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FEATURED ARTICLES WEEKLY COLUMNS
SPIRITUAL AWAKENING IN THE CITY OF LIGHTS
THE LIGHT OF 14 SHINING TORAH ON SHLICHUS
Rabbi Yaakov Shmuelevitz
LOYAL AND 18 A DEVOTED CHASSID
4 D’var Malchus 33 Parsha Thought 36 Crossroads 39 Moshiach & Geula 40 Tzivos Hashem 42 Viewpoint
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CHASSID ACCUSED 25 THE OF SORCERY
– THE MAN 28 U’FARATZTA BEHIND THE SONG
Shneur Zalman Berger
744 Eastern Parkway Brooklyn, NY 11213-3409 Tel: (718) 778-8000 Fax: (718) 778-0800 email@example.com www.beismoshiach.org EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: M.M. Hendel
HEBREW EDITOR: Rabbi S.Y. Chazan editorH@beismoshiach.org
ENGLISH EDITOR: Boruch Merkur firstname.lastname@example.org
BASI L’GANI 5714
Beis Moshiach presents the maamer the Rebbe MH”M delivered on Yud Shvat 5714, in accordance with the custom established by the Rebbe to review each year a section of the Rebbe Rayatz’s maamer Basi L’Gani of 5710. • This year we focus on the fourth section of the profound and foundational chassidic discourse. • Part 2
Translated by Boruch Merkur
THE WORLDS’ EXISTENCE IS A GIVEN WHEREAS G-DLINESS IS SURMISED
2. Sitra achara has the capacity to incite a ruach shtus, the desire for material things, including the desire for things that are permitted. Though it is not so much the desire itself for physical things that is the threat, but the enjoyment and exhilaration in these things. Materialism desensitizes the person’s enjoyment of holiness as well as his enthusiasm for it, increasingly stifling the person until the ruach shtus enters him, enabling him to commit a sin. The ruach shtus within him gives him the impression that his Judaism [his connection to G-d] remains intact even when he commits a sin. In a broader sense, temptation to sin is reflected in the Animal Soul’s ability to eclipse the G-dly Soul. In fact, this dynamic is traced all the way back to Creation, insofar as the worlds in general, especially the lower worlds [known collectively as] Bi”YA, conceal G-dliness. This concealment results in the condition articulated in the well-known saying: The worlds’ existence is a given whereas G-dliness is [only] surmised.
THE ULTIMATE GIFT FROM G-D
The Divine purpose for the concealment of G-dliness, culminating in the sitra achara’s ability to entice the person to sin, is in order for there to be iskafia sitra achara, in order for the person to have the opportunity to overcome temptation, as the Alter Rebbe writes in Tanya: power is
[only] granted to sitra achara in order for it to be [opposed and] defeated. To that end, G-dliness is concealed to the point that there can be free choice. Thus, it is written, “Behold I have granted before you today life and goodness, as well as death and evil.” This dichotomy is needed for there to be the possibility to “choose life.” G-d established the world in this way so there should not be “bread of shame” [the feeling of being given “handouts” from On High, bestowed with underserved grace]. Rather, there should be the concept of avoda, serving G-d, as our Sages teach, “Commensurate with the painstaking effort is the reward” (Avos 5:21). Since G-d is the essence of goodness, He wishes to bestow the ultimate good [to His creations, which entails feeling deserving of G-d’s beneficence]. All of the above, however, only explains why sitra achara and the Animal Soul have been granted the power to conceal; how it is possible for the Animal Soul to conceal the G-dly Soul must still be understood. Indeed, the G-dly Soul is a true existence, it is G-dliness, whereas the Animal Soul is [a subsidiary existence] merely intended to allow there to be the concept of avoda. Similarly, the world as a whole is created only to provide an environment whereby “commensurate with the painstaking effort is the reward,” as above. Thus, [being that they are only “secondary” existing creations] how do sitra achara and the Animal Soul have the power to conceal G-dliness, resulting in a ruach shtus that conceals the truth and makes it
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appear to the person that when he commits a sin his Judaism remains intact?
MAN’S DEPENDENCE ON PHYSICALITY, IN BODY AND IN SPIRIT
3. The answer will emerge from a discussion of the dependence of man on the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms (when he commits a sin with physical things or when he uses them in order to refine them and use them for a G-dly purpose, etc.). A person requires the physical things he consumes and interacts with for the sake of his subsistence, his survival. The mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms are also dependent on man, for specifically through being utilized for man’s avoda is their purpose achieved. (As is known, the mineral kingdom achieves its purpose when it is consumed by plant life; plants achieve their purpose by being consumed by animals; the purpose of animals is fulfilled by being consumed and utilized by human beings; and through man – by means of his service of G-d – the animal kingdom is subsumed within G-dliness.) But the dependency of the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms on man is only for the sake of their elevation and achieving their purpose, not for their subsistence, whereas man’s need for the three lower kingdoms is not only for the sake of his avoda and for fulfilling his purpose, but also for his subsistence and survival. The three lower kingdoms preserve man’s bodily life by keeping the soul attached to it. In this respect, man’s need for physical things resembles the need of fire for fuel. The nature of fire, of course, is to ascend. Only by means of its connection to the wick [or some form of fuel] does it remain below. Similarly, the soul, of its own accord, wishes to [leave the body and] ascend, cleaving to its source and point of origin, etc. (as explained in Tanya, Ch. 19, beg.), but the consumption [of food and drink comprised] of the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms serve to ground the soul in the physical body, keeping the body alive.
“Their soul,” the G-dly spark, “is garbed,” hidden within food. It is the role of man to reveal this spark, being within his sphere of influence. Thus, he is “hungry and also thirsty” to fulfill his mission and reveal the spark of G-dliness within it.
In Kesser Shem Tov (siman 194), the Baal Shem Tov cites, in the name of the Arizal, the difficulty of the Chokrim in understanding the soul’s need for physical consumption: It is apparent that the soul needs physical food, for without it the soul departs from the body. But why is the life of the soul, which is spiritual, dependent specifically on physical foods? The Arizal answers that their error is apparent in their question, for the soul does not require the physical aspect of food, but the sparks of G-dliness it contains. The Baal Shem Tov elaborates that this sheds light on the verse, “They are hungry and also thirsty; their soul is garbed within them.” Here Scripture questions why man is hungry and thirsty for physical things, and it answers because “their soul is garbed within them”: “Their soul” referring to the G-dly spark within them [within food and drink]; “is garbed” – for it is hidden within them. It is the role of man to reveal this spark, being within his sphere of influence. Thus, he is “hungry and also thirsty” [to fulfill his mission and reveal the spark of G-dliness within his food and drink]. There, in Torah Ohr, the Alter Rebbe observes that, at first glance, it is still difficult to understand: Although the hunger and thirst of man for food is not on account of its physical aspect, but for the G-dly spark within it, nevertheless, the difficultly persists, for there is a G-dly spark also within (man and) the body of man (in particular). So why does he specifically need the spark contained within the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms? [He already possesses G-dliness on his own!] The Alter Rebbe answers that the G-dly spark within the three lower kingdoms is greater, loftier. In any case, from all the above it is understood that man needs the three lower kingdoms (not just for the sake of his physical survival but) also for the sake of his spiritual subsistence. This point, however, requires further elucidation. (To be continued be”H)
HUNGRY FOR “THEIR SOULS”
Man’s dependence on the three lower kingdoms, however, is not only for the sake of his body, but also for the sake of his soul. The neshama needs the spark of G-dliness contained within physical things, as the Alter Rebbe teaches in Torah Ohr, on the verse, “man does not live on [the physical aspect of] bread alone but on all that issues forth from the mouth of G-d [i.e., the sparks of G-dliness] does man live” (Eikev 8:3).
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SPIRITUAL AWAKENING IN THE CITY OF LIGHTS
Since he became involved in Judaism and Chassidus, R’ Kalman Eliezer Rotban has merited to see G-dly providence and the Rebbe’s tremendous love accompanying him with every step he takes. Answers and brachos, miracles and wonders, in his shlichus in Le Raincy in France, during his many visits to the Rebbe and after he made aliya. * A moving life story.
By Nosson Avrohom
t was a long, complicated journey that R’ Kalman Eliezer Rotban of Nachalat Har Chabad made on his way to Torah, mitzvos and Chabad. He is a child of Holocaust survivors. All his childhood stories were his parents’ horror stories – they had lost most of their family in the extermination camps, as well as stories of heroism – his father had served as an officer in a group of partisans in the Russian forests.
His parents settled in Lud and sent him to the local Chabad elementary school, but the atmosphere at home was not religious. After high school he did his army service in the armored corps and then continued to serve as a detective for the Tel Aviv police department and as a security agent for El-Al at the airport in Lud. It was in those years that he was named the Israel national champion in gymnastics.
It was then, while serving as a senior security agent at the terminal in Paris, with a good salary and his superiors very pleased with him, that his life took a turn. In one moment he decided to abandon his way of life and to return to tradition.
IN THE EL-AL TERMINAL IN PARIS
Lazer’s mother came from Hungary and his father from
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Poland. The two met after the war and married in a camp for survivors in Austria. “My father’s stories were my constant companions during my childhood and continue to accompany me till this very day,” says R’ Rotban. He managed to escape the death camps in Poland, went to Russia and fought the Germans alongside the Red army. After his unit was decimated by the Germans, he hid in the forests that surrounded
Gomel in White Russia, along with other Russian soldiers who survived and they fought the Germans together as partisans. “Since my father was tall and blond, his friends sent him disguised as a German soldier, while they hid on the sides of the road. My father could speak fluent German and when a truck with German soldiers came, he directed them with his lantern straight into the partisans’ trap where they were killed. The
Germans figured out what was going on and arrived with a large force in the forest. My father was caught along with ten other partisans and the Germans stood them up against a wall and shot them. “They all fell dead except for my father who was seriously wounded. Since he fell like the rest of them, the Germans thought he was dead. Good people who found him afterward took him to a local hospital and from there he was taken to Austria. With devoted care he recovered from his injuries and survived.” After his parents married, they made aliya and lived in an immigrant camp in Beer Yaakov. From there they moved to permanent housing in Lud. The only religious school in the area was run by Chabad. “Since my parents kept a smidgen of tradition, they sent me and my brother to learn there.” R’ Kalman describes his mother as a real “Yiddishe Mama.” “My mother grew up in a Satmar home. Although the events that occurred in the war distanced her from her previous life, the chinuch she received stuck with her till her final day. She tried to bequeath it to us. My father ran a grocery store and my mother would take food products from the store every Friday and send me to distribute it to poor people living alone.” When I asked him about life as a child of Holocaust survivors, R’ Kalman told me about the classes his father signed him up for when he was in second grade. “It was important to him that I be a strong person. At a relatively young age I competed as a gymnast in the Israeli nationals and took home some medals which pleased my father.
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“About a week after we sent the letter, I opened the mailbox and saw a letter from the French Housing Ministry which said we were eligible for an apartment from the government. We were dumbfounded. We hadn’t even submitted a request! We had never considered that we might be eligible.”
We performed in acrobatic shows with singers on stages throughout the country.” He attended the Chabad school until eighth grade. He nostalgically remembers the Chassidishe stories and the farbrengens with the teachers who returned from 770, but it would take some years until these things brought about a real change in him. He finished high school and spent his three years in the army tank corps in the north of the country on the Syrian border. “That was during the War of Attrition against the Egyptians when the northern front was relatively quiet.” When he completed his army service, he was drafted once again with the outbreak of the Yom Kippur war. “Every minute that I remained alive during that war was an open miracle. We were bombarded with hails of mortars countless times but, against the odds, most of them missed. I remember a particularly severe attack by the Iraqi army. It was an entire night of nonstop shelling with no casualties. An open miracle. One night we went with the tank towards the rear in order to improve our position. In the morning, when we left the tank, we discovered that if we had gone one more meter back, we would have tumbled down into the abyss.”
for security agents serving in the airport in which I did very well. I soon began to work. At first I was an undercover agent and would mix with the passengers, trying to identify suspicious characters. It was a job with tremendous responsibility. The passengers as well as those who visited the airport did not know that the visible security agents are only one link in the security chain, while the greater resources, both technological and human, are invested in undercover protection. “After a successful period in this field, I was promoted and became a security agent for El-Al in Paris. I lived in Paris and met my wife there. At that time, I was not at all religious, but my wife came from a traditional home and she brought me back to the days I had learned in Chabad.”
The Rotbans got married in Eretz Yisroel and shortly afterward they returned to Paris. His wife continued her studies at a university while he planned to study law. What changed their plans was the fact that they were becoming more and more religious and were very close with the shliach, R’ Shmuel Asimov. “I attended farbrengens and shiurim, and my kiruv process became very internal and deep. It all happened relatively quickly. “It is very hard to describe the process. I was a free man who had no interest in tradition. The only day I went to shul was Yom Kippur. I can’t say I was searching for anything, but when I heard Chassidus I was hooked. What particularly bound me to the Rebbe was an incredible miracle that my wife and I experienced a year after we married.
When the war was over, in which many members of his unit were killed, Eliezer decided to join a detective unit in the Tel Aviv police force. “For two years I was, what is called in police jargon, undercover. At that time the newspapers began exposing crime families in Israel. The police compiled a list of eleven families and we police detectives had to follow them. My mother did not like this at all, to say the least, and she urged me to leave the police. ‘Just not the police,’ she begged. “After two years with the police, I left and took a course
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“Until then we had lived in a tiny studio apartment in the heart of Paris. When our son was born we wanted to move to a bigger apartment but couldn’t afford it. I remembered the miracle stories that my teachers in the Chabad school would tell us about the Rebbe and we decided to write to the Rebbe and ask for his bracha. My wife had begun taking an interest in Chabad so she liked the idea. She wrote a three page letter at the end of which she asked for a bracha. “A short while earlier I had worked for a French security consulting company, but since I was unwilling to work on Shabbos, I left and found a job in stock control in a Jewish owned company. The salary was much lower. I was also studying electronics at ORT. About a week after we sent the letter, I opened the mailbox and saw a letter from the French Housing Ministry which said we were eligible for an apartment from the government. We were dumbfounded. We
hadn’t even submitted a request! We had never considered that we might be eligible. They invited us to see an apartment in a new building. “We went to see the apartment and it was fabulous. It was new, beautiful and in an excellent location. The manager of the building asked me to bring my most recent salary stubs. I was a student at the time and I brought him the stubs that I had. He told us that they would soon be raffling off the apartments in the building and he would let us know which apartment we won. “Some time went by. One Friday morning the phone rang and the man told us we had won the apartment we had seen. We were thrilled since the building was constructed in such a way that this was the only apartment that had a porch open to the sky, which we could use for a sukka. After the bureaucratic procedures were taken care of, we moved in. “Two weeks went by and I had an astonishing dream. I
entered the Rebbe’s room in 770 and the Rebbe gave me a letter. The dream was so real that when I woke up, it took me a long time to fall back asleep. “The next morning I went to check the mailbox and was taken aback to find a letter from the Rebbe’s office. It was our first letter and was dated 3 Tammuz of that year. The Rebbe wrote, ‘Your request was received. I will mention it at the tziyun of the Rebbe, my father-in-law.’ It was like the Rebbe waited until we moved into the new apartment and was now informing us that it was he who arranged it all. For days afterward I walked around in a daze over this story and the connection my wife and I felt to the Rebbe became even deeper.”
GOING ON SHLICHUS AGAINST THE ODDS
“In that suburb of Paris where we lived there was a big shul with many congregants, but the people came to shul by car on Shabbos
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THE REBBE’S PROPHETIC BRACHA
R’ Rotban became acquainted with a businessman by the name of David Bokovza who ran a successful shoe store in a town near Le Raincy. “Upon hearing a lot about the Rebbe from us, he told me that he and his wife decided that they were flying to see him. They wanted to see the man we were constantly talking about. “I suggested that they fly there for Chanuka and asked that he come to me before he left. He came, and I asked him to give a bottle of vodka to the secretaries before the farbrengen in 770 and during the farbrengen, when the Rebbe called upon whoever had brought a bottle to come and get it, that he should go up. “When he returned from his trip, he was all excited. He had done as I had asked him and he was holding the bottle that he had received from the Rebbe. He told me that the Rebbe blessed him that this bottle should generate simcha. I told him that the bracha he received was not the usual and that in order to actualize it, he had to arrange an ‘Evening with Chabad’ with a band and a bountiful repast to which he would invite his friends and acquaintances and tell them about his visit to the Rebbe. “He happily complied and took it very seriously. He invited several hundred people and paid for a nice hall. In the town there was a Jewish school run by R’ Bar-Ami and near the shul was a nice hall where the event took place. We brought a band of Lubavitcher musicians from Paris and the caterer did a magnificent job. The event was called for eight in the evening and I arrived at five to see that the preparations were being done properly. On the way to the hall, we passed the nearby shul where we met R’ Bar-Ami and he asked us for a bottle of wine. We asked him why and he pointed at a Jewish couple and said they had shown up unexpectedly and wanted to be married then and there. “He asked me whether I could arrange a minyan. I asked the couple why they wanted to be married so hastily and without a meal and guests and simcha. The woman, with tears in her eyes, said she was a divorcee and her husband-to-be was a convert. Both of them were opera singers in a philharmonic orchestra and when they told their parents that they wanted to marry, they were very upset. The parents on both sides decided to cut off ties with them. They now felt alone in the world. ‘Who would we invite to a wedding?’ she said sadly. They had left their city and come to this
suburb in order to find a quiet place to live. “In the meantime, people began to gather and I asked all the men to stand around the chuppa and the women also stood nearby. After the chuppa ceremony, I asked David Bokovza whether we could combine the two simchas. He unhesitatingly agreed and I announced to the bride and groom that although they had not arranged for a hall and guests, we had! “They went to the hall where the ‘Evening with Chabad’ was taking place. The women rejoiced with the kalla and the men with the chassan. The band played merrily and nothing was lacking. It was an extremely joyous event. “Between one dance and another, David told about his experiences with the Rebbe. He took out the bottle of vodka and told the participants about the Rebbe’s bracha that it should bring simcha and said, ‘Now we are rejoicing with the bride and groom. Who would have dreamed that this is how it would work out?’ That is when my wife and I realized what the Rebbe meant. People were impressed by the Rebbe’s ruach ha’kodesh but that was nothing compared to the shock we had after the kalla asked to say a few words. “In a voice trembling with emotion, she said that some time ago she had been sitting at home and feeling alone in the world. She was divorced and her fiancé was a convert, they were religious, and what did they want? Only to build a Jewish home. And yet, the result had been that his family and her family had cut themselves off from them and they remained alone. She cried and cried and then remembered about the Lubavitcher Rebbe. She had heard that he was a great man who cared about every Jew. She decided to write to him. “She wrote her life story as well as her feelings and sorrow and asked the Rebbe to send her a sign that what she was doing was the right thing and that she was not alone in the world. Every day she checked the mailbox to see whether she had received an answer from the Rebbe but was disappointed time after time. But now, after David told about being to see the Rebbe and the Rebbe’s bracha when he gave him the bottle, and this beautiful event, she was appeased. She could not have received a clearer answer than this. “It was an enormous kiddush sheim Lubavitch. People left there astounded and moved. At the end of the simcha, people arranged to make sheva brachos for the couple. “We had many miracles, stories and hashgacha pratis on shlichus, but this story was the most moving of all.”
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and the davening wasn’t much of a davening. What saddened me most was that the young people did not truly know what made them special. “On Sukkos 5743 I went to the Rebbe for the first time. At kos shel bracha on Motzaei Simchas Torah I prepared to thank the Rebbe for the apartment. But when I stood there facing him, I couldn’t say a word. “That Tishrei was an enormous source of energy for me. I returned to France with tremendous drive. At the Simchas Torah farbrengen the Rebbe turned to me three times and told me to say l’chaim. This gesture made me want to turn over the neighborhood for the Rebbe. Actually, it wasn’t that easy. The president of the k’hilla did not let us operate. There were those who told me bluntly that they had no intention of the k’hilla turning Orthodox with a bearded rabbi telling them what was forbidden and what was permissible. It started with them refusing to give me an aliya. When they saw this did not help and I had an influence on the youth and farbrenged with them and gave shiurim, they complained about me to the police and requested that I be prohibited from entering the shul. It turned out I wasn’t the first in this position. There had been religious Jews in the past who had tried to enter the shul and they were treated the same way. I did not give up. I was constantly supported by R’ Asimov. “In Tishrei 5745, I decided to ask the Rebbe for a bracha for success in my outreach work. At kos shel bracha on Motzaei Simchas Torah I passed by the Rebbe and said the situation was difficult, the heads of the community did not allow me to
operate and I asked for a bracha. The Rebbe smiled broadly and gave me a bottle of mashke and wished me ‘bracha v’hatzlacha.’ “What can I tell you … On my first day back, the president of the k’hilla called me. He had constantly fought me and now he asked to meet with me. I brought the bottle of mashke from the Rebbe with me to the meeting, and said it was from the Rebbe to him and to the members of the community. He softened considerably and said we should work together. I was shocked by this surprisingly conciliatory approach. “The first project we did was an ‘Evening with Chabad.’ I had a band, food and the guest speaker was my mashpia at the time, R’ Asimov. When the president of the k’hilla asked to share in half the expenses I thought I was hallucinating. “Over 600 Jews attended that evening’s program, including those who had never stepped foot in a shul. When the president
and heads of the community saw how well it was turning out, they agreed to step up the joint efforts. “There were shiurim for old and young at the shul. As for those who did not come to the shul, we made house calls and did Mivtza Mezuza and T’fillin. Today there are quite a few families in Eretz Yisroel and New York who became Lubavitchers through our work in those days. “Many wrote to the Rebbe through us and miracles abounded. I remember a young man who wanted to invite me to a Shabbos meal. When I inquired a bit, he admitted that his wife was not Jewish but said she kept Shabbos. I explained to him that he was living a lie. ‘Leave her,’ I said but he told me how she was more observant than he was, and it was only thanks to her that he went to shul. “When I didn’t leave him alone, he said he had fled Paris to avoid people like me. I said that if he was not convinced by me, he should go to the Rebbe and
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“On my first day back, the president of the k’hilla called me. He had constantly fought me and now he asked to meet with me.”
ask him. To my surprise, he was willing to do that and he flew off to New York. When he returned, I asked him what had happened. I could tell that a crack had been made in his wall of refusal. “He said that he had submitted a letter to the Rebbe and had received an answer the same day. The Rebbe told him to consult with an Orthodox rabbi. I referred him to R’ Hillel Pevsner. With R’ Pevsner’s counsel he left the woman and only after she underwent conversion did they marry again. Their son also converted. Today, they are a beautiful Lubavitcher family. They made aliya and live in one of the big communities in the center of the country. There are other families like them that we are still in touch with. “What made many Jews change their lives and become Chassidim was visiting the Rebbe. Every year we would take groups of Jews from France to 770. My wife led a group of women and I led the men.” When many Jews became interested in having a kosher kitchen, the Rotbans decided to open a kosher grocery store in the suburb near where they lived. “We had miracles with the store too. One day, hours before I boarded a plane for 770, the phone in the store rang and a person from the tax department was on the line. He informed me that in the inspection they had made, he saw that we owed them 14,000 francs, a very large sum. I had no idea where I’d get the money from. I also had no idea how they arrived at that sum. “A few hours before the flight, I went to their office. They allowed me to take the flight when they were convinced that I had no intentions of running away, but they said that immediately upon my return I would have to pay. I promised them that I’d take care of it as soon as I got back. The first thing I did when I arrived in 770 was to submit a report about our work in spreading Judaism. In conclusion, I mentioned the news about the tax I had to pay. “I don’t remember the exact date but I remember that it was before Rosh Hashanah. The Chassidim were passing by the Rebbe and giving him panim and I was there too. This was Tishrei in the beginning of the 80’s. Afterward, I went to visit my brother in Boro Park and my wife called me there all excited. She said they had just called from the tax authority to apologize about the mistake. Rather than us owing them, we had a positive balance on their books due to a double collection they had made.”
TWO MAZAL TOVS OF THE REBBE
After ten years of dynamic outreach work, the Rotbans decided to make aliya. Many Jews made aliya at that time including friends and acquaintances, and they wanted to join them. The Rebbe’s sichos about the imminent Geula were an additional impetus. “Since we were working for the Rebbe, we didn’t make this step without asking for
his bracha. On Hoshana Raba 5749 my entire family went to the Rebbe. When I passed by the Rebbe for the distribution of lekach, I asked for two brachos, one for my wife who was pregnant and one for the move to Eretz Yisroel. The Rebbe gave me lekach in a bag which included a dollar and he said ‘mazal tov’ two times. “The first mazal tov occurred shortly thereafter upon the birth of our son. The second mazal tov occurred a few months later when we bought an apartment in Nachalat Har Chabad. We saw how everything with the Rebbe is precise. We made aliya first in 5751. I wanted another bracha from the Rebbe. I passed by for dollars and told the Rebbe that I felt that my shlichus in France had ended and I greatly desired moving to Eretz Yisroel for the true and complete Geula. The Rebbe gave me a dollar and said we should consult with a practicing rav. “We consulted with rabbanim in France and after some discussion, they approved of our move. We have been living in Nachalat Har Chabad since then. “For a number of years I worked in shipping from Kiryat Malachi to Tel Aviv and in recent years I have been giving shiurim and am the chaplain at the Shikma prison. At first I went there on mivtzaim on Chanuka and Purim. The chaplain there, who knew me, told me about a Torah study program that was about to open at the prison and he asked me to run it.”
GEULA IN LECTURES
Once a shliach, always a shliach. Although R’ Rotban is almost of retirement age, he is not thinking of relaxing. He gives lectures at army bases within the
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framework of an organization for French Jews. Every Friday, he and other men from Nachalat Har Chabad go to army bases in the south of the country and on the borders. “Every lecture that I give I connect with what the Rebbeim say and our anticipation of
the Geula. When I speak to volunteers and soldiers about the privilege they have to help the Jewish nation, I insert messages about the importance of Eretz Yisroel as the land that has ‘Hashem’s eyes upon it from the beginning of the year till the end.’ “Every lecturer has to
adjust to the audience he is addressing but at the same time, not forget his shlichus. There is a tremendous desire to hear the truth, more than ever. We need to get to work and spread the wellsprings with Chassidic pride.”
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Issue 907 • �
SHINING THE LIGHT OF TORAH ON SHLICHUS
Stories about shluchim who started Torah schools: the difficulties, the successes, and the nachas.
By Rabbi Yaakov Shmuelevitz Shliach, Beit Shaan
TALMUD TORAH IN THE ATLIT PRISON
R’ Moshe Axelrod, shliach to Atlit, started two Talmud Torahs, one for inmates in the Atlit prison and another, ordinary one, for children. This may sound simple, but these were actually two very difficult projects. It is only thanks to Hashem’s kindness and the ko’ach of the meshaleiach that these “mosdos” continue to thrive. Sitting in prison is a former hardcore criminal with lots of experience in the field by the name of Bento (short for Ben Tabib). Bento attends R’ Axelrod’s shiurim and partly listens and partly explains to his friends that which they do not understand. When they reached chapter five of Tanya where it explains that the Torah is food and mitzvos are the garments of
the soul in Gan Eden, some of the inmates found it puzzling. Bento banged on the table and said, “Why don’t you understand? When a person does mitzvos and does not learn Torah, it’s like you’re walking on the main street of Ramle with clothing on but you’re hungry, you have nothing to eat. When a person learns Torah and does not do mitzvos, it’s like you are walking down the street satiated, but naked.”
THE MASHPIA OF THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
In Beitar Ilit there is a Chabad school, but that’s nothing new. What’s new is that there is a mashpia for the school. The principal, R’ Yosef Hirsch Sirotzky came up with the idea and asked R’ MM Roth to serve as the mashpia of the school. One
usually thinks of a mashpia in a mesivta-high school, but here, there is a mashpia in a Talmud Torah-elementary school too. The staff, as well as the parents and students, didn’t realize at first how beneficial having a mashpia for 6-12 year olds could be. R’ Roth visits each class once a week and talks to the students about things that pertain to them. One week he chooses to talk about being careful not to remove one’s yarmulke for even a moment, not even when running after a ball. Another week the topic might be about preparing negel vasser near the bed before going to sleep or to use an elastic “bendel” on their tzitzis or Kibud Av V’Eim. R’ Roth combines his talk with a Chassidishe story, a niggun and mainly, lots of neshama and enthusiasm which makes a deep impact on the children. When
14 � • 17 Teives 5774
The school building of Chabad in Haifa-Krayot
he tells a Chassidishe story, he includes all the names and details, which delivers a more powerful message to the children and enters their hearts. Many parents have told about significant changes at home following these talks of R’ Roth. After years of arguing, which did not help, as well as repeated reminders to prepare negel vasser, suddenly the child is asking when he can place it next to his bed already. Parents tell R’ Roth, “You don’t know what you’ve done for my child. Every Shabbos he keeps the family and guests enthralled with Chassidishe stories and this uplifts the entire Shabbos meal.”
CHILDREN REGISTERING CHILDREN
In addition to weekly visits to all the classes, R’ Roth holds an assembly for all the children
on Fridays. At these assemblies, he announces contests in cooperation with the staff. The contests are on various Chassidic themes and the competition keeps the excitement level high. R’ Roth explained to the children, quoting the Rebbe, that every Jew is a shliach of the Rebbe and needs to spread Judaism and hasten the Geula. When he announced the letter in a Torah scroll contest, he asked the children to register as many children as possible from other social circles. Within two weeks, the children had gotten over 400 children to buy a letter. Each of them received a beautiful certificate that showed they participated in this important campaign of buying a letter in a Torah scroll. R’ Roth tells about a boy from the school who lives in Yishuv Neve Daniel, who sadly returned
an empty registration form to him. “I am too shy to approach other children,” he said. R’ Roth encouraged him and convinced him to keep the form; perhaps the opportunity would come up and he would register a child. Feeling encouraged by this conversation, a week later the boy returned with a list of 40 children from his yishuv who had each purchased a letter. R’ Roth said that the children have surpassed these already impressive accomplishments. When they heard that there are also Sifrei Torah for adults they asked the mashpia for forms so they could register adults too. In the lobby of the school a giant sign was hung which reported how many points each class earned every week of this project. The competition spurs the children on to do even more.
Issue 907 • �
In light of the sicha in which the Rebbe says that some persistent people are needed to bring Moshiach, R’ Roth started a “Vaad Misakshim” (Committee of the Persistent) in each class which leads the entire class in adding in learning and good deeds to hasten the Geula. The Vaad constantly initiates Chassidishe activities such as producing a biweekly newsletter with divrei Torah and stories. The newsletter contains a mission that all the students need to do, whether it is increasing in learning or t’filla, hiddur mitzva or going on mivtzaim. Once a week all the students come half an hour before school begins and have a shiur which is given by the students themselves, members of the Vaad. In each of
grades who adopt them and teach their younger friends how to be persistent in bringing the Geula.
MIVTZAIM AND LEARNING GO HAND IN HAND
From Beitar Ilit we move over to the Chabad elementary school in Haifa and Krayot. Here too, the principal, R’ Avrohom Yosef Pizem, tells of young children who go out once a week on mivtzaim. This has a positive impact on their learning. “Just today, I was in the eighth grade classroom and I said that sometimes, when going to put t’fillin on with someone, the person asks questions about Judaism. If you listen well in the halacha class, you will know what to answer. The children shared their own experiences in which
Up until a few years ago I was not a Lubavitcher. One day I took the train and overheard two children talking about the belief in Moshiach’s coming. I noticed that these children knew things that I did not know even after decades of learning.
these shiurim, the children say a sicha, tell a Chassidic story, a halacha, and they recite the 12 P’sukim. “Some talmidim came over to me,” said R’ Roth, “who live in yishuvim near Beitar. They come every morning with transportation that brings them just as school is about to begin and they cannot attend the earlier shiur. They asked whether they can make another shiur like it during the afternoon recess or after school is over.” Impressive! The lower classes, which cannot have a Vaad of their own, enjoy activities run by volunteer Misakshim from the upper
they were asked questions in halacha or other areas of Jewish life. This motivated the entire class to listen carefully to the shiur I gave. “I also teach the children how to respond to common questions asked about Moshiach and Geula. I taught them a way to get out of uncomfortable debates about inyanei Moshiach. If someone attacks you with questions about inyanei Moshiach, surprise them with a question: Can you tell me where in the Torah there is a mitzva to believe in Moshiach? “The attacker is usually unprepared for this question and
he sees that he still has what to learn on the subject. You opened the possibility to teach him something. (By the way, for those who are curious, the answer is in Rambam’s Hilchos Melachim in the first two halachos of chapter 11…) “Mivtzaim are part of the curriculum. We guide the children when they go to hospitals, the financial district, and on house calls. Before every Yom Tov we teach a sicha so they will have what to say on mivtzaim. Mivtzaim are so ingrained in them that when anybody comes to the school, whether an electrician, a school psychologist or superintendent, he is immediately offered t’fillin. “We have learning contests now and then on topics of Halacha and Chassidus in which the children learn hundreds of halachos, customs, and Chassidishe stories. This will definitely remain with them all their lives and affect their efforts in hafatza and mivtzaim. One year, for example, we chose the topic “Toldos HaBaal Shem Tov” (because it was 250 years since his passing). We published a 100 page book and the children pored over it. At the end of the winter we held a public competition with prizes.”
THANKS TO THE CHATTER OF CHILDREN
A number of years ago, there was a gathering in Eretz Yisroel on the topic of Moshiach. One of the speakers, a young, wellknown, dynamic fellow began his speech with a personal story. “Up until a few years ago I was not a Lubavitcher. One day I took the train in the Krayot area and overheard two children talking about events in the Torah
16 � • 17 Teives 5774
and the belief in Moshiach’s coming. I noticed that these children knew things that I did not know even after decades of learning. I asked them where they learned and praised them for their knowledge. They said they attended the Chabad school in Krayot. “I decided to go into a bookstore and ask for s’farim on the topic of Moshiach. I delved into the subject and discovered a whole world, as the Rambam says that all the books of the prophets are full of this topic. I soon made my way to the nearest Chabad house where I began seriously learning and as a result, I made a major change in my life. It’s all thanks to two young school kids.”
“One day, a delegation of teachers and rabbis from the Haifa area came to the school in order to see how we teach enthusiastic davening in Chabad. The visit was not planned. I took them up to where the boys daven and heard an argument among the boys about none of them wanting to be the chazan. “I went over to G, the son of shluchim in Haifa and whispered in his ear that guests had come to watch us daven. I had barely finished explaining when G jumped forward and immediately began serving as chazan with an enthusiastic ‘Ashrei.’ “I saw (not for the first time), how this boy was trained as a shliach and he was ready and willing to do anything when needed.”
CHILDREN OF SHLUCHIM
R’ Pizem says that among his students are some children of shluchim from the north of the country. He has noticed that coming from a shlichus background, these children are more mature and show a sense of responsibility for what goes on in school.
KIDDUSH SHEIM LUBAVITCH
Being careful to make a Kiddush Hashem is helpful in other ways. R’ Yaakov Klein, rav in Kiryat Chaim, lectures to young religious teachers at Michlelet Shaanan. R’ Klein is known as an outstanding speaker
whose lectures are based on Torah sources. Occasionally, R’ Klein brings a group of his students to visit our school in Krayot. He thinks that only in Chabad can one see genuine Chassidic education, students with kabbalas ol and derech eretz. When our students hear this feedback, it inspires them to behave even more nicely and Chassidish so as to make a Kiddush Hashem and a Kiddush Sheim Lubavitch. One year, which was a Shnas Hakhel, the public competition was on the topic of Hakhel. The district supervisor wanted to arrange a Hakhel gathering for all the religious schools. He knew whom to ask and we ended up collaborating with the Education Ministry on this. They took care of all the logistics, renting the hall, inviting the children etc. and we were asked to prepare the program. We made a beautiful booklet with sources and explanations from the Rebbe about the mitzva of Hakhel and Chabad rabbanim came to grace the event with their presence.
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Issue 907 • �
A LOYAL AND DEVOTED CHASSID
Shortly before Yud Shvat 5710, the Rebbe asked the Chassid, R’ Eliyahu Nachum Sklar for notes of a maamer said by the Rebbe Rayatz in 5683. A few days later, the maamer was published with the famous opening words of “Basi L’Gani.” * A glimpse into the life of a Chassid to mark his passing on 17 Teves 5750.
By Refael Dinari
R’ Eliyahu Nachum Sklar a”h was born in 5663/1903 in Zhlobin and learned in Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in Lubavitch, then in Szedrin, Kremenchug, Rostov, Poltava, Nevel, and Charkov. Then he emigrated to Eretz Yisroel and learned in Yeshivas Toras Emes in Yerushalayim. He was known as a maskil in Chassidus. Emigrating to Eretz Yisroel was not common in those days and the Rebbe Rayatz gave his approval conditionally in a letter that he wrote in 5686/1926: Every talmid Tamim knows that his path in life is to take action to arouse hearts to Torah, avoda, and t’filla. A double and threefold arousal in thought, speech and
action. 1) By keeping himself involved in learning, this will affect his surroundings. 2) Public speaking – each one needs to find a place, a moshava, a town, even a small place and devote himself to making it a place of Torah; inspiring the fathers to found a school or yeshiva, inspiring the people to establish times for learning Torah, and also learning with the public a chapter of Mishnayos, a daf Gemara, Agada, Midrash, and where suited even an inyan in Chassidus. 3) In action: to correspond with the friends that you learned with, or in general, with talmidei ha’T’mimim. And to speak to one another in order to do all they were taught when
18 � • 17 Teives 5774
R’ Eliyahu Nachum Sklar standing (second from the right in the top row) at the Rebbe’s farbrengen
they were talmidim. These are the conditions with which I permitted you to go to Eretz Yisroel in order to accomplish something good and there is no good except for Torah. Despite the geographic distance, R’ Eliyahu Nachum’s heart was with his fellow T’mimim in Russia and he wrote to them often. He wanted to know the fate of the yeshivos that had gone underground in those years, and of course, he wanted to know how the Rebbe was. After the arrest and release in 1927, R’ Eliyahu Nachum could not hide his concern for the yeshiva. R’ Saadia Liberow who responded to his letter chastised him, “Your concern about the
students of the Mosad and your thoughts about it are from the ‘left side,’ sadness … the Mosad is, praise G-d, being run in every place in the best possible fashion.” The dozens of letters he received from his friends behind the Iron Curtain were kept in his archives. They are an invaluable source that shed light on that terrible time, especially the years of 5687 and 5688.
WORRIED FAMILY IN THE UNITED STATES
After marrying in Eretz Yisroel, he wanted to move to the United States where his father, R’ Levi Yitzchok and his
brother Meir lived. “Eliyahu Nachum Sklar and Chaim Dov Lieberman (the battim makers) … are in Yerushalayim and are dissatisfied. Chaim Dov wants to leave but can only go to London while Eliyahu Nachum wants to go to America.” This is what R’ Sholom Posner wrote to R’ Yisroel Jacobson in 5686. A year later, R’ Eliyahu Nachum asked R’ Jacobson for help since the latter, as part of his job in preparing the groundwork to transfer Chabad headquarters to America, helped many T’mimim move to the United States. Before he left, he was appointed the Rosh Yeshiva of Toras Emes – Tel Aviv, a branch
Issue 907 • �
of the Yerushalayim yeshiva, which opened on Rechov HaRav Kook 16. The yeshiva did not last long; it closed down about a year after it opened. In the meantime, R’ Yisroel Jacobson asked R’ Sklar’s father and brother to bring him to America. In those days, in order to get a visa to the US, family members had to affirm that they would take financial responsibility for the individual. The early immigrants who arrived first looked for a job and only after they were set up and R’ Eliyahu Nachum as a shochet where his uncle, R’ Yeshaya Jacobson, was the head shochet. R’ Eliyahu Nachum worked there for several years until the slaughterhouse closed. work promoting the interests and causes of Chabad began taking on an official character. In 1936, we already find a letter with his signature on it as the “temporary secretary” of the Boro Park branch of Aguch and as such, he invited the public to a Shabbos Mevarchim farbrengen in the home of R’ Eliyahu Simpson. At the farbrengen, “We will do as our Rebbe desires and say T’hillim and then learn Chassidus. We will farbreng in truth in the proper Chassidic manner as in Lubavitch.” The askanus relationship between the two Chassidim who lived in Boro Park did not end with that; a few years later, R’ Sklar was appointed secretary of the Vaad HaMaamad which was directed by R’ Simpson. As soon as the Rebbe arrived, he reestablished the Igud HaKehillos Nusach HaAri and R’ Sklar was a member of the organization, which included nearly all the Chabad askanim in the US at that time. In 5701, he was appointed as secretary of the Vaad L ’Hafatzas Dach, whose goal was to organize shiurim in Chassidus and farbrengens along with disseminating maamarim and sichos said by the Rebbe. When the writing of Moshiach’s Torah began, the Rebbe Rayatz wrote him on 6 Iyar 5702, inquiring about the skins needed for the parchment. In 5703, with the passing of R’ Dovid Schifrin, a dynamic askan in Aguch and the first gabbai of Kollel Chabad in the US and Canada, the Rebbe Rayatz appointed R’ Sklar to replace him. In a letter, he announced this to the members of Kollel Chabad in Yerushalayim and wrote, “His hand is like my hand in all matters of the Kollel.”
CHABAD COMMUNITY ACTIVIST
Even after his arrival in the US, R’ Eliyahu Nachum continued to show great concern about what was happening with the Rebbe Rayatz. Throughout the years he was in touch
The Rebbe asked him whether he too was not yet bar mitzva and added with a smile, “Some say that at age 83 you make a second bar mitzva and since you are over 70, you are also not yet bar mitzva.”
had saved money did they bring over the rest of their families. R’ Eliyahu Nachum’s family had not saved up enough yet and could not pay his expenses. They were afraid that being a talmid of Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim who would not change with the times, he would not find a job and they would have to support him. R’ Jacobson promised them that he would help R’ Sklar find work and during the Aseres Yemei T’shuva 5690, R’ Eliyahu Nachum came with his wife and daughter Yehudis to the US. Yom Kippur passed and the worried father went to R’ Yisroel’s home and asked him, “What about parnasa?” On Chol HaMoed Sukkos the father came back, this time with his son. “Your promised!” he complained to R’ Yisroel. After Chol HaMoed, R’ Yisroel was able to find a position for with the Rebbe’s secretary, R’ Yechezkel (Chatshe) Feigin, who sent him letters in which he updated him about the Rebbe’s welfare. The letters, suffused with hiskashrus and the love of Chassidim for the Rebbe, were full of chiddushei Torah and pilpulim in the teachings of Chassidus. In subsequent years, after the Rebbe’s son-in-law arrived in the US, R’ Eliyahu Nachum corresponded with him too in Torah and Chassidus. The Rebbe’s letters to him are printed in the Igros Kodesh. R’ Sklar also fulfilled the three instructions regarding the avoda of a Tamim when he first came to the US. In thought, as mentioned, he was a maskil and knowledgeable in the teachings of Chassidus and also corresponded in chiddushei Torah. In speech, he gave a weekly shiur in Tanya in the Shomrei Emuna shul in Boro Park. In action, his communal
20 � • 17 Teives 5774
On Simchas Torah 5704, the Rebbe said a fiery sicha in which he asked everyone to commit to working with mesirus nefesh to disseminate Torah. Two weeks later, the Rebbe called a meeting of a few Chassidim, including R’ Sklar. The Rebbe said he called them together in order to bring to fruition what had been started on Simchas Torah and that the role of the people called to the meeting would be the education of girls. R’ Sklar was appointed to work with R’ Yisroel Jacobson in running the Beis Rivka schools that had been established at the time. In 5705, R’ Sklar was among the Chassidim who committed themselves, as a gift to the Rebbe for 12 Tammuz, to print the first maamarim that the Rebbe said on this continent. The letter that the Chassidim wrote to that effect was printed at the beginning of the Seifer HaMaamarim 5700 that was published then. Before Yud Shvat 5710, the Rebbe took a copy of the maamer “Va’yehi B’etzem HaYom HaZeh 5683” that R’ Sklar had. In the middle of this maamer begins the maamer “Basi L ’Gani,” which the Rebbe Rayatz instructed be published in honor of Yud Shvat (in R’ Sklar’s copy the Rebbe marked from where to begin). His enormous Chassidic archive was helpful in other instances. For example, the Rebbe borrowed from him the sichos of the Rebbe Rashab, edited them, and printed them in Toras Sholom. A few days after giving the maamer, R’ Sklar, who was a member of the chevra kadisha since its founding, had the merit to remove the bottom of the aron of the Rebbe Rayatz and lower it by rope into the fresh grave along
with R’ Bentzion Skolik. At that moment, the Rebbe-to-be said out loud, “This is on condition that if we go to Eretz Yisroel, we will not go without you.” The following year, R’ Sklar was one of the leading Chassidim who demanded that the Rebbe take over the nesius. On 8 Iyar, he was one of the Chassidim who went to the Rebbe to promise him that they would be utterly devoted to him. The Rebbe said: What I am allowed and what I have, I will give. And that which I do not have and that which I am not allowed to give, I cannot and I do not want [to give]. The Chassidim asked the Rebbe to say Chassidus and the Rebbe said: That would be a change from before. He gave the same response when they asked him to at least review the Chassidus of the Rebbe Rayatz. That same year, the relationship R’ Sklar had with the Rebbe was apparent. At the farbrengen at the end of Shavuos 5710, between the sichos, he began to sing and people in the crowd began shushing him, but he continued and in the end, they all sang and they could see the Rebbe singing too. The night of Simchas Torah after hakafos which ended at two in the morning, R’ Sklar waited along with R’ Kramer near the Rebbe’s room and when the Rebbe returned from hakafos, they said l’chaim to him. After the Rebbe responded, many other Chassidim joined and the Rebbe said, “Why should I be a porush min ha’tzibbur (different than anyone else)?” and he asked for mashke and said with a smile that they shouldn’t tell the family members. He said l’chaim along with a short sicha. Although R’ Sklar did not
have an official shlichus, he was a shliach with all his heart and might. In Kovetz Lubavitch, we find a description of a meeting that took place in his house on Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5717 in which they discussed how to strengthen the Judaism of the customers at the kosher butcher. They decided they would try and speak to the customers about sending their children to Jewish schools and that they would give them brochures on Jewish topics. The delivery men would check to see if there was a mezuza on the door. R’ Sklar said he would produce a book in English that would clearly explain the laws of koshering chickens. He was chosen to be responsible to carry out the decisions and to report them to the Rebbe. He was also active in Crown Heights. He was involved in running a gemach there for some years, together with R’ Shimon Goldman. The Rebbe called him forth to give him mashke for the annual dinner for the gemach that took place on Motzaei Shabbos, Parshas Mishpatim. Sadly, R’ Eliyahu Nachum Sklar was killed in his late eighties in a car accident on 17 Teves 5750. The shul “Beis Eliyahu Nachum,” on the street where he lived, is named for him.
SECOND BAR MITZVA
At the farbrengen on Shabbos, Parshas Naso 5737, the Rebbe told children to say l’chaim. R’ Sklar, who was sitting behind the Rebbe, raised his cup in l’chaim to the Rebbe. The Rebbe asked him whether he too was not yet bar mitzva and added with a smile, “Some say that at age 83 you make a second bar mitzva and since you are over 70, you are also not yet bar mitzva.”
Issue 907 • �
WHEN NEWS OF THE YOM KIPPUR WAR REACHED CROWN HEIGHTS
By Nosson Avrohom
he Yom Kippur War found Yisroel Krauni in Crown Heights. He was not a Chabad Chassid and still isn’t; he is what is called a mekurav to Chabad who loves and admires the Rebbe. Back then, forty years ago, he was a young man, a typical Israeli who had just completed his army service where he served in the Combat Engineering Corps He spent three years manning posts on the banks of the Suez Canal. Just one week before the war began, he went to New York. After finishing his army service he wanted a vacation. Like many of his friends, he packed his bags and took a flight to New York. “I came with a little money and some clothes and hoped things would work out.” Krauni happened to meet an Israeli, a Lubavitcher, who lived in Crown Heights and who was
happy to host him. “I was pleasantly surprised by this hospitality since we did not know one another, but it was enough for him that I am a Jew. He met me on the street and asked me whether I had a place to stay. When I said no, he invited me to his home.” On Yom Kippur, Krauni met a local gentile who told him that a war had broken out in Israel. “At first, I did not believe him. I had just been there a week before and all was quiet. Nobody believed that anyone would dare to attack Israel. I sat at posts near the Canal and with my binoculars I could see the whites of the Egyptians’ eyes. It did not look as though they planned on attacking us on such a scale.”
RUNNING TO 770
Minutes later, he met another
Israeli who was staying in the neighborhood too and he repeated what the Gentile had told him. This man said that the Syrian and Egyptian armies had suddenly attacked from the north and the south. He was agitated and emotionally overwrought, and said that the Rebbe was surely immersed in his prayers and did not know what was going on while the Jews in Eretz Yisroel needed a great salvation. “I tried to dissuade him but he was determined and off he ran, with me quickly following him. The sight in 770 was impressive, with masses of Chassidim dressed in white and the Rebbe in his place, praying before G-d. That Israeli did not care who was in the way; he made a beeline for the Rebbe. I followed right behind him. “He reached the front of the shul and was about to go up the
22 � • 17 Teives 5774
R’ Yisrael Krauni (center) giving a shiur in the kollel
steps leading to the Rebbe when one of the secretaries, a thin man with a small beard, blocked him. Later I was told it was R’ Binyamin Klein. He firmly asked him what he wanted and the man told him about the war that had begun in Eretz Yisroel. The secretary asked him not to go up the steps and reassured him by saying that he would soon go up himself and inform the Rebbe. “At that moment, in front of everyone, the Rebbe turned around to the crowd and moved his hand from up to down in a gesture of dismissal. Later, I heard that the Rebbe said: I know already. “The Rebbe did not appear worried; on the contrary, he looked calm and confident. We left the shul and waited for Yom Kippur to end so we could hear the news. “The news we heard later was
That Israeli did not care who was in the way; he made a beeline for the Rebbe. I followed right behind him.
“The answer, received that same day, was written on my letter. The secretary showed me where the Rebbe had written and explained the answer: As far as flying, the Rebbe said not to change my plans, i.e. not to leave. The Rebbe also marked the names I had submitted for a bracha and wrote that he would pray for them at his father-inlaw’s grave. “The secretary pointed out that one of the names was not included in the Rebbe’s bracha. I did not know what this signified. “I wasn’t a Chassid at the time and I was barely religious. I considered the Rebbe telling me not to leave merely a recommendation. I wanted to
Issue 907 • �
not encouraging. We had been attacked and caught unprepared and it was feared that this war would not end as did the Six Day War.” Many of Krauni’s friends who were in Eretz Yisroel were drafted immediately. As a patriot, he wanted to take the next plane out so he could join his unit. “My Lubavitcher host begged me not to do anything without asking the Rebbe for a bracha. I wrote a letter about my desire to return to Eretz Yisroel immediately. I also included the names of some of my friends whom I knew had been drafted. I asked the Rebbe to pray that they return safely.
“When Tishrei was over, my hosts arranged a private meeting for me with the Rebbe. I had some questions regarding my wife-to-be. We had met a while before and I asked the Rebbe if she was my intended wife. The Rebbe said yes and blessed us to establish a Jewish home. This bracha has stood by us and we are now happily married for forty years. “In that encounter with the Rebbe, I noticed that there was a large pile of papers on the desk. I was amazed when the Rebbe was able to pull out the paper I had submitted to him and he answered all my questions.” *** After a year and a half, Krauni returned to Eretz Yisroel and married. The couple settled in Yavne. He says that although he did not take on a life of Torah and mitzvos all at once, he owes the entire process and where he is at today to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. “What I saw there was absolutely incredible.” Twenty years ago he founded the kollel “Oz V’Hadar” which he runs. “We have a group of twenty men who learn here and we provide for their needs.” Krauni only has the highest praise for the work of the shliach in his city, R’ Lerer, whom he calls a close friend. “When he came to this city, our kollel was his first stop and the Chabad house activities were launched from the kollel.”
“When things clicked in my mind, I shuddered and began to comprehend that the Rebbe is not just another rabbinic figure, but a man of G-d.”
leave for the airport but the people I was staying with did not let me go. I was later able to thank them for this, because within a short time I understood how prophetic the Rebbe was. “I found out that the friend the Rebbe had excluded from his bracha had been killed on the first day of the war. At that point, even his parents did not know about this. A few days went by before those who bring back the casualties were able to do so, but the Lubavitcher Rebbe in
Brooklyn knows what is going on with every Jew. When things clicked in my mind, I shuddered and began to comprehend that the Rebbe is not just another rabbinic figure, but a man of G-d. “It’s not that I became a Chassid; my getting more involved with religion was a slow process. But I began going to 770 more often and committed to doing mitzvos that I hadn’t done before.”
TO BRING MOSHIACH NOW!
24 � • 17 Teives 5774
ADD IN ACTS OF GOODNESS & KINDNESS
THE CHASSID ACCUSED OF SORCERY
Only four months after he married, the Chassid, R’ Tzvi Hirsch Lerner was arrested and sent to Siberia for seven years. * An unexpected encounter with a general led to his early release.* His granddaughter shares stories and memories, suffused with Chassidic flavor, about his outstanding character. * Part 2
By his granddaughter T Maidanchek
ust four months after his wedding, the Chassid, R’ Tzvi Hirsh (Herschel) Lerner was arrested for the illegal trading of gold bars. After a brief trial he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. Not long after, he was sent to prison in Solovki in Siberia. It was terribly cold there in the winter with temperatures sometimes plummeting to minus fifty-four degrees. Before he left for Siberia, his wife Sofia, my grandmother, tried to locate where he was imprisoned. She walked more than ten kilometers while carrying a bag of items for her husband on her back. In the end though, the two of them did not meet before he was sent to exile.
Now she remained alone without family, since her parents had moved to Eretz Yisroel, and was without a means of support. Being alone, she decided to go to her cousin who lived in Grozny in Chechnya. She stayed for a while but life there was difficult for her. This was because she was very particular about kashrus and living a Jewish life and that was not the lifestyle of this household. In 5699/1939, she moved to Sochi and hired lawyers to file appeals in an attempt to free my grandfather from prison.
R’ Tzvi Hirsch Lerner in a labor camp
In the meantime, Herschel worked under harsh conditions
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he had previously lived or to live in a big city. So he and his wife moved to Saminovka, a forsaken place two hundred kilometers from Kamenets-Podolsk. The living conditions were hard for all the residents and all the more so for this religious couple. The locals looked askance at activities having to do with mitzvos which is why my grandparents had to act secretly. In order to shecht a chicken, my grandfather traveled thirty kilometers to Chorol where there was a shochet. When it came time to kasher the chicken, they closed all the windows. Despite this, the neighbors once discovered what they were doing and suspected them of sorcery. Another time, they saw my grandmother lighting Shabbos candles and they interpreted this as sorcery too.
R’ Tzvi Hirsch with a grandchild
in Siberian labor camps. He was extremely capable and always found a solution for situations that arose. He was well liked by all. These traits were apparent during his years of incarceration. He was once sent to work in a kitchen. While he was on duty, a high level delegation suddenly appeared to visit the prison. The general who led the delegation asked for a drink. My grandfather drew a cup of water from a barrel but then noticed a mouse in the cup. He quickly made a motion as though he was washing the cup again in honor of the general and then served him something fit to drink. The general took the cup and then gazed at my grandfather as though trying to place him. “Grigory Solomonovitz?” he asked. My grandfather was taken aback. He nodded yes (for this is what he was called in Russian). “How is it that you are here in prison? This is certainly an error! I will immediately have you
released!” he exclaimed. It turned out that the general had been his student in the military academy in 1933 when my grandfather taught mathematics there (as related in the previous chapter). My grandfather was greatly beloved by the students, many of whom later became high ranking officers. The general returned shortly and apologetically said that he had not realized that my grandfather had been sentenced for article 58, a serious political offense, and therefore, he was unable to release him then and there. But he promised to make efforts on his behalf. Indeed, a short time later, the general was able to have him released because of health reasons.
On 20 Teves 5700, their oldest child, Yaakov, was born. The bris took place a month later because the mohel was sixty kilometers away. Given the transportation at the time and under the wintry conditions of that year, the trip took a very long time. With the help of family members, my grandparents were able to move to Poltava where the conditions were much better. There were other Jews as well as organized Jewish life. There was a Chabad community led by R’ Bespalov. It seemed they could finally relax but it was not for long. In the summer of 5701/1941, World War II breached the borders of the Soviet Union. The Germans waged war against the Russians and earned stunning victories in difficult battles. The
MY GRANDPARENTS WERE ACCUSED OF SORCERY
As a released prisoner, he was not allowed to return to where
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Russians continued to retreat and millions of people were forced to leave their homes and flee deeper into Russia. My grandfather heard that the Germans had captured Kamenets-Podolsk. His entire family, along with all the Jews who remained there, were buried alive in a single day. Gentiles testified that the earth moved for three days after the massacre. He realized that his arrest and the subsequent law prohibiting him from returning to his home is what saved him from a similar fate. Like other citizens, my grandparents and their little son fled Poltava. The trip on trains took many weeks. Every now and then the train would stop and my grandfather would get out and scavenge for food. On their long journey, they stopped in Orjonikidze (since returned to its original name of Vladikavkaz) in Ingushetia. My grandparents decided to get off and try to live there until the end of the war. R’ Herschel took a job in a military hospital, which was an affiliate of the Leningrad Academy of Medicine. In 5703, when the hospital moved to Stalinabad (Dushanbe) they
moved there too. My grandmother began working in a textile factory and my grandfather worked at night as a porter for extra income. At that time, the best work was something in the vicinity of a kitchen where you could obtain food and not die of the prevalent starvation. My grandfather was drafted several times but was
to leave the Soviet Union. Many crossed the border with forged Polish passports. One day, my grandfather saw R’ Mordechai Gruzman, a relative of ours, in shul. R’ Mottel had forged documents and was very nervous about being identified by my grandfather. However, he was happy to meet a relative. R’ Herschel and Sofia’s
Another time, they saw my grandmother lighting Shabbos candles and they interpreted this as sorcery too.
always released, thank G-d. As a Chassid and the son of a Chassid, he did not only look out for his own welfare but sought out local Jews, gathered them together, and arranged a minyan, farbrengens, etc.
AN ATTEMPT TO UNITE THE FAMILY
When the war was over, the Russian government allowed Polish citizens to return to Poland. Many Russians did fictitious marriages with Polish citizens and were thus enabled
second son, Moshe, was born on Shabbos, 21 Teves 5705. R’ Mottel helped heat the house and arranged for a mohel who did the bris on time, on Shabbos. At this time, R’ Shmuel Segalovitch arrived in Stalinabad and told my grandfather that it was possible to arrange documents in Samarkand. He also told him about the beautiful Lubavitcher community in that city. My grandparents decided to travel to Samarkand and to see how things would work out.
To be continued, G-d willing
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Issue 907 • �
THE MAN BEHIND THE SONG
He went far in his musical studies and then changed the course of his life under the influence of the mashpia, R’ Reuven Dunin a”h. * He came up with the idea of forming a Chabad choir to sing for the public and led this choir at “Evenings with Chabad.” * An overview of the life of the Chassid, R’ Yosef Marton a”h, the man responsible for Chabad’s anthem of U’faratzta, who passed away on Chanuka.
By Shneur Zalman Berger
faratzta,” “Nicho’ach,” “Chabad Choir” – this is what comes to mind when thinking of R’ Yosef Marton a”h. He will be remembered for years to come among Chabad Chassidim as the man who disseminated the wellsprings of Chassidic niggunim and as the one who put together the words and tune of the famous “U’faratzta.” R’ Marton inspired people
with his songs, his niggunim, and his art. He was not born in Nevel or among the musical Chabad Chassidim of Nikolayev. In his youth he did not hum Chabad niggunim; in fact, he was wholly unfamiliar with this Chassidus.
A VISIT TO THE YESHIVA IN PARDES
R’ Yosef Marton was born in Schassburg in the Transylvania region in Romania on 20 Sivan 5693 to a distinguished family.
After World War II he moved to Eretz Yisroel and learned in Yeshivas Kfar HaRoeh and in other institutions. After serving in the army, he attended the Technion in Haifa. His entire perspective changed when he met R’ Reuven Dunin who was mekarev him to Chabad. The journalist Moshe Cheshin wrote about this period in an article published in Maariv fifty-four years ago: “The road to his ascent up the
28 � • 17 Teives 5774
ladder of musical and artistic life in Haifa was paved before him, but in the middle of his dizzying ascent, a surprising change took place in his life. At the home of a close friend, he met with a young man who began talking to him about Chabad teachings. Marton, who until that point knew nothing about Chabad, tried to get rid of the bothersome fellow, but the latter did not leave him alone. He told Marton how he found the path to Chabad and how he attained true happiness
(the ‘bothersome young fellow’ was none other than R’ Reuven Dunin who was working as a tractor driver at the time). “He continued to meet with the Lubavitcher tractor driver. Every night, they spent six hours together and spoke about Chabad. Matters became easier, more understandable and simpler. Slowly, they penetrated his heart until he agreed to visit the Chabad yeshiva in Lud that he heard about from his friend. He packed his bags and went
to Lud. This is how Marton describes his first impressions of the new world he discovered: “‘The first impression the yeshiva made on me was depressing with the meager furnishings and the bearded bachurim who were foreign to me and my world. I wasn’t used to this, not even in the few years that I learned in yeshivos. I was really in shock. From the heights of elite chevra in Haifa, I was thrown into this bizarre place, I thought. But these thoughts of mine did not last long. As soon as the bachurim came over and began talking to me, the ice melted and the barriers came down. It suddenly felt as though I knew them forever. I was extremely surprised when I found out that the bachur sitting all day in the four cubits of halacha who did not move from his book, turned out, in my conversation with him, to be knowledgeable in matters of the world. And all this, don’t forget, he knows from Chassidus.’ “Under the influence of Chabad Chassidim, he wrote to the Rebbe in America in detail about his past. He asked the Rebbe how to proceed in life. ‘Should I leave Haifa for yeshiva?’ he asked the Admur in Brooklyn. Until he received a response from the Rebbe he returned to Haifa and began attending the Tanya class given by R’ Gershon Chein. His knowledge of Chassidus grew and in every gathering he ended up in, he discussed Chabad Chassidus. In the Chamber Music Choir that he still participated in, he spoke about Chabad. In the Workers’ Choir he spoke about Chabad. At the Hebrew Reali School he lectured about Chabad. At the B’nei Akiva Choir that he conducted, he told of his impressions of Kfar
Issue 907 • �
Chabad. At every opportunity he explained the teachings of Chabad and spoke about those who are bringing those teachings to life. That is how he acquired the sobriquet, ‘The Chabadnik.’ “His heart was on fire. His patience ran out and he could wait no longer for the Rebbe’s answer. Even before receiving the Rebbe’s answer he picked up from Haifa and moved to the Chabad yeshiva in Lud. ‘Two days later,’ said Marton excitedly, ‘I received the Rebbe’s answer which said I should go to the yeshiva.’” command of the king to break through all obstacles in the spreading of Chassidus and it inspired us. We got up and danced and as we danced there were attempts to sing the words of U’faratzta to the tune of various Chabad niggunim. One tried this tune, another tried another tune, but it didn’t work well. “I suddenly remembered the Dubrovna niggun. I put the words of U’faratzta to that niggun as we danced and it took off. I repeated it again and again until people felt that this was The Niggun. It was the popular tune for the next while in yeshiva and then it reached Kfar Chabad. That year I spent Simchas Torah in Kfar Chabad and they sang nothing but U’faratzta from morning till night. It spread like wildfire. “I’ll never forget Zushe Partisan who began singing U’faratzta on the table and said the one word ‘u’faratzta’ again and again, singing it for a long time.” Many years ago, R’ Marton was interviewed by Beis Moshiach. He said, “I remember hearing from someone that when the Rebbetzin heard this niggun, she said: S’hert zich u’faratzta (It sounds like u’faratzta).” R’ Glitzenstein said how the niggun reached the Rebbe: “It was 5719/1958 when I went to the Rebbe for Sukkos. The second night of Yom Tov I was invited to eat the meal with the Rebbe in the Rebbe Rayatz’s home. R’ Abba Levin from Eretz Yisroel was also invited. During the meal, the Rebbe asked the two of us to ‘say a niggun.’ R’ Abba was very shy and began to prod me to sing. I began singing U’faratzta, at first just the niggun without the words and the second
U’FARATZTA TAKES OFF
Upon arriving in yeshiva, he was captivated by the personality of the mashpia, R’ Shlomo
R’ Yosef displaying one of his creations at a Chabad exhibit in Har Tziyon
“His heart was on fire. His patience ran out and he could wait no longer for the Rebbe’s answer. Even before receiving the Rebbe’s answer he picked up from Haifa and moved to the Chabad yeshiva in Lud.”
writers and public figures, quickly discovered the talented young Marton and gave him the Chabad Seifer HaNiggunim. The young man looked at the notes and was particularly enamored of the niggun from Dubrovna. He attended the sheva brachos of the chassan, R’ Moshe Landau (presently the rav of B’nei Brak) and in the midst of the celebration, the shliach, R’ Zushe Posner told all present about the Rebbe’s sicha about “U’faratzta.” R’ Marton spoke about this years later: “R’ Zushe Posner said that on 12 Tammuz of that year, the Rebbe spoke about U’faratzta. He read the sicha to us enthusiastically. It was a
Chaim Kesselman. Even many years later, R’ Yosef would speak nostalgically about the days he spent with the mashpia. In the mashpia’s company, the talmidim would sing Chabad niggunim and this made a tremendous impression on Marton. When they began singing the “Dalet Bavos,” “you immediately felt the atmosphere change. The forehead would crease in concentration and eyes were closed and there was an atmosphere of holiness. They would sing the fourth and third part again and again and the joyous, ‘Nye Zhuritzi Chloptzi’ which followed would pierce the heavens.” R’ Chanoch Glitzenstein, who was involved in being mekarev
30 � • 17 Teives 5774
time, with the words. The Rebbe looked at us as we sang the new niggun arranged by R’ Yosef Marton. “The next day there was a farbrengen after the davening. The Rebbe made Kiddush and then said (in Yiddish), “Let us hear U’faratzta, the nusach from Eretz Yisroel. Where are those from Eretz Yisroel? Where is Glitzenstein?” I stood facing the Rebbe down below. The Rebbe noticed me and instructed me to sing. I began singing U’faratzta again and again until the crowd caught on. After that, they sang U’faratzta at every farbrengen.
One of the Chabad choirs R’ Marton conducted. He is in the center.
After a short stint in the yeshiva in Lud, R’ Marton began working as a principal in the school in Lud under the Reshet Oholei Yosef Yitzchok. Then he switched to run the Chabad school in Ganim in Yerushalayim and became an outstanding educator. He married Chana Gittel and was one of the founders of the Chabad community in the Pagi (Poalei Agudas Yisroel) neighborhood in Yerushalayim. Tragically, his wife died in her youth. A few years later, he married a woman named Shaindel and settled in Bayit Vegan in Yerushalayim and was one of the founders of the Chabad community there.
R’ Yosef had the idea of forming a Chabad choir that would sing Chabad niggunim which were not yet known by the public. He presented his idea to the Rebbe and received this response: “About what you wrote concerning organizing a choir
of Lubavitchers and Chabad niggunim, this is very, very proper. What the Rebbe, my father-in-law said is known regarding the choir in Tomchei T’mimim in Lubavitch … It is most desirable that they be involved in this now so that it will be ready for the month of Tishrei and perhaps also for 18 Elul if there is a farbrengen on this special day when the two luminaries were revealed. Of course, you have permission and the privilege to repeat this to Anash who are able to help in this. (Igros Kodesh vol. 18, letter #6977) The choir was formed in 5723 as the Rebbe instructed, and it was comprised of Chabad Chassidim from Kfar Chabad and Yerushalayim. They appeared in many places around the country and were mekarev numerous people to the depth of Chassidic melodies. They also made special appearances outside of Chabad centers such as the rare performance in Caesarea. In 5730, there were “Evenings with Chabad” for the broader Israeli public, who were exposed for the first time
to Chabad niggunim of simcha, gaaguim and d’veikus. R’ Yosef conducted this Chabad choir, which sang before thousands of people at the Binyanei HaUma in Yerushalayim and at the Heichal HaTarbut in Tel Aviv. At the same time, in accordance with the Rebbe’s instructions, he did much to reconstruct old niggunim and to write down niggunim that he heard from elderly Chassidim. For a long time, he worked with Nicho’ach which was run by his friend, R’ Shmuel Zalmanov, and recorded many niggunim that were known, up until then, only by very few. In 5721, R’ Yosef and R’ Naftali Krauss prepared a Chassidic Songbook for the Education Ministry, which was meant for students who were not from Chabad homes. While editing the songbook, some questions arose about making certain adjustments to Chassidic songs. The two of them wrote a letter to the Rebbe and asked that they be answered right away without having to wait their turn amongst the many petitioners.
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In the Rebbe’s response in the margin of their letter, he noted that they had been answered out of turn. Here are the questions and answers from the Rebbe’s response: Regarding their question about whether they should adjust the emphasis on various syllables in the words to niggunim so they would fit the rules of Hebrew grammar, m’lera and m’l’eil, the Rebbe said there was no reason to do so since when singing we are not at all particular about these rules, and not even about more essential rules, to the extent that sometimes we add syllables. Regarding the question about whether to arrange the tunes for two person harmonies, which would make it easier to pitch it to the teachers, the Rebbe said that a niggun with two person harmonies cannot be sung by one person and if, for example, they did not prepare a second singer then it would not be suitable for use. In any case, if there was a real need for such arrangements, it is not a matter of principle and it could be done. Regarding the question as to whether to note the name of the arranger, the Rebbe said it depends on the custom of the place and the reaction of the public. (Igros volume 20, letter #7565) Aseres Yemei T’shuva 5734, R’ Yosef Marton received a “general-personal” letter from the Rebbe, the likes of which he received every year. But at the end of the letter, the Rebbe added a handwritten note: “Surely you are involved in Mivtza T’fillin.” A number of people received answers like this since the Rebbe announced the t’fillin campaign, but for R’ Yosef, it was a bit different, as he related: “I was very surprised by this note since, for various reasons, I had not gone out to put t’fillin on with people on the street. Then, on Motzaei Yom Kippur, I was drafted in the war that had just begun. I was sent southward to the Ketziot base. I arrived at the base the next day. “I used some downtime to put t’fillin on with soldiers. Between Yom Kippur and Sukkos I stood in a place where many soldiers passed on their way to the front and put t’fillin on with people nonstop. There were also some senior military figures who were not embarrassed to come over to me and put on t’fillin. I think that among the good things that came out of the Yom Kippur War was the fact that I put t’fillin on with people as the Rebbe wanted.” *** In recent years, R’ Marton became seriously ill. He passed away on 29 Kislev. He is survived by his wife, sons and daughters, some of whom are on shlichus.
Forty years ago, during the
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32 � • 17 Teives 5774
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LEFT, RIGHT AND CENTER
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
The first Jewish leader, Moses, was raised in Pharaoh’s palace. When he grew up and went out of the palace to see how his brethren were faring, he witnessed an Egyptian taskmaster beating a Jewish slave. The Torah describes Moses’ reaction thus: “He turned this way and that way, and he saw that no man was there so he struck the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.” This was a life-changing event for Moses. The Torah uses it to signify that Moses is a man of action and a leader. It follows then that every detail in this brief narrative can provide us with information about Moses, his personality and his leadership. If we had to describe Moses’ most salient qualities, they could be summed up as follows: (a) Moses was the liberator, leader of and provider for the Jewish people. He is often referred to as “Goel Rishonthe First Redeemer” and “Raya Mehemna-The Faithful Shepherd.” (b) Moses was the one through whom G-d gave us the Torah. He is thus called Moshe Rabbeinu-Moses our Teacher. (c) Moses was the ultimate prophet. In the Torah, G-d declares that no one else has ever
arisen with prophetic abilities comparable to those of Moses. It stands to reason that we should be able to find all of these qualities in the Egyptian Taskmaster narrative. Let us now analyze Moses’ response to the beating of his brother.
Moses saw that “no person is destined to descend from him that will convert [to Judaism].” He demonstrated his prophetic prowess even at that early stage of his life.
MOSES THE LIBERATOR, SHEPHERD AND PROPHET
Moses liberates the Jew from the murderous hands of the Egyptian Taskmaster. In so doing, he demonstrates the lengths he will go to save his fellow Jew and care for his needs. Indeed, as a first step, Moses leaves the comfort and privilege of the palace to see how his brethren are doing. It is only then that he sees the beating of the Jew. That moment shatters and then utterly transforms his self-perception. In a flash of G-d inspired insight, this member of the privileged Egyptian elite recognizes a profound truth: he is a brother to the Jewish slave and has a duty to save him from the taskmaster. This demonstrates the degree to which Moses shows concern for his flock. We also can see Moses acting here as a prophet of astonishing power. Rashi teaches us that the words “he saw that no man was there . . .” means that
WHERE IS MOSES’ ROLE AS TORAH GIVER?
The question, however, remains: where do we see hints of Moses’ role as the giver of the Torah in this story? Rabbi Meir Shapiro, the legendary founder of the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva in PreWorld War II Poland, explains this verse homiletically: “He turned this way and that way” is interpreted to mean that he turned to the right and turned to the left and discovered that “there is no man here.” This refers to the two competing ideologies hotly debated in modern society. Some argue that the political right cares more for freedom and human dignity. Others contend that the left is more concerned with the common man and for the wellbeing of all humanity. Moses, upon seeing the injustice being perpetrated against one of his brethren looks in both directions for guidance. Will the “right” show him how
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to address society’s ills and bring freedom, fairness and justice? Or, perhaps, one must look to the “left” for governance and relief. Moses searches in vain for a man-made ideology that can solve the problems of the world and bring salvation. He looks this way and that in vain and concludes that “there is no man.” There is no one else here who cares or who is capable of accomplishing anything positive. Moses then “buries” the Egyptian culture and ideology in the ground. Moses recognizes that secular culture is no more effective than the dust of the earth. This is Moses’ connection to Torah. To appreciate the Torah’s uniqueness as a way of life one must understand the futility of all the other systems. Moses now Conversely, every negative experience always has at least a tinge of positivity. In the words of the Alter Rebbe: “This admixture commenced after the sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, [when that] which had been formally totally separate, became mixed together. Nothing is pure any longer; there is no good without evil and viceversa.” Only the G-d given teachings of the Torah are pure and free from the intrusion of negative energy. The Rebbe explains the phenomenon thus: “The laws and ethical precepts of Torah (those contained, for example, in the tractate Avos-Ethics of the Fathers) are the epitome of goodness and truth. All other Torah agreed with. The Previous Rebbe’s response was: “The Torah, since it is the absolute perfection of truth and goodness, contains within itself all of the best ideas which one may find in all ideologies.”
WHICH DIRECTION IS TORAH
If the secular ideologies are characterized as “left” and “right,” how then are we to describe Torah? The answer is that Torah is actually the center. But it is not the center as in “moderate” or “lukewarm,” rather it is the center as in “central,” that around which all else revolves. It is the center because it comprises both the right (chesedkindness) and the left (g’vurajudgment) and synthesizes them. Torah, as the Rebbe stressed, is the epitome of truth. Truth is impartial to arguments from either of the directions. If truth dictates veering to one particular direction then so be it. If truth then demands that we make an about-turn and go in the opposite direction so be it! Truth is unlimited and inviolate and cannot be swayed by any other consideration. One of the 13 Principles of Faith, postulated by Maimonides, is that the Torah can never be changed; it is immutable.
This refers to the two competing ideologies hotly debated in modern society. Some argue that the political right cares more for freedom and human dignity. Others contend that the left is more concerned with the common man and for the well-being of all humanity.
recognized that constructing a perfect ideological system was beyond the powers of man.
systems of morality, however, which men by themselves have contrived, mix together good and evil, truth and falsehood.”
THE ADMIXTURE OF GOOD IN SECULAR SYSTEMS
Does this mean that there is no good in non-Torah ideologies? Is there no value in the democratic ideals and expansion of personal freedom that secular ideologies have contributed to society? Indeed, there is much good in man-made systems. We must remain aware, however, that every good aspect of life always has at least a tinge of adversity.
WHERE DOES THE GOOD IN OTHER SYSTEMS ORIGINATE?
One may reasonably ask the question: from where does the positive energy within man-made institutions come? The answer is simple: Torah. The Rebbe relates that his fatherin-law (the Previous Rebbe) was once asked by advocates of competing political ideologies which of their philosophies the
MOSES: RIGHT AND LEFT
One could understand his looking to the right and left on a non-spatial level, which establishes Moses’ connection to Torah in a more direct manner. When the Torah states that Moses looked in both directions, it does not mean that he was thinking about the Egyptian notion of right and left. He did
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not entertain the notion that Egyptian culture provided the answer to the moral dilemma of a Jew being beaten. Rather, he was already thinking of the Torah’s notion of right and left. The Torah is compared to water in Biblical texts because water is life sustaining and an expression of chesed-kindness. Torah is also called fire because like fire it can destroy evil. Moses surveyed the situation at hand. Here is a Jew, beaten mercilessly by the cruel Egyptian Taskmaster. Moses therefore took his inspiration from both the right—his sense of love for his fellow Jew (chesed) —and the left—his desire to rid the world of unmitigated evil and cruelty (g’vura). Moses, like the Torah itself, combined both right and left, water and fire. Moses’ ability to combine right and left is alluded to in his very name: the word “Moses” is said to be an acronym for Moshe, Shammai and Hillel (See Likkutei Sichos 5752, Parshas Shmini). Shammai and Hillel were two of the most famous Sages and known for their opposite personalities. Shammai was the stern disciplinarian who rejected a would-be convert who wanted to be taught the entire Torah while standing on one foot. Hillel, on the other hand, told the same seeker the famous words,
“What is hateful to you do not do to others.” Moses was a composite of both Hillel and Shammai, and he was therefore the very personification of Torah. And it was to Torah that he went to get direction and inspiration as to how to deal with the cruel taskmaster.
We must now understand the connection of this idea to the words “and he saw that no man was there.” When Moses embraced the totality of Torah, its Divine synthesis of right and left, he saw that “no man was there;” it is not a man-made ideology. Torah came from no mortal thought or speech; it is G-d’s unadulterated, immortal word.
HIDING IN THE SAND
The Torah continues, “He struck the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.” The “Egyptian” here alludes to the power of exile to oppress, confine and limit the Jew both physically and spiritually. The word for Egypt in Hebrew is “Mitzrayim,” which carries with it the connotation of constraints and limits; the hallmark of Galus-exile. When we can combine both of
Torah’s directions in the Moses mode, we are able to bury Galusexile in the sand. As long as our approach to Torah is one-sided – because we view it from the perspective of one among many equally competing ideologies and disciplines – we and the Torah remain enmeshed in Galus. Even when we view Torah as Divine but see it as being limited in scope, we are seeing Torah in a compromised Galus form. However, when we realize the infinite and multidirectional level of Torah, we can gain access to its elevated essence and transcend all the manifestations of exile. The seeds for the Egyptian Exodus were thus sown when Moses went out to see how his brethren were doing and applied the Torah-synthesis towards saving the Jewish slave. The lesson for us here in the last generation of Galus and first generation of GeulaRedemption is that we must bury the exile constraints in the sand, i.e., recognize that Torah, unlike other disciplines, is not a “man.” Torah is Divine. When we internalize and live by the Mosesmodel of humility we can access that Divinity, which enables us to break out of all the constraints of Exile, with the imminent Redemption through Moshiach.
Check it out!! Educational and Fun!!
Issue 907 • �
WHAT OBAMA UNDERSTANDS…
According to those who know, when Menachem Begin flew to Camp David, he didn’t really think that he would return home with a signed agreement on uprooting Jewish settlements and recognizing the “Palestinian” people. He just wanted to give honor to the Americans by coming to a peace conference. However, the end of the story was an inconceivable tragedy for which we are paying the price to this day. Even when Yitzchak Shamir flew to the Madrid Conference, he too merely wanted to show respect for the Americans – but that was too much for the Rebbe. He toppled Mr. Shamir’s government in order to put an end to any discussions on dividing Eretz Yisroel and placing the security of its millions of Jewish residents in mortal danger, simply in order to “show respect for the Americans”…
By Sholom Ber Crombie Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
The President of the United States, Mr. Barack H. Obama, made some very interesting headlines last week when he chose to put the government of Israel in the limelight over its strong difference of opinion with his Administration. To his defense, the American chief executive stated that differences of opinion are legitimate. He twice declared that in the final analysis, the government of Israel has the responsibility for protecting its citizens, and it cannot place matters of security
in the hands of others. It would seem that Obama said these things as a means of avoiding all responsibility. However, the fact that he makes such statements testifies to the great precision of the Rebbe’s words declaring that whenever the government of Eretz Yisroel stands up and expresses a firm principled opinion, it merits the respect of the United States. Who other than this president could initiate a public confrontation with his counterpart in Yerushalayim? He humiliated Netanyahu,
publicizing his picture to the whole world with his legs propped up on the table while he spoke with the prime minister. Obama has become a symbol of enmity towards Netanyahu. However, he has also made some clear statements regarding those principles that the Israeli premier has steadfastly chosen to advance. Mr. Obama did sign a most questionable agreement with Iran, granting a degree of legitimacy to their development of atomic weapons for “peaceful purposes.” Yet, he also understands fully that
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the government of Eretz Yisroel cannot stand by with arms folded in the face of this Iranian threat. As a result, he eventually made a most truthful declaration: America cannot guarantee Eretz Yisroel’s security.
The Rebbe’s position on the issue of U.S.-Israeli relations is known to everyone. This is the same Netanyahu who heard from the Rebbe a lesson in diplomacy, regarding the manner in which we ought to conduct ourselves before the world. Netanyahu is familiar with the Rebbe’s teachings, and he knows that this is the only way to act. However, he makes one crucial mistake: While he carefully evaluates every argument of principle with the United States, he saves all his big moves for the really “front burner” issues, such as the agreement with Tehran. On all other matters, he prefers to cut corners, even though he realizes the madness of remaining silent in the face of Iran’s development of atomic weapons. Netanyahu is trying very hard to appease Obama. At every opportunity, he lets the president walk over him. He thinks to himself that the most important thing is to save his energy for the true “red lines” – and that’s his mistake. Mr. Obama tramples on the prime minister, because he knows that Netanyahu doesn’t really agree with him. Nevertheless, Netanyahu subserviently accepts the American dictates, believing that it’s better to endure all the misunderstandings in order to maintain control over those red lines. However, the reality of the situation is quite different. If Netanyahu would conduct a principled debate on every issue,
there would never be a need for him to fight for our very survival. Just three years ago, Netanyahu imposed a freeze on all Jewish construction in Yerushalayim, Yehuda, and Shomron, as a means of appeasing this same Barack Obama. This was his way of welcoming the president to his new job: a guaranteed ‘yes’ from the Israeli prime minister, someone who had previously claimed that he was the leader of the nationalist camp, as he spoke from the balcony at Tziyon Square. Obama has managed to internalize this message quite well: The Israeli prime minister isn’t really fighting for his principles. He’s even prepared
to cut corners on those issues of greatest importance to him. The main thing is to appease the American president.
to the June, 1967 borders – and all this is happening without a single right-of-center party in the political opposition. There isn’t a cry of protest anywhere – everyone’s too busy dealing with more pressing issues, such as Iran, drafting the ultra-Orthodox into the army, and opening nonrabbinical offices for marriage services. However, beyond the probing eye of the national and world media, they’re dealing with another matter entirely. A serious discussion is presently underway on the issue of constructing a wall through the very heart of Yerushalayim, dividing the city between the capital of the Jewish People and the capital of an independent ‘Palestine’ r”l.
In his defense, the American chief executive stated that differences of opinion are legitimate.
The Americans know how to meddle in these talks as well. Netanyahu has no desire in advancing such negotiations. He is quite aware of the potential danger they carry. He is no fool, and he knows that there’s no evading responsibility here. The prime minister understands the severe consequences of missiles placed on the border with Kfar Saba and Raanana. However, he lacks the moral courage to tell the Americans, “Enough!” “The Secretary of State is asking for talks? Let him have his talks. What do you care?” the right-wing parties claim. “No one really thinks that they’ll amount to anything.” The problem is that we’ve already been down this road twice before. According to those who know, when Menachem Begin flew to Camp David, he didn’t really think that he would return
The subject of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which has seriously troubled the Israeli public recently, has drawn attention away from the real issue. Behind the scenes, talks continue with great vigor between the leaders of the terrorist organizations and Cabinet members from the pseudorightwing Israeli government. Last week, one of the “Palestinian Authority” ministers claimed that Justice Minister Tzippi Livni is determined to produce a peace agreement. It seems that this is the case; she’s literally prepared to give away everything. They’re discussing Yerushalayim, the Arab refugees, a virtual return
Issue 907 • �
home with a signed agreement on uprooting Jewish settlements and recognizing the “Palestinian” people. He just wanted to give honor to the Americans by coming to a peace conference. However, the end of the story was an inconceivable tragedy for which we are paying the price to this day. Even when Yitzchak Shamir flew to the Madrid Conference, he too merely wanted to show respect for the Americans – but that was too much for the Rebbe. He toppled Mr. Shamir’s government in order to put an end to any discussions on dividing Eretz Yisroel and placing the security of its millions of Jewish residents in mortal danger, simply in order to “show respect for the Americans”… everlasting inheritance. There can be no greater desecration of G-d’s Name than when Yerushalayim is the setting for a discussion on dividing Eretz Yisroel, and no one dares to say a word in dissent. The concessions of the Oslo Accords and similar agreements are a mere drop in the bucket compared to those Mr. Netanyahu and Ms. Livni are prepared to make. They are conducting serious negotiations on relinquishing all territories liberated in the Six Day War from their Arab neighbors – just as the Rebbe foresaw. These are the same territories that G-d gave to us through tremendous miracles and wonders, and as the Rebbe repeatedly mentioned, giving them away would be the greatest Chillul Hashem. However, anyone who fails to recognize G-d’s direct and immediate involvement in the process of liberating these territories is forced now to deal with a loss of ideology, as he is no longer convinced that he is following the right course. In the face of this terrible chillul Hashem, there is only one path the Rebbe taught us to follow – protest through love. Not a protest of hatred or dispute ch”v, but a protest based on pure love – love for the Jewish People and concern for its welfare.
And the Americans – even on the subject of the “peace agreements” – they know how to respect a firm and courageous Jewish stance, far more than the Israeli politicians do. They believe in the Tanach and in their currency, which proclaims most proudly “In G-d We Trust.” They also have greater appreciation for an Israeli prime minister who declares with a clear voice that the Greater Land of Israel was given to us through the revealed and wondrous miracles of the Six Day War. Furthermore, since the Hand of G-d was undeniably the guiding force in the entire conflict, he has no right to enter negotiations on territorial concessions, thereby endangering Jewish lives. Only in this manner can we put an end to the obsessive involvement in partitioning Eretz Yisroel and bring true peace to our people. Let us all get ourselves more involved in learning and spreading inyanei Moshiach and before 10 Shevat 5774, we will be in the third Beis HaMikdash with the Hisgalus of the Rebbe now! 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
When the Rebbe cried out against the bloodletting peace agreements, including the autonomy plan, he also mentioned the aspect of Chillul Hashem in reference to the idea that the Jewish People would even discuss slicing up the land given to our forefathers as an Continued from page 39 shall show him wonders,’ and after witnessing the wonders which testify that this is ‘The year that the King Moshiach will be revealed,’ we see how difficult it is to inculcate the awareness and the feeling that we are literally standing on the threshold of the Messianic Era, to the point that one begins to ‘thrive’ on matters of Moshiach and Redemption... “The solution to this dilemma study concerning is Torah Moshiach and Redemption. For Torah – which is G-d’s
wisdom, and thus transcends the natural order of the universe – has the capacity to alter the nature of man. Even when one’s emotions are still outside the parameters of Redemption – G-d forbid – (because he has not yet emerged from his internal exile), he can nevertheless learn the Torah’s teachings concerning Redemption, and thereby be elevated to the state of Redemption. One then begins to thrive on matters of Redemption, borne of the knowledge, awareness and feeling that “Behold he is coming.”
38 � • 17 Teives 5774
By Rabbi Gershon Avtzon
MOSHIACH & GEULA
Dear Reader sh’yichyeh, The Alter Rebbe writes in the beginning of Hilchos Pesach: “The early Sages decreed in the time of the existence of the Bais HaMikdash that the speakers should start to publicly expound the laws of the festival 30 days before the festival. That is, from Purim on they should expound the laws of Pesach; and from the 5th of Iyar on they should expound the laws of Shavuos; and from the 14th of Elul on they should expound the laws of Sukkos. This is because each and every Jew who lived in Eretz Yisroel is obligated to bring 3 sacrifices on Yom Tov: A burntoffering, a Yom Tov offering, and a joy offering ... Therefore the Sages decreed to expound the laws of the Yom Tov 30 days beforehand to remind the people...” Dear Chassidim: We are already within 30 days before the holy day of 10 Shevat, the day of the Histalkus of the Frierdike Rebbe and the day we celebrate the Kabbalas Hanesius of our Rebbe. Everyone is preparing themselves for this special day. Many are learning the special Maamarim of Basi L ’Gani 5714 and 4743 (which correspond to this year 5774) and many other wonderful things. That’s all good and wonderful, but it’s time to get “back to the basics” and focus on accomplishing the goal that the
Rebbe wants of our generation. In the very first Maamer, the Rebbe told us the goal of our generation: “This, then, is why the seventh is so cherished: it is he who draws down the Sh’china, in fact, the essence of the Sh’china; moreover, he draws it down into this lowly world. It is this that is demanded of each and every one of us of the seventh generation, and ‘all those that are seventh are cherished.’ “Although the fact that we are in the seventh generation is not the result of our own choosing and our own service, and indeed in certain ways perhaps contrary to our will, nevertheless ‘all those who are seventh are cherished.’ “We are now very near the approaching footsteps of Moshiach, indeed, we are at the conclusion of this period, and our spiritual task is to complete the process of drawing down the Sh’china—moreover, the essence of the Sh’china—within specifically our lowly world.’” We must always be focused on this goal, as the Rebbe told us (Chayei Sara 5752): “The most recent innovation in the work of shlichus is: to receive our righteous Moshiach in the true and complete Redemption. Indeed, the preparation for the coming of our righteous Moshiach is the most all encompassing aspect of Judaism and includes all the other points and details of the work of shlichus.”
In the Sicha of Tazria-Metzora (5751) the Rebbe told us the direct path to bring Moshiach: “My intention here is action – and certainly the following will In be publicized everywhere: order to realize the immediate revelation and coming of Moshiach – each and every Jew (the men, whether they are dwellers in the tent (Yisachar) or men of business (Z’vulun), and the women and children, each one according to his ability) should increase their learning of Torah, particularly the subjects of Moshiach and Redemption. “It would be even better if they would learn (in public) with ten others because, in addition to the advantage that ‘ten who sit and occupy themselves with Torah, the Divine Presence dwells among them,’ there is a particular advantage when learning about Moshiach and the Redemption in public. Such public learning affects the excitement and the heart-felt joy through which comes an increasing desire and anticipation for the coming of Moshiach” The Rebbe re-emphasized this point in the Sicha of Balak 5751: “Despite the ‘uproar’ associated with this matter in recent times within this year, the year of ‘I Continued on page 38
Issue 907 • �
The fax machine in Yoske’s Chabad house office spewed forth the following page:
B”H Yud Shvat is approaching, the day the Rebbe accepted the nesius. Already starting on Asara B’Teives – “thirty days before the chag” – I began making a spiritual accounting about how to ready myself for this great day with a gift for the Rebbe, a gift worthy of being called a gift. This is connected with what I wrote earlier. I think that the best present for the Rebbe would be to devote myself to carrying out his wishes and to prepare to greet Moshiach by having all our activities permeated with inyanei Moshiach and Geula. This is the reason I am writing to you. I ask that you please help me with this. I heard that you are very successful in these activities in recent years and I want to join and be a part of this. Please send me your ideas from the past, present and future so I can use them here, in my place of shlichus. A Yashar Ko’ach Moshiach Now! Lazer Somewhere in Europe Mendy, one of the people who worked at the Chabad house. “Tonight we are meeting here and will be discussing our Yud Shvat activities. I’ll have what to send him, b’ezras Hashem.” Evening, at the Chabad House: Yoske: To get to the point, we need to come up with a new idea for Yud Shvat regarding inyanei Moshiach and Geula. As you see, I’ve put a recording
PREPARING YOUR CITY
Dear Yoske, I greet you without any titles of respect because you and I grew up in Tomchei T’mimim where kavod is not valued much … Furthermore, we attended the same yeshiva and farbrenged with the same mashpiim. Now I am writing you because I was sent to one of the countries in the CIS on the Rebbe’s shlichus and I’ve spent a long time working on a cheshbon ha’nefesh about what we should do in my city about inyanei Moshiach and Geula. The Rebbe told us in particular that the only remaining shlichus is Kabbalas P’nei Moshiach Tzidkeinu, and this has to permeate all the rest of the good things that we do. When I examine closely my peulos over the past years, it becomes clear that I have been immersed, over my head, with the needs of the mosdos in my city and the activities of the Chabad house, but in most of the activities, inyanei Moshiach were not prominent enough. This bothers me. Yoske turned the page this way and that, thinking about what he had just read. He himself was busy before Yud Shvat in preparing the monthly program with his staff which would be their gift to the Rebbe in honor of this great day. “What wonderful hashgacha pratis,” murmured Yoske as he handed the fax to
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device on the table, both to have a record of what we’ve discussed and to enable my friend Lazer to hear it, so he can use the ideas we come up with, even if we don’t end up using them all. Mendy: We can also improve on the ideas of previous years in addition to coming up with something new. And that will also help him, because he will hear the previous ideas. Yossi: I have an idea I thought of today, to make a two-sided card about the identity of Moshiach. It should be made of stiff paper and have a hole on top (see picture). Shneur: What’s the hole for? Yossi: The hole enables you to hang it from a doorknob. We will pay some guys who have a connection with the Chabad house and they will hang it from the door of every house. Yoske: It can say, “Opening the Door for Moshiach.” ing Open oor Yossi: Right, that’s the D r fo h iac a great idea. What do Mosh you think? Mendy: It’s a good idea. Who will write the text on the other side? Yossi: I think Shneur has a lot of experience coming up with text, as we saw from last year’s phone campaign. Shneur: Spoken text is far different than written text! Mendy: Before you figure out who will write it, please remind me – what was last year’s project? Yossi: Last year, before Yud Shvat, Shneur wrote something up about kabbalas ha’malchus along with a telephone number for people to leave their hachlata in Torah and mitzvos. We gave the text to a professional announcer and added Chassidic music in the background and everybody in the city got a recorded message from the Chabad house. Shneur: You forgot to add that at the same time, we sent out thousands of emails with the identical text. Yossi: Which, by the way, proves that you are good at writing too … Yoske: Okay, so Shneur can write material on
I think that the best present for the Rebbe would be to devote myself to carrying out his wishes and to prepare to greet Moshiach by having all our activities permeated with inyanei Moshiach and Geula.
inyanei Moshiach … And this year, we can do the projects we did last year by phone and email and add the card for the doorknob. Mendy: In order to cover all bases, I suggest that all the people on our texting contact list receive a special text for Yud Shvat in a slightly different style. It should have a special saying about Moshiach and Geula that pertains to our time. This way, we will be using all possible forms of technology: a phone message, a text message, and an email. Yoske: Sounds good. The Rebbe always quotes the maamer Chazal that everything Hashem created in the world, He created for His honor and so we need to use all the tools that technology has to offer, for holy purposes, certainly for the most important thing, the true and complete Geula. Shneur: There is another area that we haven’t discussed yet and that is learning inyanei Moshiach and Geula. I think we need to make a number of shiurim that will deal with the signs of the Rebbe MH”M based on the Rambam. Let’s make these shiurim as short videos and send them to the addresses we have. That will be an incredible learning initiative! Yossi: Right … After all, the Rebbe said in the sicha at the Kinus HaShluchim 5752, that the role of the shliach is to prepare the Jews of his city by explaining to them what Moshiach is about. Shneur: Boruch Hashem, we have a great team at the Chabad house that can work on these things. Yoske: I agree with you. We just need to say l’chaim to the success of all these good projects. Just in the merit of deciding to do them, even before we actually do them, may we merit to see the hisgalus of the Rebbe MH”M now!
Issue 907 • �
By Rabbi Yisroel Harpaz
he power of electricity is one of the most mysterious, hidden forces of nature. We can’t fully explain where it comes from, but we are undoubtedly aware of its power. We cannot perceive it with any of our five senses, but we know it exists through its causation and effects. Electricity as we know it today was first documented by the Italian physician and physicist Luigi Galvani (1737-1798) in 1771, when he concluded that electrical currents caused muscles to contract. The power of electricity was first harnessed by the voltaic cell, essentially the world’s first battery, invented by Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) in 1800. Galvani discovered the quality of electric energy to galvanize. Volta developed the ability to capture the energy for practical use as volts. In one of the more mindboggling “coincidences” of history, during the same period a different type of electric storm was brewing in Eastern Europe: The “discovery” and development of Chassidic thought (a.k.a.,
Jewish mysticism), the hidden inner dimension of the Torah. Chassidic thought was first unveiled by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760). These profoundly spiritual teachings were later harnessed into a comprehensive and methodical philosophical system by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (the Alter Rebbe, who was born in 1745 – the same year as Volta). In 1798, the Alter Rebbe was imprisoned and accused of treason, both earthly and heavenly. He was eventually exonerated and released on the 19th of Kislev. The period that
followed the Alter Rebbe’s release – coinciding with development of the voltaic cell and the first commercial and industrial applications of electricity that made it a ubiquitous part of modern life – also marked an explosive new era in the revelation and dissemination of Chassidic teachings. On both scientific and spiritual frontiers, the subsequent advances created a new reality, and the world would never be the same. But beyond the curious historical confluence of events, the substance of these two advances also bears a striking similarity. Electricity, despite being a powerful force, remains hidden. Yes despite being hidden, it is the force that most effectively illuminates the darkness, not to mention powering the myriads of technological wonders that contribute to the advanced standard of living we currently enjoy. Chassidic thought operates under the very same principles. It is hidden, concealed beneath the veneer of the revealed dimension of Torah, dealing with subjects so elusive and abstract that no other school of thought dares approach them. Yet, at the same time, it is this hidden, mystical wisdom and the way of life it engenders – the way it illuminates what the world is really all about and empowers the individual to seize the opportunity to be part of that purpose – that enable us to overcome the dullness of material life and infuse physical existence with meaning.
Reprinted with permission from Exodus Magazine
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