Yisroel Lapidot

Rabbi Shmuel Butman



Avrohom Rainitz

R’ Yehoshua S. Hecht

4 D’var Malchus 7 Moshiach & Geula 29 Parsha Thought 29 Parsha Thought 42 Crossroads 44 Memoirs 48 Tzivos Hashem 50 Viewpoint

T. Maidanchek

Sholom Ber Crombie

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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 5 of 6
Translated by Boruch Merkur

G-d and the Jewish people share the same holiness in virtue of the fact that the essence of the Jewish soul is connected with the essence of G-d, may He be blessed, a concept expressed in the first part of the verse, “cheilek Havaya amo – the portion of G-d is His nation.” Every single Jew possesses a “cheilek Havaya.” Thus, it is written, “cheilek Havaya amo,” referring to the Jewish people here as “His nation” [a term that includes all Jews, irrespective of their spiritual standing, etc.]. Now, there is a positive interpretation of “amo – His nation,” as stated in the Midrash (Shmos Rabba 31, end), “‘Amo – His nation’ is like ‘imo – [being] with Him.’” But there is also a derogatory connotation, insofar as “amo” is linguistically connected with the word “omemos,” as in “gechalim omemos – embers.” This sense of “amo” is invoked in the saying, “Ein melech b’lo am – there is no king without a nation,” referring to the royal subjects as individuals who are separate, distinct, distant from the king’s majesty. The latter part of the verse, “Yaakov is the rope of His inheritance,” specifies “Yaakov” to teach that the connection of the rope of the soul extends to the lowest levels, the “akvayim – heels” (as mentioned in the maamer). Similarly, the concept “cheilek Havaya – the portion of G-d” pertains specifically

to “amo – His nation,” for even those who are like separate, foreign bodies, notwithstanding their [lowly] state and standing, are “cheilek Havaya,” a part of the essence, which is one with the whole essence of G-d. On account of the fact that “cheilek Havaya amo” – that each and every Jew transcends the natural order, the Seider Hishtalshlus, being one with the essence of G-d – it is impossible for the Animal Soul’s ruach shtus to distort the truth, etc. That is, the Animal Soul’s capacity to cover over and conceal the truth, etc., is only in virtue of its originating in the World of Tohu, which precedes Tikkun. But the antecedence of Tohu is only within the framework of Hishtalshlus; beyond Hishtalshlus, Tikkun takes precedence. Although [the comparison is made in Scripture between Eisav and Yaakov, representing Tohu and Tikkun respectively, in the verse], “Was not Eisav a brother to Yaakov?” nevertheless, “and I loved Yaakov” (Malachi 1:2), because “cheilek Havaya amo.” The sublime preference for Yaakov over Eisav, as well as Tikkun over Tohu, the G-dly soul over the Animal soul, is expressed in terms of Divine service, as follows. The ruach shtus can cover over and conceal only matters connected to the Seider Hishtalshlus within the person, affecting only his soul-powers. Its influence only extends to the service of G-d that stems from reason, matters that are subject to debate, arguments and

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responses. It has no power, however, over anything that transcends the Seider Hishtalshlus, meaning service of G-d that stems from the essence of the soul. This level of the soul is called Yechida, for it receives from Yachid, G-d’s singularity, His oneness, which is the concept of “a single spark of a created being that receives from a single spark of the Creator” (though not as two separate entities, but as they become one). At this level, the notion of hiding and concealing G-dliness has absolutely no bearing. This concept is discussed at length by the Tzemach Tzedek: Eisav’s birthright is only with respect to the Ayin [spirituality, bittul] that refines the Yesh [physicality, concept of self, being separate from G-d]. Since the Ayin is manifest and drawn down for the sake of refining the Yesh, it follows that the Yesh actually precedes the Ayin [in importance, because the purpose of the Ayin is for the sake of the Yesh]. Only after there is the existence of the Yesh can the Ayin come and refine it. However, the Ayin of the Yesh HaAmiti, G-d, the true existence, certainly precedes the Yesh HaNivra, the created existence. With respect to this level of G-dliness, Yaakov gets (not only Yitzchok’s blessing, as it is written [describing Eisav’s horror with Yaakov’s intrigues], “Behold, now he has taken my blessing!” but also) the birthright (“he has taken my birthright”); [at this level] it is specifically Yaakov who is the firstborn.

The antecedence of Tohu is only within the framework of Hishtalshlus; beyond Hishtalshlus, Tikkun takes precedence. Although the comparison is made in Scripture between Eisav and Yaakov, representing Tohu and Tikkun respectively, in the verse, “Was not Eisav a brother to Yaakov?” nevertheless, “and I loved Yaakov,” because “cheilek Havaya amo.”
exiled within the sackcloth garment of klipa, the place from which the ruach shtus enters the person to cause him to sin, etc. However, with respect to etzem ha’Chochma, all klipos are nullified and eradicated, etc., “as wax they have melted.” When any Jew is tested on a matter of faith (even a Jew who, on account of his low spiritual level, is called “amo,” like something that is separate, foreign [from G-dliness]), the etzem ha’Chochma is revealed in him. Such a test, awakens the Jew’s faith, an experience that transcends Hishtalshlus, connecting him with G-d’s essence. Since at this level, Tohu is not antecedent [and therefore lacks the leverage it needs to overpower the G-dly Soul], it is impossible for the ruach shtus to cover over and conceal, etc. The Jew, therefore, stands up to the test. In fact, when the power of faith is aroused in him and openly expressed, when the essence of Chochma is revealed and its illumination shines throughout his entire body – this has an impact on his approach to even individual Mitzvos, single strands of the rope of his soul. The principle underlying this ripple effect is that the essence extends to everything (a point that appears in the Rebbe’s maamer in parentheses, “and within this detail is all the essence of the detail”). Thus, the Jew stands up to the test even when it comes to overcoming the temptation to merely go through the motions of sin, to sin without his heart being into it, transgressing just in deed or speech alone.

Above we have discussed the dynamic of the Ayin and Yesh as they relate to the worlds. Now the discussion turns to how this dynamic is expressed in man. The Ayin that refines the Yesh within man is haaras ha’Chochma, the illumination of Wisdom. This light invests itself within the parts of the body, beginning with the brain, where this ray of Wisdom constitutes the mind, the intellect. In terms of Divine service, haaras ha’Chochma is associated with serving G-d as it accords with reason. At this level, the Yesh precedes the Ayin in quality, permitting there to be a ruach shtus, etc. Whereas, with respect to etzem ha’Chochma, the essence of Wisdom, which is [beyond Seider Hishtalshlus, at] the level of the Ayin of the Yesh HaAmiti, the hiding and concealment on the part of the ruach shtus has no bearing, etc. The distinction between the illumination of Wisdom and the essence of Wisdom is described in Tanya (Ch. 19, 25a): Only the aspect that extends from Chochma can be

6. Further analysis of the verse, “Ki cheilek Havaya amo,” focuses on the word “cheilek,” meaning “chaluka – apportioning,” as opposed to “netina – giving.” Among the differences between
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the two terms, “chaluka” and “netina,” is as stated in Brachos (58a): Upon seeing a Jewish sage, one says, “Blessed is He Who apportions of His wisdom”; upon seeing a Jewish king, one says, “Blessed is He Who apportions of His Glory.” However, with regard to Gentiles, one says of a Gentile sage, “Who gives of His wisdom,” and of a Gentile king, “Who gives of His glory.” The reason for this difference is stated in Magen Avrohom (Orach Chayim 224:4): A Jew is a “cheilek Eloka – a part of G-d.” Jews cleave to G-d, therefore, in blessings about Jews one says, “sh’chilek – Who apportions,” whereas regarding Gentiles the term used is “matana – gift,” alluding to something separate and distinct. In light of this distinction we can explain the specific use of the term “cheilek” in the verse, “cheilek Havaya amo.” Namely, it alludes to the fact that every Jew cleaves to G-d (even those Jews who are at the level of “amo – His nation”). Moreover, since a Jew is “cheilek Havaya,” even the gifts he receives are not characterized by separateness, but by cleaving, connecting to G-d. The Rebbe Maharash (based on the teachings of the Tzemach Tzedek) sheds further light on the special quality associated with a gift. Although there is a difference between a gift and an inheritance, for a gift is subject to interruption [i.e., when given upon the condition that the gift transfers to someone else upon the original recipient’s death, the original gift is “interrupted” and becomes the property of the second recipient] (Bava Basra 129b) (reminiscent of the concept of separation), whereas an inheritance is not subject to interruption [i.e., bequeathal is never “interrupted” in the sense that the legal heirs of the original beneficiary inherit it after his death], nevertheless, when one gives a gift to a person fit to inherit him, then it too is not subject to interruption (ibid 133a). This distinction will be understood in greater detail through a discussion of how it applies to Torah, for Torah [in addition to be called an inheritance] is also described as a gift (e.g., Brachos 5a). When nigleh d’Torah, the revealed, exoteric aspect of Torah, is studied on its own [without the insights of the mystical, esoteric dimension of Torah], then the first three levels of Torah, p’shat, remez, drush (literal, exegesis, homily) – whose acronym spells “pered,” meaning pirud, separate – the person, while studying Torah in this manner, may remain separate from G-dliness, etc. (as discussed in Zohar (III 275b, end)). This concept finds expression in the saying of our Sages (Yoma 86a): “Woe to he who studied Torah, etc. See how corrupt his deeds are, etc. (since his learning was not with fear of Heaven)!” They go so far as to say (ibid 72b): If one does not merit, (the Torah) is for him the opposite of “an elixir of life.” This reflects the concept of a gift that is subject to interruption. However, when nigleh d’Torah is studied along with p’nimius ha’Torah, the esoteric, inner dimension of Torah, which is unaffected by the hiding and concealment of the ruach shtus, being at the level of the Tree of Life (Zohar III 124b), beyond the concept of birurim (refining the world through interacting with it) – then even the study of p’shat, remez, and drush is with connection and cleaving to G-d, etc. That is, even the “gift” – nigleh d’Torah – is not subject to interruption, being a gift given to one who is fit to inherit. This special status is granted to nigleh d’Torah on account of its connection to the inner dimension of Torah, which is an inheritance that is not subject to interruption. Moreover, the study of nigleh d’Torah accompanied by p’nimius ha’Torah brings out a positive aspect of “gift” as well. That is, a gift is not a function of the degree of exertion and effort on the part of the one who receives the gift; it is, rather, in a measure that is “drawn down from above” as a gift [i.e., left to the whim of the generous benefactor]. This concept applies to Torah as follows. As a result of the study of Torah, “osi atem lokchim – you are taking Me (the very essence of G-d) [bringing G-d within the mind and soul of the one who learns it]” (Shmos Rabba 33:6; Tanya Ch. 47 (67a)), for “Ana Nafshi K’savis Yehavis – [the first word of the Aseres HaDibros, “Anochi – I (G-d),” being an acronym for] I have written Myself [into the Torah] and given [it to you, the Jewish people].” G-d invested His essence into the Torah, as described in the Midrash (Shmos Rabba 33:1), on its commentary on the verse, “V’yikchu li truma” (Truma 25:2): Consider an allegory of a king, who had an only daughter, etc.: “To part from her, I cannot do, etc. Do for me this favor. Make for me a single chamber where I may dwell among you, etc.” Thus, the Alm-ghty tells the Jewish people: “I have given you the Torah. To part from it, I cannot do, etc. Make for Me a single temple that I might dwell within it, etc.” That is, the gift of Torah contains within it the presence of the One Who bequeaths [it to us]. Then there are both virtues: The virtue of an inheritance, which has no interruption, as well as the virtue of a gift, which surpasses one’s work and effort, etc. (in addition to the fact that the gift has no interruption when it includes the study of the inner dimension of the Torah).
(To be continued be”H)

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By Rabbi Gershon Avtzon

Dear Readers sh’yichyu, This Shabbos we celebrate the anniversary of the beginning of the Rebbe’s leadership and we “re-accept” his leadership again. In whatever context Yud Shvat is mentioned, we must never forget the words that the Rebbe started off his official leadership of world Jewry: “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.’” These words are the guiding light to everything that is associated with our Rebbe and the entire seventh Generation.

It is impossible to separate the Rebbe - and Chabad in general - from the mission statement of bringing Moshiach. Think of the words that the Rebbe spoke on 28 Nissan (5751): “What more can I do so that all the children of Israel should create an uproar and cry sincerely and cause Moshiach to come in reality, since all that was done has had no effect – until now,  la’hevel v’la’rik! - and the proof is, that we find ourselves still in exile, and most essentially - an inner exile in Divine service. The only thing I am able to do - is to turn the matter [over] to you: do everything in your - things that are in the ability  nature of lights of Tohu, but, in -  to actually vessels of Tikkun  bring our righteous Moshiach immediately, instantly, in reality.” In the earliest  documented description of the Rebbe’s dreams as a child we find the following (Igros Vol. 12): “From the time that I was a child attending cheider, and even before, the vision of the future Redemption form in my began to take  imagination – the Redemption of the Jewish People from their final Exile, a redemption of magnitude and grandeur such  through which the purpose of the suffering, the harsh decrees will be and annihilation of Exile  understood...”

Dear Chassidim sh’yichyu! On this special day of the Kabbalas HaN’sius of the Rebbe, we must put a special emphasis on the aspect of Kabbalas P’nei Moshiach - which must come by the people - which empowers the Rebbe to fulfill his life-mission in this world. In the words of the Rebbe (Chayei Sara 5752): already The shluchim have begun long ago to fulfill the work of  shlichus in spreading the Torah, Judaism and the Wellsprings of the inner teachings of Torah outward, and for a long time have even reached completion in the shlichus, work of  according to the announcement of my sainted father-in-law mentioned above. Nevertheless, the true and complete Redemption has not yet actually come. It must be said, then, that there must be something that remains to be done that will bring the Redemption into reality. What is needed is the following: It is known that “in every generation an individual descended from Yehuda is born who is qualified to be the and that Moshiach for Israel,”  “one who qualifies because of his righteousness to be the Redeemer and when the time arrives G-d will be revealed to And him and send him, etc.”  Continued on page 17
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R’ Bentzion Milecki, a senior Chabad rabbi in Australia, received dozens of answers from the Rebbe regarding Hafatzas HaYahadus. He was one of the founders of the first hafatza organization in Sydney and has served as the rav of the second largest shul there for three decades. * In this interview, he discusses the chiddush of the Rebbe, the fact that every Jew is a shliach, and shares an extraordinary miracle he experienced with an answer he received from the Rebbe four years ago.
By Yisroel Lapidot Photos by Itzik Roitman

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hen he walks the streets of Sydney, Australia, he’s hard to miss. R’ Bentzion Milecki is about sixty years old, tall, with a gray beard, and has a Chassidishe chein that transmits calm and tranquility. At the end of a four hour interview with him, I can say that R’ Milecki is not someone you readily forget. Don’t let his smile mislead you. He is a man with a goal. In the past three decades since he arrived on shlichus in Sydney, he has fought staunch battles for the principles of our faith, remaining firm yet pleasant. It seems to me that his personal conscience and his spirit are still as sharp as a young man in his twenties. Despite the upheavals and the difficulties he faces, R’ Milecki is unafraid to present the Torah’s view on sensitive topics such as Mihu Yehudi, Shleimus HaAretz and the Besuras HaGeula. With his unique skill and talent he remains unfazed by the winds of modernity that seek to undermine traditional Judaism. With aweinspiring leadership firmly based in undiluted tradition, he stands at the helm of the second largest synagogue in Sydney, which numbers 1800 congregants and community members. He recently had the second mikva for men and women built in Sydney. Until then, for many years, 45,000 people had to manage with one women’s mikva that made it hard for many families who did not live in the area. R’ Milecki was born in Melbourne to a traditional family. When he was five, he went to a Jewish school and by a relatively young age became involved with Chabad. When he was eleven years old, the first group of shluchim arrived in Australia.

The shluchim settled in and began befriending young Jews. Young Bentzion was very taken by them. The one who made the greatest impression on him in Chassidishe conduct and the learning of Chassidus was R’ Shloma Majeski, now the dean of Machon Chana in Crown Heights. As a result of their acquaintanceship, young Bentzion focused on his learning within the Torah institutions of Melbourne until he concluded his learning in the Yeshiva G’dola as a Lubavitcher bachur in every respect. In Elul 5735 he went to the Rebbe for the first time and began learning in 770. He remained for three and a half years. He married the daughter of the mashpia R’ Menachem Mendel Morosov. R’ Milecki was one of the founders of the first institution in Sydney that reached out to the broader public and was identified as a Chabad organization. Under the name “Chabad Outreach,” he opened an organization whose goal was to create a spiritual revolution among young people and students. Workers for this organization visited elementary schools, high schools, universities and wherever youth congregated. They brought with them a refreshing, spirited Yiddishkait. This greatly impacted many people, motivating them to live a Jewish life. R’ Milecki wrote reports and letters to the Rebbe about his involvement in mivtzaim and received numerous responses. In addition to serving as rav of the second largest shul in Sydney, he is one of the senior Lubavitcher rabbanim in Australia. He is especially admired for his knowledge and command of Halachic issues

and for his excellent shiurim in English. He explains difficult subjects in Torah and Halacha with exceptional clarity and can be understood even by those with minimal knowledge.

To mark Yud Shvat, we sat with R’ Milecki and asked him: what does it mean to be a Chassid in the seventh generation? His response was that in order to properly understand our role, we first need to define the chiddush of the Rebbe in the seventh generation as compared to previous generations. The Rebbe said that there are differences between the generations, and those differences define the unique role of each generation. In his sichos, the Rebbe points out that generally speaking there are three stages and periods in the dissemination of G-dliness in the world: the era of the Avos, before the Giving of the Torah; the Giving of the Torah; and Yemos HaMoshiach. In the time of the Avos, the revelation of G-dliness began. Then Mattan Torah took place, in which the name Yud Kei Vav Kei was revealed and there was a joining of the upper and lower worlds. Then the period of Yemos HaMoshiach commenced, in which we will see how G-dliness and the word of Hashem is vested in the reality and physicality of the world. Similarly, the Rebbe delineates the differences in the three eras of the last three Chabad leaders. The era of the Avos is likened to the avoda of the Rebbe Rashab. Then, during the Rebbe Rayatz’s nesius, the Nasi began spreading Judaism

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to one and all. The third stage is lead by the Rebbe, Moshiach! Perhaps we can add, based on what is mentioned a lot in Chassidus, that the uniqueness of the Rebbe is expressed the way he revealed how every Jew, no matter who he is, can contribute to actualizing the ultimate purpose. The Rebbe, with the perspective of Chassidus, discerned the G-dly point that lies within every Jew. He also found the proper mode of healing for the soul of every Jew when he revealed to him the inner strength that lies within him and which he needs to arouse. The former Chief Rabbi of England, R’ Jonathan Sacks, repeated an idea that he arrived at after much thought. R’ Sacks said that people think the Rebbe’s success lies in his vast following of thousands of Chassidim. But they’ve missed a more important point, that a good leader creates disciples, but a great leader creates leaders. The Rebbe did not just create disciples; he created leaders. The Rebbe gave the ability to every person to be a leader; every person can illuminate his surroundings. Since every one of us can be a leader, we need to ensure that we reach out to others effectively, so that they too can be leaders. Therefore, all the “Lights of Tohu” of the Besuras HaGeula and Inyanei Moshiach need to be placed in “Vessels of Tikkun.” As the Rebbe said, “To be mekabel p’nei Moshiach,” that the recipients receive it in a p’nimius’dike way. The Rebbe once told the following story. The wife of the Alter Rebbe remarked, “Mine says,” referring to her husband. The Alter Rebbe, hearing this, said: if with one mitzva [kiddushin] I become hers, with all Your Mitzvos (Hashem) I surely become Yours. Then he explained the great quality of a woman according to Chassidus, that she is a mekabel (recipient). This is the central theme in our avoda, to be mekablim. We need to be mekabel the matter within ourselves so that we can be mekabel Moshiach with our ten soul powers. *** I asked him, does that mean that even a Chassid who is not a shliach but works for a living is also on the Rebbe’s shlichus? He said: Of course! Every person has a role as a shliach. I say this to my children who did not go on shlichus. Every person needs to see himself as a shliach in whatever he does; it should be his primary self-identification. When I am asked to describe myself, I say: I am a shliach of the Rebbe, who also serves as a rav. The point is that I am a shliach and everyone is a shliach. There is a problem today in that people think that only those who are “official shluchim” are shluchim. An official shliach is not the only shliach! Every Jew is a shliach. The word “shliach” with an additional letter “Yud” is numerically equal to Moshiach. This pertains to every single Jew. Every person must invest his particular work with the innermost point of the Jewish soul. They tell of a tailor who had yechidus; the Rebbe explained how in every detail of his work he can see G-dliness and share this with people. When this tailor left the Rebbe’s room, he said he is certain that the Rebbe’s father or grandfather was a tailor because the Rebbe displayed such great knowledge in the details of his work that only professionals are privy to. This is the idea that the Rebbe is teaching us – to know how to insert Yiddishkait and shlichus within every detail of life.

Chassidic passion is felt in every word that R’ Milecki says. That feeling only intensifies when he tells of his first yechidus with the Rebbe: I had my first yechidus in 5737, as a bachur in 770. I asked the secretary, R’ Leibel Groner, to give me an appointment but he pushed me off. Finally, after asking him many times, he gave me an appointment on condition that I write my name and my mother’s name and not say a word, that I just go in and come right out. I was extremely excited. I wrote some personal matters on a piece of paper, including my confession that sometimes I felt that I had no self-confidence and I was concerned about this. I fasted, and when it was my turn I went into the Rebbe’s room with my note and a note from the hanhala, like every bachur who learned in 770. As I stood there, I said the SheHechiyanu blessing as one says the first time upon going in to see the Rebbe, and the Rebbe answered amen. My note had four items and the Rebbe answered each one in order. The Rebbe did not look at me, as was the practice of the Rebbe toward bachurim, and I was silent. The Rebbe just asked me whether I spoke Yiddish and I answered yes. The Rebbe marked each question in my note and responded. Regarding what I had asked, why I did not believe in myself, the Rebbe said I should study chapter 41 of Tanya where

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it says that Hashem stands near every person, like a person who stands next to you. When the Rebbe said this, he looked up at me. That was the only time the Rebbe looked at me during the yechidus. Then the Rebbe lowered his gaze and repeated that I should learn chapter 41. When I left the room, R’ Groner yelled at me for taking too long. After that yechidus, I no longer felt as I did before. I remembered what the Rebbe told me that Hashem is standing near me, which infused me with an exceptional spiritual inspiration. The point which remained for me from that yechidus, and which I live with till this day, is this: learn chapter 41 of Tanya and then you won’t have problems. You will feel that Hashem is standing by you and this will give you a feeling of specialness. The Alter Rebbe writes that the world was created for every Jew. Hashem sets aside all His worlds and uniquely bestows His Kingship upon him. When we meditate on the fact that Hashem is looking at us and anticipating that we do all the right things, that boosts our self-confidence enormously. Hashem Himself has confidence in my abilities. What more do I need? If Hashem expects us to perform, surely we have the ability to do so. Since then, I haven’t had problems with self-confidence. What the Rebbe said gave me the ability to believe that I can do everything demanded of me because Hashem is standing by my side. This is precisely how every Chassid ought to feel. When the Rebbe demands of us to bring Moshiach, we need to think about the Rebbe standing and gazing at us and expecting us to do his shlichus. If we

When my wife read me the answer over the phone, I was speechless. I just stood there and cried. It was a letter that had come just in time. I had not known of the existence of this letter…. But what is clear is that I received it on time!
Rebbe four years ago: Four years ago, after facing numerous difficulties, I began to consider leaving the rabbinate. Since I had never received an explicit horaa to be in this position as a shlichus, and it was only after I was chosen that I received the Rebbe’s bracha, I did not find it problematic to leave. I was thinking along these lines one Friday. That Shabbos, my wife was in Montreal for her niece’s marriage to R’ Leibel Groner’s grandson. I remained in Australia.
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contemplate this as we should, we will have no doubt that we have all the necessary qualities that it takes to reach the goal. We were given endless kochos to light up the world in spreading Judaism and Chassidus until we merit the revelation of the light of Moshiach with the hisgalus of the Rebbe MH”M.

R’ Milecki shared with us an answer that he received from the



The astounding answer that R’ Milecki received in Cheshvan 5771

Sunday morning, I received an excited phone call from my wife. It was right after Shabbos was over in the US, and she said she had an answer from the Rebbe for me. I told her that I had not written to the Rebbe so I wasn’t expecting to receive any response. She said she was not referring to an answer in the Igros Kodesh but an actual letter from the Rebbe in his handwriting! Needless to say, I was shocked and I asked how this came to be. What happened was, at the wedding that took place in Montreal, a t’shura was given out with handwritten responses of the Rebbe and in one of them it said: Do everything possible so that Rabbi Milecki definitely continues in the rabbinate and that the shul continues to be Orthodox. When my wife read me the answer over the phone, I was speechless. I just stood there and cried. It was a letter that had come just in time. I had not known of the existence of this

letter and till today, I do not know to whom the Rebbe wrote this note. But what is clear is that I received it on time! Of course I immediately dropped the idea of leaving the shul. Although I was still afraid that I’d have problems, with a letter like this from the Rebbe I knew that I had the kochos to deal with them! By the way, until the revelation of this letter, I would sign my last name in Hebrew with an “ayin,” but when I saw that the Rebbe left it out, I started writing it as the Rebbe did.

In Shvat 5752, after not being able to go to the Rebbe for a number of years due to the enormous debt I had, the members of my community wanted to give me a ticket so I could go. I wrote to the Rebbe about it and added that if I went to the Rebbe, I would be unable to participate in the Kinus for

Agudas Rabbanei Australia and New Zealand. This was a very important gathering in which I wanted to take part and speak about the coming of Moshiach so that everyone would pasken and agree that Moshiach needs to come. On the one hand, I yearned to see the Rebbe; on the other hand, I understood the importance of my attending this meeting. That is why I wrote to the Rebbe and the Rebbe’s answer was that I should stay. I was appointed deputy chairman of the meeting, and with the help of another rav I was able to get everyone to agree to call out to every Jew on the continent that we are in the time suited for the coming of Moshiach and we need to get ready. To conclude, it bears repeating: every person needs to use all his abilities and all opportunities that arise to inform others of the imminent Geula and to urge them to welcome Moshiach, may he come now!

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The Rebbe Rayatz asks us for mesirus nefesh. Not earth-shattering mesirus nefesh, but the type of mesirus nefesh which entails forgoing our desires in order to do Hashem’s will. Pursuing this entails effort similar to or even more than the ultimate in mesirus nefesh as we know it. * From a speech delivered by Rabbi Shmuel Butman at the Yud Shvat farbrengen in 770 in 5772.

he Rebbe Rayatz had a Chassid in Boston, R’ Dovid Meir Rabinowitz. Based on his correspondence with the Rebbe, it’s evident that the Rebbe highly respected him. The Rebbe called him, “my friend.” R’ Rabinowitz had a son named Asher who was born in the United States and was “modern.” He went to college and became a lawyer. He called himself Oscar and had a big z’chus and share in bringing our Rebbe to America by preparing the necessary paperwork. On 28 Sivan 5701, the Rebbe


Rayatz sent a letter to Oscar’s father, R’ Dovid Meir, to tell him that his son-in-law and his wife had arrived safely on American shores. The letter is very short but famous. The Rebbe announces that boruch Hashem, his sonin-law and daughter arrived that day and the Rebbe thanks his son Oscar for his part in saving them. When R’ Dovid Meir lived in Boston, there was a woman who lost a teenaged daughter. After her daughter died, the mother heard the sounds of crying in the house. She did not know whether she was hearing her
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Yud Shvat
deceased daughter or whether the sounds were a figment of her imagination. She went to consult with R’ Rabinowitz who wrote to the Rebbe Rayatz about it and asked for advice and a bracha for the woman. The Rebbe wrote back that the sounds of crying were not her imagination; they were real cries. It was her daughter from the next world, the world of truth, who was crying. She was crying because her mother donated money to Jewish institutions that fought against Judaism. That is why she cried. Therefore, wrote the Rebbe, she should choose two rabbanim to join you as a beis din. Ask the mother to compile a list of all the institutions she supports, find out which institutions are worthy and which she should stop supporting. Then go to her daughter’s grave and tell the daughter what you did and she will stop crying. And so it was. that Hashem took Yisroel out of Egypt”? Why does Rashi give two reasons when the Torah itself only speaks about the exodus from Egypt? The Chassidic answer is: What did Yisro hear that caused him to go? The splitting of the sea and the war with Amalek. In this world, there can be the greatest miracles like the splitting of the sea, but still, after all the big miracles, it is still possible for a war with Amalek. “Then the chieftains of Edom were frightened” – the entire world was astounded by the miracles of the splitting of the sea. After miracles like that, we could have assumed that it would be quiet, that everyone would be afraid to start up with this exalted nation. But when Yisro saw that there can be a splitting of the sea followed immediately by Amalek waging war, he realized that it would be hard for him to manage alone. Yisro realized that he needed a “Rebbe.” This is the reason he went to Moshe Rabbeinu. This is the essence of 11 Shvat – it is impossible for us, in this generation, at this time, to manage alone. We need the Rebbe to help us and the Rebbe did indeed help us until now and will continue to help us. of the Alter Rebbe, that he too was imprisoned, he still wasn’t sentenced to death, heaven forbid. It is possible that those who arrested him sought that outcome and they even brought him in the black carriage, but the government never sentenced him to death. The Rebbe Rayatz was sentenced to death. In all of Chabad history, there was never a period as difficult as that of the generation of the Rebbe Rayatz. He was the Rebbe of mesirus nefesh. However, mesirus nefesh itself wasn’t the hardest thing for the Rebbe Rayatz. There is something harder than mesirus nefesh. What is that? Sending someone else on a mission like that. The Rebbe not only acted with mesirus nefesh himself, but he also sent his Chassidim on missions that demanded mesirus nefesh. When the Rebbe sent them, he knew that there was a good chance they would never return (the Rebbe once spoke about this at a farbrengen). One of my mashpiim, R’ Eliyahu Moshe Liss, told the following story. The Chassid, R’ Chatshe (Yechezkel) Feigin, was the Rebbe Rayatz’s gabbai. He once stood behind the door of the Rebbe’s room and as he stood there, he heard a loud bang. When he opened the door, he saw the Rebbe lying on the floor and laughing. The Rebbe was in great pain after breaking his arm. One can only imagine how much pain he was in from the fall and the fracture and yet, he laughed. R’ Chatshe said that he did not dare to ask the Rebbe why he was laughing at that time. He called for help and the Rebbe was taken to the hospital where his arm was treated. A long time later, R’ Chatshe

We are marking the day of hiskashrus to the Rebbe, 11 Shvat, the first day of the Rebbe’s nesius. The first day of the Rebbe’s nesius is not necessarily 11 Shvat 5711 but 11 Shvat 5710. This is the most appropriate time for hiskashrus. I saw a vort, not a Lubavitcher vort, but one that is appropriate to the parsha that we began reading at Mincha. It says, “And Yisro heard.” Rashi asks, “What news did he hear that made him come? The splitting of the sea and the war with Amalek.” Why does Rashi have to ask what news he heard when the pasuk says explicitly, “what Elokim did for Moshe and Yisroel His nation

Yud Shvat is the Yom Hilula of the Rebbe Rayatz. If we can define the Rebbe Rayatz, it might be as “the Rebbe of Mesirus Nefesh.” On the many occasions that the Rebbe spoke about his father-in-law, he said that he had mesirus nefesh that was incomparable to the mesirus nefesh of his predecessors. Although we know the story

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found an opportunity to ask the Rebbe why he had laughed when he was suffering greatly. The Rebbe replied: When I woke up that morning, I felt that something terrible would happen that day. I laughed because I was pleased that it transpired with my body. In other words, the Rebbe was afraid that something unpleasant would happen to someone that day. When it happened to him and not to someone else, it was cause for the Rebbe to laugh and rejoice. If the Rebbe was happy that he was the one who was injured and suffering and not someone else, we can only imagine how agonizing it must have been for the Rebbe to send a chassid to be a shochet or a melamed, when the Rebbe knew that the Chassid might pay for this with his life or be sent to Siberia and never see his family again. The Chassid, as opposed to the Rebbe, did not know what

The Rebbe wrote back that the sounds of crying were not her imagination; they were real cries. It was her daughter from the next world, the world of truth, who was crying. She was crying because her mother donated money to Jewish institutions that fought against Judaism.
Shabbos required mesirus nefesh. Having a beard required mesirus nefesh. Building a sukka required mesirus nefesh. Today, boruch Hashem, mesirus nefesh is not required to grow a beard, to build a sukka, or to provide children with a proper Jewish chinuch. You can send them to yeshiva and nobody will interfere. So what does the Rebbe Rayatz demand of us today? In the maamer, “Ein Omdim L ’Hispalel,” the Rebbe Rayatz writes in a few lines that mesirus nefesh means giving up one’s ratzon (will). The prophet Yirmiyahu suffered
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the Rebbe knew. He knew that he was going on the Rebbe’s shlichus and was hopeful that he would return to his family in peace. But the Rebbe knew his fate and he sent him. That takes much more mesirus nefesh than to give up one’s own life. A Jew once asked me: What does the Rebbe Rayatz want of us today? Does he want mesirus nefesh? There is no need for that nowadays. It used to take mesirus nefesh not to send one’s children to public school in Russia. If the child wasn’t sent to the communist school, the father was arrested or worse. Keeping


Yud Shvat
terribly from the Jewish people and Hashem says to him, “My nefesh is not with this nation.” Rashi says “nefesh” here means “ratzon.” The Rebbe Rayatz is telling us: mesirus nefesh is mesirus ha’ratzon. It’s not about sacrificing your life; it’s about sacrificing your desires. If you want to do something for your pleasure, forgo it, don’t do it. This is true mesirus nefesh and it can be as hard as physical mesirus nefesh. The Rebbe writes in a maamer that in Russia the Jews had mesirus nefesh. When these mesirus nefesh Jews came to America, they became Americanized, Yankees. They drank Coca Cola like everyone else and became ordinary people. Their mesirus nefesh vanished.

DON’T MAKE DO WITH LESS get people to call in the name
It is 11 Shvat, marking the first day of the Rebbe’s nesius. In the first maamer, in 5711, the Rebbe lets us know what he expects of us. He calls us the “seventh generation” (in later years he called us the “eighth generation” and the “ninth generation”) and he said we are the seventh generation not because we tried to be. It is not our choice. We could have been in the fifth or sixth generation or not born at all, but this is Hashem’s desire, that we be born in this generation, the seventh. The seventh is the seventh from the first, from Avrohom Avinu. It is highly recommended that you learn the maamer in

It is the Rebbe’s goal. If he said this is what he is setting out to do, obviously, he will accomplish it. In his kindness, he enables us to join him in this mission.

When mesirus nefesh was required of them in Russia, they rose to the occasion, but when it was no longer necessary, when they no longer had to risk their lives, they became unremarkable individuals. The Rebbe Rayatz demands mesirus nefesh of us when we are living normal lives. Not the earth-shattering type of mesirus nefesh but the everyday sort: getting up on time (or earlier), saying Modeh Ani, going to the mikva and so on, throughout the hours of the day. This is mesirus ha’ratzon, forgoing my wants in order to do what Hashem wants me to do. Doing this continuously requires effort just like, or even more than, the classical sense of the term, mesirus nefesh.

depth, because the Rebbe says what he demands of the seventh generation. He wants us to take a lesson from Avrohom Avinu. Avrohom went out to the world as the first Jew, one against the world. He did not have access to the means of communication we have today. Nevertheless, the Rambam tells us, he was mekarev thousands and tens of thousands of people. He was a man alone, without a microphone, radio or Internet, and he was mekarev thousands with mesirus nefesh. He did not seek to be moser nefesh. The Rebbe then explains to us the difference between Avrohom’s mesirus nefesh and that of Rabbi Akiva who sought to give up his life. Avrohom did not seek to give up his life. He wanted to

of Hashem. Not only did he proclaim the name of Hashem, which required mesirus nefesh since the government did not allow it, he also wanted other people to call in the name of Hashem. The Rebbe explains that there are two types of Jews. There is the Jew who is satisfied by taking care of himself, his wife and children. He makes sure they are on the right path and are mekusharim to the Rebbe. As for the rest of the world, he becomes very modest and wonders how “little him” can take on the world! The Rebbe says, just working on his own calling out will not penetrate him. That means he will not find peace and won’t be happy until he gets other people involved too. This is a very critical message for every one of us. Even if a Chassid has everything his heart desires in this world, if he only takes care of himself and those close to him, he will never achieve true inner peace. His soul will be hungry and he will always feel lacking. The Rebbe goes on to present the counter-argument, speaking for this Jew whose neighbor does not know anything: so therefore I have to take him and teach him Alef-beis. It’s not easy to teach someone Alef-beis when I consider myself a scholar. Says the Rebbe: We have a mission and our mission is to bring Moshiach. In that maamer, the Rebbe says that when you go somewhere, you do as they do. In America there is a custom for the newly elected president to deliver an inaugural address in which he lays out his plans and goals for his presidency. The Rebbe says that he will follow this practice

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and announce his plans and goals for his nesius. The Rebbe’s “statement” was very brief. He said he was going to bring Moshiach here, in this physical world.

Many laud the Rebbe for never having gone on vacation, especially when g’dolei Yisroel went on vacation and even the Chabad Rebbeim did so, of course for their health etc. But our Rebbe never did such a thing. The (possible) reason for this is, the Rebbe has one task, one goal, to bring Moshiach. The Rebbe is the only one in the world to have achieved a global dissemination of Judaism. There are shluchim everywhere and the Rebbe’s success is unprecedented. Hashem never had someone do His work as the Rebbe did! In the history of the Continued from page 7 according to the announcement of my sainted father-in-law, the leader of our generation, the singular  shliach of our generation, the singular Moshiach of our generation, that everything has already concluded, it’s understood that there has begun to be fulfilled

world, he is the only one to have accomplished Hashem’s ratzon on this scale. But our goal is not that there should be Chabad houses all over the world; out goal is to bring Moshiach! As long as we don’t have Moshiach, we have not completed our mission. We cannot talk about taking a vacation as long as we are in middle of the job. Picture someone in the middle of a project. He suddenly calls his boss and tells him he’s sorry but he needs to go on vacation. Vacation?! When you’re in the middle of a project? There is a deadline, you have work to complete. How can you go on vacation now? When you finish the job you can go on vacation. We cannot stop in the middle! As long as we haven’t reached the finish line, we have not yet arrived. To attain 90% or even 99% is not good enough. We need all 100%. So who can take a break? the “send now the one You will send,” the shlichus of my sainted father-in-law. And therefore it’s obvious that the only thing that now remains in the work of shlichus is to greet our righteous Moshiach in actual reality, in order that he should be able to fulfill his shlichus in actuality and bring all the Jews out of exile!

Rabbi Pinchas Hirschsprung z”l of Montreal would say of the Rebbe that the Lubavitcher Rebbe does not sleep and does not allow others to sleep. He’s right. And why doesn’t the Rebbe let us sleep? Because we are in the middle of the project and haven’t finished it yet. In order to finish it, we must all get busy. Let us learn Alef-beis with one and Chumash with another and Hemshech Ayin-Beis with a third. It’s all possible. The main thing is to reach every Jew, because we have to reach everyone and achieve the complete Geula. It is the Rebbe’s goal. If he said this is what he is setting out to do, obviously, he will accomplish it. In his kindness, he enables us to join him in this mission. As the Rebbe concludes the maamer, “and he will redeem us,” which has one meaning: the Rebbe in a physical body will take us out of galus, and he will redeem us, immediately.

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.

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Interview by Avrohom Rainitz Photos by Levi Liberow

Chassidic philanthropist, R’ Sholom Ber Drizin, who contributes millions of dollars a year to Chabad mosdos and shluchim, in a fascinating discussion with Beis Moshiach. * His childhood years of poverty, his father, the mashpia R’ Avrohom Maiyor, the life of mesirus nefesh in Soviet Russia, life in a refugee camp in a barrack with Rebbetzin Chana a”h, his relationship with the Rebbe when he was a bachur and the bracha which increased his wealth a thousand times over.


t the recent Kinus HaShluchim banquet in 770, hundreds of shluchim received monetary gifts that added up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This was a donation made by R’ Sholom Ber Drizin. This huge donation, which he has given the past number of years at the Kinus HaShluchim, is one of many chesed projects funded by this philanthropic Chassid. Starting with the Eshel-Hachnasas Orchim operation which, thanks

to his annual donation, provides room and board for the thousands of guests who come to Beis Chayeinu; continuing with the annual distribution of coats and hats for talmidim of Chabad yeshivos in Eretz Yisroel and New York, and the Dor Deia initiative in which bachurim study Tanya and Mishnayos and are given money

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towards tickets to the Rebbe – all this and hundreds more acts of chesed to mosdos, summer camps, and private individuals, adds up to millions of dollars a year! We spoke with R’ Sholom Ber about his childhood and his encounters with the Rebbe over the years. At the end of the interview we got a picture of a Chassidishe chinuch to give without limitations, with mesirus nefesh; deep roots of chesed that grew into a huge tree that provides endless fruits of tz’daka and chesed. “Policemen once came to our house with an arrest warrant for Avrohom Maiyor. My father was called that because of the town he came from, Maiyor, but in his passport it said his actual family name, which was Drizin. With astonishing quick-wittedness my father coolly told them that there was an error, since the man they were looking for was Avrohom Maiyor, while his name is Avrohom Drizin. He showed them his passport and they left the house. “Another time, the NKVD that the beggar they had chased away was none other than my father, the commander of the unit was so upset that he said he would not rest until he laid hands on him. My father’s picture was given to all the policemen in Moscow and the noose around him tightened. “At this point, my father decided to move from the Malachovka district, where there was a Chassidishe community, to a northern suburb of Moscow. We lived with my mother’s cousin who was not a Chabad Chassid and was not under NKVD surveillance. Nevertheless, my father was still afraid of getting caught and he fled to a town named Ghzatsk, where he hid in the home of the Chassid, R’ Saadia Liberow. “It was half a year later when things had calmed down somewhat, that my father returned and was reunited with us. This did not last long since my sisters had grown old enough for public school, which was obligatory. In these schools, they educated the children to heresy and attending school entailed chillul Shabbos. My father refused to send them to school and in order that the neighbors shouldn’t notice children at home and inform on them, my parents decided to split our family in two. My mother and sisters went to live with another cousin who lived elsewhere in Moscow, and I stayed with my father. “My father paid for teachers to come to our house and learn Torah with me. For a while, I learned with R’ Zalman Leib Estulin, who in those years was still a bachur. He would come four or five times a week and teach me. Then I learned with Bentzion Maroz and other Chassidim.”

They were annoyed with the “beggar” who had entered the house and chased him away shouting, “Now is not the time to collect donations! Get out of here!” He joyously did as they asked and disappeared from the scene posthaste. PERSECUTED BY THE NKVD
R’ Sholom Ber’s father, R’ Avrohom Drizin (Maiyor), was the menahel of the Tomchei T’mimim yeshivos in Soviet Russia. Consequently, he was persecuted by the communist authorities. Young Sholom Ber did not know exactly what his father did, but he constantly felt the fear in his home from every knock at the door. His father had to absent himself from his home at night for many months and sleep in a hut in the woods in fear that they would come in the middle of the night to arrest him. In the 1930’s, R’ Avrohom’s friends were arrested, one after the other, and he was the only one who managed to escape the NKVD, time and again, in a miraculous way. R’ Sholom Ber tells us of two occasions in which his father was moments away from arrest and was saved at the last moment: came to our house to arrest my father. When they saw that he was not at home, they decided to wait until he came. We sat there in terror and prayed that my father would be delayed and not come. But then we heard some knocks and my father opened the door. Our hearts skipped a beat. My father immediately realized who these unexpected “guests” were and knew he could not retreat, for they would chase after him and catch him. He took advantage of the fact that his clothes looked like rags and he went over to the NKVD men and asked them to have pity on him and give him a donation. They were annoyed with the “beggar” who had entered the house and chased him away shouting, “Now is not the time to collect donations! Get out of here!” He joyously did as they asked and disappeared from the scene posthaste. “When the NKVD realized

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During the war, the family received a daily allotment of food, 400 grams per person. This obviously did not suffice and starvation was a constant visitor. If you wanted to live, you had to obtain food on the black market. R’ Sholom Ber relates: “In addition to the worry of being caught by the NKVD, my father had another worry. Where could he obtain food to feed his family? We were a large family of seven children and obtaining enough food for all was a project. “My father had a dear friend from Lubavitch by the name of Mendel Smordinski. The latter had a government job and was in charge of food warehouses for the elites of the Soviet government. There was high quality food in these warehouses and my father would go there and get large amounts of food. He left some of it for us and some of it he sold on the black market. This was playing with fire, for dozens of armed soldiers patrolled these warehouses and if my father was caught, they would have killed him on the spot. When he was asked how he could endanger his life, he said: If I don’t obtain food, my family will certainly die of starvation, while dealing on the black market is only possibly dangerous, and the Halacha is that a certainty outweighs a doubt. Until today, I have no idea how he managed to come and go unharmed. “Despite my father’s daring forage expeditions, there were some days we starved. Till today, I remember that Acharon Shel Pesach when we had finished all the matzos and the rest of the food that was kosher for Pesach

R’ Avrohom Drizin (Maiyor)

was eaten up on the previous days. We had eaten nothing since the morning and we waited for the stars to appear so we could eat some of the chametz food that was hidden in the chametz closet.” Despite the difficulties in obtaining food and constant fear of the authorities, R’ Avrohom exuded generosity and that is how he raised his children. His

home was open to any Chassid who was being pursued, and whoever did not have a place to stay in Moscow knew that he could go to the Drizins and feel at home. R’ Avrohom also helped many people with money and with whatever they needed. Many Chassidim who lived in Moscow at this time or passed through Moscow as they fled the NKVD tell of the wonderful
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atmosphere in the Drizin home despite the enormous danger. R’ Binyamin Gorodetzky wrote in his memoir that even though he was an escaped prisoner, R Avrohom hosted him for many months. His son, Sholom Ber, absorbed this incredible devotion to guests and years later founded a hospitality institution named “Beis Avrohom and Sarah” for his parents, who were hospitable like Avrohom Avinu and Sarah Imeinu. He shared with us some of these acts of chesed that he was a witness to as a child: “One of our guests was R’ Meir Avtzon. He was of draft age and he could be arrested on the street. During the war he hid in the cellar of our house for a few months. One day, the police caught a woman who would buy items on the black market from my father. In her interrogation, she broke and led the police to our house. My sister, who saw the woman surrounded by police, realized that they would be arriving at our house very soon. She rushed home to inform my father and we quickly removed all the illicit merchandise from the house and threw it all into the snow piled up outside. “At the same time, my sister rushed to the train station where she met another sister who was coming with new merchandise and they hid it all on the side of the road. “Within a short time, the police showed up. Although they did not find the black market goods, they decided to take my father for interrogation. In the meantime, they discovered the entrance to the cellar where they found Meir. They asked my mother who he was and she said he was a crazy man who had home and it reached the point of malnutrition. He looked like a skeleton. “R’ Nissan had gold coins which Chassidim had given as maamud money for the Rebbe. Of course he wouldn’t use that money for himself, even though he suffered from starvation, but when my father saw the situation in R’ Nissan’s home, he took action. He asked R’ Nissan to lend him the gold coins. With the money he got in exchange, he bought goods on the black market and gave it all to R’ Nissan’s family. In addition, he took R’ Nissan to our home and brought a private doctor to care for him. R’ Nissan spent many months with us and I had the privilege to observe his unique conduct from up close. “Every morning he would get up very early, say T’hillim and Tanya by heart, learn Chassidus, and only then stand up to pray. His routine ended after noon and only then did he go and eat. He ate well with us and after several months he returned to his home much healthier.”

R’ Sholom Ber Drizin

nowhere to live and we let him live in the cellar. They took him for interrogation and when my father saw him there, he said: What? You brought that lunatic here too? “Having heard my mother refer to him as a crazy man too, they were convinced that my parents were telling the truth, but they said to my father: You should have thrown him out of the house! “My father said: In the cold out there he would have died immediately. I couldn’t do that. He said this firmly and in the end, the policemen were convinced that he was telling the truth and released him. The next day, they also released R’ Meir. Fortunately for them, this was wartime and the police were preoccupied with more important things, like defending Moscow. “Another Chassid who stayed in our home for a long time was R’ Nissan Nemanov. He lived with his family an hour and a half from us. Hunger prevailed in his

R’ Avrohom trained his children to go in his ways and when he heard that R’ Moshe Charitonow was suffering from starvation, he told R’ Sholom Ber to get food for him from the black market and bring it to him. “R’ Moshe was a big Chassid. He was one of the yoshvim (young married men who sat and learned full time) by the Rebbe Rashab. He lived with his daughter in Moscow and at a certain point my father heard that R’ Moshe was starving. My father could have sent him money, but since he wanted me to learn with R’ Moshe, he told me: Every day I will give you money so you can

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buy food for him and bring it to him. When you get there, sit there for a few hours and learn with him and then come home. “I did this for a long time. I would buy bread and potatoes on the black market and since the potatoes had to be cooked, I collected wood and brought all this to the Marina Roscha shul where I cooked the potatoes and prepared a hot, nourishing meal for him. “I was once caught in the black market and they took me to jail. I spent an entire day in prison and the interrogators tried to extract an admission of guilt from me. In my defense, I claimed the law forbade only selling on the black market but there was no prohibition of buying. The interrogator didn’t accept this and said: If you didn’t buy, they wouldn’t sell. They released me though, toward evening.”

R’ Sholom Ber Drizin being interviewed for Beis Moshiach

“We celebrated my bar mitzva at home with a few people and had mashke and cake. I was able to get a copy of the maamer ‘All Yisroel have a Share in the World to Come’ which I reviewed by heart.” At this point, R’ Avrohom involved his son more in his works of chesed. On several occasions, he sent Sholom Ber to take care of the burials of Jews who died during the war who had nobody to take care of them. “My father found out that R’ Eliyahu Yitzchok Nissenevitz, who was a night watchman in a factory, had died. There was nobody to arrange for his burial. Since this was wartime, with hundreds of people dying every day, the factory workers wanted

Being exhausted, I did not notice the sign over the entrance which said that only NKVD personnel were allowed.
“After each of these burials, I went to the room belonging to the chevra kadisha and wrote down the name of the deceased in the ledger and where he or she was buried. Since I did not know the names of the sections, I only wrote that I dug a grave about two meters north of this grave and one meter east of that grave ...”

to place him in a central, mass grave, which would mean being buried with non-Jews. My father hired a gentile and sent me with him to get the body and bring it to burial in a Jewish cemetery. After putting shrouds on the body, I dug the grave with the gentile and I buried him in the cemetery. “Another time, it was in the middle of the winter and we had to bury a woman. The earth was frozen and the gentile suggested placing her in the snow and once the snow melted, we could bury her in the ground. I refused to consider this and said that my father told me to make sure she was properly buried. We worked very hard together until we managed to dig a grave.

The Germans invaded Russia in the summer of 1941 and quickly advanced toward Moscow. Many Jews in Moscow, including Chabad Chassidim, fled to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

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joined Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim. During the war, the NKVD looked away from the Chassidim’s activities to the point that they could run the yeshiva without fear. The rosh yeshiva was R’ Zalman Shimon Dworkin, and R’ Zalman Levitin (Haditcher) taught Chassidus. The learning took place in a house with a large room where they slept at night. In the morning they put the mattresses on the side and turned the room into a beis midrash. R’ Sholom Ber remembers his classmates: R’ Shlomo Chaim Kesselman’s twin sons, R’ Zelig Katzman, R’ Sholom Ber Pevsner, R’ Sholom Ber Chanowitz (Odesser), R’ Sholom Levertov (Kublaiker), R’ Mosher Levertov (Kublaiker), R’ Zalman Shur, R’ Chaim Meir Minkowitz, R’ Herschel Chitrik, R’ Yossel Reitzes, and R’ Chaim Serebryanski. R’ Leib Henoch Menkin also learned with them for a while but he died of malaria. The Chabad community and the other Jewish refugees were hard hit by malaria and typhus and many Jews died every day. But by the time Sholom Ber arrived in the city, the situation had stabilized somewhat and the average per day was “only” two or three dead. When R’ Aharon Yosef Blinitzky, who was a member of the chevra kadisha in Samarkand, heard that Sholom Ber had experience in burying the dead, he asked him to join the holy work. But despite his experience, nothing prepared him for this: “One day, R’ Aharon Yosef told me that, as usual, they had dug some graves that day so they would be ready, but boruch Hashem, nobody had died. Since we don’t leave a grave open overnight unless someone sleeps

R’ Sholom Ber Drizin saying l’chaim at a Chabad event in Miron

“The Rebbe told me to focus on buying apartment buildings and blessed me to ‘always earn more than you think.’”
which were far from the front. The Drizin family was one of the few Lubavitcher families that remained in Moscow. R’ Sholom Ber spoke about those difficult times: “My father was very nervous about the long trip to Uzbekistan. We were a relatively large family with seven children and he was sure that on a trip like that during wartime, some of the children would die. So we remained in Moscow even after the Germans arrived at the gates of the city. The miracle was that they came from the south side of the city and we were in the north, but the distance between us was less than ten kilometers and we felt like we were literally at the front. “Near our house was the main highway from Siberia to Moscow and all night we would hear thousands of soldiers, tanks and other military apparatus arriving from Siberia. Only then, when death was at our windows, did my father agree that it was preferable to flee to Samarkand, especially after he heard that a yeshiva was operating there so I could learn in a structured framework. “We went in several groups. My father was the last one remaining. He hid in the Marina Roscha shul and was afraid to walk around in the street lest he be caught by the NKVD. He came up with a creative solution. In exchange for a large sum of money, he found a Jewish policeman who agreed to help him and take him in a police car, with him in handcuffs, to the train station. It was only once he was placed on the train heading for Samarkand that he could breathe a sigh of relief.”

Upon arriving in Samarkand, sixteen year old Sholom Ber

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R’ Sholom Ber Drizin receiving a dollar from the Rebbe

in it, he asked me to come with him to the cemetery to sleep in a grave that night. “When he saw that I was trembling in fear just from the idea of being alone in a grave at night, he tried to reassure me and said he would bring a long rope and he would hold one end of it and I would hold the other end. If something happened in the middle of the night, I could pull on the rope and he would immediately come and see what was happening. “Despite his attempts to reassure me, I was terrified to sleep in the cemetery, especially after I found out that jackals frequented the cemetery at night and tried to drag corpses out of their graves. We buried the dead very deep in the ground so that the jackals would not, G-d forbid, reach the bodies. I refused

his request and continued helping bury the dead but did not sleep in the cemetery.”

After World War II ended, Russia and Poland signed an agreement in which Polish refugees could return home. Since many of them had died during the war, it was possible to buy their documents and leave Russia in the guise of Polish citizens. Sholom Ber, together with his sister Yehudis and brotherin-law, Mordechai Levin, flew to Moscow via Alma Ata. It was a freight plane that brought fruits and vegetables for the Russian army in Moscow. Upon paying a bribe, the pilot agreed to let them sit on the boxes of potatoes until

they reached Moscow. From Moscow, Sholom Ber flew to Kiev and from there to Lemberg. He tells of an incident that took place in the airport in Kiev that could have ended in tragedy: “The airport was full of people and I was very tired and couldn’t find a place to rest. Then I noticed an open door and a bed inside a room. Being exhausted, I did not notice the sign over the entrance which said that only NKVD personnel were allowed. R’ Mordechai Rabkin, who was also traveling to Lemberg, saw me in the room and did not understand how I wasn’t afraid to sleep in the lion’s den. To my good fortune, nobody came and I had a few good hours of sleep there. “Upon arriving in Lemberg, I was arrested when I left the
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plane. I had no idea whether this had anything to do with my sleeping in the NKVD room or not. They told me: We know where you are going. Give us the gold you are smuggling with you. I told them honestly that I was a young man and where should I have gold from? I managed to convince them that I was speaking truthfully. “Although they were finally convinced I had no gold, they did not readily let me go. They asked me who I was going to meet. I said I was supposed to go to a certain street where I would be met. They released me but followed me in order to try and catch the one who would come to take me. I sat on a stone on the street and prayed that whoever was supposed to contact me would be careful and notice that I was being followed. In fact, that is what happened. They waited and waited and when the hour grew late, they said they had to go home and they left. “A few minutes later, a Lubavitcher appeared. He said he had noticed the NKVD, which is why he had been delayed. He brought me to where I’d be staying and I met R’ Leibel Mochkin who arranged our Polish papers for us. “Rebbetzin Chana a”h was on the same train as us and my father sent me to bring her bread so she wouldn’t go hungry. After a long journey, we reached the Poking-Waldstadt refugee camp where they placed families in long barracks. “Rebbetzin Chana lived in our barrack. One day, my father sent me to fix the door of her room because it wasn’t closing properly. I am not gifted with the ability to do jobs of that sort, especially when the wooden door was half rotten and all the nails were crooked. A rock I found outside served as my hammer. “I worked for a few hours and sweated plenty but the door was still not fixed. The Rebbetzin had pity on me and apologized for causing me so much bother, but she simply could not have a door that did not close. I told her that my father ordered me not to leave until I fixed it. It took some more time and I finally fixed it. “The Rebbetzin was grateful, and many years later when I arrived in the United States, she invited me to visit her several times in her home. A number of times, when I was in her house, she told me that the Rebbe was coming and since he stayed only a short time, she suggested that I go to another room until he left.” request, the Rebbe took a great interest in the details and wanted to know precisely what they had taught him in the course. “Nearly ten years had passed since the course and it was hard for me to remember details, but the Rebbe quizzed me and wanted to know every detail. “Since I was an older bachur, nearly thirty years old, the Rebbe urged me to listen to shidduchim suggestions and said that I should write him of ideas that came up and report to him after each meeting. I had yechidus a number of times in that period and the Rebbe was very involved in my shidduchim. I would tell him about meetings and the Rebbe would ask for details and encourage me to continue looking. “After several months passed and I had not found a suitable shidduch, the Rebbe said that apparently, the reason for the delay was the language barrier. He suggested that I go to Eretz Yisroel. “I tarried a bit in New York, and then one Shabbos in the middle of the farbrengen the Rebbe said: Sholom Ber Drizin should come up and say l’chaim for his trip to Eretz Yisroel to get married. Within seconds I was lifted onto the table and the next second I had a cup and the Rebbe looked at me and told me to say l’chaim. “When a few weeks had passed and I still hadn’t left, the Rebbe brought it up again at a farbrengen and this time he said it more clearly: Sholom Ber Drizin will come up and say l’chaim and say when he is going to Eretz Yisroel. “Of course, I did not delay any longer but went to Eretz Yisroel where I married my wife Shoshana, nee Seidman.”

From Germany, R’ Sholom Ber went with his fellow T’mimim to Brunoy where he learned for a few months in Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim. He made aliya in 5708. War broke out shortly after he arrived in Eretz Yisroel and he was drafted into the army. After the war was over, the Israeli Mosad wanted to enlist him. R’ Sholom Ber was not thrilled with the idea, but they convinced him to take a preparatory course that lasted a month and then to decide. After a month in this special course, his opinion had not changed and he left for civilian life. He lived in Kfar Chabad for a few years and went to the Rebbe for Rosh HaShana 5718. In his first private audience with the Rebbe, the Rebbe told him he did the right thing in coming to New York. In that yechidus, R’ Sholom Ber told the Rebbe about his life. When he mentioned the Mosad’s

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Upon arriving in the United States, R’ Sholom Ber tried his hand at different things but was not financially successful. In those days he went through some hard times and he wrote a letter to the Rebbe about it. He had tried managing nursing homes, a field where Jews had been successful, but for various reasons he was unsuccessful. His brother Mendel had yechidus, in the course of which the Rebbe said to him: Tell your brother that he shouldn’t be brokenhearted about not succeeding with the nursing homes, because I don’t hold of that. At one point he bought a house on Crown Street: “It was when the blacks had come into the neighborhood and Jews began moving out. The price of houses dropped drastically and we had an opportunity to buy a house for $24,000. I also had an option to buy a bigger house on President Street for $30,000. I was more inclined to buy the bigger house but my wife preferred the house on Crown Street since her friends lived close by. “I asked the Rebbe who told me to buy the house on Crown. In that response, the Rebbe wrote in connection to parnasa, I should buy the house on President Street and another ten houses in Crown Heights. As I said, Jews were leaving in droves and the Rebbe greatly encouraged me to buy up houses in the neighborhood. The Rebbe saw that with a relatively small investment, I could earn a lot of money. Unfortunately, I wrote to the Rebbe that I did not have enough money to buy these houses. I had barely managed to buy my own house. The Rebbe did not respond. I had a good

R’ Sholom Ber Drizin in yechidus for wealthy individuals

opportunity but I lost it.” A short while later, in yechidus, the Rebbe gave him a special bracha for success in business. To R’ Sholom Ber there is no question that it is only because of this bracha that he has become the wealthy man he is today: “It was in a yechidus in 5726, after I told the Rebbe about my unsuccessful business attempts. The Rebbe told me to focus on buying apartment buildings and blessed me to ‘always earn more than you think.’” Since then, his mazal began to shine. As far as he is concerned, he received the best bracha that a businessman could hope to get and from then on, he no longer wrote to the Rebbe about his business matters. Even when he experienced crises, he trusted in the Rebbe’s bracha and knew that he would rise above it all and

The Rebbe’s letter after the yechidus

would earn much more than he thought he would.

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“One year, I decided to try my luck in buying stock. It was during the summer and right after I bought some stock I went to the mountains. Since I wanted to know how my stock was doing, I would buy The New York Times every morning and read the business news. “On the first day, I was happy to see that the value of my stock had gone up by $1000. That was a lot of money in those days. But the next day I lost $1300, i.e. the profit plus $300 from what I had invested. My stock went up and down, as stocks do, and I saw how it robbed me of my peace of mind and was ruining my vacation. “I wrote to the Rebbe about this and quickly received a response: Immediately sell what you already bought and don’t buy any more stock.”

would be read at the tziyun in an auspicious time and “may Hashem grant him success to relay good news.” A year later, R’ Sholom Ber was able to report that his daughter was pregnant and in Tishrei of 5749, twin grandchildren were born. In a yechidus held for members of Machne Israel after the passing of the Rebbetzin, R’ Sholom Ber told the Rebbe that all those present shared in the Rebbe’s sorrow; the Rebbe’s pain was the pain of them all. The Rebbe looked at him in surprise and said: Pain? And he raised his hand in an encouraging motion and loudly said: Simcha!

There is a thought from our Rebbeim that you need a special “sense” when it comes to giving tz’daka. R’ Sholom Ber can definitely be said to be someone who gives tz’daka with a special chush, both in who he chooses to give to and how he gives. Throughout this interview, whenever I mentioned his large donations, he looked uncomfortable and didn’t understand why a big deal was made of this: “The bachurim want to come to the Rebbe, so I help them,” he said simply. He doesn’t think this is something special; after all, he is just doing what he can do. It was only at the end of the interview, when I asked him what moves him to contribute such large sums every year to enable the bachurim to come to the Rebbe for Tishrei, as well as the large sums that he gives to Hachnasas Orchim, that he said, “It is thanks to these bachurim and these guests that we feel that

In 5747, R’ Sholom Ber joined the special group of wealthy people who donated large sums to the Rebbe’s activities through Machne Israel and had special private audiences with the Rebbe. During yechidus, in Adar 5747, R’ Sholom Ber asked for a bracha for his daughter Esther and her husband Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, who were married for a number of years and did not have children. After the yechidus, the Rebbe wrote him a special letter with brachos for his joining the Machne Israel fund. The Rebbe wrote that his request for his daughter and her husband

the Rebbe is alive. This year, for example, 3000 bachurim came, 1000 girls, and another 1000 married men or couples. I look at them and marvel. These are bachurim who never saw the Rebbe and yet they come with such sincerity and such simple faith. They receive full room and board, thanks to R’ Menachem Mendel Hendel, but they still don’t have the comforts of home. They come anyway and I admire them for this! “After Gimmel Tammuz, I had a business meeting with a wealthy man. The topic of Lubavitch came up and he spoke disparagingly and predicted that in a few years there wouldn’t be any more Lubavitchers. A few years ago, I was passing by 770 with him during Tishrei. I stopped and asked him to come into 770. When he saw the thousands of bachurim sitting and learning, with the names of the yeshivos in Eretz Yisroel on the wall, he was astounded and he said: I take back what I said. He gave me a big check for Chabad mosdos. “The Kinus HaShluchim is also a testimony to this amazing phenomenon. Twenty years ago, there were a few hundred Chabad houses. Today, there are over 4000 Chabad houses and the old Chabad houses have doubled and tripled their work. “It says that more than the householder does for the poor man, the poor man does for the householder. When I have the privilege to donate to the T’mimim, that is exactly how I feel. The bachurim give us life. When we see them coming for Tishrei and living with the emuna p’shuta that the Rebbe is Melech HaMoshiach and will immediately redeem us, we see Yechi.”

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By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg

The central narrative of this week’s parsha, B’Shalach, describes the splitting and crossing of the Red Sea. It represented one of the greatest miracles witnessed by the Jewish nation and their Egyptian pursuers. Raging waters were transformed into dry land only to revert to their natural state when the Egyptian pursuers entered. The Baal Shem Tov taught that nothing happens by coincidence. Certainly nothing relating to Torah is mere happenstance. This week, hundreds and thousands of Jews will have concluded the study of Maimonides’ monumental and encyclopedic work, known as the Mishneh Torah or Yad HaChazaka. Since there are no coincidences, there must be a connection between this historic event, the weekly parsha in general and the story of the splitting of the sea in particular. The first connection that comes to mind is the very name Yad HaChazaka, which translates as “the mighty hand.” When the Torah concludes with G-d’s eulogy for Moses, the very last verse (D’varim 34:12) states: “And for the mighty hand …” According to the Targum Yonoson, Nachmanides and

other sources, this refers to Moses’ splitting of the sea. It is fascinating to see the parallel here between Moses and his future namesake, the Rambam (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon). The first Moses demonstrated his mighty hand in splitting the sea and Maimonides, whose epitaph states “from Moses to Moses none has arisen like Moses,” demonstrated his own mighty hand in composing the Yad HaChazaka. We must now try to understand the deeper underlying connection between Moses’ splitting of the sea and Maimonides’ writing of his magnum opus. On the surface, these two events represent totally different genres of might. The first is the power to control nature and the latter is the power to codify Jewish law.

To understand the connection between these two manifestations of a mighty hand, we must first consider the significance of the sea splitting and turning into dry land. The question has been raised why G-d chose to save the Jewish people through this method. G-d could have simply plucked the Jews out of Egypt. Why the need for such a dramatic

double miracle of splitting the sea and drowning Pharaoh’s entire army? Chassidic philosophy answers that this event was actually intended as a prelude to, and preparation for, the revelation at Mount Sinai. The giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai represented a profound revolution in the nature of things. Before Sinai, the physical and spiritual realms were dichotomous entities. It was impossible to imbue a physical object with a spiritual character. G-d removed that barrier between the physical and the spiritual at Sinai. In the words of the Midrash, “the upper [spheres] can descend downward and the lower [spheres] can rise upward.” Before Sinai the two dimensions were discrete and disparate, much like parallel lines that can never meet. After Sinai, we were empowered to merge these two spheres. Whenever we perform one of the Mitzvahs given at Sinai, we reveal G-d’s power within the physical dimension of the world. The realignment of the spheres at Sinai was foreshadowed six weeks earlier when G-d transformed the sea into dry land. The “sea” represents that which is normally concealed and “dry land” alludes to that which is normally revealed. The transforming of
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Parsha Thought
the water into dry land was thus not simply intended as a demonstration of G-d’s awesome power. Rather, it transformed the hidden dimension of G-dly energy, symbolized by the sea which covers up all that is in it, into “dry land,” i.e., into a state of revealed G-dly energy. turned these secrets into “dry land.” in the year 5751 and briefly again in 5752 on the occasion of the completion of the study of the entire Yad HaChazaka. The Rebbe demonstrates that this description of a world transformed into a sea of knowledge applies to the second stage of the Messianic Age, when radical, positive changes will occur. According to Rambam, there will be no fundamental changes to the nature of the world in the initial stage of the Messianic Age. However, with the advent of the Resurrection of the Dead, a period of radical change to nature, there will be changes in the way we relate to Torah knowledge as well. In the initial stage, the Rebbe explains, the world will remain in its natural state but will be exposed to previously hidden dimensions of G-dly knowledge. That process, by which the hidden dimensions of knowledge are revealed to us, one might suggest, is analogous to the splitting of the sea. In the second stage of the Messianic Age, the entire world will be subsumed into that sea of G-dly knowledge. While the physical world will exist no less literally than before, we will cease to be spiritual “land creatures.” Instead we will become spiritual “aquatic” beings. Rather than revealing the seabed (read: hidden dimensions of knowledge) we will become one with that knowledge.

Indeed, the analogy between the splitting of the sea and Maimonides’ magnum opus is reflected in the concluding words of his work: “In that Era there will be neither famine nor war, neither envy nor competition, for good things will flow in abundance and all the delights will be as freely available as dust. The occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G-d. The Jews will therefore be great sages

We can now understand the deep connection of the splitting of the sea that we read about in this week’s parsha, in which G-d displayed His mighty Hand through Moses, and the Yad

Rambam took his metaphoric “staff,” struck the “sea” of Torah knowledge and turned these secrets into “dry land.”

HaChazaka of the Rambam. The Rambam’s work revealed heretofore ambiguous and even concealed knowledge. More than any other previous work, Yad HaChazaka made this elusive knowledge accessible to everyone. In the words of Rambam’s introduction: “I Moses, the son of Maimon of Spain … contemplated all these texts and sought to compose a work derived from all these texts … all in clear and concise terms, so that all the laws be revealed to small and big …” Before Rambam’s Yad HaChazaka one would have to have been exquisitely proficient in the Talmud to know these matters. The average person could not hope to swim in the “Sea of the Talmud” and emerge onto “dry land.” Rambam took his metaphoric “staff,” struck the “sea” of Torah knowledge and

and know the hidden matters, and will attain an understanding of their Creator to the [full] extent of human potential; as it is written [Yeshayahu 11:9], ‘For the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean bed.’” These concluding words capture the essence of Rambam’s contribution toward our reaching that goal, when no Divine knowledge will remain concealed.

However, there is a significant metaphorical difference between the sea turning into dry land and the knowledge of G-d engulfing the entire world. In the former there ceases to be a sea whereas in the latter the entire world becomes a sea! One can suggest a solution to this matter based on the Rebbe’s discourse he delivered

There is yet another connection between the Rambam’s work and this week’s parsha: At the very end of the Parsha

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we read of the war the Jews waged against the evil nation Amalek shortly after their miraculous transit of the Sea. Amalek was defeated, the Torah says, while Moses’ hands were raised. This might be understood, allegorically, as a reference to the future Moses – Maimonides – whose “mighty hand” will neutralize the last vestiges of Amalek that separate us from Redemption. What is Amalek’s modus operandi? The Book of D’varim (25:1718) describes Amalek’s tactics. Among them we find: “… he cut off all the weak people at your rear.” In other words, he used the tactic of divide and conquer. Our strength as a people is our unity. By separating Jews into classes, such as the strong and the weak, the big and the small, etc., Amalek undermines our ability to forge ahead. The Rebbe’s campaign to encourage the study of Yad HaChazaka was designed, among other objectives, to unite the entire Jewish people. As mentioned above, the Rambam’s work was intended for all,

While the physical world will exist no less literally than before, we will cease to be spiritual “land creatures.” Instead we will become spiritual “aquatic” beings. Rather than revealing the seabed (read: hidden dimensions of knowledge) we will become one with that knowledge.
result, people can lose faith and hope in the coming of Moshiach. The Rambam’s work is an antidote to that hope-poisoning tactic of Amalek. One of the main sources in Torah for knowledge about Moshiach and Redemption is indeed the Yad HaChazaka. Rambam devotes the last two chapters of his Mishneh Torah to the laws of the Messianic Age. The Rebbe explained that the study of Torah regarding the Redemption, in and of itself, helps condition our minds to think in ways consistent with a Geula mentality rather than a Galus mentality. The “mighty hand” of Moses that defeated Amalek then will rid us of Amalek now and prepare us for the ultimate true and complete Redemption.

both the “small and the big.” It therefore has the capacity to unite the Jewish people. Another one of the spiritual Amalek’s tactics is to sow doubt in our lives. Indeed, the very word Amalek has the same numerical value as the Hebrew word for doubt, safek. One of the features of the Yad HaChazaka is the absence of disputes and lengthy analysis likely to confuse the reader and sow doubts about the Torah’s intention. Rambam’s work confounds those doubts. Amalek also attacks the people when they are weary from their travels. This is true specifically with respect to our generation, which has become weary from the length of our exile. We may easily become impatient with the time it has taken for the Redemption to materialize. As a

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The Rebbe’s Ambassador
to the Sephardic World
His accomplishments for Yiddishkeit are legendary. His hiskashrus to the Rebbe knew no bounds. His love of Torah and Mesiras Nefesh for the honor of Chassidus and the Jewish people are famous. * Presented for the first Yarzheit of HaRav HaChassid Reb Avraham Dov Hecht
By R’ Yehoshua S. Hecht Norwalk, Connecticut

Last year, Tevet 24, 5773 was the 200th anniversary of the histalkus of the Alter Rebbe. On Chaf Dalet Teves, Klal Yisroel marks this day by dedicating special attention to the teachings of the Alter Rebbe through studying the Alter Rebbe’s Code of Jewish Law called Shulchan Aruch HaRav and the Holy Tanya.

anniversary of the Alter Rebbe’s histalkus that was on Motzaei Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Shmos, in the year 5573.

by the Hecht Family of Chabad Lubavitch renown, as being the Yahrtzait of HaRav HaChassid Avrohom Dov Hecht a”h who passed away a few hours after the conclusion of the holy Shabbos (Parshas Shmos 5773) coinciding – almost to the hour of day – with the historic 200th

Two centuries later, the date of 24 Tevet is also remembered

Reb Avrohom Dov was born on Nissan 7, 5682 (April 5, 1922). He was the third child

of six siblings, all boys, born to his American born father Reb Yehoshua (Samuel) and mother Sara (Soochie) Hecht. His grandfather Reb Tzvi Hersh Elimelech Hecht immigrated to America arriving at Ellis Island in the 1880’s. His arrival was accompanied by a lifelong shlichus of the Shiniver Rebbe zt”l (son of the Sanzer Rebbe zt”l), who blessed him with success in America and appointed him to be a Gabbai Tz’daka to gather funds in support of the Tzaddikim in Europe. A few years after his own arrival in America, Reb Tzvi Hersh also brought over his father Reb Fischel Hecht a”h.

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At the Home of Rabbi Hecht, A Melaveh Malka Honoring the Chief Rabbi Eliyahu

Reb Tzvi Hersh Elimelech sent his 12-year-old son Yehoshua, shortly before his Bar Mitzvah, to Eretz Yisroel to study Torah within the old Yishuv. Yehoshua was a favorite at the Lelover Rebbe’s Shabbos and Yom Tov table throughout the almost six years he spent studying Torah in the old Yishuv. Yehoshua Hecht returned to America at the age of eighteen. Soon thereafter he married Sadie, the daughter of Reb Shea’la Oister a Chassidisher pious Jew. Yehoshua and Sara were blessed with six lively sons and Reb Yehoshua and Soochie did everything to educate their sons in the ways of Torah and honoring Torah scholars. The Hecht boys’ maternal grandfather Reb Shea’la who in his old age moved to Eretz Yisroel would call his six grandsons “meiner Shisha

Sidrei Mishna” – my six orders of the Mishna!

The Hecht home in Brownsville, a section right near Crown Heights, was the address for countless Jews – some of them representatives of Chassidic Rebbes and heads of Torah schools in Europe or then Eretz Yisroel, who stayed at the home of the Hechts for Shabbos or for weeks on end, making a profound impression on the young Hecht brothers.

In 1928, the Rebbe Rayatz was in America for a ten month visit. This was two years after escaping a death sentence imposed upon him by the Russian Communist regime. Towards the end of his stay the Rebbe

was received by then President Herbert Hoover at the White House, at which time the Rebbe expressed thanks to the Unites States for helping him leave the Soviet Union. At the time, Reb Tzvi Hersh Meilech maintained and supported a women’s mikva as well as the only men’s mikva in the Brownsville area. One time, the secretary of the Rebbe made an inquiry asking if the Mikva in Brownsville would be available for a visit by the Rebbe on Erev Shabbos. When Reb Hersh Meilech heard that the great Rebbe of Lubavitch was to visit, he announced that the Mikva was being closed for renovations. Within a few days the mikva was freshly painted, scoured clean, and outfitted with new carpet runners so as to upgrade the mivka’s appearance in preparation of its regal visitor. Upon exiting the Mikva, the Rebbe gave a princely sum (some say it was a $20 bill and some
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A Request from the Rebbe Rayatz in 1942 for a du’’ch on the activities of Igud Talmidei HaT’mimim

The Rebbe Rayatz in 1949 expressing pleasure that HaRav Avraham Dov is accomplishing the Rebbe’s wishes and instructions. The Rebbe encourages work on Taharas Ha’mishpacha and that HaRav Avraham consult with the Rebbe’s son in law HaRav HaGaon HaRaMaSH Shlita

say it was a $10 bill) as payment. Reb Hersh Meilech respectfully refused to take any remuneration and said to the Rebbe, “My job is to support the Rebbe and certainly not to take any money from the Rebbe.” He continued, “However, I would very much appreciate the Rebbe’s bracha!” The Rebbe said “Ich gib dir mein bracha az deiner aineklach zolon zain meiner Chassidim.” (I give you my bracha that your grandchildren will be my Chassidim!) It should be noted that at the time, America was in the midst of the “roaring twenties,” and receiving a blessing that one’s grandchildren, third generation Americans, would be Lubavitcher Chassidim was truly a remarkable blessing to receive!

Like his namesake Avrohom Avinu, the first Jew, Reb Avrohom

was one of the first ten Talmidim of Tomchei T’mimim Lubavitch in America that was established one day after the Rebbe Rayatz arrived in America in 1940. The yeshiva opened in the Oneg Shabbos Shul of East Flatbush with HaRav Mordechai Mentlick as Rosh Yeshiva until it moved to 770 when that building was purchased. It had been little more than a year before, in 1939, at the age of 17, that young Avrohom Dov together with Reb Meir Greenberg a”h, Reb Berel Levy a”h, Reb Yitzchok Kolodny and others had arrived in Otwozk, Poland. These young men were all mentored by the well-known Chassid and mashpia Rabbi Yisroel Jacobson a”h who, as the Rav of the Babroisker shul in Brownsville, had prepared them by learning Tanya and Chassidus with them and farbrenging with them on a regular basis. Rabbi Jacobson then brought his mushpa’im to the Rebbe Rayatz in Europe to study Torah and

Chassidus at the Lubavitcher Yeshiva.

When the boys together with Rabbi Jacobson arrived in Paris on their way to Poland, they merited to be greeted by the Rebbe, then known as the RaMaSh. Reb Avrohom describes in his diary the striking and impressive appearance of the Rebbe noting, “They say the Rebbe’s son-in-law RaMaSh is meyached yichudim (effecting divine unifications) with every step he takes.” When I inquired of my father a”h if he remembered what the Rebbe spoke to them about, he answered the Rebbe spoke about, “What it means for a Chassid to greet his Rebbe.”

Reb Avrohom Dov was from the most talented students of the

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yeshiva. He merited numerous private audiences with the Rebbe Rayatz. He relates: One day in 1941 or 1942, I was in the zal (Study Hall) studying when the Rebbe’s secretary told me that the Rebbe is summoning me and that I should go upstairs. With great trepidation I entered the Rebbe’s Yechidus room and the Rebbe inquired of me, “Avrohom, do you know the difference between a (Roosisher) Chassid from Russia and an (Americaner) American Chassid? The Rebbe went on to explain that an American Chassid has the nature of a shpendel, a Yiddish word for a dry splinter of wood. As soon as the shpendel is ignited (which is rather easy to do) it burns with a great flickering flame but it burns out rather quickly. However, a Russian Chassid is like a burning piece of coal. It may take a bit of extra effort and time to ignite a piece of coal, but once ignited it keeps its heat and stays ignited for a prolonged time. The Rebbe concluded, Avrohom you may go now.

Among the first shluchim sent to open Achei T’mimim day schools in the 1940’s was R’ Avrohom Hecht. His work was done in Buffalo, NY, Worcester, MA, Newark, NJ, New Haven, CT and Boston, MA. The longest stint was in Boston where R’ Avrohom, newly married to Leiba nee Grunhut, successfully opened a flourishing boys and then girls school.

Following the Six Day War at the Kosel

R’ Avrohom was the first Lubavitcher to serve the Sephardic Jewish community in America. For over fifty years, beginning in the fall of 1945 he was appointed the Rabbi of the Young Magen David in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Before long he built up the attendance to more than 400 youth attending every Shabbos.

Under the watchful guidance of the Rebbe Rayatz, R’ Avrohom received the Rebbe’s encouragement, blessings and advice on what aspects to focus his energies on. The Rebbe indicated: youth, Torah education, Kashrus, Shabbos and Taharas HaMishpacha. Following the end of WWII, many young Jewish men hailing from the Syrian Jewish community were returning from serving in the US Armed Forces. Sadly, many were
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thinking that their Jewish identity was no longer of paramount importance or had any relevance to their lives. Rabbi Hecht was instrumental in welcoming these young men back into civilian and Jewish community life. With patience and brotherly concern, he re-integrated these many young veterans into the beauty and traditions of their Jewish and Sephardic heritage. These young men all married Jewish spouses and further set the foundation for building the Sephardic community in general and the Syrian Jewish community in particular, which numbers today in the many tens of thousands ken yirbu, with less than a 1% percent intermarriage rate despite arriving on these shores in the early 1900’s!

R’ Avrohom hosted Israel’s Chief Rabbis at his home and shul. He was instrumental in bringing Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu z”l to the Rebbe and responsible for the subsequent amazingly close relationship and dedication that HaRav Eliyahu had for the Rebbe. He was the Rebbe’s man behind the scenes, being very instrumental in having a number of Chabad Rabbanim being appointed as Chief Rabbis of major cities and towns in Israel.

On more than one occasion, the Rebbe referred to R’ Avrohom Dov as my Sefardisher Rov. With total dedication and loyalty R’ Avrohom consulted with the Rebbe on a myriad of issues affecting his community and matters pertaining to Klal Yisroel. He served as one of the trusted ambassadors of the Rebbe to the Sephardic Rabbinic world.

Rabbi Hecht was a fearless champion for Mihu Yehudi, Shleimus HaAretz, and everything that the Rebbe indicated needed to be accomplished to bring Moshiach. Many were witness to the joyous smile Rabbi Hecht received from the Rebbe on numerous occasions. On one occasion, during the distribution of dollars on Sunday, the Rebbe revealed to Rabbi Hecht that his requests and talks at the farbrengens about the importance of introducing the Sheva Mitzvos B’nei Noach into the United Nations, was with Rabbi Hecht in mind. “I meant to have you (Rabbi Hecht) accomplish this,” said the Rebbe to him.

The Igud HaRabbanim, the Rabbinical Alliance of America, is well known. For the last thirty years, R’ Avrohom Dov also served as its President, championing the causes of Klal Yisroel. The Rabbinical Alliance, with its national and international exposure, was instrumental in addressing many of the issues affecting the American and Israeli Jewish community.

Parksville, New York at one of the Chaf Av convocations honoring the memory of the Rebbe’s father, HaRav HaMekubal Reb Levi Yitzchok zt”l, Rabbi Hecht asked the following question of the campers: How is it possible that the Gemara states that “in the place where the Baal T’shuva stands the Tzaddik cannot stand?” Is this fair? The Rebbe who brought back so many tens of thousands of Jewish people to T’shuva and Torah and Mitzvah observance is unable to stand where the Baal T’shuva stands? Is this logical or reasonable? How can this be? Rabbi Hecht answered the question as follows: Of course the Rebbe stands on a higher plane, because the Rebbe is never “standing” in one place. The Rebbe, the Tzaddik of our generation, is constantly ascending higher and higher. That’s why the Gemara says the Tzaddik is unable to remain “standing” i.e. stationary on one spiritual level, for indeed the Rebbe leads from an exalted and lofty spiritual level. In that talk he emphatically stated that “all the Talmidei HaBaal Shem Tov said that their Rebbe is Moshiach,” and thus I do not see what the controversy is about at all. Of course the Rebbe is Moshiach.

Once in yechidus, R’ Avrohom Dov asked the Rebbe, “What is my purpose in the world?” The Rebbe’s response was that his purpose in life is to be “Mefarsem Toras HaBaal Shem Tov,” to share the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov with the world. My father related to me the following episode. As a young

In a fiery talk to the campers and staff of Gan Yisroel in

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Reb Avraham Dov was a Powerful Orator in English, Yiddish and Hebrew – At a Chanuka event

man he was invited to give a lecture entitled, “Is there a future for Chassidism in America?” His opening remark was, “I humbly believe that the title of my talk needs to be reworded as follows: ‘Is there a future for American Jewry without Chassidism?’

R’ Avrohom Dov was the rabbi of a community numbering well over 3,500 families. His influence and guidance helped build the Sephardic community of metro New York to well over 70,000 souls. His accomplishments for Yiddishkait are legendary. His hiskashrus to the Rebbe knew no bounds. His love of Torah and Mesiras Nefesh for the honor of Chassidus and the Jewish people are reflected in the date of his Yahrtzait – the same calendar day – -two hundred years – – almost

PIRSUM RISHON – A note from the Mazkir on behalf of HaRav Avrohom Dov and the handwritten answer of the Rebbe which also conveys “How a Rav is supposed to speak.” This was during the great Milchemes Hashem to Correct the Mihu Yehudi – Chok Hashevus for which Rabbi Hecht fought like a lion!

to the hour of the Alter Rebbe’s histalkus. Reb Avrohom Dov’s contribution to the establishment of Chassidus Chabad on these American shores together with his unforgettable brothers, R’ Shlomo Zalman in Chicago, R’ Moshe Yitzchok in New Haven, CT, R’ Yaacov Yehuda

(J.J.) in NY, R’ Peretz, in NY and – to long life – R’ Sholom, NY put into actual practice the clarion call of the Rebbe Rayatz to American Jewry: “America is nisht anderesh” – America is not different! YEHI ZICHRO BORUCH – WE WANT MOSHIACH NOW!

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Stories and memories about the Chassid, R’ Hirschel Lerner, recounted by his granddaughter and suffused with Chassidic flavor. * Part 5.
By his granddaughter, T. Maidanchek

In 5715, R’ Yosef Schiff was tattled on and as a result, he was demoted from his positions. He had been in charge of all the factories in the area of Samarkand and Tashkent. At first he was given work in a smaller factory and then he was arrested. When he was given a short furlough during his imprisonment, my grandfather helped him escape to Tashkent where he also made sure he had a hiding place and a place to stay with his friends, the Krogliak family. They provided him with employment, and that is how he was saved. With Hashem’s help he did well, and within a few years he became the manager at the business where he worked and was rich once again. In a small factory one could easily manage, relatively speaking, without having to work on Shabbos. You were able to bribe some people so the government wouldn’t know. My grandfather was accepted

by all, Jews and non-Jews. He was very accepted by the Bucharian community. All respected him. He generously paid his workers and they loved him. On the one hand he was a well to do businessman with a good business sense; on the other hand, he conducted himself very simply.

All those who were down on their luck would end up going to my grandfather. There was a woman in Samarkand who was all alone. Whenever she rented a house, the landlord would evict her because of the unpleasant odors. The only one who would help her each time was my grandfather. He had no sense of smell and this made it easier for him to help her and remove her belongings before they were thrown out. The same was true with another woman who had a derogatory nickname because she suffered from illness. She

brought home every bottle she found on the street and within a few months you couldn’t enter her house. When they would evict her, he would help her move. There was a rebbetzin in Samarkand from Bessarabia. She was also a tragic figure. Her son-in-law was a religious man. My grandfather supported both of them. They moved to Tashkent and my grandfather, who regularly flew to Tashkent on business, would visit them. On one of these trips, his son Moshe joined him. He relates: “When we landed in Tashkent and got into a cab, the first thing he did was travel to the market and load up with fruits and vegetables. Then we traveled to the rebbetzin where we unloaded all the produce and told her that in Samarkand the fruits and vegetables were much cheaper. When she wanted to pay, he explained that it was very cheap in Samarkand and he took a tenth of what it cost.” That was my grandfather.

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He did a lot on behalf of brides. He made sure that every Jewish man and woman who wanted to marry would do so according to Halacha. In many cases, he paid for the wedding. In exchange, he requested that they have a proper Kiddushin and Sheva Brachos at the end of the wedding. To make this happen, some Lubavitchers would come and complete the minyan. The guests who were invited to the wedding were not always pleased by the attendance of Anash. The shidduch of Y. and P. was dependent on financial arrangements. In order to resolve the problems between the two sides, my grandfather paid for the wedding and arranged for an apartment and furniture. At

the wedding itself, he made sure it was all in accordance with Halacha. He gathered together religious men so that they would see to the chuppa and Sheva Brachos. The religious presence was not to the liking of some of the guests, who felt constrained by their presence. They offered these unwanted guests some rubles to be rid of them. But the mechutanim knew that without these chevra they would not be able to afford the wedding. They tried to calm down those who were upset. My grandfather saw what was taking place and said, “Don’t worry. Let us do the Sheva Brachos and then you can continue celebrating without us.” Everybody joined in the Sheva Brachos and then they all

sang and danced; by then the opposition no longer had any interest in getting rid of them. Some of those people did t’shuva, and today their children serve as mashpiim in various communities around the world.

Giving honor to the dead was important to my grandfather. One time, a Jew was buried in a place where Jews are not to be buried. When he found out about it, he made the effort to find the place, exhume the dead man, and bring him to Jewish burial, even though this entailed personally endangering himself. At funerals he made sure that the sons said Kaddish (and paid the gravediggers). One time, the mourners said to one another,

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“What is he doing here? How do we get rid of him? Maybe it’s worth paying him three rubles so he leaves!” One of them gave my grandfather three rubles, but my grandfather continued to direct the funeral, paying three thousand rubles which was the cost of the funeral and burial. grandfather took out money and lent it to them. Another time, a Jew was caught for a financial crime and was sentenced to prison. My grandfather paid a fortune so they wouldn’t put him back in jail, since this wasn’t the first time he had been caught. physical effort. In his free time, mainly at night, he would sit and learn (he was always involved in difficult sugiyos). His wife was very concerned about him since he had no rest, not by day and not by night. After some time, my grandfather found out that R’ Seidman had the know-how to be a bookbinder, and he immediately found him a job in this line which made his life easier. On Shabbos, the Chassid Avrohom Yosef Antin and my grandfather would visit R’ Yisroel Nachman Seidman and his wife. At that time, they lived in an attic that was called a balchana in the old city of Samarkand. The rebbetzin would prepare a portion for each of them for the third Shabbos meal and also for the children. “It was very pleasant being there,” remembered my grandfather, “and to see how these Jews, who were preoccupied all week with making a living, were completely disconnected from the material world and were busy clarifying questions and in recounting stories about ‘gutte Yidden.’ Every ray of light that came through their little window felt like a ray of light of Shabbos. Even the appearance of the tall trees that I could see through their window always remains with me; it stays in my memory forever, especially when combined with the talk of these elevated people...” My grandfather recognized R’ Yisroel Nachman’s greatness and clung to him and helped him to the point that when my grandfather bought a big house, he built a special wing for him. He was also the teacher of his children. To be continued, G-d willing

Since people greatly admired him, he became a marital advisor and helped many people with shalom bayis. In one case, a couple wanted to divorce because of pressure from their parents. When my grandfather found out about this, he took the couple for a walk and explained to them what would happen if the parents achieved their goal. This family lives happily till this very day with children and grandchildren who are frum, some of whom are mainstays of Chabad communities around the world. Another time, there was a couple that planned to divorce because of financial problems. The husband, who was a lawyer, eventually became a beggar. He left his home and began wandering from place to place. He collected jars of jam and asked my grandfather to keep them for him. Of course, my grandfather agreed. A year later, the man came back and asked for his jars and also asked to be paid, since in the meantime my grandfather could have benefited from the jars by using them to hold valuables. My grandfather paid him the money he demanded, though not before making sure the man would return home. Another time, R’ Moshe Nisselevitch went to my grandfather and told him about a family that needed help buying a home in Samarkand. My

There were two things that were the impetus for my grandfather’s deeds: his unusually good heart and his subservience to Torah scholars. He always found talmidei chachomim and supported them. There was a man by the name of Yisroel Nachman Seidman who came from Kishinev. He was a genius and had been the rav of Tiraspol (the next largest city in Moldova after Kishinev). When he was only 22 he conducted a correspondence of Halachic questions and responses with the great men of his time. He was imprisoned in 1937. When he returned home, his family told him that they could not make peace with the fact that Heaven punished a righteous Jew like him and that he had to suffer for ten years in jail. By way of protest, they had decided to cast off the yoke of Torah and mitzvos. In addition to the suffering he previously endured, now he had to deal with this tremendous aggravation. He had no choice but to divorce his wife. He then married Chaya, the daughter of the rav of Nikolayev. They were happy and lived in peace but arrived in Samarkand during the war, bereft of everything. In 5709, he began to work in a textile factory. To make a living, he had to exert tremendous

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13th Annual Auction Oholei Menachem Ballroom
667 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY
Motzei Shabbos, February 8, 2014

Men’s Program
wt rst wj

Starring Mordechai Ben David
For Men and Boys Aged 16 and up only

Auction Viewing: 8:15 - 10:15 PM Program & Drawing: 10:15 PM Admission $25 VIP Admission $180

Admission includes a free $20 auction ticket plus a free gift (while supplies last)



Sunday Evening, February 9, 2014

Women's Program
wt rst wy
Musical entertainment by Elena Klionsky

Auction Viewing: 3:00 - 8:30 PM Program & Drawing: 8:30 PM Admission $25
For Women and High School Girls only

Entertainment - Leah Moyal


By Sholom Ber Crombie Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry

What the former American soldier revealed last week about the relationship between the United States and Eretz Yisroel should have been clear to anyone who understands the delicate dynamics existing between the world’s greatest superpower and its subservient ally in the Middle East. It would seem that we are America’s most important and stable partner in this crazy region. Last week, however, it turned out that the United States had invested considerable efforts to spy on leading Israeli officials, including the minister of defense. For example, shortly after Ehud Barak received the defense portfolio, American secret agents rented an apartment near Barak’s home in Tel Aviv’s Tzameret Towers in order to observe him at close range. Why is this happening to us? The answer is hidden at

every step – even the smallest – within the mode of Israeli conduct toward the Americans. Newspaper headlines during the previous week were still dealing with the ridiculous proposal of Secretary of State John Kerry. He naively thinks that a four-star American general can supervise the security arrangements between us and the terrorist organizations to which he wants the government of Israel to hand over the Jordan Valley r”l. If the American Secretary of State acts in Eretz Yisroel as he does in his own country, and the Israeli government seriously considers him to be the person in charge here, why should he hesitate to spy on us after he has been made to understand that he’s the true boss? Successive Israeli governments have enabled the Americans to set our national priorities. Begin traveled to Camp David merely because of pressure from the Carter Administration,

but he eventually capitulated to all the American dictates. Shamir acted in a similar fashion, as he too journeyed to Madrid simply to appease the Americans. The Oslo Accords were signed because of the absurd fantasies of then-President Bill Clinton, who thought that this would earn him the Nobel Peace Prize. Furthermore, with all the irrational policies that followed, e.g., Netanyahu giving away Chevron, his signing of the agreement at Wye Plantation, George W. Bush’s “Road Map” – we have endured the lunacies of American presidents who have sought to put our house in order as they see fit.

If anyone in Yerushalayim wants to conduct an in-depth discussion on the severe espionage crisis with the U.S. National Security Agency, he first has to ask: Who allowed

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the Americans to trample the honor of the Jewish homeland and its leaders in this manner? The answer is quite simple: The United States is not to blame for its atrocious display of disrespect towards a loyal ally – we are. The same Israeli policymakers who have no self-respect act with absolute inferiority – “so sorry that we won the war” – and this gives the Americans a license to honor us less and humiliate us more. To understand exactly what the Americans are thinking, it’s enough to take a look at the conduct of the current Israeli government during the last two months. The incumbent prime minister once declared that anyone who says ‘Yes’ to a Palestinian state is saying ‘No’ to a Jewish state. How has he suddenly changed into a fervent supporter of the establishment of a ‘Palestinian’ state – the same person who not long ago called such an entity “Hamastan”? According to his closest advisors, these are merely statements designed to appease the Obama Administration. Thus, if the prime minister is whistling the tune his American benefactors

want to hear, although his position is diametrically opposed to theirs, why should anyone have any respect for us? Even Minister of Economics and Trade Naftali Bennett claims that he has no problem with the negotiations because “nothing will come out of them anyway,” as he believes that they’re only meant to placate the Americans. Yet, while he is supposed to represent the government’s right flank, all that goes by the wayside if the Americans are the ones making the decisions. If the United States government wants direct talks with the terrorist organizations, including on the issue of dividing Yerushalayim, even Bennett will sit up straight and give his consent.

Let’s get back to the NSA espionage affair. An American serviceman with a top security clearance who carried out various high-level functions for U.S. intelligence decided to leave his post and began disclosing the classified information he had gathered. He has intermittently publicized material on how the United States has kept tabs on

its allies. This has created an international firestorm. This time it was our turn. From the sensitive data he chose to reveal it turns out that the United States has been spying on leading figures in the Israeli government, including close covert surveillance of former Prime Minister and then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Interpretation of this classified information shows that it was at a security level far greater than the data Jonathan Pollard gave to the Israelis, when he was employed by U.S. naval intelligence. However, this is not just a case of “passing classified information to an ally” – the crime Pollard was convicted of violating; this is a flagrant case of espionage in its purest form – at a cost of millions of dollars. Yet, Mr. Pollard remains in federal prison. The Obama Administration declared last week that it has no intention whatsoever of releasing him, despite this recent discovery of American hypocrisy. Sadly, once again, they relate to us as if we’re some illegitimate step-brother, while we keep smiling and say ‘Thank you.’

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From the life of R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman Serebryanski a”h
Prepared for publication by Avrohom Rainitz

n the Rebbe’s letter that was quoted in the previous chapter, he urged R’ Zalman to publicize the Yom Hilula of the Rebbe Rayatz in addition to what would appear in the newspapers, and said he awaited good news about this. In R’ Zalman’s next letter to the Rebbe, dated 25 Shvat, he reported that he had sent an announcement to the newspapers about a farbrengen. R’ Zalman complained that most of the farbrengen was quiet. Aside from a few stories told by R’ Betzalel Wilschansky, and reviewing the maamer “Basi L ’Gani,” R’ Isser Kluvgant read some excerpts from a book about the Rebbe Rayatz’s activities. The rest of the farbrengen was quiet. R’ Zalman was bothered about there not being a Chassidishe personality who could farbreng properly and inspire the crowd. “This is most painful, but what can we do? We have no one to fill the role of mashpia and farbreng with Anash and the rest of those who are shayach to a farbrengen. May Hashem have mercy and send a Chassidishe young man and then everything will be rectified, with Hashem’s help.”


In the Rebbe’s letter mentioned above, it also mentioned that R’ Yitzchok Dovid Groner had already returned to the United States from his long visit to Australia. He conveyed to the Rebbe some brief impressions of his visit and was supposed to follow up with a detailed report. R’ Zalman spoke at length with R’ Groner when he was in Melbourne and had complained to him about the spiritual neglect in Australia and the need to bring additional Chassidim, talmidei chachomim as well as askanim, in order to build up the yeshiva and the community. R’ Groner said he did not think R’ Zalman had anything to complain about. Relative to the spiritual situation in his city of Buffalo, the community in Melbourne was quite settled. Therefore, R’ Zalman was worried that when the Rebbe would hear R’ Groner’s description about the “terrific spiritual state” of Chabad in Melbourne, that would close the door on his dream that the Rebbe would send a Chassid to

Melbourne who could improve matters. In his letter of 25 Shvat he wanted to preempt this. He wrote that it was certainly good that R’ Groner was reporting to the Rebbe about his impressions of the community in Melbourne, but in one matter he differed with R’ Groner. The latter compared Melbourne to Buffalo and thought the spiritual situation in Melbourne was practically like Yerushalayim compared to Buffalo. He was mistaken in this because: 1-Anash in Melbourne worked hard to make money and were busy. They were unable to go to Beis Chayeinu and get spiritually replenished. How could they be compared to Anash in Buffalo who could drive to New York and get encouragement and chayus from the Rebbe? To Anash in Australia, 770 was at the other end of the world. 2-As far as potential, Melbourne had a very large Jewish community and there was a good possibility of attracting hundreds of children to the Chabad school. All of Australia was a spiritual desert and the blossoming of Jewish life in Melbourne would affect the entire continent!

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It was important, continued R’ Zalman, to have a talented menahel running the mosad and a rosh yeshiva who was suited both in his scholarship and his Chassidic comportment. Especially now, when an elementary school was opening and the yeshiva was receiving positive publicity in the Jewish community, it was important to raise the level of the education, in Nigleh and Chassidus, as well as the educational approach. All this demanded a capable person. “Because we, aside from not being shayach to this, are also extremely busy with work and we don’t have time for this.” R’ Zalman wrote similarly in an earlier letter that was sent on 14 Shvat: “We greatly feel the lack of an outstanding rosh yeshiva, a lamdan and Chassid, because during vacation and every Shabbos and Sunday night, older students come who learn in high schools. Also, our young ones are growing up and need the influence of a lamdan and Chassid. Then many talmidim would be drawn to the yeshiva and they would cleave to the light of Chassidus. And in general, a mosad that numbers, bli ayin ha’ra, close to a hundred talmidim, and with Hashem’s help we can hope that there will be many more, needs at its head a distinguished person, a lamdan and a Chassid … because this is still virgin territory and if we had the right man it would be possible, with Hashem’s help, that all the influence over the country would be from the yeshiva. “As of now, I am busy teaching the young ones, my students in school and with the class that comes in the evening after school. The rest of the hours

of the day are spent with all the rest of the matters that pertain to the yeshiva, money matters, the preschool and the school, maintaining the building and the yard, etc. Each item requires time and work, especially regarding the quality of the learning and the guidance, such that an expert, supervisory eye is needed here. Aside from my not being suited to this, I also do not have enough time for all these things. Although

perfection except Above. Then the Rebbe reiterated that since hashgacha brought them there, surely they were given the kochos required for that place and that time. They just had to make use of it to the fullest extent. They were to mobilize all of Anash and have them not only participate in the yeshiva but add to this from time to time, because in matters of holiness you grow.

R’ Yitzchok Dovid Groner

we saw and see hashgacha pratis as well as miracles and we are certain that Hashem will help us in the future in all respects, my responsibility is to inform the Rebbe of the situation.”

Another thing which preoccupied R’ Zalman at this time was in connection with the financial aid that the Joint gave to Jewish institutions in Australia. A number of years earlier, a Claims Conference had been formed with representatives of Jewish organizations that worked on behalf of Holocaust survivors. After intensive negotiations with the West German government, a fund of 450 million marks was established to provide the survivors with aid and to revamp Jewish communities in forty countries. One of the biggest organizations was the Joint

In response to R’ Zalman’s letter, the Rebbe wrote on 8 Adar 5715 that he was pleased to read that they also see the development of the yeshiva. As far as lacking a mashpia, the Rebbe said that if people reckoned with what was missing, he wonders whether anyone would ever work at anything because there is no

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To R’ Zalman’s surprise, when Then the Rebbe reiterated that since hashgacha an emissary of the community brought them there, surely they were given the returned from the meeting in Paris with 91,000 Australian kochos required for that place and that time.

Distribution Committee, which used these reparation monies to support Jewish communities that were established by Holocaust survivors. The Claims Conference met in Paris once a year where they decided where the money would be given. R’ Binyomin Gorodetzky, director of the European Lubavitch office, was on good terms with the representatives of the Jewish organizations on the Conference. After presenting the tremendous work of Lubavitch around the world, he was able to obtain some of the money for Chabad mosdos in communities of Holocaust survivors. As mentioned in earlier chapters, the yeshiva had received $2000 from the Joint the prior year, after they had submitted a request for support for the yeshiva in Melbourne, as per the Rebbe’s instructions. Before the meeting of the Claims Conference in 5715, R’ Zalman submitted to the chairman of the Jewish Board of Deputies in Melbourne an official request that the yeshiva be given part of the budget allocated to the Jewish mosdos of Australia. In those days, the Jewish Board of Deputies was the official representative in all dealings with the government and with the international Jewish organizations that provided financial support to Jewish communities abroad. The JBD was comprised of two factions, a Zionist faction and a Bund faction (the latter was comprised of Jewish workers, was founded

in Russia and Poland, and was a secular ideology which opposed traditional Jewish life). These two factions monopolized the great resources of the Jewish community. The Zionist party ran the big Jewish school with 3000 students, while the Bund party ran the senior citizen home of the community. These two factions controlled all the money received from Jewish communities abroad. Orthodox Jews, who were only one tenth of the Jewish community at that time, did not have a representative on the JBD. Of course Chabad, which was a very tiny group, did not a representative. Actually, they did not want to be members of this organization, since that would mean they would have to follow its resolutions which were not always in the spirit of Judaism. Additionally, organizations that were members of the council were only permitted to hold an appeal during a certain month of the year and Chabad did not want that limitation. Since Chabad had no influence on the JBD, R’ Zalman knew that submitting a request for support was merely a formality, since there was no chance the yeshiva would receive money. This is why he simultaneously sent a telegram to R’ Gorodetzky so that he could exert his influence in Paris and the United States. R’ Zalman hoped that just like the previous year, this year too, the representatives of the community would receive an order from above to give money to the Chabad yeshiva.

pounds (worth about a million dollars today), the chairman of the Jewish community said that this sum would be given to the Mt. Scopus school and none would be given to the Chabad yeshiva.

R’ Zalman reported this to the Rebbe and wrote that in his opinion this was a great injustice, since most of the students who attended Mt. Scopus came from well-to-do homes, tuition costs were high and they also made a big appeal each year, so they did not lack for money. Furthermore, all the “Judaism” in this school consisted of the children being in the company of other Jewish children and they did not learn with gentiles. The Jewish studies were on a very low level and the Jewish knowledge of the students was worse than that of the students who went to public school but attended Talmud Torah in the afternoon. R’ Zalman thought that maybe it was possible to arouse public opinion against this decision of the leaders of the community to give all the money to Mt Scopus. But the community representative to the Claims Conference, Mr. Ashkenazi, was a very tough man and a famous lawyer and it was highly doubtful whether he would be swayed by public opinion. The only way Mr. Ashkenazi would be compelled to give some of the money to the yeshiva would be if he received a direct order from the home office of the Joint to do so. In the Rebbe’s letter of 8

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Adar he wrote: “Regarding the reparations money, I was informed by R’ Binyomin Gorodetzky that your telegram reached them after the meeting and it is surprising that it was so delayed. Being that the current situation as they are saying here is that they do not want to get involved in local matters, since this was given to the local Conference of a country or city, you need to make a commotion in your place through well-known people about the injustice done to them in the distribution of the money (though, naturally, if it is possible to do something here, it will be done, but as mentioned, it is very difficult).” At the end of the letter, the Rebbe urged him again regarding the s’farim (as mentioned in the previous chapter) and concluded with a bracha for the birth of his grandson (R’ Shlomo Elimelech Werdyger) and a bracha for success in his holy work with good health and joy.

Representatives of the Claims Conference

R’ Zalman spoke to askanim in Melbourne and Sydney and they tried to convince the community board to give some of the money to the Chabad yeshiva, but to no avail. In the end, R’ Gorodetzky got involved and spoke with the right people, and one day R’ Zalman received a call from the community board informing him that they

had received an order from the Claims Conference to give some of the money they received to the Chabad yeshiva. Of course, the board members were not pleased by the order from above, but they had no choice and they unwillingly gave 3000 pounds (worth about $33,000 today) to the yeshiva.

Continued from page 49 My father started writing for others forty years ago. Georgian immigrants, who wanted to write to the Rebbe but had difficulty writing, went to my father and asked him to write on their behalf. After a while, my father received a letter from the Rebbe’s secretariat saying that since letters come from him from many people, the Rebbe said to explain to all of them that they need to make a “vessel” for the bracha and to explain that the bracha is like rain. When rain falls on a plowed field, the wheat grows, but when it rains on an uncultivated field, only thorns grow. My father follows this horaa

to the letter and whoever comes to our house knows that if he wants to ask for a bracha from the Rebbe, he must make a good hachlata. After accepting the Rebbe’s malchus with the declaration of “Yechi,” the letter is put in a volume of Igros Kodesh and my father explains what the Rebbe wrote. Hundreds of miracles have occurred in our house. My father tells the most moving ones at the Shabbos table. Every Shabbos we are fascinated by his stories of the previous week. He also tells us of interesting things that took place during the week on mivtzaim. In this way, he includes us children in the Rebbe’s mivtzaim and gives us the desire to join the Rebbe’s

vast army. A note to the Tattys: I did not write my name on this column since I think this column can just as well be yours. Yes, you, an ordinary Lubavitcher who is reading this page, can fulfill the Rebbe’s shlichus just like my father. I did not write about some imaginary person. This is a real description of my father who is not an “official” shliach. He works for a living, but to him it is obvious that the Rebbe’s shlichus is not limited to those who have the title of shliach, but is the shlichus of every one of Anash. Join the Rebbe’s army and your son can write about you everything it says in this column!

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typical weekday, four in the afternoon. My father is coming back from work, and we kids know that we have just half an hour to spend with him because at 4:30 the bar mitzva boy is coming. Every Tuesday and Thursday (or Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the schedule doesn’t matter), a not-yet-religious boy comes to our house and my father prepares him for his bar mitzva. They spend an hour together in the living room while we children try

to be reasonably quiet so they can learn. We know that our father is doing the Rebbe’s shlichus and we try to take part in this marvelous shlichus, at least by not disturbing. We want to be examples of the purity and refinement of those with a Jewish-Chassidic chinuch. My father considers preparing the boy for his bar mitzva a real shlichus. He does not suffice with what you need to know “according to the book,” but enriches the boy’s heart and mind with knowledge and a

deep, authentic Jewish sensitivity. When his father or mother come to pick him up, my father will talk with him or her for a while in order to try and influence the parent too, to come closer to Judaism. More than one or two of these boys who only came to learn how to say the brachos for the Haftora ended up in a Chabad yeshiva. Today they are Lubavitchers. Many years have passed since the first boys came to our house, and my father still keeps in touch

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with the hundreds who passed through our house ever since. They are no longer children, of course. They are adults and some probably have grandchildren by now. But even they are excited each year when a few days before Rosh HaShana they get a call from my father. A week before Rosh HaShana he sits for hours at the phone and calls them all, one after the other, in order to wish them a Shana Tova and, while he’s at it, urge them to commit to another mitzva or good deed for the new year in order to hasten the Geula.

My father’s work is split up over the hours of the day. Two hours here, two hours there. The time in between he uses for more mivtzaim. In the morning, after a Gemara shiur with an old Chassid who lives in the building, he leaves the house with a small bag containing mezuzos, a screwdriver, pliers, and a small hammer. He goes from neighborhood to neighborhood, from house to house, and offers to check mezuzos. Oftentimes, he does not need to be a scribe in order to see that the mezuza is no good. Even the people themselves, who definitely don’t know the laws of safrus, realize that a mezuza printed on paper is not doing the job, and an empty plastic container is not a mezuza. In his small bag he has an album with pictures of interesting mezuzos he has found so that people realize how important it is to buy mezuzos in a reputable place. There are days of the week when my father does not go out with his small bag. He leaves with a large bag of refreshments and

goes to a senior citizen home in the center of town. There he sits with the seniors and tells them the Parsha, puts t’fillin on with the men, and gives the ladies candles for Shabbos. On Fridays, when we come home from school, my father is usually not at home. He will return soon after doing mivtzaim, mivtzaim like the bachurim do. He stands at a stand in the center of town and offers t’fillin and candles to passersby.

to over 100 people that my father gives matza to with a message of Geula. Speaking of Pesach, I cannot help but mention the s’darim. While in most homes the Seder begins right after Maariv, at our house the Seder begins an hour and a half later. This is because my father goes to lead a Seder for inmates in a nearby prison, and only after doing his shlichus does he come home. Of course this means we have to speed things

In the morning, after a Gemara shiur with an old Chassid who lives in the building, he leaves the house with a small bag containing mezuzos, a screwdriver, pliers, and a small hammer. He goes from neighborhood to neighborhood, from house to house, and offers to check mezuzos.
up in order to eat the afikoman by midnight, but our pride in our father doing the Rebbe’s shlichus makes it all worth it! Every Shabbos morning my father goes to shuls to review Chassidus. In the rain and in the heat, nothing stops him from doing this shlichus of the Rebbe. He reviews a message of the Rebbe on the parsha and, of course, a message about the Geula and the anticipation of the hisgalus of the Rebbe MH”M. Over the years, my father has come into contact with thousands of people and they do not wait for him to come to them but go to him whenever they have a Jewish need. Our small home has become a sort of Chabad House. At all hours of the day (and night) people call when they need advice and a bracha, and they ask my father to write a letter for them to the Rebbe. Continued on page 47
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When I did not feel well and had to go to a doctor in a nearby town, I saw how it is possible to use every opportunity to fulfill the Rebbe’s instructions. The doctors and secretaries at the clinic know that my father is the one to turn to with any of their questions about Judaism. He makes every effort so that they get a dose of Jewish learning while we are there. The man in the stationery store and the one in the toy store know that my father is the one to whom to direct all their Jewish questions. Before Pesach I joined my father in giving out handmade matzos. The Rebbe said to give out matza to every Jew you know. My father understood that this naturally includes all the owners of stores that we frequent, including the office of the lawyer that my father used twenty years ago. In recent years, the list has grown




By Rabbi Yisroel Harpaz

One of the greatest paradoxes in education, whether it comes to educating others or educating oneself on the path to of personal growth and enlightenment, is the struggle between quantity and quality. Indeed the paradox extends to almost every area of life, from relationships to career development: Should I amass volume by striving to accomplish more, or should I concentrate on fewer things and focus on doing them right? Educational models fall short when they fail to strike the right balance in answering this question. One hundred years ago, no one went to school beyond age 12, except for gifted students who were destined to join the scholarly, academic elite. Everyone else went to work on the family farm or business as shoemakers, carpenters, and the like. Then the economy started shifting to a knowledge-based economy. One hundred years ago, 70% of people were farmers. Today, 4% are farmers. To survive in a knowledge-based economy, one needs more knowledge. As the knowledge economy grew, more people had to go to school in order to enter the workforce. The problem is that the system of learning used in schools today is the same system that was used to educate the geniuses when only the geniuses went to school. The system was designed for a student population in which everyone is at the

same level. Back then, when only geniuses went to school, it worked. But when you have a group of kids at various levels of social and intellectual and tactical development all mixed together in a system designed for homogeneity, what happens is that system forces the kids into more manageable boxes, creating a mold of the average student, and attempting to sculpt every student in that same mold. What we ended up with is an education system that by definition breeds mediocrity. A student who finds himself at either end of the spectrum – either exceptionally gifted or “special needs” – is at a disadvantage in such a system. The unique and the gifted are stifled and repressed. The mediocre, or those who learn to contort their uniqueness into the mold of mediocrity, are the ones who thrive. In the mad dash toward quantity – churning out a certain percentage of students with a specific body of knowledge who bear a set standard and method of mental acuity so that they can attain an acceptable benchmark of functional intelligence that guarantees them a desirable place in the marketplace so they can meet the minimum requirements of financial stability – any semblance of individuality or creativity is tossed aside. In our incessant pursuit of

quantity, we lose the quality. But the opposite extreme would also be destructive: An unhealthy obsession with quality can lead us to get stuck and accomplish nothing. Einstein taught that you need both and that quantity and quality have a transformative effect one another. But you don’t have to be an Einstein to understand how they complement each other. E=MC2. Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. In order to attain balance in a relative universe, you need to strike a balance between quality and quantity. Energy, quality, can emanate into the word only by channeling it into the parameters of space and time. Mass, quantity, can create energy, or enhance quality, when it is multiplied and infused with light. On their own, each can be powerful. Mass movements have the ability to affect instant and decisive change, even when built upon lies and leading to destructive ends. Moments of clarity and epiphany can enable us to overcome the greatest darkness, even if they are never developed or expounded. But only when we fuse the two together, do we touch the purpose of existence – to make goodness and light fill the entire world. We can get there by taking qualitative experiences and funneling them into the finite world, using the tools at out fingertips to let them shine forth. Or we can get there by taking quantitative experiences of mass consciousness and insisting that they be infused with true goodness and light. Either way, we arrive at the same destination. Reprinted with permission from Exodus Magazine

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