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FEATURED ARTICLES WEEKLY COLUMNS
IN THE HOLY OF HOLIES – TWICE!
YEAR IN THE LIFE 18 A OF THE REBBE RASHAB – STORIES FROM 5760
4 D’var Malchus 16 Moshiach & Geula 23 Parsha Thought 39 Young Chassid
FIERY CHASSID 26 A FROM TZFAS IN FRIGID CANADA
Shneur Zalman Berger
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THE REBBE’S MIRACLE CHILD
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EACH REBBE SURPASSES HIS PREDECESSOR
Chapter 4 of Rabbi Shloma Majeski’s compilation of inyanei Moshiach and Geula, Likkutei Mekoros. * Underlining is the compiler’s emphasis.
Translated and presented by Boruch Merkur (regarding which the concept of a chain has no bearing – see the sicha of Shabbos Parshas VaYeitzei, 9 Kislev 5711 [where it explains that since a maor is atzmi, it is inclusive of every aspect associated with it, not like a chain has various links but as a single entity; thus, when celebrating 9 Kislev, marking the Mitteler Rebbe’s birthday and hilula, one “connects to the ‘maor’ of the Mitteler Rebbe as he is included in my father in-law, the Rebbe” – Sichos Kodesh 5711, pg. 75]), meaning that they are a single being (especially insofar as every Nasi is called “memaleh mekomo” of the Nasi before him; he fills the entire place/role, and possesses all his virtue, in addition to his own unique quality, which is an expression of the principle of “maalin ba’kodesh – ever rising in holiness.” Also, there is the additional contribution of the service of every Nasi that is particular to him and his generation.) Thus, the perfection of one of the N’siim [in a particular area] is manifest in all of them. However, overtly, it appears in one particular Nasi, and from him it is drawn into all of them. This concept is reminiscent of the well known principle of “the Mitzva in which he particularly shone”: this Mitzva is the gateway through which all the other Mitzvos ascend.
Chapter 3 speaks about a particular manner by which a Rebbe may reveal something about himself. Namely, by describing or defining qualities of a preceding Rebbe. In so doing, the Rebbe, in effect, rules about himself as well that he possesses those qualities or serves that particular role. In other words, what the Rebbe says about another Rebbe is equally true of himself. Chapter 4, in a sense, goes a step further, establishing that all the qualities of a previous Rebbe are assumed by the successive Rebbe. Each Nasi is the memale mekomo u’maalaso of the preceding Rebbe, he is his successor in terms of taking on his role as well as in terms of possessing all his virtues. Also, he introduces something unique of his own. The Rebbe MH”M discusses this concept in the sicha of 9 Kislev, Shabbos Parshas VaYeitzei, with regard to the Mitteler Rebbe’s “perfection of the days of his life” – the embodiment of “I shall fill the number of your days” (Mishpatim 23:26) – his birthday and hilula being the same day, the 9th of Kislev.
*** It is specifically with regard to the Mitteler Rebbe that we find this novel concept and perfection – that his lifespan was “from day to day” (he was nistalek on the same day that he was born – 9 Kislev).*
(Seifer HaSichos 5752, pg. 150) NOTE: *Which is not the case with the other Rebbeim: [The Mitteler Rebbe’s predecessors] the Baal Shem Tov was born on the 18th of Elul, Chai Elul, and was nistalek on the first day of Chag HaShavuos (the Mezritcher Maggid’s birthday is unknown; his hilula, however, is on Yud-Tes Kislev); and the Alter Rebbe was born on Chai Elul and was nistalek on the 24th of Teives. Similarly with regard to our Rebbes, our N’siim, the successors of the Mitteler Rebbe: The Rebbe the Tzemach Tzedek – Erev Rosh HaShana/13 Nissan; the Rebbe Maharash – 2 Iyar/13 Tishrei; the Rebbe (Rashab), nishmaso Eden –20 Cheshvan/2 Nissan; my revered father in-law, the Rebbe –12 Tammuz/10 Shvat. And since our Rebbes, our N’siim, are a single continuum, a single chain, to the point that they are at the level of “maor,” a source of light
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THE OCCUPANT OF THE REBBE RAYATZ’S HOUSE
After we finished printing the Tanya in the Peter and Paul Fortress, we thought of printing it also in the Tiyenem Soviet detention center which was over the river. We just had to cross a small bridge. But after a phone
conversation, they told R’ Wagner that the person in charge was not in the office and he would return in several hours. We decided that instead of waiting around, we would print the Tanya somewhere else. R’ Avigdor Parnas was able to contact one of the occupants of the Rebbe Rayatz’s house, and he asked her for permission to
print the Tanya there. She did not quite understand what he was talking about, and fortunately she agreed. We arrived at her house and when she saw the machines and printing equipment and understood what it was about, she was unhappy. To bring a printing press into her house? In Russia that was a non-starter.
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IN THE HOLY OF HOLIES – TWICE!
Another installment about the special shlichus performed by R’ Zalman Chanin and R’ Laibel Zajac, to print the Tanya in Russia. * Two extraordinary private audiences with the Rebbe. * Part 5
Prepared for publication by Avrohom Rainitz
It was only after protracted discussion and showing her that the machine was small and not a monster that she gave her consent. Since she was Jewish, the first thing we did was put up a mezuza. At first, she was very nervous about putting up such an obviously Jewish sign on her door. It was only after we
explained that a mezuza protects the house that she was willing to let us do it. We also explained to her what the Tanya is, as well as who lived in her apartment many decades ago. She was very happy about the great privilege she had in taking part in printing a Jewish book in Russia. Ah, one just can’t measure the power of a Jewish
neshama! As for getting the printing press up to the first floor, oh, what troubles we had. The steps were dark and we had to illuminate our way with a torch that we made out of newspaper rolled up into a cone. I won’t get into all of our adventures that passed until we managed to get the machine upstairs.
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After we managed to set everything up and began printing the Tanya, the woman was flying high. She said she did not know why she was so excited but that’s the way it was. She felt as though she was in another world entirely, on a spiritual high. As we printed, I told her about the uniqueness of this home. And she said that there were eight tenants and they all used one kitchen and bathroom. I followed her for a tour of her floor and the entire original apartment and I got an idea of what she was talking about. While we were there, my friend Leibel Zajac wanted to buy her a gift to thank her for allowing us into her apartment, but there was no place to buy a house gift. So when we finished printing, we left some cookies with her and she wasn’t ashamed to take them with great joy.
SHABBOS IN MOSCOW
The Shabbos we spent in Moscow was a special experience. It began with the lighting of candles at 3:15 in the afternoon. Since our hotel was far from the main shul of Moscow, a three hour walk, we opted to daven in the Poliakov Synagogue, just an hour and a half away. At least we were able to take a taxi there before the onset of Shabbos. About forty people were present for Mincha and Kabbalas Shabbos. The bitter cold outside was countered by warm, Chassidishe davening inside, led by members of Aguch, mainly R’ Shlomo Cunin who added a special chayus. After “Bo’i B’shalom,” everybody danced around the bima. Many of the people came to shul in anticipation of the Shabbos meal that followed the davening, because as I described in the previous article, in those days people were always hungry. Even someone who had money was unable to buy basic food items. This is why members of Aguch arranged for a container of food from Eretz Yisroel to come each week, to be distributed to the Jews of Russia. They also used this food to prepare a lavish Shabbos meal, and dozens of hungry Jews came to the shul for this reason. Many of those who came just for the portion of fish and soup also ended up getting involved in Judaism. On Shabbos morning, on my way from the hotel to the shul, it was freezing. I had never experienced such cold in my life. I saw a line of thousands of people standing near a McDonald’s store. Although I usually refrained from revealing that I know Russian, so people would think I’m an innocent tourist who doesn’t understand anything, I couldn’t refrain from asking a woman with two small children, “How long are you standing here?” She said, “Since the morning.” “When do you think it will be your turn?” I asked. “About 12,” she said. I asked her, “Who guarantees that by the time it’s your turn there will be anything left? Maybe it will be sold out?” The woman answered confidently, “There is no such thing. It’s a store from America. Over there, there is food for the entire world. And if something is finished, within hours it comes here by plane. Despite this terrible cold and it being hard to stand here with children, what can you do? You can’t eat rubles and they are not satisfying. The food from America is eatable and satisfying and you can buy as much as you want. You just need to wait on line.” On Shabbos morning the davening started at ten. There was no minyan yet; there were barely three men, but R’ Cunin began on time. He was experienced and he knew that by Barchu there would be a few dozen people. By the reading of the Torah there would be over 100; after the davening, at Kiddush, the shul would be full of hundreds of people. After Kiddush, R’ Cunin said some ideas from the Rebbe’s sichos and a Russian speaking bachur translated it. Apparently, the bachur did not understand what R’ Cunin said and R’ Cunin did not understand what the bachur said, but I, who understood both, noticed that R’ Cunin said deep ideas of Chassidus and the bachur said a completely different sicha with an idea that could be understood even by hungry people. After the sicha, they took out the food and the bachurim began to sing with the crowd. It was very pleasant, for after the people had eaten their full, they enjoyed sitting and singing and dancing. There were also older Jews who told very interesting stories of their early memories.
PRINTING IN THE YARD OF THE SHUL
After completing the printing of the Tanya, we wanted to go to the Tiyenem Soviet, but it was too late and nobody was there. That was that. From there, we went to the main shul in Leningrad and we printed the Tanya in the school there. I did not print the Tanya in the shul even though that would generate a lot of publicity, because once, when they wanted to print the Tanya in 770, the Rebbe wrote, “Is it permissible to print it there?” So when they printed the Tanya in 770 they did so in the yard and not in the shul itself.
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NO TICKETS? THERE ARE TICKETS!
When we took the train back to Moscow, I couldn’t help but recall what occurred when we traveled in the other direction. When we reached the train station, we went to the cashier to buy tickets for a special twoperson compartment. We were surprised to hear there were no more available. R’ Leibel couldn’t get over it: What does that mean, there are no more tickets? I never heard of such a thing that you go to a train station and there are no more tickets! R’ Wagner began to laugh and he said: You forgot you’re in Russia! Over here, they are always sold out, but you can always get some anyway. You have to know how. Within a few minutes, two men came over to us and asked how they could help us. We told them we wanted to travel to Leningrad but the cashier said there are no more tickets. They said: Don’t worry; we’ll get some for you. Which section do you want? We told them we wanted two rooms, one for two people and another room for four people. They asked us to wait and a few minutes later they returned with tickets for just what we wanted. Then R’ Wagner explained that there are people who buy all the tickets and then sell them at double the price. That’s how they make a few dollars.
R’ Zalman Chanin and R’ Leibel Zajac printing the Tanya in the Rebbe Rayatz’s home
The Rebbe’s response about printing the Tanya in 770
OUR HOTEL ROOM TURNED INTO A BOOKBINDERY
When we arrived in Moscow, we began working on binding the Tanyas. Our first plan was to take all the printed pages and bind them in New York. But since we were going to return
to New York during Chanuka, and we really wanted to give the Rebbe the completed Tanyas as “Chanuka gelt,” we looked into the possibility of binding the Tanyas before we arrived in New York. On our way home, we were going to stop off in Eretz Yisroel, but we would only be there over Friday-Shabbos-Sunday. So our only option was to try and bind them in Moscow. We decided to bind at least one book from each location
where we had printed, so that immediately upon arriving in New York, we could give the Rebbe the bound volumes. Since it is not possible to obtain a binding machine in Moscow that would bind the books quickly, we reverted to the binding method used in the time of the Alter Rebbe. We found some elderly Jews who had worked as bookbinders in their youth, sat them down in our hotel room, and got to work. First, we had to fold the pages
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into booklets and arrange them in order. Then the old men sewed them by hand, as in the olden days. They used strong liquid glue and put the book into a press to hold it firmly. The press was comprised of two boards that were placed under the heavy beds. As the pages were being pressed into book shape, they prepared the bindings and then glued the bindings to the ready book. Most of the work was done in the hotel room which was spacious. Some of the work was taken home to be completed by the old men. Boruch Hashem, we were able to bind a copy or two of each book, but we were unable to rest on our laurels and surely we would have to continue printing more Tanyas. the Tanyas, and yet now the Rebbe wanted us in yechidus! Remember, this was 5752, after nearly ten years without any private yechidus! We immediately put on our gartels and ran to Gan Eden HaTachton. We waited for a few minutes and then the door opened to Gan Eden HaElyon, the Rebbe’s room, and we saw the Rebbe standing in the doorway and waiting for us to give him the 62 Tanyas. The Rebbe was wearing the silk sirtuk that he wore to the Ohel and the bags of pidyonos were ready. R’ Groner stood on the side and showed us where the Tanyas were so we could submit them to the Rebbe. I had never seen the Rebbe so close up. It was literally face to face. His holy face was fiery and shone brightly. I have never seen an angel, but in that moment, I felt as though I had seen an Angel of G-d. There is no other way to describe it.
THE REBBE WANTS TO SEE YOU IN YECHIDUS!
We arrived in New York on Tuesday night. On Wednesday we had an aliya and said the HaGomel blessing in the Rebbe’s minyan. Since the Rebbe was going to the Ohel that day, we arranged with R’ Leibel Groner that we would bring the Tanyas after the Rebbe returned from the mikva and he would give them to the Rebbe before he left for the Ohel. We assumed that the Rebbe would want to take these special Tanyas with him to the Ohel.
I have never seen an angel, but in that moment, I felt as though I had seen an Angel of G-d. There is no other way to describe it… We remained alone with the Rebbe, near his room, and suddenly the atmosphere changed. The Rebbe stood up straight and had a big smile which conveyed endless love (I have no other words with which to describe this wondrous sight). In this way, the Rebbe conveyed his great pleasure in the printing of the Tanya.
emboss in gold print the names of the locations on the covers of the books because our bookbinders did not have Hebrew letters, just Russian ones. We made a few copies with a Russian stamp, and the rest were left without any name stamp. By Friday we had managed to bind at least one copy from each place we had printed Tanyas, a total of 62 new Tanyas. Before we left Moscow, we started to lay the groundwork for additional printings in Russia. We knew that the Rebbe would not allow us to Everything was ready and we waited upstairs in 770, together with some other Lubavitchers, for the Rebbe to leave for the Ohel. At three in the afternoon, R’ Groner came out of Gan Eden HaTachton and looked for me and R’ Leibel Zajac. When he saw us, he said: The Rebbe wants to see you in the yechidus room right away. He wants you, and not a go-between, to give him the Tanyas you printed in Russia.” We were flabbergasted. We had not imagined that such a thing would happen. We were sure that the Rebbe already had
THE BEST CHANUKA GELT A PERSON CAN GET
While we were busy getting the Tanyas, the Rebbe was occupied with matters in his room. I saw how the Rebbe moved items from here to there very quickly and it looked as though he was quite involved and even a bit hunched over. All this took very little time for when the Rebbe noticed us, he motioned to R’ Groner to go out to the next room. We remained alone with the Rebbe, near his room, and suddenly the atmosphere changed. The Rebbe stood up straight and had a big smile which conveyed endless love (I have no other words with which to describe this wondrous sight). In this way, the Rebbe
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conveyed his great pleasure in the printing of the Tanya. Then the Rebbe motioned to us to enter his room and he asked: Where are the s’farim that you brought? The s’farim were on the small desk on the side of Gan Eden HaTachton in three packages. My friend Leibel Zajac took one package and I took two. The Rebbe smiled broadly, it was mamash moiradik, ah! He stretched out his hand to take the package. My friend Leibel wanted to give the package to the Rebbe so that the Rebbe could bring them into his room and put them where they belonged. I looked at the room and didn’t know where it was possible to put them. At that time, the Rebbe slept in this room but the bed was full of s’farim and letters so that there was no place. You could barely see the desktop and so the only place to put the s’farim was on the empty chair on the right, right behind the door to the room. As the Rebbe stood there and R’ Leibel wanted to hand him the s’farim, I whispered: Leibel! Put the s’farim in the room. It’s a heavy package! The Rebbe heard me and said: A Tanya isn’t heavy. And he took the package from Leibel. I did not hand over the two packages I had, but entered the room and asked where to put them. The Rebbe motioned toward the chair and then put the package he had taken from Leibel on the chair too. Then the Rebbe said: Thank you very much. Since we had given the Tanyas in three packages, the Rebbe asked: It’s all one thing, right? Once again, thank you very much. This is the best
The title pages of the Tanyas printed in the fortress and the Rebbe Rayatz’s home
Chanuka gelt that a Jew can get. The Rambam paskens that the mitzva of Chanuka is to be happy, “Yemei simcha,” so that there will be joy all year and joy for all Jews and good news. The Rebbe usually gave $20 toward each Tanya. In connection with this, the Rebbe smiled at R’ Leibel and said, “As for the money, you’ll work it out with him (gesturing toward R’ Groner that he should come to the room because the door remained open) – how much is still owed to you, eh?” R’ Leibel Zajac made the calculation and then said: We’ll work it out between us. The Rebbe repeated: This is the best Chanuka gelt that a Jew can get, a freilichin Chanuka and good news. We left the room and the Rebbe closed the door. This yechidus was an experience that I could not have imagined even in my rosiest dreams. I was so emotionally overcome by the look on the Rebbe’s face that I couldn’t calm down. The great lights were difficult to absorb.
I stood outside and thanked G-d for the tremendous privilege of being able to enter the Rebbe’s room when so few were that fortunate.
Not even five minute elapsed and we were still standing in the corridor when R’ Groner came out from Gan Eden HaTachton again, came over to us, and said, “The Rebbe wants you back!” R’ Groner opened the door to the Rebbe’s room and we walked in with the door remaining partially open. The Rebbe asked me: Perhaps you know which Tanya was printed last? I said that the Tanya that was printed in the Rebbe Rayatz’s home in Leningrad was the last number. The Rebbe asked: Do you know which volume it is? R’ Groner, who had been standing outside, walked in and said to the Rebbe: I’ll find it right away. The Rebbe said to him: By the time you move, he will have found it already. He packed it!
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I told the Rebbe I knew precisely which package it was in and it would take me a minute to locate it. The Rebbe said: Please find it. When I found it, I gave it to the Rebbe and he asked me to show him where the number of this edition was printed. I turned to the place where a list of the editions was printed and showed the Rebbe the number of this Tanya. appreciated her letting us in. We had put up a mezuza, and she had been very moved. I told the Rebbe that the people with me during the printing in Leningrad told me that their tradition is that it was from this room that Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka told the Rebbe about the arrest of her father on 15 Sivan 1927. The Rebbe said: It was a large room. How many windows were there? I said there were two and the Rebbe asked: Did the windows face the big street or the yard? I said they faced the main street and the Rebbe said, yes, correct. Then the Rebbe asked: When did you print in the Peter and bridge and then turn left where the former prison was, which is now a museum. I mentioned that it was difficult to get in with the vehicle with the printing press but after we bribed the guard, all was well. I told the Rebbe about the visit to the room where they claim the Alter Rebbe was incarcerated and how it did not fit with the details of the story as we know it, and how after inquiring of the guide we were told that it was an entirely new building and only at the other end were buildings from that period. I wanted to shorten the story, but the Rebbe wanted to hear all the details. So I continued to tell him everything that had occurred at the military printing house (as I related in the last installment). When I told about the printing, the Rebbe asked: How much time did it take to print the Tanya in the fortress? I said that the printing itself took about four hours due to the cold which interfered with the printing. Also, the electrical fuse had broken a few times due to being overburdened, for the wires were very old and had never been used for so much electricity. What about their printing press, asked the Rebbe. I said that their machines were from the times of Methuselah and did not even work with electricity but were manual. I thought that the machines in Lubavitch in the early years of the twentieth century, referred to as kopir, were much more advanced that the machines in the military printing house, but the place was called a military printing house. The Rebbe said: According to what you are saying, it seems that the buildings are remnants from that time. As I told all the details, the
THE REBBE TOOK INTEREST IN EVERY DETAIL
The Rebbe turned the pages of the Tanya this way and that and as he did so, he asked me: This was actually printed at 22
Apparently, the bachur did not understand what R’ Cunin said and R’ Cunin did not understand what the bachur said, but I, who understood both, noticed that R’ Cunin said deep ideas of Chassidus and the bachur said a completely different sicha with an idea that could be understood even by hungry people.
Mokhovaya in Petersburg? I said yes, and the Rebbe asked: Where in the apartment, in which room did you print it? Since I saw that the Rebbe was interested in the details, I said that after the communists had confiscated the Rebbe Rayatz’s home, since it was large and spacious. They divided it into five or six units. Each family slept in one room and shared the kitchen and facilities. Among the tenants was a Jewish woman and we received permission from her to print in her home. Before printing, we explained to her what it was about and how much we
Paul fortress? I said we began on the 18th and continued a little into the night of the 19th and then in the Rebbe Rayatz’s apartment on the night of Yud-Tes Kislev. The Rebbe said: You surely had a permit. I said yes; I added that at the time, I had faxed it to the offices of the Vaad L ’Hafatzos Sichos so they would give it to the Rebbe. The Rebbe asked: Where in the fortress did you print? I saw that the Rebbe wanted to hear all the details, and I said that when we entered the fortress, we had to pass a small
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Rebbe turned the pages of the Tanya this way and that, as he scrutinized the pages, but he mostly looked at the portion that lists all printings of the Tanya. I thought to myself: Why are you bothering the Rebbe with all your stories? But now and then the Rebbe reacted to what I said and seemed to be listening to all the details and wanted to know more.
PRINT THE 4000TH EDITION IN FIVE DAYS!
When I finished telling the Rebbe about the printing, the Rebbe looked up at us, for he had been looking into the s’farim until then, and said: The number of this Tanya is 3889. That means, another hundred plus are needed until (four) thousand. It would be worthwhile completing this by the end of Chanuka. I was taken aback. How could a hundred Tanyas be printed in a few days in Russia of those days and under those conditions? The Rebbe knew what I was thinking and he asked with a smile: Is it possible? I said we would try and (I don’t know where I got the strength to say this), “Omar Malka, Okar Tura” (when the king says, a mountain is uprooted). I told the Rebbe we would try, but I had no idea how it was possible. I had just arrived from Russia and we had so many adventures with each printing of the Tanya! Now the Rebbe wanted us to print more than 110. We would have to bring everything from New York, the paper and ink and all the printing necessities. How would everything get there and who would do it? Even those who helped us until now were not
The Rebbe receiving a set of Tanyas that were printed in various places by R’ Leibel Zajac and R’ Zalman Chanin
knowledgeable in printing and now everything would have to be done quickly in order to finish 110 copies in a few days. I was thinking and the Rebbe continued: There are probably more than 100 cities in Russia where the Tanya wasn’t printed yet and it can be printed there. If not, it is worth building an entire city so that a Tanya can be printed there! There are a number of days until the end of Chanuka (and he began counting on his fingers). Today is Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday, and on Monday it is Zos Chanuka and still Chanuka. So there are five days (and he said this with a big smile). The Rebbe continued with a big smile: There is no need to print in all the places by Chanuka; just make a list of all the cities in Russia, where it will be printed, G-d willing, and decide now that they will print it. Make a list until 4000 and submit the list here before I go to my father-in-law (at the Ohel). He said again: Don’t forget
the p’sak of the Rambam that the days of Chanuka are days of joy, so nobody will have complaints. A freilichin Chanuka and good news from the entire family and everyone should be well. This is the greatest Chanuka present a Jew could get, and this is a Tanya. A freilichin Chanuka! The Rebbe took the Tanya which was printed in the Rebbe Rayatz’s home and said: I am taking this with me to the Ohel, to my father-in-law, and the rest I’ll look over afterward. G-d willing I will learn in all the Tanyas, systematically, and I will look at all of them, G-d willing. At the end of the yechidus, the Rebbe asked us whether we had a video as a memento of the trip. Fortunately, R’ Wagner recorded our trip on video. However, the videos were not with us since I did not think the Rebbe would be interested in them. We answered yes, and the Rebbe asked that we submit them to him. Then the Rebbe took the bags of panim and gave them to R’ Groner and all he held was the Tanya that had been printed in the Rebbe Rayatz’s home. He left for the Ohel. We rushed to submit the videos to the Rebbe even before we made copies. Two nights later, after Maariv, the Rebbe sat in Gan Eden HaTachton and watched the videos that documented the printing of the Tanya in Russia. Until today, neither I nor my friend has a copy. Perhaps one day a copy can be found, but meanwhile, the loss is a shame. Before the Rebbe went to the Ohel on Zos Chanuka, we handed in a list of cities where the Tanya would be printed. The printing of these Tanyas took several months until all the Tanyas arrived back at the Rebbe.
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MOSHIACH & GEULA
WHAT DID THE REBBE TELL CHASSIDIM WHO FELT FORLORN TO DO?
By Rabbi Gershon Avtzon
Dear Reader Sh’yichyeh, This Shabbos (Chayei Sara 5774) marks 22 years since we heard the Rebbe farbreng on Shabbos Parshas Chaya Sara 5752. It has not been an easy 22 years. For many, these years have been filled with disappointments, doubts and frustration. There are bachurim getting married now who have never seen the Rebbe. The situation seems very shaky. Even for those who hold strong to their faith, the Yetzer Hara (Amalek) comes in all shapes and forms to try to weaken and cool down this special emuna. It is to these doubts that I write the following: This is not the first time in history that there was a painful 22 year separation! The Torah tells us that Yosef HaTzaddik was separated from his father for 22 years. How did Yosef handle this separation? He could have easily become depressed by the seemingly tough and helpless situation; his mother died while he was young, he was separated from his father, sold by his brothers, and put in jail in a foreign land. Instead, he remained upbeat and positive and eventually rose to become the ruler of Mitzrayim! What was Yosef’s secret? How did he manage to stay
positive despite the seemingly negative and depressing circumstances? Firstly, he had strong faith in Hashem and believed in Hashgacha Pratis (Divine Providence). He knew that everything that Hashem does is part of a big and good plan. If Hashem willed on him all these circumstances, it was a test for him and a building experience for him. He did not allow himself to wallow in self-pity. But then there was an additional secret. The Torah tells us (VaYigash 45:27) that when Yosef revealed himself to his brothers and asked them to bring their father down to Egypt, he sent wagons to bring him down. When Yaakov saw the wagons, “his spirit was revived.” What was so special about those wagons? Rashi explains: “He (Yosef) gave them a sign, viz., in what topic he was engaged when he (Yosef) separated from him (Yaakov). [That was] the section dealing with the heifer that was to be beheaded (רּופה ָ ע ִ לה ָג ְע ֶ) (Deut. 21), and this is what [Scripture] says, ‘and he saw the ָג ְע ֶ that Yosef had sent,’ wagons לה and it (Scripture) does not say, ‘that Pharaoh had sent.’” By constantly reviewing the last “Sicha” of Yaakov, Yosef was able to receive the necessary
strength to remain strong. He internalized the message of “רּופה ָ ע ִ לה ָג ְע ֶ ” and that gave him strength. What is the message of “לה ָג ְע ֶ רּופה ָ ע ִ ”? The Rebbe explains (Likkutei Sichos Vol. 30) that the laws of רּופה ָ ע ִ לה ָג ְע ֶ apply when someone is alone in the field, and is murdered there. If, however, the person had been accompanied by “the elders of the city,” he would not have been killed. Yosef realized that as long as he stayed connected to the “elders of the city” – his Rebbe, Yaakov Avinu – then he would not be alone in “the field” in Mitzrayim and he would have the strength to survive. Dear Chassidim: After the Histalkus of the Frierdike Rebbe, the Chassidim felt alone and depressed. They wrote to the Rebbe that they need Chizuk. What did the Rebbe tell them? To be like Yosef and review the last Sichos of the Frierdike Rebbe and they would be able to receive the necessary strength! In the words of the Rebbe (Igros Vol. 4 page 23): “You write that you are feeling very lonely and you feel that your Avoda is weakening … It is from the Yetzer Ha’ra … look in the Sicha of 13 Tammuz 5710; it is a place where you can get strength from ... If only Anash – and especially
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the Bachurim – would learn the Sichos of 5709-5710.” These are last sichos of the Frierdike Rebbe. Dear Chassidim: We must learn and “live” with Sichos of 5751-5752. These Sichos were delivered and painstakingly edited by the Rebbe to be a source of strength in these trying times. On Shabbos Chayei Sara 5752, the Rebbe spoke to the guests at the International Kinus HaShluchim and said the following words: “The most recent innovation in the work of shlichus is to receive our righteous Moshiach in the true and complete Redemption. Indeed, the preparation for the coming of our righteous Moshiach is the most all-encompassing aspect of Judaism and includes all the other points and details of
Dear Chassidim: After the Histalkus of the Frierdike Rebbe, the Chassidim felt alone and depressed. They wrote to the Rebbe that they need Chizuk. What did the Rebbe tell them? To be like Yosef and review the last Sichos of the Frierdike Rebbe…
whatsoever!” Let us tap into these wellsprings of strength. When the Hisgalus of the Rebbe happens, we will send the Rebbe “our wagons” full of our “ּפה ָ ערו ִ לה ָג ְע ֶ” and “the spirit of their father Yaacov was revived!” Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www. ylcrecording.com.
the work of shlichus … This should be done through one’s explanation of the concept of Moshiach, as explained in the Written Torah and the Oral Torah, in a way that it will be received by everyone according to his intellect and understanding. This includes in particular learning the subject of Moshiach and Redemption, and specifically in a manner of Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge. And since this is the Divine service of the time, it›s understood this applies to every Jew without any exception
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Compiled by Menachem Ziegelboim
IN THE LIFE
OF THE REBBE RASHAB STORIES FROM 5760
Why did the Rebbe Rashab meet with a team of writers and journalists? How did the Rebbe and R’ Chaim Soloveitchik enter the train compartment? Why were the Rebbe and his son incognito in Baranowitz for an entire Shabbos? How many talmidim were accepted to Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim out of the 150 who wanted to attend the yeshiva? * A compilation of stories about the Rebbe Rashab from the year 5670, presented for his birthday on Chaf Cheshvan.
In the notes of the Rebbe Rayatz listing the maamarim that his father said each year of his nesius, he writes that in 5670 (1909/1910) the Rebbe Rashab said thirty-one maamarim.
(From the journal of the Rebbe Rayatz)
LOFTY REVELATIONS AT THE START OF 5670
Before Sukkos 5670, one of the beams in the big zal moved out of place. Rebbetzin Rivka, the wife of the Rebbe Maharash, told her son that perhaps they should not have the Simchas Torah farbrengen in that room because
of the danger, for the large crowd and the dancing could cause an accident. Indeed, every Simchas Torah, many guests arrived, yeshiva bachurim and many Chassidim from all over Russia, as well as local residents who came to see pure Chassidic joy. The Rebbe said there was no
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reason to worry. The Rebbetzin said, “If you take the responsibility ...” The Rebbe said, “Once the issue was brought up, it is not necessary,” and the farbrengen took place in the small zal. That farbrengen was described in Lubavitch V’Chayaleha. It went on until late at night. They davened Mincha before the seuda. At the eastern wall of the small zal, north of the Aron Kodesh, they opened a door which had previously been closed up and the Rebbe and the guests came through this door to the farbrengen. Due to the renovations, the Rebbe’s chair was placed next to the door of his father’s room. Apparently this was the reason that, from the outset, the Rebbe spoke about his father. The Rebbe took mashke
often, which was not his practice, and each time he mentioned something his father said, he cried. “I was a boy, long before my bar mitzva,” said R’ Folye Kahn. “I stood on a high spot on the bima on the side of the hall and I can still visualize the scene. The Rebbe sobbed loudly. This was both a wonder and moving for me.” “Were you at the passing of my father?” suddenly asked the Rebbe of the mashpia, R’ Shmuel Gronem. When the latter said no, the Rebbe said, “Here, right here, is where they purified his body.” There was a feeling of tension in the air because of the unexpected farbrengen with many giluyim (revelations). Everyone crowded closer in order to hear. Due to the pressure, many of the tables and benches were broken.
The Rebbe said, “His Simchas Torah … his Yud-Tes Kislev … Those who saw the revelation of primordial light are myself and R’ Monish, Gronem and maybe Moshe too,” referring to the Rebbe’s chozer who was very close to him. The Rebbe then loudly and emotionally said, “I am my father’s servant; I am a Chassid of my father. G-dliness wishes to speak. There is no difference through whom, as long as he is a vessel for it.” Saying this, he burst into bitter tears and could not calm down. The wealthy Chassid, R’ Monish, suddenly felt very weak due to the crush, the heat, and the sweating. Some Chassidim rushed to bring him a cup of cold water from the room where the two Rebbetzins sat, Rebbetzin Rivka the wife of the Rebbe
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Maharash and Rebbetzin Shterna Sara the wife of the Rebbe Rashab. When they saw the crush and the pushing, the women were frightened and rushed to the doorway of the hall in order to see what was happening. When Rebbetzin Shterna Sara saw that the Rebbe was highly emotional, she asked him not to drink anymore and to stop the farbrengen and to rest a bit. The Rebbe replied in surprise, “You?” The Rebbetzin clapped her hands in consternation. “You don’t feel well, go and rest.” But the Rebbe continued to farbreng, his face aglow and yet with a look of somberness and pain: “What – not well – me? I am well and if only my son was this well.” Minutes later, his mother Rebbetzin Rivka entered the room. Apparently, her daughterin-law, the Rebbe’s wife, had asked her to speak to her son and get him to stop farbrenging once she knew that his health wasn’t optimal. As soon as his mother entered, the Rebbe stood up in her honor. He was followed by all the Chassidim. It was wondrous that he noticed her entry since he was sitting with his back to the door through which she entered. His worried mother went over to him and also pleaded with him to stop the farbrengen, but he loudly replied, “Mamma, I am your son until the coming of Moshiach. I am father’s son, his Chassid, and his servant. I am my father’s servant until the coming of Moshiach.” After a moment’s thought he added, “My hair fell out due to three things: my toiling in Tanya and Imrei Bina, and the passing of my father.” Then he said a line that made hearts tremble: “G-dliness wishes to speak and there is through whom – expand your mouth and I will fill it.” Since it was Friday afternoon, the Rebbe refused to eat anything, even something light, after the time for Kiddush, but he continued drinking copiously of the mashke. The mashke, the heat and the sweating affected the Rebbe’s health. Some Chassidim who stood near him asked the many Chassidim to move back to enable fresh air to flow, but due to the crush, this was not possible. The Rebbe stood up and said, “Do not allow me to leave until I say a sicha and a maamer; a sicha about how Tomchei T’mimim ought to be, and a maamer ...” Then he went to a back room in order to rest. The Chassidim waited for hours until midnight, since they assumed the Rebbe would return, but his precarious health did not allow this. That Simchas Torah farbrengen was remembered by Chassidim for years to come for the many giluyim that took place.
(Lubavitch V’Chayoleha; Zicaron L’Vnei Yisroel; Shmuos V’Sippurim)
as well as the joy of the talmidim who were accepted. They said that in Lubavitch tests were mandatory because in Lubavitch ‘they hate a fool.’”
WHY ARE YOU WORSE THAN OTHERS?
In 5670, the Rebbe suffered from pain in his throat. A doctor was called who placed compresses to ease the pain. One of the times that the doctor came, the Rebbe said he had absolutely no time for this. The doctor, who was respectful of the Rebbe, left. When he came again, the same thing repeated itself and the Rebbe said he had no time. This upset Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah who said to the Rebbe, “Why are you worse than all Jews? People come to ask you things and you devote about ten minutes to each one or whatever amount of time. Why are you worse than them? Give yourself half an hour!” The Rebbe said, “But I still don’t have the time.” The doctor came several times until the Rebbe allowed him to do what was necessary.
SEEING HIDDEN MATTERS
In 5670, the Rebbe spent time in the resort area of Babinowitz. The Rebbe wasn’t feeling well and after improving somewhat, he went to Moscow in order to consult a top doctor. He returned to Lubavitch halfway through the month of Elul. At this time, the Chassid R’ Yitzchok, son of R’ Lima Minkowitz, arrived from Nevel in Lubavitch. He told the Rebbe that the Chassidim in Nevel had sent him to inquire about the Rebbe’s health.
R’ Chaim Eliezer Karasik related: “I can testify that in the summer of 5670, about 150 talmidim wanted to be accepted in the yeshiva. After sifting and sifting, only 40 were accepted and the rest had to go home or learn in other yeshivos. “Till today, I can still envision the cries and wails of those talmidim who were not accepted,
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The Rebbe told him that at that moment, he felt piercing pains all around, but compared to what he had felt previously, his condition was much better. Then the Chassid submitted the panim that the Chassidim had given him for the Rebbe. The Rebbe took one of them, looked at it, and set it aside without saying a word. Then he took the next one, read it, and said that this Chassid should immediately set out for Crimea where people went when their lungs were weak. When R’ Yitzchok returned to Nevel, he discovered that the author of the first pidyon nefesh had died within a few days, while the other man had received the Rebbe’s answer and had done as he said. He did better for a while, but then, since he was quite sick, he also did not live long.
they wanted. They introduced themselves and said they wanted to see the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He asked them to wait and said he would inform the Rebbe of their coming. After a few minutes he emerged and said that the Rebbe asked them to wait a little. The journalists mentioned this in their articles and also described the Rebbe’s apartment as having three large spacious rooms etc. After waiting a while, the inner door opened and the Rebbe invited them in. Afterward, they recounted in their articles that they saw an amazing man, well dressed, whose eyes exuded wisdom etc. The Rebbe asked them to sit down and they introduced themselves and stated the purpose of their visit. The Rebbe did not speak much with them, as they described, but presented his views in general
I married, there was a refugee from the Slonimer Chassidim there. He told me that in the winter of 5670, the Rebbe Rashab attended a conference of rabbanim in Petersburg. The Rebbe, who was one of the central pillars of the conference, put much effort into it. Prior to the conference he traveled to a preparatory meeting. The Rebbe spent Shabbos in Baranowitz together with his son, later to be the Rebbe Rayatz. The wealthy Chassid R’ Shmuel Gurary was with them. They stayed in a local inn and attended the davening at the shul of the Slonimer Chassidim. The Slonimer Chassidim did not know who the guests were, but could tell from their refined appearance that they were distinguished men. When they wanted to call the Rebbe Rashab up to the Torah, they asked his
THE REBBE RECEIVED JOURNALISTS
At the famous conference of rabbanim that took place in 5670 in Petersburg, the Rebbe Rashab and Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik of Brisk stayed in the same hotel. Since they were both there, writers and reporters convened there from the Yiddish press Haint, Fraint, and Moment. First, they went to see R’ Chaim and asked him about his views and what had developed over the course of the conference, but his brief response was that he knew the news from what it said in Haint. That was his way of telling them that he wasn’t interested in talking to them. Then they went to the Rebbe’s room where one of those close to the Rebbe’s household received them (I think it was the Chassid, R’ Moshe Rosenblum, editor of HaAch) and asked them what
“I am father’s son, his Chassid, and his servant. I am my father’s servant until the coming of Moshiach.”
and mainly regarding that which pertained to the conference of the rabbanim. The Rebbe added and stressed that he would not budge from the laws and attitudes of our holy Torah and from the path of our ancestors and the Rebbeim, not even an iota. The journalists and writers chose to present these two tzaddikim because they were considered by one and all as the “life spirit” of the conference.
HONORING TORAH SAGES
When I lived in Homil after
name and the Rebbe said his name, ben HaRav Rebbi Shmuel. During the third Shabbos meal, the Rebbe sat with the Slonimer Chassidim and asked them to say a D’var Torah from their Rebbe. The Chassidim said that it wasn’t their custom to say Divrei Torah at this time. They just sang niggunim in honor of the Shabbos. The Rebbe pleaded with them and they agreed to say a D’var Torah from their Rebbe. Sunday morning, the Slonimer Chassidim found out that R’ Chaim of Brisk would be passing through on his way to the conference of rabbanim,
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and would spend some time at the train station. So the Jews of the city, including the Slonimer Chassidim, went to the train station where they saw, to their surprise, R’ Chaim Brisker walking with the Rebbe Rashab. That is when they realized that their Shabbos guest was none other than the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Chassid concluded his story and said: When they had to board the train, R’ Chaim honored the Rebbe and said he should go up first, while the Rebbe honored R’ Chaim and asked him to go first. They ended up embracing and going in together. as he saw the guests, he realized that they weren’t ordinary people. He asked them where they wanted to go and they asked him to take them to the local inn. The wagon driver realized this was a rare opportunity and he invited them to stay in his house, saying it was large and had a clean, spacious room for guests. The Rebbe and his son did not accept the invitation and asked him to take them to the local inn. Before saying goodbye, the wagon driver said at least could they come to him on Shabbos morning to have a hot drink. He said he had a cow. He even showed them that his house wasn’t far from the inn. The Rebbe and his son paid him generously and went into the inn. Shabbos morning, the Rebbe said to his son they had to go to the wagon driver’s house for a hot drink as they had been requested. Upon arriving there, they found him reciting T’hillim out loud and sweetly. When he saw his distinguished guests, he rejoiced and welcomed them. He served them coffee with milk that had been cooked and was on the stove all night and had become a bit red. There was nobody happier than he, as he hosted these important guests, even though he did not know their identity. After they drank, the Rebbe and his son continued to the local shul. The worshipers saw that they were not the typical businessmen who stayed with them on occasion, but nobody knew who they were. When they had an aliya to the Torah, they pledged generously. Nobody dared to ask them who they were except for their names by which they were called to the Torah. The guests went back to shul for Mincha. The shamash (sexton), who was used to guests leaving right after Shabbos, went to them after Maariv in order to collect the money they had pledged in the morning when they had their aliyos. At just that moment, someone from a nearby town, who regularly went to Lubavitch, arrived at the inn. When he saw the guests, he immediately recognized the Rebbe and said excitedly to the innkeeper and the other guests who were there, “That is the Lubavitcher Rebbe and his son!” The announcement generated great excitement and the news spread rapidly in Baranowitz. Many went to the inn and asked the Rebbe to pardon them for not honoring him as befit his station. They asked him to stay with them for at least one more day and promised to donate nice sums toward Tomchei T’mimim, but the Rebbe said he could not stay. When the train came, he and his son returned to Lubavitch. “You see,” said the man who told the story, “that Hashem fulfills the will of those who fear him. Since the Rebbe did not want people to know who he was, they did not know all Shabbos and only found out shortly before he left.”
HE FULFILLS THE WILL OF THOSE WHO FEAR HIM
The previous story is also told in a slightly different version: When the Rebbe Rashab and his son returned from the preparatory meeting in Vilna, they spent Shabbos in Baranowitz which wasn’t a particularly large town. When they arrived at the train station in Baranowitz, it was late Thursday night. Outside, there were some wagon drivers, some of whom were Jewish, who waited to take passengers from the train station to the town. The Rebbe and his son chose a simple wagon, for they did not want to ride in an upholstered wagon out of concern for shatnez in the seats. The wagon driver was a simple, G-d fearing Jew. As soon
TO BRING MOSHIACH NOW!
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ADD IN ACTS OF GOODNESS & KINDNESS
THE COSMIC MARRIAGE
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
THE PROTOTYPICAL MARRIAGE
The marriage between Yitzchak and Rivka recounted in this week’s parsha is the first Jewish marriage mentioned in the Torah. It is seen as the prototype of all subsequent marriages, including the cosmic marriage between G-d and the Jewish people that occurred at Sinai. Commentators raise a question about the legality of both marriages: When Yitzchak married Rivka, he did so by way of a proxy. Abraham dispatched his trusted servant Eliezer to serve as Yitzchak’s agent to betroth Rivka to his son. According to the Midrash, when Eliezer gave Rivka jewelry it was not just a gift but was in lieu of the wedding ring that we currently use to execute a legal marriage. Yitzchak was thus married to Rivka without even showing up at his own wedding! Jewish law allows for the possibility of executing a marriage by way of proxy. However, it forbids this manner of marriage except in dire circumstances. The main reason for this objection is that there is the danger that a man might find something unappealing and repugnant about his wife (or vice versa).
Based on this legal premise, a question has been raised: How could Abraham—whom our Sages state anticipated the commandments of the Torah and observed them—violate the law that forbade his son from marrying a woman without seeing her first? Why did he send his servant to execute the marriage by proxy?
A SIMILAR QUESTION
We can find the answer to this question by referring to a similar question about the giving of Torah, which, as mentioned above, represented the marriage of G-d to His bride, the Jewish people. Here too, commentators ask, how could G-d have initiated this marriage by way of Moshe, who served as His proxy to give the Torah to the Jewish people? To better understand the question, we must first observe that G-d, who is all-seeing, certainly was well acquainted with the Jewish people before He gave them the Torah. The commentators’ question is premised on the idea that the methods G-d used to bring about His marriage with the Jewish people should parallel the way we are to enter into a marriage with each other. G-d shows us, by example, how we are to conduct
ourselves in similar situations. Hence, if G-d used a proxy to marry His people, it would suggest that there is nothing wrong with that approach. And, conversely, it may be argued, just as we do not tolerate marrying sight-unseen by way of a proxy, so too it is to be expected that G-d’s marriage to us should not have occurred through a proxy. The answer to this question sheds light on how Eliezer could have served as a proxy for Yitzchak’s marriage to Rivka.
As stated, the rationale for the law that forbids marrying without first seeing the bride is the concern that the husband might find his wife repugnant and cause him to be repulsed by her. The mere possibility of this occurring renders marriage by proxy a fundamentally flawed method of marriage. To explain: a marriage is not merely a contract between two parties. Besides all the legalities that a marriage involves— financial support, etc.—it is the act by which two half souls commit themselves to one another unconditionally, in ways that transcend logic and reason. Marriage is not a quid-pro-quo contractual relationship. One’s motive for
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marriage is not restricted to his or her appreciation for the other’s talents and virtues. In marriage one accepts the totality of the other, not just the specific qualities that the other brings to the relationship. Nevertheless, a marriage cannot take place without courtship, at which time one is exposed to the other’s talents, virtues and qualities. One chooses a mate based on the things about the other that he or she finds appealing. More specifically, one looks for compatibility. However, one should view the effort of finding the person who both possesses these virtues and is compatible as just the removal of the hurdles that one must go over before finding his or her bashert; in other words, his or her other half. In addition, as we are limited human beings, we would find a fundamental flaw in the union. Their bond must transcend their respective superficial flaws. For that to happen, initially there must be a sense of compatibility.
THE MOUNTAIN OF UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
Our Sages state that G-d lifted Mount Sinai over our heads and threatened to drop it on us if we refused to take the Torah. Chassidic thought explains that this was not coercion in the classical sense of the word. Rather it means that G-d enveloped us with so much love that we cannot ever sever our relationship with Him, just as He promised never to sever His relationship with us. That hovering mountain of love defines our marriage with G-d. When a person enters into a relationship which is so fundamentally strong that nothing can tear it asunder, there is no danger that one spouse will find the other repulsive.
A MARRIAGE THAT LASTS FOREVER
When G-d married us at Sinai, He embraced us unconditionally. His connection to us transcends the specific expressions of loyalty and devotion that we made to Him. Unlike humans in their relationships, no matter how far a Jew strays from G-d, He will never truly despise us and find us contemptuous. This notion can be found in numerous verses in the Torah. One instance where this is enunciated is in the very section of the Torah where G-d expresses His displeasure with our iniquitous behavior and threatens us with severe retribution for our errant ways.
G-d enveloped us with so much love that we How does one know that a cannot ever sever our relationship with Him, just marriage will last and never lose its original ardor? When G-d as He promised never to sever His relationship with us.
A MARRIAGE THAT WAS MADE IN HEAVEN FOR ALL TO SEE
marriage hard to accept if our only connection with the other was a soul-connection while on all other levels a couple is incompatible. A marriage is about connecting to the other on all levels, from the most spiritual to the external and physical. To connect on the highest and deepest level, one must be able to connect on the lower and external levels as well. One is a stepping stone to the other. If, from the outset, one’s marriage has the potential to deteriorate because the husband will eventually find his wife unappealing, this points to a
Even so, by the end of that section (VaYikra 26:44) G-d continues: “But despite all this (above-mentioned punishment), while they are in their enemies’ land, I will not despise them and become disgusted with them to annihilate them, breaking My covenant with them.” In other words, the covenant that G-d made with us can never be severed. G-d did not have to “see” us prior to the marriage because that preliminary step was not necessary for G-d since He will never abandon us no matter what.
Himself arranges that marriage. While all marriages are made in heaven, we usually only can see that in retrospect. When, however, we can see G-d’s hand in a marriage at the very outset, demonstrating that the bond between the couple is a sacred one blessed by G-d Himself, we can then know with confidence that the relationship is an expression of divine connectivity. Where do we find such a marriage? Such is the marriage of Yitzchak to Rivka. There, the hand of G-d was clearly visible at every step of the way. As recounted in this week’s parsha, the fortuitous and miraculous way Eliezer found Rivka prompted even her wicked brother and father to exclaim:
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“This thing has come from G-d! We cannot refuse you…” In the Midrashic account of these events, many more miracles are cited in connection with Eliezer’s journey and discovery of Rivka. There was no question but that G-d orchestrated these events to make this prototypical marriage take place. In light of G-d’s blessings, it was evident that nothing could undermine this marriage.
THE FINAL STAGE OF THE MARRIAGE
As mentioned, this ideal marriage was the forerunner of and paradigm for the marriage between G-d and Israel at Mount Sinai. The giving of the Torah is likened to a marriage because, like a marriage, the objective of Torah is to create a union: between G-d and the Jewish people, the physical and the spiritual, the body and soul, and the union of all of the world’s inhabitants to serve G-d as one. This marriage will not be complete until the coming of Moshiach and our final Redemption from exile. Marriage, according to Jewish
law, is comprised of two stages: The first is Kiddushin, which is often translated as betrothal. The second stage, Nisu’in, is the ceremony that takes place under the chuppa-the wedding canopy, after which the marriage may be consummated. As Rashi notes, in ancient times, there was a ten or twelve month period between the betrothal and the final stage of the marriage. During that period, the bride remains with her family and spends her time making all the preparations for the wedding. The marriage between G-d and Israel that occurred at Sinai describes the Kiddushin stage of our deep relationship. The giving of the Torah at Sinai was akin to the giving of the ring at a wedding. That event connects us to our spouse but does not represent the ultimate union. The final stage of the marriage between G-d and the Jewish people, and all the ensuing forms of unity that our marriage will generate, will
take place imminently with the coming of Moshiach and the final Redemption. As long as we are in exile, we might erroneously think that our marriage with G-d might have become strained and compromised. With the imminent arrival of Redemption, this misconception will be corrected for all time. We will see how G-d’s relationship with us transcends all considerations. As the Rebbe declared on many occasions: “No Jew will be left behind!” It will become demonstrably clear that even during our long exile G-d’s love for us was and continues to be unconditional.
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A FIERY CHASSID FROM TZFAS IN FRIGID CANADA
Rabbi Yeshaya Horowitz served as rav of the Chabad community in Tzfas for fifteen years and then thirty years as the rabbi of Winnipeg and western Canada. He was a rav and Chassid, a gaon and mekushar, a model of a Chassidic rav.
By Shneur Zalman Berger
s soon as the Shloshim after the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz were over, on 13 Adar 5710 R’ Horowitz wrote a letter to the Rebbe in which he asked him to accept the nesius. The Rebbe refused to listen to requests of this kind at that time and wrote him, “…I was shocked when I read it, demanding of me matters that were not given to me and I do not have within me, not them and not of their sort. My claim is not against his Torah honor, as he is not someone I know face-to-face,
but he certainly should have done prior research and inquiry, since this is an issue of life-and-death laws. And Hashem should merit us to connect with the tree of life in truth...” *** R’ Yeshaya Horowitz (18831978) was one of the great Chabad rabbanim who served as a rav for forty-five years. He came from a pedigreed Chabad family. On his father’s side, his grandfather’s uncle was the Tzemach Tzedek. On
his mother’s side he was a descendent of R’ Yisroel Yaffe, a Chassid of the Alter Rebbe. He was appointed as the rav of the Chabad community in Tzfas when he was 25. A year later, he was appointed as a Dayan on the beis din of R’ Yaakov Dovid ben Zev Vilosky (RiDBaZ), who was a genius in his generation and the author of a commentary on Talmud Yerushalmi. He was famous as a judge of truth who helped and did so much for the community.
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From right to left: A member of the Badatz Eidah HaChareidis, R’ Zev Mintzberg, R’ Yeshaya Horowitz, his grandson R’ Shabsi Horowitz
After fifteen years as rav in Tzfas, he immigrated to Canada where he was appointed as rav of Winnipeg and western Canada. He filled this role for thirty years, in the course of which he did all he could to bolster Judaism; he fought for kashrus and Shabbos, ensured there were kosher mikvaos, and made many trips to distant cities and places in order to strengthen the Jews who lived there. He also wrote s’farim that demonstrate his outstanding scholarship in all areas of Torah, Halacha, Drush, and P’nimius HaTorah. As a Chassid, he studied Chassidus and even composed a commentary to Tanya. His davening and Avodas Hashem were renowned, and he was among the first Chassidim to ask the Rebbe to accept the nesius. *** R’ Yeshaya Horowitz was born in Elul 5643/1883 in Tzfas. His father was R’ Asher
The Rebbe said to him: You should know that it occurred to me while davening the bracha of Ata Chonein that you should … marry the daughter of my sister and then you will have children. And so it was … he married the Tzemach Tzedek’s niece. The Tzemach Tzedek then said a maamer, “Rani Akara” and she gave birth to five sons.
Yechezkel, a descendent of the Tzemach Tzedek’s family and Admurim of Karlin, Chernobyl and Amdur. He was also an eleventh generation descendent of the Sh’la HaKadosh and bore his name (Yeshaya). R’ Horowitz was an unusual personality. In his youth, his lofty traits were already apparent. He was diligent in his learning and worked on his middos. He learned day and night and would write for himself rules of conduct as to how to conduct himself in his avodas Hashem.
He learned a lot of the classic Musar works. He was fluent in Reishis Chochma and Chovos HaLevavos as well as the Sh’la (Shnei Luchos HaBris). Between Mincha and Maariv he would learn Mishnayos and review them by heart. He knew five orders of the Mishna by heart (in his senior years, he also learned Taharos by heart). In his youth, his father was sent abroad by the Chabad community in Tzfas. When he returned home, he found that his son had become proficient
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In 5669 they wanted to appoint him as a member of the beis din in Tzfas. He had already received smicha from the Chacham Bashi in Yerushalayim, R’ Nachman Batito, and the Chacham Bashi in Istanbul, R’ Chaim Nachum. In the Ridbaz’s approbation to R’ Horowitz’s book he wrote, “ … He is already a rav for the Chabad flock here [in Tzfas] the holy city, may it be rebuilt, and he learns Torah day and night … for this rav is truly incomparable in our time in Torah and yira throughout the Galil.” His conduct as the rav of the Chabad community and as dayan was outstanding, as his son described in his book, “My father conducted himself with righteousness, integrity and truth and fulfilled ‘you shall not fear any man,’ and was moser nefesh to judge honestly; he was extremely careful about touching another person’s money and his yes was just, and his no was just, and he kept far away from flattery, lies, and honor-seeking.” World War I began in 5674, as a result of which there was a terrible famine in Eretz Yisroel. At the beginning of the war, his financial state was fine. He had bought sacks of sugar for a lot of money at the beginning of the war, knowing that the price would go up. He hid the sugar in the home of friends, but the Turkish government, which ruled Palestine at the time, searched for sugar among the citizens. So he had to sell the sugar bit by bit. When the sugar had all been sold, the Horowitz family began to feel the hunger pangs. R’ Shmuel describes it, “We suffered terribly from hunger, our skin shriveled on our bones and was like wood. The bit of bread was made out of cornmeal which is feed for chickens, and it wasn’t
SPECIAL CONNECTION TO HOLY SITES
R’ Horowitz had a special feeling toward the graves of tzaddikim. Throughout the years that he lived in Tzfas, during the summer he would live in Miron with his son Shmuel, where they rented a room in an old age home in the village of Miron. Every day, he would take his son to the gravesite of R’ Shimon bar Yochai where they learned and davened. He would also go on special dates in the calendar like Erev Rosh Chodesh, Lag B’Omer, the month of Elul, etc. He also had a special feeling for the gravesite of the Arizal, as his son Shmuel relates: “It was my father’s custom as far back as I can remember that we would all go on 5 Av to daven at dawn in the Arizal’s shul. We had a regular spot and we would daven there with energy and enthusiasm as we would on a Yom Tov. Then we would go to the holy resting place and my father would say a lot of T’hillim with enthusiasm and great inspiration. We would tarry there until nearly midday.” In 5716 he authored a work Eden MiTziyon about the holy sites in the Holy Land. in Shas and poskim and was crowned with good manners and Yiras Shamayim. However, he was unfamiliar with Chassidus. His father convinced him to learn Chabad Chassidus and he became knowledgeable in this too. His son, R’ Shmuel, related in his book Yemei Shmuel that his father knew Tanya by heart and wrote a commentary on it which is still in manuscript form. He learned by R’ Dov Ziman of Warsaw, the student of the Avnei Nezer, and in the yeshiva of the Ridbaz and the yeshiva known as Beis Chasam Sofer in Tzfas. He received smicha in 5663 from R’ Dov Ziman. His father married him off to Faiga, the daughter of R’ Yitzchok Leberbaum. In 5664, his father wanted to open a Chabad Yeshiva in Tzfas and appoint his son as the rosh yeshiva, but this plan did not work out due to lack of funding. R’ Yeshaya’s son Shmuel was born in Shevat 5665. As a little boy, Shmuel suffered from a severe stomach ailment and his father made many vows on his behalf. His son tells about one of these vows, “One vow was not to stop to converse while learning. He had a piece of paper on which he wrote that he asked the person speaking to him not to interrupt his learning. He would show the note to whomever came to talk to him while he learned, and he held to this stipulation until, thank G-d, I was healed.” He was particular about his son washing his hands as soon as he got up and that his head should be covered while he slept, from a young age. He told his son, “The Tzemach Tzedek would always thank his nursemaid for supervising him and making sure he did not go about with an uncovered head at all, and for washing his hands when he was little. This caused him to have Yiras Shamayim, because these things sanctify a person from when he is little.” R’ Yeshaya began serving as rav in Tzfas in 5668/1908 and he would discuss legal issues with the great rabbanim of Tzfas.
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well baked and it destroyed our insides. People died every day, entire families, from the plague of typhus and starvation.” Salvation came from the fact that R’ Horowitz was a Russian citizen (apparently because his father was Russian born). In those days of starvation, English and Russian citizens who went to the British and English consulates in Lebanon received support from them. R’ Yeshaya went to Beirut for this purpose. When he was away from home, his children prayed that he return swiftly and in peace. The unique chinuch he gave them caused them to behave in a unique fashion. Shmuel, who was only ten years old, decided to recite Tikkun Chatzos. “I woke up at midnight and woke up my two younger brothers and we did Tikkun Chatzos near the door post, sitting on the ground with ashes on our head. We said the Tikkun Chatzos and Tikkun HaNefesh and other requests. Then we learned until the morning and went to daven vasikin … A short while later, he returned home with a promise for a bit of support for some time.” The war was at its height and every able-bodied male was sent to fight, and only rabbis were exempt. However, on the city council of Tzfas there were unscrupulous people who tried to convince the Turkish governor to order the rabbis to give large sums of money to the council and the governor in exchange for the exemption from the draft. The rabbis asked R’ Horowitz what to do. He turned to R’ Alfrandi who had up until recently been the Chacham Bashi of Tzfas, and was fired because of the chicanery of the council and the governor. He said not to give them a penny. R’ Horowitz repeated R’ Alfrandi’s
R’ Shmuel Horowitz
In the meantime, his fellow rabbis who were arrested obtained sums of money which they gave the governor. The governor decided that all the rabbis should go to Akko in order to renew their rabbinic certificates. However, the trip entailed danger and great fear, lest they encounter a military company who would draft them on the spot. R’ Horowitz’s friends came to his rescue again and made sure that the governor would forgo his trip to Akko. However, R’ Horowitz said he would not separate from his fellow rabbis. Despite his family’s importuning, he went to Akko. His brother Berel joined him. Berel’s resourcefulness was a
At the age of 73, the Rebbe blessed him with long life. This bracha was fulfilled and R’ Yeshaya Horowitz passed away at the age of 94.
answer and they listened. Members of the council, who realized that their plot was foiled because of R’ Horowitz, were furious. They told the governor, “As long as R’ Horowitz sits at home in peace, you won’t see any money.” The governor decided to arrest all the rabbanim of Tzfas. When they went to arrest R’ Horowitz, he was davening in shul. The mukhtar and two soldiers waited for him outside the shul. When he finished davening, he was arrested and taken to jail. It was only after the intervention of friends and his brother Berel, who was a famous pharmacist and was wellconnected, that they decided to transfer him to the police station where the conditions were better. During his stay there, he learned Mishnayos by heart.
help to them when a legion of soldiers in Akko caught the rabbis and wanted to enlist them. He managed to convince them to release the rabbis. The rabbis returned home before Pesach to the joy of their families and all the Jews of Tzfas. The Horowitz family continued to suffer from starvation until they were forced to sell their belongings. R’ Horowitz had to travel to Halab in Syria in order to raise money from the Jews who lived there. He suffered a great deal in Halab until he returned home in the winter of 5678, in time for his son Shmuel’s hanachas t’fillin. Due to events in World War I, the Jews of Yaffo/Jaffa were expelled by the Turkish
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law and another eight members of the extended family died of starvation and disease. The situation improved somewhat by the end of World War I. A new governor was elected and the city council of Tzfas was changed. The latter dealt more fairly with the rabbanim and the talmidim of the yeshivos. R’ Horowitz took the opportunity to improve the level of Judaism in the city. He made sure they served kosher food in Hadassah hospital and the orphanage and personally put up mezuzos at the hospital. With great effort, he also enacted an important rule, as his son Shmuel related: “In Hadassah at that time, they did not allow a mohel to circumcise the babies. Only a surgeon who couldn’t even speak a Jewish word was permitted to perform brissin. He would circumcise all the babies without wearing a yarmulke and without a bracha. My father expended much effort to convince the head of the city council that the doctor should no longer circumcise the babies and that the mohel be the great Chassid R’ Naftali Chanalis. R’ Naftali was a clean and organized person as well as a big expert who had already circumcised thousands of babies (for they certainly wouldn’t allow an inexperienced mohel to enter Hadassah).” R’ Horowitz’s father passed away on 24 Elul 5680/1920 and the administration of the Kollel Chabad fund was transferred to him, although not for long, since parnasa was constrained due to the cessation of wages to the rabbanim. R’ Horowitz, who wanted to provide for his family, had to leave Tzfas to which he felt particularly attached. After Purim 5682 he boarded
R’ Asher Yechezkel Horowitz, one of the Chabad Chassidim in Tzfas, traveled abroad on behalf of the Chabad community on a number of occasions. On one of these trips, a miracle occurred, as his grandson R’ Shmuel recounted: I will tell you a miracle that I heard happened to my grandfather in Russia when he traveled from a big city by train which had many cars. He was sitting in one of the first cars and someone came and chased him out and he went to another car. There too, the man chased him away. He had to go to a car further back and the man went there too and chased him away. This happened again and again until he went to the last car from where he was not chased. As the train continued to travel it collided with another train coming in the opposite direction and the train was demolished and all the people sitting in the front cars were killed. My grandfather, who was in the last car, was not killed; he merely fell from the train and was saved. Who knows who that man was who chased him over and over in order to save him.
DEVOUT SERVANT OF G-D
T’filla, saying T’hillim, brachos before eating – R’ Horowitz said it all with a special enthusiasm. His longest t’filla was the night of Rosh HaShana, as his son Shmuel relates: “My father spent hours on the Shmoneh Esrei of the first day of Rosh HaShana with sweetness and chayus until the other worshipers had already finished davening and went home to eat their meal. They returned after the meal to say ‘shana tova’ to my father and my father would still be standing and davening Shmoneh Esrei. “In general, my father’s avoda was with sweetness and chayus. His face was always red after he davened and his Yiras Shamayim was apparent on his face. He said the brachos before reading the Megilla with great inspiration like the brachos of the blowing of the shofar. During Elul he would recite Zohar with unimaginable inspiration and chayus.” His son goes on to describe his father’s Avodas Hashem, according to the seasons of the year, which stood out in its chayus and Chassidic enthusiasm. He concludes, “It is impossible to tell all aspects of his Avodas Hashem and Yiras Shamayim.” government. Some of them settled in Tzfas and R’ Yeshaya was appointed as their rav. For Pesach 5678 the rabbanim of Tzfas wanted to permit kitniyos and to allow the purging of metalplated vessels which are not usually purged for Pesach. This was because of the starvation and privation in the country. Distinguished leaders from Yaffo tried to convince R’ Horowitz to go along with these leniencies, but he remained firm in this case and in all other cases where there was a possible stumbling-block in the observance of halacha. His family was hard hit by the starvation and diseases during the war. His mother, mother-in-
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a ship for Canada. He went through much travail on this trip. His family, who remained in Eretz Yisroel, worried about him when they did not hear anything from him after much time had elapsed. It was only before Pesach that they received a telegram from him in which he said he arrived safely in Canada. A short time later, they received a ten page letter in which he described what he went through on the voyage. His son Shmuel related, “There was a storm and the ship filled with water. The captain and the sailors had already despaired and the passengers were all sick in their beds. This went on for an entire week. “On Friday, my father slept and his father came to him in a dream and said, ‘Why are you sleeping? Get up and call out to your G-d,’ and he woke up. He began to say all of T’hillim, verse by verse, in tears, and then he fell asleep again and saw his father and mother in a dream. Hashem helped and the storm died down, but instead of heading toward
Top: A letter that R’ Yeshaya Horowitz wrote to the Rebbe in which the Rebbe’s response is written on the bottom. Bottom: R’ Yeshaya Horowitz in the center
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boat. The captain was unable to steer the boat in a different direction. Hashem performed a great miracle and just when the iceberg was close to the boat, it veered slightly and the boat was saved.” When he arrived in Canada, he settled in Winnipeg where he was appointed the chief rabbi. Since the state of Judaism in western Canada was dismal, he was also appointed rav of western Canada. He served as chief rabbi of Winnipeg and western Canada for over thirty years (19221953). All those years he worked tirelessly to strengthen Judaism in all ways. The Rebbe’s shliach to Winnipeg, R’ Avrohom Altein, tells of R’ Horowitz’s wideranging work: “I arrived here many years after R’ Horowitz left Canada, but I heard a lot about him from the Jews here. He was very tough when it came to kashrus and he fought rabbanim who gave a hechsher for pay without supervising the kashrus at all. He traveled to cities around Winnipeg as well as cities in western Canada and strengthened Judaism there, according to the state of the community. “The Chabad shul in our city was founded by people who were children and grandchildren of Chabad Chassidim. When he came to the city, he fortified them spiritually. I benefited thereby. When I came here, about twenty years after he left, there were no Lubavitcher Chassidim here, but many practices in the Chabad shul remained, thanks to him, like nusach Ari, farbrengens on Shabbos and special days, etc.” R’ Horowitz was an outstanding orator and on his trips to Canadian cities he delivered sermons, some of which
R’ Yeshaya Horowitz wrote of his family lineage which could be traced back to the sister of the Tzemach Tzedek: My father’s father’s name was Yeshaya, and he lived in Beshenkowitz in the Vitebsk district. He was very wealthy and was one of the great Chassidim and mekuravim of my great-uncle the Tzemach Tzedek. He was an old man and still had no children. One time, when he was sitting in the beis midrash of the Tzemach Tzedek and reviewing Chassidus together with his friends, a shliach from the Rebbe called him over to the Rebbe. The Rebbe said to him: You should know that it occurred to me while davening the bracha of Ata Chonein that you should divorce your wife and marry the daughter of my sister (Devora, who was a sister of the Tzemach Tzedek’s through his father), my Beilka (that is how the Tzemach Tzedek called her because she was orphaned as a girl and he raised her like a daughter) and then you will have children. And so it was that based on what the Rebbe said his wife agreed to a divorce, and he gave her half of his wealth and he married the Tzemach Tzedek’s niece (I don’t remember whether she was widowed or divorced). The Tzemach Tzedek said a maamer, “Rani Akara” and she gave birth to five sons. Shortly after the birth of the fifth son, he passed away on Erev Shabbos, 26 Adar I 5624 and was buried in the city where he lived. (The son of R’ Yeshaya, my grandfather R’ Asher Yechezkel, heard this story from the mashpia R’ Yechezkel Yanover who was in the beis midrash when the Tzemach Tzedek called for him). My grandmother Beila, continued R’ Yeshaya Horowitz in his book, who was widowed with five children, returned to her uncle the Tzemach Tzedek’s house and spent some time there. Then it was decided to send her to Eretz Yisroel and there was an exchange of letters with the holy Rabbi Aharon of Chernobyl and the holy Rabbi Aharon of Karlin (who were her relatives) and with other tzaddikim who were her relatives. They all committed to supporting the family’s settling in Eretz Yisroel. Upon arriving in Eretz Yisroel, they settled in Tzfas; all the great personages of the city respected them greatly for their holy lineage. R’ Yeshaya (the grandson), in his Eden MiTziyon, states his lineage in all its branches as well as the lineage of the father of the Tzemach Tzedek, R’ Sholom Shachna, who was the grandfather of R’ Yeshaya’s grandmother. He writes that the father of the Tzemach Tzedek was related to the author of the Metzudas Dovid and Metzudas Tziyon and he is descended from Dovid HaMelech. This is how Chassidim learned that the Rebbe MH”M, who is related to the Tzemach Tzedek, son after son, is also descended from Dovid HaMelech, Moshiach ben Dovid. R’ Asher Yechezkel married Elka, the daughter of R’ Yisroel Dov Yaffa, one of the leaders of the Chabad community in Tzfas. His father-in-law committed to supporting him for a number of years, but he died of an illness on 27 Tishrei 5636. That is how R’ Asher Yechezkel became the head of the family and the leader of the Chabad community which began, at that time, to settle in Tzfas. their destination, they had gone in the opposite direction. “Then another danger loomed as an iceberg approached the
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he transcribed and published. In one of his Yom Kippur sermons in his city, he told the many worshipers that he prayed that every Shabbos would be like Yom Kippur, so that they would all close their stores and come to shul to daven. What Judaism was like in Canada in those days can be deduced from what he wrote in his book. “There are 20,000 Jews who have many institutions: shuls, a Talmud Torah, an orphanage, and mikvaos. In one of them, I was able to institute a double mikva (i.e. according to the Chabad practice of having the immersion pit on top of the rainwater pit) according to all the stringencies of the poskim z”l.” There were also mosdos Torah in his city, but he did not suffice with them. When he had yechidus with the Rebbe Rayatz, he said he wanted to found a Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in his city. The Rebbe agreed and asked the administration in Montreal to help with this. While in Canada, he published two of his books, Pardes Ha’Aretz (Halachic responsa, drushim in Halacha and Agada on Torah and holidays according to Chabad Chassidus, and more) and Yavo Shilo (Halachic responsa); it discusses the laws pertaining to the observance of Yom Tov Sheini for someone who lives in Eretz Yisroel who is visiting abroad, the history of the Jewish settlement in Tzfas, and a compilation of sermons that he delivered in shuls in Canada. This latter book received the approbations of great rabbanim. Our Rebbeim are often mentioned in his Halachic responsa and drushim. In 5704/1944, he began sending questions in learning and Halacha to the Rebbe MH”M, then known only as the son-in-
R’ Yeshaya Horowitz’s work, Yavo Shilo
law of the Previous Rebbe. One of the responses was four pages long and is printed in Igros Kodesh volume 1. Over the years, he corresponded a lot with the Rebbe on complicated and deep topics in learning: Mikvaos, Gittin, explanations in the Zohar, and many other subjects. When he sent his Pardes Ha’Aretz to the Rebbe, the Rebbe sent him a letter with comments and explanations on what he wrote. Among other things, the Rebbe wrote that his own father, R’ Levi Yitzchok, and his father’s brother, R’ Shmuel, were married to sisters; this seems to go against what R’ Yehuda HaChassid writes in his will. The Rebbe explained it thus: My father and uncle married two sisters as per the directive of the Rebbe Rashab and his instruction not to live in the same city. In this
book it mentions his earlier book Yavo Shilo, and the Rebbe wrote that he did not have it. That was in Elul 5709/1959, and by Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan we find a letter in which the Rebbe writes that he received the book and “many thanks for this precious gift.” R’ Horowitz wrote down many stories about the Rebbeim which were printed in Migdal Oz as a separate chapter. He returned to Eretz Yisroel in 5713 and the Rebbe urged him to continue his communal work since Hashem gave him the gift of the power of persuasion, especially in communal work in spreading the wellsprings. In his final years, he lived with one of his sons in Rechovos. His diligence in learning that began in his childhood continued until his last day. He learned Nigleh and Chassidus while overcoming all the difficulties and pain that were his lot in his final years. In 5716/1956, at the age of 73, the Rebbe blessed him with long life. This bracha was fulfilled and R’ Yeshaya Horowitz passed away on 22 Teves 5738/1978 at the age of 94. He was buried in the holy city of Tzfas.
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THE REBBE’S MIRACLE CHILD
I decided to tell her about the terrible experience I went through last year and my overall difficulty in having more children. “I want to have at least one more child,” I cried to her, “but I’m emotionally broken. I’ve lost all hope.” It was specifically my conversation with this Chabad woman, of all people, who herself was suffering from a terminal illness, that finally helped me to lift this heavy burden off my chest. She listened attentively and with great understanding, and then she said, “Have you written yet to the Lubavitcher Rebbe?”
By Nosson Avraham Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
ach year, the students of the Chabad vocational school in Kiryat Malachi gather for a Chassidic farbrengen, during which the counselors and special guests speak with the students about the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, and the great revolution taking place in the world. Most of the students come from non-Torah observant homes, and they have heard about these subjects at school on numerous occasions. However, there’s nothing like a warm and friendly Chassidic gathering to give such concepts a new
dimension that will accompany them all their lives. The school’s mashpia, Rabbi Avraham Tzadok, makes certain to invite a special guest each year to tell a stirring miracle story or to speak about a personal moment he experienced with the Rebbe. This time, the students were in for a big surprise. As they anxiously waited for the guest to enter, they saw to their amazement none other than their fellow student, Yaniv Yisroel Sukner, going up to the speaker’s rostrum. “I am a child of the Lubavitcher Rebbe,” he said at the opening of his remarks, as his
friends sat speechless. Last week, we heard the whole story from his mother, Mrs. Yoela Sukner, who lives today in Ashdod. “His birth was an absolute miracle, against all the laws of medicine,” she said at the start of the interview, as she revealed to us her fascinating and moving story.”
TO BE A PARENT
“I was born in Paris, the City of Lights, just a couple of years prior to the Six Day War. My parents’ home had no connection to Torah and mitzvos. Apart
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from the fact that I realized that I was different from my friends because I was Jewish, I knew and understood absolutely nothing about what being Jewish really meant. On the contrary, we tried to hide our origin and kept our distance from the Jewish community. “The only thing Jewish in our home upon which my parents placed a strong emphasis was the connection to Eretz Yisroel and the Zionist movement. My father never stopped talking about the need to help the Jewish homeland and his admiration for the pioneer spirit of its people. Therefore, it
came as no wonder that when I reached the age of sixteen, I left my parents’ home and the warm supportive environment of Paris, parted from my friends, and emigrated to Eretz Yisroel. Since I was raised in a very open home, the Youth Aliya organization sent me to a dormitory in Kibbutz HaZore’a. “During my stay in the dormitory, I met my husband, a new immigrant from the Soviet Union. In 5742, when I was only seventeen years old, we got married and established our place of residence in the city of Yavne. “From a very early age,
I already knew that bearing children would not come easily for me. I realized that I had certain medical restrictions that would cause me considerable distress on the way to fulfilling my dream of parenthood. However, I was determined to go through the entire lengthy process and I had my husband’s full support and consent. “Immediately after our wedding, we visited prominent doctors in virtually every hospital in Eretz Yisroel. Some expressed optimism, while others were very pessimistic. However, I remained firm and steadfast. Regrettably,
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as the years passed, my hope and confidence started to waver. As the saying goes, ‘the greater the expectations, the greater the disappointment.’ There were times when the doctors told me that I would soon have a child, but the pregnancy was never completed to term. “I felt as if I was on an emotional roller-coaster. One minute I was happy, filled with confidence and determination, and the next minute, I was sad and downtrodden. Today, as I look back, I don’t know what gave me the strength to confront this situation. Finally, after four years of continual treatments and examinations, I was sent to a specialist at a hospital in Yerushalayim. By Divine Providence, the first treatment was successful, and we were overjoyed to welcome our first son into the world.” years later, when my husband received French citizenship, he too found a regular job. When our son reached school age, I left my father’s store and took a position working at the reception desk of a prestigious Parisian hotel, a profession I had learned in my youth. As a result, our financial situation was relatively comfortable. “At a certain point, we decided that we wanted more children. We again began the process, which demanded a considerable amount of patience. This meant more visits to see doctors, more treatments and examinations, and lots and lots of paperwork. During this lengthy period, lasting several years, I was forced to leave my job and accept support from my parents. As my husband remained the sole income provider, our financial situation became somewhat difficult. Yet, our desire for another child was stronger than anything else. “Only someone who has been through this process knows the heavy physical and emotional toll it takes. After several years filled with ups and downs, the good news came to us once again. When I heard that I was pregnant again, all the years of suffering and anguish disappeared in a moment. I walked around with a huge smile on my face, feeling as happy as anyone possibly could. During the months that followed, I was placed under the watchful eyes of a team of highly trained specialists in the field of gynecology. Every check-up brought continued encouragement that everything was fine and totally normal. At the end of nine months, the time came for us to go to the hospital. “A few minutes after the birth, we were stunned when the head of the maternity ward came to us with some very unpleasant news. When the midwives realized that the child was in physical distress, they sent him for a battery of tests. The results gave a clear diagnosis: the child’s internal organs were not sufficiently developed and his life was in immediate danger. The doctor had difficulty explaining how the medical team hadn’t detected any problems during their routine examinations. “The news hit me like a clap of thunder on a clear day. Just moments before, I had been in a state of euphoria. We were thinking about a name, and we had even bought clothes and toys. Now, the doctor was telling us that the baby had a slim chance of survival. I was crushed and emotionally broken. In an instant, I had turned into a shell of my former self. Two days later, I was released from the hospital while the baby remained under medical observation, undergoing further tests and treatments. “In the beginning, I would visit him every day, until I realized that the situation was hopeless. Four months after his birth, the baby passed away, and I went into a state of intense depression and despair. I was angry at everyone. My friends and relatives were sincerely worried about my well-being, and I was eventually hospitalized in the mental health ward. I was inconsolable. Efforts by my husband and my parents to comfort and encourage me fell on deaf ears. The emotional pain and agony ran very deep, to the point that I stopped eating, drinking, and generally taking care of myself. We had taken a long and exhausting journey in the hope of having another child, and now all our dreams had been shattered.
MY PERSONAL TRAGEDY
“A year earlier, my parents had also emigrated to Eretz Yisroel. I was very happy to be reunited with them, but regrettably, it didn’t last long. Their integration into Israeli society didn’t go smoothly. As a result, they decided to go back to France. “I soon began to miss my parents and the familiar environment where I grew up. The sense of longing grew so intense that I felt that I had to join my parents back in France. My husband had already completed his military service, and he gladly agreed to make the move. Thus, we packed up our belongings, bundled up our infant son, and left Eretz Yisroel. “We returned to Paris without a cent in our pocket, and my father immediately put me to work at his clothing store. Two
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“During those moments, thoughts of doom and gloom raced through my mind. Ever since I was a young girl, I had wanted a large family. I have only one brother, and I was always jealous of those who were raised in a house full of siblings. Suddenly, I felt that my whole world was crumbling. Who knew if we would ever have another child?”
A BROKEN HEART SPEAKING TO A HEART FILLED WITH FAITH
“A year had passed since that tragic event. I had begun to recuperate, and I wanted to set a new path for myself. I felt that I needed to feel the pain of others in order to regain my own emotional strength. Thus, I found myself working as a nursing attendant. My employer had sent me to care for a woman suffering r”l from a terminal illness that confined her to bed, and she needed help with her children and with every detail of her life. “During the initial period, I worked for her on an employeremployee basis: she wrote down what I was supposed to do, and I carried out her instructions. However, as time passed, I developed a strong connection with this marvelous woman and her family. She was the first person to tell me about the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Chabad Chassidus. I learned from her about negel vasser in the morning, washing before eating, and the importance of davening. “I was especially fascinated that despite the considerable pain and suffering she endured, her faith was unshakable. I learned more and more concepts of Judaism each day. She taught
me simple things such as separating milk and meat, and keeping Shabbos and Yom tov. Every mitzvah was seasoned with pleasant explanations and interpretations. “One day, when I felt sufficiently close to her, I decided to take the opportunity to draw from her tremendous well of faith. I decided to tell her about the terrible experience I went through the prior year and my overall difficulty in having more children. ‘I want to have at least one more child,’ I cried to her, ‘but I’m emotionally broken. I’ve already lost all hope that this can possibly happen.’
impossible. I had not been raised on emunas tzaddikim. I told her quite honestly that I no longer believed in anyone. Besides, how could the Rebbe, sitting and learning Torah in New York, possibly help me with something that is obviously medical in nature? I was very pessimistic, but my friend encouraged me. She told me numerous miracle stories that took place due to the Rebbe’s holy blessings, and I eventually agreed to let her write a letter on my behalf in request of a bracha. “In the letter, she included my name and my parents’ names, detailing the painful experience I had recently endured, and
“Five months after our return to Eretz Yisroel, I began to feel strange sensations in my body. I went to the local health clinic for a check-up, and the doctor suggested that I do a blood test. Imagine how shocked and overcome I was when the doctor came in with the test results: I was going to have a baby. According to all the rules of medicine, this would have been possible only after a long period of artificial fertility treatments. The whole thing seemed so incredible that I asked to have another test done.”
asking that I should be blessed with at least one more child. She explained to me that even if I don’t receive a reply from the Rebbe, the very fact that I wrote and sent him the letter will produce the bracha.”
“It was specifically my conversation with this Chabad woman, of all people, who herself was suffering from a terminal illness, that finally helped me to lift this heavy burden off my chest. She listened attentively and with great understanding, and then she said, ‘Have you written yet to the Lubavitcher Rebbe?’ “While I had heard about the Rebbe (as there is no Jew in France who hasn’t), I was so far from the path of Torah that I considered this simply
A MIRACULOUS SURPRISE
“One morning, just three months later, as I came to her house as usual, I saw her face shining with an expression of sheer joy. “‘What happened?’ I asked
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excitedly. ‘Has there been an improvement in your condition?’ She told me to come in and said, ‘Yoela, go and wash your hands the way I taught you. You’ve just received a letter from the Rebbe.’ “I was thrilled. By this time, I already understood a little about the greatness of the Rebbe. As a result, I was somewhat moved by the fact that the Rebbe, the leader of the Jewish People, found the Rebbe’s words, I constantly made certain to keep my expectations in check. Since I had suffered disappointment so many times in the past, I was determined not to let it happen again. “Five months after our return to Eretz Yisroel, I began to feel strange sensations in my body. I went to the local health clinic for a check-up, and the doctor suggested that I do a blood test. this tremendous miracle, I still tried to suppress my feelings of anticipation after the anguish I had suffered following my last birth. I continued to work as usual, lifting and dragging heavy objects, eating whatever I wanted, and refusing to think about a name for the child as I had done in the past. “At the end of the ninth month, the time came for me to give birth. It was only when I heard the baby’s cry and the midwife telling me ‘Mazel tov’ that I let out a huge sigh of relief. I looked to the heavens and said, ‘Dear G-d, You have restored what You took from me. I love You, and from now on, I will do whatever You wish, whatever You command.’ “I vowed then and there that this child will learn only in institutions that teach their students according to Torah and mitzvos. At that moment, I felt a deep sense of love for the Rebbe, in whose merit alone my dream had been realized.” *** Mrs. Sukner said that many years had passed since she last told her moving story. “Every time I look at my son,” she declared, “I know that he belongs to the Lubavitcher Rebbe.” Her son is now studying in an official Chabad institution, and she feels that this represents a closing of the circle, as he had been born with the Rebbe’s bracha. “I am telling this story so that other women going through similar experiences will read it and realize that there’s hope,” she said in conclusion. “We must not abandon faith, and there is a proven method for those in search of personal salvation to receive the blessings of Alm-ghty G-d.”
Even more amazing was the fact that the test results showed that I was in my fifth month – five months after we had returned to Eretz Yisroel…
time to send me a reply. The Rebbe wrote that he had received my letter, and he would pray for me at the Tziyon of his father-inlaw, the Rebbe Rayatz. He then added that, in his opinion, we should return to Eretz Yisroel, and we would find our future there in a manner of ‘change your place, change your fortune’ with a bracha in all matters of good. “‘If I were in your place,’ my friend told me, ‘I’d get on a plane to Eretz Yisroel today.’ The reality of things was not as simple as that, and our eventual return took a little while longer. It was my husband who really surprised me. We were well organized financially, and I thought that he would reject the Rebbe’s proposal. In fact, he gave his wholehearted consent to the idea, and within just three months, we were on our way back to Eretz Yisroel. While we were leaving behind us a life of material plenty, I somehow felt that we had to do what the Rebbe had instructed, despite the fact that I was far from being one of his loyal disciples. “Although I had faith in the I was quite certain that there was something seriously wrong with the state of my health. Imagine how shocked and overcome I was when the doctor came in with the test results: I was going to have a baby. According to all the rules of medicine, this would have been possible only after a long period of artificial fertility treatments. The whole thing seemed so incredible that I asked to have another test done. “The doctors didn’t know how to explain this phenomenon, but apparently when a tzaddik decrees, Alm-ghty G-d carries it out. And so it was.” At this point, Mrs. Sukner burst into tears, as she relived those unforgettable moments. “When I recall those days as I look at my son standing before me now, I can’t help becoming very emotional. While the doctors called this a medical wonder, I knew well who was responsible for this miracle. Even more amazing was the fact that the test results showed that I was in my fifth month – five months after we had returned to Eretz Yisroel… “The truth is that despite
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THE HUMOR CORNER
“Before Rabba would start to teach his students, he would tell them a funny story.” – Shabbos 30b It was Friday afternoon. The Rabbi, passing by a fish eatery, stopped at the window, staring: The Shamash of the shul was gobbling a huge platter of fish, like a glutton. The Rabbi, most indignant, came inside and asked the Shamash, “What is the meaning of this gluttony?” “Oh, I’m sorry, Rabbi,” said the Shamash sheepishly. “It’s just that I really love fish…” “Not true!” said the Rabbi. “If you really loved the fish, then you would let the fish eat you. The fact of the matter is that you love yourself; therefore you eat the fish.”
FROM UNCLE SHOLOM’S SELF-HELP KIT:
BIKE SAFETY 101
Pay attention here, girls and boys – I’m gonna give you some very important bike safety tips. And parents, if you’re reading this, you are very well advised to stop reading this, and have your kids read it instead – because you don’t ride a bike; you drive, for some reason. (Pssst! It’s better for you to bike! You need the exercise, after all! And just think of all that gelt you’ll save on gas!) • Wear a helmet! If you don’t, and you fall off and hit your head, you’ll likely get a gargantuan headache; that won’t be too much fun. • Don’t zoom through an intersection when the light is red, or someone might shortstop to avoid you, and that someone might be me, and I might be drinking hot coffee, and spill it all over myself. • Don’t drink hot coffee while you bike, ‘cuz you might spill it all over yourself. Oh, wait – you’re probably a kid reading this, so you probably don’t drink coffee. Never mind. • Don’t drink hot chocolate while you bike, ‘cuz you might spill it all over yourself. • Don’t try to ride a bike with flat tires, or you might fall down. • Ring your bell to make sure people get out of your way. If you don’t have a bell, sing a niggun out loud as you bike! I just realized: I ought to bike myself, instead of driving. But actually not, cause I need to get to work on time.
ADVENTURES OF SOLLY THE SEIFER
Shalom U’v’racha! Lately I’ve been asked about my yarmulke – why do I wear a Sephardi-style yarmulke? Cause I’m Sephardi, of course. I have a good friend, Levi, who’s Ashkenazi, and we learn Chabad Chassidus together. Why? Because we’re Lubavitchers! We didn’t actually realize we
were Lubavitchers, at first, until we learned the Rebbe’s sicha of Chayei Sarah 5752; it was at the Shluchim Convention that year that the Rebbe revealed that all of Klal Yisroel are shluchim of the Nasi HaDor, the Rebbe MH”M! On my travels, I’m quick to inform Yidden who don’t realize they’re Lubavitchers, that, in fact, they are Lubavitchers. I was on an important topContinued on page 41
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By Yisroelik Fried
Get ready for a trip, soldiers in Tzivos Hashem. Prepare your fez, put on your djellaba (a long, loose, hooded piece of clothing with full sleeves), strap on your belts and onward! We are flying to Morocco this week! The kingdom of Morocco is in the northwestern part of the African continent, on the Mediterranean Sea. There is evidence that the Jewish settlement in Morocco began at the time of the destruction of the first Beis HaMikdash, when Jewish exiles went there. After the Expulsion from Spain too, many of the Jews who were expelled went to Morocco and settled there, increasing the Jewish population of that country. The Jewish population in Morocco grew until the Jewish
community became one of the largest and most important communities in the Diaspora. In 5710, shortly before his passing, the Rebbe Rayatz said, “There is a place where we need to make an impact. Go to the Jews of Morocco who need teachers and spread Torah among them. There is no difference among Jews whether they are Ashkenazim or Sephardim. We are all children of Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov, and we have one G-d in heaven and one Torah on earth.” This is how the spreading of Judaism and Chassidishe chinuch among the large Jewish communities of North Africa began. Just ten days after the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz, the Chassid, R’ Michoel Lipsker
left for Morocco on shlichus. It was after the Rebbe Rayatz’s passing but R’ Michoel had been told by the Rebbe Rayatz to go to Morocco. The purpose of his going was to check out the spiritual state of the Jews there and the state of the chinuch. About ten months later, in Cheshvan 5711, R’ Shlomo Matusof joined the work of shlichus in Morocco. R’ Shlomo was the first shliach to be sent by the Rebbe MH”M and this was before the Rebbe formally accepted the nesius in 5711. As soon as R’ Shlomo arrived in Morocco, he began to work with R’ Michoel. They worked very hard to develop and expand the Rebbe’s mosdos in Morocco. A few years later, in 5717, the Rebbe sent another shliach to
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Morocco, R’ Shlomo Edelman, who helped in the work of spreading Torah and Judaism. The Rebbe devoted his heart and strength to spreading Judaism and asked the shluchim to also devote themselves to the work of shlichus. The Rebbe wanted his father-inlaw, the Rebbe Rayatz’s wishes to be carried out and he greatly encouraged the shluchim in their difficult and vital work. Their efforts bore fruit and within a relatively short time, Chabad schools began to sprout in Morocco in which many children were educated. They started a Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim here and a girls’ school there; a shul here and a mikva there. That is how the shluchim’s influence began to be felt throughout Morocco. In 5719, R’ Yehuda Leib Raskin went on shlichus to Morocco, right after he married, and he settled in Casablanca. He was utterly devoted to the Jews of Morocco and he ran the Beis Rivka school in Casablanca. The lives of the shluchim and their families were not easy. Aside from the vast difference between the shluchim’s children and the local children, the anti-Semitic
surroundings forced them to spend most of their time at home. When the children reached bar/ bas mitzva, they flew to Crown Heights to study in schools there. The Chabad schools in Morocco are named Oholei Yosef Yitzchok for the Rebbe Rayatz. They include kollelim, battei midrash, yeshivos for young boys, schools for boys and girls, and a yeshiva for older boys. They have made an enormous spiritual difference in Morocco. Up until a few decades ago, there was a large Chabad yeshiva in Meknes where hundreds of talmidim studied Nigleh and Chassidus. The Beis Rivka and Beis Sarah schools for girls are in existence until today. Chabad mosdos increased over the years and could be found in nearly sixty villages. The main schools were in Casablanca and Meknes. The spiritual change in Morocco has
been tremendous. The Rebbe’s shluchim made all the difference to proper chinuch there. Many Chabad Chassidim, who live around the world today, are connected to the great light of the Rebbe thanks to the Chabad mosdos in Morocco.
don’t like Lubavitch!” “I’m still not convinced I’m a Well, I said, “Chas v’shalom! Lubavitcher,” he told me, “but secret mission in Japan last week; Jews are one family; surely you I’ve been looking all over... I ran into a clean-shaven Jew have Ahavas Yisroel for your there’s simply no other place to (with an Ashkenazi yarmulke!). fellow Jew. And besides, surprise! get kosher food!” He introduced himself as Mr. You’re a Lubavitcher yourself!” So you see, we’re all Steinberg. He was on business, Lubavitchers – and moreover, Well, he didn’t think so. and was looking for a place to we’re everywhere! Cheers for us Later that day, I stopped by get kosher food. I told him, “Go Lubavitchers! to the local Chabad House!” To the Chabad House for kosher B’suros Tovos, my surprise, he frowned, and food, and who arrived at the same time? Mr. Steinberg! Your Friend, Adi said, “No! I’m not going there. I
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Continued from page 39
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