ago. The granddaughter of the shochet, R’ Yerachmiel Kugel, in whose house the Rebbe stayed, brought the picture to R’ Ruppo. She discovered the picture after many years had passed. The shochet’s daughter, Mrs. Rosa Melamed, recounts what she remembered: “I remember that when the Rebbe arrived in Kostroma, there was excitement and commotion in the city. Even the goyim came out to see the ‘Man of G-d.’ I remember how people stood on the rooftops and outside the fences. We hosted the Rebbe and his escorts. It was a big house and the Rebbe was given a room. “I even remember that there were people who wanted to see the Rebbe, and one of them, who wanted this very much, was even received. After his release, the Rebbe was given an entire compartment on the train that brought him back from Kostroma. In the interrogations of my father which were conducted later, his hosting the Rebbe and his escorts came up. This even appears in the KGB file on my father. He was given ten years in Siberia. “My father was a Chabad Chassid, shochet, and mohel. He was needed in the city and surrounding towns and was asked to do brissin even in Leningrad and Moscow. After the shul was closed, a minyan was held in our house even though the government had confiscated the Sifrei Torah.” she didn’t fit in there, so we opened a special class for her and brought a woman to learn with her. A year later, she made aliya with her parents and they live in Beer Sheva near her greatgrandmother. She attends the Chabad School there. “It is moving to see how the Rebbe paid them back. R’ Kugel hosted the Rebbe for a few days, but shortly after the Rebbe was released, he was arrested and accused of underground Jewish activity. He died in exile in 5705/1945. Today, despite the upheavals that many of his descendents experienced, many of them are connected to Lubavitch.”
EXTRAORDINARY STORIES OF HASHGACHA PRATIS
From the moment R’ Ruppo arrived in Kostroma, he realized
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that it wasn’t he but the Rebbe who was running his shlichus. He sees this, he says, every step of the way, whether it is money that comes just when he needs it or a string of astonishing hashgacha pratis events: “On my first day here, the members of the k’hilla asked me to arrange a summer camp for families. The Joint had paid for it until then. We still needed $5000 in order to rent a place. It was on the last day that the money arrived and the camp got under way. “I always say that shluchim don’t just feel hashgacha pratis, they see it. We have experienced numerous stories of our own. Sums of money we didn’t dream would come came from unexpected places just at the right time. One day, someone came to us in shul who said he had once worked in the Russian military building nuclear submarines. There were two other Jews with him, and one day they were all fired. Why? The manager asked the one in charge of the branch why the submarines were not ready and his answer was: We have three Jews in key positions and they are delaying the completion of the subs. “It was a few days before Purim. This businessman introduced me to his son. During our conversation, he asked me for the bank account number of the community and we parted ways. A few days went by and it was before Pesach. The money we were supposed to receive to cover holiday expenses for the community was delayed. It was days before Yom Tov and we didn’t know what to do. Even if the money would be deposited, we wouldn’t be able to use it before Yom Tov. We were at a loss as to what to do. My wife agreed to use our personal salary that we had gotten a few days earlier, and even if it wouldn’t cover all our expenses, at least it would help somewhat. “The next day, before I left the house for the bank, the k’hilla’s accountant called me and told me about a large sum of money, 100,000 rubles, which had been deposited into the bank. He did not know who had made the deposit. I asked him for the name of the donor and when he said the name, I was reminded of the man and his son. The son, it turned out, had made the donation. I was overcome with emotion. I knew that Hashem had arranged it all. He saw that we were willing to forgo our own money for the community and arranged for that entire amount plus much more. When that man came to attend the Seder, I said, ‘See all this? It’s because of your son’s contribution.’” a weaving machine and he employed two gentile women who worked for him while he devoted himself to running the Jewish community. “The new law of the present era, after communism, states that all religious buildings must be returned to members of that religion. Many religious buildings, which had been confiscated under communism, were returned to Jews. We submitted a request to receive the house of the rav too, but it wasn’t simple since he was listed as the owner of a weaving factory. We spoke with the mayor and she managed to arrange the building for us for one year, which was then extended to five years. We still didn’t renovate the building, because we were afraid that it would be taken back from us. “Thanks to R’ Lazar’s intervention, we were able to get the building for forty years. Then we did a massive renovation. In 5767, eighty years since the release of the Rebbe Rayatz, we dedicated the building and put the preschool in there. The mayor, who is not Jewish, was invited too. In her speech, she said she knew about all the problems the Jews had back in the day, which made it necessary for the rav to hide his true job, ‘and today we have R’ Nison who works openly and we are happy about this. We will do all we can to help him.’” What is it like to work in the city which received the news of the Rebbe Rayatz’s release? It feels special. I feel it not only on the day of his Geula each year, but every single day. Although the shul underwent renovations, we left the original paint that was there when the Rebbe davened there. I live a minute’s walk away from the
RECLAIMING THE PAST
Kostroma was one of the cities outside the Pale of Settlement. Jews without a permit were not allowed to live there. Only those Jews with needed professions were able to obtain a permit. Of course, a rabbi was not one of those professions recognized by the government. “Under the communists, the government would appoint a rabbi who was responsible for Jewish matters. This government-appointed rabbi was not religious. When Jews asked for a rav, the government would tell them they already had a rav. “One day, R’ Tzvi Hirsch Friedman came to town. He was a distinguished Torah figure. In order to obtain permission to remain in the city, he announced that he was setting up a weaving factory. His brother sent him
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house where the Rebbe stayed. In the center of the city there is still a KGB building where the Rebbe received his release papers. So I am always surrounded by memories. People meet and see the descendents of R’ Kugel, with whom the Rebbe stayed. We are constantly living with it. Not just me, but all the members of the community. On the wall in the entrance hang documents from the archives that we were able to get hold of concerning the Rebbe’s stay in the city and his release document. At every meeting of district officials, I am invited to speak on behalf of the Jewish community. What could be a greater transformation than that? *** The granddaughter of R’ Kugel told us that the previous mikva was in the shul. When we renovated the kitchen, we found the mikva. It seems it’s the mikva that R’ Michoel Dworkin fixed in anticipation of the Rebbe Rayatz’s arrival and it is the mikva that the Rebbe used when he was here. How do you spread the message of Moshiach in this
R’ Ruppo, the shliach in Kostroma and the Chief Rabbi of Russia, R’ Lazar, on a visit to the shul in Kostroma
spiritual desert? Do you talk about it? We are constantly talking about Moshiach! Boruch Hashem, talking about Moshiach doesn’t bother anyone in Kostroma. It’s like any other mitzva. And anyway, what is Moshiach? When a Jewish woman whose father and grandfather, four generations of gentiles, convinces her husband to be circumcised, that is Geula. When a woman wants to have a wedding under the open sky because she heard it is a minhag, that is Geula. When not just old
people but young people – people who knew nothing about Judaism – also come to shul, that is also Moshiach. In conclusion: We have an active shul, mikva, preschool and other amenities. We plan on going forward, continuing to raise awareness about bris mila and Jewish marriage. Sadly, the youngest woman with two Jewish parents who plans on marrying a Jew is forty years old. I can promise you that the entire community will be invited to her wedding.
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REVISITING CHASSIDIC PETERSBURG
The city of Petersburg (Leningrad) was founded a little over 300 years ago. * Petersburg is the only city visited by all seven Chabad leaders, and it is no coincidence that Chassidic life flourished there as it continues to do till today. * Beis Moshiach spoke with a few Chassidim who lived in Petersburg (then Leningrad) in their youth and returned to visit fifty years later: R’ Yehuda Leib (Leibel) Mochkin, R’ Zushe Gross, and Mrs. Rochel Zamir.
by Menachem Ziegelboim R’ Leibel Mochkin
R’ LEIBEL MOCHKIN
R’ Leibel Mochkin spent many years in Leningrad in his youth. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he visited the CIS a number of times, mainly in 5754-5755. He doesn’t speak in emotional terms, yet you can’t help but hear the emotion and nostalgia when
he recalls those days, back then. “In Leningrad, there were two shuls in the same courtyard; a big shul that was open for davening only on Yomim Tovim, while the rest of the year it was open only for tourists, and next to it was a smaller shul, the Chabad shul. That is where t’filla with avoda, learning Torah with chayus,
and of course, Chassidishe farbrengens, took place. From there, Chassidus radiated out to the entire area. “During my visit, I went to the little Chabad shul. I instinctively sat down at one of the tables and began reminiscing. I could picture the Chassid, R’ Gershon Ber Levin, brother of R’
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Yisroel Neveler, who once came to farbreng in the shul and saw the great Chassidim (R’ Chonye Morosov, R’ Shmuel Leib Levin, R’ Dovid Horodoker, and others) sitting at the table with farbaisen (cake, cookies). He sat down next to them and began plaintively saying – how could Chassidim sit at a table with farbaisen? Herring
is one thing, but farbaisen?! That is so megusham (coarse)! “Then I visited the house in which I had previously lived. During the years we lived in Leningrad we moved a number of times. At first we lived in a small house, but after the family grew and we began hosting many guests, we had to move to a bigger apartment. We swapped homes with a Chassid by the name of R’ Avrohom Yeshaya Shapiro, a Chassid and big yerei Shamayim, who had a big house. “Our house was very far from the main shul but it was always the center for Chassidim. We always had guests, some of them illegals who were not allowed to be on the street. When the great Chassidim, like R’ Dovid Horodoker or R’ Aharon Leib Tzeitlin, came to our house, it was a festive day for my father, R’ Peretz. We often had farbrengens in our house on Shabbos and special days. “Many things came to mind as I walked the spacious streets of Leningrad. I could see the homes of the Chassidim and they reminded me of other times, long ago. “I recalled that when I was already in yeshiva in Kutais, they sent me to Leningrad in order to raise money for the yeshiva. When I arrived in Leningrad, my father did not feel well and he could not fundraise on his own as he did many times before. He gave me the names of Chassidim and asked me to go to them myself. “I don’t remember now all of the people I went to, but I remember the generosity of R’ Mulle Pruss. I also remember visiting the home of R’ Chaim Minkowitz. He had no money to give but he said, ‘Since your father sent you to me to collect
money for Tomchei T’mimim, I must participate.’ He took out some gold coins that he had hidden away, which he had designated as payment to a dentist to make dentures for his wife. When he gave them to me he said, ‘My wife can manage without teeth but the yeshiva must have this money.’ “When I passed another street, I couldn’t help but smile when I remembered the home of one of the Chassidim. After he married he bought a nice house and furnished it handsomely. The Chassidim, who were accustomed to living simply, did not look favorably at this. One winter day my father farbrenged in our house and after making a few l’chaims he took all the Chassidim to the home of this Chassid. “The streets were full of mud and when they all arrived at the nice home of the Chassid, their clothes were filthy. That is how they entered the Chassid’s house. My father went straight to the inner room and lay down on the bed, putting his dirty shoes there. Only then, did he farbreng with the Chassid. As a result of this farbrengen the Chassid changed completely. From then on it was known that matters of this world meant nothing to him. “Those are just some of the memories that came to mind on my visits to Leningrad.”
RABBI ZUSHE GROSS
When R’ Zushe Gross of B’nei Brak tells a story, he tells it in great detail. With his marvelous way with words he describes what happened, how, and who said what. With sparkling eyes and hand motions he delights in conjuring up what took place. To hear a story from him is to be whisked away to that faraway
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and despite the relatively late hour I left my apartment and walked in the direction of ‘my’ house. It was very cold outside with the temperature reaching minus 6-8 Celsius. Despite the snow, I walked quickly through streets that were familiar to me. Everything was closed but I continued walking. I turned to Dekabristov Street and looked right. I saw the grocery store. Yes, the same store with the same door and even the same windows remained. I could see myself standing here at four in the morning, a young, skinny boy, waiting impatiently on a long line in order to buy some bread for my hungry family, along with many other unfortunates. “Ah, Petersburg, a big, beautiful city. The atmosphere, for some reason, is somber. The city is comprised of many islands with canals of water running through. The large Neva River flows on the edge of the city. This river is famous to chassidim because that is where the Alter Rebbe sanctified the new moon while under arrest. “Petersburg was a capitol city named for Czar Peter. The location is unnatural as it is built on rivers and swamps. They say that the city was built on people’s bones, because hundreds of thousands of people died of starvation and cold in the period when the royal palaces were constructed, starting in the 17th and 18th centuries. The city was built up already in the time of the Alter Rebbe and served as the capitol of Russia. “I walked down the street and recognized all the buildings. There was the school that I had to attend and which I avoided and next to it is a big stadium. I stood facing our house on 50 Dekabristov Street and
“R’ Chonye took a lot of mashke and farbrenged. At a certain point he grabbed R’ Plotkin and said something to the effect of ‘Today I am here, but tomorrow they will take me and you will remain here. All responsibility for matters of Judaism will remain with you. The point is not to be a genius in Nigleh or a big maskil in Chassidus. These times require us to preserve the embers.’”
time and to experience it. Since perestroika, R’ Zushe went back to his birthplace of Petersburg a number of times. He was born and raised there until World War II began, and then he returned there and lived in the home of his grandmother, Mrs. Devora Gutta Mindel, the wife of the Chassid, R’ Shmuel Mindel. Fifty years passed since R’ Zushe left Petersburg and he returned with overflowing emotions. “The plane landed in the middle of the night at Pulkovo airport, where a representative of R’ Menachem Mendel Pevsner, the rav of Petersburg, waited for me. I traveled to the apartment that he had prepared for me, and in the meantime I looked out the windows of the car and was able to identify the streets. “I was excited because I knew that on one of the nearby streets was where my parents lived over fifty years ago. I couldn’t wait
R’ Leibel Mochkin with Russian security forces in Petersburg
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then climbed the stairs. Even the brown floor tiles that were laid temporarily as ‘patches’ remained. Unfortunately, those living there did not allow me to enter. “I call it ‘our’ apartment, but the apartment served as a meeting place for the Chassidim. Many farbrengens took place in our house, even in the worst of times when nobody knew what would happen the next moment. We always had guests from various places. “I myself can recall some bits of the farbrengens that took place in our house even though I was so young. One day some T’mimim came to town from Nevel. Word got out that a farbrengen would be taking place in our house in honor of a special date. R’ Itche Raskin and R’ Peretz Mochkin farbrenged. The material state of the bachurim was pathetic. They were starving and their clothes were tattered and their shoes were ripped. In the middle of the farbrengen my father went to the market and bought a suitcase full of shoes in different sizes and brought it home. In the middle of the farbrengen each person went over to the suitcase and picked a pair of shoes. “I am reminded of another farbrengen in Petersburg that my father, R’ Mulle Pruss, told me about. I don’t remember the actual farbrengen because I was just born, but the story is etched in my mind. “It was Purim 5697/1937, a terrible time. Many Chassidim were arrested and nobody was assured of his freedom. Despite the difficult circumstances, a farbrengen was held in the home of R’ Chaim Minkowitz. All were there, R’ Chonye Morosov, R’ Peretz Mochkin, R’ Avrohom Eliyahu Plotkin, and others.
R’ Gross with his home in the background
“R’ Chonye took a lot of mashke and farbrenged. At a certain point he grabbed R’ Plotkin and said something to the effect of ‘Today I am here, but tomorrow they will take me and you will remain here. All responsibility for matters of Judaism will remain with you. The point is not to be a genius in Nigleh or a big maskil in Chassidus. These times require us to preserve the embers. We cannot abandon the work of educating Jewish children. The cycle needs to continue like a relay race of shluchim. When one is taken, the next one passes the shlichus to the one following him.’ “This shook everyone up. Indeed, after some time, R’ Chonye was taken and he never returned. What he said came to pass. They continued the chadarim with mesirus nefesh and when a melamed was
arrested, another one came and took his place and the learning continued somewhere else. “I was still standing on the street in the middle of the night when I suddenly remembered the Chassid, R’ Lazer Kublanov. When I was a young boy and my father was in jail he invited me to his house to eat lunch. With a feeling of respect and gratitude I decided to walk to his house on Maklina Street. I was surprised once again to see that his apartment too, on the first floor, looked just as it did then, with the same old wooden door. *** “I have many memories of that city which is why it is so dear to my heart. One of the things closest to my heart is the shul, the Chabad minyan on the second floor, to the left of the big shul. “I got up early on Thursday and went to shul with great
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help but turn my head towards where the informer would sit. “My eyes wandered further – there is where R’ Epstein would stand and daven with avoda. R’ Epstein had been the rav of the Lubavitcher Chassidim in Petersburg for three years. I could see him, in my mind’s eye, standing on Hoshana Raba one year, holding the Dalet minim, a rarity in those days, and circling the bima as he cried bitterly. There was plenty to cry about. “I went up to the women’s section in order to see where my righteous grandmother would sit and daven fervently from her worn-out Siddur. I met some old women up there who had lived in Nevel and one of them knew my father’s sister. When I examined the little things, I saw that everything remained nicely as before. The decorative metal of the lions on the Aron Kodesh and the iron letters of ‘Ma Tovu Ohalecha Yaakov’ were still there. “Although the gabbaim were government appointees, the few Chassidim still managed to retain the Chassidic flavor of the minyan. I remember that on Yud and Yud-Tes Kislev they did not say Tachanun. When one of the men would ask why not, the meshamesh, R’ Mendel Beliniki would simply say, ‘You don’t ask questions.’ He was afraid to mention that it was Yud-Tes Kislev lest he be accused of celebrating counter-revolutionary holidays. “The fear in the shul was palpable. The place swarmed with informers, and Anash were careful not to talk to one another so as not to give away the fact that they knew one another. When absolutely necessary they would exchange quick whispered snatches clandestinely or they would motion to meet in the
R’ Zushe Gross with the head of the Jewish community in the big shul in Petersburg
“Exactly one year later, on 30 Shevat, I had the same dream. This time too I was confused and did not know what to think. When the dream repeated itself a year later on the same date I realized there was something to it.”
excitement. I met some old Jews there, a handful of survivors. I couldn’t restrain myself and with tears choking my throat I shouted the bracha of ‘SheHechiyanu’ with the same tune that we use before reading Megillas Esther. “Even before I went in, I remembered that right here, at the door, sat my grandfather, R’ Shmuel Mindel. He was a distinguished talmid chacham and yet, he was humble and avoided the limelight. He was a Chassidic ‘image.’ He always sat near the door of the shul and refused to sit on the eastern wall. Years later, R’ Zalman Shimon Dworkin told me that my grandfather recited Tikkun Chatzos every night. “For a moment, I came back to the present and looked around me. I saw a few old men in tallis and t’fillin, some only with a tallis. They looked at me in astonishment and gave me shalom aleichem, asking me curiously where I was from. I told them I had returned to the place I had left 48 years earlier and they nodded knowingly. “I walked towards mizrach and looked to the right where Anash used to sit and pour our their hearts in prayer. The rav would stand and daven, and near him the rosh ha’kahal. I couldn’t
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The big shul in Petersburg
yard or the bathroom, where they conveyed their messages.” *** “During the day, I visited the Ohr Avner school. I saw 170 children learning and davening. I saw them learning Torah without interference, and once again, the memories came back to me. “When I a child, my brother Berel and I were the only children there. When Berel left the city, I remained alone, a child of 10. I was able to read the Siddur and even to learn Chumash, Mishnayos and a little Gemara, unusual for those days. This is why I got plenty of attention from the Chassidim in shul. They hired a melamed for me to learn Gemara and he would regularly come to my grandmother’s house and teach me. Once in a while,
R’ Nachum Garelik would test me and he was pleased with my answers. “The relationship among the Chassidim was completely different than it is today. I remember that when I was a boy, I once went home from shul. It was a Friday and I suddenly met the Chassid, R’ Mendel Golombovitz. He was older and distinguished and he stopped me and told me a nice vort which I remember till today. Despite his age and stature, he bothered to stop me, a ten year old, and encourage me with words of chizuk as though to say, don’t be despondent. Now we are in a difficult state, but when Moshiach comes, it will all be good.”
MRS. ROCHEL ZAMIR
“In 5752, I went with my older sister Fania and her husband to Leningrad. We grew up there with our parents, R’ Yaakov and Rivka Kleinman, who were Chassidim and yerei Shamayim. “We lived at 3 Pradilnaya Street but were told the name was changed to Labutina. My sister and I walked around but weren’t convinced. Then I told my sister that I recognized the windows of the house. We remembered a big house comprised of buildings in the center of which was a courtyard and gate. The house we lived in was opposite the gate. “It was 17 Tammuz 5752 and at midnight it was still broad daylight. Since we were unsure, we spoke to some old women
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happened to it in recent years. Then he said, ‘The apartment under mine was your apartment. A woman took it over after the war. Not only that, but since the houses were abandoned, she stole a lot of furniture and items from nearby houses and this is why she does not allow anyone into her apartment.’ “I asked him, almost pleadingly, ‘Can you help us? We just want a peek. We don’t want anything back.’ He apologized and said he did not talk to her. “My sister and I decided to try anyway. We knocked at her door and said we only wanted to take a look at our home. We even offered to pay her but she refused. ‘You didn’t live here. Go to your synagogue,’ she shouted from behind the closed door. “As I stood outside my parents’ home, I couldn’t stop crying. I could remember when I was a child of eight or nine and I could picture the house and yard where we played, my brother (the artist, R’ Zalman Kleinman) and I. I felt homesick. I looked to see whether the mezuza remained, the mezuza my father had put up. In my imagination I could see the negel vasser he put at my bed every night. “I remembered the beautiful Friday nights. We were in the house with my mother. We sat together next to the candles. She would play a game with us in which we were going together to Eretz Yisroel. As we played, the shutters were closed and the door was locked in order to hide the candles and davening from strangers, and in order to prevent us from going out and neighboring children from coming in. But the fiery love, the anticipation and longing for Eretz Yisroel could not be extinguished. She played the game with us and
WHEN A DREAM IS REAL
Mrs. Zamir relates: In connection with my parents’ yahrtzaits, I’d like to share an unusual story. As I said, we children were sent out of Leningrad after the Germans began bombing. My parents remained in the city. It was only after the war that they informed us of the dates of their passing. R’ Sasonkin figured out that my father had died on Rosh Chodesh Adar 5702 and my mother on 19 Nissan. Those were the yahrtzaits we observed. Years later, on 30 Shevat, I had a dream in which I saw my father walking together with the Rebbe Rayatz and I was with them. When I awoke I was in turmoil and did not know the meaning of the dream. Exactly one year later, on 30 Shevat, I had the same dream. This time too I was confused and did not know what to think. When the dream repeated itself a year later on the same date I realized there was something to it. I felt that my father had come to tell us that his yahrtzait was on 30 Shevat and not on 1 Adar as we had thought. I spoke to R’ Isser Frankel, the rav in our neighborhood, and he said, “If your father and the Rebbe Rayatz came to you in a dream three times on the same date, that seems to indicate that the date is 30 Shevat.” After receiving this p’sak we began observing the yahrtzait on this date. Since then, I have not had the dream. who sat chatting in the garden. I asked whether they knew a watchmaker who lived there and if so, where did he live. They remembered the watchmaker, my father, and pointed towards the house I had spoken of earlier. ‘If you want to know other details,’ they said, ‘in this building lives Vitzya Golobayev. Go up to him and he will tell you more.’ “My sister and I went up to his house and knocked on the door. ‘Who is there?’ someone called out, and we said we lived here fifty years earlier. “He soon opened the door and looked at us and his first question was, ‘Where is Raya?’ “I shivered and said it was me. ‘You?’ he asked excitedly. ‘You know that we were together in first grade and we were also together in Siberia.’ “As he said this, I remembered scenes from those sad days. I recalled when the war with the Germans began. The front rapidly approached Leningrad. I remember the people clustered together and talking quietly. With worried faces they looked upward and pointed at black specks which were the enemies’ planes. The children did not know what was going on, but they sensed that it was something horrible. They did not ask and nobody explained anything to them. “As the front approached, the government announced the emergency evacuation of all children from Leningrad to a safer place. This was to save them and also to allow the parents the freedom to work to defend the city. We were separated, we three children from our parents, and that was the last time we saw them.” *** “Vitzya happily brought us into his house. He told us about the house and what had
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The Neva River
that is how she conveyed her love for the land and her anticipation of salvation. “We children waited for Friday nights because we loved the game. This is how it worked. Each of us, me, my brother, and my sister, and she herself would tie together a bundle. In the bundle were pillows etc. The game began: each of us held a bundle. We walked the length of the room and sat down on chairs. My mother explained and announced: Now we are on the train going from Leningrad to Odessa! We got off the chairs and walked the length of the room and sat on the couch. My mother said that now we were on the ship sailing from Odessa on the Black Sea towards the Mediterranean and the port of Yaffo. We were so happy. In our
imagination, we lived the events of the game. When we arrived in Eretz Yisroel she would describe it to us. We were particularly impressed by two details: that citrus fruits were more plentiful than potatoes and that before the coming of Moshiach, Eliyahu HaNavi would announce the coming of the redeemer from Mt. Carmel. “My father would usually daven at home, though not before my mother locked the door and shuttered the window so the neighbors wouldn’t see him. The fear was so great, especially after my father’s brother-in-law, R’ Moshe Sasonkin, was arrested. My father was so fearful that he was even afraid of his own shadow. This fear also churned within us, the children. “As I went down the stairs of
the building I couldn’t help but recall the large table that we sat at with my father, where he taught us aleph-beis and to say brachos. “When we were forced to leave my parents and be in the orphanage in Siberia this is what protected me. At first, I still remembered the first parsha, but after a while I forgot it. I remembered only the line of Shma. Those were four and a half years of estrangement from anything Jewish. “I exited the building and suddenly recalled the days I had to attend public school. I was a little girl and all the girls sang the national anthem. The anthem had a heretical line about it being solely “my strength and the power of my hand.’ Although I was young, I felt that I couldn’t say that line and when I went home
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buried citizens of Leningrad who were killed by bombing or died of starvation. “We made more inquiries and after searching we found the names of our parents. They were indeed buried in a mass grave. “We made our way there. It was a vast garden that had clusters of mass graves. Each garden-bed is a mass grave of citizens who were buried in a certain month. Next to it is a sign with the month: February 1942, March 1942, and so on. Every day, it seems, close to a hundred thousand people were buried! “On our visit to Leningrad we couldn’t miss the big shul with the Chabad shul alongside it. When my father went to shul (and due to the fear it wasn’t all the time), he would only take my brother Zalman with him. We girls stayed home with my mother. “Only on Simchas Torah were we allowed to go to shul. That was the day when thousands of Jews gathered. I can visualize the Chassidim dancing on Simchas Torah as my mother picked me up from behind so I could see into the men’s section. “I stood in the shul in exactly the same spot I stood in as a child and I cried. The nostalgic yearning was so intense.”
CHABAD CENTER STAGE
Ten years ago, there were celebrations to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of the imperial capitol of Petersburg. One of the highlights was a concert that was hosted by President Vladimir Putin at the city’s famous Marinsky Theater. 54 heads of state were invited from all over the world and included President George W. Bush, French president Jacque Chirac, and British PM Tony Blair. Rabbi M. M. Pevsner, shliach to Petersburg and Mr. Mordechai Gruberg, the president of the k’hilla, represented the Jewish community. Both have good ties with the government. In fact, President Putin makes sure to proudly mention at every Jewish event that he was the first one to open a shul in the CIS, in the city of Petersburg, when he served as the mayor of Petersburg twelve years earlier. Representatives of the Jewish community sat in a row along with the Russian Minister of the Treasury and the mayor of Moscow. There was a great Kiddush Hashem and the appearance of the k’hilla’s representatives showed what great respect is afforded Judaism and the Jewish community in Petersburg. I asked my father what to do. He said that when the children sang this line, I should be quiet and then I could continue singing along with them. “I’ll never forget my mother who was an intelligent woman but always looked for simple jobs so she wouldn’t have to desecrate Shabbos. One of her jobs was to stand at the gates of the university and take the students’ coats and give them a number. Or she would stand at the entrance of the theater and check tickets, which did not necessitate chilul Shabbos. *** “One of the important things we wanted to accomplish was to find our parents’ graves. When we visited the shul (where we donated a beautiful paroches), we made inquiries about their place of burial. They suggested that we start looking in Jewish cemeteries. “That wasn’t simple since these cemeteries were huge. We spent days on this and found nothing. Someone who saw our efforts said our parents might be buried in mass graves that were dug during the war, where they
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THE DUSTY FOOT PHILOSOPHY
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
MEASURE FOR MEASURE
Upon the death of Miriam, Moses’ sister, a grave and unexpected crisis threatened the Jews. Their water supply suddenly went dry. The miraculous water that sustained the Jewish people in the desert came in the merit of Miriam. When she passed on, the water also came to an end. The Jews complained bitterly that they would all die of thirst and demanded that Moses supply them with water. The Torah continues: “G-d spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Take the staff and, together with your brother Aaron, you should assemble the congregation. In their presence, speak to the rock, and it will produce water.” The Torah then describes how Moses struck the rock and it produced water. In his commentary on the story in Genesis of the angels who visited Abraham, Rashi cites a Talmudic commentary which connects Abraham’s actions then to Moses’ actions in this week’s parsha. When the three angels, disguised as humans, came to visit, Abraham went out of his way to take care of their needs.
Abraham personally got them bread and served them with meat and dairy. The one thing he delegated to others was providing water for washing the dust from their feet. The Torah shows, in Genesis (18:4), that Abraham directed others: “Let some water be brought.” Rashi observes the differing attitudes Abraham had with regard to the food and the water. He comments that by saying “Let some water be brought” Abraham meant that the water should be provided “by means of a messenger.” Rashi continues: “The Holy One, Blessed is He, repaid His children by means of a messenger, as it says, ‘Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock.’” In other words, because Abraham personally and directly supplied the bread and the meat to his guests, the Jewish people were privileged to receive the Manna and the meat directly from G-d. By contrast, since Abraham did not deem it important enough to personally provide water to his guests, the Jewish people likewise received their water supply by way of a messenger and not directly from G-d—i.e., by means of Moses
striking the rock. The commentator Maskil L ’Dovid raises a question: Why does Rashi cite the verse in this week’s parsha to indicate that the water was provided to the angels by means of a messenger? Rashi could have cited another verse from the Book of Exodus (17:6), which recounts an earlier episode soon after the Exodus, where G-d tells Moses to strike a rock to produce water.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EXODUS AND NUMBERS
One answer to this question can be that in Exodus, Moses’ striking of the rock at G-d’s behest was not considered to be a diminution of G-d’s direct relationship with the people. All of the miracles that the Jewish people witnessed up to that point were performed through Moses and Aaron. Even so, there is no suggestion that G-d did not play an active role in these miracles. Moses and Aaron were merely the instruments that G-d used to channel His power to the people. Likewise the water that G-d provided the Jewish people, as recorded in Exodus, was the product of G-d’s direct
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involvement and is not attributed to Moses His messenger. Indeed, this concept is alluded to in the Hagada which states that G-d took us out of Egypt and not a messenger. At first blush, this statement seems to contradict the entire narrative of the Exodus where Moses and (to some extent) Aaron were the ones through whom the Exodus occurred. However, in light of the above there is no discrepancy. Moses was a transparent individual who had totally removed his ego. As a result, G-d’s actions were channeled through him. Moses was no more than a conduit and all that happened was considered to be completely the work of G-d and not that of a messenger. attributed to him, as if it were his action and not the result of G-d’s direct involvement. We can now understand why G-d treated Moses’ actions so harshly. It was not a punishment for a sin. Rather it was an acknowledgment that Moses’ actions lowered the spiritual level of the Jewish people. Whereas, previously, all the miracles they witnessed were direct expressions of G-d’s power, now His involvement was seen as being indirect. Moses’ anger created a barrier between G-d and the Jewish people that would have sorrowful repercussions for the future. With the loss of G-d’s direct involvement in the miracles of the conquest of Eretz Yisroel, future generations would not have the power to sustain their hold on the Land of Israel. Perhaps, then, Abraham did not deem it so important to personally attend to this need since it was not intended to satisfy their thirst but rather to prevent them from sullying his home with idolatry.
INTOLERANCE FOR EVEN THE TRACES OF IDOLATRY
There is an important lesson we can derive here. When we help remove another person’s impurity, it is no less a favor to them than to give them water to drink. If Abraham had shown his visitors how distasteful their presumed idolatry was to him and how he would personally exert himself to cleanse them of it, it might have had a powerful impact on them. They would have been left with the impression that any trace of idolatry—even the residual dust on one’s feet—is not welcome in a person’s home. Even the smallest vestige of idolatry is lethal. By employing a hands-off approach, Abraham— inadvertently—allowed some measure of tolerance for idolatry to fester. There is a powerful lesson for us from the foregoing for our own day and age. Idolatry is not merely the worshipping of pagan g-ds made of wood and stone. According to the Talmud there are other far more subtle forms of idolatry, such as an inflated ego or anger. It would seem on balance that we should place a greater emphasis on the very serious problems that plague our society and not exert that much energy into dealing with the vices of ego and anger. Abraham’s story informs us otherwise. If Abraham had invested as much energy in ridding his guests of the dust on their feet—that symbolized
ATTRIBUTED TO WHOM?
Thus, when G-d told Moses to strike the rock, although it was Moses who took the action it was not ascribed to him. It was entirely G-d’s action. However, in this week’s parsha, Moses strikes the rock contrary to G-d’s instruction to speak to it. The result—though certainly of G-d’s doing— is characterized as having come through His messenger, Moses. The indirectness of the result points to a measure of dissatisfaction with the way it was executed. Moreover, according to Maimonides, Moses “sin” in this episode was the anger he vented towards the Jewish people. The Talmud states that a person’s anger causes the Divine presence to depart from him. This suggests that G-d does not want to be “implicated” in one’s anger, even if the anger is justifiable. Hence, Moses’ action here in providing water for the people was
WHY DID ABRAHAM NOT PROVIDE WATER?
As stated by Rashi, G-d’s providing water to the Jewish people indirectly was caused by Abraham’s indirect providing of water to his guests. How can we understand why Abraham did not deem it important enough to provide his guests with water personally? Knowing the extreme lengths Abraham would go to show hospitality to every guest, it is difficult to comprehend why he deemed it unnecessary to provide them with water himself. One way of answering this question is to reflect on the reason he wanted them to wash their feet before he brought them into his tent. Rashi explains that Abraham was concerned that his three visitors were members of a cult that worshipped the dust on their feet. He wanted them to wash away any trace of idolatry before he allowed them to enter his abode.
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subtle forms of idol worship— as he did in catering their meal, Moses would not have suffered the momentary diminution of his status as a transparent channel of G-d’s energy to the people. The water would have come without Moses’ disruptive anger and the Jewish people would have clearly seen the unconcealed hand of G-d. If the subtlest forms of idolatry that obscure G-d’s presence in this world had been removed, Moses would have been allowed to bring the People into the Promised Land. If that had happened, the Jewish nation would not have degenerated into the actual, unmitigated forms of idol worship which led to their exile; “and the rest is history,” as they say. Of course, the above is not intended, G-d forbid, to impute any real sin to Abraham and Moses. Their apparent shortcomings were part of G-d’s plan, orchestrated by Him to teach us how to remedy the problem of that generation and
If Abraham had shown his visitors how distasteful their presumed idolatry was to him it might have had a powerful impact on them. Even the smallest vestige of idolatry is lethal. By employing a hands-off approach, Abraham—inadvertently—allowed some measure of tolerance for idolatry to fester.
bring about the final Redemption.
DEAL WITH THE SUBTLETIES
The Rebbe has informed us, based on the teachings of Kabbala and Chassidus, that all the gross and heavy forms of idolatry and related vices have, for all intents and purposes, been dealt with. While there might still be people guilty of heinous crimes, that is a problem of individual consequence and an aberration from the norm. As a people and as individuals we still have to address the subtler forms of idolatry. Towards this end, we are privileged to have the
teachings of Chassidus to help us remove the veil that obscures G-d’s presence. Our challenge is to rid ourselves of the traces of idolatry by washing them off with Torah knowledge, which is likened to water. Even though Abraham might once have been justified in not putting so much emphasis on personally removing the residual dust of idolatry, we now have to remedy that. It behooves us to invest all of our resources into providing the cleansing waters of Torah to each and every Jew. It is our obligation to remove the last obstacles to Redemption, a task which cannot be delegated to others.
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THE REBBE’S TEACHINGS ARE OUR SHULCHAN ARUCH!
For Gimmel Tammuz, a day to strengthen one’s hiskashrus to the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach, we spoke with the Chabad rosh yeshiva in Tzfas, one of the Rebbe’s shluchim to Eretz Yisroel, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Wilschansky. * How and when should we explain that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam? * How should we regard those who have adopted Chabad’s methods? * How can we achieve achdus? * Part 2
Interview by Avrohom Rainitz
EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT THE REBBE IS CHAI V’KAYAM. IT’S A FACT WE CAN’T HIDE.
How do we convince the man on the street that the Rebbe is the Nasi Ha’dor. Miracle stories are not enough. How do we convey the message that the Rebbe is not just another
tzaddik, but the Nasi Ha’dor to whom we need to connect? Before I address your question, I want to point out that most of the advertisements in Eretz Yisroel emphasize that the Rebbe is the Nasi Ha’dor. As to your question, the same question was asked ten and twenty years ago, and in many ways, it is much easier to explain
it today. Forty years ago when I was a young bachur, we would meet with people who had never heard of Chabad and it took a lot of time to convince them that the Rebbe is the only one who cares for every Jew. People couldn’t relate to that and we had to make comparisons with other Admurim, those whom the Rebbeim truly admired, and to say that with all due respect for
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those rabbanim and Admurim, they took care of their own people and at most, the immediate environment. The Rebbe, on the other hand, is concerned about every Jew in the world. Today, we don’t need lengthy explanations. It is sufficient that you say “Rebbe” and everyone knows you mean the Lubavitcher Rebbe who is not the Rebbe of a certain group but the Rebbe of everyone. But in order for them to understand that the same Rebbe who is concerned about everyone is the current Nasi Ha’dor, you have to say that he is alive. How do you explain that? The Sephardic chief rabbi of Tzfas, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, went to R’ Yitzchok Lifsh and said to him: This week I had occasion to use what you say, that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam. A group of tourists visited him and he wanted to explain
The one and only explanation for the fact that Gerrer Chassidim stand in public places and give out Shabbos candles is because the Rebbe made it possible for religious women to do so without it adversely affecting their purity. It goes counter to everything they stood for all the years! The same is true for the yeshiva bachurim – in the past, their roshei yeshiva were afraid that they would be corrupted. What changed?
to them the idea that tzaddikim are called alive. He said to them, “Take the Lubavitcher Rebbe, for example. How many years have passed since 3 Tammuz? And yet, throughout the world people feel that the Rebbe is with them as though nothing happened on 3 Tammuz.” At the first Kinus HaShluchim after 3 Tammuz, someone who came on a flight from Eretz Yisroel told me that a Satmar Chassid sat next to him. The
Satmarer was impressed by the group of shluchim and he said, “His children are alive, he is alive.” He meant to say that he is alive because his children are alive, but we know the Rebbe’s explanation that it’s just the opposite. It’s only because he is alive that his children are alive. People see the Rebbe’s shluchim and the work of Chabad which continues to grow. They realize that what keeps it all going and growing is the Rebbe
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and they conclude, on their own, that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam. As many statements that may be released to the newspapers that say this is not quite so, people deal with the reality and not with what it says in the newspaper, and they see that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam. Actually, everyone today says the Rebbe is chai v’kayam but each person explains it as he likes. We say it’s meant literally and others say it’s meant metaphorically, but nobody can avoid the reality which is that he is alive. But how do you explain it? You don’t need to explain it. You can see before your very eyes that Lubavitch is growing and that means that the Rebbe is alive. If you meet someone who did not hear about Chabad, what do you tell him, that there’s a Rebbe in the world? Yes, you have to tell him that there is a Rebbe in the world and the Rebbe told us to prepare the world for Moshiach. He calls upon every Jew to help bring Moshiach. Then you ask him to put on t’fillin and refer him to the local shliach who will take the time to explain to him what the Rebbe demands of every Jew, and how by fulfilling the Rebbe’s horaos one connects to the Nasi Ha’dor. He will also explain to him how he can write to the Rebbe and receive answers. that of Chabad. It used to be that people knew that Chabad are the only ones who care about Judaism in the army and in prisons. But now we are hearing about other groups who have joined. You can also hear the line, “The Chabad women of Ger gave out Shabbos candles ...” Has Chabad’s work weakened? Why is this happening? Before answering your question, I’d like to point out that the Rebbe always guided us not to be satisfied with current accomplishments. Throughout the years, when people reported to the Rebbe about their successes, the Rebbe’s response, after a line or two in which he expressed his pleasure at the news, was an entire letter of demands to increase the work and not remain complacent. Your question ought to shake us up. If we see that other movements are being successful, we must be far more successful! Now I will respond to the point you raised in your question: The truth is that the fact that other groups have adopted Chabad’s work should make us happy. That is the Rebbe’s goal after all, that everyone, not just Chabad Chassidim, go out to the streets to put on t’fillin and give out Shabbos candles. They may not know it, but the Rebbe is the one who gives them the ability to go out to the street and do this work. It’s mamash an open miracle of the Rebbe! The one and only explanation for the fact that Gerrer Chassidim stand in public places and give out Shabbos candles is because the Rebbe made it possible for religious women to do so without it adversely affecting their purity and “the dignity of the princess is within.” It goes counter to everything they stood for all the years! The same is true for the yeshiva bachurim who go out to different places – in the past, their roshei yeshiva were afraid that they would be corrupted. What changed? The Rebbe transformed the world into a place in which Judaism can easily be spread and this gives them the ability to join in. If we look at it from this perspective, today the Rebbe’s strength is ten times stronger than it was previously, because now, they too are doing the Rebbe’s work. What they know or don’t know does not change the reality that they are doing this work only with the Rebbe’s strength. It is one of the signs of Yemos HaMoshiach that the Rebbe was so successful in “forcing all Israel,” so that even former Misnagdim join the Rebbe’s work today to prepare the world for Moshiach. Obviously, we need to make sure that they do this properly, because sometimes they use methods that go completely counter to the Rebbe’s approach, but generally speaking, we should be glad about this. At the same time, there should be the kinas sofrim (jealousy that spurs one to greater spiritual achievement) which gets us to produce more, and we need to know that if we’ve reached the point where they can take action with the Rebbe’s kochos, than we certainly have greater kochos and we must use these kochos to expand our work, to double and triple its scope. So the situation is not so bad? Not at all. Askanim need to sit down and plan how to expand their work, but generally, each shliach today is an empire of mosdos and programs. Unfortunately, this heartwarming
THE REBBE HAS ACCOMPLISHED THAT NOT ONLY IN CHABAD IS MOSHIACH SPOKEN OF
When I visit Eretz Yisroel I hear that the work of other organizations competes with
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work doesn’t get mentioned enough in Chabad publications. Of course, Chabad is doing tremendous work; even in inyanei Moshiach alone, it is far greater than what is mentioned in Chabad publications. Again, I’m not saying this to placate anyone, but to put things into the proper perspective. Still, what would you recommend to add in light of the work that other groups are doing? We need to do that which they aren’t yet doing. They bring mitzvos, they connect Jews with Hashem We need to focus on connecting Jews with the Rebbe and chassidus. At the last Kinus HaShluchim he addressed, the Rebbe said that the avoda of shlichus has ended and the only remaining avoda is to prepare the world for Moshiach. The Rebbe said that mivtza Moshiach is the gateway to all the mivtzaim, and all the mivtzaim need to be permeated with Moshiach. Today, we see how other groups are doing the ten mivtzaim and we have to come and add the core of all the mivtzaim, which is Moshiach. Mivtza Moshiach doesn’t mean we need to neglect the other mivtzaim, G-d forbid. On the contrary, when everything is permeated with Moshiach we do more mivtza t’fillin, more mivtza chinuch, more mivtza Neshek. We see that those who are very active in Moshiach are the ones who are big activists in all the mivtzaim, because Moshiach adds a chayus to everything. So our cheshbon ha’nefesh doesn’t need to be about what they are doing, but about what we can add to what they are doing and are not doing enough. Lately, Moshiach has also become a topic of interest to
If it hurts it’s a good sign. We need to know that when we do the Rebbe’s inyanim there will be opposition.
other groups. Yes, that is very much the case. At every simcha they play songs of Moshiach and Geula. There is no Chassidic singer today (what they call “Chassidic”) who produces a CD without at least one song about Moshiach. Even on deeper levels, we see plenty of Torah literature on the topic of Geula. Sephardic and Litvish rabbanim say that we are on the eve of the Geula and we need to prepare for Moshiach’s coming. We see how the Rebbe is causing the dissemination of certain ideas in the world. Things that were out of the question years ago are considered quite acceptable in today’s Litvishe yeshiva world. The topic of Moshiach has become a hit among religious Jews. Naturally, we need to make a cheshbon ha’nefesh about where we fit into the picture. We need to come up with ideas of how to use the tremendous interest in Moshiach in order to connect people to the Rebbe.
IN ORDER TO EXPLAIN THAT THE REBBE IS MOSHIACH WE NEED TO QUOTE FROM HIS SICHOS
How can we explain to the man on the street that the Rebbe is the Moshiach we have all been waiting for? Some years ago I participated
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in a Yom Iyun organized by BarIlan University on the topic of Chabad’s belief that the Rebbe is Moshiach and is chai v’kayam. Distinguished professors explained Chabad’s approach to all aspects of life and to Moshiach, of course. I received an official invitation from the dean of the university to speak about this from the perspective of a Chabad Chassid. The point that was emphasized throughout the lecture was absolute obedience to what the Rebbe said. Everyone present knew the Rebbe as the greatest Jewish leader; even those who are not considered his Chassidim cannot dismiss what he has to say. They agreed that if the Rebbe said so, there is definitely reason to believe that the Rebbe is Moshiach. Their problem, they said, was that they don’t believe the Rebbe said so explicitly. This comes from ignorance in what the Rebbe said. I didn’t have to explain a lot; I just had to bring some quotes. In other words, my lecture wasn’t based on feelings but on dry (though powerful) quotes from the Rebbe (see full text of speech in Beis Moshiach English section issue #868). This is the best way to explain it. We must simply show what the Rebbe said about his being Moshiach and how we need to publicize to everyone that he is the Nasi Ha’dor and the Navi Ha’dor. According to the program schedule I had only half an hour to speak, but it was enough to quote the Rebbe and to show that according to the Rebbe the Geula process has begun and we’ve reached the point of no return. From the Rebbe’s teachings we see that not only has the time for the Geula come but also Moshiach, the man, has started his hisgalus. Once we know from the Rebbe’s teachings that he began to be revealed as Moshiach, starting with chezkas Moshiach until Moshiach vadai, then even what happened on 3 Tammuz does not shake our emuna. In light of what the Rebbe said, we believe that this is only a test which conceals the truth. But even for those who don’t accept that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam, it still does not contradict the belief that the Rebbe is Moshiach because there are dozens of places in authoritative early halachic sources that pasken that it is possible for Moshiach to disappear as part of the hisgalus process, and then return. There is no halachic principle that opposes belief in the Rebbe as Moshiach – why should we change the belief which, as I pointed out, is based on the Rebbe’s sichos? Obviously, everything has its limits. If someone decides that what you support bothers him, that is his problem and he has to learn to restrain himself. If you belong to Hatzalah and you rush to save someone and on the way someone else decides to get in your way, he can’t scream about how you ran into him, because he was the one who got in your way. We are “day workers” and we have to “spread the light” and not fight the darkness. We need to put aside all the negativity and focus on positive action. When each side focuses exclusively on positive things and doesn’t look for opportunities to attack, we will soon find ourselves wonderfully unified. It’s not beyond us. Some say, who needs this? Whatever I’ll do, there will be people who will say that I’m not doing the right thing. What is the answer to this? What is the right way to do things to avoid differences of opinion? The fact that a Chassid comes and asks the question shows that he’s in a good place. Like in the story of the Chassid who went to the Tzemach Tzedek and complained that he had doubts in emuna and the Rebbe asked him: What do you care? The Chassid couldn’t believe this question and exclaimed, “I’m a Jew!” If it hurts, that’s a good sign. We need to know that when we do the Rebbe’s inyanim there will be opposition. It was always that way and I suppose that is how it will continue to be until we have the complete Geula. You have to tell that Chassid to take the Rebbe’s sichos and he will see what he should be involved in. To Chassidim, it should be obvious that the most important thing is what the Rebbe said in the sichos. No consideration in
ACHDUS NOW – HOW?
Every year, when 3 Tammuz comes around, the need to strengthen our unity comes up again. What is the way to achieve this despite our different views? We need to accustom ourselves to emphasize the positive and not the negative. Whatever the topic, if we emphasize the positive, there is no reason for anyone to think we are talking against him, because we did not talk “against” but “for.” When you speak in favor of something that someone does not agree with, it doesn’t provoke him as it would if you spoke against something he considers vital. What if there are still people who are bothered when you talk in favor of certain topics?
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the world can set aside fulfilling a horaa from the Rebbe. Speaking of achdus, it is obviously impossible for a son not to listen to his father in order to be b’achdus with his brother. I hear people who acknowledge that according to the sichos certain things ought to be done but they say that for the sake of achdus we should forgo certain principles. There was a Jew who was mehader in mitzvos but did not do the mitzva of t’fillin. When they asked him why, he said my father a”h told me before he died to stay away from disputes and since the mitzva of t’fillin entails a dispute between Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam, I don’t get involved. There have been controversies about what to proclaim, with some maintaining that from the sicha of Beis Nissan 5748 we see the proclamation should be “ad masai.” Others say that what we see from the sicha is that we should be saying, “Yechi HA’MELECH.” To the first ones, who say the Rebbe wants us to say “ad masai,” I say, say “ad masai” because you agree with that! The same is true for other issues. Start with the things you agree with. You agree to the Besuras Ha’Geula? Spread the Besuras Ha’Geula! You agree to “ad masai?” So proclaim “ad masai!” Unfortunately, many of the objectors don’t even proclaim the messages they say they agree with. Not taking action at all is out of the question. If you can’t delve into the sichos, ask your mashpia and he will tell you what to do, but you certainly can’t sit with your hands folded. A fire is burning and we must extinguish it. If you are afraid that you will mistakenly pour kerosene on it instead of
out for publication, so of course it can and should be publicized. Still, it is not one of the things about which we received a direct order to publicize. When we first meet a Jew on the street who is wholly unfamiliar with anything on the subject of Moshiach, we first need to convey those things which the Rebbe said to publicize. If he is receptive to the idea of chai v’kayam, he can be told this too, but if not, you can certainly wait for a more opportune time.
“AD MASAI” LEADS TO “YECHI HA’MELECH”
water, then only take what you are sure is water, but you can’t stand off to the side. Generally speaking, and this is important to emphasize to everyone, there is an order to what we publicize. First and foremost, we publicize those things which the Rebbe said explicitly must be publicized to all. These include the Besuras Ha’Geula, the prophecy of Geula, and the identity of the Goel that is in countless places in the sichos and was underscored once the Rebbe encouraged the proclamation of “Yechi.” Then we need to publicize the Rebbe’s views on all timely topics which are explicit in his sichos. For example, the idea of chai v’kayam is explicitly in a sicha. The very fact that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam and histalkus is not a possibility is explicit in several sichos, especially the sicha of Shabbos Bo 5752 where it says that even the kind of histalkus which took place with the Rebbe Rayatz, in the sixth generation, will not happen in the seventh. This is explicit and it’s a sicha which the Rebbe edited and gave You mentioned before the debate about the sicha of 2 Nissan 5748. How do you explain the fact that most Chabad Chassidim say “Yechi HA’MELECH” or “Yechi Adoneinu” and not many say, “ad masai?” Notwithstanding the importance of “Yechi HA’MELECH,” you cannot deny the dozens of sichos in which the Rebbe spoke about the need to proclaim “ad masai!” In the sicha of 28 Nissan 5751, the Rebbe spoke sadly about the fact that dozens of Jews had gathered and did not cry out about Moshiach not having come. That means, at every opportunity we need to cry out and ask for Moshiach. Now, when you say, “ad masai,” what are you expressing? That you don’t want galus. When you proclaim “Yechi HA’MELECH,” what are you expressing? That you want Geula! Therefore, after the inyan of “Yechi HA’MELECH” was revealed, both in the Rebbe’s sichos of 2 Nissan 5748 and in other sichos in the winter of 5752, and after the Rebbe encouraged the proclaiming
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of “Yechi Adoneinu” for a year and a half, obviously, Chassidim focus on this proclamation. It expresses the desire to leave galus and the yearning for Geula. The proclamation of “Yechi” expresses the idea that you cannot tolerate galus and you can’t wait for the Geula. This is why, when someone proclaims “Yechi HA’MELECH,” he fulfills the Rebbe’s horaa about “ad masai.” There is the rule of “maaseh rav” as it relates to things that Chassidim do in front of the Rebbe; from the time they started proclaiming “Yechi Adoneinu” this was the main declaration and the one the Rebbe encouraged. By the way, as far as the content goes, to those who want to say both “ad masai” and “Yechi HA’MELECH,” it is more appropriate to say “ad masai” first and then “Yechi HA’MELECH,” because we first go out of galus and then enter Geula. realm of good.” When the Rebbe said that B’nei Yisroel already did t’shuva, many did not understand this. After all, we don’t see millions of baalei t’shuva. The Rebbe addressed this in one of his sichos and mentioned this HaYom Yom and said that since there is no Jew who has not groaned, everyone has done t’shuva, a lofty t’shuva! On 3 Tammuz 5754, whatever you want to say about it, there was a big groan on the part of Am Yisroel. Even those to whom the idea of chai v’kayam is a given, groaned. And this groan, which – by divine providence – was written in the HaYom Yom for 3 Tammuz, definitely brought us closer to “immediately they are redeemed.” There is no doubt that 3 Tammuz is a day when we need to strengthen our hiskashrus to the Rebbe, so that we don’t, G-d forbid, reach a state of slacking off. We need to do all we can not to weaken in the avoda the Rebbe gave us. We have to know that by the Rebbe there are only aliyos. It is not possible for 3 Tammuz to have been a retreat. On this day we passed another stage in the Geula process. At the same time, in order that the events of the day not weaken our emuna, on this day, more than other days, we need to strengthen our belief in what the Rebbe said and not allow any weakness to creep in to our belief in the Rebbe and what he said. Boruch Hashem, we see how since 3 Tammuz Lubavitch continues to grow. Hundreds of new shluchim have gone out; hundreds of new mosdos were opened, and thousands of baalei t’shuva have joined Lubavitch. By Anash we also see a certain awakening, whether it’s in learning inyanei Moshiach and Geula or Yemei Iyun or Shabbatons on the theme of Geula. The Chabad yeshiva world has doubled, hundreds of kovtzim were published, learning contests in yeshivos include thousands of bachurim who sit and study the Rebbe’s teachings about Geula. The real message of 3 Tammuz is that we need to know that we must withstand the test. There is the famous mashal about the father who hides from his son to test his love. What is the purpose of the test? The father wants to see that the son won’t stop waiting for him to come back. The father wants to see that the son doesn’t make peace with the situation and merely think nostalgically of days gone by. Rather, he won’t stop hoping and waiting for his return. What happened on 3 Tammuz is a test. There is no other explanation for a concealment like this. When we are in the “highest time,” as the Rebbe said, and the Geula process has already begun in the world, of all times, we have this concealment! It seems to be a test whose purpose is to see how much we truly believe and look forward to the complete hisgalus. At this time, let us review the Rebbe’s sicha about the meaning of the names of the children of Yosef, Menasheh and Efraim. Menasheh was for “Hashem made me forget,” and Efraim was for “Hashem made me fruitful.” With Menasheh we see Yosef’s anguish over his exile and distance from his father. The name Efraim shows that he understood that being in galus is for a purpose, namely all his work and efforts in Egypt; that is the proper approach that we need to adopt.
GIMMEL TAMMUZ – A DAY TO STRENGTHEN EMUNA
Let us go back to the topic with which we began this interview. What are the feelings that a Chassid has about Gimmel Tammuz? If I had to define the idea of 3 Tammuz in a few words, I would say: It is the day of the Rebbe and the Chassidim. In the HaYom Yom for 3 Tammuz, it says that the Rebbe Maharash said: “A Jewish groan which G-d forbid arises from physical misfortune is also a great t’shuva; how much more so then, is a groan arising from spiritual distress a lofty and effective t’shuva. The groan pulls him out of the depths of evil and places him on a firm footing in the
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MOSHIACH & GEULA
YAAKOV AVINU DID NOT DIE – HE LIVES FOREVER
Yaakov Avinu did not pass away; he faded, as one who went into a faint. * Source materials compiled by Rabbi Shloma Majeski. Translations are in bold. Underlining is the emphasis of the compiler.
Presented and translated by Boruch Merkur
Chapter Two of Likkutei Mekoros focuses on the concept of eternal life, beginning with a letter of the Rebbe on the eternal soul, an aspect of eternality that is universal to all Jews. Next, it was pointed out how specifically tzaddikim are said to be alive even posthumously. The Alter Rebbe in Tanya provides insight into the special status of tzaddikim, saying that they live on even in the physical realm, after their histalkus. The reason for their special status is their heightened spirituality, their life being spiritual life, not material life. The final section of Chapter 2 focuses on how certain individual tzaddikim are singled out for living on after their histalkus. This week we begin with the Gemara’s statement, “Yaakov Avinu los meis – Yaakov Avinu did not die.” Rav Nachman and Rav Yitzchok were dining together. Rav Nachman said to Rav Yitzchok: Master, speak some words of Torah. Rav Yitzchok answered: Thus said Rebbi Yochanan: One may not speak during a meal, lest it result in the danger of the windpipe
preceding the esophagus [causing choking]. Following the meal, Rav Yitzchok continued: Thus said Rebbi Yochanan: Yaakov Avinu did not die. (Rather, he lives forever ––Rashi.) Rav Nachman asked: Was it in vain then that they eulogized, embalmed, and buried him? (For indeed the Torah says about Yaakov that “they embalmed (him) and eulogized (him)” ––Rashi.) Rav Yitzchok replied: I derive this teaching from Scripture (and regarding the fact that “they embalmed” him – they were under the impression that he had died ––Rashi), as it is said, “‘Do not fear, My servant Yaakov,’ says G-d, ‘do not be frightened, Yisroel, for behold I am saving you from afar, and [redeeming] your descendants from the land of their captivity’”(Yirmiya 30:10). Here the Torah juxtaposes Yaakov to his descendants, teaching that just as his descendants are alive, so is he alive. (His descendants are alive: When G-d gathers the Jewish people “from the land
of their captivity,” He gathers the living, for it is they who are in captivity, whereas the dead are not said to be captives. So is he alive: For Yaakov will be brought to the Diaspora in order that his children will be redeemed before his eyes, as we find regarding [the exodus from] Egypt: “And Yisroel saw, etc.” The Sages teach that this verse refers to Yisroel Saba, Yisroel the Elder. And regarding the fact that “they embalmed” him – it appeared to them that he had died, but he was actually alive ––Rashi.) Anaf Yosef, a commentary in Ein Yaakov, writes at length on this passage, elucidating it in spiritual terms. “Yaakov Avinu did not die”: The following is the meaning of this statement. When he is called Yisroel, then his Ruach and Neshama gain a precious G-dly illumination, extremely exalted and elevated, far beyond what shone upon him prior to that. Death is the departure of the Nefesh from the body. Now, this great [revelation] that enhances his Nefesh, Ruach, and Neshama when he is called Yisroel is what was nistalek from him [upon his passing]. In this respect, the term “death” does apply, for this aspect died and departed from him entirely. In fact, every instance where it mentions death [in his regard], it is in reference to the name Yisroel: “And Yisroel said [upon seeing Yosef]: Now I may die”; “And
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Issue 883 • �
AT THE SIDE OF THE REBBE RASHAB
R’ Shneur Zalman Slonim, a Chabad rabbi in Chevron and Yaffo, brought the light of Chassidus to Eretz Yisroel. * He was called “my grandson” by the Rebbe Rashab in his letters to him. * About the life and activities of the Chassid who heard hours upon hours of maamarim in yechidus, to mark the day of his passing on 11 Tammuz.
By Dov Levanon
Shneur Zalman Slonim a”h was born in 5622/1862 in Chevron. His father was R’ Mordechai Dovber, who was the son of Rebbetzin Menucha Rochel (the daughter of the Mitteler Rebbe). Thus, R’ Slonim was the great-grandson of the Mitteler Rebbe. R’ S. Z. was a genius in Nigleh and Chassidus and was granted smicha by the great rabbis of Chevron, R’ Shimon Menasheh Chaikin and R’ Eliyahu Saliman Mani, after he returned from his visit to the Rebbe. He married Rebbetzin Mushka, the daughter of his uncle R’ Levi Yitzchok Slonim. One time, R’ S. Z. went to R’ Shimon Menasheh, whom the Tzemach Tzedek called a tzaddik, and asked him for a bracha. R’ Shimon Menasheh excused
himself, saying, “I need to bless you?!” But R’ S. Z. insisted. In the end, R’ Shimon Menasheh said, “By Jews it has to be kol mayanei boch, kol mayanei boch, kol mayanei boch (all my wellsprings [i.e. thoughts] are in you).” There is no doubt that this bracha was fulfilled in R’ S. Z., whose entire involvement and thoughts were in the holy Torah. In the winter of 5645/1885, the brothers R’ Yehuda and Leib and R’ Mordechai Dovber Slonim traveled to Lubavitch. R’ S. Z. joined his father and uncle on this trip. However, while his father and uncle returned to Chevron after Pesach, R’ S. Z. remained in Lubavitch for the summer as a yosheiv (lit. sitter, a term referring to a young married man sitting immersed in Torah study and prayer full time). The Rebbe Rashab drew him very close and learned Chassidus with him.
The relationship between the Rebbe and the rav from Eretz Yisroel was very close, for they were the same age. The Rebbe spoke to him for hours, which was unusual. At this time, the Rebbe refused to accept the leadership. He once said to R’ S. Z., “I inherited the truth from my father and I don’t want to lose it.”
ESCORTING THE REBBE TO YALTA
In the winter of 5646, 1885/6, the Rebbe Rashab went to Yalta for health reasons. The Rebbe took R’ Slonim with him. R’ Slonim, who went in order to receive the Rebbe’s guidance in Avodas Hashem, remained in Yalta until after Pesach. While in Yalta, R’ Slonim was the Rebbe Rayatz’s teacher. The Rebbe Rayatz described this trip in Likkutei Dibburim:
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“I remember when we were in Yalta. Like a living image passes before me, the vision of our life there is still so vivid – the tall mountains, my father, my mother the Rebbetzin, my melamed R’ Shneur Slonim and I, taking a walk (nearly every day) at one in the afternoon until seven and sometimes eight. “My father sitting and looking into a book he took with him, sitting and thinking, sitting and writing; R’ Shneur learning with me for about an hour and telling me to review what we learned and going to my father and both learning in that book, my father speaking and R’ Shneur listening, R’ Shneur asking and my father answering, my father explaining and R’ Shneur enjoying and his face shining. “My mother sitting at a distance and reading some
letter, a long letter, and on the ground near her a small briefcase with a bottle of milk and cake and occasionally giving me some and sending some with me to my father and R’ Shneur ...” On another occasion, the Rebbe Rayatz recounted: “My father was in Yalta for Yud-Tes Kislev 5646, along with R’ S. Z. Slonim of Chevron. The first night of Yud-Tes Kislev they learned together. There were hardly any Chassidim there, just some local B’nei Torah. They may have known about the holiday of Yud-Tes Kislev, but they had no connection with Chassidus. “What my father and R’ S. Z. learned then, I did not understand, but there were points that I also understood, relatively speaking ...” Once, when they were traveling by train, a telegram
arrived for the Rebbe. At first they worried about what this urgent telegram could be about, but when the Rebbe opened it he laughed. It was from a woman who was having a hard time in labor in Lubavitch. The Rebbe said to R’ S. Z., “You aren’t a Chassid. If you were a Chassid, you would write down the time we received the telegram.” Of course, R’ S. Z. quickly wrote down the time, and afterward when he returned to Lubavitch, he inquired as to which family it was and what time the baby had been born. Needless to say, it was precisely the time that the Rebbe had opened the telegram. Even before the trip, Rebbetzin Rivka went over to R’ S. Z. and warned him to take care and not let the Rebbe, her son, get tired and delve into Chassidus. R’ S. Z. faithfully
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stood guard, and each time he saw that the Rebbe was thinking deeply, he distracted him by telling him stories of Eretz Yisroel. One time, the Rebbe delved into something very deeply, so deeply that he did not realize the rav was telling him stories. The rav, devoted to his mission, stretched out his hand in front of the Rebbe and began scratching his armpit very hard. The Rebbe sensed this and asked him, “Why are you scratching like that?” The rav replied, “I want to scratch out (yid. ois kratzen, also used like the American idiom ‘to scrape up’) a nice story.” The Rebbe laughed when he heard this play on words. The Rebbe also set a condition with him – the Rebbe demanded that on this trip, he not treat him with any particular display of respect, but act as though they were both equals. One time, R’ S. Z. was sitting on a bench and the Rebbe arrived. R’ S. Z. immediately stood up and the Rebbe was annoyed and said, “I told you not to give me honor.” The Rebbe would walk with the rav for six hours every day in the Crimean Mountains. As they strolled, the Rebbe would give explanations on Shaar Ha’Yichud V’Ha’Emuna. One time, R’ S. Z. complained that he had no chavrusa with whom to review what he heard. The Rebbe told him that there is a maamer from the Alter Rebbe in which he says, “Make the quill and ink your friends.” Consequently, R’ S. Z. began writing down everything he heard from the Rebbe, and every day he would show what he wrote to the Rebbe. The Rebbe would correct a number of things. On the trip back to Lubavitch, as they drank tea, the Rebbe wanted to see everything he had written. The Rebbe examined it a bit and then threw it all into the oven. R’ S. Z. was so upset that he had not made another copy. The Rebbe saw how upset he was and said, “You have enough from what you heard and if you have any questions, ask me and I’ll answer you.” One maamer of R’ SZ’s notes remains, on the words “V’Chol Ha’Am 5647,” which apparently was looked over by the Rebbe Rashab. case. The Rebbe told the fatherin-law to calculate the son-inlaw’s needs, and not in a stingy way, and based on that he would know how much to take from the general distribution. After he returned to Eretz Yisroel, an exchange of letters began between him and the Rebbe Rashab. In the Rebbe Rashab’s Igros Kodesh there are dozens of letters addressed to him in which he responds to his questions in Chassidus and Avodas Hashem. One of the famous letters is one in which the Rebbe explains the advantage of contemplating Chassidus while wearing tallis and t’fillin. R’ Slonim showed the letter to his acquaintances, but in Lubavitch they didn’t know of its existence until 5651/1891, when R’ Mordechai Dovber took a copy of the letter with him and showed it to three great Chassidim: R’ Chanoch Hendel Kurenitzer, R’ Shmuel Boruch of Warsaw, and R’ Meir Mordechai of Borisov. They publicized the letter among the Chassidim without the Rebbe’s knowledge. Before he left, the Rebbe told him to search in Eretz Yisroel for the descendants of R’ Yisroel Yaffe of Kopust, and to find out from them if they had letters from the Rebbeim. R’ S. Z. located the descendants and did indeed find a veritable treasure, the kuntres Pirush HaMilos of the Mitteler Rebbe. Another maamer he discovered was part of Imrei Bina Shaar HaT’fillin, which hadn’t been published yet. Over the years, he sent many other manuscripts to the Rebbe. His devotion to this cause was so great that the Rebbe had to send him a letter instructing him not to overspend on manuscripts and not to buy them at a price that was more than they were worth.
IN ERETZ YISROEL
Before R’ S. Z. returned to Chevron, the Rebbe wrote to his father-in-law and uncle, R’ L. Y. Slonim, in praise of him, and offered to support R’ S. Z. at his table so that he could continue learning Chassidus. For then he would not “have to be concerned about material things in actuality, especially when he has no idea of how to support himself, whether in a spiritual venture or a material venture, and this causes further distraction in greater measure and with greater force, and then he will be unable to concern himself with the life of the soul at all, and in this way they will destroy with their very hands etc., G-d forbid.” The Rebbe was aware of the fact that R’ L. Y. had just lost money in a tobacco business, and yet still wanted to support his son-in-law, even though as he wrote to the Rebbe, “I thought a lot about improving his situation, and still haven’t found any good idea for him so that he can sit in his home in Eretz Yisroel in peace and study Torah.” The Rebbe wrote that he would also try to get help for him. The Rebbe did so, in the years that followed. He collected and sent him 100 rubles a year, aside from the help that he sent for the family in any
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In 5649/1889, R’ S. Z. was one of three menahalim who started Yeshivas Magen Avos in Chevron together with his childhood friends, R’ Eliezerov and R’ Mendel Na’eh. Together with them he bought the property and was responsible for paying the salaries of the teachers. In the years that followed, the Rebbe told his father to get involved in the esrog business and to send the esrogim to Europe, in order to prevent the proliferation of esrogim from Corfu which were suspected of being grafted. R’ S. Z. helped his father with this, which enabled the Jews of Russia to have kosher esrogim. *** R’ S. Z. experienced many tragedies. Out of the 27 children born to him from his two wives, only seven survived. When the Rebbe’s mother heard of one of the tragic losses of a child, she immediately said it was not due to sickness and included an old segula from the Alter Rebbe in her son’s letter. In 5653/1893, his first wife Mushka died in her youth. Aside from this, R’ S. Z. was sick and weak and the Rebbe often asked how he was and was concerned about his health. In 5660/1900, the gaon R’ Shneur Zalman of Lublin told him to liquidate his properties in Chevron and to accept the rabbanus in Yaffo. After receiving the approval of the Rebbe Rashab, he took the position and served as the rav of the community in Yaffo for 37 years until he died. Upon his arrival in Yaffo, a beautiful welcome was prepared, which was attended by rabbanim, public figures, and the Chassidim of Yaffo. On the following Shabbos, the
The Slonim family of Chevron
Of course, R’ S. Z. quickly wrote down the time, and afterward when he returned to Lubavitch he inquired as to which family it was and what time the baby had been born. Needless to say, it was precisely the time that the Rebbe had opened the telegram.
a shul for Chabad Chassidim in Neve Sholom. He would review Chassidus every Shabbos for the Lubavitcher Chassidim. He was a member of the chief rabbinate of Tel Aviv until his last day. He served in the Yaffo-Tel Aviv rabbinate for 37 years. He was an excellent orator. He would beautifully express original ideas. He judged disputants as a rav or as a voluntarily selected adjutant, and was gifted with the ability to immediately discern truth from falsehood. He had a quick grasp. He would solve complicated matters with his sharp intellect. In particular, he had a keen grasp of business matters and the ways of the world. He hated injustice and he absolutely did not allow the sides
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heads of organizations and the distinguished men of Yaffo gathered and they celebrated with the new rav for many hours. Unlike the celebrants, there were those who disapproved of this appointment, but the heads of the Chabad settlement in Yaffo supported him and had letters of support published in the newspapers. He also had letters of support from the Rebbe. R’ S. Z. Slonim did not delay, but as soon as he arrived in the city, he began his holy work. His first effort was to build a mikva for women in the Neve Sholom neighborhood, because until then the mikva was far from the Jewish settlement in the old city of Yaffo, and was deep in the earth which made it dangerous. He organized the Chassidishe sh’chita and built
The difficult economic state in Yaffo was a factor in his considerations, but the Rebbe told him, “How can you leave Yaffo when so much work and effort went into it until it reached its present state?”
to use delaying tactics. He liked being mesader kiddushin; he did not want to arrange divorces and tried to make peace between quarreling couples instead, and he was mostly successful. He was never involved in arranging a divorce. When R’ Shlomo Zalman Havlin, the Rebbe Rashab’s shliach to Eretz Yisroel, arrived, R’ S. Z. planned on leading a delegation to welcome him at the port in Yaffo. However, the night before, he came down with a high fever and was unable to leave the house. He asked the members of the delegation to stop by at his house and he made a great effort to sit and speak with them for a few hours. He lived and worked in Yaffo and his net was spread as far as Chevron. In 5665/1905, a Jew by the name of Romano wanted to sell his property in Chevron to Arabs. R’ Slonim was one of those who fought this and was able to buy the courtyard in it, which is where the yeshiva was located a few years later. When Yeshivas Toras Emes was founded in Chevron in 5672, the opportunity arose for R’ Slonim to move to Chevron to help the new yeshiva. The difficult economic state in Yaffo was a factor in his considerations, but the Rebbe told him, “How can you leave Yaffo when so much work and effort went into it until it reached its present state?” R’ S. Z. Slonim passed away on 11 Tammuz 5696/1936. Hundreds of Jews attended his funeral and he was eulogized by the rabbanim of Tel Aviv.
His first wife, Mushka, daughter of Levi Yitzchok Slonim, was born in Chevron in Yochanan’s statement, “Yaakov Avinu did not die,” is precise, for it refers to the aspect of Yaakov at the time when he was “Avinu – our Father,” siring his children, which took place prior to his being called Yisroel. Indeed, all of that lifeforce [associated with Yaakov] remained embedded within his flesh. Other tzaddikim, to be sure, are called “those who rest in the dust,” [resting but] not actually dead. Indeed, “Rabbeinu HaKadosh […] would make Kiddush [posthumously] in his home every Shabbos night,
5622. She died in her 31st year in Yaffo on 16 Nissan 5653 and was buried in Yerushalayim. Only two of her twelve children remained alive – Yaakov Yosef and Menachem Mendel Shmuel. His second wife, Chana Mina, daughter of Shneur Shlomo Zalman Slonim was born in Chevron in 5636. She was an eishes chayil and G-d fearing, possessed of many qualities and devoted to the needs of the poor. Her home was open to all who were in dire circumstances. She gave birth to fifteen children, out of whom five survived. She suffered greatly during the expulsion from Yaffo during World War I, when her husband was abroad, because he had left before the war and could not return to Eretz Yisroel during the war. She was cut off from her entire family along with her small children. A few days before they were liberated from the Turks, she became sick with pneumonia. She died on 26 Tishrei 5679. Her surviving children were Refael Yehuda Leib, Esther Malka, Menucha, Levi Yitzchok and Sima.
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Yisroel said to Yosef: Behold I am dying”; “And Yisroel’s days approached death.” Yaakov, however, maintained his original status. He was not nistalek, he did not pass away; he faded, as one who went into a faint, whose powers of Nefesh, Ruach, and Neshama still cleave to him. Thus, with respect to Yaakov it only says that “he faded and was gathered,” whereas it says of Yitzchok that “he faded and died and was gathered, etc.” To that extent, Rebbi
Rebbi Elazar bar Shimon judged the Jewish people for twenty-two years from his room after his histalkus, and Rebbi Achai bar Yoshiya spoke with Rav Nachman from his grave. These tzaddikim, however, only had some life-force from their Nefesh, but not from their Ruach or Neshama. Those dimensions of the soul departed from them [when they passed on]. Yaakov, however, was different, for all of these dimensions of his soul remained in him, as discussed above. (Alshich on Parshas VaYechi)
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MOSHIACH & GEULA
Are Lefties Disabled?
Will Kohanim who are lefties serve in the Beis HaMikdash in the times of Moshiach? Will lefties become righties when Moshiach comes? The answer depends on whether being a lefty is a medical condition…
By Rabbi Gershon Avtzon
t is a distinct privilege and honor to serve in the Beis HaMikdash. While most Kohanim did active work in the Beis HaMikdash, there was a group of Kohanim that were not permitted to serve. These were the Kohanim that had a mum (physical blemish) on their body. They were delegated to do other jobs in the Beis HaMikdash, like checking the firewood used atop the altar for worms.
Beis HaMikdash. The Halachic difference between the two rationales is as follows: In the times of Moshiach all blemishes will be cured. Thus, if we hold that being a lefty is a blemish, then a left-handed Kohen will be “cured” and become fit to serve in the Beis HaMikdash. However, if it is not a blemish and it is an intrinsic disqualification, then they still may be prohibited from serving in the Beis HaMikdash in the times of Moshiach. Let us finish with the words of the Rebbe (B’Haalos’cha 5751): “All this receives greater emphasis in recent generations, described as, “in the heels of,” and as, “the heels of the heels of Moshiach,” particularly in this generation, the last generation of exile... Only the heel of the foot, i.e., the absolute last generation has the ability to “rise on its own” and elevate all previous generations, because the last generation of exile will be the
first generation of Redemption - the Redemption for all Jews throughout all generations! “In particular, the shepherd Aharon HaKohen of our generation - my sainted fatherin-law, the Rebbe, the leader of our generation... has emphasized this through his “invocation” of “Immediate T’shuva, immediate Redemption,” and the announcement that we only have to “polish the buttons,” and afterwards - the declaration that this too has already ended, and it only requires us to “stand prepared all of you” to greet our righteous Moshiach in the true and complete Redemption.” Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www. ylcrecording.com.
There was another group of Kohanim that were not considered fit to serve: Those that were left-handed. (See Rambam Hilchos Bias HaMikdash 8:11). There is an argument among the commentaries as to why a left-handed person is prohibited to serve: One opinion holds that being left-handed is a physical blemish. The other commentators hold that it is not a blemish but rather it is a “Gzeiras Ha’kasuv - divine decree” that left-handed people should not serve in the
Issue 883 • �
THE THIRD INTIFADA HAS ALREADY BEGUN
Arabs understand nothing short of real strength. They never heard of restraint as a form of strength. In their eyes, restraint is an expression of weakness that invites terror, time and time again.
By Sholom Ber Crombie Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
undreds of terrorists who were released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap are now fomenting violence all over Yehuda and Shomron. These are the ones standing behind the growing wave of terrorism on highways throughout the region which threaten the lives of innocent Jewish residents. These acts of incitement also served as a background to the murder of Aviatar Borovsky, may G-d avenge his blood, a married father of five, killed last month at Tapuach Junction in the Shomron. The murderer didn’t just get his idea to kill out of nowhere. It is a direct result of the rising level of terrorism – and of course, the silence of the Israel Defense Forces. In practical terms, we are
now several months into a most dangerous period for the residents of Yehuda and Shomron. We can safely say that the third intifada has not only begun in earnest, it is at its highpoint. The rocks that struck the head of two-year old Adele Bitton, may G-d give her a complete and speedy recovery, represent merely one incident in the wave of terrorism experienced daily on roads in Yesha. Yet, such occurrences receive virtually no coverage in the national or world media. On the one hand, these are acts of violence of the highest order. The throwing of rocks and cinder blocks on cars racing along the highway is terrorism in every sense of the word. However, the same state-run media that
defines any graffiti sprayed on a car in an Arab village as terrorism categorically refuses to show any indignation towards the real terrorism rampaging just fifteen minutes away from the outskirts of Tel Aviv. Rocks thrown, Molotov cocktails exploding, whole families attacked by Arab rioters, and yet the media ignores all such reports. As long as there are (thank G-d) no casualties, they remain quiet. On the other hand, even the settlers prefer not to fan the flames of national outrage at this time. They remember quite well how people viewed the Shomron during the fiery days of the last Arab uprising, when reports on terrorism along the highways were publicized daily, frightening Israelis into avoiding the region.
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As a result, the Shomron was labeled with a negative stereotype, causing many Jews to keep their distance. Therefore, the settlers now understand that headlines on rock throwing along the settlement roads will merely be detrimental to their cause. In recent years millions of shekels have been invested into altering the Shomron’s image. The “Shomron – Nice to Know” projects, bringing tens of thousands of visitors to the region, have succeeded in changing the public’s perception and have given the Shomron an aura of peaceful development and openness. The last thing these regional leaders need right now is a media blitz designed to brand the Shomron as an Israeli version of the Wild West. Hundreds of thousands of Jews live in this delicate tinderbox of a reality. They are the ones who travel along these highways each day, dealing with the growing terrorist menace. From their vantage point, every incident of violence should be reported to the proper authorities. However, they won’t make demonstrations in front of the prime minister’s
The same state-run media that defines any graffiti sprayed on a car in an Arab village as terrorism categorically refuses to show any indignation towards the real terrorism rampaging just fifteen minutes away from the outskirts of Tel Aviv. Rocks thrown, Molotov cocktails exploding, whole families attacked by Arab rioters, and yet the media ignores all such reports.
office because the Shomron regional council and other settlement leaders strategically choose to conceal what’s really going on in order not to spoil their new image. The harsh reality is that new terror cells continue to sprout. These are not just random rock throwers; these are hardened Islamic extremists who have never abandoned the tools of war. They spent a few years in Israeli jails for murdering innocent Jews, enjoying comfortable accommodations, as they studied for their college degrees at the expense of the Palestinian Authority. Now that their vacation is over they are eager to resume their terrorist
activities with even greater enthusiasm than before. Why greater? Because they see that the government of Israel will always find some convenient excuse to release them. The simple thing to do would have been to pass legislation mandating capital punishment for any violent death caused in a terrorist attack against the Jewish residents of Eretz Yisroel, e.g., those who slaughtered the Fogel family Hy”d in Itamar two years ago. They shouldn’t even be alive now, and surely not with the adequate conditions of Israeli jails, together with their fellow perpetrators of other terrorist attacks against Jews.
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A TRADITION OF WARFARE
The settlement leaders place their trust in the Israel Defense Forces, waiting for their commanders in the field to come to their senses and put an end to this deteriorating security situation. However, the IDF doesn’t wake up. Someone is sleeping on guard duty. The person primarily responsible for this chaos is IDF Central Command chief Gen. Nitzan Alon. He is a very controversial military commander, known for his hostility towards the settler population. Just last year he was appointed to his current position by the previous minister of defense, Ehud Barak, who decided that he would show the settlers who’s boss. This highlycharged political decision is costing us dearly today. Instead of toughening up the guidelines, defining rock throwing as an act of terror no less than shooting at a car, Nitzan Alon shows restraint. Such restraint brought us the second intifada during the premiership of Ariel Sharon, who made the distorted comparison that restraint is strength. Then as today, the Arabs understand nothing short of real strength. They never heard of restraint as a form of strength. In their eyes, restraint is still an expression of terrible weakness that invites terror, time and time again. On countless occasions the Rebbe cited Shulchan Aruch, Sec. 329, regarding the halachic obligation to take forceful action against terrorists without compromise or capitulation. Today things appear clearer than ever before. In one corner there are the supporters of further withdrawals, refusing to
abandon the creed of the New Middle East, despite the fact that it has repeatedly blown up in their faces. On the opposing side we have the clear-thinking defense experts who understand the reality better than anyone. When we see the situation with our own eyes, there’s only one way to read the map: “Gentiles who besiege Jewish cities… go out against them armed with weapons of war.” There can be no containment or compromise of any kind, as this would allow the level of terrorism to increase manifold, endangering the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
NO CROSSING THE LINE
In the meantime, the Shomron regional council has initiated a new campaign against companies unwilling to provide services beyond the Green Line. It seems that many businesses in the Israeli economy have adopted this approach. They relate to all communities in Yehuda and Shomron as outside the boundaries of Eretz Yisroel. Therefore, they feel no obligation to serve them. The residents of Yehuda and Shomron are quite familiar with this phenomenon. After buying a certain product from a company via one of its store branches or the Internet, they discover that the company provides excellent customer and delivery services – but not beyond the Green Line. At this point, matters become rather complex. The company requests an alternative address, an alternative delivery service imposing additional charges, or some other insincere solutions that turn the settlers into secondrate customers. Some time ago the Shomron
regional council decided to put an end to the discrimination against its population. They recently took a number of steps to deal with those who treated Yehuda and Shomron like penal colonies. For example, they just filed several lawsuits against journalists who attacked the local settlers in the press. Each of these journalists was given the opportunity to apologize over the airwaves to the offended people of Yehuda and Shomron. If they didn’t choose this option, they would be compelled to face a libel suit in open court. Most of them agreed to issue a public apology, while a few stubborn souls were dragged before a judge, forced for the first time in their journalistic careers to deal with settlers unwilling to accept second--rate status any longer. They are citizens of the Land of Israel, equal to all others, and they would not tolerate further harm to their reputation. Similar measures were taken against companies that refused to cross the Green Line. As part of their campaign to offset this tactic, a special complaint center was established to coordinate all claims against such companies. Any local resident who encountered a company that refused to give him services was asked to report the incident to the center, which would then confront the various companies with the complaints. The companies would be given the option of correcting the matter by starting to cross the Elkana checkpoint and provide services to another satisfied customer. If they refused this option, they would be left with no choice except to face litigation, as Israeli law forbids discrimination in providing services to customers.
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