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THE REVELATION AT SINAI CHANGED MY LIFE
4 16 19
D’var Malchus Parsha Thought Moshiach & Geula
SHLOIMKE 20 R’ Menachem Ziegelboim WILL BE A REBBE 30 “HE LIKE MY FATHER-IN-
R’ Chaim Ashkenazi a”h.
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REBBE’S GUIDANCE 34 THE Avrohom Rainitz PREVENTING 38 WHO’S CONSTRUCTION IN YERUSHALAYIM?
Sholom Ber Crombie
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STEPPING OUT OF THE STATUS QUO OF EXILE
When one is physically stuck in a place, somewhere he should not be, and not moving forward, then – notwithstanding his great progress within that place, advancing within that space, that realm – he is still in Mitzrayim! * If you’re stuck in a rut, know that it is Mitzrayim, and it is necessary to leave Mitzrayim and journey onward, until you arrive at Yarden Yericho, an allusion to “morach va’da’in – he [Moshiach] smells and renders judgment.”
Translated by Boruch Merkur
SO MANY JOURNEYS OUT OF A SINGLE MITZRAYIM
Likkutei Torah points out a difficulty in understanding the verse, “’These are the journeys of the Jewish people, who left the Land of Mitzrayim, etc.’ – ‘journeys’ in the plural. For it would seem that the Jewish people’s exodus from Mitzrayim was a single journey, the journey from Ramses to Sukkos, whereas the rest of the journeys no longer constitute ‘leaving the Land of Mitzrayim.’ Why then does it say ‘journeys’ in the plural?” The Alter Rebbe, author of Likkutei Torah, goes on to explain that all the journeys along the way were considered an exodus from Mitzrayim since
they had not yet arrived at their final destination; it wasn’t until they arrived at Yarden Yericho, the entrance into the Holy Land, that their journey from Mitzrayim was complete. To elaborate: The concept of Mitzrayim can be discussed at various levels. There is, for example, Mitzrayim that conveys evil, as well as a representation of Mitzrayim in the realm of holiness. [But in general] when one is physically stuck in a place, somewhere he should not be, and not moving forward, then – notwithstanding his great progress within that place, advancing within that space, that realm – he is still in Mitzrayim! [It is perhaps more clear how this concept applies
to the realm of evil. For so long as one is caught up in evil, even were he to move forward within that realm, he remains in a state of darkness. The innovation here is more pronounced with regard to the parallel concept of Mitzrayim, the concept of Mitzrayim as it appears in the realm of holiness. Progress there, prior to arriving at one’s destination, fulfilling the mission with which one is charged, is still called Mitzrayim. It is still seen as an incomplete journey, still in the midst of the initial stage of leaving “Mitzrayim,” which means limitation, confinement.] This point is expressed by the old adage about a clock: it goes on and on but never moves from its spot… It says in T’hillim, “days have been formed and not one of them is [in] his [power, the person’s power, to add or diminish from the allotment of days].” G-d grants individuals a predetermined number of days and does not vary by adding a single day to that allotment or by negating a single day, and one must accomplish something every day he is granted. Thus, it is vital to know that inasmuch as one does not achieve anything, or in the event that he merely holds on to the status quo – that does
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not suffice; more must be done. If you’re stuck in a rut, know that it is Mitzrayim, and it is necessary to leave Mitzrayim and journey onward, until you arrive at Yarden Yericho, [here the word “Yericho – Jericho” serves as] an allusion to “morach va’da’in – he [Moshiach] smells and renders judgment” [“for with the wisdom of the Alm-ghty, which is within him, he shall know and understand who is innocent and who is guilty” ––Rashi on Yeshayahu 11:3] with the imminent coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu.
WHEN YOU KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING, WHY DELAY?
We shall indeed arrive at
our destination, eventually. all the Jewish people the slightest That being the case, when you bit; he would be concerned to know you are certainly going speed it up as much as possible. to get somewhere, why bother Especially knowing the ruling dawdling on the way? The nature of Rambam that the world is of a person is that when he in a state of equilibrium, and a knows he is going somewhere in single action can tilt the scales particular, he does not want to of the world’s judgment to the go off on a tangent of wandering, side of favor. Then this personal further subjecting himself to the assessment is not only in order exertions of travel. He doesn’t to speed up the redemption but want to spend so much time on it is possible that by a single the way to where he’s going; he action he brings the redemption wants to get to his destination as immediately. Therefore, certainly quickly as possible. Express Express service a service Jew should act without delay. Fully Computerized Fully Computerized He should leave Mitzrayim This is particularly the case when one makes an assessment and arrive at the destination, the how this applies not just to Yarden Yericho [approaching 331 Kingston Ave.Ave. 331 Kingston nd Holy Land himself personally but to all the entranceway to the Flr) Brooklyn NY 11213 (2nd(2 Flr) Brooklyn NY 11213 Jewish people, insofar as “Jews with the coming of Moshiach are guarantors one for the other.” Tzidkeinu]. Get tickets within minutes! Getyour your tickets within minutes! Certainly on this basis, he would (From the address of Shabbos Fax: (718) 493-4444 Fax: (718) 493-4444 Parshas Mattos, Mevarchim HaChodesh not want to delay the journey of
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Issue 886 • �
THE REVELATION AT SINAI CHANGED MY LIFE
6 � • 27 Tammuz 5773
He was born to a Christian family and was a successful missionary in the evangelical community in France. The church in which he was raised anticipated a rosy future for him, but then, right before completing his priestly studies, he decided to drop it all. He sought the Truth and ultimately found it in Judaism. * None of his friends and family imagined that the day would come when the priest-in-training would become a Jewish convert who devotes all his time to fighting missionaries. When you meet this Ger Tzedek, Binyamin Kluger, you see a Lubavitcher yungerman who speaks with a heavy French accent. You would never guess his origins.
By Nosson Avrohom Photographs by Dovid Kotler
Binyamin is in his forties and he lives with his wife and children in Beitar Ilit. He learns Chassidus every morning and after davening he gets busy with his work for Yad L’Achim, fighting missionaries. He has been doing this for twenty years already. “A clear answer from the Rebbe is what got me involved in Yad L ’Achim’s work. I am quite familiar with missionaries’ arguments and can easily trounce them in debates.”
WHEN THE PRIEST SAID: I FOUND THE DIAMOND IN THE CROWN
He grew up in France in the city of Troyes as a member of a Catholic family. His name was Benjamin Lesage. His mother was a descendent of noble blood, which left an imprint of nobility and aristocracy upon the family. The family custom for generations was for the sons to go either to the army or enter the priesthood. His older brother chose the military option in a French naval commando unit, while Benjamin chose religion. From when he was a boy, he
remembers taking an interest in Catholicism. He began attending lectures, reading books, and praying regularly in church. “I was completely unfamiliar with Judaism. Once I converted, I recalled an incident that occurred when I was a child. It was when my family traveled on vacation to Belgium. I saw a Jewish child wearing a decorated kippa and I asked my grandmother where we could buy one since I wanted one too. She smiled and said, ‘It’s not for you.’ I did not know any Jews. I knew that my parents had Jewish friends, but how they were different than other Frenchmen I did not know.” R’ Binyamin says he wanted to be a good Christian but his enthusiasm for Catholicism dissipated rapidly. “The idols and images everywhere bothered me. The statues, ceremonies, the worship of G-d as though he was trapped inside a certain man, choked my faith in Catholicism. In the Bible it says, ‘Do not make any statues, any images,’ so how could they do this? Also the fact that priests never marry was disturbing. I wondered about the entire ideology of Christianity.”
The questions, doubts and lack of interest on the part of the priests to answer his questions pushed him to leave the church. “A good friend in school introduced me to another branch of Christianity – Protestantism. I began attending their church and saw that what bothered me about Catholicism was absent here and I liked it a lot.” At the new church, Benjamin headed a youth group and began taking a course in missionary tactics. Every Sunday he would convince his friends and family to come to this church, and he was very successful. However, his idealized world came crashing down when a Jew entered the picture. Every Sunday, he and his friends would go out on the street to distribute flyers and convince people to get to know their religion. They would also invite them to come and hear the sermon given by the top priest in the church. Motivation to do this came from mercy for people’s souls. One week, when he and his friends went out to proselytize, he noticed one of the priests from the church hugging and kissing someone with great
Issue 886 • �
emotion. After the man walked away, the priest raised his hands and began murmuring something fervently. Benjamin left his group and ran over to the priest to find out what was going on. The priest looked at him and said, “I found the diamond in the crown. I found a Jew who is willing to come to a lecture.” Benjamin never attributed importance to Jews. He didn’t know them. He heard tidbits of Jewish history here and there and how the Jews used to be the Chosen People, and how “because of their wickedness, they abandoned the good,” but nothing more. He the talk, Benjamin went over to the priest and complained that he was undermining all their efforts. The priest looked at him in astonishment and said, “What are you talking about? Did you see the Jew and how he sat and listened? He promised to come next week too. That is the greatest success.” The enormous importance attributed by his spiritual teachers to converting Jews was surprising to Benjamin. In particular, he was greatly disturbed by the hypocrisy he saw before his very eyes. “Every time that a Jew, a Holocaust survivor, would show began discovering contradictions within the ‘New Testament.’ Verses that were written in the Tanach, which supposedly testified to a new testament, were taken out of context. I discovered contradictions and ridiculous mistakes. The priest, who heard my questions, began teaching me how to disguise Christianity as Judaism. You didn’t speak about the New Testament but about Tanach; not about Yeshu but about the Jewish Messiah. And you called this Jewish Messianism. How was it possible that someone who had always taught me it was forbidden to lie and fool others was explaining to me how to lie and fool people? I stopped relying on his authority. “I continued to learn in other places. Each time the priest spoke, I would check his sources; if I had questions, I asked other priests. One day, the head priest asked me why I no longer consulted with him. I avoided answering, but he offered to learn with me how to preach to Jews. Once a week, I learned with the priest how to convince Jews of the veracity of Christianity. The approach was that the Jewish Tanach actually speaks about Christianity. You had to prove to a Jew that all the prophecies about Moshiach were already fulfilled two thousand years ago when Yeshu appeared.” Benjamin studied with the priest for a few months and decided to examine what they were learning. He checked each prophecy taken from Tanach that appears in the New Testament and compared the context of the verse in Tanach with the context in the New Testament. He discovered, to his amazement, that not only had the priest lied, but that all of Christianity is a lie. Most of the verses quoted in the New Testament are taken
“I prayed that G-d enlighten me so I would know that Christianity is true. I was afraid of an identity crisis but it seemed inevitable.”
asked the priest why he was so excited by this. The priest said, “Think about what is important to G-d. The Jewish people are His eldest son, the treasured nation, the apple of His eye. But Jews are a stiffnecked people. For two thousand years they have refused to accept Christianity. When a Jew is willing to come to my lecture, then that is the greatest salvation of all.” Afterward, in the priest’s talk, Benjamin noticed that it was all about Israel and the Jewish religion. The priest lied and said the church loves the land of Israel and its people, and he quoted mitzvos in the Torah. All the people that Benjamin and his friends had convinced to come began leaving in the middle of the talk, one after the other, since the priest was talking only about Judaism. At the end of
up, instead of talking about Christianity, the priests would talk about mitzvos and love for the land of Israel. This was for the purpose of appealing to him. I did not understand why he shouldn’t hear the same ideas we told everyone else. It was the way they disguised themselves with a Jewish message that made me think. If the end justified the means, maybe they were lying to me too. I had grown up as a Christian, albeit a Catholic, but who said the basis of this religion was true? “I decided to carefully examine everything they said. I was unwilling to accept superficial explanations. I searched for depth and that which made sense. I didn’t want to lie; I wanted to sell Christianity as it was. Like it? Great. You don’t like it? That’s okay. “It was at this time that I
8 � • 27 Tammuz 5773
completely out of their original context in Tanach. Furthermore, Benjamin found dozens of verses that the Christians purposely distorted in order to prove the correctness of Christianity. If a person does not check the source, he can readily accept what they say. He searched and found another 300 distortions as well as linguistic errors. He went to the head priest with his findings. He discovered that the priest’s knowledge was very limited – he knew what he needed to know in order to preach, but he himself wasn’t even knowledgeable in the New Testament. In order to respond to Benjamin, he began searching through books. He wasn’t able to come up with a coherent reply. The priest enlisted all the members of the staff to his aid and three priests and five teachers sat facing Benjamin
and debated with him for weeks, going through contortions in their answers, but to no avail. “They were unable to answer even one question. Instead, they gave long-winded, convoluted answers, at the end of which it wasn’t clear what connection they had to the question. “I prayed that G-d enlighten me so I would know that Christianity is true. I was afraid of a crisis of identity but it seemed inevitable. I soon realized that the New Testament is not a continuation of Tanach, and apparently G-d had not changed His mind since the Bris Bein HaB’sarim about choosing the Jewish people as His nation.” It was the head priest himself who sweetened the bitter pill of his having to leave Christianity, after he asked one question too many and aroused his ire. “Later on, I told the head
priest of my decision to leave. The shocked priest asked: Are you a heretic? Is there no G-d? I told him that I think there is a Creator of the world and the Tanach is the book that I relate to, but Christianity is not the true path. “He called me up to the altar and all the priests laid their hands on my head and asked the congregation to join them in prayer to purify my soul. The priests closed their eyes in concentration and I burst out laughing. The priest was furious. ‘It isn’t enough that you are heretic, have you become mad too?’ I replied, ‘For weeks you haven’t been able to convince me of anything, and now you expect that by putting your hands on my head and closing your eyes that I will be convinced? That doesn’t seem ridiculous to you?’ “Then I went down from the
Issue 886 • �
“I prayed that G-d enlighten me so I would know that Christianity is true. I was afraid of an identity crisis but it seemed inevitable.”
altar and headed for the door. The priest took the microphone and thundered, ‘It is forbidden to go near him. You don’t see what I see here. Satan is taking Benjamin by the sleeve in the direction of the exit.’”
FROM CHRISTIANITY TO ISLAM
Many of Benjamin’s friends left the church and became atheists, but his faith in G-d was deeper. He believed that there is a Creator of the world and that he had to find Him within the many religions. For some reason, the Eastern religions did not appeal to him. He had been turned off by idols in his childhood so Eastern religions were not an option for him. “When I told my parents that I had left the church, they were very upset. My father wanted to prove to me that Christianity is true. Obviously, he failed, and in the end, my parents and my brothers left Christianity for atheism. But I was convinced that there is a G-d and wanted to continue searching for Him. I have no idea why, but I considered it a fact. “I was studying law in university in Lille. I had many Moslem friends and when they heard that I had left the church, they suggested I join them at the mosque. They gave me many books that explain Islam. In the city where I lived, in northern France, aside from churches there were five mosques and not even one shul. I decided to look into Islam.
“It was during the Ramadan period. Every night, lecturers came to the mosque. I heard them speak against France, against Europe, against the United States, and mainly against Jews who were termed ‘the lowest, cruelest, most evil nation in the world.’ When I heard this, I tried to recall instances of attacks in France and could only come up with attacks by Moslems and not a single Jew. I asked the lecturer, ‘Throughout history, the church and all the others persecuted Jews. You want to tell me that victim is worse than the persecutors?’ “I heard lectures there that denied the Holocaust when I knew that there were historic proofs for the Holocaust. My checking out Islam lasted only a few weeks. I found no fewer contradictions there than in Christianity. For example, in the Koran it says that Eretz Yisroel belongs to the Jewish people; if they themselves admit this, then why do they wage war to take Israel away from the Jews? In general, all their pronouncements are against the entire world. I thought – the fact that everyone else is the worst still doesn’t make you the best. I couldn’t take their lies and decided to drop Islam.”
THE REBBE’S SHLIACH
If Christianity was a lie, and Islam, which comes after it, was a lie, Benjamin felt he had to check out the religion that preceded both of those: Judaism. When he opened a Tanach he decided to read it by ignoring the Christian
interpretation he knew. He read through the Chumash and reached the story of the Giving of the Torah. In all the world’s religions, they tell of a special man who experienced a revelation of G-d, which he was supposed to share with humanity. In Judaism, it says that Moshe received the Torah before all the Jewish people, a group of millions of witnesses. Benjamin understood that a revelation like this cannot be fabricated, when an entire nation began transmitting it from one generation to the next. “I knew that the Tanach is the foundational book of the Jews. I knew it frontwards and backwards. I had many questions on it, things that seemed contradictory to me. I looked for a Jewish rabbi to answer my questions. There is a phone book for the north of France and I looked for an address of a Jewish rabbi, which is how I found the chief rabbi of northern France, the Rebbe’s shliach, Rabbi Eliyahu Dahan. I called the Jewish Cultural Center and R’ Dahan himself answered the phone. I told him that I had many questions on the Tanach and I would be pleased if he would answer them. “He asked me whether I was Jewish. I told him I was not and he asked why I was so interested in this topic. I told him that I did not find answers at the church and mosque and I sought the Truth. He agreed to help me. My first question was: it says in the Torah ‘an eye for an eye,’ but it also says ‘do not take revenge, do not bear a grudge.’ He laughed and explained that ‘an eye for an eye’ was not meant literally, but was payment for damages. “It dawned on me that Christians have no idea how to properly learn Tanach. The
10 � • 27 Tammuz 5773
rabbi’s answers were satisfying. For the first time in my life, I was getting answers that resolved the questions. It all made sense, and today I know that what he told me was spiced with explanations and concepts from Chassidus and the Rebbe’s teachings.” Benjamin was mainly impressed by the humility in which things were said: “This isn’t my wisdom but the wisdom of the Torah,” Rabbi Dahan said repeatedly. “I said I wanted to join him for prayers at the shul, but he pushed me off. ‘What do you need it for?’ he asked me. I was taken aback since everywhere else they say, ‘Come, become a member and perhaps later on you will understand.’ Here, I understood things already and wanted to join, but the rabbi said that Judaism does not seek converts. ‘We are the Chosen People and don’t think this makes life easier. If you want to get close to the Creator of the Torah, there are Seven Noachide Laws for you to keep.’ “He referred me to books that explained the Seven Noachide Laws. I learned that a gentile cannot learn Torah because it belongs to the Jewish people. I was disappointed. I loved Tanach, and what was I supposed to do now? I decided to do all that I could in order to become a Jew. Every conversation with R’ Dahan ended with his warnings about conversion. Jews have 613 mitzvos, he said, and you will have to learn two new languages – Hebrew and Aramaic. Initially I was intimidated, but I soon resolved to learn and do everything. After all, this was the Truth. “When he saw that I was serious, he referred me to the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. I read it and thought: if this is the abridged version, what is the fulllength Shulchan Aruch like?! But again, I got over that and was determined to do everything necessary to be a believer in the true religion and to be a part of it. Every day I learned another chapter in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and began to do what I learned. I washed my hands. I bought tzitzis. I stopped eating
Issue 886 • �
treif, and for a long time I only ate vegetarian, which caused me a medical problem that led me to a Jewish doctor. “As soon as I walked in, he asked me whether I was Jewish. I said not yet and he asked me why I wore tzitzis; was it a part of a costume? I told him I was planning to convert and I very much wanted to be a Jew. He invited me to Shabbos meals and to shul where I met R’ Dahan in person for the first time. He realized that I was serious, and he suggested that I attend the shiurim that he gave. For a long time I did not miss a shiur. stand at the Kosel one day along with the mashpia, R’ Moshe Weber a”h. Someone came over and began talking to him about what he used to preach in France. R’ Binyamin, who was familiar with the terminology, debated the fellow until the latter was utterly confused. The person told him that there were dozens of Christian organizations in Eretz Yisroel that worked to cause Jews to apostatize, and they operated freely. R’ Binyamin went back to yeshiva feeling shaken up. He told R’ Barkatz all about what happened. The rosh yeshiva explanations and guidance for life are invaluable. The way that the Rebbe explains concepts in Judaism is just incredible. The Rebbe explains it with the utmost veracity so that all questions vanish. “In the course of my work, I experienced some special stories of my own that developed my hiskashrus to the Rebbe. I felt that the Rebbe is with me. One week, after 3 Tammuz, I became completely involved with Yad L ’Achim. Bachurim at the yeshiva I learned in said that a bachur’s place is in yeshiva. ‘The Rebbe wants you to learn,’ they said, and I respected that, but at the same time I saw how many Jews I saved. I was faced with a dilemma and decided to write to the Rebbe. “I wrote that I realize I had gotten swept up in things and I asked permission to return to yeshiva to learn full time. The answer in the Igros Kodesh amazed me. The Rebbe wrote that in a situation of danger to life, it is permitted and necessary to desecrate Shabbos, all the more so when it entails the apostasy of Jews, when one must close the book and save the burning town. “Obviously, with that answer, not only did I not cut down my activities but I increased them. “There is another story that I always remember. There was someone whom we managed to get out of the clutches of the missionaries, but in order that he not be left with a void, we had to get him into a yeshiva. We left the missionaries’ place with him and saw a bus passing by which said on it, ‘Write to the Rebbe and see miracles and wonders.’ He asked whether he could write to the Rebbe. “He was in a confused state.
“When you walk down the street and meet Jews, smile, show that you care, and then when missionaries approach him, he won’t feel lacking.”
Each passing day deepened my connection with Judaism and my desire to convert. I felt that this is what my soul sought.” His parents thought it would be a passing interest; just as he had dropped Christianity, he would drop Judaism. But that’s not what happened. R’ Dahan sent him to Eretz Yisroel to convert. He settled in Yerushalayim and learned every day in Or Gabriel, a yeshiva for French baalei t’shuva, whose rosh yeshiva is Rav Barkatz.
He completed the conversion process and became a Jew and an ardent Chassid of the Rebbe MH”M. How did he begin working for Yad L ’Achim? It’s an interesting story. He was helping at the t’fillin
referred him to Yad L ’Achim. He began working for Yad L ’Achim mainly in the evenings. As time went on, he expanded his hours until he became a full time worker for Yad L ’Achim who runs the division that fights missionaries and cults. Before we speak about your work against missionaries, it would be interesting to hear about how you came to Chassidus and the Rebbe. When did that begin? “It began in 5752. At first, my focus was on G-d and Torah study, but then came hiskashrus to the Rebbe which made the process that much easier. In the beginning, the connection was mainly through stories I heard while still in France and also in Eretz Yisroel. Later on, I connected to the more inner world which drew me in even more. The Rebbe’s
12 � • 27 Tammuz 5773
Up until a moment before, he was convinced that Christianity was the true religion and we had negated that, and this is what he wanted to write about to the Rebbe. “We went with him to Yeshivas Toras Emes where he put his letter into a volume of Igros Kodesh. In the letter he opened to, the Rebbe said that the fact that in the past he had been with missionaries and now he realized their lies obligated him to use his talents and knowledge in order to fight the missionaries and to rescue Jews from there. “He was blown away. Then and there he joined us in our work. We see how the Rebbe is with us, accompanying us, leading us, and often we write to the Rebbe and receive clear answers that help us in our work.” How extensive is the missionary work in Eretz Yisroel and how can an ordinary person avoid their enticements? “When we talk about missionary work, we are talking about all kinds of organizations with varying agendas, from Messianic Jews to cults large and small. In our estimation, there are tens of thousands of Jews in Eretz Yisroel who are connected in one form or another with missionaries. They are in every city, from Eilat to Kiryat Shmoneh. They try reaching Jews in every possible way and are always well disguised. After all, they can’t just go over to a Jew and ask him to apostatize, so they offer ‘authentic Judaism.’ If the person is curious and argues with them, he is liable to fall into the trap. They are expert at distorting prophecies and p’sukim. Whoever isn’t knowledgeable loses. “They are very sneaky. For
example, they opened a disco in Yerushalayim and spoke openly there about Yeshu. Counselors talked with young people and gave out missionary material and invited them to lectures. Youth were given free music lessons and so they felt obliged to accept the Christian message. We were able to work against them through the police and the place was closed. “They sometimes open soup kitchens; when a person eats there, they go over to him, talk to him about Yeshu, and give out material, thus cynically taking
advantage of their plight. “In recent years, they have gotten more underhanded. They might combine missionary activities with seemingly innocent courses in yoga and meditation or courses on relationships. When a person is deeply into the course, they do their preaching and will always present it like authentic Judaism.” In your experience, are there types of people who are more likely to fall prey to missionaries? How can we help them?
Issue 886 • �
“It very much depends on a person’s level of intelligence. They operate through deception, and someone who has his wits about him will be onto their fraud and quickly break off contact with them. Even if a person goes to them, he will be able to negate what they are trying to sell him easily enough. Thus, the ones who can fall into their nets are mainly those with low self esteem. The missionaries’ approach is to heap esteem upon a person well beyond what he is truly worth or thinks he is worth. “To the town fool they will say, ‘How clever you are,’ even if he just spoke foolishly. Then he begins to think that he is really clever. If people in the neighborhood treat him like a fool, the missionaries will treat him like a clever person and flatter him for his brilliance and say that they love him. Where will he enjoy spending his time? “This is their approach, artificial love in large doses. So if we want to save Jews like these from falling into their net, we have to have love for every Jew; a smile doesn’t cost anything. Strengthening Ahavas Yisroel will save many Jews as will appreciating a Jew for his inner worth.” How do you operate? I understand that in recent years you have had many successes. “I must emphasize that we operate only within the law. We operate openly in places of entertainment and where cults gather, and we go over to them ready to listen. To a missionary, if a person wants to listen to the message they want to convey, that’s a great success. So they start their preaching and explaining, and then we pleasantly show them how they are wrong.” I imagine that these organizations don’t take this lying down. How do they react? “They have often submitted false accusations to the police about violence that never happened, because we are very careful to be law-abiding. The truth is that they want violence. An argument broke out in Yerushalayim and one of them begged the police to hit him so he could appear as the victim to the media. They present themselves as victims when the truth is just the opposite. “I’ll tell you something that happened to me. A year ago, when I returned from work at the Yad L ’Achim office in B’nei Brak, three police detectives were waiting for me with a search warrant. They searched the entire house without telling me what I was suspected of and what they were looking for. Then, they brought me in a police car to the Moriah police station in Yerushalayim for an interrogation that ended at 5:30 in the morning. I was accused of causing damage to a missionary’s car, writing graffiti on churches in Yerushalayim, damage to vehicles near churches and harassing missionaries. “How did this happen? One morning, a gentile associated with a Messianic Jewish cult, who deals with shady characters, found his car vandalized. The missionary was convinced that only Yad L ’Achim could do such a thing. And who if not Binyamin Kluger could do this, since this fellow did not know anyone else in the organization. Once I was under suspicion for vandalizing his car, since he felt persecuted for his beliefs, why not also accuse me of ‘price tag’ graffiti that someone perpetrated at the Greek Orthodox Church in the Valley of the Cross and the Baptist church on Rechov HaNarkiss? “Of course, after a short while the file was closed due to lack of guilt and evidence. I realized that the woman running the investigation had not done her research before sending out an arrest warrant and we are taking legal action against her. The upper echelons of the police know good and well about our work, and they know that we do not break the law. Some of them, when they had a problem with their children, knew to whom to turn for help. But if we are speaking about the reactions of the missionaries, this is one of their reactions; when someone has a hard time dealing with the truth, then he will start making false accusations.” How much does being a Lubavitcher Chassid and mekushar to the Rebbe help you in your work? “The missionaries don’t like us. (Chuckling) Wherever they want to make inroads, they find a shliach already operating there. The approach that the Rebbe taught us, which is the approach of Chassidus, to look at every Jew as a portion of G-d above, literally, helps tremendously. “When I did Mivtza T’fillin on the Midrachov on Ben Yehuda, a Litvishe guy would always pass by and insult me. ‘What are you doing here on the Midrachov?’ he would yell. ‘Go and learn Torah, leave these secular Jews alone.’ Some years later, I saw him on the Midrachov looking unhappy. I asked him how I could be of service, and he said he was looking for one of his kids who had gone off the derech. He didn’t know what to do to bring him back. ‘If you see my son, try to put t’fillin on with him,’ he
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said, and indeed, I waited for his son.” How can readers of this article help? “By treating this like a disease. If you are not a doctor, you don’t treat sicknesses; instead you go to someone who can. Here too, if you know a missionary or someone who fell into his trap, don’t get into debates and explanations, but report it to the professionals. And in general, when you walk down the street and meet Jews, smile, show that you care, and then when missionaries approach him, he won’t feel lacking. A Jew who feels good about himself won’t be taken in by these things.” I have a challenging question for you. There are those who say that Chabad Chassidim who are mekarev Jews are like missionaries. What is your response to that? “I will answer you with a story that happened with me. I was at the t’fillin stand on the Midrachov when someone called me a missionary. I said to her, ‘Don’t worry. We don’t want to influence you because we don’t deal with goyim.’ She began shouting, ‘How dare you call me a goy?’ I replied, ‘When you called me a missionary, you were introducing yourself as a goy who is afraid of changing religions.’ When a priest strengthens those Christians who are weak in their faith or an imam wants to inspire
Moslems who have veered from the path, then that is not called proselytizing. Is it only when a Jew strengthens his fellow Jews that he is called a missionary? She got the message.” The Rambam at the end of his Yad HaChazaka says that Yeshu and Mohammad paved the way for Moshiach. How do you see this happening in light of the Rebbe’s prophecy that “Hinei, Hinei Zeh Moshiach Ba?” “We must work hard to get this truth out. Today we see many Christians abandoning the New Testament and embracing the Seven Noachide Laws. There are organizations who deal with this, not necessarily Chabad, and apparently this is what the Rambam meant when he said they pave the way for Moshiach.” I’d be interested in knowing whether you feel that your faith in G-d and the Torah is deeper because you have come from so far away. “It says, ‘Know Hashem your G-d.’ There is a mitzva to know Hashem. True, there are always things you can’t know and you need emuna, but in Judaism there is a mitzva to know. All faiths in the world fought science. As science developed, contradictions to religion arose, so religion was reinterpreted. The Catholics did this, the Indians, and others. Jews, on the other hand, weren’t fazed by scientific
pronouncements, and over time it turned out that not only doesn’t science contradict Judaism; it supports emuna. “My personal feelings are like that of any Jew and not because I erased my past. A convert generally wants to forget his past, but the more I research other religions in the course of my work, the stronger my Judaism becomes. When I study other religions, I see that they have nothing to offer compared to Judaism. There is no comparison. Why didn’t I forget the past? Because our Rebbeim taught us that everything that occurs in the world happens under G-d’s supervision. Today, those concepts I learned in my youth help me rescue Jews.” In conclusion: When I asked R’ Kluger to end the article as he wished, he chose to quote his mentor, the founder of Yad L ’Achim, Rabbi Sholom Ber Lifshitz a”h. “I was asked how I would describe him, and I said as someone who is never satisfied. If we brought him ten Jews, he said, ‘Thank you, but what about the rest of the Jews?’ As long as one other Jew was still in a cult or under the influence of Christians, he could not rest. He bequeathed this to us, not to despair of any Jew and to invest our efforts for every Jew.”
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Radio Moshiach & Redemption
"The quickest way to reveal Moshiach is by learning the Torah Issue 886 • t"ab,wv � sources about Moshiach & redemption" grumnu ghrz, p"a
GOVERNMENT INTRUSION INTO OUR PRIVATE LIVES IS A SIGN OF MOSHIACH
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
One of Judaism’s standards of conduct that reflects its ethos can be found in the discussion Moses had with two of the twelve tribes—Gad and Reuven—who wished to remain on the east bank of the Jordan River rather than share the Land of Canaan with the other ten tribes. Moses was initially perturbed by their request; that they did not want to join their brethren in the conquest of the land. But, in response to Moses’ criticism of their request, they reassured him that their intention was to cross the Jordan with the entire Jewish nation, fight their battles, and then, after the other ten tribes would receive their inheritance in the land, return to the east bank of the Jordan. Moses accepted their proposal and stipulated: “If you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before G-d for the battle, and every armed man among you shall cross the Jordan before G-d, until He drives out His enemies before Him, and the land shall be conquered before G-d, and then you shall return – then you shall be vindicated from G-d and from Israel, and this land shall be a heritage for you before G-d.”
The Mishna (Sh’kalim 3:2) derives from the words “then you shall be vindicated from G-d and from Israel” that a person should always act in a manner that does not arouse suspicion from others. It is not enough to know that our conscience is clear and that our actions are proper in G-d’s eyes. We must also act in such a manner as not to arouse suspicion on the part of human beings. This law has many practical applications discussed in various parts of the Talmud.
There are differing views as to the rationale for this requirement. Some say that this is akin to the oft cited prohibition of maris ayin, which forbids any action that can be misinterpreted and causes people to think that a certain prohibited behavior is actually permissible. This, in turn, is akin to another Biblical commandment not to place a stumbling block before the blind. To cause someone to sin is no less of a crime than causing him or her bodily harm. Another view claims that the need to not arouse suspicion in the eyes of others is distinct from the maris ayin. By acting in a
suspicious manner one causes others to sin by falsely suspecting an innocent person. The common denominator in both of these explanations is that they reflect concern for the spiritual well-being of other people. In the first approach, it is our concern that the other might erroneously think that a certain prohibited action is permissible and then engage in that forbidden activity. In the latter explanation the damage caused to others is the violation of the law that forbids suspecting an innocent person of wrongdoing. One may posit a third approach to the imperative of being vindicated in the eyes of both G-d and other humans.
FINDING A TIKKUN
When a person harbors a suspicion about another—even if he or she is innocent—it is a sign from above that there may be an underlying and subconscious level of impurity in the person’s motives. A story is told of a man who asked the second Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rabbi Dovber, known as the Mitteler Rebbe) for a tikkun (a means to achieve purification of a sin) for a sin
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he had committed. The Rebbe asked him to leave the room and then shuttered himself in his study for a few days, engaged in heartfelt prayers and profound introspection. Only after that did he offer a tikkun to that individual. The Rebbe later explained his unusual behavior. When a person comes to a Rebbe for a tikkun, the Rebbe has to find that sin, albeit in the most subtle form, in his own life, which he works on perfecting. Only then is he empowered to help the other with the perfection of his sin. That individual’s sin was so reprehensible that the Rebbe could not find even the subtlest form of that sin in himself. Yet, the mere fact that the person came to the Rebbe for assistance meant that the Rebbe had the need and the ability to help. The Rebbe, therefore, had to engage in introspection to find that imperfection deeply embedded in his own soul. Only then was he able to help this person with a tikkun. In a similar vein, it may be suggested that when a person’s behavior arouses suspicion in others it is a sign that there might be a subtle imperfection in that person’s behavior. And it is the imperfection that others feel which they then exaggerate by imputing even more serious flaws to the actions of that person. The lesson from this approach is that we must always scrutinize our behavior not only for obvious sins and flaws but even for the subtle nuances that lurk beneath the surface.
the Jewish nations poised to conquer and inherit the Land of Israel is a sign that it has a special connection to our ability to conquer the land. Conquest of the land of Canaan is referred to in the Torah as the “Land of the Seven Nations.” In Chassidic literature, these seven nations are also a metaphor for the seven emotional attributes that we possess. Conquest of the land implies that we must not only refine our actions, but also the emotions that underlie those actions. “Be vindicated from G-d and from Israel, and this land shall be a
era the virtues and flaws that are deeply embedded in our soul are surfacing. We, therefore discover that some people whom we thought of as mediocre have achieved phenomenal success in their lives and, conversely, people whom we regarded as great have exhibited uncharacteristically negative behavior and tendencies. The reason this is happening, the Rebbe explained, is based on the verse in the Book of Daniel that prophesizes that before the Redemption all hidden matters will be revealed. There has never been a time in history when so many secrets
There has never been a time in history when so many secrets have been exposed. As we speak, the most classified information of the country’s top secret agencies, the NSA and the CIA, are being compromised and exposed to the entire world. Deeply confidential conversations are recorded and exposed.
heritage for you before G-d,” suggests that in order to conquer the land we must act in ways that will not engender suspicion of our motives because deep down we will have so refined our characters that our motives will be pure. There is a parallel to our own day and age. We, too, stand poised to enter into the Land of Israel with Moshiach at our head. We, too, have to focus on refining our emotions and character so that no one senses any flaws in our motives. have been exposed. As we speak, the most classified information of the country’s top secret agencies, the NSA and the CIA, are being compromised and exposed to the entire world. Deeply confidential conversations are recorded and exposed. The good news is that because all the subliminal and subterranean levels of our soul are surfacing, we now have the ability to deal with these flaws and correct/perfect them. We are also beneficiaries of the incredible, latent talents that are surfacing and that we can more easily access and harness.
CONQUEST OF THE SEVEN EMOTIONAL ATTRIBUTES
The fact that this lesson is derived from the narrative of
NO MORE SECRETS!
However, there is an added dimension to the above in light of the Rebbe’s statement that in the present pre-Final Redemption
CONQUERING THE TEN NATIONS
Chassidic literature cites the promise made by G-d to
Issue 886 • �
Abraham, that his descendants will inherit ten lands, not just the original seven. These additional three lands, referred to in the Torah as Keini, K’nizi and Kadmoni, correspond to the three intellectual faculties we each possess. These three faculties cannot be refined in the present period and we must wait for the final Redemption for that to occur. Living in Galus/ exile does not provide us with the opportunity and capacity to conquer our minds. Our perspectives are molded and shaped by our environment. Thousands of years of exile have taken their toll and have colored the way we think. However, as we stand on the very threshold of the Final Redemption, the Rebbe exhorted us to engage the mind in subjects that relate to Moshiach and Redemption. This way, the Rebbe explained, we reshape our way of thinking; we experience a paradigm shift. And this is how we begin the process of conquering, not only the Seven Lands which correspond to our emotions, but also the Three Lands which correspond to the way we think. Thus, the imperative to “be vindicated” is particularly relevant to us. We must work on refinement of the totality of our being—emotions and intellect—as a preparation for us to bring about the ultimate Redemption, which will give us the entire inheritance that we were promised.
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18 � • 27 Tammuz 5773
MOSHIACH & GEULA
THE BEST GPS
By Rabbi Gershon Avtzon,
Dear Reader sh’yichyeh, In Pirkei Avos, chapter two – the portion that we will be studying this Shabbos – the Mishna states: Rebbi [Yehudah HaNasi]* says: Which is the right path for man to choose for himself? Whatever is harmonious for the one who does it, and harmonious for mankind. There is an obvious question on this statement: Why is Rebbi Yehuda asking, which is the direct path to serve Hashem? Isn’t it obvious that learning Torah and doing Mitzvos is the right path for Man to choose, as it states in Hosheia (14:10): “straight are the ways of Hashem”? The Rebbe (Tazria Metzora 5751) explained this Mishna as it relates to the time right before Moshiach. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 98b) tells us that in his generation, Rebbi Yehuda HaNasi was thought of as Moshiach. In this vein, the Mishna is understood as follows: “The question is: Since we’ve already completed ‘our actions and service throughout the duration of exile,’ what is the ‘straightforward path’ (the easiest and fastest among all the paths of Torah) that all the Jewish people, who have concluded their service, should choose to realize the revelation and coming of Moshiach? “The increase in learning the Torah (Tiferes) concerned with Moshiach and Redemption is the ‘straightforward path’ to actually
cause the revelation and coming of Moshiach and Redemption. “My intention here is action, and certainly the following will be publicized everywhere: “In order to realize the immediate revelation and coming of Moshiach, each and every Jew (the men, whether they are dwellers in the tent (Yisachar) or men of business (Z’vulun), and the women and children, each one according to his ability) should increase their learning of Torah, particularly the subjects of Moshiach and Redemption.” The Rebbe kept on pushing this new initiative over the next few months. On Shabbos Parshas Balak 5751, he once again spoke very strongly about it: “Despite the uproar associated with this matter in recent times within this year… we see how difficult it is to inculcate the awareness and the feeling that we are literally standing on the threshold of the Messianic Era, to the point that one begins to thrive on matters of Moshiach and Redemption… “The solution to this dilemma is Torah study concerning Moshiach and Redemption. For Torah – which is G-d’s wisdom, and thus transcends the natural order of the universe – has the capacity to alter the nature of man. Even when one’s emotions are still outside the parameters of Redemption, G-d forbid (because he has not yet emerged from his internal exile), he can nevertheless learn the Torah’s teachings concerning Redemption, and thereby become
one who is elevated to the state of Redemption. One then begins to thrive on matters of Redemption, borne of the knowledge, awareness and feeling that ‘Behold he is coming.’” Finally, on Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sara 5752 (Kinus HaShluchim), the Rebbe said: “From the international convention must come and be brought good resolutions such that every shliach must prepare himself and prepare all Jews in his place and city, etc. to greet our righteous Moshiach. This should be done through his explanation of the concept of Moshiach, as explained in the Written Torah and the Oral Torah, in a way that it will be received by everyone according to his intellect and understanding. “This includes in particular learning the subject of Moshiach and Redemption, and specifically in a manner of Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge. And since this is the Divine service of the time, it’s understood this applies to every Jew without any exception whatsoever.” To summarize: All the Torah we learn and the Mitzvos we do are a necessary path to Moshiach. Yet, the “Direct Path” is learning about Moshiach.
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.
Issue 886 • �
Ten years ago, for the first time in his life, R’ Shloimke Maidanchek a”h was willing to grant an interview to a journalist. During the interview he described his growing up, his coming to Eretz Yisroel, his wide-ranging askanus, and the rare contacts he had with leading figures in Israeli politics, security, and the economy. He also told about his warm friendships with all these people across the spectrum of religiosity and political views. In this interview he did not discuss his work as chairman of the Vaad of Kfar Chabad for twenty-five years. That itself could fill a thick book.
By Menachem Ziegelboim
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here were people who compared R’ Shlomo Maidanchek, here-onin to be known as R’ Shloimke, to someone in the Mosad. He was everywhere, making contacts, and making projects happen, but all with the utmost secrecy. Not a scintilla of information passed his lips. If he would be asked about something he was “caught” at, he would shrug uncomprehendingly and say, “Me?” He would not understand what was wanted of him. Few people knew of the extent of his activities and the ties he had with hundreds of policy makers in Eretz Yisroel. Even fewer knew, for example, that when R’ Shloimke would go to the office of so-and-so, a senior figure, and he would tell the
secretary his name, that the boss would drop everything and usher him respectfully into his office. *** R’ Shloimke was born in Minkowitz in the Ukraine. His parents were Poilishe Chassidim and his family adhered stubbornly to religious life even after the communist revolution. However, the children had to attend public school. The gentile chevra had an effect and he was drawn after his friends and even became a member of the communist youth movement. He graduated high school at 17, and then World War II began. He could not attend university and so he went to the city of Krasnodar, where he registered for a school for train engineers. “There was nothing else,” he said. There is where he began to feel the significance of being a Jew. “I suddenly experienced anti-Semitism, which I had not been previously aware of. Terrible news began to filter through about the extermination of the Jews, including my parents and family. That is when I began to yearn for Judaism.” As the war approached, he escaped to Tashkent. There, he finished his studies and became an assistant to the driver of a locomotive. There, he also met Jews. “There were Lubavitcher Chassidim there who were mekarev me with warmth and love, and through them I discovered a new world. I returned to a life of Torah and mitzvos and gave up my job since I did not want to desecrate Shabbos.” He spent the war in Tashkent, learning and strengthening his Jewish connection. At the end of the war he left Russia with a large group of Chassidim. After spending some time in Europe,
he arrived with them in Eretz Yisroel and was one of the founders of Kfar Chabad. He was in the first group of olim. In Eretz Yisroel at this time there was a serious shortage of train drivers so it was easy for him to get a job. From then on, he logged hundreds of kilometers across the country, mainly on the Haifa-Tel Aviv-Dimona line. Once, he was hailed as a hero when a burst of steam poured into the driver’s cubicle. “The assistant was thrown from the cab and was injured, but I managed to apply the brakes and I jumped out. I ran after the train until it stopped and then I entered the burning cubicle and shut the fuel line. If I hadn’t stopped the train, it would have gone flying at top speed straight into Tel Aviv.” His employers were greatly impressed by his dedication and wanted to appoint him to the position of shift manager, but he asked the Rebbe and the answer was only on condition that it would advance the spread of Judaism. “I decided to remain a driver and wasn’t sorry. I love traveling and I had free time for the real stuff, spreading Judaism.” I think this is a lesser known aspect of R’ Shloimke, since he was more well known for his communal work. He started this askanus when he was appointed as chairman of the vaad of Kfar Chabad, a role in which he served for twenty-five years. He enabled Kfar Chabad to make impressive achievements (which deserves a separate article). In the performance of this work, he spent a lot of time in government offices which, at the time, were under Mapai (Mifleget Poalei Eretz Yisroel, lit. “Workers’ Party of the Land of Israel,” a left-wing political
Issue 886 • �
party), and made connections with all the Who’s Who. Despite the legends surrounding him, not many know the extent of his relationships with government figures, officials, those in the IDF, and the financial sector. Many are unaware of the depth of his relationships with all kinds of people, including politicians on the extreme Left who loved him and were ready to do anything for him. When asked about this, R’ Shloimke would give you a look, smile, and raise his hand dismissively, and he wouldn’t say a word. That was one of the secrets to his success. People knew that their secret was safe with him. He was a desirable guest in the office of a Leftist Knesset member and was a ben-bayis (member of the household) of a certain government minister, and so on. What was the depth of the connection between a train driver and politicians? Former prime minister Sharon told his friends that when he and his wife Lilly went to R’ Shloimke’s house in Kfar Chabad, he knew to go in through the door, but he wondered how he would ever get out ... Just look at who attended the simchas he made for his children: Former presidents Navon, Katzir and Herzog; Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon, Elyakim Rubinstein, Rechavam Zeevi (may Hashem avenge his blood), Fuad Ben Eliezer, Amnon Lipkin-Shachak, IDF generals, and many more. R’ Shloimke did not use his connections for personal or even political use, but to arouse the hidden Jewish spark. Golda Meir once told him stories about her grandfather who was a Cantonist and throughout the years did not eat cooked food (since it would not be kosher). Nevertheless, he slept on a stone till the end of his days, lest he had sinned in some way during his time in the army. A Knesset member, known for his extreme left wing views, would regularly call R’ Shloimke to buy matzos and the four minim for him, check the mezuzos in his house, or get t’fillin for his grandsons. “People knew that they could discuss straight Judaism with me, without any political implications, and they opened up their hearts.” That is all R’ Shloimke was willing to say. He used these abilities for the good of Chabad mosdos. R’ Shloimke helped many directors of Chabad mosdos and he did so loyally and without fanfare. Many directors of Chabad mosdos knew who to consult with and thanks to him, they were able to employ the right connections on behalf of the mosad.
With Chief IDF Chaplain General Gad Navon
Many are unaware of the depth of his relationships with all kinds of people, including politicians on the extreme Left who loved him and were ready to do anything for him.
With former Navy commander General Zev Almog
R’ Shloimke with some employees of the train station with the Dalet minim
22 � • 27 Tammuz 5773
One such director of a large mosad told me that sometimes just one phone call by R’ Shloimke was enough to resolve complicated situations. If a trip had to be made or a number of meetings held, R’ Shloimke would do it. And thanks to the Rebbe’s bracha, he was enormously successful. When I asked him about this, he did not want to talk about it much. He just smiled and said, “When I say that I know someone, I mean that he knows me, because thousands of people know that person. When I call him, I don’t have to say who is calling. That is how I know the director of the Discount Bank and Bank HaPoalim and Bank HaBenLeumi and that general and that minister, etc. I am in touch with them for many years.” R’ Shloimke’s connections with senior members of parties, high ranking members of the military, owners of companies, etc. is known to all. What is less known is that these relationships with hundreds of people were kept up all the years whether in phone conversations or personal meetings. Every few months there would be a meeting which would actually be “An Evening with Chabad” for different groups of these friends. The members of the kollel who learn in the Aguch building told me that they regularly saw friends visiting R’ Shloimke in his office in the Aguch building, sometimes accompanied by their wives, putting on t’fillin and absorbing some Yiddishkait. Not all of them were known in the media, but many of them held powerful positions. R’ Shloimke used these contacts to convey the Rebbe’s view on timely issues, after 3 Tammuz too, just as he did when
R’ Shloimke putting t’fillin on with a train passenger before it departs
“Another point to know about, when it comes to askanus, is that there is no difference between big and small. The lowest clerk can do you the biggest favor, even an ordinary secretary who sits in the reception room. She is used to seeing people coming to meet with her boss and they usually don’t bother to greet her. I never passed by a secretary, male or female, or an aide, without acknowledging them. That kind of acknowledgment makes an impact...”
he received instructions from the Rebbe’s secretariat to approach so-and-so and talk, convince, beg, and influence. And it was all top secret. R’ Shloimke knew how to act discreetly. Due to the terrible security situation in Eretz Yisroel in later years, R’ Shloimke sent a compilation of the Rebbe’s sichos on the topic of Shleimus Ha’Aretz to all of his friends. Many of them did not belong on the Right, but the reactions that he got indicated a special regard for what the Rebbe had to say. One of them, a man of authority, was an exception. He sent an angry letter. By way of response, he was sent another compilation of sichos to further clarify the Rebbe’s position. The man finally backed down. “R’ Shloimke worked to bring out the good in each person,” said one of the people who came to console his family after his passing. Many of the people with whom he came in contact became religiously observant or at least
Issue 886 • �
With former Prime Minister Yitzchok Shamir
With Mr. Chaim Herzog
With former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
fond of Judaism, even people who previously had been very far from Judaism and its outlook. In the Aguch letters file there are names known to every Israeli citizen. Their relationship with R’ Shloimke, as appears in their letters, was something you don’t find today in Chabad askanus or in religious askanus in general. It was a very personal relationship, one with genuine respect for the Rebbe and Chabad, with actual help on their part for the Rebbe’s inyanim without any of the usual trading of political favors. R’ Shloimke did not reveal anything. Not names, not dates, and not events. You were only able to get information about that which was known. A former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Mr. Zalman Shuval, passed by the Rebbe with R’ Shloimke and said to the Rebbe, “You have a good ambassador.” Perhaps you will finally
reveal the secret – how do you develop these special relationships? “You need an instinct for it and dedication.” Meaning? “An instinct in getting to know people and seeing what they are about and how to talk to them. “Chabad never had any of their own Knesset members or ministers. We never had a party in the Knesset. When we came to Kfar Chabad and needed connections, we had none. At that time, it was all according to parties. That was seemingly detrimental to us, but in the end, the Rebbe’s approach to refrain from politics, proved itself. It was thanks to this that we were able to get from everyone, I mean from all the parties. Whoever and whichever party I turned to always helped.” You said that dedication is
also needed. What did you mean by that? “I mean consistency. Listen – if you know a minister or Knesset member or a general, these are people who are very hard to fool. They will sense if you are a true friend or you just are using them. “Another point to know about, when it comes to askanus, is that there is no difference between big and small. The lowest clerk can do you the biggest favor, even an ordinary secretary who sits in the reception room. She is used to seeing people coming to meet with her boss and they usually don’t bother to greet her. I never passed by a secretary, male or female, or an aide, without acknowledging them. That kind of acknowledgment makes an impact; this one asks for a bracha for a shidduch, another asks for a bracha from the Rebbe for a sick child, and so on. On another occasion, they will do big things
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for you.” You formed relationships with countless people. Is there someone from your years of work that you really miss (aside from Shazar with whom you had a special relationship (see box))? R’ Shloimke laughed. “I was once at a gathering of Senators in the US and they asked me about Shazar and whether it was true that the president of Israel is a friend of Chabad. I told them they were asking the right person and my answer is no. He was not a mekurav of Chabad. “They were surprised. How could that be? Everybody said there was a strong connection between him and Chabad! “I said: He is not a friend of Chabad; he is a Chabadnik! “In any case, my relationships were with people in the Mapai party or later with those in Maarach and Labor. Likud wasn’t in power until 1977, and in those days you could not get any help from them. I had a personal relationship with all
A former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Mr. Zalman Shuval, passed by the Rebbe with R’ Shloimke and said to the Rebbe, “You have a good ambassador.”
the prime ministers from the Mapai party (except for BenGurion, since in his time I was not yet involved in askanus), all the chiefs of staff and all the generals. There was no general who did not know me.” How did you accomplish this? “It is work that takes many years. If I accomplished it in five years, your question would be in place, but it happened over many years. Each one brought a friend.” Were they all connected to the Rebbe to one degree or another? “What’s the question?! Before Rosh HaShana, before I went to the Rebbe, I would collect panim from them and they all happily wrote their names and that of their family members.” Can you tell us of miracles that they experienced? As usual, when it comes to details, R’ Shloimke did not talk. “I am not accustomed to miracles, but they had a lot of respect for the Rebbe and Chabad. If any of them had been to the Rebbe, it was a topic of conversation. One would say he had visited Kfar Chabad; another would talk about the hakafos shniyos he attended at the Kfar. When they spoke among themselves and Chabad came up, they would take pride in saying, ‘I also have a connection with Chabad.’” *** R’ Shloimke had a special relationship with the Rebbe throughout the years, as an
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WHEN DID R’ SHLOIMKE GET INVOLVED WITH ASKANUS?
R’ Shloimke spent decades serving the public. He began in the early days of Kfar Chabad and the rest is history. In the book Nasi v’Chassid he explains how he got involved in communal matters: In the first years of the Kfar, most of the residents worked in agriculture. This demanded a lot of work but the income was little. The Jewish Agency provided each family of the new settlers with fifty chickens and every two families were given a cow. This was aside from working in the fields. Under these circumstances, the running of the Kfar was not done properly. It certainly did not satisfy the Rebbe. In a letter to the Vaad of the Kfar he demanded that they add, improve and develop. The elected heads of the committees did not stay in their positions for more than a year, in the best case scenario, for it was hard to satisfy these demands that required a tremendous amount of time of askanus while individuals were barely making a living. Economically, I was in a special position. As soon as I arrived in the country, in 5709, I got a job as a train engineer. I couldn’t get rich on my salary, but compared to others, I was definitely doing well. This is what brought R’ Nachum Trebnik a”h, who later became the rav of the Kfar, to ask me to devote time to running the Kfar. I agreed, and my first involvement was in a peripheral matter; I served as a member of the Taxes Committee, whose job it was to raise the necessary payments from the residents in order to develop the Kfar. It is amusing to remember today how green I was when it came to money matters and how astounded I was when they began explaining to me how it was possible to pay with a check. I thought, if all you need to do is write, then why are there money problems? But I quickly got into things. In the elections of 5718, I was elected as chairman of the Vaad along with a new staff, a group of young people including R’ Zelig Altheus, R’ Yoske Perman, R’ Boruch Gopin, R’ Yechezkel Springer, and R’ Yechiel Naparstek. I soon moved on to a more expanded askanus on behalf of the Kfar, i.e. working on the outside. My guide in this was the unforgettable Chassid, R’ Pinye Altheus. Together we would meet with donors from abroad,
askan, as a train engineer, as someone active in mivtzaim, and as a private person. He received numerous letters, answers and notes on a wide array of topics. One of the rare, public acknowledgments occurred at the end of a farbrengen on the eve of Rosh HaShana 5744, when the Rebbe announced that R’ Shloimke wasn’t just a Tankist but the driver of an entire train! “It was after the farbrengen when the Rebbe gave out dollars to the public through the Tankistin. I did not go over since I wasn’t a Tankist. Then the Rebbe said with a smile, ‘There
is someone here who is not just a Tankist, but the driver of an entire train, and mivtzaim, t’fillin, Yiddishkait are done there. He drives the train to its place but his modesty is not in place. He is hiding somewhere here.’ “I heard this and everyone heard this, but I remained where I was. Then R’ Groner motioned to me to come over. I went over and the Rebbe gave me dollars to give out to the people who were present. The Rebbe added, ‘Don’t forget to take for yourself too.’” What did the Rebbe mean when he referred to t’fillin and
Yiddishkait on the train? “Throughout my years as a train engineer, I did mivtzaim in my free time. When I drove to Dimona, for example, after working for sixteen hours, another driver replaced me on the way back. I went into the train compartment with two pairs of t’fillin that I had taken with me and I offered to help people put on t’fillin. The conductors (a train has a crew and the engineer is the head of the crew) would tell the passengers with pride that I wasn’t just a ‘nudnik’ or ‘religious nut’ but a train engineer.” R’ Shloimke laughed as he
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show them through the Kfar, and for those who asked, even introduce them to the animals that they themselves donated. On these visits to the Kfar, R’ Pinye would bring the distinguished elders of Chabad in Tel Aviv like the mashpia, R’ Shaul Dov Zislin, and “our farmers” would be introduced to them. That is when my relationship with Shazar began. We youngsters did not go to see him alone because we heard that he especially cherished the elders, so we made sure they accompanied us. Afterward, when we got to know him better, that was no longer necessary. It was also unnecessary to make an appointment to see him. He told his personal secretary, Shulamit Kahana, that the door is open to Chabad. This was the case later on too, during the decade he served as president of the country. The help that Shazar gave Kfar Chabad throughout the years is indescribable. He did everything he could for us, even during the hard times, and even when pressure was exerted upon him by various factions. His efforts on behalf of the spiritual character of the Kfar, when those who first settled on the ruins of the Arab village began to leave for neighboring Tzafraya and they did not care that
people who were unwilling to adapt themselves to the customs of the place would settle in our Kfar, were unforgettable. To a certain extent, Shazar’s help was such that we felt he was providing for us only because of his identifying as a member of Anash, in which case he did not care if he had to do things that were “beyond protocol.” I, who went to his house nearly every day (which I could do in the course of my work as a train engineer on the Yerushalayim-Tel Aviv line), would discuss and consult with him on various matters. I remember how, one time, he told me about a delegation that was supposed to come to his office with the intention of complaining about the good relationship the Jewish Agency had with us, Chabad. He asked me to remain in his office, hidden in an inner room, so I could hear them and could advise him on what to say to them when he left the room briefly. The Rebbe himself told me to consult with Shazar on various matters. I remember, for example, one time when he hosted one of the leaders of the Joint and asked him to support Chabad. When we ultimately received that support, the question arose as to where the money should go. The Rebbe told me to “sniff out” what Shazar’s plans were.
remembered funny incidents that happened to him. “As I circulated on a train one time, a student asked me, ‘Is it true that you are a train engineer?’ I said yes. He then asked me, ‘So who is driving now?’ I said, ‘Don’t you realize that I am doing G-d’s work, while He is doing my work and driving the train?’ “The student was frightened and he rolled up his sleeve and said, ‘Hurry up, put t’fillin on me and go back to your driving.’” *** The man who represented Chabad in Eretz Yisroel for
decades was R’ Shloimke. To the senior officials he was known as Maidanchek. It wasn’t easy. He did his work as director of the Vaad of Kfar Chabad at the same time as his work as an engineer. By day he would run around on behalf of the mosdos that he represented in the political arena, and at night, as others slept, he would be driving a freight train. “I love my work,” he once said. “I work very hard in my public work and the nights on the train are my relaxation. It’s nighttime, quiet, the train travels among the sand dunes of the
south and my head is clear and I can think. I could retire, but I know I would miss the serenity that driving a train gives me.” Although it sounds simple, it was anything but. “It was very hard. I remember that when we built the new neighborhoods, R’ Meir Freiman was my secretary at the time, but he was taken for three months in the Reserves and I was left with a tremendous amount of work. I decided to take an unpaid vacation for two or three months from driving a train (this entailed a lot of protektzia because I had to find people to take my place). I informed the
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my work was important and in its merit, we would have nachas from the children. “Leaving askanus was a tremendous change in my life. For me it was m’igra rama l’bira amikta (lit. from a high roof to a deep pit).” Political figures on the Left, even the extreme Left, have prided themselves on their relationship with you. Couldn’t this be interpreted as legitimizing what they do when it comes to undermining Shleimus HaAretz? “The way of Chabad is determined exclusively by the Rebbe. Think about the times that the Rebbe kept talking about Mihu Yehudi or Shleimus HaAretz and spoke with great pain about the devastating consequences of their approach. We, Chabad askanim, immediately thought about whether to maintain relationships with those politicians who were leading this dangerous course. That would be the obvious reaction of any Chassid who heard the Rebbe’s sharp words. And yet, the Rebbe instructed us explicitly to maintain these relationships. I can say for myself that the Rebbe did not lessen his demands on me and sent me on many missions that I won’t discuss now, in order to strengthen ties with those Jews. “This is why I think that the approach of cutting ties because of one reason or another is not the way of Chabad.” *** After his official retirement, R’ Shloimke did not rest. During the few years until he was appointed chairman of Aguch in Eretz Yisroel in 5750, he worked to put up a Chabad neighborhood in Yerushalayim and continued to maintain his ties with all the
With Knesset member Rechavam Zeevi
With former Prime Minister Yitzchok Rabin
He asked me to remain in his office, hidden in an inner room, so I could hear them and could advise him on what to say to them when he left the room briefly.
Rebbe and received an immediate response: Go back to your work as a train engineer. “By the way, it’s interesting that in all the Rebbe’s answers to me about the train, he stressed ‘train driver.’ Usually, a driver is promoted eventually to shift manager and works his way up from there. I was a driver in the fifties. All those who learned under my students had already attained senior positions while I remained a baal agala. Since the Rebbe stressed this regularly, I understood that the Rebbe did not want me to advance but to remain in this position. “When I got the Rebbe’s answer, of course I went right back to work. I did all the work between train trips, since the Rebbe did not let me leave the train for even one day. The Rebbe gave me no breaks. “I remember that some time after the shluchim came to Eretz Yisroel in 5736, I received instructions to bring the shluchim to PM Rabin. I went here and there with them and it was all with a lot of fanfare while still doing my engineering. “One day, a meeting was arranged with the mayor of Tzfas, Mr. Nechamias. It was very hard for me to find free time to go to Tzfas. I decided to forgo going to Tzfas; somehow this became known and I got a phone call from R’ Chadakov who said: You are the Rebbe’s ambassador there, how is it that you are not going to Tzfas? How will it look? “I immediately rearranged my schedule with several drivers so they could substitute for me, and I went to Tzfas.” *** R’ Shloimke’s public work stopped in the middle of the eighties. He did not resubmit his candidacy for the elections for the Vaad of Kfar Chabad. He retired. “My wife a”h had complained to the Rebbe already in the early years that I was not home at all. Either I was on the train or busy with askanus. The Rebbe did not let me stop, and unlike other situations in which he urged the husband not to neglect helping out at home, he wrote her that
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Who’s Who in Eretz Yisroel, which took up all his time. In 5750, R’ Shloimke went back to official communal work after the Rebbe told Rabbanei Chabad to appoint new people to Aguch in Eretz Yisroel to run Chabad matters there. R’ Shloimke was not involved until Rabbanei Chabad asked him to be the chairman of Aguch. He agreed when he received the Rebbe’s encouragement. In this role, he worked on many issues from Chassidishe chinuch to representing Chabad to the government. He was a tremendous help to directors of mosdos and Chabad houses who consulted with him on matters such as receiving financial backing, getting land, obtaining building permits, etc. He did all of this graciously. He also helped individuals and tried to respond to all who turned to him for things like recommendations, finding jobs, speaking to influential friends of Lubavitch, speaking to people in various government offices, and many other matters. Thank you letters fill a number of binders in the file cabinets of Aguch.
HIS WORK IN AGUCH
In the fourteen years that R’ Shloimke led Aguch, he set up departments for the purpose of helping develop the mosdos and the Chabad movement in Eretz Yisroel. He started the “Mosdos Department,” which gave approval to open Chabad mosdos, and the “Department
for Founding Chabad Neighborhoods.” This was in line with explicit instructions that he received from the Rebbe over the years. Every time neighborhoods and mosdos were founded in Eretz Yisroel, the land was registered under the name of Aguch and the referrals to different government offices were done through Aguch. This was the case with Shikun Chabad Lud, Nachalat Har Chabad, and other places like the Chabad neighborhood in Ramat Shlomo in Yerushalayim which was built by Aguch under the Rebbe’s direction. There was also the Chinuch Committee, which worked to strengthen Chabad chinuch in Eretz Yisroel by arranging Yemei Iyun and gatherings on the subject. There was the “Absorption Department” that helped new immigrants, spiritually and materially, and an organization of mashpiim. He placed Matteh Moshiach, an independent organization like any other Chabad organization, under the official rubric of Aguch. This was after a long period of time in which many people and shluchim from all over the country turned to rabbanim and mosdos and said there was an urgent need for an entity to unite all Inyanei Moshiach. Nothing happened until 5751 when R’ Dovid Nachshon asked the Rebbe something similar and the Rebbe said that this pertained to Aguch and the rabbanim. In an interview with him,
R’ Shloimke said, “I am proud of Matteh Moshiach, which does so much to spread the Besuras HaGeula and deepen awareness of the Geula through numerous shiurim. The Rebbe said that Inyanei Moshiach and Geula pertain to Aguch and the rabbanim. When the horaa came to us back then, we gave it over to Tzach to implement. But after four years of sleeping, they gave it back to Aguch and I made it my business to see it through. We made a mistake once and we weren’t going to repeat it. “We started Matteh Moshiach with R’ Shmuel Hendel directing it. His activities are some of the nicest of Chabad in Eretz Yisroel and the world. They present Inyanei Moshiach properly.” *** On the morning of the first day of Pesach 5764/2004, R’ Shloimke’s health took a sudden turn for the worse. He opened his eyes in the afternoon. His son Yisroel, who was with him for Yom Tov, told him where each of his children and grandchildren were for Pesach. R’ Shloimke listened and he looked pleased. Then his son and grandson Avrohom danced to “Yechi” and “102 Years of the Rebbe MH”M,” as R’ Shloimke himself would do every Shabbos and Yom Tov when he visited his children and grandchildren in Kfar Chabad. He then closed his eyes and passed away. He was 80. Thousands attended his funeral which took place Motzaei the first day of Pesach.
TO BRING MOSHIACH NOW!
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ADD IN ACTS OF GOODNESS & KINDNESS
‘HE WILL BE A REBBE LIKE MY FATHER-IN-LAW’
A compilation of Chassidishe stories about the Chabad Rebbeim, written down by R’ Chaim Ashkenazi a”h.
BEWARE OF SHAMING ANYONE
In the days of the Alter Rebbe it was customary that after the pilpul delivered by the chassan they would discuss what he said. But they had to be careful not to question him more than he was capable of, so as not to embarrass him before his kalla and mechutanim. Once, it seemed to the Alter Rebbe that the chassan had been asked more than he should have been. His teeth became black as a result of the fasts that he undertook to atone for shaming a Jew.
But when the grandfather, the Alter Rebbe, came, she looked at him and he blessed her with “mazal tov,” and said, “The Rebbetzin herself is at fault for this, so why does she complain?” The Alter Rebbe went on to explain: During the pregnancy, a poor man came into the house and she gave him money, but afterward she thought to herself: He has two healthy hands, why doesn’t he work for a living instead of begging?
(Heard in the name of R’ Moshe Nisselevitz)
was confined to bed. Chaim Ber, the attendant, would provide the Rebbe with whatever he asked for. The Tzemach Tzedek once called his name several times, but Chaim Ber decided not to respond to see what the Rebbe would do without him. The Tzemach Tzedek waited a bit and then sang the “Dalet Bavos.” After singing the niggun, he got out of bed, climbed up to the upper shelves of the bookcase, and took down a book. Then he went back to bed.
(I think I heard this from R’ Mendel Futerfas.)
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
They once told the Tzemach Tzedek that a certain Chassid, who owed someone a lot of money, refused to pay his debt. His Chassidishe excuse was that “the world is nothing.” The Tzemach Tzedek gestured toward a stick and said: Take the nothing and give him some nothing until he is willing to pay the nothing.
THE POOR MAN’S HANDS
The Tzemach Tzedek’s oldest son, R’ Boruch Sholom (Ravash) was born with part of his hand missing. His mother, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, was very upset by this. When the Tzemach Tzedek went to wish her mazal tov after the birth, she turned her head to the wall and did not want to receive his bracha. Then her father, the Mitteler Rebbe, went to bless her and she did not wish to accept blessings from him either.
SEEING BEYOND THE PHYSICAL COINS
R’ Don Tumerkin, rav of Kremenchug, was a Chassid of the Tzemach Tzedek. He would have yechidus now and then and the Rebbe would discuss Halachic questions that had arisen. One time, as he spoke with the Tzemach Tzedek, R’ Don absentmindedly took a pile of coins that were on the Rebbe’s desk and placed them on a different pile.
WHAT A NIGGUN CAN DO
At the end of the Tzemach Tzedek’s life in this world, he
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Seeing this, the Rebbe was shaken and he said: Don’t you see a difference between these coins and the other coins and that they cannot be placed on one another?
R’ Dovid of Tolna would go to the fair because many of his Chassidim went there. He was once sitting in an inn with his back to the window when he suddenly asked: Who is the man who just passed by outside? They told him: That is the youngest son of the Tzemach Tzedek (i.e. the one who would become the Rebbe Maharash). R’ Dovid said: I envy him his (the Tzemach Tzedek’s) successor. Said the Chassidim: He is a businessman! R’ Dovid repeated: I envy him his successor.
Once, as the Tzemach Tzedek ate fish, he stuck his fork several times into the fish but it wouldn’t stay on his fork. The Rebbe said: The soul of a big letz (scoffer, cynic) is reincarnated in this fish and even now he is still cynical. This is why it is impossible to be mevarer (elevate through sifting out the Divine energy) him through eating.
HE WILL BE A REBBE
Shortly before the Tzemach Tzedek passed away, he was holding the young boy who would later be the Rebbe Rashab on his lap and playing with him. Suddenly, the Tzemach Tzedek said: He will be a Rebbe like the shver (father-in-law, i.e. Mitteler Rebbe). This was said in the presence of R’ Peretz Chein, who was still alive in the days of the Rebbe Rashab.
to the Torah reader, whose name was Yitzchok Gershon, and told him that at the next aliya to the Torah, he should call the Rebbe Rashab by the title, “Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu.” The rich man, who was strong minded, warned the Torah reader that if he did not call up the Rebbe with those titles, not only would he take his money back, but he would even beat him. R’ Yitzchok Gershon went to the Rebbe Rashab and told him what the wealthy man had said. Of course, the Rebbe instructed him not to listen, and in order that he should not lose the money, he gave him ten rubles. As for getting a beating for listening to the Rebbe, so what …
THE REBBE’S WISHES AND THE RICH MAN’S WISHES
The Rebbe Rashab officially refused to accept the Chabad leadership for ten years after the passing of his father, the Rebbe Maharash. One time, one of the wealthy men of Lubavitch tried to get him to accept the nesius by having him called to the Torah with titles reserved for the Rebbe. This rich man gave ten rubles
SEARCH AND FIND
The Rebbe Rashab was once in Germany on Purim and he asked that a poor man be found to whom he could give Matanos LaEvyonim. R’ Shmuel Grossman (the son of R’ Asher of Nikolayev) was sent to find someone. He was a young bachur at the time, and despite searching all over, he came back and said he did not find a poor man.
Issue 886 • �
Once, as the Tzemach Tzedek ate fish, he stuck his fork several times into the fish but it wouldn’t stay on his fork. The Rebbe said: The soul of a big letz (scoffer, cynic) is reincarnated in this fish and even now he is still cynical.
Hearing this, the Rebbe Rashab said: If so, I’ll have to go myself. And he walked a great distance until he reached the house of a poor widow and he gave her money. Then he asked that she be sent all the mishloach manos that his Chassidim had sent him. was still davening. He waited some more until his patience ran out and he opened the door to the room a little bit in order to see what the Chassid was doing for so many hours. To his surprise, the Chassid was still preparing for davening. He paced back and forth with his tallis folded on his shoulder as he repeated to himself: Still and all, there is a Master of the World; still and all, there is a Master of the World. The man understood that this is what the Rebbe wanted him to take from this visit. He gave the Rebbe’s regards to the wife for her to pass on and he went on his way.
He was once at the Rebbe Rayatz and the Rebbe went out to escort him. A water carrier passed by who was wearing a hat that covered his head. The Rebbe said to the Chassid: See – there is a hidden tzaddik. A strong wind suddenly blew the water carrier’s hat off his head and everybody saw that he was wearing t’fillin.
A MEETING WITH HIS FATHER
A man who lived in the United States wanted to meet with the Rebbe Rayatz. He arranged a yechidus for ten o’clock at night. When he showed up at that time, the Rebbetzin came out and said: You cannot see the Rebbe now. He might be able to see you at 12:00. The man waited for two hours, but at twelve the Rebbetzin came out and said the Rebbe might be available at 2:00. The same thing happened again and again until six in the morning and that is when he had yechidus. When he saw the Rebbe, the Rebbe apologized for not seeing him at the appointed time. He explained that he was busy, since his father the [long since deceased] Rebbe Rashab had been with him until that time.
HE GOT THE MESSAGE
Someone visited the Rebbe Rayatz in Russia and when it was time to say goodbye, the Rebbe said: As you pass by that city, go to a certain Chassid who lives there and give him regards. The man did as the Rebbe requested, and on his way home he passed through that city and found the house of the Chassid. When he knocked on the door, the wife said that the Chassid was still davening. The man went in and waited for him to finish, and as he waited he fell asleep. When he woke up, he saw that it was quite late and the Chassid
WHO IS A HIDDEN TZADDIK?
It is told about a certain Chassid that he asked the Rebbe Rayatz to show him a hidden tzaddik, and the Rebbe said he would show him one.
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MOSHIACH & GEULA
IF YAAKOV IS ALIVE, HOW DOES HE EAT MATZA ON PESACH?
When a person dies, he is free from Mitzvos – specifically a regular person, but this is not so regarding tzaddikim, who are called “alive” even posthumously. And of course this is not so of Yaakov Avinu, who “did not die”; it is certain that he is obligated in Mitzvos. * But how can tzaddikim fulfill Mitzvos, such as eating matza and the like, in the actual, real sense?! * Source materials compiled by Rabbi Shloma Majeski. Translations are in bold.
Translated and presented by Boruch Merkur
The Klausenberger Rebbe discusses the obligation of tzaddikim to fulfill Mitzvos after they are nistalek, for as we have seen “Tzaddikim [even] in their death are called alive.” Here is a selection regarding the Gemara’s statement, “Yaakov Avinu did not die,” that appears on pg. 19 of Yisroel Saba. The Gemara’s teaching that “Yaakov Avinu did not die” requires clarification, for [if it is to be understood in the literal sense] Yaakov would be obligated to observe all of the
Mitzvos! How then would he consume a k’zayis of matza [on Pesach], etc.? Indeed, in Tractate K’suvos 103a it says that after his passing, Rebbi would visit his home every Shabbos evening. And the commentary on this Gemara found in Seifer Chassidim siman 1129 concludes by saying: Rebbi would [make Kiddush and thereby] discharge others of their obligation of making Kiddush on Shabbos. Other people when deceased are
free from the obligation of Mitzvos, but Rebbi was like a living person, who [even] wore clothing as he did when alive. Indeed, “the righteous [even] in their death are called alive,” [and, therefore, Rebbi remained obligated in Mitzvos] and [even had the capacity to] discharge members of his household of their obligation to make Kiddush. See the discussion there. What emerges from the above is that tzaddikim remain obligated in Mitzvos even after their passing. Also the Chida writes: When a person dies, he is free from the obligation of Mitzvos – specifically a regular person, but this is not so regarding tzaddikim, who are called “alive” even posthumously. And of course this is not so of Yaakov Avinu, regarding whom the Gemara teaches that he “did not die”; it is certain that he is obligated in Mitzvos. But how can he fulfill them? […] How can tzaddikim fulfill Mitzvos, such as eating matza and the like, in the actual, real sense? Surely G-d’s reach does not fall short. G-d, Creator of all existence, is able to fashion the means whereby tzaddikim are able to eat even after their deaths, in order that they may fulfill the Mitzva of eating matza, albeit that this concept is beyond our comprehension and grasp. It is reminiscent of how the angels, when they visited Avrohom Avinu, literally ate [the food they were served], as written in Tikkunei D’Vei Eliyahu, cited in Tosafos Bava Metzia 86b: the fact that they were able to eat was a manifestation of G-dly power [a miracle from G-d].
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THE REBBE’S GUIDANCE
What do you do with a bachur who doesn’t want to daven Nusach Chabad or learn Chassidus?* Why should Chassidus be learned now when it wasn’t learned in previous generations? * From the life of R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman Serebryanski a”h.
Prepared for publication by Avrohom Rainitz
n 7 Kislev, about a month after the Rebbe received R’ Zalman’s detailed letter of 2 Cheshvan, the Rebbe sent him another letter requesting additional information about the yeshiva. R’ Zalman had already sent a detailed letter on Rosh Chodesh Kislev, but the Rebbe hadn’t yet received it by 7 Kislev, when he wrote his letter.
LEARNING CHASSIDUS – DON’T FORCE IT
In his letter, R’ Zalman informed the Rebbe about a number of developments and asked for the Rebbe’s guidance and bracha in a number of areas. The Rebbe received this letter a short while later, and on 11 Kislev, the Rebbe responded to his questions. This is what R’ Zalman wrote about: Among the talmidim of the
yeshiva there were two bachurim from the Hungarian community, whose learning in the Chabad yeshiva was always conditional. They were among the first talmidim who joined the yeshiva in its first year, but when the rabbi of their community arrived, they left the Chabad yeshiva to learn with him. Then the rabbi left, and they came back to the Chabad yeshiva. These talmidim, despite having learned in the Chabad yeshiva for several years, did not relate to the Chabad spirit. They zealously kept themselves apart and even refrained from davening in the Chabad minyan in the yeshiva. They would show up to learn after Shacharis and they left before Mincha, which took place at the end of the day’s learning. When R’ Zalman failed to convince them of the necessity of davening in the yeshiva, he
consulted with Anash about whether he should tell them that if they wanted to continue learning in the yeshiva they had to accept all the yeshiva’s rules, including davening in the yeshiva minyan. None of Anash was willing to take the responsibility for such a drastic ultimatum which could lead to the two talmidim leaving the yeshiva altogether. R’ Zalman asked the Rebbe what to do. He also asked the Rebbe to tell him what to do about the fact that the two bachurim did not learn Chassidus. Should he force them to join the shiurim on Chassidus at least twice a week, or let it go. The Rebbe’s response: “As to your question about whether to compel some talmidim to come and daven in the yeshiva, obviously, forcing is not the way, although you should speak about it at the right time and at farbrengens. Even better, it shouldn’t just come from the hanhala of the yeshiva, but also from Anash who are not in the hanhala. However, they should not be forced in ways of either do it or else etc. On the contrary, the way of drawing close with the right hand will be much more beneficial than the left pushing away.
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“As for their learning Chassidus, in general the point is as stated above. Since this matter is more vital, the efforts in this should be more firm. They should be explained things according to what is said in the Zohar, Parshas B’Haalos’cha 152a about the soul of Torah and what is explained in Kuntres Limud Ha’chassidus of the Rebbe, my father-in-law, and in Kuntres Eitz Chaim. As for the famous question about this, what about previous generations [who did not study Chassidus]? The answer is simple according to what is explained in a number of places including Likkutei Torah BaMidbar in the drush on the copper snake, that Biblically, it would be enough to recite the Shma. Rabbinically, you also need two t’fillos a day [Shacharis and Mincha], and now it became accepted as obligatory to also daven Maariv. Then, when hearts diminished and darkness increased, the P’sukei D’Zimra were added, etc. If someone came along and said it was enough for him to do as the tzaddikim of yesteryear did during Temple times, so he won’t say the P’sukei D’Zimra and not even the Birchos Krias Shma, the response would be obvious. The same applies to the study of Chassidus, like it is brought in the Igeres Ha’kodesh in the name of the Arizal, that in this generation, it is a mitzva to reveal this wisdom. From generation to generation it has been necessary to reveal more, which is why Toras Ha’chassidus has spread and has been presented in a way that is understandable intellectually. Surely you can find the right words that would suit these talmidim. And like
what was stated previously, you should begin the efforts in this matter during a farbrengen, and in an auspicious time it is likely to lead to exceedingly great results.”
INVOLVEMENT IN INYANEI CHABAD PREPARES PARNASA UP ABOVE
Another topic which bothered R’ Zalman was that he received little help from Anash, relative to his expectations. R’ Zalman, who envisioned the great spiritual future that Chabad mosdos could achieve if they would only try harder, was very disappointed when Anash did not get fully involved in helping develop the schools. In his letter to the Rebbe, he expressed his pain and tried to defend Anash who were preoccupied with parnasa, which is why they could not give much time to the yeshiva: “The small numbers of Anash who live in distant places and it is hard for them to get together and farbreng as necessary, and they don’t even all come to the yeshiva minyan, each one is preoccupied with his parnasa and they owe a lot of money, and consequently it is hard for them to be devoted to the yeshiva. “All of the Rebbe’s letters which are received at the yeshiva, I show to Anash. I’ve already called them several times to a special gathering in order to read again with the proper attentiveness the letters of K”K Admur Shlita, and I did not succeed in gathering them all, so that the last time, some came and some were absent. “We read the letters and I explained to them that the times called for extra dedication and that we could not suffice with
the work of a few hours to raise funds like before, because we had a big job to do. In truth, every one of Anash wants, deep in his heart, to fulfill the Rebbe’s wishes. It is only because of the many preoccupations that they ‘lose themselves.’ May Hashem have mercy and remove this ‘shortness of spirit’ from Anash so they can heed the Rebbe’s horaos.” In response to this, the Rebbe wrote: “You write that the reason for the lack of proper involvement is because of being preoccupied with parnasa. It is explained in Chassidus and it is also understood intellectually, that when it comes to parnasa there are two parts: 1) that the parnasa be prepared up Above, and 2) that it be drawn down in children, health, and a livelihood. As is explained at length in a number of places, including Kuntres U’Maayan… “One who says he does not have the time to be involved in the first part, since he is busy in drawing it down below, this makes no sense. In order for parnasa to be designated up Above for him, he needs to be involved in matters of Torah and mitzvos. This needs no explanation, especially for Anash and the T’mimim whom divine providence sent to a special country on a special mission. How will additional busyness help, when this addition diminishes in the fulfillment of the shlichus and, as a result, also the designation of parnasa up Above, G-d forbid, and one should not go on at length about something painful.”
R’ Zalman also had
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The father said he did and R’ Chaim explained to him nicely and firmly that he could not have an aliya as long as his store was open on Shabbos. The father, who really wanted an aliya at his only son’s bar mitzva, immediately went to the store and announced to all the customers that they had to leave, and he closed the store.
educational-moral dilemmas in running the yeshiva which he reported to the Rebbe. Among the students who attended the after school classes were those from irreligious homes. One of them was fourteen and orphaned of his father, and his mother wanted him to sleep at the yeshiva. The hanhala agreed, thinking it would give them the opportunity to help him advance in his Jewish studies in the evenings. However, the boy had his own ideas and his own plans for the evenings, which were not in line with that of the hanhala. R’ Zalman tried to convince him to start learning all day in yeshiva, but didn’t get anywhere. He wrote to the Rebbe and said he was afraid to come down harder on the boy, lest he leave Judaism altogether. He said that he called the mother to a meeting the following Sunday and he hoped that together they would be able to find a solution. The Rebbe’s answer would arrive after he spoke to her, but he assumed that this would be a recurring problem and that is why he wanted the Rebbe’s view about how to respond in similar situations.
The Rebbe’s answer was he did not understand the question and of course, as much as possible, effort should be made to be mekarev those talmidim who came from homes where the parents were not quite religious yet. This response, that as much as possible, effort should be made to be mekarev them, was R’ Zalman’s guide in the years to come and it was the key to the astonishing success of the Chabad schools. Along with a firm Chabad stance and the adherence to Jewish principles, R’ Zalman interacted with the students and their parents in a peaceful, pleasant manner. He asked parents to observe the fundamentals of our faith, while not expelling those students whose parents did not do all he asked them to do. The patience the school exhibited towards those families that were not religiously observant proved itself, and over the years, nearly all of them were drawn to full mitzva observance.
Many of them even became Lubavitcher Chassidim. Even when R’ Zalman had to be firm, parents knew that what he said was coming from a place of love and they accepted it in that spirit. One Shabbos, the yeshiva celebrated the bar mitzva of one of the talmidim who was an only child. The boy’s father owned a grocery store that was open seven days a week and was near the yeshiva. Before the davening, the gabbai of the shul, R’ Chaim Serebryanski, went over to the father of the bar mitzva boy and asked him whether he wanted an aliya. The father said he did and R’ Chaim explained to him nicely and firmly that he could not have an aliya as long as his store was open on Shabbos. The father, who really wanted an aliya at his only son’s bar mitzva, immediately went to the store and announced to all the customers that they had to leave, and he closed the store. Obviously, this made a tremendous impression on the entire family.
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WHO’S PREVENTING CONSTRUCTION IN YERUSHALAYIM?
As far as the government of Israel is concerned, it would be far better if there were no Jews in East Jerusalem, thereby sparing them the political headache of dealing with the indisputable fact that the Arabs control the eastern part of the capital of Eretz Yisroel. It is safe to say that half of Yerushalayim is effectively devoid of any Jewish sovereignty. The Municipality of Yerushalayim does not relate to its eastern sector as an integral part of the city, and it gets its cue from the highest echelons.
By Sholom Ber Crombie Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
n one of his sichos after the liberation of Yerushalayim, the Rebbe spoke with great pain about the situation developing in the city. If an Arab wants to rent an apartment in the center of Yerushalayim – he can, says the Rebbe. So why is it that if a Jew wants to rent an apartment in East Jerusalem he is not permitted to do so? Not only has this absurd situation failed to improve over the years, it has gotten worse. The Jewish residents of East Jerusalem feel as if they are
servants in someone else’s home. If they want to build a bathroom in their house, they require the expressed written consent of the President of the United States, whereas their Arab neighbors build and build without permits and without documentation. Eretz Yisroel’s ruling institutions regard the Jewish presence in eastern Yerushalayim as a foreign entity. As far as the government of Israel is concerned, it would be far better if there were no Jews in East Jerusalem, thereby sparing them
the political headache of dealing with the indisputable fact that the Arabs control the eastern part of the capital of Eretz Yisroel. It is safe to say that half of Yerushalayim is effectively devoid of any Jewish sovereignty. The Municipality of Yerushalayim does not relate to its eastern sector as an integral part of the city, and it gets its cue from the highest echelons, i.e., the Netanyahu government and the state’s ruling institutions. However, the problem has gone far beyond East Jerusalem for some time. If we had already become accustomed to seeing only Arabs build in East Jerusalem, we now have a situation where Jews can’t build anywhere in Yerushalayim. There are people in the halls of Israeli government who treat Yerushalayim like a lone outpost near Yitzhar, where building anywhere without the official permission of Mr. Barack Obama is strictly prohibited. Just a couple of weeks ago, the minister of housing and construction, Mr. Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi), was forced to admit that Jews are not allowed to build in Yerushalayim. Even Mr. Ariel, a man with outstanding rightwing credentials, cannot break
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the rules and authorize building projects in Yerushalayim. Furthermore, when we speak of a construction freeze in Yerushalayim, this doesn’t include the city’s eastern neighborhoods, except for Ramot. No new Jewish construction is beginning anywhere in Yerushalayim. The projects that commenced before the start of the current parliamentary term have managed to survive the freeze. However, no additional permits are being issued to Jews to build in the capital city of Eretz HaKodesh. During the last three decades, not a single new neighborhood has been erected in Yerushalayim. Yet, while there is a tremendous demand for new housing units in the Holy City, the state of Israel is worried about construction projects along the Green Line – in those areas liberated during the Six Day War. Two years ago, when building permits were issued for Yerushalayim’s Gilo neighborhood, the state-run media created an uproar over “unnecessarily aggravating” the Arabs, as if Gilo is not part of Yerushalayim. There was a similar case just last year when the Israel Ministry of the Interior authorized a new building project in Ramat Shlomo. The ruling authorities in Eretz Yisroel even look upon the large neighborhood of Ramot as foreign land, i.e., a region under international dispute requiring the special permission of the Government of the United States in order to build there. This is the way in which successive Israeli governments have related to some of the most “Yerushalmi” neighborhoods of Yerushalayim. The Israeli left and the media love to mock the Holy City of Yerushalayim. They frequently remind people that Yerushalayim
Every time the media makes a big deal over incidents of tire puncturing, it’s not due to a sense of genuine concern over a new form of terrorism. Rather, it is just a welcome opportunity for them to attack the nationalist communities and blame them for Muslim terrorism, even accusing them of initiating it.
media, despite the fact that the residents of Yehuda and Shomron suffer from real terrorism every day which places them in constant danger. However, as soon as a few tires are punctured in an Arab village, the media is up in arms about terrorism. Have they suddenly forgotten what real terrorism is and who exactly is the enemy here? Every time the media makes a big deal over incidents of tire puncturing, it’s not due to a sense of genuine concern over a new form of terrorism. It’s more likely that this is just a welcome opportunity for them to attack the nationalist communities and blame them for the terrorism, even accusing them of initiating it. The bizarre decision to classify puncturing tires as terrorism is merely a part of the blatantly disproportionate condemnation of those faithful to Eretz Yisroel. Even in this story, the media related to the Arab residents of Yerushalayim as part of the city’s natural landscape, whereas the local Jewish population is considered like a band of illegal aliens. Thus, when they throw rocks (even boulders!) on Jewish cars, it’s accepted in an air of deep forgiveness. After all, the Jews are driving through territory that doesn’t belong to them. However, when someone punctures the tires on Arab vehicles, every state-run media outlet in the country screams that they run the land here, and
has turned into a poor chareidi city. They don’t ask themselves what’s really going on in the Holy City, whether young couples can still fulfill their dream of living in Yerushalayim. From a housing standpoint, Yerushalayim has the highest real estate prices in the country – together with crowded Tel Aviv. The difference is that Tel Aviv has no room to develop, while there are some marvelous locations around Yerushalayim for building new neighborhoods. Nevertheless, the minister of housing, representing the “Jewish Home” Party, has frozen all construction projects in Yerushalayim and has forbidden Jews to build there.
TERRORISM VS. PUNCTURED TIRES
Last week, the news headlines in Eretz Yisroel created an uproar over the “Jewish terrorists” who puncture the tires of cars in Yerushalayim’s Beit Hanina neighborhood. Placing the incident itself aside for the moment, it’s virtually impossible not to be shocked by the Israeli media’s total lack of decency. Only recently, the media conducted a cynical debate over whether rock throwing is a form of terrorism, in the wake of the serious injuries sustained by two-year old Ariel resident Adele Bitton, may G-d send her a complete and speedy recovery. The rocks thrown on Jewish cars are of no interest to the
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therefore, woe to anyone who disrupts their normal peaceful lives. defense and security, and paid for them in the ways of pleasantness and the ways of peace – they can do the same thing with regard to the place of the Beis HaMikdash and the Cave of the Patriarchs. Nevertheless, it remains this way to this day, and they act as if they don’t know anything about it, despite the fact that everyone does know about it, and they even print things about it from time to time. “...And primarily in our case, they don’t even ‘hop between two ideas’ – and since immediately after they conquered Yerushalayim and Chevron, they already knew that there is an official document from the days of the Turks, which that Gentile ordered them to write, [stating] that a certain matter pertains to this person, and another matter pertains to that person, which was not in accordance with justice and honesty, because he didn’t purchase it with four hundred shekels of silver, etc.! Despite the fact that they knew this – they didn’t do anything on this matter.” Later in the sicha, the Rebbe connected the security situation to the deteriorating state of Yiddishkait in Eretz Yisroel. He spoke in terms strikingly similar to what is being said regarding today’s national crises, as those who remain silent on the issue of dividing Yerushalayim and forbidding Jews to build there are the same ones who are in charge of the Ministry of Religious Affairs (a.k.a. the Ministry of Religions) and undermine the protective wall of traditional Judaism: “And those who ardently work to prevent writing the word ‘k’halacha’ (according to Jewish law) in the Law [of Return], since it affects their place on the seats [of government], etc. – also know this, and yet they haven’t done a thing. “Furthermore, regarding the one who was in authority as the minister of religions (he is now already in the World of Truth), what was the first thing he should have corrected? Since it belongs r”l to three religions (l’havdil), the least he should have done was to register it in the name of three ‘baalei battim.’ “Nevertheless, even this they didn’t do because they are afraid of the Gentile, and from a Gentile whom they defeated. The Gentile himself screams that they defeated him, and he asks for kindness and mercy – as that’s what the situation was then. Yet, they feared the Gentile and did nothing! “He was fervently involved over how we must make a Sanhedrin, and we have to think about building the Beis HaMikdash, but to assure the concept of ‘halachic conversion’ at a time when he knew that there is an entire institution, an entire place where people have converted against halacha, to the point that it wasn’t a conversion at all, he didn’t do anything, and this has brought the ‘root producing hemlock and wormwood’ to this very day.”
WORDS OF PROPHECY
In a sicha on the 13th of Tishrei 5737, the night of Erev Sukkos, the Rebbe spoke before the many guests who had come for “the season of our rejoicing.” The Rebbe noted the fact that there are representatives in Beis Chayeinu – 770 from many countries throughout the world, and therefore, he would take the opportunity to speak about the situation in Eretz HaKodesh: “To this day, it is written in official documents that the ‘baal ha’bayis’ over the Old City of Yerushalayim and over the location of the land prepared for sacrifices... [as the Rambam states that the Sh’china is not nullified, and this is the law in relation to actual halacha] – is known to be a Gentile, and we know who he is, and this is agreed upon to this day, yet no one wants to deal with it, keeping the matter quiet instead. “Similarly, we find in regard to the Cave of the Patriarchs and the surrounding area [in Chevron]. It is written in ‘documents’ that they belong to a Gentile! And when we ask officially who is the ‘baal ha’bayis’ there – they say that the ‘baal ha’bayis’ is so-and-so, which is the exact opposite of (not only Ahavas Yisroel, but also) the love of justice and honesty, etc. “In simple terms, just as they took several matters pertaining to
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