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BETWEEN LUBAVITCH AND YERUSHALAYIM
Shneur Zalman Berger
THE 12 CELEBRATING CHAG HA’GEULA IN PRISON
THE 16 CONTINUING LEGACY OF HIS GREAT FATHER
4 D’var Malchus 21 Parsha Thought 34 Stories 36 Profile 39 Moshiach & Geula 40 Shleimus HaAretz
EVERY JEW WANTS MOSHIACH NOW!
Rabbi Yaakov Shmuelevitz
YOURSELF 28 RECHARGE Rabbi Yaakov Goldberg “RELEASING 40 TERRORISTS BRINGS MORE TERROR”
Sholom Ber Crombie
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YAAKOV’S BODY DID NOT DIE
“Regarding the fact that “they embalmed” him – (this is because) it appeared to them that he had died, but he was actually alive.” That is to say that even his body did not die. * Source materials compiled by Rabbi Shloma Majeski. Translations are in bold. Underlining is the emphasis of the compiler.
Translated and presented by Boruch Merkur
On a similar basis, the Riff on Ein Yaakov comments on Rebbi Yochanan’s statement, “Yaakov Avinu did not die,” explaining how the spirit of Yaakov Avinu did not fully depart from his body: “Thus said Rebbi Yochanan: Yaakov Avinu did not die.” Regarding Yaakov the Torah does not employ the term “death” – “and he faded and died” – as stated with regard to Avrohom and Yitzchok. Rather, it says, “he faded and was gathered,” meaning that the life-force of Yaakov’s Nefesh remained in his body; his Nefesh did not separate from his body [as is the case with the passing of other people]. Although Yaakov said, “I am dying and the L-rd shall surely visit, etc.” – he said this without knowing what will be [i.e., he did not know
that he would live on after his histalkus]. He thought, rather, that he would die and his Nefesh would separate from his body as with everyone else. Thus, Rav Nachman was perplexed: “Was it in vain then that they…embalmed him?” Since his Nefesh continued to cleave to his body, there was no concern of decomposition or infestation of worms in the body, for the Nefesh would guard him, just as the Nefesh of a living person guards his flesh and preserves it from rotting. Similarly with regard to Rav Nachman’s questioning why Yaakov was eulogized and buried: The main reason for burial is in order to facilitate the deterioration of the flesh. But since Yaakov’s Nefesh remained cleaving to his body, it would not decompose. “Rav Yitzchok replied:
I derive this teaching from Scripture … ‘behold I am saving you from afar.’” That is, were it not for this Scriptural proof linking Yaakov to his descendants [teaching that “just as his descendants are alive, so is he alive”], one would make the following supposition: Yaakov did in fact die. And the verse, “behold I am saving you from afar,” means that when the Jewish people suffer, the Avos suffer [with them] in the grave, but at the time of their redemption, Yaakov will be elated, rejoicing in [their] salvation. The Scriptural connection between Yaakov and his descendants, however, teaches that “he too is alive,” for throughout this entire period, Yaakov’s Nefesh remains bound to his body. [The latter distinction goes well with the Rashi cited above: “‘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 reason why Yaakov was buried and eulogized is because he had lost the power of movement. Thus it states,
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“and he drew his legs up to the bed and faded,” as a person who faints and is immobile, like a rock that lies inert. However, they did not know that his Nefesh remained within him. Thus, they [erroneously] embalmed, eulogized, and buried him. Nevertheless, it is said of the time of the redemption, ‘behold I am saving you [Yaakov] from afar,’” at the end of days. That is, your salvation [Yaakov] is destined [to coincide] with the redemption of your children, for indeed, you live on in Nefesh: “just as his descendants are alive, so is he alive.”
THE REBBE’S TAKE ON “YAAKOV AVINU DID NOT DIE”
The Rebbe speaks about this Gemara in the first sicha of Likkutei Sichos Vol. 26 (pg. 7-8): The Gemara’s question, “Was it in vain then that they eulogized, embalmed, and buried him?” is answered with the statement, “just as his descendants are alive, so is he alive.” But it is difficult to understand how this answers the question. There are commentaries that explain that the answer is intended to clarify that the statement “Yaakov Avinu did not die” does not refer to his physical life*; his physical life was indeed subject to death. Rather, “certainly this refers to his Nefesh [i.e., his soul lives on after death, but his body had
died].” According to this approach, however [saying that his soul lives on after death], the answer is still not understood: What is special about Yaakov that “[his soul] did not die” is stated specifically about him? The Nefesh of every tzaddik is eternal! Certainly then, the innovation in saying “Yaakov Avinu did not die” is with regard to his physical life, something that is not said of other tzaddikim. Since Yaakov is identified with the attribute of truth – as stated in the verse, “grant truth to Yaakov” (Mika, end) – it is, therefore, obligatory to say that Yaakov’s life is eternal in all respects [for truth is immutable and eternal], even in the physical realm. Thus the Gemara asks, “Was it in vain then that they eulogized, embalmed, and buried him?” That is, how can we say that “he did not die” physically when they embalmed Yaakov’s body? The Gemara answers, “just as his descendants are alive, so is he alive”: Since “his descendants are alive” (the survival and existence of the Jewish people is something that is eternal; there can be no interruption, G-d forbid, in their perpetuity; the children of Yaakov cannot be annihilated, G-d forbid**), therefore, “so is he alive,” because the “life” of his “descendants” is not something different than Yaakov’s life.
(Rather, Yaakov’s life (and soul) is manifest (and invested within) “his descendants.”) In fact, the reason why “his descendants are alive” (in an everlasting way) is because “he is alive.” On account of the [eternal] life of Yaakov, the attribute of truth, there can be no interruption in the “life” of the Jewish people. It comes out that Yaakov’s life is something that is everlasting even in the physical world. *Footnote 66: However, in the commentary of Rashi (Taanis, ibid), “regarding the fact that “they embalmed” him – (this is because) it appeared to them that he had died, but he was actually alive.” That is to say that even his body did not die. (So it is inferred from Tosafos ibid. See also Iyun Yaakov, HaRif, Eitz Yosef, among other commentaries in Ein Yaakov there. See also Maharsha’s Chiddushei Agados ibid, as well as Likkutei Sichos Vol. 4 pg. 1260 ff.) This is elucidated in the sicha of Chaf Menachem-Av 5731. **Footnote 71: See Bava Basra (115b, beg.): “It is taught that a shevet cannot be annihilated.” Rashbam comments: “A proof for this is the verse in Malachi (3:6), “For I am G-d, I have not changed, and you are the children of Yaakov, you have not reached the end [or in this context, “you shall not be annihilated”].”
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Issue 884 • �
BETWEEN LUBAVITCH AND YERUSHALAYIM
About the relationship between the Rebbe Rayatz and Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, despite the physical distance between them and the difference in their ideologies and approach. Letters on communal matters were sent from Lubavitch to Yerushalayim and from Yerushalayim to Lubavitch. The Rebbe then met R’ Sonnenfeld in person when he visited Eretz Yisroel in 5689. * Presented for 12-13 Tammuz.
By Shneur Zalman Berger
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ery little has been written about the relationship between the Gaon Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld and the Rebbe Rayatz. This was an unusual relationship between great spiritual leaders who were both physically and ideologically distant from one another. And yet, they had a warm, strong relationship. As a researcher, the first questions that come to mind are: Who initiated the relationship? What did they talk about when the Rebbe visited Eretz Yisroel? Which Chabad rabbanim were in touch with R’ Sonnenfeld who served as the rav of Yerushalayim and the Gaon Av Beis Din of the Eidah HaChareidis?
THE GAON AV BEIS DIN
The Gaon Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld was born in 5609/1849 in Slovakia. In his youth, he was educated by outstanding rabbanim including the K’sav Sofer, the son of the Chasam Sofer. He moved to Eretz Yisroel in 5633/1873 and settled in Yerushalayim where he became close with the Gaon Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Leib Diskin, and his son, Rabbi Yitzchok Yeruchem Diskin. He acquired a reputation as a talmid chacham, gaon (genius) and pikeiach (clever person), and was one of the distinguished rabbanim of the Old Yishuv in Yerushalayim. In 5679/1919, R’ Avrohom Yitzchok Kook was appointed the rav of Yerushalayim. The religious groups were afraid that the Zionists were trying to control religious life in Eretz Yisroel by establishing a chief rabbinate and appointing rabbanim to their liking. As a result, the Vaad Ha’ir HaAshkenazi was founded in 5680/1920, which later became known as the Eidah
HaChareidis. R’ Sonnenfeld was appointed to serve as the Gaon Av Beis Din of Yerushalayim, i.e. the head of the beis din of the Eidah HaChareidis. At the same time, R’ Kook was appointed as the chief rabbi of the entire Eretz Yisroel, despite strong opposition from the religious public led by R’ Sonnenfeld. Once R’ Sonnenfeld was chosen as the Gaon Av Beis Din, he was considered the leader of religious Jewry in Yerushalayim and throughout Eretz Yisroel. He served in this position until his passing in 1932. It was during his reign as Gaon Av Beis Din that he was in touch with the Rebbe Rayatz. How did he connect with Chabad and the Rebbe? Probably thanks to the outstanding Chabad rabbanim who lived in Yerushalayim and were regularly in touch with R’ Sonnenfeld, like the brothers-in-law, R’ Shlomo Yehuda Leib Eliezerov and R’ Mendel Na’ah. Both were heads of Kollel Chabad, the central Chabad organization in Eretz Yisroel at that time. In later years, after he was appointed Gaon Av Beis Din, R’ Chaim Na’ah was also in touch with him. Some of these same Chabad rabbanim escorted the Rebbe Rayatz on his historic meeting with R’ Sonnenfeld.
1921. Distinguished rabbanim in Yerushalayim signed the letter of coronation appointing R’ Sonnenfeld as Gaon Av Beis Din of Yerushalayim. Among the signatories were R’ Moshe Horenstein and R’ Yosef Levi Chagiz, representatives of Kollel Chabad. Apparently, in the summer of 1921, in the period following his appointment as Gaon Av Beis Din, R’ Sonnenfeld wrote to the Rebbe Rayatz for the first time. What motivated him to write a letter from Yerushalayim to Rostov in communist Russia? It is not known, nor do we know the content of the letter. What we do know is the Rebbe’s response to him in a letter dated 11 Tammuz 5681, in which he writes that Kollel Chabad conducts itself as it always had, “under the supervision and influence of R’ MM Na’ah, as per his instructions and that of the Chief Rabbi R’ YC Sonnenfeld.”
R’ SONNENFELD DECLARES A DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE REBBE
When news of the Rebbe Rayatz’s arrest reached Eretz Yisroel in Sivan 5627, R’ Sonnenfeld was greatly saddened. He saw the arrest as something that threatened the entire future of the Jewish people in Soviet Russia. Due to the gravity of the situation, the beis din issued a call to increase prayer in all the shuls and to proclaim 6 Tammuz as a general day of prayer at the Western Wall. Indeed, a large crowd gathered on that day to offer up heartrending prayers for the release of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. For the first Chag Ha’Geula, on 12 Tammuz 5688/1928, rabbanim and public figures put
THE CONNECTION WITH KOLLEL CHABAD
Iyar 5680/1920. R’ Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld was appointed Gaon Av Beis Din Yerushalayim. This was a drastic step and counterbalance to the steps the Zionists had taken, including the appointment of R’ Kook as the Ashkenazi Rabbi of Jerusalem, and soon after, as first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Palestine in
Issue 884 • �
campaign entailed enlisting the support of Jewish leaders in providing matza to Soviet Jews. R’ Sonnenfeld was marking his eightieth birthday and the Rebbe sent him a letter of congratulations. The Rebbe used this letter to also ask for his help in providing matza for the Jews of the Soviet Union, describing the situation as terrible, appalling, and shocking. The Rebbe’s son-in-law, R’ Shmaryahu Gurary (Rashag), who was one of the main activists in the matza campaign, sent another letter to R’ Sonnenfeld a few days later, which included specific requests as far as his participation and support. He included a Kol Korei that had been signed by the Rebbe Rayatz, the Chafetz Chaim, and R’ Ozer Grodzensky. Rashag asked R’ Sonnenfeld to issue a similar proclamation and to urge the Jews of Slovakia and Hungary in particular (those countries where R’ Sonnenfeld had lived before he moved to Eretz Yisroel) to help. R’ Sonnenfeld acceded to this request and signed a proclamation. Mivtza Matza 5689 was very successful. 28 train compartments filled with thousands of packages of matza were sent to the Soviet Union, where they were distributed by rabbanim and heads of communities. When the campaign was over, Rashag sent R’ Sonnenfeld a detailed report about it.
REVIVING THE AVROHOM AVINU SHUL
During the period preceding World War I, the Rebbe Rashab instructed to begin holding prayer services again in the Avrohom Avinu Shul on the Mitteler Rebbe’s estate in Chevron. However, during the war, many Chabad Chassidim were expelled to Egypt because they were Russian citizens. Some of them did not return afterward to Chevron, but settled in Yerushalayim. The Chabad community in Chevron dwindled and the minyan at the Avrohom Avinu shul ceased. The shul was abandoned. The one who tried to revive it was R’ Chaim Fuchs, who worked tirelessly to help reinstate the Chabad minyan in the shul. R’ Sonnenfeld joined his name and signature to this cause. out announcements and letters of brachos and good wishes for the Rebbe Rayatz. R’ Sonnenfeld also publicized a letter which was put into Kol Yisroel of Agudath Israel: I also join the rabbanim, gaonim, and tzaddikim in every location that established the day of 12 Tammuz, the anniversary of the release of the gaon and holy and famous Admur R’ Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn of Lubavitch, last year in Soviet Russia, in his heroic defense of all sacred aspects of our religion, who with literal self-sacrifice endangered his pure soul for the holiness of our holy Torah and for all the Jewish people. We give thanks to the good G-d for His many kindnesses and great mercy that He did with the holy tzaddik of Lubavitch, in rescuing him from the clutches of the cruel hands that desire to swallow up all that is holy. On this day shall it be recalled upon the hearts of all our dear brethren, loyal believers of Yisroel, to arouse with holy inspiration, to strengthen and support the institutions of Torah and pure Judaism. . . . One who writes and signs in honor of the Admur, gaon and tzaddik of Lubavitch, who awaits the salvation of Yisroel with the complete Geula, Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld The Rebbe Rayatz responded in a letter which he begins with many illustrious titles and in which the Rebbe thanks him for his blessings and then says that the Jews of the Soviet Union need help from the Jews living in other countries. He asked R’ Sonnenfeld to get information about which askanim in those countries familiar to him (Czechoslovakia and Hungary) could be asked to help out. We don’t know about the joint activities that were done as a result, but we know that R’ Sonnenfeld was constantly in touch with the Rebbe regarding “their large scale joint activities.”
MIVTZA MATZA 5689
In the winter of 5689/1929, the suffering of Soviet Jewry reached its peak. The government clamped down with an iron fist regarding anything to do with mitzvos. Due to the economic policies at the time, the price of flour went up and it was feared that they wouldn’t have matza for Pesach. The Rebbe had left Russia for Latvia the year before; from there, he began enlisting help from Jewish communities in Europe and the US on behalf of the Jews under communist rule. An important part of the
THE REBBE’S UPCOMING TRIP
20 Sivan 1929: the surprise breaking news of the day was about the expected arrival in the Holy Land of the Rebbe Rayatz. In Kol Yisroel an article was featured about the Rebbe’s
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planned trip, with details of how R’ Sonnenfeld helped him obtain a visa. The news item said: The Admur of Lubavitch shlita to Eretz Yisroel The Rav [R’ Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld] received a telegram from the Lubavitcher Rebbe who is presently in Riga, which said that he wants to visit Eretz Yisroel together with his son-in-law. With R’ Sonnenfeld’s efforts, a telegram was immediately sent from the Aliya Department to the British consul in Riga telling him to give him the required visa. The Rebbe thanked him in a special letter for his help in obtaining a visa. The city of Yerushalayim began preparing to receive the famous Rebbe of Lubavitch who had just recently shaken up the Jewish world with the episode of his heroism in his famous arrest. As the date of his arrival approached, signs went up calling on people to attend the welcoming reception to be held in his honor. The announcements were signed by organizations and mosdos of various groups in Yerushalayim, including the Eidah HaChareidis.
The Rebbe Rayatz’s birthday greetings to R’ Sonnenfeld
Letter from the Rebbe Rayatz to R’ Sonnenfeld
Yerushalayim R’ Sonnenfeld did not suffice with an announcement signed by the Eidach HaChareidis. He sent his personal representative to the reception that took place at the train station in Yerushalayim. The train arrived at 9:30 in Yerushalayim; from the station, the Rebbe traveled to the Amdursky hotel. At 11:00, only an hour and a half after the Rebbe arrived in Yerushalayim, the Gaon Av Beis Din went to
The announcement asking people to join in giving honor to the Torah by welcoming the Rebbe Rayatz
GIVE HONOR TO THE TORAH
9:15 on Thursday morning, 2 Av, the tzaddik who stands in the breach, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, will arrive. Those who hold our Torah dear, and those who hold dear the great work of the Admur in saving Judaism and strengthening it, are asked to give honor to the Torah and to welcome the Rebbe at the train with the honor due him. The Eidah HaChareidis, Vaad Ha’ir for the Ashkenazic community
LOOKING FORWARD EAGERLY TO MOSHIACH’S COMING
The Chassid R’ Avrohom Vilny, one of the elders of Yerushalayim, related: R’ Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld had a shiur every evening in the shul in the Battei Machaseh neighborhood in the Old City. R’ Sonnenfeld would speak a lot about the imminent coming of Moshiach and would urge the listeners to look forward to his coming. One of the talmidim asked, “But you are delaying Moshiach, because it says Moshiach won’t come unless we are in a state of distraction!” R’ Sonnenfeld answered cleverly, “If, right now, a very trustworthy person would come and tell us that Moshiach arrived and he is on Rechov HaYehudim in the Old City, wouldn’t you hesitate for at least a moment before you ran to see him? That is genuine ‘hesech ha’daas’ (being in a state of distraction).”
Issue 884 • �
representative, and by doing so, he had really fulfilled his obligation, and then the guest is supposed to go first, but he did both, he sent his representative and came himself. He sat for a few minutes and then left. After a brief stay at the hotel, the Rebbe went to the Kosel and then returned the visit to R’ Sonnenfeld, to the tiny apartment in Battei Machaseh in the Old City. When R’ Sonnenfeld heard that the Rebbe was on his way to see him, he went out to greet him with a large crowd and welcomed him with great honor, as the Rebbe described it in his diary: And he brought me into his home and he walked on the left, and he seated me in his chair and said Divrei Torah about Yosef who sustained the entire world with his grain. … I paid a return visit to R’ Sonnenfeld. When he heard that I was coming to him, he came out with a large crowd to greet me. I sat with him for ten minutes and then went to the hotel. Among those who were at their meeting was R’ Dov Sonnenfeld, the grandson, who told about the visit: I remember the time of the electrifying visit of the Admur, the gaon and holy R’ Yosef Yitzchok in Yerushalayim at [the home of] my grandfather, R’ Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, who yearned to gaze upon the Rebbe’s holy visage … What tremors of holiness hovered in the air between these two tzaddikim – it was indescribable! When my grandfather asked the Rebbe to bless one of his grandsons, he said that the two words at the beginning of the Shmoneh Esrei “[u’meivee goel] livnei v’neihem” (He brings redemption to the sons
RABBI SONNENFELD AND THE RABBANEI CHABAD IN YERUSHALAYIM
Some of the great rabbanei Chabad in Yerushalayim were in close contact with R’ Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld: R’ Shlomo Yehuda Leib Eliezerov – He was one of the leaders of Chabad in Yerushalayim. R’ Sonnenfeld highly valued his opinion in Halacha in general and on the topic of mikvaos in particular. He authorized him to issue rulings on, and to supervise, the kashrus of mikvaos, and to respond in his name to questions on these matters from abroad. When R’ Eliezerov traveled to the United States in 5687 to help build mikvaos, he was supplied with a warm recommendation in which R’ Sonnenfeld emphasized his knowledge of mikvaos, an area in which his expertise was well known in Eretz Yisroel and abroad. When R’ Sonnenfeld built a mikva in his home, he had R’ Eliezerov supervise its construction. R’ Eliezerov was also involved in kashrus matters for the Eidah HaChareidis. R’ Mendel Na’ah – He moved to Yerushalayim in 5665 upon the recommendation of R’ Sonnenfeld, and in the following years he was in close contact with him. His son, R’ Chaim Na’ah, received approbations to his s’farim from R’ Sonnenfeld and served as his personal aide. He was appointed to this task in 5681 and fulfilled it devotedly for two years. In this capacity, he managed and handled all of R’ Sonnenfeld’s personal and communal matters. R’ Sonnenfeld considered him an outstanding talmid chacham who knew how to pasken practical Halacha, and he approved of his p’sakim and chiddushim. In a eulogy that R’ Na’ah wrote after the passing of R’ Sonnenfeld, he described the tremendous impression made on him during those two years: I merited serving him as a scribe and secretary for two years (81 and 82) and many burning issues in the religious world, in particular in the Holy City, were on the front of his mind. And he [R’ Sonnenfeld], with his great and deep spirit of wisdom, and with his fear of Heaven that preceded his wisdom, placed us in a ray of light and illuminated the paved path for us upon which our holy ancestors walked. He taught us the tactics of war with literal mesirus nefesh, against those trying to tear down [traditional Judaism] and their cronies. R’ Sonnenfeld attended the funeral of the elderly and distinguished Chabad Chassid, R’ Dovid Tzvi Chein (Radatz), who served for many years as Gaon Av Beis Din in Chernigov in the Ukraine. He moved to Eretz Yisroel in 5685 and settled in Yerushalayim. He lived only nine months in Yerushalayim and passed away in Kislev 5686. the hotel to visit the Rebbe. R’ Sonnenfeld was accompanied by the dayan, R’ Yitzchok Frankel, R’ Shimon Horowitz (menahel of Yeshivas Shaar HaShamayim), R’ Yaakov Yitzchok Teitelbaum, and senior Chabad Chassidim (attending these meetings were: R’ Shlomo Yehuda Leib Eliezerov, R’ Mendel Na’ah and his son R’ Chaim, and at least one meeting R’ Yitzchok his brother was also present). The Rebbe wrote in his diary about this meeting: The elderly Rabbi Sonnenfeld came at 11 to offer greetings. It was a great honor since he had already sent his
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Beit Rothschild in Kikar Battei Machaseh where Rabbi Sonnenfeld lived. This is where the Rebbe Rayatz visited him.
A letter from the Rebbe Rayatz to R’ Sonnenfeld about a visa
of their sons) are numerically equivalent to “tz’daka” (199), as the prophet said, “With tz’daka you shall establish me [referring to the city of Yerushalayim],” and my grandfather added that in
any spiritual situation which the grandchildren, the descendants of the Avos, would find themselves in, with the mitzva of tz’daka they will be redeemed. In the famous book about R’
Sonnenfeld, Ha’Ish al HaChoma, the meeting is described as having been particularly warm. The Rebbe and R’ Sonnenfeld sat and talked; the main topic was how to save Jews in communist Russia. A week later, on Friday, 10 Av, the Rebbe visited the Diskin Orphanage Home where he was welcomed by R’ Sonnenfeld, R’ Eliyahu Klatzkin, and all the members of the administration. On Sunday, the Rebbe visited R’ Sonnenfeld again, this time accompanied by the Sephardic Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yaakov Meir. The visit lasted forty minutes, but we have no information about what was discussed. R’ Sonnenfeld passed away in Adar 1932. Some of his greatgrandchildren and great-greatgrandchildren are Lubavitchers: R’ Shimon Sonnenfeld – Nachalat Har Chabad, R’ Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld – Yerushalayim, R’ Elozor Gelbstein – Yerushalayim, Mrs. Miriam (wife of R’ Avrohom) Zigman – Yerushalayim, and the Dunin family whose mother, Rivka, was a great-granddaughter of the Gaon Av Beis Din. *** Years later, the Rebbe encouraged the printing of R’ Sonnenfeld’s books. In a letter written in 1955 to his grandson R’ Tzvi Sonnenfeld, the Rebbe asked whether the letters of his grandfather had been published. About twenty years later, in 5734, one of the grandsons had yechidus and the Rebbe asked him, “Are there writings from your grandfather on Kabbala?” The grandson said yes. The Rebbe said, “It would be very worthwhile to print them for the benefit of all.” Then the Rebbe asked the grandson to say a Torah thought from his grandfather.
Issue 884 • �
CELEBRATING THE CHAG HA’GEULA IN PRISON
A moving story about feeling Geula even in prison. * Presented for the Chag Ha’Geula, 12-13 Tammuz.
By Menachem Ziegelboim
committed a terrible sin,” confessed R’ Nosson Nota Berkahn a”h. “I burned two full notebooks of memoirs.” There was a mischievous twinkle in his blue eyes. “I remember many stories, but they aren’t as vibrant as they were then.” *** There was a widespread saying in Russia, “Whoever did not sit in jail, will sit; and whoever sat, will never forget it.” R’ Nosson Berkahn is familiar with Russian prisons. He was sentenced to seven years. He ended up sitting “only” two. The police searched for him all week. His father-in-law was taken as a hostage. Secret
police were posted to watch the house. There was no choice; the situation was unbearable. R’ Nosson turned himself in to the police. He was just a young man, in his first year of marriage. He was greeted with curses. A humiliating interrogation. Policemen with drawn revolvers escorted him to his house and conducted a thorough search and he was sent back to jail, to a solitary cell. “I fell on the cement floor and sleep overcame me. I don’t know how long I slept. I was woken up by a strong kick in my back and by the coarse voice of the policeman who brought me a package from home.” In the package was a loaf of
bread, sliced so as not to arouse suspicion that there was a note hidden inside, a cooked dish, a bottle of juice for Havdala on Motzaei Shabbos, machurka made from ground up tobacco stems, and a newspaper cut into pieces with which to make cigarettes. This was on Shabbos. They left him alone until Monday. One of the policemen kindly offered his services, to take a note from him to his wife. His offer was politely declined; his intentions were quite obvious. *** He spent ten days there. For one week he was interrogated daily, sometimes twice a day. How difficult was this for him? R’ Nosson himself put it this way,
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“Ten years in Siberia are very hard. The trial is even harder. And the interrogation is hardest of all.” He was finally transferred to the jail known by all as the “central barbershop.” “They took some of us prisoners down to the cellar level cell block, two floors underground. At first glance the ‘room’ looked like a huge swarming nest. The ‘room’ was eighty square meters and it contained sixty prisoners including army officers, party members from the time of the Revolution, managers, kolkhozniks, murderers and thieves. There was even a ten year old who stole half a kilogram of wheat because he was starving.”
There were no windows. There were two air vents in the ceiling under which sat the special characters, the celebrated thieves. The room was crowded, hot and smelly, but Notke’s main worry was his young wife. He remembered that she had not cried when he was arrested. She did not lose her trust. He did not know that right after his arrest she began looking for ways to have him released. There was a routine to life in prison; getting up, organized going out to use the washroom, a small amount of water with which to wet the face, removing the barrel, cleaning the cell, waiting for a piece of bread that was underbaked and a little water. The inmates were preoccupied
with guessing – who would be brought into the cell that day, who would go out, who would receive a package, who would be interrogated? “In the afternoon I would be afraid, lest I be called for an interrogation. What would they ask, how should I answer, and the main thing – not to mention anyone’s name. It wasn’t easy to be on guard, as the interrogation sometimes lasted as long as ten hours. The interrogator, a major of average height with the glint of a wild animal in his green eyes, did not speak much. He didn’t interrogate much either. Sometimes he read the paper or a book throughout the night. He would stop only four or five times and ask some question which was enough to set the brain spinning to the point of going mad. “The atmosphere in the interrogation room instilled fear in the prisoner. It was a large room. There were three windows covered by a thick curtain. The interrogator sat at a big desk that had an inkwell, paper, and a revolver on it. I was seated in the center of the room, about four steps from the desk, on the edge of an uncomfortable chair with my hands on my knees. Within ten minutes my feet began to feel tired. It was forbidden to move them. There would be the immediate reaction, ‘Quiet! Don’t disturb!’ “When the torturous night came to an end, the warden rang and two other wardens came in. The interrogator would give me a cigarette and regularly ‘forget’ to give me a match, in order to increase my suffering. The jailers had to help me drag my swollen feet. “At the beginning of Tammuz the head warden came into my cell. His face was covered
Issue 884 • �
with boils. He was an evil man who was always ready to kick someone with his heavy boot or to strike someone with the large key in his hand. Sometimes he did both. “His appearance struck terror in the hearts of the prisoners. He read names from a list and I was one of them. We had to pack our belongings and go out to the hall. “I think that at the time my mind was blank. My emotions were also deadened. Prisoners were used to being moved from cell to cell but there was always the fear of the unknown. I could not know, I could not even entire book. “Listening to R’ Simcha daven, I felt how good it was to be a Jew. He davened quietly and only occasionally raised his pleasant voice at a certain section, which pierced the heart. “Our entire existence is solely in order ‘to give praise to Your holy name.’ If so, what do you care where you are, outside the walls or within? His parables and stories were meaningful. From everything that occurred around him he knew how to learn a lesson in Avodas Hashem. “R’ Simcha completely negated sadness. We must always be happy! He would ask: What don’t you like here? The conditions, the filth, the stench? Have you considered that we, with our bad deeds, place the King’s head in filth? Are you concerned about His anguish? “One day I realized that something had changed with R’ Simcha over the past few days. He was more closed and cried a lot when he davened. His behavior affected me too. When I finally asked him, he said that it would soon be 12 Tammuz, the Rebbe’s Chag Ha’Geula, and he was preparing for a spiritual yechidus with the Rebbe. On Erev 12 Tammuz he prepared all day for this ‘yechidus,’ and fasted all day. “Said R’ Simcha, ‘Before the Rebbe left the country, he said that nothing would separate between him and his talmidim and mekusharim. There are no locks and bars! There is no barrier! The Rebbe is with us now too and I am sure he will find a way to respond to all my questions in yechidus.’ “He quietly began singing the niggun of R’ Michel of Zlotchov with such yearning that I too began to see the Rebbe in my
“There are no locks and bars! There is no barrier! The Rebbe is with us now too and I am sure he will find a way to respond to all my questions in yechidus.”
the lion’s share of every package a prisoner received from home. Aside from them there was a murderer, one kolkhoznik and the two Chassidim. “At first we made it seem as though we were strangers. Little by little, we began talking to one another. R’ Simcha is a great person. Aside from his scholarship, cleverness and Chassidic piety, he is a pleasant person. Even hardened criminals respected him. Thanks to him, I also enjoyed better treatment. “R’ Simcha, as a veteran prisoner, taught me how to save water for netilas yadayim in the morning and for a meal. He taught me the ‘halachos of jail’ with an emphasis on the fact that even here a Jew is not exempt from having set times for Torah. If you don’t remember all of T’hillim by heart, review the chapters you remember and they will count as though you said the
imagine, what would happen to me within the next few minutes. “They led us down the endless corridor. An order was given and we were stopped next to one of the cells. The jailer put one of the inmates in there and so on, until we reached cell 229. I did not think this would be my new living quarters. When I looked inside I was surprised. When I saw the prisoners standing in the doorway I almost stopped breathing. I wanted to cry out. There stood R’ Simcha Gorodetzky, my friend. With a split-second glance and a movement of his hand he motioned to me not to reveal that we knew one another.” Ten steps in the length and six in the width; that was the size of the cell. No furnishings. The “tenants” were four thieves. One of them was in charge, giving out spots to new prisoners and also helping himself and his friends to
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mind’s eye. My first yechidus was when I went in with my grandfather as a boy, and the Rebbe placed his holy hands on my head and blessed me. Here, the Rebbe enters … wearing his shtraimel, the room full of Chassidim … The Rebbe sits at the head of the table, tying a handkerchief around his finger and saying Chassidus … utter silence. Only the Rebbe’s voice
is heard, penetrating the hearts of all, even those who do not understand … “Another picture comes to mind, of Simchas Torah. The Rebbe coming out to hakafos and dancing with his sons-in-law … The house full of people, all trying to draw ruach ha’kodesh … and the Rebbe at the airport in Riga, asking all of us to unite in brotherly love, in the observance
of Torah and mitzvos. The plane takes off. Rebbe, Rebbe! When will we see one another again? “We said l’chaim in honor of the Chag Ha’Geula over water. R’ Simcha told the story of the Rebbe’s arrest and release in great detail along with various anecdotes. “Gut Yom Tov, Gut Yom Tov. “L ’shana HaBaa with the Rebbe!”
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Issue 884 • �
CONTINUING THE LEGACY OF HIS GREAT FATHER
A biographical sketch of the Chassid, R’ Tzemach Gurevitch, son of the famous shadar, R’ Yitzchok (Itche) Masmid. * Presented to mark his yahrtzait on 18 Tammuz.
By Dov Levanon
IN THE SHADOW OF HIS GREAT FATHER
The Chassid, R’ Tzemach Gurevitch was born in Charson on 12 Nissan 5667/1907. His father was the famous Chassid and shadar (fundraiser) for our Rebbeim, R’ Yitzchok Gurevitch, known as R’ Itche der Masmid. His father sent him to a Chassidishe school and then to Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim. R’ Itche was very particular about his sons’ chinuch. One of the things that he was quite zealous about was that his sons should not learn to read Russian. The young Tzemach was separated from his parents at an early age. Around the year 5677, his father began serving as shadar for the Rebbe Rashab and he traveled from city to city. On 14 Sivan 5679 Tzemach’s
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mother passed away and he and his brothers were raised in the home of his grandmother Elka, and they would only see their father for brief periods. His father took him to the Rebbe Rashab for Tishrei 5678. R’ Yehuda Chitrik, who later became his brother-in-law, described that special Rosh HaShana in his memoirs: “On the first night of Rosh HaShana during the first Maariv in the home of the Rebbe on Pushkinsky Street, the room they davened in, although spacious, as it had room for fifty people if necessary, did not have enough room for all the Chassidim, 300 of them. They stood crowded together with no one able to move from his place. The air was so humid that the Chassidim dripped with sweat and the walls of the house dripped with moisture too. “In the middle of the day on Rosh HaShana his father went to a corner and was immersed in prayer. Tzemach, left to his own devices, was frightened when he did not see his father and began to cry. Just then, the Rebbe’s son (later to be the Rebbe Rayatz) walked in and when he saw the child crying, asked him what was wrong. The boy said he was looking for his father. ‘What is your father’s name?’ asked the Rebbe’s son. ‘Itche,’ said the boy. ‘Which Itche?’ ‘Itche the melamed.’ ‘He will come right away,’ said the Rebbe’s son soothingly. “When R’ Itche came, his son told him the brief conversation he had with the Rebbe’s son. R’ Itche asked him, ‘When the Rebbe’s son spoke to you, were you standing or sitting?’ ‘I sat,’ said his son. R’ Itche admonished him, saying, ‘You should have known that you stand up for the
Rebbe’s son.’” During that visit Tzemach had yechidus which he spoke about years later: I remember how the Rebbe sat on his chair and held the chain of his watch. My father went over and stood opposite the Rebbe, near the desk. I, who was ten, stood further away, near the door. I heard my father present various ideas in Chassidus to the Rebbe and ask for the Rebbe’s approval. Most of the questions were in the format of, “Can we explain this in this way,” or “Can we give an analogy like this.” Most of the time, the Rebbe affirmed the correctness of what he said with a slight movement of his head as he said, “We can say that.” One time, the Rebbe said, “The Alter Rebbe says the opposite.” Then my father motioned to me to approach the Rebbe to receive a bracha. I was afraid to approach the Rebbe and trembled in fright. I slowly moved closer to the desk and my father complained to the Rebbe about me, “He has no desire to learn.” The Rebbe grasped the chain of his watch which was in his pocket and turned to me and said in a sing-song, “Is that so? It says, ‘For I have given you a good doctrine [i.e. the Torah]!’”
R’ Tzemach with two of his children
IN TOMCHEI T’MIMIM AS A TALMID AND MENAHEL
In 5677, R’ Eliezer Dvoskin (Chachersker) started Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in Charson and Tzemach learned there. R’ Mordechai Perlov was the rosh yeshiva. On 8 Iyar 5680/1920, the yeshiva found out about the passing of the Rebbe Rashab. R’ Eliezer was inconsolable and cried day and night. As a result of the histalkus he decided to
disperse the yeshiva. Some talmidim were sent to Rostov, some to Kremenchug, and the rest went home. Tzemach moved on to the yeshiva in Kremenchug, which was run by R’ Yisroel Noach Blinitzky. This is where the students of the younger divisions had fled from Lubavitch during the war. Tzemach learned there until 5684, at which time some of the talmidim were sent to Charkov, the yeshiva being run by the one who later became the Rebbe Rayatz’s secretary, R’ Yechezkel (Chatshe) Feigin. In 5690, R’ Yechezkel
Issue 884 • �
Himmelstein, along with his helper R’ Tzemach Gurevitch, opened a yeshiva in Charson, but it did not last long. This was the era when yeshivos were shut down by the evil communist regime. R’ Mordechai Shusterman related in his memoirs that when he went to the yeshiva with his friend, R’ Berel Gurevitch (later the menahel of Beis Rivka), they went to the home of R’ Himmelstein where the wife came out crying and said they had all been arrested a few days earlier. They were later freed until the trial. R’ Tzemach took the opportunity to flee to his home Zuravitzer, to leave Russia. The Rebbe also told these two Chassidim to try and do things in the usual way and to submit a request to the government for permission to emigrate from the country. At this time R’ Itche asked the Rebbe whether to ask for visas for his young sons, Hillel and Shmuel, too. The Rebbe told him to take them along. Over the course of four years R’ Itche submitted numerous requests and each time he was refused. In Tishrei 5683, R’ Itche went to Malachovka and after Simchas Torah the government informed him he could leave but his family privilege to help a graduate of Tomchei T’mimim and took him to Meir Gurkov’s house. On the way the informer managed to extract information about all the Chassidim in the city. R’ Tzemach, who heard about this, consulted with his brothersin-law, R’ Chitrik and R’ Shlomo Shimonowitz, and they agreed that they had to move to Georgia immediately. R’ Tzemach had good reason for concern since his activities on behalf of the yeshivos were reason enough to arrest him. About a month or two after the informer’s visit to the city, on Shabbos before Mincha, police agents went to R’ Tzemach’s house. Agents were simultaneously visiting R’ Meir Gurkov, R’ Shmuel Katzman, R’ Nachum Yitzchok Pinson, R’ Avrohom Boruch Pevsner, and R’ Yehuda Chitrik. DYG had informed on them all. Although these visits did not end in arrests, the Chassidim were careful not to sleep at home from that day onwards. This was especially so when they found out that the NKVD agents had also visited the neighbors of some of the Chassidim, who happily reported that they were religious Jews who taught their children to be like them. International Women’s Day fell on Shushan Purim of that year. The Chassidim, sure that on this day, when gentiles drank to oblivion, they would not be visited, slept at home. That night the angels of death went to the homes of all those Chassidim and arrested them. They sat in jail for over a month. “I couldn’t even dream that they would allow me to ask my family for matza for Pesach,” R’ Tzemach later said to R’ Chitrik, “since they did not even
I was afraid to approach the Rebbe and trembled in fright. I slowly moved closer to the desk and my father complained to the Rebbe about me, “He has no desire to learn.” The Rebbe turned to me and said in a sing-song, “Is that so? It says, ‘For I have given you a good doctrine [i.e. the Torah]!’”
in Charkov, where he went to live with his father who was then living in the slaughterhouse. R’ Tzemach worked in the slaughterhouse. Soon after he became engaged to the daughter of the Chassid, R’ Aharon Tumarkin.
had to stay in Russia. Among the hardworking activists helping R’ Itche leave was R’ Avrohom Shmuel Levin who lived in Charkov. The two older boys, Tzemach and Eliezer, remained in Russia until a much later point.
ATTEMPTS TO LEAVE
After the Rebbe Rayatz left Russia in 5688, Tzemach’s father tried to leave Russia in order to be with the Rebbe. In 5689, thanks to the efforts of a number of Chassidim, R’ Yaakov Yisroel Zuber was able to leave Russia. The Rebbe then told the Chassidim to intensify their efforts in order to enable two of the great Chassidim, R’ Itche der Masmid and R’ Yankel
THE INFORMANT AND THE ARREST
In Tishrei 5699, an uninvited guest arrived in Charkov, DYG, known by the Chassidim who left Russia as the “known informer.” He went to the shul where he met a Lubavitcher who wasn’t that bright, and he asked where he could sleep. The Lubavitcher, who didn’t realize who he was dealing with, considered it a
18 � • 13 Tammuz 5773
allow us to inform them as to our whereabouts.” Shimon Katzman, the son of R’ Shmuel, was a soldier in the army at the time, and when he heard about his father’s arrest, he sent letters to all government offices with the demand that they free his father. His father was freed after Pesach, while another four including R’ Tzemach were sent to labor camps. R’ Tzemach was released several years later and was reunited with his family.
THE LUBAVITCHER CHEVRA KADISHA OF SAMARKAND
When the Germans invaded Russia in the summer of 1941, the masses began fleeing from the border cities to the interior of Russia. Jews mainly fled to central Asia. Many Jews, including Lubavitchers, settled in Samarkand and Tashkent. The refugees endured the seven levels of Gehinom on their way to Samarkand. The Rebbe Rayatz, who was in New York by this time, heard about Anash settling in Samarkand and Tashkent. The postal system was affected due to the war, and although the Rebbe tried to find out how they were, there was hardly any connection between the Chassidim in Samarkand and the Rebbe in Brooklyn. The Rebbe wrote them letters but they did not reach their destination. We know that the Rebbe knew that R’ Tzemach and his family were in Samarkand, for in a letter that his uncle, R’ Moshe Leib Rodstein wrote to R’ Yisroel Jacobson on Erev Shabbos, Parshas Pinchas 5702, he said: “I just received a letter from the Holy Land from Leibel Cohen and he reports good news that the sons-in-law of my late brother-
R’ Tzemach blessing one of his grandsons before his wedding
in-law R’ Aharon Tumerkin, which include Yehuda Chitrik and his family, Shlomo and his family, and Tzemach’s wife and family, and R’ Abba [Pliskin – a brother-in-law] and his wife, all escaped to Samarkand.” “In Samarkand we starved,” wrote R’ Nachum Shmaryahu Sasonkin in his memoir. “Thousands of refugees streamed there and the authorities were unable to feed them all. They had a strict quota on bread and each person was given no more than 400 grams of bread a day.” In addition to malnutrition, due to the lack of basic sanitary conditions, the air became toxic and congested, the odors and stench filled the atmosphere, and masses of people could not bathe and dress properly. The large population, with the addition of thousands of refugees, contributed to the spread of contagious diseases, mainly typhus, which felled many. Many people became sick and
weakened, and could not survive the terrible starvation and died. Every morning, when people went out to the streets, they saw swollen bodies of those who had died of starvation. These bodies were all over the place and people did not bother to bury them. Among them were also those who did not die of starvation but of mild illness which their weakened bodies could not stave off. The city had a municipal chevra kadisha of the Bucharian Jews, but in light of the terrible situation, with many dying of starvation, it was necessary to form another chevra kadisha. It was R’ Yehuda Leib Levin who took on this job. He organized a group of fifteen Lubavitchers who took care of all aspects of the many burials; buying land, buying shrouds, collecting wood to cover the body, collecting the bodies (which necessitated going around every day to the city hospitals and asking whether any Jews
Issue 884 • �
had died), burial and putting up gravestones. R’ Tzemach and his two brothers, Shmuel and Eliezer, were part of the chevra kadisha. His wife joined the women who took care of the sick by cooking nourishing meals and bringing them to the hospitals. In 5706, R’ Tzemach was able to leave Russia in the famous escape, with forged papers which stated he was a Polish citizen. He arrived in France and from there he wanted to go to the Rebbe. even the rabbi of the k’hilla, Rabbi Meir Rosenbaum, wrote a letter to the Rebbe Rayatz and explained to him how difficult it would be for R’ Tzemach to work there. The Rebbe responded, acknowledging that at first glance it would seem impossible for a person of the stature and character of R’ Tzemach to be effective in such a spiritually desolate environment, but he concludes: “However, despite all that, it is clear that the coldness that one senses amongst some of our fellow Jews towards matters of holiness is only in their outer behavior, but the inside of each of them is good. The heart of Yisroel is always alert to matters of truth that come from the heart, which is full of love for Hashem, love for Torah, and Ahavas Yisroel.” On 13 Nissan of that year the Rebbe wrote directly to R’ Tzemach and encouraged him to stay in Cuba despite the difficulties: “In response to your letter, do not worry about your delay in the place where you are, and you should increase your efforts in your work, and know with certainty that everything you do in matters of fear of heaven, love for Torah and b’nei Torah and Ahavas Yisroel is immeasurable in terms of their amazingly great loftiness. As is known the difference between sowing and planting, that sowing needs to be done again and again while planting, although it takes time until it bears fruits, but they grow year after year. May Hashem strengthen your health and the health of your family and give you success in all your matters.” It was only after a year in Cuba that the Rebbe told R’ Rodstein, “The time has come to bring Tzemach here.” It took some time until he finally arrived in the US. As soon as he arrived he became one of the greatest mekusharim to the Rebbe MH”M whose nesius had just begun. Since space is limited, one example to demonstrate his hiskashrus will have to suffice. On Erev Rosh HaShana 5711 the Rebbe stood for about three hours at the Ohel and read panim. It poured the entire time. About ten people were there with the Rebbe, most of them bachurim. The married men there were R’ Chadakov, R’ Shlomo Aharon Kazarnovsky, R’ Mordechai Mentlick and R’ Tzemach. On Simchas Torah 5711 the Rebbe entered the shul at around two in the morning and saw those who were still dancing and gave them brachos. The Rebbe blessed R’ Tzemach with parnasa. R’ Tzemach found a job shechting chickens and worked there for twenty years. He passed away on 18 Tammuz 5761 at the age of 94.
A CHASSID IN CUBA
In the summer of 5708/1948 R’ Tzemach went to Cuba. Since he did not have papers allowing him into the United States he remained in Santiago until the end of 5710. He tried leaving Santiago which didn’t have many Jews, but the Rebbe considered it a shlichus. This is what the Rebbe Rayatz wrote on 7 Cheshvan 5709 to R’ Tzemach’s uncle, R’ Moshe Leib Rodstein, who served as his secretary: “In response to your letter about my friend and student, R’ Tzemach, I do not understand why speed is necessary for him to travel from there and come to this country. Over there, he can work in inyanei Torah and good chinuch. It is surprising that he does not write to me what he has done and arranged until now in matters of chinuch etc.” The state of Judaism in Cuba was poor to the point that
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20 � • 13 Tammuz 5773
Radio Moshiach & Redemption
"The quickest way to reveal Moshiach is by learning the Torah sources about Moshiach & redemption" t"ab,wv grumnu ghrz, p"a
A TALE OF TWO TALMUDS
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
EXPANSION OF THE SHMA
One of the most enigmatic portions of the Torah is the one entitled Balak, which features the prophetic words of Bilam, one of the vilest people mentioned in the Torah. Balak hired Bilam to curse the Jewish people whom he viewed as an existential threat to him. Instead, G-d put the most beautiful and powerful words of praise and prophetic pronouncements in Bilam’s mouth. Yet, the Talmud (Brachos 12b) remarks that our Sages entertained the notion of incorporating the narrative of Bilam in our daily prayers alongside the reading of the Shma. What is it about this section of the Torah that it would be considered as an integral part of our daily prayers? And how could the Talmud entertain the notion that it is comparable to the Shma, arguably Judaism’s most important prayer? The Talmud itself addresses these questions and answers with a quote from that section: “G-d brought them out of Egypt.” In other words, this narrative contains the fundamental subject of the Exodus. However, the Talmud argues that this explanation is inadequate: If it was important to
mention the Exodus in the Shma, why was this parsha selected? Aren’t there other sections of the Torah that mention the Exodus that could have been incorporated in our prayers? The Talmud then concludes that the importance of this parsha is based on another verse: “He crouched and lay down like a lion and like a lion cub, who can stand him up?” Rashi explains that this verse is similar to the phrase in the Shma “when you lie down and when you arise.” It teaches that the Holy One, Blessed is He, watches over us when we go to sleep and wake up so that we may rest peacefully like a lion and its cub.” According to Rashi, this parsha is comparable to the Shma because it reminds us of how G-d watches over us at all times.
by having to recite this very long parsha.) What does Rabbi Yossi mean by royalty? The simple understanding is that it refers to Bilam’s prophecy concerning King David and Moshiach. Indeed, in some versions of the text the words “The Kingdom of the House of David” is mentioned explicitly. Why is it that in the Babylonian Talmud the reason given for the consideration of the parsha of Bilam for inclusion in our prayers is based on its similarity to the Shma, whereas the Jerusalem Talmud adds the notion of royalty?
G-D’S UNITY IN TIMES OF EXILE
The recitation of the Shma is intended to impress upon us the unity of G-d. It is our affirmation that there is absolutely no other power in the world other than G-d. Moreover, as Chassidus explains, the oneness of G-d expressed in the Shma negates the existence of anything but G-d. Everything that exists is an extension of G-d’s Ten Utterances with which He created the world and continues to create the world every instant. In times of darkness, which is the state of exile, it is difficult for a person to appreciate this
Issue 884 • �
A SECOND REASON
The Jerusalem Talmud (Brachos 1:5) adds a second reason for the selection of this parsha as a “candidate” for inclusion with the Shma: “Rabbi Yossi the son of Rabbi Bon said: ‘Because in it is written the Exodus and Royalty.’” (In the end, both Talmuds state that the Sages decided not to require reciting this parsha because it would unduly inconvenience the congregation
unity. Even the simple meaning of G-d’s unity that negates other forces can be a challenge to some in exile due to the multitude of competing forces that vie for our allegiance. This is why we were commanded to recite the Shma in the evening and morning. Even when we lay under the burden of Galus conditions we must declare that there is one G-d. To buttress this appreciation for G-d’s overarching role in our lives it was suggested that we also recite the story of Bilam which demonstrates how, even when we are in a compromised position, we are strong because of G-d’s constant supervision over us and His presence in our lives. This explanation—the only explanation in the Babylonian Talmud for the inclusion of the parsha of Bilam in our prayers—is intended primarily for those who are mired in the darkness of exile—for whom the Babylonian Talmud speaks. They have to be reassured that G-d is with them and will raise them up from their crouched position. The Babylonian Talmud was composed in exile and is referred to as the Talmud of Darkness because it empowers us to survive in exile and ultimately escape from it. Exodus. There is, however, a more advanced perspective on the Exodus from Egypt and Redemption from exile. It involves viewing the Exodus, not as a departure from a negative state, but rather as a step closer to the positive and sublime state of Redemption. This positive perspective is captured by the Jerusalem Talmud’s juxtaposing the Exodus with royalty. Royalty, as some commentators suggest, refers to the kingship of the House of David, which includes Moshiach, the descendant of King David, the ultimate Jewish leader. The emphasis on Moshiach being the “son of David” is perhaps intended to emphasize that we are discussing Moshiach the son of David and not Moshiach the son of Joseph. According to the Talmud (Sukka 52a) Moshiach ben Yosef will precede the coming of Moshiach ben Dovid. His role is to wage war against the forces of evil that are impediments to the final Redemption. Moshiach ben Dovid’s primary role, by contrast, is to build the Beis HaMikdash and unify the Jewish people. His is primarily a positive mission to usher in the age when G-d’s absolute unity will be recognized by the entire world. Thus, the Jerusalem Talmud is not content with explaining that to recite the parsha of Bilam is to reinforce the idea of G-d’s protection and providence when we are down. That satisfies the need to strengthen us against the debilitating forces of exile and the need to get out of exile because of its negativity. The Jerusalem Talmud goes a step further and emphasizes the need to incorporate the message contained in the parsha of Bilam as a way of advancing towards the future.
One can find a hint in the Torah for this distinction between the Babylonian Talmud and Jerusalem Talmud in the last verse of the first Chapter of Isaiah: “Zion will be redeemed with justice and its captives with tz’daka.” R, Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, one of Jerusalem’s leading rabbis of the last century, discovered that the words, “Zion will be redeemed with justice” have the same gematria-numerical value as the words “Talmud YerushalmiThe Jerusalem Talmud.” The final words “and its captives with tz’daka” is numerically equivalent to “Talmud Bavli-the Babylonian Talmud.” In light of the above analysis of the divergent approaches of the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds, we can appreciate this discovery. The simple meaning of “Zion” in this verse relates to Jerusalem. It may thus be explained: From the perspective of the Jerusalem Talmud, there is no real captivity. The Jerusalem Talmud mentality is one where Galus never altered a person’s perspective. This individual has a clear vision of the future and is not governed by Galus attitudes. Nevertheless, even the Jerusalem Talmud personality will discover that some of the intensity of his or her soul is diminished by Galus, and calls out for Redemption. However, the focus is not on dealing with Galus, but rather on going forward by removing the cover. This person’s motivation is to run towards Redemption. Indeed, running towards Redemption is the default position of our soul. If it is blocked by Galus, all we have
EXODUS COUPLED WITH ROYALTY
However, the Jerusalem Talmud, which has been characterized as the Talmud of Light, adds a new dimension and perspective to the recitation of Parshas Bilam: the idea of the Exodus coupled with royalty. Most people who think of the Exodus from Egypt focus on the liberation from slavery and misery. This indeed is an integral part of the remembrance of the
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to do is remove the blockage to allow our soul’s natural instincts to take over. There are those, however, who tragically have been taken captive by Galus. They have to use the Babylonian Talmud approach of dealing with the exile condition, engaging it, fighting it, and then ultimately fleeing from it. They have to focus on realizing the debilitating nature of exile and the need to run away and escape its clutches that can be so destructive. In this approach we see the pain and suffering that exile has brought. We see the immorality and general decline of society and we want out. Exile is so bitter that we cry out: “Ad masai-How much longer?” We cannot tolerate another instant of Galus. This is the Babylonian Talmud approach that focuses on how G-d picks us up from our crouched and compromised period of darkness and alienation and enables us to survive in the last moments of exile and [then] ultimately escape from it.
positive influences of Moshiach that can be seen even in these last days of Galus. Instead of crying over the exile, the Jerusalem Talmud mentality causes us to exult over the miracles that we see and how they portend even greater good and greater miracles. This Jerusalem Talmud individual focuses on royalty and declares “Yechi-Long live the King” looking for Moshiach and following his forward march towards the Redemption, when G-d’s presence will be fully revealed and G-d’s plan for the universe fully implemented.
The truth is that we need both approaches. A Jew cannot be indifferent to the pain and suffering, and must cry out to G-d for Him to see our pain. But a Jew cannot wallow in the negative even if it is for the purpose of escaping it. Dwelling inordinately on the bitterness of Galus can cause us to be depressed and fall into Galus despair, thereby preventing us from escaping its grip. We must alternate from the Babylonian Talmud approach to the Jerusalem Talmud approach.
The Jerusalem approach, by contrast, focuses on the positive features of Geula-Redemption. It dwells on the future and sees the
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EVERY JEW WANTS MOSHIACH NOW!
By Rabbi Yaakov Shmuelevitz Shliach, Beit Shaan
n the sicha for Chukas 5746, the Rebbe quotes the Rambam in the Laws of the Red Heifer where he says that the tenth cow will be prepared by Moshiach, may he be revealed speedily, amen, may it be His will. The Rebbe asks, since the Mishna Torah is a book of Halacha, why does the Rambam offer a prayer here for the Geula? It seems out of place. The Rebbe explains that from this we learn another Halacha: that every Jew yearns for Moshiach. As soon as he hears just a mention of Moshiach, he immediately utters a prayer for his immediate coming. That is what the Rambam himself did, and thus he alludes to us that this is the Halacha regarding what we should do every time the Geula is mentioned. I think every Lubavitcher ought to know this sicha by heart and be able to quote it even if woken up in the middle of the night.
THE PRINCIPAL WHO YEARNED FOR MOSHIACH
For the benefit of our readers, I will quote a portion of a talk that the principal of a school in Beit Shaan, where I am the rabbi, gave to his students. The principal is not a Lubavitcher in the narrow sense of the term, but we can still learn about yearning for Moshiach from him. This is what the principal said towards the end of the year: As you know, my daughter attends Yale University, a worldrenowned university. In this university, the professors treat each student as though he or she will be the future president of the United States or Justice of the Supreme Court. In fact, some US presidents attended this university where they encourage the students to attain excellence in all areas. Like Yale, I also have expectations of my students. Do you know what I expect of you? I expect that perhaps one of my
students will be Moshiach! It says that in every generation, there is someone worthy of being Moshiach, so why not from our school? I think you are the best students there are, and maybe one of you will be Moshiach. You can ask the rav of the school about the many conversations I’ve had with him about Moshiach, and we all know that Moshiach can come at any time, perhaps in a day or two, “I await his coming every day.” But I especially wait for him because I hope that maybe Moshiach will be my student, a graduate of our school. *** You may have heard the song about the shoemaker who looks forward to offering shoes to Moshiach or the carpenter who wants to build a table for Moshiach. Well, here is a principal of a school whose ultimate dream is that his school should produce the one worthy of being Moshiach.
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R’ Nechemia Schmerling
TOP OF THE HOUR: MOSHIACH
R’ Ro’i Tor, shliach to the kibbutzim in the Beit Shaan Valley, tells about Eitan, one of his students from Kibbutz Kfar Rupin, who became a baal t’shuva. Eitan would regularly attend his shiurim and listen attentively each time he spoke about Moshiach and Geula. He loved listening and asking questions on the subject. R’ Tor once asked Eitan why he was so interested in this topic. After all, excitement about the Geula is not something one often encounters in a kibbutznik. Eitan smiled and began to talk about his grandfather, a religious man. On the hour, as the news was about to be
broadcast, his grandfather would raise the volume on the radio. He would ask his grandfather why he did this each time, and his grandfather said he wanted to hear it better; maybe on the news they would say that Moshiach had come. This made an impression on him and he too began to look forward to Moshiach’s coming. Twenty years later, when Eitan attended R’ Tor’s shiurim and heard about Moshiach who is about to come, and about “living with Moshiach” in daily life, it resonated with him.
MOSHIACH’S HEAVY WEAPONS
R’ Nechemia Schmerling, shliach in Kfar Yona, serves in
the IDF Reserves now and then, and uses the time to be mekarev people and to spread Inyanei Moshiach and Geula. During the Second Lebanon War, R’ Schmerling was called up to the Reserves and he joined a new artillery unit that the army had put together with soldiers from various units. The soldiers got acquainted and went off for combat training. Among his new friends, R’ Schmerling discovered some people with not very religious ideas who laughed whenever Moshiach was mentioned in conversation. They said Moshiach is not realistic and is just some foolish belief, etc. Then the big guns came on the scene. Or to be more precise, said R’ Schmerling, we arrived
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at an abandoned field within an army camp where, among the thorns, were old, neglected artillery pieces. Some soldiers tried to deal with them and restore them to life so they could be used. Then an argument broke out among the soldiers as to whether they would be able to get the weapons working again. I suddenly heard the same soldier, the one who had previously said that Moshiach is not realistic, say that “if they manage to fix up these artillery guns and get them working, it would really be Yemos HaMoshiach.” were on a trip abroad and had gotten into an accident. The kalla was seriously injured and was in the hospital, in a cast, and would not be able to walk around the groom seven times under the chuppa. They had canceled the wedding and made a small chuppa with ten kosher Jews, in the hopes that the kalla would recover and then they’d have a big bash in a hall with hundreds of guests at a later point. A few months later the phone rang again and the chassan told him that a date had been arranged in a nice hall. There was a photographer, a DJ, and now dancing with torches, the Ruach HaKodesh, the songs and music. Then he explained that instead of a chuppa, he would describe the scene in the Beis HaMikdash to everyone and they would all “live Moshiach.” The first miracle was that the couple agreed to this creative idea. The second miracle was how it was implemented. R’ Schmerling photocopied pages from the Gemara about the Simchas Beis HaShoeiva and when the chassan and kalla were under the chuppa, he explained that the chuppa had already taken place, but now it was Sukkos and he invited everyone to close their eyes and to imagine the Simchas Beis HaShoeiva that took place in the Beis HaMikdash each year on the nights of Sukkos. The papers were distributed and the rabbi read and explained, the way R’ Schmerling knows how. Everyone visualized themselves joining the dancing in the Beis HaMikdash. Some religious friends who were present went over to the rabbi afterward and thanked him profusely. “We’ve attended many weddings and have seen many rabbis and many moving scenes, but were never in the Beis HaMikdash until today. Today, we were there! Thank you. We felt like we were in Yemos HaMoshiach!”
Everyone visualized themselves joining the dancing in the Beis HaMikdash.
“What did you say?” I asked him. “Do you hear what you just said? Suddenly, Moshiach is something realistic. You just have to deal with the cannons and you’ll be in Yemos HaMoshiach!” From then on, the conversations resumed among the soldiers and nobody made fun. They were all united on this point; this achdus continues to this day as we will see in the following story.
AN UNUSUAL CHUPPA
Some years later, one of the soldiers from the Artillery Corps called R’ Schmerling with news and a request. The news was that he was going to get married in a few weeks. His request was that R’ Schmerling be the officiating rabbi at his wedding. R’ Schmerling is used to these requests and he happily marked down the date. Then the chassan called and said that he and his girl friend
he wanted to know if the rabbi would come to arrange chuppa and kiddushin. R’ Schmerling explained that they couldn’t make a chuppa as they were already married. But he invited the couple to come to his home for a talk, “to see what could be done.” When he spoke to them in person, he explained that we don’t make fake chuppas, but instead of a chuppa they could do something interesting and nice that would be no less moving and joyous. “Like what?” they asked. “What date did you pick?” asked R’ Schmerling. “Chol HaMoed Sukkos,” they said. R’ Schmerling took out a Meseches Sukka from the bookcase and began reading the description of the Simchas Beis HaShoeiva in the Beis HaMikdash. About the giant candelabra that illuminated all of Yerushalayim, Chassidim
MOSHIACH IN THE GROCERY AND PHARMACY
R’ Schmerling spreads the message of Geula not only in the army but also in the grocery and pharmacy, not to mention at shiurim. Every encounter he has with people is an opportunity for him to talk to them about Moshiach. When R’ Schmerling goes to
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the drugstore, he asks for aspirin and ear drops. When the druggist asks if he wants anything else, he says, “Yes, can you bring Moshiach?” A conversation ensues between the rabbi, the druggist and whomever is standing around. “Amen, may he come already!” “If only I could bring him,” and then it’s R’ Schmerling’s turn to explain that we can bring him, just come to the shiur on Tuesday, and just light Shabbos candles … Or in the grocery store: He goes in and the woman asks, “How can I help you?” He says, “Bring Moshiach.” She smiles and says, “I can’t do that.”
He says, “Yes, you can.” “How?” He explains. He continues to use every opportunity until the day when Moshiach will finally come.
MOSHIACH GETS YOU A BREAK ON THE RENT
A final story from R’ Schmerling: Some years ago, R’ Schmerling rented a store on the second floor in the business district of Kfar Yona and opened a Chabad house. This is where the davening, shiurim and the sale of Jewish religious items took place. After a year, R’ Schmerling What can we do now to prevent a further deterioration of our national security, certain to come with another wave of terrorist releases? Terror victims are demanding that the conclusions of the Shamgar Commission on the issue of captive soldiers be made public immediately. They want the passage of legislation forbidding the release of more than one terrorist in exchange for one Israeli. Such legislation will limit the number of murderers to be freed in future prisoner swaps. Furthermore, it would send a firm message to the dozens of terror cells now planning their next kidnapping of an Israeli soldier or citizen for the purpose of freeing more of their brethren from Israeli prisons. But more than that, it will make it clear to those who wish to shake Israeli deterrence that we will not yield to pressure tactics. We demand that the government of Israel convey an unequivocal message to the Palestinians that peace will not be achieved through releasing murderers or glorifying them as “shahids” in official public ceremonies. In addition, we demand
went over to the managers of the mall and asked for a reduction in the rent. They asked him why they should do this. He said, “You know that Moshiach is coming soon and then all the Jewish people will go en masse to Yerushalayim. There will be millions of people and the shuls from all over the world will land there with clouds and even your mall will land there. Thanks to our shul on the second floor, all the millions of people who come from all over the world will shop in your mall. Isn’t that a good reason for a reduction?” “The rabbi is right,” they said, and they reduced the rent by $100 a month from then on.
Continued from page 42 order is a foregone conclusion, provided that the matter is brought before him in accordance with the law of the land. Where are you concentrating your activities at this time? We have contacted the office of Mr. Peres and Ms. Livni, requesting that they grant us a meeting, together with the families of terror victims. During this meeting, we wish to present our position on the issue and explain what a grave mistake this proposal really is. In addition, we are calling upon the government of Israel to make a re-evaluation of its relations with the Palestinian Authority. For nearly twenty years, the successor to the PLO has systematically violated all of its agreements with the Jewish state, including the recent attempt to acquire United Nations recognition of its independent state and the recent upsurge in the throwing of rocks and Molotov cocktails on Israelis throughout Yerushalayim, Yehuda and Shomron.
that the government take action in accordance with international agreements, putting a swift end to the preferential treatment enjoyed by jailed terrorists. The persistent silence of the Netanyahu government on these issues requires an immediate change in national policy. Terrorist organizations and their supporters interpret this silence as an expression of acquiescence, if not total capitulation. We have often heard the promise that “our long arm will apprehend these criminals.” However, in order to prevent future terrorist attacks, we demand that this promise receive renewed power and authority. A guarantee from the prime minister that he will put an end to terrorist releases would send a proper message to the bereaved families that the blood of their lost loved ones is not cheap. A few words in conclusion: We must know that there is no alternative to national strength and a firm position on our rightful claim to Eretz Yisroel. Without this moral right, we will be unable to prevent future terrorist attacks.
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Stories from a Farbrengen with Rabbi Yaakov Goldberg. Transcribed and Adapted by Rabbi Bentzion Elisha
A WARM HOME, AN ILLUMINATING HOUSE
A few friends were discussing amongst themselves how to fix the marital problems they were experiencing. They decided to look into the treasure house of Rambam’s books for much needed advice. One individual suggested that the book dealing with Nizikindamages, would be the ideal place to look for the appropriate help. His reasoning was that since marriage is combative and is fraught with bitter arguments and is essentially a volatile power struggle in which serious damages resulted, the book of Nizikin would be the right place to find solace for their problems. A second friend disagreed and suggested that they look in the book of Ahava, love, since marriage is about enjoyment and love. A third fellow suggested that they would find the answer to their conundrum in the book of Nashim, women. Since marriage involves women, an entire book devoted to them should surely dispel any misunderstandings about the other gender’s nature.
A fourth guy negated the other three and stated firmly that the answer must be in the book of K’dusha, sanctification, since marriage is about and requires K’dusha, sanctity and holiness. It goes without saying that the guy who thought marriage is a battle of wills, the fellow who equated marriage to a love affair and also the man that theorized that a good marriage caters to a spouse’s human nature were all unfortunately unsuccessful in their marriages. The only one out of this entire bunch whose marriage made it past the challenges was the one who realized that a lasting marriage needs to be a dwelling place of K’dusha, holiness, a subjugation of the self for the benefit of the other. I vividly remember the private audience my wife and I had with the Rebbe on the 19th of Av, 1967. It was just four days after we were engaged on ChamishaAsar B’Av, the 15th of Av. In the meeting, the Rebbe blessed us with these words: “Ayir Zalt Oiyfboyen A Varme Un A Lichtiker Shtub, Un M’zahl Heren Fon Aiych B’suros Tovos – May you build a warm and an
illuminating home, and we should hear from you good tidings!” Contemplating these two points I realize that it wasn’t only a bracha, a blessing, but also a directive which contained a formula for a successful marriage. It isn’t enough to have a union in which only the individuals in the marriage are warm and comfortable. The house, the relationship, must be Lichtik, illuminating. A Jewish home should also cast an inspiring aura that changes the outside. Just like the Beis HaMikdash had windows that were “Shkufim Atumim,” they radiated the light to the outside world, so too it must be in a Jewish house. It should beam outwards with inviting, healing rays of light which brighten another’s experience with a helping hand. Attaining warmth and light for oneself isn’t enough; one must share it with others. When this condition is met, then K’dusha-holiness dwells there, and the couple attains a steadfast, everlasting light.
A FLAME FOR G-D
The Jewish people as a whole
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are also married; we are married to Hashem. Our marriage occurred on the mount of Sinai at the historic event of Mattan Torah, the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people. At this most auspicious and significant wedding of all time, Moshe was the Shoshvina D’Malka, the best man representing The Kinggroom, Hashem. The Shoshvina D’Matronisa, the bridesmaid of the queen the Jewish people, was Aharon. The credentials for Moshe might speak for themselves to explain how he merited this prestigious honor. However, a person can wonder and ask: why did Aharon merit such a great honor as being the escort of the Jewish people on this momentous union? In Likkutei Torah (pages 58-60) the Alter Rebbe makes a striking comparison between Avraham Avinu and Aharon that might shed some light on the subject. Although they both exhibited extraordinary Chesed, kindness, the expression of generosity they displayed was very different. Avraham as the first Jew spread the consciousness of One G-d versus the prevalent idolworship in the world at the time. He would make his many guests give thanks to the Creator after partaking of meals that he served them and compel people to acknowledge the One Supreme Being. Despite the giving nature of Avraham, we might still ask ourselves where Avrohom’s students are today. We can safely say that they are nowhere to be found. After Avraham died his students disappeared. He
gave and gave and gave some more. He never stopped giving. However, the “Nefashos Sh’Asu B’Charan,” the souls Sarah and he had touched and inspired, vanished after the contact with them was severed. Aharon on the other hand had an entirely different approach. In the Parsha of B’Haalos’cha, it says that Aaron elevated the candles on the menorah when he ignited them with a flame. The menorah is representative of the Jewish people as a whole, while each one of its seven
branches is compared to a certain type of Jew. The word used to describe this kindling is, B’Haalos’cha, which literally means to elevate. He didn’t just light them; rather he toiled to elevate them so that they would be “a flame that burns independently of him.” Aharon exerted effort in bringing out the Jewish people’s potential and empowered them through his teachings to be able to keep their inspiration alive by personal inner work of their own. Interestingly, we are
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specifically instructed to emulate Aharon. In Pirkei Avos (1:12), it is stated: “Hevei M’Talmidav Shel Aharon, Ohev Shalom, V’Rodef Shalom, Ohev Es Ha’brios, U’Mekarvan LaTorah – Be of the disciples of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving your fellow creatures, and bringing them close to the Torah.” Unlike Avrohom’s method, Aharon’s path does require of the recipient much effort and toil. Practically, how does an individual accomplish this? How do we keep the flame of devotion to G-d burning? 1. Let There Be Light Inside the Shtender at Hadar Ha’Torah we have stored at least one hundred candles. These candles are identical to the ones lit on top of the Shtender during the Davening. However, there is one major difference – they are missing a flame and therefore they are not illuminating. They need to be kindled. People, like candles, need to be kindled, otherwise they will not shine even though the potential is there... There is a condition though, a prerequisite for this stimulated luminous life experience. An individual has to be willing to be “kindled” in order to become lit by an Aharon... 2. Harnessing Desire The Zohar famously states that “Mo’ach Shalit Al HaLev – the mind rules over the heart.” However, the heart has some very powerful passions; therefore there is an ongoing struggle between the two as to who will prevail over the other. There are two possible scenarios that can play out in the duel between the mind and the heart. In the first scenario the heart leads the mind. A person will see something that jumpstarts the desire of the heart and then the heart introduces the mind to its cravings. This deceptive introduction has the goal of utilizing the mind to find justifications to obey and fulfill the heart’s wanton cravings. The order of this sequence is Lev-heart, Mo’ach-mind, and then Kaved-liver. It begins with the heart’s wish, and then leads to the mind’s justification and excuse, and then the liver’s vivifying the body with blood, signifying action. The acronym of this spells out Lemech. Lemech is a character in the Torah who symbolized the epitome of failure and misfortune, having made tragic mistakes that cost a couple of his family members their lives, G-d Forbid. A second scenario is made up of an entirely different order of events. In this second sequence the mind leads the heart. It reasons and comes to a decision of what is truly good. Then it involves the heart, harnessing it to utilize its characteristic trait of desire in order to help fulfill and obey the mind’s calculations. The order of this scenario is Mo’ach-mind, Lev-heart, and Kaved-liver. The mind’s conclusions initiate the process, the heart’s passion carries it, and the liver brings those desires into action. The acronym of this sequence spells out Melech, king. By aligning the mind with the Torah, the will of the King, an individual can triumphantly direct the desire of his heart and his actions on a G-dly path. Such a person is likened to a Melech, a king. This is the meaning of the saying in Pirkei Avos, “Who is a hero? He who rules over his desires.” The choice between success and failure on our spiritual mission in life is presented again and again. It is the choice between failing by following the heart’s foolish trappings, being a Lemech, or winning by choosing to align the mind, heart and one’s actions with the King’s Supernal Will, and thus becoming like a heroic ruler, a Melech, a king. 3. Recharging Radiance Last week I got a device called a cell phone. I put it in my pocket and every once in a while it makes a lot of noise and vibrates, insisting I pick it up. I take it in my hand and the screen on it is bright. I can easily reach or be reached now with this phone’s constant connectivity. A few days after I had this phone I noticed it wasn’t making any sounds or vibrating. I took it out of my pocket and noticed its screen wasn’t bright any more. I told my wife that this new device is probably dead. My wife told me that the device has a battery and that the battery needs to be recharged. I opened the box that it came in and found this charging instrument. I plugged this charger into the wall socket before I went to sleep and in the morning I placed the charged battery back in my phone. Amazingly enough, my phone’s screen was bright again, emitting light. The next time someone called, it produced its sounds and vibrated excitedly once more. People are very much like cell phones. When one’s battery is charged he can be full of radiance, emanating vibrations of inspiration to his surrounding environment. However, this battery over time does discharge.
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When it’s drained the person isn’t connected anymore, he becomes dull, quiet and dim. He isn’t radiant anymore. How does one recharge? A person can recharge by participating in a Chassidishe farbrengen. And on a daily basis, in order to maintain their charge and connection, Baalei Battim, married individuals, should maintain Kvius Itim LaTorah, set times for learning Torah. Bachurim should keep to their yeshiva’s daily schedule, to keep and increase in radiance. By utilizing these ‘chargers’ continuously, the constant connection is certain to last.
A TALE OF TWO KUGELS
A young couple came to a Rov one time, upset and emotional, declaring they wanted to divorce. The Rov invited them to sit and tell him all about their marital problems that had led them to this drastic decision. After a little investigating the Rov found the root of the problem. Apparently the Shabbos kugel was guilty of coming between these two newlyweds. In honor of the holy Shabbos the wife would make a delicious kugel to fulfill
the verse saying “Meangeha L ’olam Kavod Yinchalu – those who delight in the Shabbos will inherit eternal glory.” The husband was meticulous about the Halacha which states that a person should taste from the foods of Shabbos on Erev Shabbos. He was especially enthusiastic about it since he wanted to fulfill “Toameha Chaim Zachu – those who taste from these (Shabbos foods on Erev Shabbos) will merit eternal life.” He was adamant about beautifying this Mitzvah, inspired by the verse “V’Gam HaOhavim D’vareha Gedula Bacharu – even those who love its precepts have chosen a great portion.” It wasn’t enough for him to have just a little piece... A great big portion or even two or three big pieces weren’t enough either... He would eat the whole kugel! The woman was upset since she had no kugel to serve on Shabbos. The husband was upset because he wanted to eat the entire kugel Erev Shabbos. The Rov thought about this major dilemma and then advised the couple: The solution for this is a simple one. Why don’t you cook two kugels? One will be for
Erev Shabbos and one will be for Shabbos. This way both of you will be happy! This year is 5773 years since Creation; we are undeniably living in an era that is deemed Erev Shabbos, the afternoon before the Shabbos of creation, the Messianic Era. During the Messianic Era there will be an abundant amount of delicacies served. These delicacies are the revelations of the inner aspects of Torah, its inner dimension, an amazing revelation of G-dliness. It’s a Mitzvah to eat delicacies of Shabbos before Shabbos. These delicacies, these revelations, are served in Chasidic teachings. Hashem has generously prepared and created two “kugels,” one for Shabbos and one for Erev Shabbos. There is no doubt that the “kugel” for Shabbos is phenomenal; however a similar “kugel” is being served now on the platter of Chassidus. We don’t have to fear of eating the entire “kugel.” Hashem has made another one especially for Shabbos. Each one of us is invited to eat the “kugel” prepared especially for Erev Shabbos, pure revelations of G-dliness, now.
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We are given the delicacy of Chassidus for us to consume completely! in which the emphasis is that the reward is now! “S’char Mitzvah, Mitzvah – the reward of a Mitzvah is the fulfilling of the Mitzvah itself.” When we learn Torah, the “Anochi” dwells within us and is like consumed bread which becomes one with our flesh; this is an amazing union with the Almighty. Even though now we don’t sense it, the learning of Torah equals and elicits a revelation of Hashem. We are “paid” now; the payment is the amazing privilege to actually fulfill the Master of the Universe’s Supernal Will. What an incredible fact! When a person is learning Torah that is a great accomplishment! When an individual learns, he transforms a mere day into a successful one. What greater accomplishment and success in a person’s day is there if not for the involvement with Hashem personally? You don’t have to wait for a fuller grasp in some future time; you can start to taste the labor of your fruits today, when you learn Torah, right this very moment! In light of the Chasidic teachings on the subject, the question a person should ask himself is not “Did I learn Torah today or not?” The question ought to be, “How many times did I learn Torah today?” campaigns. The reason for our adherence should simply be because “Rebbe says!” We shouldn’t depend on our limited and biased understanding to make decisions, picking and choosing what seems good to us. There is no need to afford great attentions to doubts, delving into elaborate debates and explanations, searching if a teaching or Horaa-directive is perfectly tailored to our personal comfort zones or proclivities. We must disregard our personal agendas. It’s in our best interest to subdue ourselves to the authority of the Rebbe. When we nullify ourselves to the Rebbe, it in turn helps us to be nullified to what the Rebbe is nullified to. And when we bond ourselves with the Rebbe, it enables us to be bonded with what the Rebbe is bonded with. We must realize the Rebbe’s far reaching vision truly encompasses ‘the big picture’ far beyond that which we can fathom. We can compare this to a child who must trust that the parent knows best even though he might not fully understand the reason. If a child questions the parent on every little thing he does or says, as is so common here in America, it could be quite disastrous. The Rebbe is our father and our mother! We are given the merit to choose to be a smart child and trust the Rebbe’s words without question. We can be assured that his instruction is for the ultimate good in general and also in particular for us on a personal level. Any contrary claim, doubt or hesitation should be quickly stamped out with the firm answer “Because the Rebbe says so!” Likewise, as we follow
AN ESSENTIAL REVELATION!
The Talmud (Shabbos, 95a) adds a new dimension to the word “Anochi” which appears in the very first of the Aseres HaDibros, the Ten Commandments: “Anochi Hashem Elokecha – I am the L-rd, your G-d.” It reveals that the acronym these letters stand for is “Anochi Nafshi Kesavis Y’havis – I placed myself in these writings.” Hashem declares that He puts his very self into the Torah! If we take a moment to reflect upon and internalize what that actually means, we would understand that by learning Torah we are dealing with the Creator Himself intimately, face to face! When we learn Torah we are connecting and uniting with Hashem’s Ratzon HaElyon, Supernal Will. When we learn Chassidus, the inner aspect of Torah, we are internalizing the inner aspects, the essence of Hashem! Isn’t this just astounding? Isn’t this awe-inspiring? Some people emphasize that the reward for Torah and Mitzvos will be L ’Asid Lavo, at the time of the complete redemption, or in Gan Eden. Practically, that means that their learning of the Torah and the performance of the Mitzvos are like an unwanted burden which an individual will perform just because of the reward he will get later. An example of this could be an uninspired worker who is stuck in a job he doesn’t like yet holds unto it only for the paycheck. Chassidus revealed a completely different perspective
BEYOND DOUBT OR REASON
The second chapter of Pirkei Avos starts with the words “Rebbe Omer – Rebbe says.” After that it continues with many golden teachings, but the very first words are “Rebbe says.” This teaches us how to approach the Rebbe, his teachings, directives and
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the Rebbe’s path, we shouldn’t do so because of our grasp or comprehension in whatever matter, but solely because “the Rebbe says so!”
A PERMISSIBLE DESECRATION
It is written that “Sheina B’Shabbos Taanug – sleeping on Shabbos is a pleasure.” Many people enjoy observing this special “Mitzvah” and sleep during the Shabbos afternoon. When a Farbrengen happens on Shabbos some people are tempted to forgo the Farbrengen since the Mitzvah of sleeping on Shabbos is so great and the Farbrengen would become a clear obstacle to its fulfillment. Another Halacha states that you may violate the Shabbos to save a life. The rationale behind this is that you are violating one Shabbos in order to enable the individual to observe many Shabbasos in the future. We can apply this Halacha to those who abstain from Shabbos farbrengens in order to fulfill the essential mitzvah of sleeping on Shabbos. To them we can say, “Violate your Shabbos, your special Mitzvah of sleeping, so you can enable yourself to have many more inspired Shabbasos!” In addition to the great adherence to this Mitzvah of sleeping, other holy excuses can come up, buttressed with substantial legitimate claims such as “it is very important to spend time with one’s wife and kids,” or ‘”my wife will miss me,” etc. To pre-empt these kinds of claims, I assure you that by participating in a Chassidishe Farbrengen or a Shiur, not only will your family survive and not think less of you for being absent, on the contrary. Since you will be enlivened and awakened by
it, your wife and children will admire you!
A LASTING RESOLUTION
At the conclusion of a Farbrengen we must pinpoint something to take away from it to implement into our lives. Regardless of what you choose to take with you, I’d like to highlight the importance of learning Chassidus. Aside from it being a Gilui Elokus, a revelation of G-dliness, it solidifies and internalizes the awareness of “Ani Hashem Elokechem Emes – I the L-rd your G-d am the truth.” It is vital to learn Chabad Chassidus every single day! *** Rabbi Yaakov Goldberg is an admired and beloved educator who merited to be called a Lamdan, a diligent scholar, by the
Rebbe. He is the Rosh Yeshiva of Hadar HaTorah and a Meishiv in Tomchei T’mimim in 770. Hadar HaTorah is the world’s first Baal T’shuva Yeshiva (for Jewish men with little or no formal background in Jewish knowledge or practice) literally transforming thousands of lives since its founding in 1962. The program offers full time and part time curriculums as well as shorter learning retreats such as Yeshiva Shabbos and the ten day Yeshivacation, both in Brooklyn (winter) and their Catskill Mountains campgrounds(summer). Telephone (718) 735-0250 HadarHatorah.org Rabbi Bentzion Elisha is an award winning photographer and writer based in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
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WHAT CAUSES DOUBTS IN EMUNA?
A compilation of Chassidic stories written by R’ Chaim Ashkenazi a”h.
EMUNA IN HASHEM
THE FIRST THING IS EMUNA
Chassidim explain the words we say in the davening, “Ein K’Elokeinu … Mi K’Elokeinu”: why do we first say there is no one like our G-d and then ask who is like our G-d? The reason is that after we have the foundation of our emuna straight, that there is nobody like our G-d, only then can we try and understand who is like our G-d, i.e. ask questions.
The Tzemach Tzedek asked him: Do you believe there is a czar? Yes, said the man. Did you ever see him? asked the Tzemach Tzedek. No, said the man. So how can you believe there is a czar? asked the Rebbe. My brother saw him and he told me, said the man. And it’s not like the belief in the existence of G-d, since I didn’t see Him and my brother never saw Him. The Rebbe said: Believe me. I see Him.
WHERE DO DOUBTS COME FROM?
A Chassid brought his son-inlaw to the Tzemach Tzedek and complained that the son-in-law’s emuna was weak and he had questions about Hashem. The Tzemach Tzedek spoke to him and explained everything to him. Then he said, “When one drinks gentile milk, one has questions in emuna.”
THOUGHTS UNDER THE TALLIS
A Chassid once meditated on the greatness of G-d, how He is Sovev Kol Almin (transcends all worlds) and is Memalei Kol Almin (immanent within all worlds). Then a doubt crept into his mind – who said this was really so? Another Chassid who was standing nearby lifted his tallis and said, “Feh, feh!”
of Prague. After the Maharal told him to thoroughly learn the principles of our faith, he told him he had to have himself circumcised and then he had to immerse in a mikva. When the goy heard the conversion process, he asked: I made such great efforts in my studies and I had a bris mila. What purpose is there in immersing in a mikva? The Maharal said: After you immerse, a few weeks later, we will make a party to mark your entering the Jewish people. At the party, remind me of your question and I’ll answer it. When the party took place, the Maharal waited for the convert to ask his question, but he wasn’t forthcoming. The Maharal said to him: You had a question you wanted to ask … The convert said: Now I no longer have the question.
HIDDUR MITZVA AND MESIRUS NEFESH
The Rebbe Rashab suffered terribly from toothaches, but did not want to have fillings put in because he was concerned about the fillings absorbing chametz, which would create a problem on Pesach. He once went with
WHEN THE REBBE SEES
Someone asked the Tzemach Tzedek how he could believe in G-d when he doesn’t see Him.
A JEW HAS NO QUESTIONS
A gentile who wanted to convert went to the Maharal
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Start davening superficially and you eventually begin to do it with a p’nimius.
Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah to Hungary where he was going to meet Rabbi Akiva Sofer. The Rebbetzin asked R’ Sofer to speak to the Rebbe about his stringency and tell him there was no halachic reason for it, because it was only a distant concern. Rav Sofer said this to the Rebbe, who replied: Believe me; this distant concern causes me more pain than a toothache.
when he returned from prison and said: “I am going back to prison – the main thing being that you do not have to go to school.”
P’NIMIUS AND CHITZONIUS
A person collecting tz’daka entered the Rebbe’s home and saw the Rebbe sitting and learning without wearing his outer garment. The man said: They taught me that you must learn with fear and trepidation and this is why you need to wear an outer garment. The Rebbe replied: I was taught that the main thing is what is under the garment.
The Rebbe Rashab was known to follow many stringencies on Pesach, such as wiping the spoon each time after putting it into his mouth. They asked him: It says “lo yi’uneh l’tzaddik kol avven!” (No harm-sin will occur to a tzaddik). He said: That verse was not said regarding a hiddur mitzva.
IMMERSING IN ICE
R’ Mendel Futerfas once fell into a frozen river when he was in Siberia and was miraculously saved. When they took him out they saw he was laughing. He explained that he was happy since he had finally immersed after a long time in which he could not immerse due to the cold and ice.
MAN OR HORSE?
R’ Yisroel Ruzhin told his attendants not to allow anyone to enter his room without letting him know ahead of time and obtaining his permission. A famous wealthy person once appeared at R’ Yisroel’s court, who had apparently given a gift to the attendant so he would allow him in to see the Rebbe immediately. The attendant let him in, without informing the Rebbe ahead of time. Afterward, R’ Yisroel was annoyed and said: When I am told in advance, I prepare myself so I can see the man in him. Since this man entered without prior notice, I did not have adequate time to prepare and he looked like a horse to me.
in Italy with two Chassidim: R’ Avrohom Bobroisker and R’ Koppel Zeligson. R’ Avrohom was extremely humble (he was exceedingly battul in the presence of the Rebbe), while R’ Koppel was a very expansive personality. Their host served them a new fruit that they had never seen before, and the Rebbe and the Chassidim said the SheHechiyanu bracha and began eating it. It tasted terrible and they could barely eat enough to fulfill the obligation of having recited the bracha. The Rebbe, however, sat and ate it. It was apparent that he was not thinking about what he ate but about loftier matters. The Rebbe suddenly sensed that the Chassidim were not eating and he asked them why they had stopped – was there a question or problem with the fruit? R’ Avrohom, who was battul like the dust of the earth, did not dare to respond, but R’ Koppel said the fruit had no halachic problem, “but we just can’t eat it.” When the Rebbe heard this, he took another little bit of the fruit, tasted it, and said: Yes, as you said, it’s not edible. And he did not eat any more of it.
I’M GOING RIGHT BACK
R’ Yisroel Neveler (Levin) was once arrested because he was unwilling to send his children to public school in Russia. When he was released and went home, he saw one of his daughters leaving the house with a briefcase. He asked her where she was going and she said, “To school. If I don’t show up, they would arrest you again.” R’ Yisroel immediately took the little bundle he had with him
Someone once told the Rebbe that he had stopped davening because he felt that it was only superficial. The Rebbe replied: Regarding Torah study and mitzvos it says, “from doing it not for the sake of Heaven, you will come to doing it for the sake of Heaven.” Start davening superficially and you will eventually begin to do it with a p’nimius.
THE REBBE DID NOT NOTICE THE TASTE
The Rebbe Rashab was once
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ON THE WAY TO REALIZING THE DREAM: A CHABAD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
From the life of R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman Serebryanski a”h. Prepared for publication by Avrohom Rainitz
THE REBBE’S INTEREST IN THE OPENING OF THE SCHOOL
Throughout the years, the Rebbe took a very great interest in the development of the mosdos in Melbourne. He often urged R’ Zalman to write him detailed reports about what was going on and when several weeks went by without a report, the Rebbe mentioned this in his next letter. For example, Erev Yom Kippur 5715, R’ Zalman wrote a relatively short letter (one page) to the Rebbe with details about the development of the school over the previous three months since the new building was opened. R’ Zalman told the Rebbe that about thirty children came in the afternoon for Jewish studies and after the Yomim Tovim additional students were expected. He also wrote briefly about his plans to open a preschool and elementary school. He ended his short letter with a request for a bracha: I see that Hashem conducts Himself with us in a manner above nature, and may Hashem help us in the days to come with much success that the holy mosad be strengthened and develop in
quality and quantity to raise the glory of Judaism in this country. For now, we have difficulties arranging the classes because the students are of different categories, but we hope with Hashem’s help that it will all work out. I beseech and ask Hashem to have mercy on me so that I can arrange for myself set times to learn Nigleh and Chassidus and for t’filla, and that I be worthy to be involved in the yeshiva and be mekushar with the innermost part of my heart to the Rebbe, and may Hashem have mercy on me that my sons and daughter and sonin-law with their daughter merit to fulfill the Rebbe’s wishes, each in their way, in good health and with ample parnasa and that we all merit to see the Rebbe soon. In response to this letter, a letter was sent to R’ Zalman by the secretariat on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan: Your letter of Erev Yom Kippur was received and it is surprising that since then you don’t mention any of your good activities. Surely you used the days of Tishrei in the appropriate way and certainly you will report this in detail at the next opportunity.
Surely you already received a letter from the Rebbe with blessings for the new year. Respectfully and with blessing A. Quint Secretary
CONTACT WITH R’ NACHUM TREBNIK
R’ Zalman probably wrote briefly due to the lack of time on Erev Yom Kippur. Therefore, before he received the secretary’s letter, he wrote a more detailed letter on 2 Cheshvan. At the beginning of his letter he told the Rebbe that since his last letter another ten students had joined the afternoon Jewish studies program, so that now they were forty. The great success of the program was due to the high level of learning and also because of the fact that unlike other shuls that arranged Jewish studies for the children of their members only once or twice a week (usually on Sundays which is why they were called Sunday School), the Jewish studies at the Chabad yeshiva took place five days a week. The increase in the number of students made it necessary to hire good teachers and R’ Zalman reported that R’ Leibel New,
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who was a talmid of the Chabad yeshiva back in Shepparton, had joined the staff. Also, the bachur Yitzchok Gelbard, who was a talmid of the yeshiva, taught in the afternoon. Gelbard was convinced by two bachurim who had learned in Telz in Cleveland to learn there too, but he taught boys in the lower classes until he went. R’ Zalman wrote that he also tried to convince R’ Nachum Babroker of Sydney to join the staff. He summed up his efforts as follows, “We need teachers who know English. We would settle for those who don’t know the language well, but for now we cannot find any at all.” Anash joined the effort and R’ Betzalel Wilschansky committed to teaching every day. R’ Zalman wrote to the Rebbe that he was also trying to recruit R’ Abba Pliskin, and at a meeting of Anash they would try to bring it up with him. R’ Zalman also wrote that contact was being made with R’ Nachum Trebnik, a teacher in the yeshiva in Brunoy and later on the rav in Kfar Chabad, to convince him to join the staff of the yeshiva in Melbourne. R’ Zalman noted that R’ Nachum was known for his tremendous scholarship. If he joined the yeshiva, this would attract good bachurim. R’ Zalman also contacted R’ Mordechai Levin (Neveler) who, being young and dynamic, would be able to easily learn the language and work successfully with the youngsters in Melbourne. R’ Yaakov Eliezer Herzog, one of the first talmidim of the yeshiva, worked on this while he was learning in a yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel. He felt a sense of responsibility for the yeshiva in Melbourne and met with
R’ Nachum Trebnik
outstanding young men in Eretz Yisroel in order to convince them to travel to Australia. In his letters to R’ Zalman, Herzog wrote that he reported to the Rebbe about these contacts, but since it entailed large sums of money, R’ Zalman did not want to deal with it before receiving the Rebbe’s approval.
GREAT INVESTMENT IN THE FIRST CLASS
At this time, R’ Zalman’s son Chaim worked on registering children for the first full-day class. This was very hard work since most of the families were not religious and did not understand the need for a Jewish school. Parents from low socioeconomic backgrounds wanted to save money on tuition and preferred sending their children to public school which was free. They saw no problem with their children learning with non-Jews. Even when he met with parents with a stronger Jewish identity, who understood the importance of a Jewish education, many of them wanted to send their children to the Har
HaTzofim School of the Mizrachi movement which had opened. R’ Chaim went from house to house and convinced parents that for the sake of their children they should register them in the Chabad school. To parents who preferred Har HaTzofim, he emphasized that this school was an hour away from the Jewish center and the children would have to travel two hours a day. The Chabad school was in walking distance. He also stressed the fact that in public school and in Har HaTzofim, there were thirty children in a class and the teachers were unable to give personal attention to each child. He promised about ten children per class and said their children would receive the attention they needed. R’ Chaim did not speak about tuition at all so as not to scare off the parents who sent their children to public school for financial reasons. Every evening he devoted three hours to talking to parents of children. After dozens of house calls, he was able to register ten students for the first class. He was exhausted and consoled himself by thinking it would be easier the following year, assuming that these children would bring their brothers and so on.
THE REBBE REACHES OUT TO R’ MORDECHAI RICH
Among the children who were registered were twins, children of a friend of the yeshiva, R’ Mordechai Rich. He was a warm person who owned a large clothing business. He was an enormous help to Anash who entered the world of business. He was aligned with the Mizrachi party in his outlook and
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“Therefore, side matters should not be mixed in here, for sometimes we are scared off by side matters, whether it’s a party or politics, and we lose the opportunity to connect with the Torah of life and its mitzvos.”
for a while he served as president of the Mizrachi movement of Melbourne. Naturally, at first he looked askance at Chabad’s work, but the relationship between him and Lubavitcher Chassidim in the world of business also drew him into their inner world. When R’ Chaim suggested that he send his boys to the Chabad school, he candidly said that his views were not in accordance with Chabad chinuch since he was an ardent Zionist and the Chabad yeshiva was definitely not of that persuasion. Nevertheless, since one of his twins needed personal attention to succeed in his learning, he would register him in the Chabad school. He ended up being so satisfied with the personal attention his son received that a few weeks later he switched his other son to the same class. Aside from the personal attention, Mr. Rich was pleased by the high scholastic level of the school. By the end of the year, his children could read Hebrew fluently and had even started learning Chumash. He knew that in Har HaTzofim they would have to spend another two years in order to achieve that, and his estimation of a Chabad chinuch increased dramatically. The fact that his sons attended the Chabad school strengthened his ties to the school and he became a friend and supporter of the yeshiva even though his views remained Zionist.
When the series of Igros Kodesh were printed, it was apparent that he had written to the Rebbe with questions about the necessity of a Chabad school. From the response letter printed there, it turns out that he had yechidus with the Rebbe, as in this letter the Rebbe writes, “Surely you remember our conversation.” B”H 11 Menachem Av 5715 Peace and blessing! I received your letter and was happy to read that you are starting to take a serious role in Yeshivas Oholei Yosef Yitzchok Lubavitch in Melbourne. I hope that energetic action and the needed efforts will bring blessing and success from Hashem. If, in all times and places, there was a necessity for a Torah center that is bound up with fear of Heaven, all the more so in our times and in such a place where the Jewish community is starting to grow is it necessary to invest the greatest energy and engrave firmly in one’s mind and heart the statement of the Sages that whoever saves a Jewish soul is like one who sustains an entire world. Previously, a Jewish school for a child saved him from ignorance and made him into someone knowledgeable and, in the cases of many children, a scholar too. However, in our days unfortunately, we must
think of saving children so that they remain Jews. For this, we cannot rely on the environment etc., but must build schools for them that guarantee that they will remain Jews. It is not necessary to go on at length about this. … However, it is of utmost importance to avoid giving the yeshiva a political coloration or party character since learning Torah is not associated with politics or any party. This is one of the reasons for the success that Lubavitch mosdos enjoy, for they have always been apolitical. If you contemplate this deeply, the Torah was given simultaneously to all 600,000 Jews, from the greatest to the smallest, and they all heard the Dibros simultaneously – “I am Hashem Elokecha, Remember the Shabbos, Do not covet” – they are for all Jews. From Anochi we need to reach not only “Remember the Shabbos” but also “Do not covet.” Likewise, you cannot be careful about not coveting if it is not based on “I am Hashem Elokecha” and if all efforts are not invested in fulfilling “Remember the Shabbos.” Therefore, side matters should not be mixed in here, for sometimes we are scared off by side matters, whether it’s a party or politics, and we lose the opportunity to connect with the Torah of life and its mitzvos. Surely you remember our conversation, and I hope that it is unnecessary to reiterate and ask and urge you to act on behalf of the Yeshiva Oholei Yosef Yitzchok Lubavitch to whatever extent possible and to use your great influence in this … With blessings for success in all the above and in your personal matters. I await good news.
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MOSHIACH & GEULA
RESURRECTION FOR ALL
By Rabbi Gershon Avtzon
Dear Reader sh’yichyeh This week we are going to discuss the introduction we say before each chapter of Pirkei Avos: All Israel have a share in the World To Come, as it is stated, And Your people are tzaddikim (righteous) they shall inherit the land forever, they are the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, in which I take pride. The reason we start each recitation of Pirkei Avos with this Mishna is because we learn these chapters in the weeks leading up to Shavuos, as a preparation for receiving the Torah. The first step to that is improving in Ahavas Yisroel (see Rashi to Shmos 19:2). We therefore remind ourselves that every Jew has a portion in Olam Haba, and it is not (G-d forbid) beneath us to help him physically or spiritually. (Likkutei Sichos 1:262-3) A simple reading of this Mishna indicates that all Jewish people will be resurrected in the times of Moshiach. However, the Mishna then enumerates several categories of people — sinners — who will not have a portion in the resurrection. One of the types is a person who does not believe in the resurrection. Because Hashem punishes “measure for measure,” this person does not merit being a part of the resurrection. However, the Rebbe explains
(Igros Kodesh Vol. 1, pp. 141153) that even these people have ways to “join” the resurrection: 1) If the individual repents, even at the end of his/her life. This is written clearly in Rambam, Hilchos T’shuva; 2) If this individual has a very righteous son. This is based on the Talmud (Sanhedrin 104a) that states, “A son brings merit to his father.” This is true even if the parent did not do t’shuva. It also applies even if the son does not pray that the father be granted resurrection. The same would be true if the father was a righteous man and the son was a sinner; 3) If other righteous people pray on behalf of the individual. Included in this category is if others give tz’daka in this person’s honor. This holds true even if the person does not have a righteous descendant. (See Chagiga 15b). 4) If the sinners were embarrassed after their death, it helps them enter the World of Truth. This can be derived from the statement in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Kilayim 9:3)
regarding the sinner Yerovam. It states that since his body was burned years after his death, he will be resurrected. 5) Even if one does not have any of the above merits, his soul will be resurrected nevertheless. Most of us are reincarnations of previous souls. The soul of a body that does not merit resurrection will join another part of its soul reincarnated in a different body. (See Seifer HaGilgulim, Chapter 5.) 6) Other commentaries add: The Mishna only enumerates the list of people that do not deserve to be resurrected in their own merit. However, Hashem will show his great mercy and resurrect them anyways. From the above it is clear that every soul will be resurrected into a physical body in the time of T’chiyas HaMeisim. 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.
The Mishna only enumerates the list of people that do not deserve to be resurrected in their own merit. However, Hashem will show his great mercy and resurrect them anyways.
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SHLEIMUS HA’ARETZ / INTERVIEW
‘RELEASING TERRORISTS BRINGS MORE TERROR’
In an exclusive interview with “Beis Moshiach,” Lt. Col. Meir Indor, chairman of the Almagor Terror Victims Association, speaks about the Netanyahu government’s plans to release more terrorists with Jewish blood on their hands: “The government of Israel is losing its moral right to demand that the world fight against terror when it releases terrorists on its own.”
By Sholom Ber Crombie Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
ast week, the Israeli media publicized a shocking news item, which incredibly failed to arouse more than a whimper of public outcry. According to the media reports, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his minister of justice, Tzippi Livni, are planning to free more terrorists. This time, it’s
not because of an IDF soldier being held hostage, rather a public relations gesture to the Palestinian Authority. This scheme is being advanced by the justice minister, who has already submitted a request for their release. The reports state that this will even include terrorists with blood on their hands, terrorists
who murdered Jews long before the Oslo Accords. This step is apparently being taken as part of a concerted effort to jumpstart the “peace process,” giving the PLO leadership a justifiable reason to return to the negotiating table. Constantly working behind the scenes in opposition to these various diplomatic initiatives on releasing terrorists is Lt. Col. Meir Indor, chairman of the Almagor Terror Victims Association. In recent months, according to Col. Indor, the Palestinian Authority has conducted a massive campaign, organizing international pressure upon the government of Israel to free more terrorists. The process would begin with the release of so-called “veteran terrorists,” i.e., terrorists imprisoned for attacks prior to the Oslo Accords. Why is the government bending to these dictates and considering a release of more terrorists?
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The Palestinian statement is quite clear. It declares above all that if the government of Israel wants to return to the negotiating table, it first must carry out two additional steps: a renewed settlement freeze and another release of jailed terrorists. This statement is backed by Israeli officials, who claim that after the Shalit deal had strengthened Hamas, there is now a need to strengthen those they believe to be the true diplomatic partners – Abu Mazen and his gang. This is a process that has been in the works for several months, and the new proposal for releasing terrorists is merely the first stage. As a result of an inquiry we recently conducted, we revealed various documents, including a list of the 120 terrorists whose files are currently being reviewed by Justice Minister Livni. All of them are murderers with Jewish blood on their hands, not a bunch of old men. For our part, we are now disclosing the full list, and we will post it on our website to make it available for all to see. These aren’t terrorists who merely tried to carry out attacks; they actually murdered Jews. Even the late Yitzchak Rabin refused to include them in the list of prisoners he released as prime minister as part of the Oslo Accords, due to the severity of their crimes. While the Oslo Accords contained an entire section about a goodwill gesture of releasing terrorists, Rabin refrained from letting them go. Now they claim that they’re advanced in age – from the preOslo era. However, we’ve already seen how dead terrorists can be restored to life, after their release from prison and their return to terrorist activities. The seniormost of these terrorists in jail has been there for fifteen to twenty years. These are killers, not
senior citizens. Rabin was worried about making another terrorist release after the massive release following the Jibril Agreement. He also knew that the feelings of the bereaved families of terror victims must be taken into consideration. Therefore, he decided not to free these murderers. Now, the concern is that Livni will press for their release. Regrettably, we have just seen how an aura of contempt has developed regarding the need to give terrorists stiff prison sentences, particularly since the Gilad Shalit deal. It has left many families of terror victims with the feeling that the murderers will go unpunished. Now, we hear about the Palestinian Authority pressuring the government of Israel to release (another) 120 murderers, including the perpetrators of the “Night of
What we have here are two groups styled after the Mafia and its tactics.
their previous activities? There’s an existing phenomenon in the world of crime, and it exists in terrorism as well: Arabs infected with the terrorist bug go back to their former activities as soon as they are released. At the time of the Oslo Accords, there were terrorists freed from prison who had merely attempted to commit murder. However, after their release, they succeeded in actually carrying out terrorist attacks and murdering innocent Jews. There’s a certain pool of Islamic extremists who engage in violent activities, and when they are incarcerated, it strikes a
the Pitchforks” terrorist attack that killed three IDF soldiers in 1992. One hundred members of the Jordanian Parliament issued a letter requesting that any proposed terrorist release should include the Jordanian soldier who massacred seven high school girls from Beit Shemesh in 1997. Even terrorists who had returned to their earlier violent practices and were re-arrested, after their release in the Gilat Shalit prisoner swap, were set free again due to pressure tactics by the Palestinians and also by certain Israeli authorities. Are you concerned that the released terrorists will return to
Issue 884 • �
mortal blow to terrorism. These murderers are not a “bottomless pit,” as some would have you believe. There is no endless reservoir of terrorists; that’s simply a fable. Just as a tank brigade is limited, and when you run out of tanks, the threat disappears, similarly, when you weaken the terrorists, their ability to harm others begins to evaporate. Up until the Shalit deal, most of the terrorists were behind bars, and terrorism was at a very low level. As soon as they were released, a wave of terror activities commenced. This has led to the current situation, similar to the second intifada, which came as a result of the Jibril Agreement. During the past two years, terrorists have been set free who Rabin never would have agreed to spring. They had been released under the pressure of those working on behalf of the family of hostage soldier Gilad Shalit. However, there are still many others remaining in jail, and the Palestinian Authority now comes along and says, “Give us our pound of flesh.” The political left claims that we must release terrorists now as a means of reinforcing the Palestinian Authority, after Hamas become stronger following the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap. What we have here are two groups styled after the Mafia and its tactics. One group professes that it will bring greater quiet to the region if we release the terrorists. Nevertheless, they are criminals all the same. I also look at things from a long-term perspective, including upon the wheels of justice. In this light, the group that seemingly champions the cause of peace and tranquility has already proven its propensity for terrorism. I’m referring to the violence of the second intifada from nearly thirteen years ago, initiated not by Hamas, but by the Palestinian Authority – including the Palestinian security forces. In other words, the fact that there are efforts at this time to create friendlier and more cordial relations between the two sides is something very temporary. Then, there’s the matter of ethics and justice. There are Jewish families sitting and waiting for the return of their sons, brothers, and husbands – among the ultra-nationalist prisoners convicted for their activities against Arabs. When a call went out for their immediate freedom in connection with the deal to free Gilad Shalit, the Israel Ministry of Justice claimed that the release of the Hamas terrorists was mandated by necessity. However, you just can’t pile one wrong upon another, grabbing the proverbial rope from both ends. It is impossible to come now and say that since we released Hamas terrorists to complete the deal to free Gilad Shalit, we now have to release the terrorists of the Palestinian Authority. These murderers should receive punishment according to the fullest extent of the law. The victims’ families are entitled to see justice rendered on behalf of their loved ones. According to the letter of the law, these terrorists should be sentenced to death. However, since the government of Israel does not follow this approach, despite the fact that this would be in line with Israeli law, the least we should expect is for these murderers to remain imprisoned for the maximum amount of time prescribed by the criminal justice system. Do you think that the atmosphere surrounding the Shalit deal created this situation? The release of terrorists stemming from the Shalit deal is one of the primary causes of the escalating violence throughout Yehuda and Shomron. After a lengthy period of relative quiet, stemming in large measure from the fact that most terrorists were in prison, the region is again in a state of unrest. Those released in the Shalit deal are the ones who are now inciting the Arabs to commit acts of terror, thereby endangering the lives of Yesha residents. Israeli leaders cannot detach themselves from their responsibility to the new situation. With its shameful decision to release more than a thousand terrorists, including dangerous murderers and senior terrorist chieftains, the government of Israel has opened the door to more terrorist attacks. Therefore, we must shut that door now. Do you think that Tzippi Livni has any qualms about releasing these terrorists? While the justice minister has described this issue as very complex and most difficult, it would seem that such statements were meant primarily for the media to prove that she will make her decision only after much careful and thoughtful consideration. In the final analysis, however, she’ll advance the process without paying serious attention to the security consequences. Only recently, the president of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres, gave a media interview in which he explained that he supports the proposal terrorist release. In effect, this means that his signature on any amnesty Continued on page 27
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