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6 LIT UP .THAT . 14 Moshiach & Geula
28 Parsha Thought 38 Tzivos Hashem THE BUTTERFLY 40 Crossroads . 16
Menachem Ziegelboim and Arad Menachem . Mendel "? "
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EFFECT – A CHASSIDIC PERSPECTIVE
. . . THAT THE GREAT LIGHT . WAS EXTINGUISHED ON
Rabbi Heschel Greenberg ,
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RICH WITH RESOURCES TO BRING THE REDEMPTION
A glimmer of this Divine service is attainable by every Jew, and thus, it is obligatory to make the attempt. * The Rebbeim blazed a trail and provided us with the means to approach this lofty avoda. * Chapter 6 of Rabbi Shloma Majeski’s Likkutei Mekoros continues to illustrate how the histalkus of the Rebbe Rayatz marks the end of his life’s service in this world and the beginning of the Rebbe MH”M’s leadership, leading up to the true and complete redemption. (Bold text is the compiler’s emphasis.)
Translated and presented by Boruch Merkur
As we have discussed, the Divine service of Avrohom Avinu was focused on spreading monotheism. To that end, he did not deliberately seek out selfsacrifice, but if his holy work should require self-sacrifice, he was prepared for that too. In Basi L ’Gani of 5711, the Rebbe MH”M goes on to discuss, near the end of the maamer, the feeling of intimidation that approaching this lofty avoda may engender. But the very preciousness of our generation, the seventh generation (from the Alter Rebbe), is that we are equipped with the capacity to take on this great challenge. Our success in this mission culminates in the fulfillment of our destiny, the ultimate destiny of the entire world, to bring about the manifestation
of the very essence of G-d in the physical world, with the imminent Messianic redemption. *** Although [self-reflection in the face of the avoda of Avrohom Avinu gives rise to the feeling of unworthiness, recognizing that] who has the audacity to say, “I shall go and serve G-d with the avoda of Avrohom Avinu,” nevertheless a glimmer of this avoda is attainable by every single person, and thus, it is obligatory [to make the attempt]. Indeed, the capacity for this lofty avoda has been granted, insofar as we have had the opportunity to observe and learn from the conduct of [the leader of] the first [generation, the Alter Rebbe], and from the Alter Rebbe onward, up to and
including my revered father inlaw, the Rebbe. The Rebbeim blazed a trail and provided us with the means to approach this kind of Divine service. In fact, this comprises the preciousness of the seventh generation – that several spiritual resources were entrusted to us and revealed for our sake. And through this manner of Divine service, our generation shall draw down the Ikar Sh’china into this physical and coarse world, a revelation that even surpasses the revelation of G-dliness in the world [in its original state of perfection] prior to the sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Thus, it is [likewise] written about Moshiach [as well as the “new souls” of the Future Era – see Likkutei Torah Shir HaShirim, end; see Footnote 19 of Basi L ’Gani 5711], “exceedingly exalted,” more so than Adam HaRishon, even greater than Adam as he was prior to the sin. And [as stated about Moshiach in Yeshayahu 53:45] “He bears our illness and suffers our pain.” My father in-law, the Rebbe, “is defiled by our iniquities, crushed by our
4 � • 26 Kislev 5774
transgressions.” The Rebbe has witnessed our suffering, and speedily in our days and in our time he shall redeem his flock from both this spiritual exile as well as the physical exile, together as one, and bring us to stand in the shining light of redemption. All of the above, however, only pertains to “revelations.” But the Rebbe will accomplish something greater than that; he shall connect and unify us with the very being and essence of the infinite G-d, may He be blessed. Indeed, this is the inner intent of the decent and hishtalshlus (digression) of [G-dliness within] the worlds, the inner intent of the concept
name [i.e., G-d’s essence will of sin and correcting it, as well be fully manifest in the physical as the concept of the histalkus of world]. tzaddikim, which brings about the manifestation of the glory of All this is accomplished G-d. through the histalkus of tzaddikim, an occurrence When the Rebbe takes us out that is “more difficult than of exile with an uplifted hand, the destruction of the Beis and there shall be light for all HaMikdash.” Since all of the the Jewish people in the places events have already transpired, they reside, “Then Moshe and the Jewish people shall sing, etc., now the matter is only dependent G-d shall reign forevermore” upon us, the seventh generation, (and as it appears in the and we shall merit to be Express service Express service prayer liturgy, as well as in the Fully together with the Rebbe here FullyComputerized Computerized Aramaic translation, Targum), below – in a body and below “Havaya malchusei ka’eim ten handbreadths – and he will Ave.Ave. 331 Kingston 331 Kingston l’olam u’l’olmei olmaya,” which redeem us. nd nd Flr)Flr) Brooklyn NY 11213 (2 (2 Brooklyn NY 11213 concludes, “and G-d shall reign, (Seifer HaMaamarim Basi etc., Havaya is one and His name L’Gani (5711) Vol. 1, pg. 36) tickets within minutes! Getyour your tickets within minutes! is one.” There will then be no Get distinction between G-d and His Fax: (718) 493-4444 Fax: (718) 493-4444
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Issue 904 • �
S E L D N A C T EIGH
P U T I L T THA S O M A H S E N T H G I E
Everybody knows that wherever there are Jews, there is Chabad. The presence of Chabad is especially noticeable Chanuka time, when public ceremonies are held with local politicians and media in attendance. What not everybody knows about are the efforts of the Rebbe’s foot soldiers who reach out to individual Jews in the most out-of-the-way places, whether in a Druze village or deep in a Tasmanian forest.
By Menachem Ziegelboim and Menachem Mendel Arad
6 � • 26 Kislev 5774
A NESHAMA HIDDEN IN A DRUZE VILLAGE
the Seven Noachide Laws. When they caught sight of us, they began singing, “Moshiach, Moshiach ...” It was amazing to see the Rebbe’s words come true before our eyes; the world is ready for Moshiach. We gave out Sheva Mitzvos cards and left. On the way out, a short Arab young man came over to me and quietly said, “You should know that I’m Jewish. I was born in Beit Jann. My father is Druze but my mother is Jewish.” I was very excited by the hashgacha pratis, that this took place shortly after we printed the Tanya in the Druze village. I was glad we hadn’t just turned around when we saw that it was an Arab bar. I suggested that we go back in and light the Menorah, but he said he was afraid of his Arab friends. He didn’t want them to know that he’s Jewish. I didn’t want to lose out on the mitzva of lighting the Menorah with a lost Jewish soul, so we went to a private corner and he lit the Menorah there, as well as his neshama.
R’ Boaz Kali spreading the message about the Seven Noachide Laws
Boaz Kali, director of the “Sheva Mitzvos B’nei Noach Center,” has no qualms about reaching out to Arabs. He teaches them the mitzvos incumbent upon them. Sometimes he even discovers Jewish people living in Druze villages. The following is one such story. R’ Kali: On Chanuka, Anash in Haifa and Krayot go on mivtzaim and bring the light of Chanuka even to out-of-the-way places. We went to an area known as “Alcohol Valley,” since many
young people go there to drink and carouse. Two years ago on Chanuka, shortly after we published the Tanya in the Druze village of Beit Jann, we went to a building that was lit up on the side of the road, between Kfar Aza and Kiryat Ata. At first we thought it was another Jewish hangout and that we would bring them some Chanuka spirit. It was only when we walked in that we realized that this was a Druze bar. We did not retreat; rather, we decided to tell them about
THE CANDLES WOKE HIM FROM HIS COMA
n the days leading up to Chanuka, R’ Yaakov Ben Ari and R’ Dovber Chaviv of “U’faratzta Kibbutzim” are
very busy. Their Chabad house reaches out to kibbutzim scattered across the country. On ordinary days, they send couples every night
to make house calls, mostly to birthday parties that are arranged for mekuravim who live on kibbutzim. These parties turn into
Issue 904 • �
farbrengens with good hachlatos. “Last year,” said R’ Chaviv, “we decided to enlist all of Anash in Tzfas so we could send several couples (married couples or a pair of men) every day of Chanuka to every kibbutz. This way, in every kibbutz there would be a few Chanuka parties taking place simultaneously every night. Each couple or pair was given a Menorah, candles, doughnuts and a list of the people in the kibbutz to visit.” One evening, three couples went to Kibbutz Neot Mordechai. They had gone to the Nadar family at the address we had provided but nobody was home. A boy passing by on a bicycle turned out to be a relative. He said the family was at the grandparents’ house not far away. This is a family that made aliya from Argentina. They had been warm to Judaism, but life on the kibbutz and the education they received had slowly distanced them from Judaism. When they arrived at the grandparents’ house, they entered singing but the family was downcast and did not get swept up in their joyous mood. It turned out they were in the midst of a tragedy. Their son had been riding his motorcycle a few kilometers away from their kibbutz and had been in an accident. He had been thrown off and sustained a head injury and was in a coma. The doctors could not say what his prognosis would be. The Lubavitchers told the family that Chanuka is an auspicious time for miracles, and simcha and lighting the Menorah would, G-d willing, be the catalyst for their son’s recovery. The family all stood for the Menorah lighting and said amen very emotionally, especially for
SURPRISE CHANUKA PARTY
Another story from R’ Dovber Chaviv: One of our dynamic activists is R’ Yoav Rubinson. Yoav grew up on a kibbutz. Although the kibbutz was not at all religious, their attitude toward Yoav, who became a baal t’shuva, was cordial. Two Chanukas ago, Yoav and his wife attended some Chanuka parties at the kibbutz. To their dismay, nobody was home at any of the addresses they had planned on visiting. Instead, they decided to knock at the door of a neighbor and invite themselves to a spontaneous Chanuka party. You have to understand that this was simply not done at this kibbutz, but the couple decided to go l’chat’chilla aribber. When they knocked, the lady of the house called out, “Come in.” They were surprised to see a table set for a party with empty seats all around. The lady of the house was sitting there and crying! “Who are you and why did you come?” she asked as she sniffled. The Rubinsons said, “We came to make you a Chanuka party.” It turned out that the woman had made a Chanuka party for friends and family, but despite all her efforts, nobody had showed up. But Chabad had come. The woman was added to the contacts list for U’faratzta Kibbutzim and throughout the year she received a Purim package, shmura matza for Pesach, and a letter for her birthday. This year, when a Chabad couple shows up to celebrate Chanuka with her, she won’t be surprised.
It was late at night and the mayor was already in his pajamas and slippers. He put on his warm coat over his night clothes and crossed the street, heading for the Menorah. He started fumbling around with the switches in order to find the switch that would light that night’s light. Suddenly, he heard a voice behind him shouting “Don’t move! You’re under arrest!”
Chanuka outreach at kibbutzim
8 � • 26 Kislev 5774
the bracha “who did miracles for our ancestors in those days and this time.” They hoped that they too would experience a miracle. At the farbrengen that followed, Mendy referred to the aphorism, “think good and it will be good,” and about “simcha canceling and sweetening judgment.” He said he hoped they would call him with good news very soon. A few days after Chanuka, R’ Yaakov Ben Ari asked me who had been to the Nadar family at Kibbutz Neot Mordechai. “The
entire kibbutz is talking about them, about the ‘Angels from Chabad.’” It turned out that the day after the Lubavitchers had made the Chanuka party with them, the boy had opened his eyes for the first time and when he saw his mother he recognized her and said, “Ima,” and gave her a kiss. I called the family and suggested that they make a Seudas Hodaa, but their son was still in the hospital. Although his life was no longer in danger, his
condition still wasn’t good and it would take him a long time to recover. We decided to go to the house and check the mezuzos and write to the Rebbe together. R’ Chaviv concluded the story, “When we were there most recently, the son had already returned home and he’s fine, thank G-d. He attributes his recovery to the lighting of the Chanuka Menorah and the Chanuka party we had in his home.”
THE MAYOR IN PAJAMAS LIGHTS THE MENORAH
Velvel Butman, shliach in Westchester, New York, related: One year we decided to light a public Menorah in White Plains. I submitted a request for a permit and we got permission from the mayor, Mr. Delfino. We set up the Menorah in the center of town, next to Main Street. I invited the mayor, a gentile, to light the Shamash on the electric Menorah. The mayor came to the lighting ceremony with a delegation of his deputy mayor, police officials and others. He asked me how many public Menorahs I had set up in the area and I told him we have eighteen Menorahs. He wondered how I could light all eighteen in one night. I told him it’s really hard and it takes two hours every night. “I travel by car and go to each location. I get out, hit the switch,
get back into the car, and travel to the next place. In a few places we have friends who light it for us, but I mostly light them all myself,” I said. He turned to Mr. Arne Abramowitz, Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Recreation in White Plains, and asked him to help me out. Arne asked how he could be of help and the mayor told him that every night, he should come to this Menorah and press the switch, and that would spare me twentyfive minutes. I was very happy and thanked the mayor. On Zos Chanuka, I thought, “Today is the last day. What can I do that would be extra, as the Rebbe said to do?” I thought it would be great if I could light a new Menorah in a place where it had not been lit before. I tried to think of a good location and wondered how I could get a permit to light a Menorah there in just a day. It seemed unrealistic.
I called the mayor and spoke to the secretary and asked to be transferred to him immediately about an important matter. When the mayor came on the line, I explained that I needed a favor from him. He said, “Sure rabbi, what would you like?” I told him, “I’d like to come to city hall. I’ll bring a Menorah and we’ll light it. You will speak and give a holiday message and that way, we’ll celebrate the miracle of Chanuka with the municipal workers.” The mayor liked the idea and promised to invite all city workers to attend the Menorah lighting in city hall during lunch hour. About a hundred people, maybe more, attended the event. The mayor was asked to light the shamash, the Menorah was lit, and then it was the mayor’s turn to speak. He addressed Arne Abramowitz, saying, “Arne, I’m about to speak and it’s important to me that you hear what I have
Issue 904 • �
to say.” I looked at Arne and saw he looked a bit uncomfortable since the mayor looked serious. Delfino began with a story. “Saturday night, I looked out my window which faces the Menorah on Main Street. I noticed that that day’s light was not lit. I counted the lights and one was missing. It was a snowy, cold night. I woke up my wife and said to her, ‘I’m going outside for a few minutes and will be right back; don’t worry.’” It was late at night and the mayor was already in his pajamas and slippers. He put on his warm coat over his night clothes and crossed the street, heading for the Menorah. He started fumbling around with the switches in order to find the switch that would light that night’s light. Suddenly, he heard a voice behind him shouting “Don’t move! You’re under arrest!” He turned around and saw two policemen. They asked him why he was playing around with the switches on the Menorah. He told them he was the mayor but they didn’t believe him. A man in pajamas wearing slippers out on a freezing night, playing with switches – he didn’t look like a mayor, but more like someone trying to vandalize the Menorah. After some discussion they realized he really was the mayor. They were very curious about why he was up and about at one in the morning. The mayor told them, “I promised the rabbi that every night we would light the Menorah. If you make a promise you have to keep your word. So that’s why I’m here tonight, lighting the Menorah.” I heard this story from the mayor and thought: He’s not even Jewish, but he got the point. If the Rebbe has a Menorah in White Plains, New York, and it’s cold outside and it’s one in the morning and you are wearing pajamas and slippers, so what? You’re a soldier! Go light the Menorah!
THE LIGHTS THAT SAVED A LIFE
relates: On Yud-Tes Kislev I attended a farbrengen at Yishuv Tzofim. Many of the people from the yishuv were in attendance including the rav of the yishuv. One of the people, by the name of Chagai, began telling a story about his meeting the Rebbe’s shluchim in many locations. He lived in Australia for a long time when he worked for the Jewish Agency and he decided to do as Chabad does and open his home to Jewish tourists and visitors and invite them for Shabbos and holiday meals. “During a Shabbos meal, I would ask the guests to say
Eliezer Wilschansky, rosh yeshiva of Chanoch L’Naar Chabad in Tzfas,
something about themselves. One of the guests told an amazing story that happened to him. He had grown up in a Jewish family in America that did not practice anything Jewish. He had a very difficult childhood. His parents divorced and he was sent to live in a boarding school. Over the years he became completely estranged from anything Jewish. Even when he finally married, history repeated itself and he too divorced after a very miserable marriage. “My situation broke me completely,” he said. “I was all alone. Nobody in the world cared whether I lived or not. At a certain point I decided to end my life. I decided that I would first go and buy a bottle of some strong alcoholic beverage so I could enjoy it before I died, and
so that it would be easier to carry through on my decision. “When I arrived at the mall, I saw Chabad Chassidim dancing around a big Menorah. That scene brought me back to some nice memories of my childhood. Chanuka, the Menorah and the lights were the only Jewish things I grew up with and of course, I remembered them well. “I went over to the Chassidim and got to talking to them. They were very friendly and without their realizing it, they saved my life. I asked them where the nearest synagogue is and I began to regularly attend services. Today, I am very happy with life. It is all thanks to those Chabad Chassidim who lit the Menorah as well as my neshama, moments before I was ready to extinguish it myself.”
10 � • 26 Kislev 5774
FROM TZFAS TO EILAT
hlucha, Mrs. Chana Lifsh of Tzfas, relates: A few years ago, I took a psycho-drama course. There were women from varied backgrounds, from ultraOrthodox to religious, nationalreligious, and not religious. Despite our differences, there was a good rapport among us. Shortly before Chanuka, I went over to one of the irreligious women because I thought I might have hurt her feelings and I wanted to apologize. At the same time, I invited her to visit my home and take part in the Menorah lighting. Every night of Chanuka we have guests and we do something special with the children and the guests. The woman came with her two daughters and was very moved and impressed. Since
that time, we invited her every Chanuka. My mother passed away three years ago and I got up from Shiva shortly before Chanuka. I didn’t have the energy to arrange parties and events and I forgot to invite that woman. To my surprise, she called me on one of the days of Chanuka and said, “Hello Chana, how are you? You Lubavitchers are amazing. You don’t forget about me ...” I thought she began in this way to hint that she was expecting an invitation or that she was going to chide me for forgetting her. I began apologizing and explaining that I had just gotten up from Shiva and that I was so sorry I had forgotten about her but she wasn’t listening to my apology. She just repeated, “You sent me shluchim – kol ha’kavod
to you!” Shluchim? I did not recall sending anyone to her. Then she said, “I moved to Eilat and the truth is that I completely forgot that it’s Chanuka. Last night I went shopping and I suddenly saw this huge Menorah and a Chabad party taking place. I went over and saw a young man standing in the middle and running the show. I asked where he was from and he said, ‘From Chabad.’ No, I mean where are you from in Eretz Yisroel? He said, ‘Tzfas.’ “I was so excited and I asked him whether he knows Chana Lifsh. He smiled and said, ‘Of course I know her. I’m Levi Lifsh. She’s my mother.’ So I wanted to thank you for sending your son to me all the way down in Eilat to remind me that it’s Chanuka.”
THE DISAPPOINTING ARTICLE THAT LIT UP A NESHAMA
uring the days following the horrific attack in Bombay,” said R’ Shneur Kupchik, shliach in New Delhi, “we were besieged by journalists who wanted to interview us about our work. “One Friday, a journalist from the Times of India came. She asked us questions and
wanted to hear special stories so she could leave the Chabad house with a sensational news item. I told her that if she wanted a scoop, she should come the following Sunday, the first night of Chanuka, and take pictures. She loved the idea and asked to be the only invited reporter so her article would be exclusive. We told her we wouldn’t invite other journalists.
“At the Chabad house, there were some who thought this wasn’t a good idea. They said journalists only write what they want, not what they’re asked to write. It was very possible that instead of a Kiddush Hashem, it would turn into a Chillul Hashem. “And anyway, who cares if several million Indians hear about Chanuka?” asked one of the
Issue 904 • �
bachurim who was there helping out on shlichus. I disagreed with him since I knew that the Rebbe is in favor of publicity, especially for Chanuka. “The journalist showed up and was impressed by our work, but she wrote what she wanted and unfortunately, did not stick to the messages that we wanted to convey. I was actually quite disappointed and frustrated. “On the day the article came out, a well-dressed Indian Jew showed up. He was a local businessman. ‘I had been searching for a place where I could light the Menorah,’ he said excitedly, ‘until I read an article about the Chabad house today in the Times, with a picture of your Menorah lighting.’ “In an instant, all my annoyance melted away. It was worth all the effort just for this one Jew.”
The article in the Times of India
LIGHTS AT THE END OF THE WORLD
will never forget Rosh Chodesh Teves, the sixth night of Chanuka 5767,” said R’ Aryeh Leib Kaplan, a teacher in Chanoch L’Naar in Tzfas. “I was on shlichus with my friend, R’ Shneur Shachar in Launceston, Australia. R’ YY Gordon, who lives in Melbourne, runs the Chabad house in Launceston. During our time on shlichus we met two Jewish brothers whose mother had married a Mormon. They were
raised as Mormons. “On a visit to Berlin, one of the brothers walked into a Chabad house and loved it. He and his brother, who did not relate to the Mormon religion whatsoever, decided to leave it and develop their connection to Judaism. That Chanuka the brothers invited us to their home to run a Chanuka party. They lived on a farm in the Tasmanian Mountains, which is located on an island between Australia and Antarctica.
“We were given precise directions. ‘Drive on the highway until you get to village X, leave the highway and drive seven kilometers, then make a left, drive another three kilometers and our house is on the left.’ “What happened was, after we made the turn we noticed that we had driven twelve kilometers already and there was no turnoff. We figured we had made a mistake and decided to go back and look for the turnoff.
12 � • 26 Kislev 5774
“We were terrified since we were driving in an immense forest in utter darkness, as it was Rosh Chodesh and there was no moon. We had no cell phone service since we were far from civilization. If that wasn’t enough, we saw that we were low on gas. “It took time to get to a place where there was phone reception. We called the man and in the phone conversation, which kept breaking up, making it difficult to understand one another, we explained where we were. Ten minutes later he came and met us with his jeep. “We lit the Menorah ourselves in his home. To our surprise, when we had finished, the brothers began singing ‘HaNeiros Halalu’ with the Chabad tune, even though they had recently known next to nothing about Judaism. This was because they
The two brothers (left) with R’ Aryeh Leib Kaplan and a local Jew
had been at the Chabad house in Berlin the previous year and this is the only song in Hebrew that they learned. “The next morning we suggested that they put on t’fillin. One of the brothers, who had refused at first, finally agreed on condition that we say the entire Shma with him in Lashon
Ha’kodesh and not in English! Of course we agreed and I read it to him, word by word. It took more than half an hour at the end of which he was drenched in sweat and tears. “He hugged us and thanked us for coming and lighting up his neshama.”
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Issue 904 • �
MOSHIACH & GEULA
WHY DIDN’T KING CHIZKIYA MERIT TO BE MOSHIACH?
By Rabbi Gershon Avtzon
Dear Reader Sh’yichyeh, This week, Klal Yisroel celebrates the Yom Tov of Chanuka, thanking Hashem for the miracles that he showed us 2278 years ago. Showing our thanks and appreciation to Hashem helps bring Moshiach. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 94a) says that Hashem said that Chizkiya was worthy of being Moshiach. However, Midas HaDin complained and said that being that Chizkiya did not praise Hashem when miracles were shown to him, he should not be Moshiach. The Rebbe (VaYeishev 5752) learns from this Gemara that in our days we must spread the miracles that Hashem has performed for us. [There is a fascinating explanation of the Sh’la HaKadosh on the abovementioned Gemara. He asks: how could the Gemara claim that Chizkiya didn’t praise Hashem for the miracles that happened to him, when there are explicit verses that say that he sang Hallel to Hashem? The Sh’la HaKadosh answers: True, he said Hallel and sang praises to
Hashem, but that was only after the miracles happened. If you want to have Geula – and be Moshiach – you must show your anticipation and thanks before the Geula happens!] The primary way that we show our thanks and appreciation to Hashem for the miracles of Chanuka is by lighting the Menorah for 8 days. Every day we light a different amount of candles. It is well known that there is an argument between Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel as to the amount of candles that we should light each night. Beis Shammai says that we start with eight and progressively decrease until we kindle only one light on the final night. Beis Hillel says that we start with one and increase each night until on the eight night we kindle eight lights. During the time of exile, we follow the ruling of Beis Hillel. Our sages (Midrash Shmuel to Avos 5:19 and others) say that in the times of Moshiach, the Halacha will be like the house of Shammai. This does not contradict the eternity of Halacha, because the reason we follow Hillel was because his
opinion was held by the majority. In the times of Moshiach – when everyone will become wiser and appreciate the wisdom of Shammai – the opinion of the House of Shammai will be the majority. The Rebbe (Toras Menachem 5752 Vol. 1 page 185) teaches us that in the latter era of Yemos HaMoshiach, when the true will of Hashem will be revealed in the world, the Halacha will be like both! This fits with what Chazal tell us that the word משה is an acronym of שמאי הלל משה, that eventually we will see that both opinions were given to Moshe Rabbeinu at Har Sinai! Let us finish with words of the Rebbe (Chanuka 5751): Applying this to a timely theme: As we stand in the days of Chanukah – – though a multifaceted Holiday – – we ought to emphasize primarily its connection with Redemption. This festival was instituted because of the miracle with the cruse of oil involved with the kindling of the menorah in HaMikdash [Temple]. the Beis Afterwards, the Chashmonaim dedicated the Temple (“They
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cleared Your Sanctuary and purified Your Holy Temple”). Mention of the Temple is an immediate reminder of the Redemption, and serves to enhance our anticipation for his coming every day, the building and dedication of the third Beis HaMikdash and the lighting of the Menorah by Aaron the High Priest, which will occur with the true and complete Redemption by our righteous Moshiach. …Similarly with respect to the Torah reading of the Shabbos of Chanukah. During the Torah reading, as soon as a Jew hears and comprehends the word “Mikeitz – the End,” he exclaims, “Aha! This is an allusion to the end of exile, referred to as the ‘end of days – Keitz HaYamim’ [spelled with a final Mem which connotes the end of exile], as
True, he said Hallel and sang praises to Hashem, but that was only after the miracles happened. If you want to have Geula – and be Moshiach – you must show your anticipation and thanks before the Geula happens!
well as “the end of days – Keitz HaYamin” [spelled as it is in the end of the book of Daniel, with a final nun which connotes] the deadline for the Redemption!” And afterwards, when one reads or hears the Haftora which states, “I beheld the Menorah, entirely of gold,” one senses immediately a reference to the future Redemption! Likewise, upon reading about Nasi of the the N’siim and the tribe of Reuven in particular, a
Jew is reminded forthwith of the true and complete Redemption, at which time all the N’siim will be present, and the status of the Jewish People as the “first born child” of the whole world will be manifest.
Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www.ylcrecording. com.
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Issue 904 • �
THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT: A CHASSIDIC PERSPECTIVE
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What do the study of Rambam, Tanya classes on the radio, and worldwide Chanuka Menorah lightings via satellite hookup all have in common? And what lesson can we learn from them as far as the impact we have on the world, even from the privacy of our own homes? Read on and discover what the Rebbe has to say on the matter...
By Dafna Chaim
t isn’t pleasant to admit, but for many years, I found learning Rambam hard and there were times that I was lax in fulfilling the Rebbe’s horaa. This was unlike Chitas where I was usually able to relate to the content. I would just “daven up” Rambam; I would say the words with practically no concentration on what I was saying except here and there when I found a mitzva interesting. Now and then I would wonder what the point was in saying the Rambam like that; maybe it would be better not to say it at all. What kept me going though was the fact that this was the Rebbe’s horaa, and when the Rebbe gives the order, you do it, even if you don’t fully understand it or want to do it. When the moreh shiur (learning schedule) of the Rambam in the old edition was finished, it took me time to get hold of a new edition of the Rambam with a current chart. It’s embarrassing to say so but I enjoyed the break. When it comes down to it, it’s not that I don’t want to do it, but at least I had an excuse. This went on for a few months until I saw a sicha of the Rebbe on a video which changed my entire perspective on the matter. I gained a deep and fascinating insight which I want to share with you. In the sicha, said in Iyar
5745/1985 in connection to a Siyum HaRambam, the Rebbe spoke about the movement of a child’s lips when he sincerely learns Rambam, without the ambition of one day becoming a posek. He only wants to understand the Rambam to the best of his ability. The Rambam takes pleasure from this in Gan Eden, for the child is learning his teachings, as it says in the Gemara, “his lips move in the grave.” In the Rebbe’s words: “ … The one learning is outside Eretz Yisroel and the Rambam is in Eretz Yisroel, in Teveria, but when he learns the Rambam, wherever he is, the din is a law in the revealed Torah that the aspect of the Rambam’s lips – and the simple meaning is that the Rambam’s physical lips – move in the grave. Consequently, a change occurs and there is movement in the air, for when the lips move, a change takes place in the air surrounding the lips and this change affects all the air in the world. “In nature – when a change takes place in one part of the atmosphere – the nature that Hashem created is such that when a change occurs in a solid, like a rock, no other change takes place in another rock somewhere else. However, Hashem created the atmosphere in such a way that when the air is moved somewhere, that movement spreads until the
ends of the world. This is not miraculous but the way Hashem created nature, and so, his lips moving in the grave, the lips of the Rambam, have an effect on the atmosphere of the entire world. “And who caused this? A little child who learned one Halacha in the Rambam.”
WHAT A PUFF OF AIR CAN ACCOMPLISH
We always knew that the influence of the letters of the Torah is apparent and has an effect on the entire world, and every word of Torah that a Jew says here affects the other end of the world, and even in supernal worlds, but we didn’t understand quite how it worked (not that we fully understand it now, but it’s something more…). We thought of it more mystically in terms of the supernatural power of the Torah, but it was really interesting to understand so plainly that the movement of the lips causes the air here to move and this movement has an effect on the ends of the world. This phenomenon has been given a scientific explanation as follows. Dr. Edward Lorenz was an American mathematician and meteorologist. It was in the early 1960’s that he entered numbers into his computer in an attempt to predict the weather, and when he tried entering the numbers
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again, he decided that he would shorten the process and would only enter the three numbers after the decimal point, instead of five. He assumed that this would not significantly change anything. To his great surprise, the new numbers drastically changed the forecast. He concluded that small differences in the starting point could trigger vast and often unsuspected results. These observations ultimately led him to formulate what became known as the Butterfly Effect, a term that grew out of an academic paper he presented in 1972 entitled “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” At first, the scientific community negated his theory which seemed illogical, but with time, his chaos theory became accepted and even deeply entrenched, and not only in the scientific community. It eventually impacted not just the field of mathematics but virtually every branch of science – biological, physical and social. It is one of three scientific revolutions of the 20th century (which are the theories of relativity, quantum mechanics and chaos theory). The Butterfly Effect later came to be applied to matters other than scientific ones such as politics, philosophy, economics, etc. On Yud Shevat 5725/1965 the Rebbe said: “ … Every person has an impact on his surroundings just as the Rebbe, my father-in-law, once said, that the philosophers say that when a person blows in a room within a room, this affects the temperature at the North Pole … for the entire world is in a unified state. And so, when a change takes place in a certain part of the world, there must be a change throughout the world.” Without getting into the question about how to regard all the technological gadgets that are providing our generation with mighty challenges – a topic that is preoccupying our educators and rabbanim – for it’s not my place to express an opinion or take a position, let us see what we can learn from them. Through all these marvels, we see how the world is one energy field, a global village; everything is connected and any small action has a big effect on surroundings near and far, even very far. Today, more than ever before, we can grasp spiritual concepts and understand that there are dimensions to our lives that we cannot see and grasp, and yet we are sure of their existence. It is easy to understand how “an eye sees and an ear hears and all your actions are recorded in a book.” It is much easier today to understand how at Mattan Torah, Hashem’s voice was heard from one end of the world to the other. immediately reaches anywhere, even the most distant place, and it is heard as loudly as at its source, and in such a way that there is no interference, and only speech that opposes Torah can serve as an obstacle.” The Rebbe went on to say: “From the radio we learn that there is a power in nature that is not limited in place or time. In one moment the sound can reach every corner of the world, and consequently every Jew, at all ends of the world. We need to know that at every moment the word of Hashem can reach us.” Three years later, on 15 Shevat 5723, the Rebbe spoke about the radio again and about recording the programs and the advantages in that, as well as their contribution to creating an atmosphere of holiness in the home, a holiness which brings blessings along with it: “Yehi Ratzon that through Tanya recordings will be fulfilled what is written ‘to place blessings in your home,’ i.e. by bringing Tanya recordings into the home, the words of Chassidus will also reach the members of the household and even the house itself, that the walls of the house will be suffused with words of Chassidus and as the Gemara says, ‘The walls of a person’s house will testify about him.’ That is, the walls of the house will testify to the words of Chassidus that were absorbed in them.”
THE WALLS OF A CHASSIDIC HOME
When the Tanya radio broadcast began in 5720, the Rebbe spoke a number of times about the phenomenon of the radio. In one of those sichos, the Rebbe once again mentioned what the Rebbe Rayatz said that when a person blows in Riga, it changes the atmosphere at the North Pole, and he connected this to the radio: “We see that with man’s ordinary speech, the more it extends outward the weaker it gets and it also takes time until it reaches distant places, but with a radio, his speech
AN EXERCISE IN FREE WILL
Another lesson that the Rebbe learns from the radio is a profound principle in man’s approach to all optional activities in the world. This is particularly
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relevant at a time when the world is flooded with technological marvels in which good and bad are intermingled: “Another lesson in this is that with a radio we see how a person has a choice. If he shuts it, he won’t hear what is happening in the world. This is also the inyan of bechira (choice) that a Jew is given as it says, ‘See, I have given before you life and good,’ and the opposite, and a person has the ability to choose. If he turns the knob, he will hear the word of Hashem, but he was also given the ability to use his free choice in a way that goes counter to the Will of Hashem, G-d forbid.” The word is full of enticements and is rife with tests. It seems as though the closer we get to the perfection of the world, to bringing Moshiach, the more opportunities there are. However, they come along with many dangers. A Jew has a choice which is also a conferring of power, “and you shall choose life.” When a Jew uses the tools he has to further Torah and mitzvos, as he does so he is connecting those moments with
who was mekushar to the Rebbe Maharash, returned from visiting him, he was asked why the Rebbe conducted himself in this way so that even something trivial like a cigarette box was gold. Who asked him this? The Rebbe said parenthetically that the people who asked the question did not know Chassidus, because someone who learned Chassidus wouldn’t ask that question. The question ought to be, why does such a thing exist in the world and how can it be used to advance all matters of holiness. “There is no greater To a Chassid, there danger to humanity than is no contradiction between the physical separating technological world and the spiritual and scientific advancement world. The question is only how to use the from true morality and physical for the sake of humanitarianism, which the spiritual. Chassidus does not teach us to are based on G-dly escape the world; Chassidus authority.” teaches how we can live within the world in a life of holiness and purity. “Even This is what the Rebbe’s though there is the option of grandfather answered, “Fool, using the same item on which who do you think gold was you can hear recordings of created for if not for tzaddikim?” Tanya to hear something else, Everything that was created even something which opposes in the world was created to Chassidus, the Alter Rebbe serve the tzaddikim (“and Your explains in Tanya that when nation are all tzaddikim”), and a Jew learns Torah or does their function is to bring the a mitzva, this unification up light of k’dusha down into the above is eternal.” world. If there is a creation in the The Rebbe concluded his world known as a radio, then its talk about the advantages of a purpose is to bring the word of radio and the proper attitude Hashem to every corner of the toward it with an interesting world, to spread holiness and insight. Someone who did not purity on a broad scale. This is learn Chassidus, though, would why a radio was created. Oh, but have a hard time understanding there are people who use it for it. The Rebbe spoke (18 Sivan negative purposes? Nu, that’s a 5720) about the Rebbe Maharash problem, but it doesn’t take away who lived royally so that even from the point of its creation. On his cigarette case was made of the contrary, using it properly is gold. Once, when the Rebbe’s what leaves an eternal impression grandfather, R’ Meir Shlomo,
eternity. More simply put, when a radio is used to hear Torah, those are not just passing moments but eternal moments. This is unlike negative choices whose impact is temporary. The Rebbe puts it like this:
Issue 904 • �
on the world. All the rest is fleeting. just that nowadays, a person has greater means of achieving the true and ultimate good, something that even modern progress must serve. There is no greater danger to humanity than separating technological and scientific advancement from true morality and humanitarianism, which are based on G-dly authority; as to our great and deep sorrow, this was proven by what were called the most advanced nations of the world (from a scientific respect), whose scientific and technological advancement were matched only by their decadence …” (from the book Moreh L’Dor Navuch, vol. 2, letter 170). This was underscored in 5752 at the international Menorah lighting via satellite. The Rebbe said then: “All the scientific discoveries that were innovated and discovered in recent years have the purpose to increase the glory of G-d through using them for matters of holiness and Torah and mitzvos.” The Rebbe said that with the satellite, it was possible to see the lighting of the Menorah simultaneously in several places around the world, and not only Jews but also gentiles could see it. From the satellite we learn, said the Rebbe, how every Jew, even a small child, has the power to light up the entire world through a small action, until the entire world is illuminated not only for Jews but also for the nations of the world. The practical lesson from this
THE PURPOSE OF SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS
In 5719, a doctor from a university in Florida wrote to the Rebbe that his son had started keeping mitzvos and this frightened him. “Where are our children heading … Did the Creator mean for religion to remain trapped in the past? Will we have to ride on camels while others fly in the air, thus stopping the clock?” The Rebbe responded by saying that the way the son had chosen would lead him to true happiness. At the end of the letter, the Rebbe addressed his concern about the halt of progress: “One who believes in the Creator, with literal belief and not as an abstract feeling or thinking that after the Creator created the world He retired to the seventh heaven and does not take an interest anymore, at all, in His handiwork; rather, that He creates and guides the fate of the world on a constant basis, and consequently, that of every single individual, must also recognize that no human advancement, scientific or otherwise, is possible without the Knowledge and Will of G-d. Nor is any such advancement excluded from His domain. Every advance must be used for the true benefit of the world and of humanity in particular. However, man has free will and he can use this or that advancement for good or bad. In any case, to use your example, surely the fact that man can fly in the air does not require every person to be a pilot or aviation engineer. It is
for u s is the knowledge and understanding that every small action a Jew does, even one that he does in his private home, has an effect and illuminates the entire world. In order for this not to be hard for us to grasp, Hashem revealed the satellite to the world as well as other secrets through which heaven and earth can be connected and Jews throughout the world can be connected. These tools do not only connect Jews but also help them, for we see that by means of the satellite it is possible to transfer money from one bank to another bank at the other end of the world, which helps Jews materially. This is actually one of the purposes of the satellite. Through this tool there is an increase in
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the unification of all of humanity, whether through aiding one another or by increasing in matters of justice.
THE POWER OF A SMALL ACTION
The following is a story that I heard from R’ Chezky Lifshitz, shliach in Nepal. It exemplifies the Butterfly Effect, the ramifications of every small deed that we do: Every few months, we have Jewish workshops for the many tourists in the area. Unfortunately, we also meet Jewish monks; if that wasn’t enough, they are often Israelis who were searching for spirituality and meaning in life and ended up in Buddhist monasteries. One time, one of these monks came to a workshop. He was Israeli, a former kibbutznik, who chose to leave a Jewish environment and live the ascetic life of a monk. After the four day workshop in which he became acquainted with Jewish spirituality, he got ready to return to the monastery. Yet he had been inspired and he agreed to make a hachlata. Since it was before Chanuka, I suggested that he light a Menorah. At first he declined and said he wasn’t religious so what was the point in doing that, etc.
But in the end he was convinced and committed to lighting the Menorah. I gave him a Menorah and candles and explained what to do. A year later, I met him again and he told me what happened. “When I lit the Menorah, another Israeli in the monastery came over to me and exclaimed, ‘What happened to you? Are you nuts? A Menorah? Here? What has come over you?’ “I told him why I was lighting a Menorah and we spoke about it at length. Something within him softened and he decided to join me in the lighting. Thanks to the Menorah, he began asking himself some questions about his J e w i s h identity. He came to the conclusion that he hardly knew anything a b o u t Judaism. He decided to take a break from the monastery and to go back home and check things out. He intended on returning
to the monastery afterward, but after a few months I got an email from him, in which he informed me that he had started learning in a yeshiva and he would never be returning to the monastery.” We see from here, said R’ Lifshitz, how a small act of a Jew, who lit a tiny flame, could effect such an enormous change. And what kind of Jew was this? Not a Chassid who understood the deeper significance of lighting the Menorah, but someone deep in klipa in a place that was dark and impure, and yet his small action caused another Jew to change from one extreme to another and do t’shuva.
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Issue 904 • �
THE GREAT LIGHT THAT WAS EXTINGUISHED ON CHANUKA
hayna exemplified her name. Shayna means beauty, yofi-tiferet in Hebrew. Chassidus explains that beauty is revealed in a harmony of parts. Some people are kind and giving. Others are smart and into learning. Some people are good teachers and others are good at mivtzaim. Some people are good at working with small children, while others are better with other ages. Some people work well within the Chabad community. Some people work well with other religious people. Each one of these types of holy work is like a different color. Shayna lived a life rich with many colors. Shayna Bracha bas Chaim Borevitz O.B.M. was born on 18 Menachem Av 5753 in Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh. After battling a painful sickness for four years, she passed away at the young age of 18 on the 2nd Light of Chanukah, 26 Kislev 5772. Shayna’s caring hand reached far beyond that of the typical eighteen-year-old, touching the hearts of people beyond her own community, and left a deep imprint on all those who knew her. Her passing left a profound sense of loss in her dear family, her large circle of friends, her many students, and even casual acquaintances. Shayna was a special gift from the day she was
born. Her mother was two weeks overdue and sent to the hospital for an ultrasound to confirm the decision to induce. Her parents received permission from the doctors to go home for a couple hours before reporting to the delivery ward. They hurried home to fax the Rebbe for a bracha for a healthy baby and a natural childbirth. Her parents had thought they would call their second daughter Chana. However, when they shared their first few minutes together with their newborn baby, they both had a feeling that this baby needed a different name. As they began discussing names, nothing seemed to fit. Her father started looking through the names of Beis Rebbe printed in the HaYom Yom for names they may not have thought of. He noticed the name Shayna Bracha, a granddaughter of the Tzemach Tzedek and sister of the Rebbetzin Shterna Sara. That name seemed to fit perfectly. Over the years, they would see more and more how their girl was truly a Shayna Bracha. Shayna lived her first two years in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Yerushalayim. She helped her parents in their shlichus. She was a pretty baby with an infectious smile that charmed everybody. Her family journeyed from the Holy Land to California and to Florida before settling in
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Crown Heights, Brooklyn in New York. As a young child, Shayna was both smart and beautiful. She was also athletic, adventurous, and fearless. A family friend, who often visits old age homes, related that when Shayna was only about seven, she took her to visit an old age home. She was amazed that Shayna had no fear or aversion of being close to the old people, which is often the case with young children. She spoke with and smiled to the old people and let them give her a kiss as if it was a natural thing to do. Shayna was meticulous in fulfilling kibud av v’em. Her fourth grade teachers at Beis Chaya Mushka remarked in a PTA meeting that they never saw a child with such respect towards her parents. She always spoke about them with admiration and love. She would prepare them special dishes and had them in mind wherever she went. Her father was in the hospital for a week about seven months before she passed away. She spent the whole week with him in the hospital. The doctors and nurses remarked that they never saw such a dedicated child. She only left to go teach her classes and a make it to a few medical appointments. On the way back to the hospital, she would stop and buy him fresh fruits and vegetables to make him healthy treats. The rest of the time she was by his side. They learned and schmoozed, and she made sure he was as comfortable as possible. The hospital room was very hot. They had to keep the door open to get some cool air, but the light and noise from the hallway disturbed her father’s sleep. There was a window, but it was locked. After waiting two
days for the hospital staff to find a solution, Shayna went to work picking the lock. She took her father’s laptop and watched some YouTube videos on how to pick locks. After reviewing the one that seemed the most relevant, she began searching for tools. In less than an hour, there was a nice spring breeze moving through the room! By the time her youngest sister Gitty was born, Shayna’s health had deteriorated considerably. She was getting weaker and could walk only with great pain and difficulty. When her mother returned from the hospital, the baby was crying all night. Shayna was concerned that her mother needed to sleep after the birth, so she walked down the hallway to pick up the baby and took her back to her own bed. She played with her baby sister the rest of the night, so her mother could sleep. She had a special touch with babies. On a plane ride to California to visit her grandmother, she was sitting next to a new mother who couldn’t quiet her infant. Shayna
took the baby from the mother and quickly quieted her down. She then discovered that the new mother was the daughter of one of her grandmother’s best friends! Shayna also had a special affinity for hachnasas orchim. Because of this, her favorite time of year was Tishrei in Crown Heights, especially Sukkos, because with the men in the Sukka, there was room for double the amount of guest. She loved to spend hours cooking with her mother and sister. As others got nourished from food, she was sustained by her pleasure in seeing her guests eating well and having a good time. One Tishrei guest related to us that as a bachur, he once came over after the meal was over, and there was almost no food left to serve him. He said he expected some wine and a little challa; a little piece of fish or chicken if he’s lucky. He said that Shayna started taking vegetables out of the refrigerator and making him fresh salads. She didn’t stop until she served a proper Yom Tov
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meal. Shayna’s selfless love for others was non-stop. When she went to the hospital for difficult treatments, she always found presents to bring back for her little brothers and sisters. When her older sister was upset about the way her wedding pictures turned out, she stayed up late picking out the best pictures. She then called her to reassure her that she found a nice sum of pictures to choose for the album. When her friends called and made bikkur cholim visits, she of life itself.” When her students at Machon Chana asked her how old she was, she wouldn’t tell them her age, because she didn’t want to make them feel bad that they’re learning from someone so much younger than them. One of her mother’s adult students called and cried desperately that she can’t find a job. When her mother finished the phone call, Shayna asked what it was about. After hearing the sad story, she asked her mother, “nu, what are you going to do for her?” Her mother One day her family got a bachurim in call from some 770 that were organizing a chasuna for a baal t’shuva couple whose parents weren’t helping or coming to the wedding. The couple had no money for a wedding. Bachurim were asking families to make a salad, a cake, etc., and they needed girls to come to dance with the Kalla. Upon hearing of the situation, Shayna immediately took charge. She mobilized her high school to start preparing food, buying decorations, and setting up the hall. She made sure it was elegant and classy, so the kalla wouldn’t feel her wedding was missing a thing. It was a beautiful chasuna with great food, and the kalla danced the whole night with her new friends. On one of the few days she came to school in 12th grade, she met a 9th grader in the hallway who was very intimidated by the older girls. Shayna started talking with her in her typical warm sweet manner. At the end of the conversation, she told her, “Take my phone number. If you need anything, give me a call.” This conversation changed this girl’s high school experience. When her first classmate got married, she felt she had to come to the wedding. Even though she was very weak, had a fever and severe pains in her legs, she went. She knew it would make her friend happy. She also was worried that if she didn’t come, her friend’s special day would be dampened from worrying about why Shayna didn’t come. There’s no other way to say it. Shayna loved the Rebbe, and she loved his Torah. The Rebbe’s words inspired her to heights in avoda that were truly amazing.
One of the volunteers who was very close to Shayna described Shayna’s impact this way, “if Shayna had been granted a longer life, all of Boro Park would have been Chabad.”
always turned the conversations around to be about what was happening in their lives. What problems and predicaments were they dealing with? By the end of the conversations, Shayna had given good advice, made her friends feel better, and not revealed a word about her troubles. Her Ahavas Yisroel was like the words of HaYom Yom from her birthday, Chai Menachem Av: The Mitteler Rebbe quoted the Alter Rebbe: “Ahavas Yisroel must possess one to the very core
shrugged her shoulders and told her that she didn’t feel she could do anything besides give her some words of encouragement. Shayna said that is not enough and began looking at Jewish internet sites for job listings. When she didn’t find anything relevant, she started brainstorming about other possibilities. Eventually, she called a well-known member of Anash that has a business and asked him if he could find a position for this woman. He agreed. She went for an interview and was offered a job.
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One day during the early spring of 5771, her leg hurt her very much. It was very hard for her to walk. She had a class to teach at Boruch College in Manhattan. Her mother told her that the Rebbe would understand if she skipped the class because of her health. She didn’t want to skip teaching the class. Finally, she agreed with her mother to write to the Rebbe. She opened up a letter in Igros that spoke about Hafatzas HaMaayanos. She closed the seifer, and ran out the door to catch the subway to Manhattan. For Shayna, the ultimate beauty was a sicha of the Rebbe. She felt so fortunate to be able to perceive the beauty in the Rebbe’s words. She pitied her fellow Jew that didn’t know how beautiful the Rebbe’s Torah is. Her teaching was truly an expression of her ahavas Yisroel. She wanted the best for every Yid, and for her, the Rebbe’s Torah was the best. Because of this, she was constantly finding ways to teach the Rebbe’s Torah. It also explains why she was such a successful and inspirational teacher. When the head counselor of Camp Simcha pleaded with her to come to the camp, she agreed to come only on the condition that she could teach. A deal was made. Shayna was to speak a few times, like on Shabbos night to all the campers and staff. However, this wasn’t enough for Shayna. One of her friends from Camp Simcha told us that when Shayna felt there wasn’t enough ruchnius in the camp’s daily routine, she went to the head counselor and told her that starting tomorrow, there would be a half hour shiur with Shayna Borevitz every day. Her influence on the Chai Lifeline family was year-
Activity in Chabad House of Cebu City, The Philippines – in Shayna’s memory
round. She organized a weekly conference call in which she gave over a Nekuda from one of the Rebbe’s sichos on the parsha. This phone shiur sometimes had 30 participants. The participants were both volunteers and girls that were or had been sick. She was also invited to speak at Beis Yaakov of Boro Park and various events for the Chai Lifeline volunteers. These were all non-Chabad girls from Boro Park, Williamsburg, Monsey, Far Rockaway, etc. The impact she had was profound. When the Chai Lifeline family had to deal with a Boruch Dayan Emes, the volunteers immediately called Shayna to come and give them chizuk. A Chassidish Yid from Boro Park that met Shayna on Mekimi’s annual trip to Niagara Falls expressed his admiration for Shayna. He said, “She is a tz’nua, chassida, and a talmida chochama. She totally believes in the Likkutei Sichos and is truly mechakei lo b’chol yom sh’yavoy!” One of the volunteers who was very close to Shayna
described Shayna’s impact this way, “if Shayna had been granted a longer life, all of Boro Park would have been Chabad.” Her efforts to spread the Rebbe’s Torah were much broader than just working with non-Chabad frum girls. She organized and gave a weekly class at Boruch College for girls. She also taught at Machon Chana, Ohr Chana, and various Chabad Houses in Long Island. She was overwhelmed with joy upon seeing that one of her students understood what she was teaching. To this end, she worked very hard. Her daily schedule was busy running to schools in Crown Heights in the morning, dashing to Manhattan mid-day, and carpooling to Long Island in the afternoon. She would stay up late at night preparing her classes. She would learn sichos and create materials to ensure her students understood the material. She prepared flow charts to make note taking easier, games for children, and attractive posters to attract college girls to come to her classes.
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One of the Rebbe’s main teachings is to help other Jews do mitzvos, what we call mivtzaim. Shayna loved to go on mivtzaim. She also inspired other people to do mivtzaim. When she went on a Chai Lifeline sponsored trip to the amusement parks in Orlando, FL, she took mivtzaim menorahs to give out. On that trip, she didn’t feel well. It was shortly after a round of chemotherapy. Nevertheless, as she went around the amusement parks in a wheel chair, she would ask people, “are
you Jewish?” By the end of the first day, the Chai Lifeline volunteers learned how to do it. On the way to the exits, the nonChabad girls were a s k i n g people, “are you Jewish?” When they succeeded in finding Jews that hadn’t lit a menorah, they were thrilled! Back at the hotel, the counselors made a fun Chanukah party. Shayna noticed that the photographer looked like he might be Jewish. She asked. He was a Russian Jew and happily lit the menorah for the first time in his life. He told Shayna that he’d been taking pictures for the Chai Lifeline Chanukah parties for years, and nobody ever thought to ask him if he was Jewish.
Despite her young age, Shayna was a teacher and a role model. Because tznius is an important mitzvah, Shayna found ways to encourage other Jewish girls and women to improve in this mitzvah. Shayna was blessed with remarkable physical beauty. She also had a sophisticated, elegant, and creative sense of style. She used her beauty and sense of style to show other girls that they could be beautiful and tznius at the same time without compromising either one. Shayna was deeply committed to being tznius because of its importance in the Torah and how much emphasis the Rebbe gave to it. She was also passionate about being beautiful. For her, beauty was an expression of Hashem’s honor. She wanted everything to be beautiful for the Jewish people, especially Jewish women. She took the idea of Jewish women being Hashem’s daughters literally. Shayna’s ideal of beauty could not exist outside the laws of tznius. Her passion for beauty wasn’t limited
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to clothes. She wanted everything in a Jew’s life to be gorgeous. For her, it was all zeh keili v’anveihu. Nevertheless, she had a practical side. She didn’t spend a lot of money on clothes. She worked hard to find inexpensive items that she could piece together into a stunning outfit. Shayna had a knack of finding just the right kind words to inspire other people to do more. The head counselor of Camp Simcha, who was about 10 years older than Shayna, shared the following with us. “Shayna told me that she was so proud of me for being careful to always keep my knees covered. She said it was so important because I’m a role model to so many girls. Shayna’s sweet little comment made me understand my position as a role model in a whole new way. Needless to say, I’ve been much more careful about the way I dress ever since.” During her four year battle with her illness, she was the symbol of emuna and bitachon. Everybody that met her was inspired. As soon as the terrible diagnosis came, she received a bracha from the Rebbe. Her emuna in the bracha never wavered. It didn’t matter how many times she got bad news. She never questioned the Rebbe’s brachos. She encouraged everyone around her. Her trust even allowed her to have fun in the hospital sometimes. When she had markers for a head operation across her forehead before Purim, she took makeup and turned the markers into a Purim costume. When a friend that came to keep her company in the hospital was nervous, she told her to come onto her hospital bed and then started raising the bed up high until they could touch the roof.
The nurses came running in to find where the loud laughter was coming from. Shayna spent a lot of time with doctors and nurses. She endured over two years of chemotherapy, one surgery on her head, and one open heart surgery. While they looked at her with pitying faces and delivered dire predictions, she kept smiling. She didn’t allow their negativity to influence her spirit at all. After treating Shayna for four years, her main oncologist said, “You can’t imagine what madreiga this young woman was on!” She was a source of tremendous encouragement to other sick children. She constantly told them tracht gut, vet zain gut. They loved her and were thirsty for her smiling face and words of encouragement. As her days grew more difficult, she rose higher and higher in spirit. When her eyesight began to fail, she was given an iPad by a generous supporter of Chai Lifeline. She used the iPad to enlarge the letters of the siddur, so that only one word fit on the whole iPad screen. She used to take an hour to say Birchas HaMazon this way. Krias Shma al HaMitta sometimes took a whole night. When she couldn’t read by herself, she asked others to read her Chumash, Tanya, and sichos of the Rebbe. Even when every movement caused her pain, she was careful to keep her knees covered when men entered the room she was in. A couple of weeks before she passed away, she was taking a lot of morphine for the pain. One day, she told her father that she doesn’t need any more painkillers. Her father related, “At first, I was sure the miracle we’d been waiting for started
to happen. But, after about 36 hours, I began suspecting that she was still in pain.” Shayna had decided to stop taking the pain medication. She was absolutely certain that the Rebbe’s bracha will make her healthy. A healthy person doesn’t need pain medication, so to make herself a keili for the Rebbe’s brachos, she stopped taking the morphine. Shayna recognized that she experienced tremendous spiritual growth through her illness. About a year before she passed away when she celebrated being in remission, she told her family that she was happy that she had been sick. She said she couldn’t have grown to whom she now was had she not been ill. Shayna was a true l’chat’chilla aribber person. She ignored obstacles and kept going higher and higher. She had a determination that never quit, and she set herself lofty goals. She didn’t let her situation or predicament decide what she might be able to do. She looked at what would be the best thing to do and found a way to do it. Equally amazing is that even though she burned with a fiery passion inside, she had a sweet and gentle personality. The stories above are but a small taste of Shayna’s life. She created noteworthy stories on a daily basis. We chose stories that are representative of Shayna’s accomplishments. We hope that they give the reader an appreciation of her unique life. May we all learn from Shayna to grow from our tests and go beyond our limitations. With inspiration from her life, may we do the good deeds that will tip the scales and bring the Geula with Moshiach NOW!
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TEN TO DISCOVER THE ONE
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
One of Judaism’s most celebrated institutions is the Minyan. It is the quorum of 10 adult Jewish men needed to say certain prayers; specifically, the prayers that involve the sanctification of G-d, such as the Kaddish, K’dusha and the repetition of the Amida. A Minyan is also necessary for the public reading of the Torah. Praying with a Minyan significantly enhances the spiritual power of each of its constituent member’s prayers. The Talmud also states that G-d does not despise the prayer of the many. According to the Talmud, one who prays with a quorum contributes to the Redemption of G-d and His children from exile. What is the source of the number 10 with respect to a Minyan?
There are actually two Biblical sources cited by the Jerusalem Talmud. The first source, mentioned also in the Babylonian Talmud, is the spy narrative in Parshas Shlach. Ten of the 12 spies Moses
sent to scout the Land of Canaan returned with a slanderous report about the Promised Land. These 10 spies are referred to in the Torah as an eida-congregation. Hence, we know that the minimum number of people needed to form a congregation is 10 adult men. The second source (cited only in the Jerusalem Talmud) derives the requirement of 10 for a Minyan from this week’s parsha. Ten of Jacob’s 12 sons entered Egypt to purchase food during the famine predicted by Joseph that had spread to the land of Canaan as well. Jacob’s 10 sons are referred to as the “children of Israel” in this verse. The same expression “Children of Israel” is employed with regard to the commandment to sanctify G-d: “I should be sanctified among the Children of Israel...” This parallel usage of the term Children of Israel is intended to convey the message that a quorum of 10 men is necessary to engage in activities during which G-d’s name is sanctified, such as prayer. We have thus two sources for the Minyan imperative of 10 men: the evil congregation of 10 spies who rebelled against G-d
and the Land of Israel, or the 10 sons of Jacob who sold Joseph into slavery. Our task today is to understand the conceptual and didactic differences between these two sources, and why we must have them both.
A MINYAN OF SINNERS?!
To answer these questions, another question must be answered: How could the Torah base the congregational requirement of 10 men to sanctify G-d’s name on the 10 spies who rebelled against G-d? The Rebbe (Likkutei Sichos volume 33) cites this anomaly as proof that the spies were motivated by spiritual considerations. They felt that the ideal spiritual state was to be found in the serene environment of the desert, where all their physical needs were met by G-d. These spies lived in a blissfully spiritual world and wanted nothing less than the continuation of this kind of life for all of Israel. They feared that entering the Land of Israel would force them to relinquish their souls’ spiritual quest. Now, to be sure, their actions
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were inconsistent with G-d’s will, and for which transgression they were duly punished. Nevertheless, their revolt did not stem from the standard egodriven form of rebelliousness that characterizes other rebels discussed in the Torah. Their disobedience was rooted in a positive, albeit misdirected, spiritual quest. Hence, the source of the law concerning the spiritual institution of the Minyan can justifiably be derived from the highly spiritually charged group of spies. Based on this analysis, the foregoing question as to why the Jerusalem Talmud was not content with that source alone and sought additional Biblical substantiation for the Minyan from the 10 sons of Jacob comes into sharper focus.
of the four exiles, for the land of Canaan was in a state of famine.” This reading suggests that the reason we left the Promised Land of Israel, originally known as Canaan, was to find nourishment in exile.
SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT IN EXILE
How can it be that we should seek our spiritual nourishment in exile? Isn’t exile, by definition, a state of alienation from G-d and His teachings? Isn’t exile the very antithesis of holiness and spiritual growth? Doesn’t exile foster desensitization and famine of the spirit? Yet doesn’t the verse imply that the 10 sons of Jacob looked for their spiritual fix in exile? The answer lies in the word “toch-in the midst” which means that while on the surface there is
ENTERING THE FOUR EXILES
The verse in this week’s parsha from which the requirement of 10 ten men to form a Minyan is derived reads as follows: “So the children of Israel came to buy grain among the visitors, for the land of Canaan was in a state of famine.” Commentators observe that the Hebrew word for “came” – [ha’]ba’im – is an acronym for the four primary exiles of the Jewish nation: The letter beis stands for Bavel-the Babylonian exile; the aleph is the initial of Edom-the Roman exile; the Yud represents Yavan-the Greek exile, and the Mem corresponds to Madai-the Mede or Persian exile. In the light of this insight, the verse can be retranslated, allegorically, as: “So the children of Israel came to buy grain in the midst
last—the shin etc.), the word toch-midst is transformed into the word aleph, which alludes to the Master of the world. The inner essence of exile, hidden in code, is the aleph. When we mine the inner force of exile—the aleph—and reveal its spiritual truth, we release a mighty force of Redemption. In the words of the Rebbe: Exile-Gola and RedemptionGeula share the same letters. The sole difference between them is the aleph that transforms Gola into Geula. When we are able to reveal exile’s true inner vitality, we receive the spiritual nourishment we need, not only to survive but thrive within the exile – as did the Jews initially in Egypt – and also bring an end to its external, negative character and reveal the Geula.
This reading suggests that the reason we left the Promised Land of Israel, originally known as Canaan, was to find nourishment in exile.
nothing more reprehensible than exile, but when we dig deeper and excavate until we reach its inner core, there is a hidden energy that can only be accessed in exile, and, indeed, it is the very force that empowers us to thrive in exile and ultimately be liberated from it. In other words, the way we bring an end to the undesirable external aspects of exile is to search for and discover its hidden inner essence. In the At Bash code (where the first letter of the alphabet— the aleph—is exchanged for the last letter—the tav; the second letter—the beis for the second
TWO FUNCTIONS OF THE MINYAN
We can now understand the difference between the two sources that show us the need for 10 men in a Minyan. The source that derives it from the 10 spies focuses us on the quest for greater spirituality, which is a necessary ingredient in prayer. During prayer we have to escape and transcend the material world to such an extent that we must force ourselves to “return” below to engage and ultimately transform the world into a Land of Israel; a land that cultivates and engenders a desire to conform to G-d’s will. To
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accomplish that, we must have the inspiration of prayer where we rise above and are temporarily withdrawn from the physical world. The institution of the Minyan is a crucial factor in facilitating our spiritual experience of prayer. When 10 Jews gather together, they generate a spiritual force that is infinitely more potent than the spiritual energies possessed and generated by each individual. the Minyan. This concept was alluded to in an earlier section of the Torah. When Jacob came to the well near Lavan’s home and saw the shepherds sitting idle, he asked why they were not off feeding and herding their sheep. They responded that they could not remove the heavy stone which covered the well on their own so they were waiting for all the other shepherds to assist them in that task. Only Jacob was able to do move the boulder singlehandedly. This incident can be understood metaphorically. We, as individuals, cannot remove the stones or impediments blocking the wells of our souls. To gain access to those refreshing spiritual waters, we need the assistance of the community. The Minyan is a micro version of the entire Jewish community, with whose help we can remove any obstacle. It is only when we view ourselves strictly as individuals that we find our paths blocked with insurmountable barriers. Jacob, and Jacob-like individuals such as the Rebbe, can move the rock singlehandedly because their souls are comprised of the souls of all the members of the community. They are not merely individuals; they personify the community, to which they selflessly devote their lives. Everyone else needs the power of the Minyan to reveal the aleph, embedded within exile, which empowers us to achieve Geula.
IT TAKES A COMMUNITY
However, the second source, that which derives the requirement of 10 men from the 10 sons of Jacob who entered Egypt, highlights a completely different function of the Minyan. When a Jew is a prisoner of exile and tries to discover its inner dynamic only to be blocked from penetrating the thick cover, the way to accomplish that feat is to join forces with nine other Jews; one needs the assistance of
LEARNING WITH A MINYAN
In addition to praying with a Minyan, the Rebbe emphasized that we must also learn Torah— particularly, the parts of Torah that deal with Redemption and Moshiach—with a quorum of 10. The combined strength of the Minyan enhances the learning experience and helps us remove the stone blocking the emergence of the aleph, which we will use to transform Gola into Geula.
Continued from page 33 passed on, whose relatives would be happy to donate the s’farim to the Rebbe’s library. Rabbi Yehuda Leib Ashlag died on Yom Kippur 5715. He was known as the Baal HaSulam for his commentary on the Zohar. R’ Zalman met with the heirs who lived in Australia and tried to obtain the s’farim for the Rebbe’s library. The Mt. Scopus School in Melbourne also had a large library with ancient books. Many Jews left their s’farim to the school’s library and R’ Zalman reported to the Rebbe that he met with the principal, R’ Avraham Feiglin, who allowed him to compile a list of all the s’farim
and to send it to the Rebbe. If there were s’farim that the Rebbe was interested in, they would have to ask permission from the school’s administration to send them to the Rebbe. In a letter that the Rebbe wrote to R’ Zalman on 11 Nissan, he said it was surprising that R’ Zalman did not mention anything about the s’farim from the inheritance or those in the school (or shul), and only wrote the names of s’farim without it being clear whether this was all of them (which would be astonishing since the list only contained a few s’farim). The Rebbe said he was visited by a certain rabbi who told him that his friend’s s’farim were sold to the community. The Rebbe
said it was a pity they had missed out on this opportunity for, as this rabbi said, there were some valuable and important s’farim in the collection, and he had even thought about whether to send them to the Rebbe or to exchange them for newly published s’farim. R’ Zalman, who so desired to give the Rebbe nachas, wrote to the Rebbe on 7 Iyar that he still did not understand what the Rebbe meant and that he wrote to R’ Abramson of Sydney, to R’ Groner, and R’ Chadakov to clarify matters. In a letter of 27 Sivan, R’ Zalman reported: I inquired about Ashlag’s estate again and was told that on June 19 the legal matters would be concluded and then we can get the s’farim.
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FROM ASHLAG TO LUBAVITCH
From the life of R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman Serebryanski a”h
Prepared for publication by Avrohom Rainitz
MELBOURNE JEWS CONNECT TO THE REBBE
With the development of Chabad schools in Melbourne, the Jews there became acquainted with the Rebbe’s work. Slowly, they began corresponding with Beis Chayeinu. For example, in a letter dated 27 Teves, R’ Zalman wrote to the Rebbe about a woman who registered her five and a half year old for first grade. She wanted to write to the Rebbe because she wanted to know the Rebbe’s opinion regarding her doctors’ instructions that she undergo an operation. Her husband was a tailor and did not feel well for a long time and had missed work, so the burden of supporting the family fell on her. The doctors said the operation wasn’t urgent, but if she didn’t do it, she would have to work less and she would be unable to support her family. When R’ Zalman asked her how she had heard of the Rebbe, she said that her brotherin-law had met R’ Chaim
who was fundraising for the yeshiva, and after speaking to an acquaintance, encouraging him to help R’ Chaim, he and R’ Chaim developed a nice relationship. R’ Chaim told him about the Lubavitcher Rebbe and about miracles he had done. After a while, her brother-inlaw became sick and his wife, her sister, called R’ Chaim to ask him to send a request for a bracha to the Rebbe for her husband. R’ Chaim, who wanted them to have a direct connection with the Rebbe, suggested that she write or send a telegram herself. She did so, and after receiving the Rebbe’s bracha he recovered. Not only that, but a daughter was born to them after many years of not having children. As per her request, R’ Zalman wrote the whole story to the Rebbe. In the reply letter that the Rebbe sent him on 8 Shevat, he referred to the request for a bracha and said that although this was a routine operation that doctors did in such circumstances, first of all, he had
not written why an operation was needed and another approach wasn’t used, and second, since this was an operation that raised Halachic problems, they should consult with a rav. The Rebbe concluded with a bracha that Hashem send her a refua shleima.
LIMUDEI KODESH ARE FIRST
On Tuesday, 9 Shevat, the first Chabad school opened in Melbourne. This school, which grew into an institution of hundreds of children, opened with ten children in preschool and nine children in first grade. At the same time, the afternoon Hebrew school continued to grow with seventy children attending every day. As mentioned in earlier chapters, R’ Zalman knew that the academic level was very important to the parents and he made every effort to hire a talented teacher with a diploma. After advertising in the Melbourne newspaper “The
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Age,” Mrs. Rintel came and presented herself for the job. She made a very good impression and R’ Zalman hired her to teach the first grade secular studies. Rumor had it that Mrs. Rintel’s grandfather was Jewish. He came to Australia before the First World War and sadly intermarried and ended his Jewish line. That was the fate of most of the Jews who went to Australia at that time. R’ Zalman made it clear to Mrs. Rintel that this was a Jewish school and only part of the school day would be devoted to secular studies. She maintained that in order to put the school on a high academic footing, it was necessary to have at least four hours of secular studies. It was decided that the first hour and a half of the day, from 9:00 until 10:30 would be for Jewish studies. Then the students would learn secular subjects until 3:00, and then they would learn another hour of Judaic studies. Thus, the beginning and end of the day would be in a holy atmosphere. The curriculum for the Jewish subjects was based on textbooks that were bought from R’ Moshe Kantor, R’ Moshe Zalman Feiglin’s son-in-law. These books were brought from religious schools in Eretz Yisroel and the US. On 8 Shevat 5715, the Rebbe wrote R’ Zalman to publicize the Yom Hilula of the Rebbe Rayatz in addition to what would appear in the newspapers. The Rebbe said that the merit of the Baal Ha’hilula would protect all of Anash all over the world so they could fulfill their shlichus in good health, with ample parnasa, and with expansiveness. The Rebbe added a postscript with two points: one, that
“I inquired about Ashlag’s estate again and was told that on June 19 the legal matters would be concluded and then we can get the s’farim.”
subjects for another half an hour. As he wrote to the Rebbe, they were following the Rebbe’s wishes regarding starting the day with Jewish subjects, but as far as giving equal time to Jewish and secular subjects, that was still lacking. This was primarily because they were still young, for otherwise, he would keep them in school longer. He ended with the hope that Hashem help them succeed in this good start, that they get more students, and that they succeed in their learning, and that he find the means to accomplish this.
according to R’ Groner, he hoped that they were energetically dealing with the s’farim both in Melbourne and with the Ashlag estate. And two, that the school day has to begin with Jewish studies and, to try as much as possible, that the number of hours for the Jewish subjects should at least not be less than that of the secular subjects (more would be better). When R’ Zalman received this letter, he quickly reported to the Rebbe that all the grades began with Jewish subjects. When the students arrived at 9:00, he welcomed them and davened Shacharis with them. Then he taught them Alef-Beis and Nekudos until 10:30. After a short recess, they began learning secular subjects for two hours, and then had lunch. R’ Zalman tried to use the lunch break to convey Jewish ideas, and of course, he said all the brachos with the children. Then they learned secular subjects for an hour and a half, and at the end of the day they learned Jewish
ASHLAG’S LIBRARY – TO CHABAD
In the Rebbe’s letter mentioned above, there was a reference to s’farim from Ashlag’s inheritance. The Rebbe, who was greatly expanding his library at the time, would ask Chassidim all over the world to obtain s’farim for the library, mainly from people who had Continued on page 30
Issue 904 • �
A brief profile of the Chassid about whom the Rebbe Rayatz said, “Sholom is mine,” and “That is a Tamim!” * To mark his passing on 24 Kislev.
By Dov Levanon
he Chassid, R’ Sholom Posner was born in Baturin in the Chernigov district. His father was R’ Yitzchok Zalman. At age 11 he left home and was sent to learn in Tomchei T’mimim in Ramen by R’ Itche der Masmid. After his bar mitzva R’ Itche brought him to Tomchei T’mimim in Lubavitch. He was accepted to the yeshiva without taking any test. The Rebbe Rayatz said he relied on R’ Itche. In Lubavitch he learned with people who became his lifelong friends: R’ Zalman Shimon Dworkin, the rav of Crown Heights, R’ Nissan Nemanov, the mashpia in Tomchei T’mimim in Brunoy, and R’ Chaim Zalman Kozliner. R’ Sholom remained in Lubavitch even after the Rebbe left for Rostov and only started his wandering a year later. In 1920, R’ Sholom was in Rostov as a talmid and then he began working in the yeshiva’s office.
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“We suffered starvation but continued to learn,” he said years later. In 5684, his father was murdered by hooligans who grabbed him and twelve other Jews on a boat returning from Homil where he had gone to buy merchandise for his store. This terrible tragedy is what made R’ Sholom resolve to leave the country with his kalla, Chaya. The problem was that R’ Sholom did not have a passport, and in order to obtain one, he had to list his official residence. Naturally, as a yeshiva bachur who lived under the radar for many years, he could not register anywhere. Chaya went to the police station in Homil where she tried to explain that the reason why her husband did not have official residency papers was not because he was a murderer or a thief, but because he had been in a yeshiva in a different city. It was extremely dangerous to say this in a government office, but the newlyweds had no choice. From the first office she was sent to a second office and from there to a third. When she almost despaired, she went to yet another office where a young man accepted her story and gave her the passport she needed. The couple immediately boarded a ship for Eretz Yisroel.
BECOMING A CHASSIDISHE SHOCHET
Upon arriving in Eretz Yisroel, they encountered the poverty, lack and hardship, which were the lot of those living in the Holy Land at the time. The wedding took place in Haifa and was quite different than the weddings we know of today. They barely had a minyan of people at the chuppa ceremony.
After the wedding, they lived in Balfouriya. R’ Sholom worked paving roads while his wife sold some baked goods. He wrote, describing this period, in a letter he sent to the one who later helped him when he arrived in the United States, R’ Yisroel Jacobson: “[The Rebbe Rayatz] wrote that I should go to America and to correspond with you and with Eliyahu Yochil [Simpson] so that you can work on a visa for me and he will also write to you about this. So please make efforts in this, as much as possible. Listed here as well is the address of my paternal grandfather; please visit him and send regards, and perhaps he too can be of help in this. “My work here is not that interesting, simple labor with a shovel and pick-axe, the main problem being that these are also lacking. I did not work for nearly the entire summer.” A short while later, he received a letter from the Rebbe which said that it wasn’t for this, i.e. menial labor, that he was educated in Tomchei T’mimim, so he found a job as a melamed in Rishon L ’Tziyon. At that time there lived in Rishon L ’Tziyon an older man who was a shochet. He wanted to retire but he felt he could not leave the settlement without kosher meat. He looked for someone G-d fearing to replace him and found R’ Sholom. He taught him sh’chita and R’ Sholom became the shochet of the moshav.
A letter from the Rebbe Rayatz to R’ Sholom Posner about working with the children of Anash
INSTRUCTIONS TO LEAVE FOR AMERICA
Throughout the years until that point, the Rebbe had told R’ Sholom a number of times to leave Eretz Yisroel and to go
to the United States. R’ Sholom wrote about this to R’ Jacobson after he had already moved to Rishon L ’Tziyon: “I received another letter from the Rebbe to go to America, and even though I wrote him that I am already earning enough to live sparingly and in holy work, he still told me to go to America.” In those days, in order to receive a visa to the United States, you needed to prove that a family member who lived there was willing to take financial responsibility for you. R’ Sholom’s grandfather lived in the US and he was the one who sent the invitation to his grandson. The grandfather’s brother, who was a shoemaker, had come up with an invention for shoes and he manufactured shoes called, “Posner’s Shoes.” He became relatively wealthy and he promised to pay a stipend to his great nephew. Upon arriving in New York, R’ Sholom’s relatives agreed to pay for his education on
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one condition, that he shorten his long coat a bit. R’ Sholom refused, saying: First it’s the coat, then the beard, and finally all of Judaism is cut down. He left New York and settled in New Jersey where he became a chazan and shochet. The problem was that the monthly salary and the monthly rent were the same. Aside from working at the shul, he gave shiurim from which he earned a little more money which enabled him to buy bread for his children. There were three already when the family came to the US. The paltry salary did not cover their expenses and R’ Sholom had to find a job. He opened a fish and chicken store. Jewish families in the area that did not want him to leave lent him $300 so he could open the business. He did not earn that much from this store, perhaps because he donated many chickens to the needy. him. The Rebbe said, “Do I remember Sholom?! Sholom is mine!” [In a similar vein, when his son Zalman went on shlichus to France, he heard from the Chassidim who had just come out of Russia that the Rebbe said about his father, “Sholom – that is a Tamim!”] “When my father went to the Rebbe Rayatz for the first time since his arrival in America in 1940, he told the Rebbe, ‘I am bringing my children to the Rebbe for the Rebbe to be responsible for them,’” said his son Zushe. The children grew up quite well. Two years after that visit, the Rebbe wrote, “I had much pleasure from the dear talmidim, children of R’ S. Posner. May Hashem help them so they are diligent in their Torah and fear of heaven and may they be G-d fearing, Chassidim, and scholars. Please draw them close since they deserve kiruv.” (A number of letters in this vein were sent to Jews in Chicago. For them, it was most unusual to see yeshiva bachurim in America of those days.) For Pesach 1942, the Rebbe instructed the secretary, R’ M. L. Rodstein, “It should be arranged for the dear talmidim, children of R’ Sholom Posner, to review Chassidus publicly in shuls of Anash and to speak in praise of the yeshiva that, thank G-d, these are its fruits with faces that shine with fear of heaven and fine character. All who see them will recognize that they are from the fruit of the vineyard planted by my illustrious father [the Rebbe Rashab].” In Tammuz 1942, the Rebbe wrote a letter in which he urged R’ Sholom to think about what he had done to arouse the hearts of the Chassidim in his area. The Rebbe Rayatz demanded of him that “he begin in his work, from time to time, in visiting the homes of the young children of Anash and incidentally to see what is going on in the house and discuss with them about the necessity for a mezuza, a kosher kitchen …” Once the Rebbe Rayatz arrived, R’ Sholom became “the Rebbe’s man” in Chicago. When the Rebbe wanted to know what was going on there, R’ Sholom was the one who was asked to report to him. Sometimes, this entailed not letting on to others that he was digging around to find out what was going on. When the Rebbe arrived in Chicago on a visit in the month of Shevat, his wife cooked the Rebbe’s meals and the children would take a taxi to the hotel where the Rebbe and Rashag were staying and bring them the food. When the Rebbe wanted to open a yeshiva in Chicago, he explained in a letter to R’ Sholom how to tell the people in the community. “Regarding the yeshiva k’tana [elementary school] all efforts must be expended for this so that, with Hashem’s help, it will come to pass. I request that you explain to them the importance of my request and tell them what you know of my work in spreading Torah, thank G-d, for over forty years, especially my involvement in this with actual self-sacrifice ever since my father, the Rebbe, before his passing, spoke to me about this. Explain to them that being true friends they need to consider my weak health, may Hashem strengthen me physically and spiritually, for this matter literally affects my health. Only this, spreading Torah with fear of heaven, is my consolation
SHOLOM IS MINE
After a period in New Jersey, he settled in Chicago where he lived for six years and worked as a sexton in a shul. It wasn’t easy for him to live as a Chassid alone, especially in light of the terrible news coming from Europe. When the Rebbe Rayatz moved to the US, R’ Sholom wanted to go and see him but he did not have the money to make the trip. Some of the balabatim in his community, who were relatives of R’ Avrohom Schneersohn of Kishinev, the Rebbe’s father-in-law, went to New York to meet the Rebbe Rayatz. One of them told the Rebbe that they had a shamash who was a Chabad Chassid by the name of Sholom Posner who learned in Lubavitch. He asked whether the Rebbe remembered
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in my suffering in exile from country to country. May Hashem arouse in their hearts a positive awakening to found the yeshiva k’tana for success materially and spiritually.” This unique letter in which the Rebbe writes about himself in such uncommon fashion provides us a glimpse into how great was the bittul of the Chassid, who from then on until his final day devoted his life to carrying out his Rebbe’s shlichus. In his final months in Chicago, he taught Gemara in the Talmud Torah in the B’nei Reuven shul, as the Rebbe instructed.
R’ Sholom Posner standing to the left of the Rebbe at a farbrengen
ACHEI T’MIMIM IN PITTSBURGH
In a letter that the Rebbe wrote to Agudas HaRabbanim in Pittsburgh when he sent R’ Sholom there, he described him in glowing terms, “My staunch friend, the rav and gaon, of esteemed renown, from amongst the choice talmidim of Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim of Lubavitch, possessed of lofty talents and outstanding in his good character, master of mighty deeds to spread Torah...” When news of his shlichus to Pittsburgh became known in Chicago, there were people who were sorry to lose this beloved Chassid. One of them, R’ Nachum Dovber Deitsch, wrote a letter to the Rebbe Rayatz and asked him not to take R’ Sholom from Chicago. The Rebbe responded that R’ Sholom’s shlichus, the place where he would be able to accomplish in spreading Torah, was in chinuch as a rosh yeshiva in Pittsburgh. In the summer of 5703/1943, R’ Sholom arrived in Pittsburgh and was appointed menahel of the yeshiva, which was a school started a year earlier by
Mordechai Dov Altein. Rashag paid the salaries from the offices of the yeshiva in New York, but R’ Sholom had to fundraise for the yeshiva and send the money back to NY so that Rashag would be able to pay his salary. In a letter that the Rebbe wrote to him there were a number of instructions about his shlichus in Pittsburgh. He had to be careful regarding his personal dignity in speech and dress so that he could fundraise; he had to be mekarev Mordechai Dov Altein and praise him to the community for being a yeshiva bachur “made in America;” he needed to arrange farbrengens without interfering with the times that Altein is reviewing Chassidus with them, etc. The Rebbe also told him to establish an actual yeshiva and a Beis Rivka for girls. Mordechai Dov Altein married about a year later and left Pittsburgh in order to start another yeshiva, in New Haven. Before he left, the Rebbe instructed R’ Sholom to arrange a nice reception for him that would make an impression and bring honor to the yeshiva. R’ Sholom was in touch with
the Rebbe MH”M even before he accepted the Chabad leadership. His son, R’ Zushe, remembers his father sitting with the Rebbe at a table in the southwest corner of the small zal and talking. In 5710, R’ Sholom was one of the Chassidim who immediately was mekushar to the Rebbe MH”M. Throughout his life R’ Sholom was a model of a Chassid who lives with the Rebbe every minute of the day. That is the way it was with the Rebbe Rashab, with the Rebbe Rayatz, and with the Rebbe. Not surprisingly, when R’ Zushe recounted a story with the Rebbe and I asked, “Which Rebbe,” he said, “I don’t know, I didn’t ask.” To R’ Sholom, the Rebbe is one, ongoing essential entity. His wife Chaya passed away in 5750 after years of being ill. The Rebbe went out to her funeral and remained standing even after the car belonging to the burial society had disappeared from view, for over twenty minutes. R’ Posner passed away on 24 Kislev 5754. He is survived by dozens of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, many of whom are on shlichus around the world.
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A DREIDEL ON THE THAI BEACH
ai adjusted the large backpack on his shoulders and said goodbye to his parents, brothers, and sisters who had come to see him off at the airport. His parents looked very worried and his siblings did not look too happy either. “Don’t worry, it will be okay … I’ll call. It’s not the end of the world,” he said. Gai had recently finished his army service and now, like many young Israelis, he wanted to make a trip around the world, alone. For how long? He didn’t know. He had bought a one-way ticket and had no plan and was under no obligation to anyone. When he felt like returning, he would return. Gai landed in the Far East which is very dissimilar to Eretz Yisroel. He felt as though he had gone a hundred years back in time. There were entire areas that were undeveloped, laundry was done by hand, people lit oil lamps to see at night … He was very impressed by the stunning scenery. He sought the most unusual sights, climbed mountains, hiked for hours, and gazed at the scenery, alone, with his pack on his back. Gai spent three years traveling
in the Far East, far from his home and friends, far from Torah and mitzvos. One day, when he was in Thailand, he found an out-ofthe way place by the name of Ko Pha Ngan, an isolated island in the sea. Gai loved it. He lived there alone for three months in a hut that he rented from a Thai woman. Every day he sat on the beach and listened to the murmuring of the waves. He looked out to the horizon which was all water and watched the waves breaking on the rocks. These were quiet times when Gai thought and thought. He contemplated the incredible natural world and remembered all kinds of spiritual teachings he had learned from non-Jews. Sadly, he did not think about Hashem, Torah, and mitzvos. Gai was very far from Jewish knowledge and practice. He kept away from anything that seemed connected to Judaism. Back home he had heard many lies about religious Jews and about Judaism and this is why he kept his distance from anything that reminded him that he was a Jew. On this long trip he disconnected even more from his Judaism. Although he had promised to call home, he only called a few times
during those three years. The last time he had called was five months earlier! Gai prepared to do more spiritual exercises he had learned. He focused his thoughts, took a deep breath, and filled his lungs with the clean air. The sky had already started turning colors and the sun was in the west when suddenly, something washed up on the shore right near where he was sitting. It was a little thing that sparkled so Gai picked it up. He couldn’t believe it – it was a dreidel! A Chanuka dreidel! And not just any dreidel. It had four Hebrew words on it: Nes, Gadol, Haya, Po (A Great Miracle Happened Here). Gai was taken aback. A dreidel on the Thai beach? How could that be? There wasn’t a single Jew in the entire area! Gai turned the dreidel this way and that and even played with it. It turned and turned and landed and Gai felt surprisingly emotional about it. He was overcome by childhood memories. He remembered how his father lit the Chanuka Menorah. His mother made warm, tasty doughnuts and they all sat and sang “HaNeiros Hallelu.” Gai felt overcome by
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homesickness and he went back to the small building he rented and immediately looked for his phone to call home. • 859 ‘ The ringing at his parents’ home sounded as it always did but when his mother heard who was on the line, she nearly fainted. “Gai! How are you? I’ve missed you so much! Why haven’t you called until now? I’ve been so worried about you. What’s going on with you? Where are you?” Gai was also happy to hear his mother’s loving voice. “Ima, everything is fine. I’m here, in a small house. The scenery is magnificent with the beach and ocean.” “It’s good you called Gai. Abba is about to light the Menorah. You can listen too.” Gai felt dizzy. Chanuka? A dreidel? Unbelievable! “It’s Chanuka today?” he managed to croak. He listened to the Menorah lighting while tears
fell from his eyes and he tightly clutched the dreidel that had been sent to him that day from heaven. The signs he had gotten that day were so clear that he couldn’t ignore them. When he finished the conversation with his mother he went back to the beach and looked for material in order to build a Menorah. He found a banana leaf and a coconut and he made an improvised Menorah with eight branches. When he finished constructing his Menorah, he put in candles that he had gotten from the woman who rented him the room. As he lit the candles, the spark in his heart burst into a blaze. Near Gai, on the beach, sat another person who was also looking at the scenery. He glanced at Gai and looked at astonishment at his Menorah. When Gai finished what he was doing, the other person went over to him and asked, “What are you doing? Why are
you lighting candles in such an unconventional way? And what are you pondering so deeply?” Gai recalled the Chanuka story he had learned in preschool and said, “It’s a Jewish holiday, a holiday of victory.” “Victory over who?” asked the man. “The victory of the Jews over the Greeks,” said Gai. “Hmm, I’m Greek. I was born in Greece.” Gai did not need any more signs. The very next day he took his backpack and went to the Chabad house. He had decided to learn about Judaism, to get to know what he was truly about. A few months later he returned home and went to the Chabad yeshiva in Katamon in Yerushalayim. He became a baal t’shuva and a devoted Chassid of the Rebbe. He married and his Chassidishe home is now a nachas to the Rebbe MH”M.
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SACRIFICES OF THE DIPLOMATIC PROCESS
“We once called them ‘sacrifices of peace,’ and today they are sacrifices of the diplomatic process,” said Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon the previous week. He essentially declared exactly what the Rebbe had said more than thirty years ago: Talking with terrorists doesn’t just bring territorial concessions, it leads to murder. What were once “the sacrifices of peace” are now the sacrifices of the talks between Israel’s pseudo right-wing government and the terrorist organization calling for the Jewish homeland’s destruction.
By Sholom Ber Crombie Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
A NEW MIDDLE EAST
We should pay attention to the minister of defense, Mr. Moshe (Bogey) Yaalon, who declared last week (once again) his opposition to diplomatic negotiations with terrorist organizations. “We once called them ‘sacrifices of peace’; today they are sacrifices of the diplomatic process,” he said. “There are those who say
‘land for peace.’ I also supported Oslo, but my views changed when I became head of military intelligence.” Yaalon says today what the Rebbe said more than thirty years ago: Talking with terrorists doesn’t just bring territorial concessions, it leads to murder. What were once “the sacrifices of peace” are now the sacrifices
of the talks between Israel’s pseudo right-wing government and the terrorist organization calling for the Jewish homeland’s destruction – although not openly. All the coalition ministers support these negotiations. Even Naftali Bennett – the symbol of the government’s supposed “right flank” – is a high-ranking partner
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in all such policy decisions. He is also a member of the Cabinet, involved in all discussions on the so-called peace talks and giving his sanction to the marathon negotiations with terrorist leaders. However, the current statements by Defense Minister Yaalon are most sound and sober. These aren’t the voices of the “propellers,” as Rabin used to refer disparagingly to those who opposed the Oslo Accords twenty years ago. Today, these idealists can be found on the left side of the political map as well, as they also understand the severe consequences when we show weakness to the terrorists. In fact, such voices are now part of the ideological mainstream. There’s only one small problem: Among these voices of sanity, there is no true representative within the governing coalition or the Knesset. The Bayit Yehudi Party is extremely busy these days with drafting the ultraOrthodox into the army and cutting child allowances for large families, while its Tekuma faction is occupied with reforming the chief rabbinate and opening new non-rabbinical regional offices for marriage registration. Thus, there’s no one minding the store to preserve the integrity of the Jewish People.
“It is important to make an unambiguous ultimatum to the Iranian regime – a bomb or survival. I hope that we won’t have to say, ‘We told you so.’” WHO CAUSED THE MURDER OF SGT. TOMER CHAZAN HY”D?
Security and military forces call this “quiet terrorism.” The press classifies this as “the intifada of the individuals.” Regardless of what you call it, what’s happening right now is the direct result of government weakness. While they continue to stammer and stumble, terrorism raises its ugly head once again. Last week, we learned about a serious policy failure that led to the tragic killing of Air Force Sgt. Tomer Chazan, may G-d avenge his blood, who was murdered this past Chol HaMoed Sukkos by an Arab seeking to use the incident as a means to free his terrorist brother from imprisonment. A year and a half ago, an agreement was signed between the Israel Prison Service and representatives of incarcerated terrorists who were in the midst of a hunger strike at the time. According to this agreement, the terrorists received a package of benefits including family visits, adjoining cells, and more. In return for these considerations, they would agree to refrain from any and all terrorist activities in the future. As a result of the agreement, direct and unsupervised contact was established between terrorists serving prison sentences in Israeli jails and their families. According to an indictment, during one such family visit in a prison last year, one of the terrorists demanded from his
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THE KOSEL’S REFORM SQUARE
Recently, Naftali Bennett granted an interview with one of Eretz Yisroel’s leading media outlets. He took pride in the public plaza he had made for the Reform community at the Western Wall. He had dared to come to Kfar Chabad before last winter’s Knesset election to sit with community leaders in search of votes, and now he has done
something that no government minister has ever managed to do – not even those from the far leftwing Meretz Party. He has built a square for Reform worshippers at the Kosel, the surviving remnant of our Beis HaMikdash, where they hold mixed prayer services in desecration of this holiest of places. Yet, not only doesn’t Bennett regret what he did at the Kosel, he is most proud of it. “I recommend to any Israeli coming to Yerushalayim to visit ‘Ezrat Yisroel.’ This is the true help for the Jewish People, where every family can pray together,” said Bennett. When the interviewer then asked him if he goes there with his family, Bennett didn’t hesitate: “If I want to come with my children, my daughters – of course I’ll go to pray there.” Quietly without anyone noticing, we suddenly have a pro-Reform religious affairs minister who calls women rabbis “my sisters.” Today, there are no public officials prepared to stand up and declare unequivocally that no matter what their political future might hold, they are unwilling to sit in a government conducting negotiations on M’aras HaMachpeila in Chevron and the Shomron settlements of Elon Moreh and Elkana. The current Israeli government is filled with opportunists, who want only the trappings of power.
However, talks eventually resumed on reaching an “understanding” with the Iranians, as if they were merely creating an atomic bomb designed to power a popcorn machine.
brother that he kidnap an Israeli soldier in order to secure the former’s release. The indictment quotes the imprisoned terrorist as telling his brother that he would eventually become a murderer because, “I want Gilad Shalit II; I want you to kidnap a soldier.” The indictment adds that the terrorist wanted his brother to hide the kidnapped soldier in a cave: “While a live soldier would be better, if necessary – kill him. The main thing is that I should be freed.” As a result of this request, the terrorist’s brother initiated his plan to kidnap a soldier, resulting in the eventual abduction and murder of Sgt. Tomer Chazan Hy”d. Once again, we see the weakness and indecision of the Israeli government. Instead of demonstrating concern for the interests of the Jewish People, the government only worries about arranging family visits and easier conditions for terrorist murderers, may their names be erased. Those who have mercy upon the cruel will eventually be cruel to the merciful. he said. “To our regret, based on these mistakes of naïveté, following the heart’s natural desire for quick solutions, people have sought to strengthen [Iranian president] Hassan Rouhani, as they once did with Arafat, Abu Mazen, and [former Lebanese prime minister] Fouad Siniora. “We are crying out against this evil deal. I estimate that there will be a deal because the West is eager for one. This is not the way to act in the Middle East. It is important to make an unambiguous ultimatum to the Iranian regime – a bomb or survival. I hope that we won’t have to say ‘We told you so.’ The weakness in the Middle East has been transformed into a strategic weapon.” The previous week, it seemed that the United States had come to its senses and would put a halt to this dangerous proposal. However, talks eventually resumed on reaching an “understanding” with the Iranians, as if they were merely creating an atomic bomb designed to power a popcorn machine. The question is: What will the prime minister do now after casting his burden upon the nations of the world, waiting for them to attack Iran because he is worried over the worst possible scenario, namely that the Israel Defense Forces will do its job, resulting in the whole world standing perplexed over the Israeli success in the face of American stupidity? Thus, the prime minister has a
THE AMERICANS ARE WRONG ONCE AGAIN
At this meeting when Moshe Yaalon introduced the concept of “sacrifices of the diplomatic process,” he also spoke about the Iranian issue. “During the nineties, it took me two years as head of military intelligence to convince the Americans that the Iranians were developing nuclear weapons, while the Europeans were only convinced in 2000,”
serious problem: After promising that his government would not initiate military options on its own, what will he do in the event of a U.S.-Iran agreement? This reminds us again of the Rebbe’s holy words to the incumbent prime minister. He told Mr. Netanyahu, thenIsrael’s ambassador to the United Nations, that the U.N. is a place of darkness, and we have to light a small candle there in order to illuminate the darkness and drive out the lies and deceit. With his prophetic vision, the Rebbe saw what was on the horizon, and the facts that were so precise back then have returned to public debate with even greater force. While the residents of Eretz Yisroel have sobered up, the policymakers in the Israeli government continue on their rampage. The public at-large understands the absurdity in releasing terrorists, conducting negotiations with them, or relying upon the Americans to deal with the Iranian issue. However, the politicians remain steadfast in their determination not to let the facts confuse them. When we analyze public opinion in Eretz Yisroel today, we find that everything the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach spoke firmly about has become the mainstream position. To put an end to the “quiet terrorism,” its perpetrators must pay the full price for their senseless acts of murder. Negotiations must be terminated, and Israeli law must finally be applied throughout Eretz HaKodesh. Instead of American-sponsored peace talks with the ayatollahs, we will create a truly new Middle East with no nuclear bomb for the Iranians and no hesitancy or vacillation in guaranteeing security for the Jewish homeland.
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