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featured Articles WEEKLY columns
SHLICHUS INSTEAD OF RETIREMENT
A MIRACLE 14 MERITING FROM THE REBBE AND REB LEVI YITZCHOK
REBBE ON REGIME 16 THE CHANGE IN AN ARAB COUNTRY
Rabbi Naftali Estulin
4 D’var Malchus 5 Moshiach & Geula 20 Miracle Story 31 Parsha Thought 38 Crossroads 41 Chabad News
THE FIRST AMERICAN TAMIM
MATRIX 28 THE OF OPPOSITES
Prof. Shimon Silman
PLAN TO 34 FEIGLIN’S STREAMLINE THE I.D.F.
Sholom Ber Crombie
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DOVID HA’MELECH: STILL KING OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
Dovid HaMelech’s eternal state of life pertains to every single Jew who says, “Dovid Melech Yisroel chai v’kayam,” on a monthly basis, at the time of Kiddush Levana. * Through Dovid HaMelech, Dovid Malka Meshicha, one goes out of his own personal exile. * Source materials compiled by Rabbi Shloma Majeski. Translations are in bold. Underlining is the author’s emphasis.
Translated and presented by Boruch Merkur
Another tzaddik to whom eternal life is ascribed is Dovid HaMelech. In the following sicha, the Rebbe MH”M focuses on how the eternal life of Dovid HaMelech is unique in that his kingship over every single Jew lives on eternally, providing the capacity for each Jew to transcend his own personal exile. Through Dovid HaMelech, Dovid Malka Meshicha, one goes out of his own personal exile, and goes in the way of Dovid HaMelech, conducting himself according to his teachings, insofar as “Dovid Melech Yisroel chai v’kayam – Dovid, king of the Jewish people, is alive and well.” That is, even now he is “chai v’kayam,” in a manner of “Melech Yisroel.” Dovid HaMelech’s eternal state of life pertains to every single Jew who says, “Dovid
Melech Yisroel chai v’kayam,” on a monthly basis, at the time of Kiddush Levana. It is said regarding Dovid HaMelech, “I have found Dovid, My servant” (T’hillim 89:21), meaning that the Alm-ghty G-d has found and discovered that Dovid is a faithful shepherd. This is true of Dovid HaMelech both with regard to sheep, in the literal sense, and how much more so with regard to the Jewish people (regarding whom it is said, “And you, My flock, the sheep of My pasture” (Yechezkel 34:31)). Indeed, Dovid is the shepherd and leader of the entire Jewish nation. (Although from the outset, Dovid was only the king of Yehuda, later, for thirty-three years he ruled as king over all the Jewish people – not just over Yehuda, but
the entire Jewish nation.) The leadership and rule of Dovid HaMelech stands eternally; even today he is called “Melech Yisroel” and he is “chai v’kayam” as a king of the Jewish people. That is, even now, during the time of exile, after the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, etc., the Torah says that every month, at time of Kiddush Levana, one must say “Dovid Melech Yisroel chai v’kayam,” because that is the way it is even now [i.e., Dovid HaMelech lives forever]. This constitutes the general difference between Dovid HaMelech and Chanoch, as well as Eliyahu HaNavi (who are also “chai v’kayam,” living eternally): Dovid HaMelech is “chai v’kayam” as a king of the Jewish people. The special quality of a king is that he is one “who leads them out and who brings them in” (BaMidbar 27:17), meaning that he leads every single Jew (including one who sins, for even after he sins, “Yisroel hu – he is [still considered to be] a Jew”), and every single Jew conducts himself in accordance with his teachings.
(Sichos Kodesh 5741, pg. 17, second day of Chag HaShavuos, bilti muga)
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MOSHIACH & GEULA
WHAT IS A PRAYER DOING IN THE MIDDLE OF A LEGAL CODE?
By Rabbi Gershon Avtzon
Dear Reader sh’yichyeh, In the fifth chapter of Pirkei Avos, the chapter that we are learning this week, the Mishna tells us, “Yehudah the son of Teima would say: Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and mighty as a lion to do the will of your Father in Heaven. He would also say: The brazen--to purgatory; the bashful--to paradise. May it be Your will, L-rd our G-d and G-d of our fathers, that the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days; and grant us our portion in Your Torah.” There is an obvious question on this Mishna: What is the prayer “May it be Your will, L-rd our G-d and G-d of our fathers, that the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days; and grant us our portion in Your Torah” doing in middle of Pirkei Avos? There is actually a similar question asked on the Rambam. Regarding the Para Aduma (Red Heifer), the Rambam writes (Hilchos Para Aduma, end of Ch. 3): “Moshe Rabbeinu was commanded to sacrifice the Para Aduma. During the course of history, the Jewish people sacrificed nine Paros Adumos. The tenth will be sacrificed by King Moshiach, may he be speedily revealed, Amen!”
This statement raises two obvious questions: 1) What is a prayer doing in the middle of a book of laws? 2) If, for whatever reason, Rambam wished to pray for the Moshiach, would it not be more fitting to place the prayer in the section where the Rambam explains the laws pertaining to the times of Moshiach, in the last two chapters of Hilchos Melachim? The answer is as follows: The Rambam, a codifier of Jewish law, is actually teaching us a law! The law is that when a Jew hears about Moshiach – even when merely mentioned tangentially – it must evoke within him a deep yearning and desire to pray for Moshiach. According to Jewish law, when must one pray? It is when one feels that he is lacking one of his needs (see Hilchos T’filla of the Rambam). When one feels so strongly about Moshiach that upon hearing it mentioned he feels the need to pray for Moshiach, then we know that he is truly anticipating Moshiach’s arrival. One need not be troubled by the fact that the Rambam does not write a prayer for Moshiach every time he mentions it in his books. The reason
for that is simple: Rambam is a codifier of Jewish law, so he teaches the law once and expects you to pray for Moshiach all the other times! In the same spirit, we can now explain why this special prayer for the Beis HaMikdash appears in middle of Pirkei Avos: Rabbi Yehuda started off the Mishna by saying “Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and mighty as a lion to do the will of your Father in Heaven.” We know that one of Hashem’s deepest desires is the building of the Beis HaMikdash with the coming of Moshiach. Hashem says (Parshas Truma), “Make Me a Sanctuary and I will live in them.” The Midrash Tanchuma tells us: “G-d wanted to have a dwelling place in a lowly realm (Nisaveh HaKadosh Baruch Hu Lihiyos Lo Dira Ba’tachtonim).” Since this is the will of Hashem and we want to do Hashem’s will in a very strong way, we stop and pray: “May it be Your will, L-rd our G-d and G-d of our fathers, that the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days; and grant us our portion in Your Torah!”
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.
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SHLICHUS INSTEAD OF RETIREMENT
For many years, R’ Yankel Getz taught and did research in the field of psychology. Then he became a mashgiach of kashrus. Today, he and his wife are the unofficial shluchim of Watertown, New York.
By Nosson Avrohom
ast Rosh Chodesh Tammuz was a very sad day for us,” said R’ Yaakov Meir Getz, holder of a PhD in behavioral psychology, and unofficial shliach of the Rebbe in Watertown, NY. “My mother-in-law, who lived in Pittsburgh, passed away that day. During the funeral the next day, my wife, Golda, tripped at the cemetery and broke her ankle in four places. In lots of pain, she was taken by ambulance to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where she was admitted to the orthopedic surgery department. This all happened on Thursday afternoon. So she began sitting (lying, actually) Shiva in the hospital! “It wasn’t until about 2 a.m. Erev Shabbos that I finally reached her hospital room. She was scheduled for surgery at 8 that morning, but was hesitant and wanted to discuss things with me before making a decision. When I arrived, Golda put in a request for the surgical resident on duty to come to her room, so I could hear all the information firsthand, as she had. In the meantime, the two of us began discussing the situation in detail, from her perspective.
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“About 3 a.m., the resident arrived, and began a thorough review of the various surgical options. He also said we could do nothing, and they could monitor things to see whether or not it would heal properly; if not, surgery could be done at that point. He stated that, in his opinion, we should have the operation done as soon as possible. “The operating room had been reserved for Golda to have the operation at 8 a.m. The surgical team was to assemble at 6 a.m., so that was the deadline to notify the hospital if we wanted to cancel the operation. The resident left after spending close to an hour with us, and Golda and I continued talking about the situation, when I suddenly remembered a horaa from the Rebbe from a number of years ago: elective surgery should not be done Erev Shabbos. Golda immediately agreed that her situation was not that type of emergency, so it was decided to postpone the procedure and we immediately informed the hospital of our decision. “As we continued talking, another issue arose: I asked Golda how such surgery could even be considered without having written to the Rebbe? She again agreed immediately, and we began a long session reviewing in great detail all the issues involved. Since it was to be Golda’s operation, we agreed that she would be the one to write, but we wanted the Rebbe to have accurate and complete information. “Finally, close to dawn, I left the hospital and looked forward to some badly needed rest. Arriving at my host’s home, I immediately went to sleep. After about two hours, the lady of the house called me to the phone; Golda was asking for me. Holding the phone to my ear, still groggy from being awakened so early, I heard her shouting, ‘Yankel! We don’t have to write to the Rebbe. The Rebbe already answered us!’
‘What in the world are you talking about?’ I asked. She said she needed to talk to me, that the Rebbe had sent a shliach with the answer, and that I should drive over to the hospital immediately. “I rushed over to hear the amazing story she had to tell. It seems that around 6 a.m., a man entered her room wearing green operating scrubs. He looked at Golda and immediately began reciting a bracha, ‘Boruch Ata ...’ Golda was so stunned, she didn’t hear if he even finished the bracha, and if so, which one it was! Then he said, ‘Not bad, since I haven’t said a bracha since my bar mitzvah.’ Then he said, ‘Listen, Ma. You are about my Mother’s age, so I feel I can call you Ma. You don’t need surgery. If you follow my instructions, I’ll
that she would be fitted with a postsurgical boot. She had to promise to seriously restrict her walking, and to sit most of the time with her ankle elevated above her heart. After a month or so, she would return for new X-rays; if these showed proper healing, they would continue; otherwise, they would evaluate what to do next. Golda agreed, and Dr. Tarkin left the room. “Soon after a woman came into the room and was staring at Golda with an amazed look on her face. Golda asked who she was and why she was staring. She said that she was the head nurse on the floor, and that Golda’s previous visitor was none other than Dr. Ivan Tarkin, chairman of the entire department. Upon seeing him there, she spoke with the other nurses at the desk and
“At the end of the farbrengen I asked him, ‘Berel, why do you speak of the Rebbe as the only leader when there are other rabbis and Chassidic Rebbes?’ He looked at me and said, ‘Yankel, believe me, there is no one else.’”
release you in a few hours, and you can go home to spend Shabbos with your family.’ Golda was stunned of course, and was wondering, who was this guy? He had no name tag and hadn’t even introduced himself when coming into the room. ‘Who are you?’ she finally asked. ‘Oh, I’m Dr. Ivan Tarkin.’ She remembered his name mentioned by the resident surgeon, when the resident spoke to her in the Emergency Room. “Golda recounted to him the discussions of the previous night, and asked how the recommendation had changed so drastically. He said that the team had assembled at 6 a.m. to review her case. After reviewing her X-rays and tests together as a group, they decided to allow her to try nonsurgery. Dr. Tarkin then explained
they all agreed that this was a highly unusual event. Most of them didn’t even know who he was because it was very rare for him to visit patients on the floor; usually, they came to him in his office. When he did visit patients, it was only for a few seconds. She came to Golda’s room to see who this extraordinary person who merited such a visit was. “We felt that this doctor was a shliach who answered us before we could ask the question. We had merely thought of writing to the Rebbe and the Rebbe had already intervened and changed the reality from one extreme to another. A few hours later, my wife was released and within a few days she was doing remarkably well.
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“There are those who ask how we can connect to the Rebbe nowadays. How can we receive his guidance and blessings? I say that the Rebbe is with us, leading and guiding us. You just have to be connected; you need to believe. The reality is more powerful than anything you can imagine.” And that was the end of R’ Yankele Getz’s first story. R’ Getz spent time with his wife in Tzfas recently, which enabled us to get a glimpse into the life of a Chassid who became a Lubavitcher in the 1960’s. He is a Chassid whose thoughts and time are devoted to one thing: how to give the Rebbe nachas. R’ Getz is a man of many hats. A separate interview can be conducted with him about his area of expertise, psychology, and he can be interviewed about kashrus, a field in which he spent many years and in which he is a big maven. He can also be interviewed about the past eight years in which he and his wife Golda are the unofficial shluchim of the Rebbe in Watertown. For this article, we chose to focus on his life in general and his private audiences with the Rebbe. Intellectual Approach to Judaism. “This piqued my interest. A religious friend, who was organizing the trip, convinced me to join and I happily agreed. The truth is that I did not go with many expectations. Until then, I had not felt a desire to get to know the inner world of Judaism. We were always discussing other people’s problems. But a trip to New York, which I had never visited, for just $25 which included full room and board? Why not? “So there I was, one Friday, shortly before Shabbos, getting out in front of a house in Crown Heights and looking for the people who were going to host me. While I was getting my bearings, I saw a Chassid leave his house with two bags of garbage. He immediately noticed that I was looking for someone and he offered his help. ‘I’m looking for Rabbi Leibel Groner,’ I said. He smiled and said, ‘That’s me. Welcome.’ “I was wearing a blue shirt and pants and his wife thought I was a mailman. I later discovered that they were not expecting guests that Shabbos. A mistake had been made but I was oblivious to it all. “The more time I spent in Crown Heights, the more curious I became. I didn’t imagine that Judaism has such depth. I had naively thought that mitzvos are done in order to preserve our Jewish history. I had no idea that this is a way of life. “I barely slept for three days. I was either reading or listening. The talks with R’ Groner opened up a world to me and I felt like I was reborn. On the last night of my stay, R’ Groner asked me why I didn’t go to sleep. I told him, ‘If I wanted to sleep, I could have stayed at the university.’ “On Shabbos, we were in 770, of course, with the Rebbe. It was the year that the Rebbe’s mother, Rebbetzin Chana, had passed away and there was a farbrengen every Shabbos. I sat for hours, fascinated, even though I didn’t understand a thing, but the atmosphere was electrifying. When I returned later on to R’ Groner’s house, he summarized in English what had been said. “That Shabbos with the Rebbe something happened that I’ll call ‘heavenly.’ At the university, there was a French fellow who became friendly with me, mainly because we had similar interests. We loved talking about the stars, constellations and astrology. The subject interested me at the time. It’s interesting that on that Shabbos, the Rebbe spoke about this very subject. He quoted various opinions and when R’ Groner repeated them, I was astounded. I felt that the Rebbe had said it all for me. “I returned to Maryland on Monday, a completely different person. My entire understanding of Judaism had changed. It was no longer an ancient tradition that had to be preserved under duress, but a living Torah. “Every Friday evening a group of religious Jews sat in the university cafeteria and had a Shabbos meal together. I asked if I could join them and noticed that they did not give me wine when they made Kiddush. I asked them about this but they avoided answering me until one of them said, you can’t touch the wine because you aren’t shomer Shabbos. I did not understand this at the time but I said, ‘I am shomer Shabbos.’ And indeed, starting from that Shabbos I really began keeping Shabbos. “I was so enthusiastic about the Rebbe and the special atmosphere in Crown Heights that I spoke about the Rebbe constantly. My friends called me the Lubavitcher of the university. I didn’t know a thing about Torah and mitzvos but I was already a Lubavitcher. “That first visit to the Rebbe led to other visits. On Sukkos, I was a guest of R’ Mendel Baumgarten
DISCOVERING A NEW WORLD IN CROWN HEIGHTS
Yaakov was born during World War II in Maryland to a Conservative family. His chinuch included going to shul and celebrating Passover, but it was all without spiritual significance; it was solely ritual. When he graduated public school, he went to the University of Maryland to study psychology. “In 5725/1965, I was busy working on my degree when an ad from the student organization called Hillel caught my attention. The ad invited students for Shabbat with Chabad under the heading: Come and Get Acquainted with the
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with whom I stayed many times afterward. I had a good friend who preferred going to the Skverer Rebbe. When I asked him why, he said that the Admur received people every Motzaei Shabbos. He tried convincing me to join him but my soul was drawn to Lubavitch and I remained in Crown Heights. “One day of Chol HaMoed, R’ Berel Baumgarten, shliach in Buenos Aires, farbrenged in the sukka. At the end of the farbrengen I asked him, ‘Berel, why do you speak of the Rebbe as the only leader when there are other rabbis and Chassidic Rebbes?’ He looked at me and said, ‘Yankel, believe me, there is no one else.’ These few words, without explanations and proofs, really got to me. Right after Simchas Torah, I wrote my first letter to the Rebbe. In nine pages, in small print, I summed up my short life thus far. “At first, my parents had taken the change in me very hard. But when they realized it wasn’t a momentary whim but a path in life, they calmed down. That year, I took them with me to 770. We all stayed at the Groner’s and my parents came
with me to shul and to farbrengens. When we returned from 770 to our hosts, my mother said in wonder, ‘This is the first time that I’m seeing people pushing in order to get into a shul and not pushing to get out of one.’ “That Shabbos, my father told me that Torah and mitzvos are not foreign to him and that his parents were Shabbos observant. For example, the horses were given enough food before Shabbos. The only thing that bothered my parents was the thought of my leaving university and not getting a job, but when they saw that I was continuing my studies and had even become a lecturer and researcher, they stopped worrying and they themselves became very interested in Chassidus.”
THE REBBE’S GUIDANCE
As the Rebbe instructed him, R’ Getz continued his university studies while learning more about Torah and mitzvos at the same time. “In the summer of 5626/1966, before my birthday on 15 Sivan, R’
Groner suggested that I meet the Rebbe personally. He told me how to write and what to write in the note that I would submit to the Rebbe. I did as he suggested. I kept a copy and gave the other copy to R’ Groner to give to the Rebbe. When I entered for yechidus, for some reason the letter was not there and I gave the Rebbe the copy in my pocket. The Rebbe read it word by word and reread it three times. Throughout this time, I wished the earth would swallow me up. “When I went out, people asked me to describe the room but I couldn’t answer since I had been unable to take my eyes off the Rebbe. One of the questions I had asked was whether to go to yeshiva. The Rebbe did not answer that; instead, he spoke to me about my university studies. The Rebbe told me, ‘Your purpose is to be a well-known scientist.’ I was living in Detroit at this time and when I told the Chassidim about this, they were amazed that the Rebbe had revealed to me the purpose of my soul’s descent to this world. At the time, I was doing research in my field of psychology. My first job had
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to write and when the time was up he stopped, even if he was in the middle of writing a sentence. “At this point the Rebbe smiled broadly and asked, ‘And what is the key to being organized?’ The Rebbe answered this himself: Shacharis with a minyan. Davening in the morning is like Rosh HaShana and its impact is for the entire year. If the davening is as it should be, the entire day will be different. Like a person’s body, if the head works as it should, then all the limbs work well. To get the day started on the right foot, it has to be with a minyan. The Rebbe said, if you daven without a minyan, the day is like ‘without feet and without hands.’ It is idled away and is not organized. “In conclusion, the Rebbe explained the importance of davening with a minyan. He explained that davening with a minyan saves one from extraneous thoughts. When davening with a minyan, there are also extraneous thoughts but of what, asked the Rebbe. He answered: whether to daven quicker or slower, whether to go past the chazan or to wait for him, and these extraneous thoughts are completely different. Then the Rebbe raised his hand upward like someone engaged in a Talmudic debate. “Since that yechidus, wherever I am, if there is a shul with a minyan, I attend it.”
FROM A MEKURAV TO A CHASSID
When I asked R’ Getz about the difference in how he felt when he was a recent baal t’shuva and when he was already a Chassid for a while, he smiled and told me this story: “In 5727/1967, a week before my wedding, I joined Tzach’s Purim outreach activities. I flew with another two Chassidim, Heishke Gansburg and Itche Meir Kagan, to a military base in Oklahoma in order to bring Purim to the Jews there. We landed in the military airfield and spent Shabbos there. We met Jewish soldiers who knew nothing about Judaism. Their interest was enormous. “A soldier told us that he had decided on his own to put on t’fillin every morning, but since he woke up at three, he put them on then. When I saw how he tied the straps, I realized he had never had a bar mitzva and he had no one to teach him. It was moving to see how Jews sought to get close to Hashem and just needed direction. “I always say that that trip turned me into a real Lubavitcher. Learning is a fine thing but being with these Chassidim and seeing how all the learning was turned into practice, and how they cared about another Jew, made a tremendous impression on me. “On the Sunday following intensive Purim outreach, we flew to Dallas and from there we split up: R’ Kagan went to Detroit and we continued on to Crown Heights. When we arrived at 770, we immediately joined the Purim farbrengen. I had brought mashke and I went up to the bima to get it from the Rebbe. When I went up, I took the opportunity to tell the Rebbe in brief about our successful mivtzaim. Whenever I wanted to say something, the Rebbe cupped his ear and said, ‘Ah?’ This repeated itself three times until I decided to suffice with a bracha and I went down. I was a bit hurt that the Rebbe did not react as I had wanted him to; I had just returned from mivtzaim where I had given it my all. Later on, I met R’ Groner and told him what had happened. He smiled and said, ‘You have to be happy. The Rebbe received you as a Chassid and not like a mekurav.’ “I thought about this and realized this was a brilliant move on the part of the Rebbe. If parents accustom their child to approval for everything he does, he won’t be able to develop properly. The Rebbe wants to bring us to a point where we do things without getting his constant approval and consent, so that we are doing things on our own which makes what we do more powerful. We have to stop being spoiled.” been with a drug company that made psychiatric medication. “In that same yechidus, I asked the Rebbe how to do mivtzaim while I worked at what was an intense schedule. The Rebbe smiled and then began to patiently explain to me, calculating how many hours a student studied, then how many hours of free time there were which he used for sports and fun. ‘Cut your free time in half and do mivtzaim in one half of the time. You will see that there is enough time,’ said the Rebbe. “At another yechidus, I came with a complaint. The Rebbe was constantly pushing me to study and work but I felt I was wasting my time. I had only a little bit of time to do my research and work that took a lot of time, and I wasn’t interested in pursuing this anymore. “The Rebbe’s answer was fascinating. He told me that the secret to success in anything in life was to be organized. He told me about the Tzemach Tzedek, that people asked him how he was able to write so much along with his myriad other responsibilities. The Rebbe said that it was because he was organized. He had set hours in which
GO ON SHLICHUS BUT DON’T CAUSE MACHLOKES
In 5728/1968, after he married, R’ Yankele moved with his family to Windsor, Ontario in Canada. He and another three Jews joined the staff of the local university. “There were two Orthodox shuls there, one big and one small. The three other men were traditional, and together they decided to give the small shul a shot in the arm and daven there. Eventually, the president
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and members of the board were convinced that in order to expand the shul, they needed to get a rabbi to lead them. Of course, I pushed for a Chabad rabbi. They liked the idea and I arranged yechidus for them with the Rebbe. “On the appointed day, the president and another member of the board went to the Rebbe. Afterward, they found someone who agreed to come and audition one Shabbos. This man, R’ Nachum Kaplan, stayed with us for Shabbos. The people connected with him immediately and he with them. The president wanted to accept him on the spot but R’ Kaplan said he had to get the Rebbe’s consent. “A few days later, he called me with a question. He said he had written to the Rebbe and the answer was he could go on condition that there be no machlokes involved. He asked me whether I knew of any disputes at the shul. I didn’t, and I said I would look into it. After some research, I learned that there was a big fight between our president and the bigger shul, and the purpose of bringing a rabbi to the city was to take congregants away from them. Of course, R’ Kaplan declined the position.” R’ Yankel Katz was convinced by his friend, Professor Yitzchok Block, of the university of London, Ontario, to move and teach with him in exchange for a generous stipend. “There was an Orthodox shul with a rabbi, but the minyan took place only on Sunday, Monday, Thursday, and Shabbos. My father died a few months later and I asked to be chazan for all those t’fillos. Professor Block gave me a list of people who might come to daven, and every day, I would call them and ask them to come so I would have a minyan. With Hashem’s help, we were able to hold regular minyanim. “This idyllic situation did not last long. There was a Litvishe fellow
“By mistake, she put the letter into a volume of Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rayatz. From the answer, we understood we should go, but my wife was unhappy that it wasn’t our Rebbe who answered her. She decided to write again and to put the letter in the Rebbe’s Igros Kodesh. What did she open to? To a letter in which the Rebbe asks why she asked again when he already answered her and his answer did not change.”
arranged minyanim every day. But the Litvishe fellow pressured him and he decided to ask his rabbi. There wasn’t much love for Chabad in these areas and the p’sak that he got was that it was forbidden to allow me to continue being the chazan. “The rabbi was a nice guy, not
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in shul who did not like my nusach Sefard Chassidic version of Kaddish with the addition of, ‘v’yatzmach purkanei vikarev meshichei.’ We had arguments about it after every t’filla. The rabbi, who was also Litvish, did not want to get involved at first. He was happy that someone had
the quarreling type, but his rabbi had said what he said and so he asked me not to continue being the chazan. The compromise was that I would continue until the end of the Shloshim, but then I couldn’t continue being chazan unless I changed my nusach to the shul’s nusach. “At the end of the Shloshim, I visited 770 and asked R’ Dworkin, the rav of Crown Heights, what to do. He said that I could not change my nusach. ‘You can’t come to 770 and say Kaddish one way, and say Kaddish over there another way. Remain firm and they will see that they have to give in.’ But what should I do? I would not be able to be the chazan for the rest of the year? R’ Dworkin said I shouldn’t worry and that my father’s soul would have an aliya from other mitzvos. “Professor Block had another idea, that we organize t’fillos in the Hillel on campus. He would get students and I would get additional people. I would leave the shul, and this way, many students who were unfamiliar with t’filla, would be able to pray. We wrote about everything that had been going on to the Rebbe and the answer was that it was a good idea to arrange a student minyan on campus, on condition that it would not harm the minyan at the shul. The Rebbe was very sensitive about avoiding machlokes.” Rebbe but did not receive a response. He decided to drop academia and change direction. He joined the Vaad HaKashrus of Detroit, where he lived, and was sent to distant factories to check out the kashrus of their products. “I met with the Rebbe’s secretary, R’ Chadakov, and told him I wasn’t comfortable with what I was doing. In my first yechidus, the Rebbe had told me that my mission in life is to be a well-known scientist and here I had dropped it all and was working in kashrus. Was it possible for a person’s shlichus to change over the years? “R’ Chadakov said I could stop worrying and that a person’s role could definitely change and that it was divine providence that led me.” *** The Getz family lived in Detroit for over twenty years. R’ Getz became an expert in kashrus, gaining vast experience and knowledge in all aspects of the field. For the past eight years, he and his wife have been living in Watertown, NY, where they are available to help Jews vacationing in the area or those who live there or are in the many army bases in the area. “My wife retired and we were looking for a quiet place where we could do the Rebbe’s work. I was familiar with Watertown from the time I was a mashgiach there in the dairies. All our children are married and we took on this challenge.” About two hundred Jewish families live in the area, but many more Jews are present on the four university campuses and the army bases. “There is a synagogue that is a joint effort of the Reform and Conservative, which has only twenty worshipers who pay membership dues. When I asked them about other Jewish families, they had nothing to tell me. However, since we arrived here, we keep on finding more Jews. We serve as the chaplains at Samaritan Medical Center and in the state prison system. Every Yom Tov we have programs at our house.” R’ Getz has a special story about being a chaplain: “I was called by a hospital and told that a very sick woman was asking for a rabbi to bless her. I went to see her and found her and her husband. She asked for a bracha. I stayed there for a while to encourage them. I ended up finding out that she is not Jewish but her husband is. The interesting thing is that they thought the opposite, that he is the goy and that she is the Jew because she underwent a worthless conversion. When an opportunity arose, I informed him that he is Jewish and suggested that he put on t’fillin. He had no idea what I was talking about, he knew that little about Judaism. “I explained it to him and he was happy to do the mitzva for the first time in his life. The next day, they called me from the hospital to tell me that he had suddenly died.” Not far away is an army base where R’ Getz is very active: “During one of our first weeks here, I found a Jewish soldier and invited him to our house for a Shabbos meal. For Purim we wanted to make a big seuda and we asked this soldier to help us find other Jewish soldiers and invite them to the seuda and reading of the Megilla. He said he did not know other Jews but he would look. Purim day, a soldier went over to him and asked him whether he was Jewish. When he said that he was, the other soldier said he was too and he knew another four Jews. This was all heaven-sent, five minutes before he was heading over to us. He invited them all to us for the seuda. After the reading of the Megilla there was a feast that my wife had prepared. It was an unforgettable Purim. “It is interesting that those two soldiers, the first one that we found,
In the course of his academic work, Professor Getz published much of his research. He spent all those years on complicated psychological research for which he interviewed many people and wrote thousands of pages of findings. Then his world came crashing down. There was a fire at the university and the room that contained all his papers and research went up in flames. He felt he could not continue at his work anymore. He wrote to the
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and the one who found the other four Jews, committed to start keeping Shabbos. The second soldier, from New Jersey, began sobbing in the middle of the seuda. He said he was looking for this for years, i.e. a Jewish experience, and had not found it, and then, in this forsaken place, while in the army, he had found it. We kept in touch with them after Purim and other soldiers joined them. Whenever a new unit arrives, we make sure to let them know we exist. “Before Purim, in collaboration with Tzach in New York, bachurim came to one of the bases and I joined them. On that base, an older man with a ponytail and piercings all over, met them and asked them when Chabad will be opening a branch in Watertown. He said that he came from Connecticut where he had a great relationship with the shliach. I smiled and told him that Chabad had already come to Watertown and that I was the Rebbe’s unofficial representative. We exchanged phone numbers and promised to keep in touch. “A short while later, he had a serious heart attack and was in a hospital a two hour drive away. When he recovered, he called me and I went to see him. He was so happy to see me. He asked me to put t’fillin on with him and he committed to putting on t’fillin daily when he was all better. A few months later, he went to New York to daven in 770.
With his friend, Yehuda Leib Popack
When we spoke after his visit, he shared his experiences and described 770 as the only place he had ever gone to where he felt he did not want to leave. ‘You should know,’ he said, ‘that if Moshiach exists, he’s definitely the Rebbe.’”
HE DID NOT ABANDON HIS FLOCK
Throughout the interview, R’ Getz connects each story to the belief that not only has the shepherd not abandoned his flock, but he is with us more than ever.
“When my wife and I discussed moving to upstate New York, we visited R’ Groner and my wife wanted to write to the Rebbe. By mistake, she put the letter into a volume of Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rayatz. From the answer, we understood we should go, but my wife was unhappy that it wasn’t our Rebbe who answered her. She decided to write again and to put the letter in the Rebbe’s Igros Kodesh. What did she open to? To a letter in which the Rebbe asks why she asked again when he already answered her and his answer did not change.”
Issue 889 • �
MERITING A MIRACLE FROM THE REBBE AND REB LEVI YITZCHOK
Presented for 20 Av, the day that marks the passing of the Rebbe’s father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneersohn a”h.
By Menachem Ziegelboim
r. Tzvi Zimmerman is an Israeli who lived in Alma Ata for an extended period, where he oversaw a number of international business concerns: “One day, I returned home from work and got out of the elevator. As I turned toward my door I was attacked by thieves. They forced me into my apartment and tied me up. Then they locked the door and began going through my belongings. “I knew that in these kinds of robberies, the victims generally did not remain alive, and yet, they did not kill me. As soon as I recovered, I called Rabbi Yeshaya Cohen, the Chief Rabbi of Kazakhstan and the Rebbe’s shliach, and I told him I wanted an aliya and to say the HaGomel blessing. R’ Cohen told me to come on Monday. “I was familiar with R’ Cohen’s work, especially since I attended the Yomim Nora’im services in his shul and saw how devoted he is to every Jew. I admired the man and his work.
“I went on Monday and the portion that was read was about Sarah Imeinu who was told that she would become pregnant after many years of infertility. At the end of the davening, we sat down to talk. R’ Cohen told me about his work and mentioned that the grave of R’ Levi Yitzchok Schneersohn, the Rebbe’s father, is in Alma Ata. “I confided in him that I had a daughter who was married for four years and had not yet become pregnant despite extensive medical treatment. R’ Cohen suggested that we go and pray at the gravesite. “We went together and I saw the nice building they had put up there. We went inside and prayed and I mentioned my daughter’s name, Shirlee bas Sarah. “When we left, R’ Cohen reminded me of the week’s parsha which tells about Sarah Imeinu becoming pregnant after many years. He promised me that we had left the matter in good hands and concluded confidently, ‘Expect good news.’
“A short while later, my daughter called me and emotionally said, ‘Abba, I have good news …’ “I am sure it is thanks to the t’filla we said at the Ohel of R’ Levi Yitzchok Schneersohn a”h.” *** Mr. Zimmerman went on to say: “Since I told you a story about a tzaddik that has to do with my daughter, I will tell you another story about my daughter with another tzaddik, R’ Levi Yitzchok’s son, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. “It took place many years ago when we lived in Haifa. My daughter Shirlee was twelve. One day, she became paralyzed. Her limbs had no sensation. We had her hospitalized immediately and she was checked by the best doctors, but none of them could diagnose the cause of the paralysis. It was a bad situation. I would hold her and her arms and legs dangled in the air with no movement or reaction.
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“One evening, I was sitting near her bed, feeling brokenhearted, when three bearded Chassidim walked in. A mutual friend had told them about my problem and they had come to visit. The three were: Gidi Sharon, Zohar Eisenberg, and Menasheh Altheus. They suggested that I check the mezuzos in my house. “We immediately went to the house and checked the mezuzos. The world uv’kumecha (when you get up) in the mezuza on my daughter’s room was faulty. Of course, we immediately changed mezuzos. “That same night we called the Rebbe’s office and spoke to the secretary, R’ Groner. I told him the story and he told me he would give her name and the details to the Rebbe and ask for a bracha. One of the three then said that now we needed a l’chaim. He said in full confidence: We checked the mezuzos, located the problem, and informed the Rebbe, and now everything will be fine. “The very next day, I went to the hospital and Shirlee walked toward me as the entire department stood there and wept. The doctors, the nurses, the patients, and now, as I tell the story, I’m also crying. It was such an emotional moment.”
The gravesite of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok in Alma Ata
“We immediately went to the house and checked the mezuzos. The world uv’kumecha (when you get up) in the mezuza on my daughter’s room was faulty. Of course, we immediately changed mezuzos.”
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Issue 889 • �
THE REBBE ON REGIME CHANGE IN AN ARAB COUNTRY
On Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim 5752, the Rebbe revealed that the one behind all the global upheavals was the Rebbe himself, in his role as Moshiach. He is preparing the world for the new era of “grinding swords into plowshares.” * An extraordinary story, that I heard from my brotherin-law R’ Leibel Groner, sheds new light on how we Chassidim need to look at what is going on in the world. * My friends and brothers, the Rebbe is behind the headlines and he wants us to understand them as such.
By Rabbi Naftali Estulin Shliach, Los Angeles
wo years ago, when the Arab Spring spread from Tunisia to Egypt, I wrote in Beis Moshiach that as Chabad Chassidim, we need to look at these global events and understand that they are part of Moshiach’s activities in the world. The old world order is collapsing and the world is getting ready for the new world order with the hisgalus of the Rebbe. After the Muslim Brotherhood rose to power, some people looked
askance at what was going on and said things were only getting worse. How could we say that Moshiach is behind it? Today, after the second Egyptian revolution, in the course of which the Egyptian people ousted the Muslim Brotherhood with the support of the army, with minimal bloodshed (compared to other revolutions in history which left tens and hundreds of thousands of dead), it is easier to see how Moshiach is running the show. This is especially so when
these events took place during the Three Weeks when our anticipation of the Geula is greater than ever.
THE REBBE WANTS US TO UNDERSTAND
I heard from elder Chassidim in Russia, and this might be in the Rebbe Rayatz’s sichos, that in order to be a Chassid of the Baal Shem Tov, it was enough to believe in him, to say T’hillim, and to do favors for one’s fellow Jews. To be a Chassid of
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the Mezritcher Maggid, one also had to know how to learn. But to be a Chassid of the Alter Rebbe, it wasn’t enough to have faith and good deeds, and it wasn’t enough to know how to learn. One had to understand the Rebbe and his approach toward everything. If one understood him, he was on a completely different level. My friends and brothers, the Rebbe wants us to contemplate what is going on! The Rebbe also wants us to understand it with our own brains! The Rebbe is bringing about global change and he wants us to understand it so that we are affected in a p’nimius’dike way. On 12 Tammuz 5745, the Rebbe quoted Bilam’s words, “Can I utter anything?” and said we see an amazing thing. Although every gentile can speak as he pleases, Bilam, who was the leader of the nations at that time, was not able to say anything, neither positive nor negative, without Hashem’s permission. The Rebbe learns an astounding lesson from this. A Jew
needs to know that gentiles cannot do anything without Hashem’s permission. Therefore, when going on the Nasi HaDor’s shlichus, “there is nothing in the world that can stop him from carrying out the shlichus! … It is clear that nothing in the world can ‘utter anything’ and certainly cannot do anything that is not in line with the will of the Nasi HaDor!” This means that for Chassidim it is a fundamental truth that there cannot be anything that occurs in the world that is not in line with the Rebbe’s wishes.
THE SICHA WHICH ELIMINATED A SAUDI MONARCH
Many years ago, I heard an incredible story from my brother-inlaw R’ Leibel Groner, the Rebbe’s personal secretary. It has a message about the Rebbe’s expectation that Chassidim understand who is behind world events. Before I tell you the story, I have to give you some background:
At the Shabbos HaGadol farbrengen in 5735, the Rebbe began a sicha about the meaning of the title “Shabbos HaGadol,” that the war of the firstborn of Egypt with Pharaoh was a big miracle, and not a run-ofthe-mill miracle. This is because it was before the Exodus from Egypt and the Egyptians were still in control, Pharaoh was still the ruler, and not a single slave could escape from Egypt. Under these circumstances, even if it was only “to strike Egypt” that this event occurred, that would already be considered a miracle, but since the striking of Egypt was done by the firstborn sons (as it says, “from the forest itself is taken the handle of the ax which is used to cut down the forest”), that was a “big miracle.” And since it was a big miracle, that is why the Shabbos is called “Shabbos HaGadol.” The Chassidim, who knew the story of the miracle of Shabbos HaGadol as an event that took place long ago in our history, were surprised to hear the Rebbe turn the
Issue 889 • �
story into one that is relevant to our times: “So too, every year, there is the idea of ‘remembering and taking place.’ As has been said a number of times in the name of the Arizal, that by ‘remembering’ properly, all the down-flow and effluences of Shabbos HaGadol are drawn down, and a great miracle occurs, even as we are still in galus … “This is a lesson and the conferring of strength, that although we are still servants of Achashverosh, and it is still before the is’chalta d’Geula, and there is double and redoubled darkness to the point of ‘and they felt the darkness,’ there still needs to be ‘draw to you and take,’ draw your hands away from idol worship (which does not mean literal idol worship, G-d forbid, since Jews are not capable of this altogether, especially after the Gemara says that they nullified the yetzer ha’ra for idol worship. Rather, it means as the Rebbe, my father-in-law, explained, draw your hands away from an avoda that is foreign to you, i.e. those things which are foreign to Jews, for how can a Jew be involved in such nonsense …), and take Torah and mitzvos. “And when a Jew does this himself, and he does it with a big commotion so that it effects another Jew, then it will reach the point that he effects the entire world, as it happened then. “As is known, the Rebbe [Rayatz] told about a soldier who had served in the army and imagined to himself how he would stand before the commander or before the czar, and this caused him to actually faint … “So too now, while we are still in galus, we know the teaching/ instruction of our Rebbeim, that ‘not by our desire were we exiled from our land, and not by our desire will we return to Eretz Yisroel,’ for Hashem, by His desire, took us out to exile, and He will take us out, by His desire, from galus through longing for Geula. He will accomplish the ‘draw your hands from idol worship and take Torah and mitzvos,’ and He will also effect the members of the household – a lamb per home – and all Jews, even non-Jews, that it will be ‘to strike Egypt with their firstborn,’ so that one goy strikes another goy in order to liberate the Jews from exile, as it was then. “And ‘as in the days that you went out of the land of Egypt, I will show them wonders,’ so too it will be with the true and complete Geula through Moshiach Tzidkeinu very soon.” *** The statement of the Rebbe that in our days too, while we are still in galus, there would be the idea of “striking Egypt with their firstborn,” and the way the Rebbe said it at the farbrengen, reminded some Chassidim of what was said about the Tzemach Tzedek, that on Rosh HaShana he “took care of things” in Petersburg. They looked forward to seeing what would happen next. Not even three days passed before the details became obviously apparent. On 13 Nissan (25 March 1975), the day that marks the passing of the Tzemach Tzedek, something happened which shocked the Arab world. King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was shot and killed by his half-brother’s son, Faisal bin Musaid. The next day, Wednesday, this event was in the headlines in newspapers around the world. The news reported that the king was in the reception room with emirs, who held government and other positions, around him. There were armed security guards. Members of the royal family went to greet him. The practice is for the young princes to kiss the king’s hand. When the 27 year old prince went to kiss the king, he took out a pistol and shot him. An official announcement from Riyadh said that the murderer was insane and perpetrated the murder on his own, without being sent by anyone to do it. My brother-in-law, Leibel, told me that the day after the assassination, when he went to the Rebbe’s room, the Rebbe asked him whether anything new in the world had occurred. After he told the Rebbe about the assassination of King Faisal, the Rebbe said: Nu, and what are people saying? Why did it happen? Leibel told the Rebbe that they said the nephew was insane and the murder had to do with a family matter. The Rebbe looked at him and said in great surprise: Chassidim [are saying that]? Leibel, who immediately realized that the Rebbe wanted to hear the Chassidic “take” on what had happened, said: To us Chassidim, we realize the Rebbe brought it about, but I thought the Rebbe wanted to know what is being said out in the world. The Rebbe smiled in satisfaction and said: The main thing is that they understood. *** There is no other way to refer to what the Rebbe did than to repeat the historic words, “big miracle.” The Rebbe sits in Brooklyn and says a sicha to his Chassidim in which he says that in our days too, the “striking of Egypt by the firstborn” will happen, that “one goy will strike another goy,” and within three days it happens on the other side of the globe. However, beyond the “big miracle” there is also a “big lesson” here. It teaches us that the Rebbe wants us to understand and know that everything that occurs in the world is a result of the Rebbe’s activities, especially those things on a grand scale like governmental upheavals. On Rosh HaShana 5743,
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the Rebbe said that the Tzemach Tzedek was taking care of things in Petersburg and a short while afterward, Brezhnev died. On Rosh HaShana 5744, the Rebbe said the same thing and Andropov died; within a few years the Soviet Union crumbled.
PART OF MOSHIACH’S ACTIVITIES
But on Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim 5752, the Rebbe let us know that not only can’t world events take place without the agreement of the Nasi HaDor, but the Rebbe in his role of Moshiach is the one who is behind the revolutions taking place. This is to prepare the world for the new era of “grinding swords into plowshares.” Although, in this sicha, the Rebbe focused primarily on the announcement of world leaders to stop production of nuclear weapons and to use military resources for peaceful ends such as agriculture, from the spirit of what was said in the sicha, one could definitely understand that all world events are part of Moshiach’s activities. Why was it important to the Rebbe to tell us this? What would we be lacking if we did not know that the collapse of the communist bloc was the work of Moshiach?
The Rebbe wants the idea of Geula to get into our head in every possible way, starting, of course, by learning Inyanei Moshiach and Geula, but also through our interpretation of the things we see in the world. Twenty years ago, we were in the “40th Year [of the Rebbe’s nesius],” and the Rebbe spoke about it being the time to open our eyes and understand. “Hashem gave you a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear.” If, back then, the Rebbe already expected us to understand, the Rebbe expects much more from us now! We need to finally open our eyes and realize that everything is part of the Geula process. When Hashem told Moshe to split the sea, Moshe said to the Jewish people, “Stand and see G-d’s salvation.” These words seem superfluous. It would be enough to say, “Hashem will fight for you and you remain quiet.” But from this we learn that it is possible for great miracles to occur for the Jewish people, but for our eyes to be closed so that we don’t see that this is a salvation from Hashem. So Moshe said, and the Moshe of our generation says: Stand and see – open your eyes and look at G-d’s salvation.
PUBLICIZING THE BESURAS HA’GEULA
At this time, as the world shakes and we see how the Rebbe is running global happenings, we need to remember and remind the world about the Rebbe’s B’suras HaGeula, and to know that even though over twenty years have passed since we first heard the B’sura, it is as potent as ever. Even after the Jewish people heard the B’suras HaGeula from Moshe, “Pakod pokadti,” there were still hard times until the Geula. But they knew that from the moment the B’sura was announced and they were in the Geula process, even if it took painfully long, they had to fortify their emuna and bitachon that it was going to happen. Indeed, in the end, they left Egypt. After hearing the B’suras HaGeula from the Rebbe and after the Rebbe said that the words of the Yalkut Shimoni “the year that Melech HaMoshiach is revealed” happened already, we are in the midst of the Geula process. So along with the pain of still being in galus, we need to know that the B’suras HaGeula is still in force and the true and complete Geula with the hisgalus of the Rebbe MH”M is imminent.
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Issue 889 • �
THE REBBE’S DOLLAR MAKES THE ROUNDS
This fascinating story told by Rabbi Chanoch Henich Zilberstrom began with a simple telephone request to donate a dollar he had personally received from the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach. It eventually led to an incredible series of unexpected messages revealing to whom the dollar really belonged.
By Nosson Avraham Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
he following story made waves in many Anash communities throughout Eretz HaKodesh. It began two years ago, when Rabbi Chanoch Henich Zilberstrom of Kfar Chabad, mashpia and teacher at Yeshivas Me’or Menachem Chabad in Rechovos, got a telephone call. The caller asked him to donate a dollar that he had personally received from the Rebbe for a very important purpose. The story reached its climax a few weeks ago at the end of the Gimmel Tammuz farbrengen at the Beis Menachem Synagogue in Kfar Chabad. The story was highlighted by a chain of Divine Providences leading
to one conclusion: The leader of the generation is alive and well. “We see clearly how the Rebbe continues to lead his flock, the entire Jewish People,” said Rabbi Zilberstrom in a voice filled with emotion.
WHAT A DREAM WE HAD...
“It all began two years ago,” said Rabbi Zilberstrom as he began his story. “One day, my telephone rang. The young man on the line identified himself as Shneur Hershkowitz, son of Rabbi Yisroel Hershkowitz, the Rebbe’s shliach in Ofakim. He told me about the recent passing of his young sister Chaya Mushka, of blessed memory, a tragedy that had shocked all of us. Shneur added that
his father and other family members had decided to establish a learning program for baalos t’shuva in honor of the Shloshim, in addition to progressing with the construction of a replica of 770 in Ofakim. “We have just received the necessary permits,” he happily informed me, “but the building costs are considerable, and we have to organize a dinner to raise funds for this purpose.” As a means of encouraging people to open their hearts – and their wallets – towards contributing to this important project, he said that they were planning to make a public sale of several dollars received directly from the Rebbe. He asked if I would be willing to donate such a dollar.
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I saw the picture and immediately identified myself. Rabbi Zilberstrom receiving a dollar from the Rebbe.
“To be quite honest, I had a difficult time deciding what to do. On the one hand, there is no greater privilege than to respond to such a request and participate in a special memorial project in honor of this young shlucha and all the mivtzaim that she had done during her lifetime. On the other hand, who wants to give away dollars that he received on various occasions from the Rebbe himself? “I tried to be evasive, telling him that there are people who received many more dollars than I did. In fact, the years when the Rebbe gave out dollars with far greater frequency were when I was already in Eretz Yisroel, and as a result, I had only a very small quantity in my possession.
However, this young man, the son of Rabbi Hershkowitz from Ofakim, was not deterred so easily as he continued his appeal. “‘How did you get my name anyway?’ I asked him with a tone of surprise. “He told me that the call was a case of total Divine Providence. The family had prepared a list of Chabad Chassidim of appropriate ages, i.e. those who had likely received more than a few dollars from the Rebbe, and I had been included on that list. “I eventually asked him to give me an hour to think about it, privately hoping that he would find more donors in the meantime. This way, he wouldn’t need my dollar after all. However, after that conversation,
something happened that could be defined as nothing less than an actual miracle. “During that hour, one of my daughters told me that she had a dream the previous night. In her dream, she was in Beis Chayeinu – 770 during dollars distribution together with thousands of others. The crowds were simply incredible. She stood in line, and a certain point, she was privileged to pass by the Rebbe and receive a dollar from him. “As she was telling me her story, I suddenly remembered a dream that I too had experienced that very same night! In my dream, I met with Rabbi Hershkowitz from Ofakim, and we were speaking about the tragic passing of his daughter. At the end
Issue 889 • �
Rabbi Hershkowitz’s letter to Rabbi Zilberstrom
Rabbi Yisroel Hershkowitz
Rabbi Chanoch Zilberstrom
“I felt that the Rebbe had sent me a sign that the Shloshim commemoration and it created much excitement.” this dollar had been meant to reach Rabbi AN OLD NEW PICTURE Hershkowitz all along.”
of our conversation, I tried to say something to comfort and strengthen him after his terrible loss. However, for some reason, I felt that I wasn’t able to find the right words. “I was stunned. I hadn’t told anyone about my dream, and here my daughter had a dream on the same subject. I felt that these two dreams, together with the phone call I had received from Ofakim asking that I donate one of my Rebbe dollars, were obviously a sign from Heaven that this is what I must do. So when Shneur Hershkowitz called back, I told him that I would not only give him a dollar, I would write a letter explaining why I had agreed to do so. “I pulled out my personal document file containing the letters and dollars I was privileged to receive from the Rebbe. Looking through the dollars, I came across one with an inscription that I had received it on the fifteenth of Av, the special day regarding which the Talmud states that ‘there were no holy days as happy for the Jews as ChamishaAsar B’Av and Yom Kippur.’ I gave this dollar because it had been given during a time of comfort. I wrote an expressive letter and faxed it to the Hershkowitzs’ home on the morning of Erev Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av. “Shortly thereafter, a deeply moved Rabbi Hershkowitz called me. It turned out that on the day of his daughter’s Shloshim, everyone gathered at the family home before traveling to the cemetery. Naturally, the mood was one of sadness and gloom. Then, the letter arrived, and it gave everyone a feeling of hope and encouragement that the Rebbe was thinking about them and had sent them a dollar as a bracha and a source of comfort. “When I finally had a chance to ask Rabbi Hershkowitz how many dollars he had managed to collect, he replied: ‘Only one dollar – the one we got from you.’ “In a letter of thanks that he sent me later, Rabbi Hershkowitz added, “A very special thanks for the deeply moving letter you sent – I read it at That concludes the first part of the story. The rest is no less amazing, a miraculous kind of closing of the circle, which took place during the Gimmel Tammuz farbrengen at the Beis Menachem Synagogue in Kfar Chabad. “This farbrengen was unique, as numerous shluchim took part, bringing many of their supporters to join in the experience. A Chabad choir sang niggunim, and various speakers came to the rostrum to discuss the greatness of the Rebbe. Among those I met there was a group of Chabad supporters from Zichron Yaakov led by the local shliach, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Freiman. “We were happy to see one another again. Rabbi Freiman had been one of my students during the years I taught in the Chabad yeshiva in Rishon L’Tziyon. Towards eleven o’clock that evening, I noticed that he got up with the members of his group, and they all headed towards the exit to begin their journey home. For my part, I remained in my place as the farbrengen continued. A few minutes later, Rabbi Freiman reentered the hall, looking for me. He
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came up and handed me a picture of a young Chassid receiving a dollar from the Rebbe. He told me that he was certain that I was the young man in the picture. “I looked at the picture and quickly identified myself. He was right. I was quite excited to see a picture of me with the Rebbe that I did not know existed previously. A gift of this type in the middle of a farbrengen in honor of Gimmel Tammuz immediately brought back golden memories of days gone by... “While in his presence, I turned the picture over, and to my great surprise, I saw written on its reverse side: ‘Hershkowitz, Ofakim’... I immediately thought to myself that Rabbi Hershkowitz wanted to show me appreciation for the dollar I had given him by finding a picture of me with the Rebbe and sending it with Rabbi Freiman to present to me personally. I asked Rabbi Freiman, ‘Who gave you this picture?’ He didn’t know what I was talking about. No one had given him the picture; he had bought it just a moment earlier... He told me that he had heard that a picture of him was found in one of the albums of the Chabad photographer, R’ Mordechai Baron. When he left the farbrengen, he saw R’ Mordechai standing near the front of the shul with his famous sales counter, and he took the opportunity to look through the pictures. “After checking a few albums, he suddenly noticed a picture of me at Sunday dollars. ‘Since I had seen you just a few minutes earlier,’ he said, sharing his thoughts with
me, ‘I decided to buy the picture for you.’ Since he had been my student in yeshiva when my beard was still black, he remembered my appearance. “Now I was totally confused. “‘So why are the words ‘Hershkowitz, Ofakim’ written on the back of the picture?’ I asked him. Rabbi Freiman shrugged his shoulders in puzzlement. He had no idea. “Now the story had become doubly perplexing. I left the hall to look for R’ Mordechai Baron, who was still standing with his merchandise, and ask him about this picture. In the meantime, Rabbi Freiman had left with his entourage and headed back to Zichron Yaakov. “R’ Mordechai Baron did not understand why I was so surprised. It turned out that these pictures belonged to someone from Crown Heights who wanted to sell them to the Chassidim who appeared in them. However, since he couldn’t identify all these people, certainly not after more than twenty years, he decided to pay an avreich who knew many Anash to identify the figures in the photos. This Chassid apparently identified me in this picture by
mistake as Rabbi Hershkowitz, and that is what created all the confusion. “A myriad of thoughts crossed my mind. This was obviously no coincidence or inadvertent error; there was an obvious message from Heaven here. “I returned from that farbrengen amazed and inspired. I felt that the Rebbe had sent me a sign that this dollar had been meant to reach Rabbi Hershkowitz all along. What other explanation could there be for such an error? “When this story took place, I realize that I had received a clear message that the Rebbe continues to bring salvation to the world in his role as leader of our generation. Now all that remains is to see the hisgalus at the True and Complete Redemption.”
Check it out!! Educational and Fun!!
Issue 889 • �
THE FIRST AMERICAN TAMIM
About one of the first shluchim in the United States, R’ Shlomo Zalman Hecht a”h. * Presented to mark his passing on 24 Menachem Av 5739.
By Dov Levanon
AN AMERICAN IN TOMCHEI T’MIMIM IN POLAND
R’ Shlomo Zalman Hecht was the son of R’ Yehoshua, one of the first Chassidim who lived in the United States. As a bachur, R’ Shlomo Zalman and his brother Avrohom Dov became close with R’ Yisroel Jacobson, who would give shiurim to groups of bachurim. They came several times a week to learn Tanya and other Chassidic works. The group was called Achei T’mimim. On 3 Nissan 5698/1938, he became engaged to the daughter of R’ Yisroel Jacobson. R’ Yisroel, who urged the bachurim to review Chassidus every Shabbos had, just the week before, described his future son-in-law’s reviewing of Chassidus in a letter that he wrote to R’ Mordechai Chafetz, a shadar (fundraiser): “Last Shabbos, Shlomo [Hecht] reviewed the maamer “Naaseh na”
and amazed the entire audience. He reviewed the maamer like an experienced veteran. My joy was beyond all bounds. This made a very great impression on all the talmidim and brought them closer and strengthened them in the study of Chassidus.” Right after the Tanaim, the chassan stopped shaving his beard,
which made a great impression on all the bachurim in yeshiva. Can you believe it? An unshaven American bachur! The wedding took place four months later on 3 Elul. As had been arranged, right after the sheva brachos the young couple boarded a ship headed for Poland. The young chassan was going to learn in Tomchei T’mimim. Before the sheva brachos, R’ Yisroel had written to R’ Chatshe Feigin and asked him to look out for his son-in-law. R’ Chatshe responded in a letter dated 6 Elul: “Regarding what you wrote, that you plan for them to come here, G-d willing, there will be no lack on my part in doing whatever is possible in every manner of kiruv, and I will try to get the hanhala of the yeshiva to give him special attention.” R’ Chatshe tried to do as he promised, but the couple arrived so close to Yom Tov that they did not
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manage to arrange an apartment for them and they rented a room in a small hotel. However, the Rebbe said they needed to have an apartment and it would be good for them materially and spiritually. Two weeks later, R’ Chatshe was able to report to R’ Yisroel that his daughter and son-in-law had rented an apartment in the courtyard where the Rebbetzin, Mr. Dubin, and he himself lived, which would be helpful to his daughter when her husband was in the yeshiva. A few weeks after R’ Hecht went, another two bachurim traveled from the US to Poland, and a few months later, R’ Yisroel himself went with another six bachurim. Upon arriving, the bachurim discovered that there was an enormous difference between the chinuch, guidance, and the spirit of Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in Poland and the lifestyle and chinuch to which they had become accustomed in the United States. You can imagine their state of mind at this time. Aside from this, R’ Shlomo Zalman’s inborn pessimism made him feel that he wasn’t progressing in his learning of Nigleh and Chassidus, despite the fact that he sat and learned all day. The rosh yeshiva, R’ Yehuda Eber, wrote to his father-inlaw, “I see your son-in-law all day in yeshiva and I am very satisfied with him.” R’ Hecht’s chavrusa was the son of the famous Chassidic askan, R’ Mordechai Dubin. R’ Shlomo Zalman had yechidus with the Rebbe Rayatz who reacted to his dismay with a short line, “In Lubavitch they didn’t touch the nape of the neck.” He was referring to the Chassidic parable about the person whose doctor told him he had to put on weight and had to eat certain foods. The man hurried to the marketplace and bought the food, cooked and prepared it, and sat down to eat. As he ate, he began feeling his neck to see whether he
The Rebbe Rayatz responded with a short line, “In Lubavitch they didn’t touch the nape of the neck.” He was referring to the Chassidic parable about the person whose doctor told him he had to put on weight and had to eat certain foods. The man hurried to the marketplace and bought the food, cooked and prepared it, and sat down to eat. As he ate, he began feeling his neck to see whether he had put on any weight.
in the names of the two members of Aguch. Years later, this letter of the Rebbe was a deciding factor in the court case regarding the library, when the other side claimed the s’farim were a personal possession and did not belong to Aguch.
had put on any weight. The Rebbe made the same point to R’ Yisroel when he had yechidus: One need not keep looking to see whether he has changed. The very fact that one is living with the darkei ha’chassidus and learning Chassidus will have the desired effect. Indeed, when R’ Shlomo Zalman returned, they could see he was a changed man.
SHLICHUS IN CHICAGO
Chicago has a rich Chassidic history. Many Chassidim who emigrated from Russia, as well as many other Jews, settled in Chicago over 120 years ago. There were at least five Nusach Ari shuls with the biggest and most famous of them called B’nei Reuven. Even before that, there was a Lubavitcher shul that was founded in 5653/1893 in the time of the Rebbe Rashab. When the Rebbe Rayatz arrived in the US in 5689/1929, he visited Chicago which thrilled thousands of former Chassidim. In 5702/1942, the only trip the Rebbe Rayatz made after he had arrived at 770 was to Chicago. In Chicago at that time, there lived nearly 300,000 Jews, which made it the second largest concentration of Jews in America after New York. R’ Yaakov Himmelfarb sadly summed up the spiritual state of the city in a letter that he wrote to the publication Kovetz Lubavitch. He wrote of his memories of the shuls that were active in the 1920’s: “But unfortunately, we can forget all this; a
In 1939, the American embassy told the Hecht brothers to leave Otvotzk since war was about to erupt in Europe. With the Rebbe’s blessing, they boarded a ship along with the other bachurim who had come from America to the yeshiva. These bachurim were almost the only ones to be saved from the Nazi inferno. Nearly all the rest of the talmidim of the yeshiva were killed during the war. When R’ Shlomo Zalman returned to America, he merited to play an important role in preparing the ground for the Rebbe’s arrival in America. During the war, the Rebbe Rayatz tried to get his library out of Europe and to the US. In order to do this, he legally registered the s’farim in the name of R’ Yisroel Jacobson and his son-in-law, R’ Shlomo Zalman Hecht. After the war, when he tried to locate the s’farim, the Rebbe wrote to Warsaw and noted that the manuscripts were registered
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churban came upon all of Judaism in Chicago.” The magnificent Judaism of Chicago almost disappeared. The next generation of religious Jews did not, for the most part, remain in Chicago. That was the situation in the years when the Rebbe Rayatz had just come to America. Even before the Rebbe went on his second visit, the Anshei Lubavitch shul was no more. The people who prayed there were former Chassidim or the children of Chassidim, but since the religious level wasn’t high, and there was no Chassidic rabbi, the Misnagdim had taken over and the Anshei Lubavitch shul had a Litvishe atmosphere. As soon as the Rebbe arrived in America, he tried to restore the Lubavitch glory to the shul by having R’ Moshe Leib Rodstein, who had been sent to Chicago, review Chassidus there every Shabbos. He also tried to promote R’ Shlomo Zalman Hecht for the position of rabbi, but the timing wasn’t right until 1943, when the shul celebrated fifty years since its founding. The Rebbe sent R’ Hecht to the celebration as his representative. This move worked and R’ Hecht won over the people of the shul. As soon as he returned to New York, he was elected as rav of this shul. The next day, the Rebbe wrote to the Chassid, R’ Sholom Posner, who lived in Chicago, and asked him to be mekarev and honor the young Chassid, “because he is your brother and agreed to my order to move and to accept the rabbinic position in this shul, l’mazal tov, and this is mesirus nefesh on his part to leave his parents and his in-laws ...” In another letter of that same day, the Rebbe blessed the members of the community “upon appointing as rav my great friend, my precious and dear student, the rav outstanding in elevated character and good temperament, who loves the creations and draws them close with a pure heart and sweet words to endear the Torah and mitzvos and pleasant character traits to them, a diligent activist with many accomplishments in the field of education and in strengthening Judaism, R’ S. Zalman Hecht ...” Before he left, the new rabbi had yechidus with the Rebbe. The Rebbe outlined for him the path which Chabad shluchim follow till this day: “All your work there ought to be only with kiruv (drawing close).” Toward the end of Shvat 5705, R’ Hecht had yechidus regarding his shlichus to Chicago. The Rebbe spoke to him about the shlichus but R’ Shlomo Zalman left in a turmoil about something else. During the yechidus, the Rebbe had said to him, “The doctors told me that my cure is to speak less and to hear more good news.” The Rebbe asked him about his brother, R’ Yaakov Yehuda’s wedding, which had taken place a few days earlier. When he told the Rebbe about the wedding, the Rebbe raised his hands and said, “Boruch Hashem.” In that yechidus, the Rebbe said, “My father was in Moscow and from there he went to a meeting in Petersburg. Seventy heretics attended the meeting and my father nullified them all with his light of truth. A lawyer, who attended that meeting – obviously, with the government’s approval – came with an idea to do away with gittin and chalitza and to enable mixed marriages. My father asked him, ‘Where does a Jew from birth get the gall to speak that way?’” Hearing this pointed question, the lawyer burst into tears and admitted that he had eaten ham the previous Yom Kippur. The government appointed rabbi, R’ Yaakov Maza, who was present at the meeting, was very moved by the lawyer’s answer. Some time later, R’ Mendel Chein met the lawyer and asked him what brought him to the proper path. “The Lubavitcher Rebbe!” he said. “What he said penetrated my heart. I saw a Jew sitting there who spoke the truth.” “The Rebbe is alive now too,” concluded the Rebbe Rayatz. “Where a Chassid lives, the Rebbe lives too, but there must be commitment and dedication, the rest is secondary.” During his forty years of shlichus in Chicago, R’ Shlomo Zalman had an influence on the lives of thousands and inspired them with his Lubavitcher warmth. He visited the offices of balabatim and other important people and gave shiurim to people who knew next to nothing, all while maintaining his tziyur (image) as a Tamim, i.e. a Chassid who is mekushar to the Rebbe and what interests him is learning Chassidus. R’ Shlomo Zalman, whose mind was always full of creative ideas for outreach activities soon endeared himself to young Jews and attracted them to shiurim which he arranged for them. When he informed the Rebbe about this, he received a letter full of praise for his work in which the Rebbe gave him an interesting instruction: “I was pleased to read about the learning that you arranged for young men and women. May blessings descend upon his head, and his merit is very great. And he should increase in strength in his work in an orderly manner not to lengthen the time spent learning and preaching to them; the main thing is inspiring them to observe tahara, kashrus and to put on t’fillin and to daven every day.” The Rebbe went on to bless R’ Shlomo Zalman for correcting the situation of circumcision in the homes of the new mothers so that Jewish babies were circumcised properly. In one of his letters, R’ Hecht wrote sadly to the Rebbe about the family members of someone who had been connected to the Rebbe, whose spiritual state was not as it should be. In a long and fascinating letter, the Rebbe explained to him about a
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Jewish heart which is alert to serving Hashem but is covered over with all kinds of dirt, and the means to remove it. In one of his letters, R’ Hecht suggested to the Rebbe that Aguch make a proclamation about learning the laws of Shabbos on Shabbos. The Rebbe accepted the idea but wrote him that it would be preferable if the proclamation be made by Machne Israel, which was an umbrella organization and not by Aguch which is an organization serving only Chabad Chassidim. The Rebbe asked him to see to it that the Merkaz HaRabbanim issue a similar proclamation. When the Rebbe announced the mezuza campaign, R’ Hecht immediately began working on it throughout Chicago. He was assisted by Mr. Israel Nathan. Some years later, Mr. Nathan moved to Eretz Yisroel and R’ Aharon Wolf continues the work till today. On his weekly radio program, in which he discussed many topics of Jewish thought, and as a soughtout lecturer, R’ Hecht used his oratory powers to reach Jews of all backgrounds. Most famous were the farbrengens he ran every Motzaei Shabbos Mevarchim during the winter. The lives of many people changed as a result of these farbrengens, in which R’ Hecht taught Chassidus spiced with stories about the Rebbeim. Every time the Rebbe announced a new horaa, the farbrengen focused on it.
From left to right: City Council member Sol Gottstein, R’ S. Z. Hecht, Mayor Michael A. Bilandic (who served as mayor of Chicago from 1976-1979), and R’ Daniel Moscowitz, in a special ceremony in the Rebbe’s honor
A REBBE’S PROMISE
A beautiful story is told of R’ Hecht by Mrs. Shifra Chana Hendrie, about a Yud Shvat farbrengen of his in S. Paul, Minnesota that she attended before she had committed to becoming a Chassid. By extraordinary hashgacha pratis, and not knowing that she was in the audience, R’ Hecht told a story about her religious grandfather in
which the Rebbe Rayatz promised him that his grandchildren would return to religious observance. R’ Hecht passed away a few months after that farbrengen. It was a Friday, Erev Shabbos Parshas R’ei, 24 Av 5739/1979. The news arrived in 770 in the morning. On the note that the secretary submitted to the Rebbe in the name of R’ J. J. Hecht, it said the funeral could not be arranged for that day. The Rebbe wrote back a response on the same note and asked that it be given immediately: ?! See K’subos 103: etc. and Rashi’s explanation there. [Apparently, the Rebbe meant “One who dies on Erev Shabbos, it’s a good sign for him.” Rashi: “For he will enter into rest immediately.”] In the end, they were able to arrange for the funeral to take place that day. The Rebbe told R’ Leibel Groner to tell the hanhala of the yeshiva, though not in his name,
that it would be desirable to have the talmidim participate in the funeral, and to tell the chevra kadisha to announce to Anash in his name to do all they could to attend the funeral. Later, it turned out that they could not bring the coffin from the airport to Crown Heights, but took it directly to Montefiore cemetery. The Rebbe said that if they saw they could return to Crown Heights before candle lighting, he would also go to the cemetery. And that is what happened. The Rebbe went to the cemetery at four o’clock and returned at 5:50. He did not enter the cemetery but stood outside, opposite the burial spot. This was one of the few funerals that the Rebbe attended at the cemetery, especially after his heart attack the previous Simchas Torah when the Rebbe stopped going to funerals. This showed how greatly the Rebbe cherished R’ Shlomo Zalman Hecht.
Issue 889 • �
Moshiach & Science
THE MATRIX OF OPPOSITES
By Prof. Shimon Silman, RYAL Institute and Touro College
“Atzmus defies all description—negation of the finite and negation of the infinite.”
—Shaarei Geula Vol. 2 p. 119
Perhaps the most powerful thing about Melech HaMoshiach is that his life is from Atzmus. The Mitteler Rebbe writes about this, based on the verse in T’hillim: He [Moshiach] asked for life from You and You granted it to him—length of days forever.” (T’hillim 21:5) The Mitteler Rebbe explains: “Regarding Moshiach it says ‘You granted it to him’ which means from Atzmus, the infinite.” (When G-d is addressed in second person—“You”—it refers to Atzmus i.e. G-d Himself, His essence.) It is significant that the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach himself spoke of his life source from Atzmus on the eve of Rosh HaShana, 5752, the Rosh HaShana before the first stroke. He said, “Regarding Moshiach— in addition to the revelation of the name of Moshiach … we also have the Atzmus of Moshiach Tzidkeinu which is unified with the infinite Atzmus.” A life which comes from Atzmus is above all definitions and limitations of natural life and death as we know it. As the Rebbe Rashab (fifth Rebbe of Chabad) says, “Relative to Atzmus,
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life and death are equal,” explaining that T’chiyas HaMeisim comes from Atzmus. (Seifer HaMaamarim 5670 – Eter, p. 100) This applies to the Geula in general, as well, as the Rebbe MH”M writes: “The main revelation that will take place in the future Geula is the revelation of the infinite Atzmus which is higher than comprehension.” (Seifer HaMaamarim Meluket Vol. 3, p. 109) Thus we see that the main characteristics of Moshiach and of the Geula involve the unifications of opposites, made possible by the revelation of Atzmus, because relative to Atzmus all opposites are equal. (For more on all this, including references, see my book Scientific Thought in Messianic Times, Chap. I, sec. 4-6 and Chap. V, sec. 2b) The bottom line of the Geula is that this world will be a residence for the Atzmus.
When Sergei came out of the meeting he called over a few people and told them that they have to organize an “army” that he—Sergei—would lead personally, to bring about the appointment of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok as the Rav.
THE POWER OF THE FATHER
This Shabbos, 20 Menachem Av, will be the Yom Hilula (yahrtzait) of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneersohn, the father of the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach. We will be entering the 70th year since his passing. Recently, the memoirs of his wife, Rebbetzin Chana, have been published and in them we find many stories of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok. The most powerful aspect of many of these stories is Rabbi Levi Yitzchok’s amazing ability to turn his enemies into supporters, even into loyal friends. In fact, Rebbetzin Chana sums up Rabbi Levi Yitzchok’s biography by saying that because he was so uncompromising he made a lot of enemies. But he always succeeded in turning his enemies into friends. After reading each of these stories, I would say, “Wow! How did he do that?” Before attempting to analyze it any further let’s consider
two of these stories. When Rabbi Levi Yitzchok’s candidacy for Rav of Yekaterinoslav was announced the local Zionists were furious because the Rebbe Rashab had just published a scathing letter opposing Zionism. The local Zionists called a meeting and decided that there was no way that they would allow a Chassid of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to be a Rav in their city. One of their prominent members, Sergei Pauli, who was also an outstanding engineer, decided that he wanted to meet the young Rabbi himself. So he arranged a meeting with Rabbi Levi Yitzchok, some prominent community members and himself. After a cordial meeting that lasted until 9:00 p.m. he met privately with Rabbi Levi Yitzchok until 4:00 a.m. When Sergei came out of the meeting he called over a few people and told them that they have to organize an “army” that he— Sergei—would lead personally, to bring about the appointment of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok as the Rav. He said that this mission must be accomplished at all costs! Rebbetzin Chana describes a scene where Sergei would sit on a bench in the park with elder Chassidim with white beards gathered around him and he would instruct them and coach them on how to proceed on all matters of the election. Even after Rabbi Levi Yitzchok’s appointment, Sergei continued to take charge of the defense of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok against any challenges that came up.
Wow! How did Rabbi Levi Yitzchok do that?! Then there is the story of the Matza bakery. In 1939 the communist government was at the height of its war against Judaism. That year the wheat harvest was very poor. Bread was scarce. In spite of this, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok somehow succeeded in taking over an entire government bakery and transforming it into a Matza bakery completely under his authority and supervision. They produced a large quantity of Matza which was distributed throughout Ukraine, to other parts of the Soviet Union and even to Poland. And how did he do that?! In fact he was asked this very question by his interrogators after he was arrested. In the Gemara there is a famous expression describing a son who became greater than his father: “Yafeh ko’ach haben miko’ach ha’av,” which means “the power of the son is superior to the power of the father.” Chassidus explains this (as it does everything) on a deeper level. It focuses on the word miko’ach which literally means
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Moshiach & Science
“from the power.” It explains the phrase as follows: The superiority of the power of the son comes from the power of the father, meaning that the son’s power actually derives from a deeper level of the power of the father, a power that may not have been actualized by the father but is nevertheless deep within him. One must wonder if Rabbi Levi Yitzchok’s ability to transform something into its opposite (a sort of unification of opposites) derives from a hidden power which later became revealed and expressed in the life of his son, the Rebbe MH”M. Certainly the transformation of something into its opposite requires a level higher than both of the opposing entities just as T’chiyas HaMeisim, transforming a dead person into a living person requires the revelation of Atzmus relative to which life and death are equal. physical and the spiritual and the refinement of the physical to make it a receptacle for the spiritual, or the unification of two Jews to bring peace and love between a man and his friend and between a husband and wife etc. Our research group, the Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib Research Institute on Moshiach and the Sciences, named for Rabbi Levi Yitzchok’s youngest son, has the mission of identifying Messianic phenomena in the physical world. A vast area of this research is the Swords into Plowshares phenomena (See Scientific Thought, Chapter III). We are also looking for deep discoveries in science (in scientific theories or in experiments) that may show the revelation of Atzmus in the world. (Scientific Thought, Chap. VI, sec. 1b-c) (In fact the Rebbe MH”M explains that the entire natural order actually involves the combination of the finite and the infinite because while the laws of nature come form a finite revelation from G-d, the constancy and stability of the system of nature—the fact that the system keeps running without losing its energy—must come from an infinite revelation from G-d. See Seifer Maamarim Meluket Vol. 4 p. 228) A dramatic example of such take small children out of the arms of their parents, and then enjoyed a week in Gush Katif. Despite all the unbearable anguish caused by the disengagement, the soldiers were in an entirely different frame of mind. While we were screaming “A Jew doesn’t expel another Jew,” they had no idea what we were talking about. What expulsion? What destruction? If the soldiers had understood what Judaism is really all about and the connection between a Jew and his Creator, they wouldn’t have an experiment was done at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado. A team of physicists has succeeded in getting an entire atom to be located simultaneously in two different places. This is called “superposition.” (While this is known to “happen” in the murky subatomic world of quantum mechanics, this is the first time it was made to happen on a scale close to the real world.)
A SPIRITUAL SHLICHUS
In the sicha of 20 Menachem Av, 5751 the Rebbe MH”M said that everyone should take upon himself a shlichus in the spirit of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok (shlichus b’rucho). I would like to suggest that this may involve a unification of opposites—a unification of opposing forces, the transformation of negativity into the positive, or the unification of the Continued from page 40 that period in one of the units closest to the scene of action within the actual disengagement forces. I asked him how it didn’t bother him to be a part of such a dreadful operation. His straightforward answer was that he simply didn’t think about it. He and his army buddies looked upon the whole thing as a pleasant camping trip away from their routine duties. Instead of engaging in tedious activities on the base, they went out for a few weeks for psychological training on how to
As the NIST describes it, “imagine a marble in a large, shallow, roundbottomed bowl. In the superposition state, the marble can be simultaneously at opposite sides of the bowl, rolling from side to side and through itself at the center… This situation defies our sense of reality.” Is the ability to do this due to a Messianic revelation of Atzmus in the world? Possibly. Not every combination of opposites is due to a revelation of Atzmus, but, generally speaking, to have something and its opposite in a contradictory manner requires a revelation of Atzmus… To comment on this article email Moshiach.firstname.lastname@example.org acted in such a manner. Yet, they saw no problem with what they were doing, since they had no concept of the true meaning of the Torah of Moshe, Eretz Yisroel, faith in Almghty G-d, and the People of Israel. The responsibility for this situation lies squarely upon our shoulders, and each year when we commemorate the expulsion, we must recall the words of former Gush Katif Chabad House director Rabbi Yigal Kirschenzaft, who said “If the soldier would have known a little more about Yiddishkait, he never would have driven the settlers out...”
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THE NONBLESSING BLESSING
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
SERVING G-D WITH FOOD
Judaism is all-encompassing. The Torah provides us with guidance in all arenas of life. In that sense, Judaism is not a conventional religion, at least in the ordinary sense of the word, because it does not compartmentalize between the sacred and the profane. In Judaism, there is no qualitative difference between deep meditative prayer and eating a snack. Both activities are addressed by the Torah. The same Torah that commands us to reflect on and know G-d, particularly at the time of prayer, also tells us to eat our food in a Torah-designated fashion. Our connection to G-d is strengthened no less by eating in the Torah way as it is by heartfelt prayer on Yom Kippur. In addition to the dietary laws of Kashrus, the Torah—and the rabbinic laws that are extensions of the Torah— commands us to not eat even a crumb without first blessing G-d. In addition, when finished with eating a meal that consisted of one or more ounces of bread, we are commanded to recite the Birchas HaMazon, as mentioned in this week’s parsha: “And you shall eat and be satisfied and bless G-d your G-d.” The Talmud extends and
generalizes this requirement for a blessing over a meal of bread to consuming any food or beverage. If one eats an olive-sized piece of cake, for example, he or she must recite a special blessing after consuming the cake. This blessing is referred to as Bracha MeEin Shalosh. A variation of this blessing is recited after drinking wine or eating the five fruits associated with the Land of Israel (grapes, dates, figs, olives and pomegranates). All other foods (fish, meat, eggs, etc.) and beverages (including water, when drunk to quench thirst) require a generic blessing, called Borei Nefashos: “Blessed are you, G-d, our G-d, King of the Universe, Creator of
only refers to two general needs for which G-d provides: The things that we lack and the life-enhancing things that provide us with pleasure. As we shall see, this lack of specificity plays a significant role in understanding the uniqueness of this blessing.
A UNIQUE BLESSING
The Talmud (Brachos 37a) makes a startling statement with respect to the Borei Nefashos. According to one view, one who eats rice does not recite the more detailed blessing of Bracha MeEin Shalosh, but rather the generic Borei Nefashos. However, the way this latter blessing is characterized by the Talmud is rather puzzling.
Since all our blessings flow down from G-d, the “small” blessings are no less G-dly than the blessings we perceive as “big.”
It is referred to as “v’lo klumnothing!” In other words, as Rashi explains, relative to the more formal and lengthy blessing one recites after eating foods made from other grains (wheat, barley, oats, rye and spelt), the generic blessing of Borei Nefashos is regarded as “nothing.” The rather enigmatic “putting
Issue 889 • �
numerous living things and what they lack, for all that He has created in order to sustain the life of every being. Blessed is [He Who] is the life of the worlds.” As we see, this generic blessing does not specify the type of food for which one is thanking G-d. It
down” of this blessing is addressed by the Rashba (the foremost 14th Century Jewish sage and leader) in his Responsa literature. He explains that this blessing is referred to as “nothing” due to its lack of specificity. One does not find any mention of the particular food that one has just consumed in this blessing. The generic nature of this blessing is in stark contrast to the detailed and individualized nature of the Bracha MeEin Shalosh blessing. However, the Rashba’s explanation also requires clarification. Why should the generic nature of this blessing reduce it to a nothing? And if it is indeed regarded as nothing, why did the Sages even bother to institute such a blessing? Why didn’t they make it more specific? often overlooked benefit that our Sages instituted the Borei Nefashos blessing. Even when the benefit seems boring, routine or nondescript, one must still think G-d for it. One might reasonably suggest that this form of blessing expresses the purest form of gratitude. Since all our blessings flow down from G-d, the “small” blessings are no less G-dly than the blessings we perceive as “big.” The word Yehudah is derived from the word in Hebrew for gratitude. This means that the gratitude she expressed at this moment (“This time”) was unprecedented. No other person was named “gratitude.” Why the change? Leah’s maternal and spiritual need for children was already satisfied by her first three children. She got all that she had wanted. Her husband would now love her and attach himself to her. She had her full share of the tribes that were to come from each one of Jacob’s four wives. Now, she stated, I am expressing pure, unadulterated gratitude to G-d. She did not even mention how she benefitted; it’s not about her. The only thing that she identifies with is thanking G-d. Yehudah, the ancestor of King David and Moshiach, is identified with gratitude in its purest form. Indeed, the word Yehudah contains in it the word for gratitude as well as the four letters of the Divine name. It represents unadulterated gratitude to G-d.
YEHUDAH: THE EPITOME OF GRATITUDE
To elaborate, let us look at the first mention of the word for gratitude in the Torah. It was the word our Matriarch Leah used when she bore her fourth son, Yehudah. When she bore her first child, Leah was grateful to G-d and expressed it in the name of her child: “ReuvenSaw my suffering” because, “G-d saw my suffering, and now my husband will love me.” When she had her second child, she said, “G-d heard that I was despised,” and she named him Shimon (which means “He heard”). When her third child was born, she named him Levi (meaning “attachment”), stating: “Now my husband shall attach himself to me.” Note that these expressions of gratitude to G-d, as reflected in the names of her three sons, were focused on the benefits she received from G-d with each child. Note, as well, the specific and personal nature of each of these expressions of gratitude: “G-d saw my suffering,” “G-d heard that I was despised,” “My husband will become attached to me.” When she bore her fourth child, Yehudah, there was a radical change in the way she named him. All she said was: “This time I will thank G-d.” Thus, the Torah states, “She therefore named him Yehudah.”
TWO FORMS OF GRATITUDE
Our first step toward an answer is to better understand the dynamic of gratitude, the underlying basis for these blessings. As we shall come to see, there are two forms of gratitude and the Borei Nefashos blessing actually reflects the deeper form of gratitude. Most people recognize the need to show gratitude to G-d when they receive significant blessings. However, when G-d’s blessings relate to things they deem “nothing” or unimportant, most people fail to express any gratitude. Moreover, when one clearly recognizes and values the benefit received from G-d, he or she is quick to express gratitude for that particular item because of how it was enjoyed. When it comes to an item that is so commonplace or insignificant that it can, at least in our own minds, be lumped in with many other things, we often forget to thank G-d for this item. It is precisely for this type of
THANKING, CONCEDING, CONFESSING
The word for gratitude in Hebrew is also a cognate to the words that mean agreeing or conceding. In a dispute where one side stridently argues a point but then recognizes that the other is right and proceeds to admit and concede, that concession is said to be an act of hodaa. The root is also connected to the idea of confession of one’s sins (Vidui). The common denominator in all these three forms of the word – gratitude, conceding and confessing – is that they require acknowledgement of the “other” and a willingness to contract one’s own subjective existence to allow for the other to prevail. This state is referred to in Chassidic parlance as Bittul, which is generally translated as self-abnegation.
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Perhaps, this is the deeper meaning of the Talmudic expression that the generic blessing of Borei Nefashos is “nothing.” This generic blessing calls on the one who recites it to express pure gratitude even though there is no real discernible and demonstrative benefit. This captures the very essence of the blessing. It is a sign of unconditional gratitude and willingness to focus on G-d even when one’s own benefit is negligible. The blessing is only about gratitude to G-d.
THE LINK TO MOSHIACH
This trait of total selfabnegation—a glimmer of which is expressed through the blessing of Borei Nefashos—is ascribed to King David and Moshiach. The entire Book of T’hillim-Psalms is King
David’s magnificent ode to G-d, Midrash, the only personal sacrifice expressing praise and gratitude to that we will offer in the Messianic G-d. In T’hillim, King David finds Age will be the Korban Toda, the a multitude of ways to express his Thanksgiving offering. gratitude to G-d and the people who The lesson we are to derive were G-d’s agents in doing His good. from the above discussion is that Moshiach too will be identified one of the ways to hasten the full by an extreme humility that expresses revelation of Moshiach and our itself in an unbounded expression of ultimate Redemption is to engage gratitude to G-d and others. in gratitude; thanking G-d for both To underscore the role of the discernible miracles, as well as gratitude as an identifying sign of the generic miracles. If Moshiach Moshiach, the Talmud (Sanhedrin is indeed synonymous with pure 94a) relates that G-d initially wanted gratitude, then we must look for Express Expressservice service to proclaim King Chizkiyahu as our own ways to be thankful for all Fully Computerized Fully Computerized the good. Our gratitude for both Moshiach. When Chizkiyahu failed the absolute necessities of life that to sing praise at the miraculous 331 Kingston Ave.Ave. 331 Kingston we enjoy without thinking as well downfall of the Assyrian King nd nd Flr) Brooklyn NY 11213 (2 Flr) Brooklyn NY 11213 (2 as the extraordinary miracles that Sancheriv, G-d changed His mind. we are witness to in recent times, As a further illustration of the is expressed in the non-blessing importance of selfless gratitude Get inyour tickets within minutes! Get your tickets within minutes! blessing of Borei Nefashos. the Days to Come, according to the Fax: (718) 493-4444 Fax: (718) 493-4444
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Issue 889 • �
SHLEIMUS HA’ARETZ / INTERVIEW
FEIGLIN’S PLAN TO STREAMLINE THE I.D.F.
During the week when the Netanyahu government approved the new legislation to draft the ultra-Orthodox into the army, we turned to the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Mr. Moshe Feiglin, chairman of the Likud Party’s Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction, to hear about his proposals on the issue of compulsory military service, the concept of Jewish economics, his position on the rift between the Bayit Yehudi Party and the chareidi communities, and what the IDF should do to prevent the throwing of rocks at Jewish cars along the highways of Yehuda and Shomron.
By Sholom Ber Crombie Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
ithout question, Knesset Member Moshe Feiglin is one of the most unique personalities to emerge in Israeli politics during the first six months of the current parliamentary term in Eretz Yisroel. After struggling and fighting for years to win a place in the leadership of the Likud Party, Feiglin succeeded in fulfilling his dream and was elected as a member of the Nineteenth Knesset. Many saw his election as a justification of his path, proving that you can attain a position of political leadership within a centrist party and wield significant
influence. However, even those who do not share Feiglin’s political beliefs look upon him as a steadfast ideologue, devoted to his objectives as he brings vital issues to the public forum, issues that have usually been relegated to the back burners. Feiglin’s unique line of thinking and the creative solutions he is proposing on every front have earned him a place of honor, not only as a parliamentarian and a legislator, but as a man of vision who has laid out an ideological path accompanied by effective action. Since his election to the Knesset,
Feiglin has proposed numerous pieces of legislation on a variety of subjects: his original plan for military service, developing sensors to identify children left behind in vehicles, a call to separate Army Radio from the Ministry of Defense, and more. He usually takes unpopular fringe issues and transforms them into matters for discussion among all sectors of Israeli society. We conducted this interview in the midst of the political storm created by Feiglin, after he came out publicly against Prime Minister Netanyahu and opposed party discipline
34 � • 19 Menachem Av 5773
on legislative proposals. As a result, he was removed from several of his Knesset committee appointments. However, a person such as Feiglin is not the type to despair over such punitive measures. A previously unknown political force, he founded the Zo Artzeinu movement and awoke an entire country in opposition to the Oslo Accords. He remained committed to his values, even if he paid a heavy personal price. From his vantage point, his steps are part of a long-distance sprint, as he plans for the long term – even the very long. He believes that the day will come when the
path represented by faith in G-d will take control of the nation’s leadership. As a result, he must pay a price today as he continues to fight for his principles. Feiglin never pulls any punches with anyone. He has something to say about the judicial system in Eretz Yisroel, the state’s political leadership, the leadership of his party, and even the leadership within the ultraOrthodox sector. However, he is careful not to join the attacks on the chareidim – despite the fact that he is prepared to forgo ultraOrthodox support for his bid to attain national leadership. When
he has criticism to make, he does so in a respectable and equable manner. During the last six months, it seems that the chareidi leadership has been quite pleased with Feiglin. He was not embarrassed to speak against secular studies in yeshivos, and when his friends in the Bayit Yehudi Party tried to force such studies upon the ultra-Orthodox, he claimed that “secular studies are a lot of nonsense.” According to Feiglin, a Jewish state has no need for a ministry of education, and the responsibility should be returned to the citizenry. “We should move to a voucher system. The state should issue education vouchers, and as a father, I can choose where to use them. You can see how Jewish law recognizes a system of checks and balances in the free marketplace. A person cannot open a store next to another store, thereby depriving someone else of his livelihood. There is one exception where Torah encourages the wildest competition – and that’s in the field of education. If an eighteenyear old melamed proves to be more successful than a sixtyyear old educator with decades of tenure – the latter is gone. Secular studies, for example, it’s a lot of nonsense.” However, the central issue that Feiglin is advancing is on the question of the military draft. According to Feiglin’s proposals, compulsory IDF service should be halted, and the army should be transformed into a professional corps with soldiers who receive good salaries and benefits. Under such conditions, only young highly motivated recruits will serve in the army, similar to those who now choose to serve in frontline units. Feiglin claims that this will solve the problem of drafting the chareidim and serve
Issue 889 • �
the IDF’s best interests, making it more effective and proficient, and even cost less to the taxpayers. “It’s quite clear to all of us that if all the ultra-Orthodox would show up tomorrow at the IDF enlistment centers, the army chief of staff would wave a white flag and beg to be relieved. It’s simply incredible to see an entire country up in arms because of a demand for something that no one needs and no one really wants. “Here are the real facts. In 2006, the Israel Defense Forces presented the following information to the Ben-Bassat Commission, appointed by the Defense Ministry to study the impact of mass conscription: About 23% of men obligated to serve in the IDF do not want to enlist. Another 18% drop out before finishing their military term. “In practical terms, compulsory military services only applies to 59% of adult men in Eretz Yisroel. Furthermore, according to the Sheffer Commission Report, there are ten different official ways to shorten army duty, resulting in a majority of this 59% not serving a full three years in the IDF. In other words, in contrast to the philosophy of ‘the people’s army,’ less than a third of able-bodied enlisted men carry their full share of the burden, and this doesn’t take into account the fact that only a minority of these men are actually serving in the nation’s fighting forces.” Is your proposal workable? Do you really think that it’s possible in Eretz Yisroel to move toward the establishment of a professional army operating solely on a volunteer basis? This past month I formed a Knesset lobby for this proposal. There are members from all the parliamentary factions, from MK Rabbi Yisroel Eichler (Yahadut HaTorah) to MK David Tzur from Justice Minister Tzippi Livni’s HaT’nua Party to former Meretz MK Mossi Raz. Everyone agrees that the current IDF structure is untenable, born out of the philosophy of “the people’s army.” In truth, today’s army merely creates further political conflict. We proposed an effective model of how the army ought to develop, as between onethird and one-half of all soldiers currently serving in the regular army are inactive. The basis for the whole idea is for everyone to go through enlistment and a short period of basic training. Afterwards, all the enlistees would be released from the IDF, and only those interested who meet professional army requirements would be accepted for three years of military service. They would receive ample payment and full scholarships towards future academic studies. Compulsory draft laws obligate the IDF to enlist everyone, even those who don’t want or need to serve in the army. This produces adverse results on a number of fronts: a) idleness – a latent inactivity exists within the IDF on a wide scale, and anyone who has served in the army is aware of this; b) damage to the economy – those serving in the army are outside the circle of employment, placing a burden on the overall economy; c) damage to national security – the IDF relies upon cheap manual labor instead of specialization and technology, and this harms the country’s defenses. This is clearly illustrated by the gap between the air force, which is essentially a professional volunteer army, and the green recruits; d) loss of freedom; and e) baseless hatred between the secular and chareidim. • What is your opinion about the rift between the political leadership among the settler community and the ultraOrthodox sector? “What rift?” Feiglin asked. “Ay, you’re talking about the rift between the Bayit Yehudi Party and the chareidim?” he corrected me, and then proceeded to answer my question. “I am deeply troubled over this. As you know, I feel close to both of these communities, and I hope that the rift can be healed. Eventually, there will be no choice and all the Jews here will have to live together and create ways to heal the divisions and cooperate with one another.” Many are concerned that the rift with the ultra-Orthodox will give us a government led by the left-wing parties, while the chareidim seek their vengeance upon the right-wing that betrayed them. I believe that eventually things will appear differently in politics. I also don’t know why a left-wing government coming to power seems so threatening. In the final analysis, no one is building in Yerushalayim today and if Labor Party chairman Shelly Yechimovich were the prime minister, at least there would be a healthy political opposition. Then, if certain threats were made, we could understand what the alternatives might be. We are slowly reaching a point where it’s hard to say what’s best for the settlements and what’s best for the yeshivos and the Torah world. Therefore, the ultra-Orthodox and the national religious sectors will eventually have to get their priorities in order and understand how they must work under the
36 � • 19 Menachem Av 5773
prevailing conditions. Then there’s no difference today between the Likud and the left-wing parties? Exactly. According to what you’re saying, it would be preferable for the left to come to power. That’s not what I said. Let’s put it this way: As things stand right now, the Likud is in power, and I don’t see a better alternative. However, the existing gap between the various options appears to be shrinking, and therefore, what the chareidim are threatening to do is becoming less realistic. In practical terms, how do you think this rift can possibly be healed? Everyone has to show greater openness towards one another. They must understand that no sector has a monopoly on truth, and each one has some component in realizing that objective. Chareidi, Mizrachi, traditional – every community can add something to the attainment of ultimate truth. With this approach, I believe that we can reach a sense of agreement, understanding, and even cooperation. • Over the past eighteen years, Moshe Feiglin has been publicizing his ideological message through his articles and interviews with the media. He has established a clear vision in every aspect of the Jewish State, including the concept of a Jewish economy. Even the ministries of welfare and defense must act according to the guidelines of Jewish welfare and Jewish combat. Feiglin explains that the concept of Jewish leadership means that Judaism has something to say on everything, and therefore, we must utilize
the widest range of activities for disseminating Jewish ideas. His great aspiration is for broad leadership across the Jewish spectrum, producing Jewish leaders in all aspects of life. Feiglin brings an example of Jewish economics from the banks: “The banks acquire their legendary riches through the forbidden charging of interest par excellence. However, running a bank without interest on personal accounts, without overdrafts, and interest only on corporate accounts – this is something that can definitely be done.” He also has something to say to employers: “Taxes have to be reduced as much as possible, and we must come to a situation where an employer will be embarrassed to pay someone minimum wage.” However, when Feiglin speaks about raising the minimum wage, this is far from embracing the classic socialist doctrine: “Capitalism is the basis. Yet, while there can be no economy without basic capitalistic principles, the true regulator (an ugly word in the free market) must be our culture. To the best of my knowledge, the salary gap between a bank clerk in Zurich and a bank manager is no more than twenty percent – by culture, not by law. The origins for cultural regulations are found in Judaism. Standard regulation is everyone deceiving someone else, and the strong always finding a way to trample upon the rights of the weak. Impose taxes on corporations – they’ll move overseas; impose taxes on individuals – they’ll establish corporations, etc. It’s illegal? Pass a law – they’ll make a joke out of you. This is the path of defeat. This line of thinking will eventually bring us down. “In short, economics in a
Jewish state has three sides, with freedom as its pivot. I’m not particularly fond of the word ‘capitalism,’ but a free market simply cannot exist without it. All else is sheer nonsense. The other sides to this economic triangle are faith and kindness. Capitalism is found within a culture that refines and contains it. On the other hand, the harassment of anyone who has money, the belief that if you have money you must have stolen it – this is a classic Communist approach that says that success is evil and money is a sign of corruption. But what
can you do? Our forefathers – Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov – were what were commonly called ‘capitalists.’ The Tanach describes their tremendous wealth. They would be called ‘tycoons’ today. “The economic viewpoint within Judaism is really quite amazing. For example, the mitzvah of hashavas aveida (returning lost items), the connection between a person and his belongings, not to mention between a person and his land, is a holy connection. This is the mother of capitalism. On the other hand, this whole enterprise Continued on page 42
Issue 889 • �
THE WOUND STILL FESTERS
Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel stood on the podium for several minutes, unable to speak as his voice was choked with tears. After he managed to compose himself, he related his personal experiences, or better put, the horrible experiences of those tragic days… “How cruel can you be?” Ariel cried out as he recalled the incident.
By Sholom Ber Crombie, Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry Photos by Yisroel Berdugo
couple of weeks ago, the Nitzan settlement and its sizable population of Gush Katif refugees held a ceremony to commemorate eight years since the expulsion. The ceremony took place at the new memorial center established for the former settlements of the Gaza Strip. The founders hope that it will become a focal point for those who never want to forget. Among the invited speakers was the minister of housing and construction, Uri Ariel (Bayit HaYehudi), who was the most dominant Knesset Member in the National Union Party spearheading the battle against the disengagement. Mr. Ariel approached the podium holding a speech he had written in advance, but he was simply too moved to speak. “I had prepared something to say,” the minister began, “but I’m crying instead.” Minister Uri Ariel stood on the podium for several minutes, unable to say a word as his voice was
choked with tears. After he managed to compose himself, he related his personal experiences, or better put, the horrible experiences of those tragic days. He spoke about a telephone conversation with the head of the IDF human resources branch at the time of the expulsion, who refused to allow soldiers with families living in Gush Katif to go there and part from the settlements where they had been raised. “How cruel can you be? What insensitivity?” Ariel cried out as he recalled the incident. Those minutes when the honored housing minister stood there speechless, sobbing uncontrollably, illustrated how raw and sore the wounds still remain. Not only have they failed to heal, they have festered over the years. Eight years later, it turns out the government’s handling of the expulsion tragedy was a tragedy unto itself. Many of those driven out of their homes in Gush Katif are still left abandoned in brokendown caravans. The discouraged
young people from those days have become a confused and scarred generation. The security conditions for the residents of southern Eretz Yisroel have not improved, and the once thriving settlements are now crawling with terrorists. The Cabinet ministers were quite adept at arranging a meticulous plan for expelling Jews, while showing no pity or consideration for what would happen the day after. If there had been hope that the pain would subside during those first years after the disengagement, today the picture appears quite different. The horrific scenes, the screams, and the pleas from that summer continue to reverberate, louder than ever before. The prayer of “Hashem, hearken to my prayer, and may my cry come to You; do not hide Your countenance from me on the day of my distress,” continues to accompany the former Gush Katif residents eight years later.
38 � • 19 Menachem Av 5773
WE WILL NOT FORGIVE
While the refugees gathered in Nitzan to observe this mournful anniversary, another man returned that week to the brutal scenes from those days. He was Meir BenYishai, the commanding officer for the evacuation forces in Gush Katif, responsible for expelling the Jewish settlers. We all remember Mr. Ben-Yishai from the scene when the Jews were removed from the synagogues of Neve Dekalim, as he took the microphone and proclaimed the terrifying words: “The time for evacuation has arrived.” The young people who were there recall that terrible announcement as the sign to rend their garments with the bracha of “Baruch...Dayan HaEmes”, as instructed by the local rabbanim. The words still resound: “This is Brigadier General Meir Ben-Yishai, commander of the evacuation forces. The time for evacuation has arrived. In another ten minutes, the forces will enter and they will begin to
evacuate the synagogues.” As the chilling message blared over the loudspeakers outside, an atmosphere of total chaos and heartrending cries reigned inside. The plea of “A prayer for a poor man when he enwraps himself and pours out his speech before G-d” could be heard from within one of the shuls, followed by the traditional justification of Divine judgment – Tziduk HaDin – “Hashem Hu HaElokim!” From another shul came the melodic Slichos prayer, “Our Father, our King, be gracious to us and answer us, for we have no meritorious deeds, deal charitably and kindly with us and deliver us.” These moments have been etched in the historical memory banks of that period, symbolizing the terrible depravity of a Jewish government evicting Jews from synagogues. However, Mr. Meir Ben-Yishai does not regret his actions. He’s even quite proud of what he’s done. From his standpoint, he did the right thing when he took on the assignment, and
he is certain that he carried it out “with compassion and with resolve,” as he put it. While Ben-Yishai remembers those days quite clearly, he still chose to commemorate the anniversary of the expulsion by going to Yerushalayim to visit the Gush Katif Museum. However, it wasn’t his need to remember those terrible memories that brought him there, rather his desire to clear his name and his conscience from his part in the destruction. Although he adamantly refused to express any regret or even ask forgiveness for his role in the tragedy, he still wanted to restore his reputation, as he tersely sought to vindicate himself: “I’m sorry if I offended anyone – I hope that I did things with compassion and with resolve.” Mr. Ben-Yishai has apparently forgotten that the Jewish People can neither forget nor forgive. Judaism has certain rules on asking forgiveness: regret for the past and acceptance of the future. As long as Ben-Yishai remains pleased with
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to build the Third Beis HaMikdash and live the Redemption. Similarly, we find with recalling the destruction of Gush Katif. The purpose is not merely to intensify the feeling of anguish, but to remember with a look towards the future – to prevent another disastrous expulsion of Jews from their homeland. Each year, as the tragic anniversary approaches, the sights and sounds from that catastrophic time come before us again. However, these painful memories must have a clear purpose: to do everything possible to ensure that such a calamity will never happen again. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently visited Eretz Yisroel for yet another round of discussions on the “peace talks” and more withdrawals. We must keep the visions of Gush Katif at the forefront of our minds in order to take action – with compassion and with resolve – to thwart any diplomatic initiatives on further territorial compromises that place the security of millions of Jews at serious risk. Only eight years have passed since the terrible expulsion, and people are openly talking again about uprooting settlements. The current prime minister must know that the country will not allow him to do that again. The nation of Israel must remain forever mindful of the Gush Katif tragedy, and its grave consequences can never be forgotten. It’s not enough just to remind ourselves of the expulsion and its dangerous security implications. We must take action to instill this awareness within the Jewish People.
his appalling deeds, he is unfit to be forgiven. Anyone who helps to purge him of his responsibility by explaining how he feels the pain of the Gush Katif settlers is merely laying the groundwork for the next expulsion. When these same people emerge victorious from ch”v yet another act of unspeakable destruction, they will receive renewed legitimacy as they smile in our direction. After Operation Peace for the Galilee, when leading figures in the Israeli Government prevented the conquest of Beirut and victory on the battlefield, the Rebbe called for them to be publicly disgraced by name, in order that others will hesitate to follow the same policies next time around. The situation today is quite similar, as those who commanded the expulsion forces are unwilling to ask forgiveness, although they wish to be absolved. It seems that one of the strategic
errors committed by those faithful to the cause of Eretz Yisroel was how fast they were prepared to forgive those who participated in the crime of evacuating Yamit. They quickly exonerated the defense minister serving at the time, warmly embracing him as the man prepared to build throughout Yehuda and Shomron. As the years passed, that defense minister became the prime minister who destroyed the settlements of Gush Katif and the northern Shomron.
REMEMBERING WITH A LOOK TOWARDS THE FUTURE
The Rebbe taught us that remembering the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash doesn’t just mean crying over our historic loss. We have to remember the past while looking towards the future, in order
LEARNING ABOUT YIDDISHKAIT TO PREVENT THE NEXT EXPULSION
On a recent Shabbos in my home, I hosted a soldier who had served in the regular army during Continued on page 30
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“DIDAN NATZACH” IN NATZRAT ILIT
fter a wearisome and drawn-out legal battle in the Israeli courts, the premises housing the Chabad-Lubavitch institutions in Natzrat Ilit were recently restored to their rightful owners. Chabad began renting the buildings in 1980 and bought them outright in 1989 for the hefty sum of $285,000. The Lubavitcher Rebbe MH”M was presented at the time with the keys to all the buildings, establishing his ownership and control over the properties. Among the institutions located on the area in question are a synagogue, the headquarters of both the Chabad Mobile Tanks Division and the Tzivos Hashem youth movement. There is also a mikveh and an active “Center for Judaism” catering to the general public and a part of the dormitory of the local Chabad yeshiva. After many successful and vibrant years of activity these institutions, comprising 340 square meters, ran into severe financial problems. Due to these difficulties they were placed into receivership by the courts and subsequently put up for sale by public tender. The intention being that the proceeds of the sale be transferred to the creditors. Rabbi David Nachshon, the executive director of these institutions, succeeded in winning the public tender. However, in an unprecedented and disturbing move, the court-appointed liquidator announced a new round of bidding; and the highest bids came from several local Arabs. (This will come as no surprise to those who know of
the alarming phenomenon of local Arabs, backed by wealthy supporters from the Gulf States, trying to purchase land and properties in the area. Their goal is to create a de facto situation where Jewish areas slowly lose their Jewish majority and identity.) The likelihood of the property ever being restored to Chabad hands was slim. The defense lawyers maintained that Chabad didn’t stand a chance. But Rabbi Nachshon, a devout and ardent follower of the Rebbe, tapped into his unwavering connection to the Rebbe and knew with certainty that the Rebbe would “turn things around.” He promptly penned a heartfelt plea to the Rebbe in which he related the sad saga and how all hope was seemingly lost, inserting his letter into one of the volumes of the Rebbe’s letters, the renowned Igros Kodesh series. Rabbi Nachshon relates: “The letter that I opened to was
astonishing. The Rebbe refers to the story in the Chumash of the spies who were dispatched by Moses to scout the Promised Land. He explains that their sin was caused by their erroneous belief that ‘they [the Canaanites] are stronger than us,’ implying that the Creator is powerless to carry out His own plan [of having the Jewish people inherit and settle the Land of Israel]. The Rebbe points out that if he [i.e., the recipient of the letter] strengthens his trust in G-d, he will see for himself that ‘We will surely go up and inherit [the Land].’ “When I passionately explained to the lawyer that I was convinced that we will be victorious, he decided to ‘take the plunge’ and start believing too.” The group of local Arabs who wanted to buy the premises had offered a single cash payment for the purchase. This was in contrast to Rabbi Nachshon’s offer of an
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installment plan of fifteen payments. At the next court session, the creditors challenged the feasibility of the Chabad organization being able to adhere to the repayment arrangement made with the court. But the whole picture changed abruptly for the good when the prosecuting attorney announced that she would never agree to allow the property to be sold to another party. “In my extensive travels around the globe, I was always aided by the Rebbe’s emissaries, so of course I would never allow harm to come to them,” she proclaimed, thereby reversing the tide. This was no doubt also linked to her belief that it would be wrong to uproot the Chabad Institutions from the premises which they had occupied for more than thirty years. This was only the first of more Continued from page 37 is based on charity and kindness, representing a most unique form of economics. During last winter’s elections, we heard many people speaking “Feiglinese,” about the need for Jewish leadership in areas of national direction. It seems as if everyone is parroting your vision. When they quote you and don’t mention your name, that’s a clear sign that you’ve won. I don’t seek to work against anyone. I have my vision and the goal that I am trying to reach, and if someone adopts a portion of the ideas that I am bringing into reality – I can only be happy about that. • Have you succeeded in advancing your ideas since entering the Knesset? I think that my ideas have received a very powerful boost in the Knesset. Every topic I surprises yet to come. The judge presiding over the case was an Arab. “This understandably made us very uneasy. However in a way that can only be described as nothing less than miraculous, the Arab judge was very understanding and sympathetic to the merits of our case and approved our proposal, and, thank G-d, the deal was closed,” relates a very satisfied Rabbi Nachshon. “The belief in G-d and in His faithful shepherd, the Rebbe infused us with the necessary strength. We merited witnessing that indeed ‘there is someone who is running the show’…” So, for the second time, the premises were sold to Chabad, this time at the price of 1.3 million shekels, rising to 1.5 million when including all expenses (equal to $ 420,000 USD), to be paid in 15 have touched upon has become an issue on a national scale. Israeli society has joined the public discussion on every issue I have raised, and I see this as a success. I believe that the ideas are developing well and we are making progress with them. During the last few months, the security situation in Yehuda and Shomron has become considerably worse. Yet, there are those who think that it wouldn’t be appropriate to raise an outcry and harm the region’s new image as a peaceful and tranquil location. I don’t know how much an outcry will help here. We must understand that the problem is not a technical issue over the IDF’s ability to deal with the country’s security; it’s more a matter of awareness. The army acts as if it’s a United Nations peacekeeping force; even its administrative arm portrays a distorted sense of reality. For example, in briefings before IDF installments. “We are now in the process of exerting all efforts to raise this enormous amount of money, and despite the difficulties, with G-d’s help, we will succeed in rising to the challenge. “I call upon every follower of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and to all those touched by Chabad activities around the globe to step forward and become a partner with us, by donating and helping to fulfill the commandment of ‘redeeming a captive from the hands of our enemies, pidyon shvuyim.’ There is no doubt that everyone who takes part in this mitzvah will surely be blessed with abundant goodness and outstanding success in all their endeavors.”
To become a partner in this critical inyan of the Rebbe please email: mobile. email@example.com.
soldiers on activities with the Arab population, they were called “locals.” Thus, the soldier asks himself: If the Arab is a “local” here, what does that say about me? The army considers itself like a foreign entity in Eretz Yisroel and it can’t provide true security to the residents of Tel Aviv, Yerushalayim, or even in Yehuda and Shomron. Here is the root of the problem. This is the reality that we have to combat – the belief that this really isn’t our land, we’re merely occupants, and the Arabs are true masters here. This is the understanding of the average Israeli today. Are you worried that Netanyahu is cooking up another expulsion plan? I speak about this at every opportunity. In my opinion, something is definitely brewing, and the fact that there is no construction in Yerushalayim is a part of some far greater policy move.
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