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FEATURED ARTICLES
6
REACHING OUT TO
RUSSIAN JEWS IN
RISHON
Nosson Avrohom
14
THE WORLD ONLY
UNDERSTANDS
THE TANACH
Sholom Ber Crombie
24
MILITARY SHLICHUS
Shneur Zalman Berger
30
AN ENTIRE COMMUNITY
UNDER ARREST
Shneur Zalman Berger
24
CONTENTS
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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF:
M.M. Hendel
HEBREW EDITOR:
Rabbi S.Y. Chazan
editorH@beismoshiach.org
ENGLISH EDITOR:
Boruch Merkur
editor@beismoshiach.org
WEEKLY COLUMNS
4 D’var Malchus
21 Parsha Thought
38 Tzivos Hashem
40 Crossroads
14
6
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MALCHUS:
ALL PEOPLE
OF OUR
GENERATION
In the wake of the Rebbe Rayatz’s histalkus, the capacity has been granted
to the seventh generation (corresponding to the s’fra of Malchus),
to experience the ultimate revelation of 770. * All the people of our
generation – men, women, and children – comprise the s’fra of Malchus. *
From Chapter Six of Rabbi Shloma Majeski’s Likkutei Mekoros (Underlined
text is the compiler’s emphasis.)
Translated by Boruch Merkur
BURSTING FORTH
FROM THE CORE
7. […] The word “paratzta
– burst forth” is numerically
equivalent to “770.” 770
[Eastern Parkway, Crown
Heights, Lubavitch world
headquarters] is the place that
has been established as the
geographical source and hub for
disseminating the wellsprings
of Chassidus outward (chutza)
throughout the entire world.
This activity “bursts forth”
from 770 with such force that
the impact of spreading the
wellsprings is felt “chutza – at
the outside,” reaching the
furthest possible limit. There, at
the furthest point from the core,
the dissemination of Chassidus
reveals what is expressed by the
verse, “Yisron eretz (Malchus)
b’kol (Yesod) hu – And the
loftiness of the earth (Malchus)
is in everything (Yesod**)”
(Koheles 5:8)
Moreover, the culmination
and perfection of my revered
father in-law, the Rebbe
[Rayatz’s]* seventy years of
life in this world took place
specifically in the “Lower
Hemisphere,” in “770,” where
he immigrated and lived his
final ten years. In the wake of
his histalkus, the capacity has
been granted to the seventh
generation (corresponding to the
s’fira of Malchus) to experience
the ultimate revelation of seventy
(ten times seven), together with
seven hundred (a hundred times
seven), totaling 770, as well as
the ultimate revelation of “Yisron
eretz b’kol hu.” […]
FROM THE DEPTHS
8. The above sheds light on
the particular mission (“shlach
na – please send”) of our
generation:
It is specifically from here
in the physical, lower world, in
exile, this final exile, specifically
from the Lower Hemisphere
(the place where the majority of
Jews in our time are situated, as
well as being home to the most
developed infrastructure for
Jewish activity) – it is specifically
from this lowly place and from
within the environment and
condition of exile, from the
D’VAR MALCHUS
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ultimate depths, that all levels,
as well as the previous, loftier
generations achieve the greatest
elevation. As a result, even the
Upper Hemisphere, as well as
the loftiest generations (e.g., the
Dor Deia, Moshe Rabbeinu’s
Generation of Intellect), are
uplifted. Ultimately, this ascent
from exile culminates in the
true and complete redemption,
a redemption for the entire
world (including the Upper
Hemisphere) and for all
generations.
As is known, the word “geula
– redemption” is comprised
specifically of the word “gola
– exile,” with the addition of
the letter Alef, signifying how
the redemption is drawn down
and derived from and through
(the avoda of) inserting the Alef
of the Alufo Shel Olam, G-d
Himself, Master of the Universe,
into exile (gola).
And since the redemption
comes about specifically from
the lowest possible condition, the
result is that it brings about the
true and complete redemption,
an eternal redemption that will
never be followed by another
exile. Thus, in praise of the
[final] redemption we say
“shir chadash – a new song” –
“chadash” being a masculine
term [signifying permanence]
(unlike what is stated regarding
the preceding redemptions,
which were followed by an
interruption, a subsequent exile).
That is, specifically because the
redemption comes from the
ultimate depths, it reveals the
truth and perfection of the matter
– that the final redemption is
a permanent state, and one
that is manifest specifically in
an overt fashion. The forgoing
describes the special quality of
Malchus (permanent revelation,
as discussed in s’if 3 above),
which will be wholly revealed
with the true and complete
redemption through Moshiach
Tzidkeinu (Malchus Beis Dovid).
Indeed, it is known that the
accomplishment of redemption
is to reveal G-dliness below, in
the physical world, the absolute
lowest point; to establish a
dwelling place for G-d(’s
essence) in the lower realms. In
one’s home, the person’s essence
[his true character] is openly
revealed. In fact, that is also
the source of the words “geula”
and “gola,” meaning “gilui –
revealed.”
MINIATURE BEIS
HA’MIKDASH IN THE
LOWER HEMISPHERE
9. Just as this is said of
the general concept of galus
and geula, the same applies to
the particular place where we
are at present, in the Lower
Hemisphere. Since this is the
place that my revered father in-
law, the Rebbe, established as
his headquarters (the “Mikdash
M’at – the Miniature Beis
HaMikdash [in the Diaspora]”),
the source for spreading the
wellsprings outward throughout
the entire world, it is specifically
in and from this place that the
redemption and the building of
the Third Beis HaMikdash will
be accomplished, “The Mikdash
of G-d, work of Your hands.”***
Of course, the [proper] place
of the Beis HaMikdash is the
Holy Land, in Yerushalayim,
the Holy City, upon the Holy
Mountain. Nevertheless,
since the building of the Beis
HaMikdash is accomplished
through “our deeds and our
service of G-d throughout the
duration of exile,” especially
during the final moments of
exile, through the avoda of
“spreading the wellsprings
outward,” there is in this place,
and specifically in this place, the
complete preparation for “The
Mikdash of G-d, work of Your
hands.”
NOTES:
*Footnote 72: The Rebbe Rayatz
was born in Lubavitch in the
year 5640 (12 Tammuz) and
in 5710 (10 Shvat) he was
nistalek in New York, in the
Lower Hemisphere, where he is
interred.
**Footnote 73: It is known that
my revered father in-law, the
Rebbe, corresponds to the s’fira
of Yesod (and his (first) name is
Yosef, whose attribute is Yesod).
Indeed, [the attribute ascribed
to] the Rebbe Rayatz, Yesod,
comes after the preceding five
attributes, corresponding to his
five predecessors. See Seifer
HaSichos 5705, pg. 60, among
other places.
In fact, all [the people] of our
generation – men, women, and
children – comprise the s’fira of
Malchus.
***Footnote 80: Even prior
to this, it is a Mikdash M’at.
Note what it says in HaTamim
(Volume 2, pg. 126 (110b)),
citing the words of one of the
elders of Chassidim of Homil
in the times of the Tzemach
Tzedek: From the day that the
Beis HaMikdash and the Holy
of Holies were destroyed, until
G-d has mercy and sends the
goel tzedek…and he will build
for us Yerushalayim and the
Beis HaMikdash with the Holy
of Holies – Lubavitch is our
Yerushalayim, and the shul where
the Rebbe davens is our Beis
HaMikdash, etc.
(Seifer HaSichos 5751, pg. 642-3)
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REACHING OUT TO
RUSSIAN
JEWS IN
RISHON
There are no statistics on the number of Russian
immigrants to Eretz Yisroel who have become
baalei t’shuva, but one of the people responsible
for the Jewish-Chassidic revolution is R’
Ovadia Leibman of Rishon L’Tziyon. * Ovadia
attended a spy school in the Soviet Union and
completed a degree in electronic engineering and
communication. He began searching for G-d and
ultimately found Him in Judaism. * Today, he is the
shliach for Russian speakers in Rishon L’Tziyon.
By Nosson Avrohom
Photos by Meir Alfasi
T
he Chabad House for
Russian speakers in
Rishon L’Tziyon just
held a farbrengen in
conjunction with a festive siyum
on the entire book of T’hillim.
An intellectual and serious group
of men, from several different
countries of the former Soviet
Union, took part. Most of them
have impressive professions such
as medicine and engineering. This
is the fifth year that they have
been gathering every week at the
Chabad House with the shliach,
R’ Ovadia (Vadim) Leibman, and
learning T’hillim in depth with
many commentaries.
“We put in a lot of work to
cover many commentaries on
the sections of t’filla that come
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from T’hillim,” says R’ Ovadia.
“We collected explanations from
Rishonim and Acharonim as well
as from Sifrei Chassidus and
sichos of the Rebbe. We learned
them together with people who,
by nature, love deep learning.
Now, after five years of intensive
learning, we are done.”
This shiur is not the only
shiur given in the Chabad House.
There are shiurim on nearly all
aspects of Torah, given daily.
Dozens of people wouldn’t miss
a single shiur. In a spacious,
two story building located in the
center of Rishon L’Tziyon, R’
Ovadia Leibman works to spread
the wellsprings to hundreds of
thousands of Russian Jews who
live in the fifth largest city in
Eretz Yisroel.
There are also classes for
women and programs for youth,
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the generation of the future.
All these activities began
twelve years ago when R’
Leibman, an engineer by
profession and a respected
person within the Russian-
speaking community, had to
explain to his friends in academia
why he was changing his lifestyle
and becoming a religious Jew.
It began with a shiur
with one person and a friend
brought a friend, one family
brought another, until it became
necessary to find a place for all
the programs. “Over the years,
many Jews also changed their
way of life from one extreme to
another, and today are religiously
observant. They wear a hat and
sirtuk and look like longtime
Chassidim.”
ANTI-SEMITISM
R’ Ovadia Leibman was born
in Moscow on Erev Sukkos
5719/1958.
“My mother was a professor
of medicine and my father was
the chief engineer for the Russian
Scud missiles. Long before this
missile became famous during
the Gulf War, we at home were
familiar with the missile and its
capabilities. Parts of the engine
were around the house and
we used appropriate parts as
drinking cups or as game pieces.
We had no Jewish education; the
only thing we knew is that we are
Jews, nothing more.”
Vadim went to an elite school
whose purpose was to train spies
to spy on western countries,
particularly the United States.
“We learned English on a very
high level and were trained to
think like Americans. There were
no more than thirty students in a
class. In my class we had twenty-
eight students. When I was older,
I realized that sixteen of us were
Jews. Today I know for a fact that
we were twenty-six Jews. As for
the remaining two, I don’t know.
They may also have been Jewish.
Most of the students now work
in government institutions in
Moscow and I am in touch with
some of them.”
In this school there was no
hatred toward Jews and Judaism,
but when it came time to apply to
university, anti-Semitism reared
its ugly head.
“At first I considered studying
physics. Despite my high marks
and the warm recommendations
that I got from the school, I soon
realized that my Jewish identity
would not enable me to achieve
this goal. I abandoned this
dream and switched to electronic
engineering and communication.
“Before I started university,
I was disturbed by feelings of
inner seeking, and in university
this feeling intensified. I felt
emptiness. The communist
philosophy places man in the
center and I felt there had to be
Someone who created this world
that we enjoy. The world could
not have been created of itself
just like a slice of bread cannot be
created of itself. I even went to a
Christian church where I hoped
to find answers to my questions.
I quickly realized that the priest
was more confused than I was
and his answers were superficial
at best.
“I stopped visiting the church
but did not even consider
exploring Judaism, because in
Russia of those days there was
no Judaism. It was only after
the communist regime collapsed
that my parents told me that my
grandmother who lived with us
was Shabbos observant and lit
candles every Erev Shabbos.
She kept kashrus and other
mitzvos. For many years she
did this secretly and even hid
her religious observance from
us, her grandchildren, since she
was afraid we would tell our
classmates inadvertently.”
“Before Yom Kippur 5738,
a group of Jewish students
arranged to visit the big shul.
The one who arranged this was
the grandson of the chief rabbi of
Moscow in those days, who went
to university with us. We heard
that this day is a special one on
the Jewish calendar but we knew
nothing about its significance.
We arranged to go early in the
morning. We packed sandwiches
and drinks and got into cars. At
the shul, we only dared to take
a peek inside while we stood
outside the entire time and
schmoozed.
“People heard about our
outing, and this was just the
excuse a group of gentile students
needed; they were always looking
for ways to kick me out of my job.
Half a year later, a Jewish student
made aliya under the uniting
families clause. She maintained
that she was going to help her
sick grandmother. The reaction
of all the students was that this
was treason, because Russia


“After that, we moved four times. Each time,
we found ourselves facing a shul. It was most
remarkable… Moscow of those days did not have
many shuls and I felt that this was G-d’s way of hinting
something to me.”
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supported the Arabs; with her
going that was one more soldier
from Russia going over to the
Zionist army which was fighting
against the interests of Mother
Russia. That group called a
meeting of the school communist
cell and asked me in my position
as a leader in the communist
movement in university to
denigrate the girl. I wasn’t willing
to do so, arguing that her reason
for going was humanitarian. This
aroused the ire of the group and I
was pushed out.
“But Russia being Russia, a
few days later I was appointed
once again as chairman of the
movement. Nice bribes were
placed in the pockets of the
right people who saw to my
appointment.”
FOUR APARTMENTS
– FOUR SHULS
When Vadim successfully
completed his studies, he married
a Jewish girl named Larissa who
worked for her father in his eye
clinic.

“My father-in-law was in charge
of ophthalmology for the entire
Soviet Union and served as
the personal doctor of senior
government officials. After we
married I also worked in the
family clinic. Our material life
was very good. While the average
Russian was pursuing bread, we
exchanged our cars every two
years and bought whatever we
liked.”
But it was when he had
material things in abundance that
young Leibman began feeling
that same emptiness again.
“I knew that I am a Jew and
I was upset that I knew nothing
about this. Near our house was
the main shul of Moscow. I once
got up the nerve to peek inside,
but I immediately ran out. There
were a few old men and each was
busy with his own business.
“After that, we moved four
times. Each time, we found
ourselves facing a shul. It was
most remarkable. In our third
apartment, we were facing the
Bolshoi Brunoi shul and in the
fourth apartment it was the
Marina Roscha. Moscow of those
days did not have many shuls and
I felt that this was G-d’s way of
hinting something to me. We lived
a great paradox. My soul was
greatly drawn toward learning
about my Judaism, but I did not
know how to go about this. In the
meantime, I continued enjoying
my comfortable life.”
The one who ran the Marina
Roscha shul in those days was
R’ Dovid Karpov, a Chabad
Chassid.
“One day, I decided to get up
my courage and go into the shul.
R’ Karpov noticed me right away
and invited me in with a friendly
smile. He knew how to make me
feel comfortable and I had a long
talk with him. I began visiting the
shul more often until I became a
regular at the minyanim. I sent
our oldest son, Lev, to R’ Karpov
for him to teach him Torah on
Sundays.
“One day, R’ Karpov handed
me a personal letter from the
Rebbe, inviting me to take part
in the Lag B’Omer parade. He
explained the importance of it
to me. I am embarrassed to say
that my first thought was, who
was this old man in New York
to tell me what to do? But what
happened was that the entire
family participated in this parade
that took place outside the city.
All around walked dozens of
KGB secret agents.”
The young Leibman family
lived two houses away from the
Premier of the Soviet Union; the
security on the street was very
high.
“Thanks to them, we
could leave our car open at
night without worrying about
thieves, but as the years went
by, the situation in the country
"דחא לע דחא" תודיסח דומילב ןמבייל ברה
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deteriorated. Thieves were bold
enough to do as they pleased
until one day we found our
car broken into opposite the
Premier’s house. That day we
realized that if we weren’t secure
here, we had no reason to be in
Russia anymore. We decided to
make aliya.”
Leibman was getting more
involved in Jewish life. What
strengthened his belief in a
Creator was an amazing story
that happened with his son.
“Our son attended an
elite school in Moscow that
was located near our house.
The grandchildren of Premier
Brezhnev attended the same
school, as did the grandchildren
of the mayor of Moscow,
Promyslov. It was the only school
that had a swimming pool in its
yard. One day, when our son
came home and began scratching
all over, we suspected it was
because of the pool and we hoped
the problem would go away.
When it didn’t, we sent him for
blood tests which showed that his
sugar level was high and he was
suspected of having diabetes.
“This was shocking news and
we were afraid of how his life
would turn out with this grave
illness. Before we took him for a
more serious blood test, I prayed
to G-d and promised that if the
result would be good, I would no
longer eat pork. I knew that this
was a major prohibition in the
Torah.
“We tensely waited for the
results which astounded everyone
and showed normal sugar levels.
It seemed that, strangely, the
previous blood test was in error.
This story bowled me over. I felt
that Hashem was involved and
this strengthened me very much.”
When the gates to the Soviet
Union opened in 5750, the
Leibman family took advantage.
Their property, which included
two homes, two cars, and many
possessions, were divided among
relatives and friends.
“We were welcomed in Eretz
Yisroel by relatives who lived
in Beer Yaakov. Shortly after
our arrival I found work in my
profession. My wife passed
the Health Ministry’s test for
ophthalmology and opened a
private clinic in Ashdod which
operates till this day.”
Two years later, Leibman’s
father died and he returned to
Moscow to mourn for him.
“I stayed with my sister whose
house was facing the Marina
Roscha shul. On Sunday, I went
there to daven and say Kaddish,
but on Monday the shul was
gone. A fire had burned down the
shul that night. Nearby stood the
rabbi, R’ Berel Lazar, saddened
and wondering what to do next.
We got into a conversation, and
since then I became close with
the shluchim there and learned
a lot from them. My brief stay
in Moscow and the passing of
my father were a source of great
spiritual arousal for me.”
R’ Leibman returned to Eretz
Yisroel wearing a yarmulke. A
few days later, as he walked down
the street of Rishon L’Tziyon, the
shliach R’ Yitzchok Gruzman
went over to him and brought
him into the Chabad House to
complete the minyan.
“That was our first encounter
and we became good friends. I
became a regular participant at
all the shiurim and activities at
the Chabad House.”
The Leibmans had a second
son and his bris took place
during the first Kinus Geula
and Moshiach that took place
after Gimmel Tammuz, with the
participation of thousands of
people. He was named Yosef.
A few months later, Ovadia
decided to become Shabbos
observant. Then came a beard
and later, on his father’s
yahrtzait, when he went to
daven for the amud, he was told
it is customary to wear a jacket.
Shortly thereafter, he bought a
sirtuk in Kfar Chabad.
GROWING OUTREACH
Once R’ Leibman became a
Chassid, he appreciated shlichus
more than ever and began giving
shiurim to Russian speaking Jews
who were seeking the truth. At
first, these shiurim took place
in the main Chabad House of
Rishon L’Tziyon, until it became
necessary to find his own place.
“I consulted with R’
Gruzman, and he is the one who
found us the place we are in
today.”
He began with five people and
within a short time there were
several dozen. They were Jews
of all ages who came to shiurim.
Each one had a fascinating life
story. If you were to ask R’
Leibman, he would tell you he
is not at all satisfied. Dozens
of people changed their lives,
but that is a minuscule amount
when you consider the hundred
thousand Russian speaking Jews
living in Rishon L’Tziyon.
“We have two kinds of
shiurim. There are in depth
classes that are attended by
people who want to learn and
know. Generally, they are more
intellectual. And there are more
experiential classes for those who
looking for the emotion and the
light in Torah.”
In addition to the ongoing
shiurim, the Chabad House has
a smicha program which is run
by his son Lev. He just recently
passed the tests to become
eligible to serve as rabbi of a city.
Students of the program have
already taken the first test and
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are moving on to other parts of
study. R’ Leibman’s shiurim are
popular even among those who
live far from Rishon L’Tziyon and
even among non-Jews.
“We started recording all
the classes and putting them
up on a special Internet site.
Recently, someone asked me
deep questions on my shiurim
on T’hillim. I was amazed by
his questions and asked him
whether he is Jewish. When he
said no, I asked him to check
whether he had Jewish roots, but
he surprised me when he said
he is a distinguished priest in an
eminent church. He is a member
of a group of priests who share
my classes amongst themselves
and listen to them regularly.”
R’ Leibman has become a
Torah and spiritual authority
and many Jews from the former
Soviet Union go to him to share
what’s on their minds and to ask
him for advice. R’ Leibman has
many stories but he chooses his
words carefully.
“One day, a middle aged
person came into the Chabad
House and said that his daughter
had begun having frightening
dreams in which she saw fish
tearing her to pieces. She was
terrified, cried a lot, and found
it hard to fall asleep. He was at a
loss as to what to do.
“I questioned him about his
life and discovered that he had
recently had himself baptized as a
Christian. He told me that when
he went to a shul, nobody paid
any attention to him. When he
went to a church, he was given
great honor. I explained to him
that the Christian books he had
brought home were the source of
his daughter’s fear, but he found
it hard to accept that. We had a
lively discussion.
“The information about
Christianity that I had learned in
my younger years came in handy.
I was able to easily demolish
all the nonsense they had told
him. He was taken aback by my
knowledge.
“I asked him to commit to
putting on t’fillin and we arranged
to learn Tanya together. A while
later he dropped Christianity, his
daughter put a cup and bowl for
negel vasser near her bed and
began saying the bedtime Shma,
and her nightmares stopped.”
THE SECRET IN THE
MOTHER’S FILE
In twelve years of shlichus he
has been mekarev numerous Jews
to Torah and mitzvos. Many of
them have become Lubavitcher
Chassidim, and today are an
integral part of the Chabad
community in Rishon L’Tziyon.
We met with one family, that of R’
Binyamin and Galya Malkhozov,
who began their Chabad journey
with the help of R’ Leibman and
his wife.
“I was born in S Petersburg
and Binyamin was born in Vilna.
We both grew up in irreligious
homes. From a young age, I felt
socially ostracized and did not
understand why. Until the age
of fourteen, I had no idea I was
Jewish, but apparently those who
needed to know, knew. When I
opened my mother’s pocketbook
when I was fourteen, I saw her
identity card on which it said that
she is Jewish. When I asked her
what this meant, she was furious
and said it was information I did


“If we kept them with us, we could open a big
shul with dozens of people, but I don’t want
them to feel like mekuravim all their lives. The secret
is to operate on a serious and profound level, not
superfcially.”
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not need to know. But when the
social ostracism became more
severe, I realized there was a
connection.
“I’ll never forget how when
I attended university in the
department for speech therapy
and special education, the
teacher read out my name and
then asked, ‘How did they agree
to allow a Jew here?’
“When I completed my
degree, I decided to check out
this nation that I belonged to.
I began to read and learn and
realized that most of my people
live in Eretz Yisroel. I decided
to make aliya. I was only 23 and
very naïve. I promised myself,
without fully understanding the
significance of my promise, that
I would only marry a Jew. Where
was the greater chance that this
would occur? In Eretz Yisroel!”
In Eretz Yisroel, Galya
was sent to a special program
for young people on Kibbutz
Revadim in the south. There
she met her future husband
Binyamin who had come to the
kibbutz from Vilna. Although he
had grown up in an irreligious
family too, he had seen the work
of the shliach in his city. On the
kibbutz, he was already wearing a
yarmulke.
“After a short time on the
kibbutz, we moved to live in an
absorption center in Ashkelon
and from there we moved to
Rishon L’Tziyon. My husband’s
involvement in Torah and mitzvos
went up a notch when he went to
the big shul in Rishon L’Tziyon
every day. There he participated
in the davening and shiurim
given by young men from Kiryat
Sefer.”
Galya says she was very
proud of her husband who slowly
brought her into the world of
mitzva observance.
“My husband’s happiest
moment was when he met R’
Leibman who also went to that
shul occasionally. They arranged
to learn together and he exposed
my husband to the magical
world of Chassidus. When R’
Leibman entered our lives, the
entire topic of Torah and mitzvos
deepened. I found myself swept
up in the magic of the Rebbe and
Chassidus. I began attending
classes and we quickly knew
that we wanted to live Chassidic
lives.”
According to Galya, the thing
which spoke to her the most were
R’ Leibman’s classes.
“In Russia, we were
educated with depth and with
an appreciation for intellectual
prowess. R’ Leibman’s classes
meet these criteria precisely.
They are beautifully constructed
with sources and depth. My
husband put it this way: ‘By the
Litvaks, the Torah is dry and
lifeless; by Chabad, Torah is like
a refreshing life-giving potion
which opens the heart and fills it
with joy.’”
What is the secret to your
success? Jews who come from
the former Soviet Union are
usually more suspicious and
recoil when they sense that
someone is trying to change
their lives.
“When working on a mass
scale, it can be very hard to be the
catalyst for significant changes.
We work one-on-one. When I
look around at the people who
daven in the Chabad shul, I am
very happy to see that half of the
shul is our mekuravim. We give
them what we can give and then
send them to advance elsewhere.
If we kept them with us, we could
open a big shul with dozens of
people, but I don’t want them
to feel like mekuravim all their
lives. The secret is to operate on
a serious and profound level, not
superficially.
“Two years ago, I flew
to Moscow for my father’s
yahrtzait. On Shabbos, I stayed
with the shliach R’ Dovid Karpov
to whom I owe my connection
to Judaism. Shabbos afternoon,
I had to say Kaddish but there
was no minyan in the shul. So
we walked to the campus site
for Jewish students interested
in Judaism, where t’fillos took
place. As we approached the
campus, I was amazed by what
I saw. Previously, when I had
lived on that very campus, it was
the only place that did not have
a shul facing it. Now, they had
torn down the house and built a
building for Jewish youth with a
shul on the premises.
“On the way back from shul,
I asked R’ Karpov, ‘How is that
possible? You were mekarev
hundreds of people to Judaism
and Lubavitch – how come you
don’t have a minyan of your
own?’ He said that whoever he
is mekarev he sends to Eretz
Yisroel. That’s his modus
operandi. ‘We don’t keep them.
When they learn and we feel they
know enough, we send them
away to make further progress.’”
One of the hardest problems
in working with Russian
immigrants is the issue of
intermarriage. How do you deal
with it?
“It is a serious problem that
we deal with daily. Sometimes,
it is heartbreaking when you
see someone who really wants
to become more involved in
Judaism, or you meet someone
who seems so nice and
respectable, but he is not Jewish.
In our community, there are
three Jews whose wives are not
Jewish. One of them asked me
recently whether he should break
up with his wife. It’s a serious
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question that needs to come
from the man himself. It is easy
to tell him to leave her, but what
will be with him afterward? Who
will take responsibility for his
situation? The Halacha is clear,
but we need to do things wisely
and sensitively.”
The Rebbe’s horaa is to
publicize about the coming of
Moshiach. How do you do that
in your community?
“If we bring up Moshiach
with someone who just came
from Russia, he is likely to leave
because he will think we are
missionaries. But once he learns
some Jewish history, about
Moshe Rabbeinu and the Taryag
Mitzvos, then we can talk about
the Rebbe as Moshiach. Many
of our mekuravim have a strong
belief in the Rebbe as Moshiach.
Russian immigrants relate less
to slogans and more to a deep
understanding of something.”
Are there people who write
to the Rebbe?
“Definitely. But we do it
carefully, not before I ascertain
that they will commit to doing
what the Rebbe writes to them.
During our first year here, a
woman came to me who asked
for two brachos, one to be
successful in life and find a good
job and one to get married. The
Rebbe’s answer was she should
keep Shabbos. She said she was
willing to wear a wig, but not to
keep Shabbos. Since then, twelve
years later, she still has not found
a job and has not gotten married.
I was very saddened by this. If
someone is skeptical, I won’t
write with them.”
WORKING
WITH THE YOUTH
In conclusion, R’ Leibman
pointed out another aspect of
his work with the children of
immigrants.
“If it was up to me, I would
devote most of my time and
energy to shiurim for adults, but
the Rebbe says we should invest
in the children. Whenever I write
to the Rebbe about shiurim and
working with adults, the Rebbe
writes about also working with
the youth. So we do a lot with
children and youth. We have
groups every week and programs
before holidays. Every Shabbos
we have many girls coming to
us for Kabbalas Shabbos at the
Chabad House, which definitely
has a strong positive impact.”
ADD IN ACTS OF GOODNESS & KINDNESS
TO BRING MOSHIACH NOW!
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THE WORLD ONLY
UNDERSTANDS
THE TANACH
Mr. Yossi Dagan, deputy chairman of the Shomron Regional Council, has
been behind the modern industrial projects that have transformed the
settlers’ public relations activities into a professionally well-oiled machine.
In an exclusive “Beis Moshiach” interview, he discusses the way we can
explain to the European Parliament why we have settled in Elon Moreh
and how it is not “occupation”, what are the true facts regarding the
population growth in the Shomron, and what the Israeli public opinion
makers had to say after they visited the region for the frst time in their
lives. He had never heard about any international boycott of Yehuda and
Shomron, which he classifes as one big joke. Dagan is unconcerned about
another expulsion; on the contrary, he is certain that we have reached a
“point of no return.” Therefore, the whole concept of a “Palestinian” state
has evaporated, and there is now only one option: a sovereign Jewish
state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
By Sholom Ber Crombie
Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
W
hile Prime Minister
Netanyahu and his
Minister of Justice
continue along the
diplomatic track, based upon the
Obama Administration’s demands
for a return to the 1967 borders
with minor alterations, and the
establishment of a PLO state with
East Jerusalem as its capital, there
are those who remain undeterred
by the media headlines. They
are constantly active; not just
according to the old approach of
“another dunam, another goat,”
but also among Jews who come to
the Shomron to get a direct and
up-close look at the settlements
in the land of the Tanach, the
historical birthplace of the Jewish
People. While most Israelis had
previously learned about Yehuda
and Shomron primarily from media
reports, the situation today is quite
different. There have already been
more than three thousand guided
bus tours of the Shomron – that’s
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about 150,000 people.
However, even the media
has not been neglected, and
today the average Israeli getting
his information on Yehuda and
Shomron from state media will
now hear about flourishing
communities and thriving
agriculture. During the last five
years, more than two thousand
Israeli journalists and public
opinion builders have toured the
Shomron, thereby altering the
media’s previous tendencies to
refer to the region from a highly
negative perspective. Recent
visitors to the Shomron have
also included members of the
European Parliament and the
United States Congress.
One man stands behind
this revolution: Yossi Dagan,
deputy chairman of the Shomron
Regional Council, who was driven
out of his home in the northern
Shomron settlement of Sa-Nur
eight years ago and promised to
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do everything possible that this
would never happen again.
On the one hand, the media
speaks about a return to the
1967 borders; while on the
other hand, you speak about
growth and expansion in the
settlements of Yehuda and
Shomron.
The most significant fact
before the Shomron Regional
Council is the blessed level of
growth we encounter each year.
Despite all the obstacles and
challenges we presently face,
the Shomron Regional Council
has now recorded its third year
with the highest rate of growth
throughout Eretz Yisroel.
While the national average for
growth stood at 1.2% with even
some places showing an actual
decrease in population, the
average in Yehuda and Shomron
showed an eight percent increase!
Regarding this phenomenon, it
is stated in Parshas Shmos: “But
as much as they would afflict
them, so did they multiply and
so did they gain strength.” On
the one hand, we are waging a
battle over every house, every
school, and every kindergarten
we open. On the other hand, the
facts on the region’s growth and
prosperity prove the mysterious
help from Heaven we have been
experiencing here. Despite all
the battles against the High
Court of Justice and the regional
community administration over
every caravan, we are winning
the fight.
How do you explain the fact
that the whole world busies
itself with a caravan being
erected on some remote hill in
the Shomron?
There’s a saying from Rabbi
Yaakov Moshe Charlap, of
righteous memory, that every
generation has a certain issue
that irritates the nations of the
world, thereby demonstrating
its great importance to that
generation. The Gentile nations
once cried out against bris mila,
later against the study of Torah,
and today they complain against
Jews living in Eretz Yisroel. There
is no other rational explanation
for the fact that world leaders can
call the Prime Minister to inquire
about a few new residential units
being built on some hill...
Yet, it is under these very
conditions that the Shomron
continues to grow. The Shomron
Regional Council is only one of
twenty-three local authorities in
the region; there are numerous
yishuvim classified as local
councils. Two years ago, we
opened three schools and twenty
kindergartens. This year, we
opened another school, and next
year we are preparing to open
four more schools and another
twenty kindergartens! I am
also in charge of the council’s
education department, and
there is no place in Eretz Yisroel
that has had such an increase
in its number of students. This
represents a tremendous Kiddush
Hashem and an eternal response
to those forces seeking to harm
our settlement in Eretz Yisroel.
What is the cause of this
most unnatural growth?
Quite simply, we see the Hand
of G-d at work here. Before all
the rational explanations, it’s
important to state that there is no
logical reason that we are sitting
in Eretz Yisroel surrounded by
two hundred million Arabs, yet
Eretz Yisroel has become an
island of stability amidst the ‘Arab
spring’ revolutions engulfing the
Moslem world. Furthermore, we
are still exporting merchandise
throughout the globe, and people
come from all over the world to
see the economic giant created
here. Divine Providence in the
Shomron is quite manifest, and
this is exactly what is happening.
We have simply been privileged
to do as G-d has commanded
us, and He has given us His
help in return. We have an
historic right to settle in this
strip of land, the foundation
of the Jewish People. This is
the home of our forefathers,
the place where virtually all the
stories of the Tanach transpired
– from Avraham Avinu to Eliyahu
HaNavi. We have merited to see
G-d’s Divine Hand, literally every
hour of every day, even in the
most (seemingly) insignificant
detail – direct help from the Alm-
ghty.
Moreover, anyone with eyes
in his head understands that we
don’t have any ‘Arab spring’ as
they do in all the Arab nations;
this is in the merit of our
settlements and troops in Yehuda
and Shomron. I’ve had the
opportunity to meet frequently
with European Parliament
members, and they are simply
amazed when they learn about
the Shomron’s geographical
location. I was with council head
Gershon Mesika on Capitol
Hill in Washington, where we
met with twenty-five members
of the Senate and the House
of Representatives. We showed
them the map of Eretz Yisroel,
with only seventy kilometers
separating between the Jordan


I explain to these foreign parliamentarians that
we don’t live in the Shomron merely to protect
Tel Aviv, rather because this is our land.
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River and the Mediterranean Sea
– fifty-five kilometers sprawled
over the hills of Shomron and
only fifteen kilometers (nine
miles) within the Green Line in
view of those hills. They found
these facts impossible to believe.
One Congressman wanted to
throw me out of his office in the
middle of our meeting… “I don’t
believe it,” he said. “The whole
Green Line is like a street in
Green City.”
Without the Shomron, we’re
left with ‘the narrow waist’ of
Eretz Yisroel, and the leftists
expect us to take this narrow
strip – only fifteen kilometers
wide – and maintain a sovereign
state. Anyone who looks at the
map can understand that it’s
simply preposterous to establish
a Hamas/Al Qaeda terror state,
similar to what exists in Gaza,
on the hills of the Shomron
commanding the coastal plane.
Therefore, the only reason that
we currently enjoy stability in the
region, without Al Qaeda militia
men roaming the countryside,
is our presence in Yehuda and
Shomron.
In addition, I explain to these
foreign parliamentarians that we
don’t live in the Shomron merely
to protect Tel Aviv, rather because
this is our land. All events
pertaining to the foundation of
the Jewish People took place here:
the journeys of Avraham Avinu,
‘And Avraham passed through
the land as far as Elon Moreh’,
the entry into Eretz Yisroel
through Sh’chem, the place of
the covenant between G-d and
the Jewish People, the blessing
and the curse at Mt. Eival and
Mt. Grizim. Our entire basis as a
nation is found in the Shomron.
We see how G-d’s Divine Hand
designed the topography of Eretz
Yisroel, as the Shomron occupies
a vital place that dominates the
entire valley.
THE SHOMRON: A
WONDERFUL PLACE TO
VISIT
In recent years, you have
also established a massive
project of organized tours in the
Shomron. What is behind this
project?
After the expulsion from Gush
Katif, I reached the conclusion
that the greatest enemy to
the settlement movement is
ignorance. The expulsion’s
harm to the settlements came
from people who have no true
knowledge of this vital region.
Take for example the absurdity in
withdrawing from the northern
Shomron: While the Israel
Defense Forces did uproot the
Jewish settlements there, it has
remained in the region. This is
because the IDF simply must
maintain control over this area
as a means of protecting the
center of Eretz Yisroel. Today,
this territory is classified as Area
C, and it is under complete
military control. This is the best
possible proof that the IDF’s
security operations cannot be
conducted effectively without
our presence in Yehuda and
Shomron. However, the Israeli
public knows nothing about this.
People thought that this was
merely the evacuation of four
‘isolated’ yishuvim, as the media
called them. No one had any idea
where the northern Shomron was
situated.
As a result, I came to
the conclusion that we must
eliminate this ignorance. Over the
past five years, we have initiated
a high-level project for bringing
all of the country’s public opinion
builders to the Shomron, giving
them an opportunity to become
acquainted with the region,
perhaps for the very first time.
I can tell you that today, five
years later, numerous people
from the ultra-Orthodox sector
have come to me seeking advice
on how to a set a similar project
in motion for the public at-large
to acquire greater knowledge
about the chareidi community.
Our project’s success exceeded
all expectations and has spread
throughout all of Yehuda and
Shomron. As part of this guided
tour program, we have already
conducted more than nine
Yossi Dagan (left) and council head Gershon Mesika at an international forum
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hundred visits to the Shomron
for more than two thousand
media figures, newspaper
photographers and news editors,
sixty Knesset Members from
across the political spectrum,
government ministers, and
shapers of public opinion in Eretz
Yisroel.
For example, after
participating in one of our
guided tours, media personality
Avri Gilad claimed that it had
been a revolution of awareness
for him. “For thirty years, they
educated me to hate them,”
he said. Yet, the tour had
convinced him to change his
entire perception of the settlers.
While he hasn’t turned into one
of our supporters, today he
speaks about the settlers with an
entirely different tone. Another
journalist, Menachem Ben, a
prominent op-ed contributor and
author of two weekly newspaper
columns in the Maariv daily, was
so captivated by the Shomron, he
eventually moved to the Shomron
settlement of Nofim. There is
also a growing phenomenon
among left-wing journalists who
come to tour the region and then
reject any thought of uprooting
the settlements, as they see for
themselves the total unfeasibility
of this option. While they don’t
necessarily think that it’s a great
mitzvah to live in the Shomron,
they do acknowledge that Jewish
presence in the region represents
a ‘point of no return.’
There was a well-known news
anchorman who announced
after a visit to the Shomron
that he no longer embraced
the idea of an independent
Palestinian state. Amos Harel,
military correspondent for
the HaAretz daily, wrote after
touring the region that the Kerry
initiative had come too late to do
anything… After a similar visit,
journalist Shalom Yerushalmi
wrote that the settlers have won.
Even Arnon Lapid, a leading
ideologue with the kibbutz
newspaper, wrote that he too
had given up on the Palestinian
state option after visiting the
Shomron.
In my estimation, this
realization is no less important
than declaring our right to live
in Eretz Yisroel, in order for the
Israeli public to understand the
impossibility of expelling the
400,000 settlers living in Yehuda
and Shomron. (By the way,
this figure does not include the
residents of the Golan Heights
and those neighborhoods of
Yerushalayim situated beyond the
Green Line.) When we started
this tour project, we would tell
the journalists to come at nine in
the morning. At half past seven,
we would get a call from them
that they’re already waiting at the
pre-arranged meeting place. It
turned out that they were certain
that they would need at least
two hours to reach the Shomron
from Tel Aviv. It never dawned
on them that within half an hour,
they would already be deep inside
the Shomron…
During these visits, people see
the agriculture, the flourishing
settlements, and the social
activity in the Shomron. Then,
when they arrive in Elon Moreh,
Benny Katzover suddenly opens
up a Tanach and shows them Mt.
Eival, Mt. Grizim, and the entire
Jewish history that occurred in
the Shomron. These tours bring
such people closer not just to the
Shomron, but to Judaism itself.
Regrettably, today’s average
graduate from Israel’s state-run
educational system doesn’t know
what we are doing here – not
in Tel Aviv, not to mention the
Shomron. We explain to them for
the first time about the history of
the Jewish People in the land of
the Tanach.
Therefore, you decided to
bring the Jewish People to the
Shomron.
After we saw the great success
created by the tours, we said to
ourselves: Why don’t we bring
the People of Israel here? We then
decided to start doing just that.
To this day, three thousand buses
have already come, a sizable
portion of which brought people
from the secular community,
the ultra-Orthodox sector, and
also from the national religious
communities located in larger
cities. They met the settlers, got
a good look at the settlements
for the first time, and they were
truly astounded. They discovered
a vibrant land that appears totally
different from what is described
in the media. On this point, I
have to give special mention to
those Chabad Chassidim who
have taken an energetic role in
this project, including activities
coordinator Rabbi Motty
Markowitz for bringing busloads
of Chassidim to the region. All
such visits connect the Jewish
People to the Shomron and also
strengthen the settlers.


When a Congressman sees the international
airport from a hill in the Shomron, and he
considers the fact that he’ll be taking off from there in
just a couple of days, he doesn’t want Al Qaeda and
Hamas to control the hill where he’s standing…
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THE SHOMRON’S FOREIGN
MINISTRY – IN EUROPE
However, you, Dagan, don’t
just deal with the citizens of
Eretz Yisroel; you work with
the Europeans as well. Anyone
observing from the sidelines
can see that your activities –
together with the head of the
Shomron Regional Council –
are beyond all logic. They have
managed to enlist members of
the European Parliament into
the battle for the settlements,
and today twenty MPs are
working with them against the
extreme left’s boycott of Yehuda
and Shomron.
After we started hosting
Israeli citizens in the Shomron,
we reached an understanding that
the same ignorance regarding the
Shomron that exists in Tel Aviv
exists in Geneva as well. These
extreme left-wing organizations
causing incitement in Eretz
Yisroel against the Shomron are
inciting the world against Tel
Aviv. Most of our problems are
due to these extreme left-wing
forces that create incitement
in the world against Eretz
Yisroel. To combat this, we have
established a foreign contacts
unit, a kind of mini-foreign
ministry, in an effort to bring the
story of the Jewish People to the
world. We have already hosted in
the Shomron more than eighty
parliamentarians from all over
Europe, ten Members of the
United States Congress, and
one hundred and thirty foreign
correspondents. I can safely say
that we have encountered the
same degree of ignorance we find
among average Israelis. They too
have never been presented with
objective facts, and they were
stunned by what they saw.
When a Congressman sees
the international airport from
a hill in the Shomron, and he
considers the fact that he’ll be
taking off from there in just a
couple of days, he doesn’t want
Al Qaeda and Hamas to control
the hill where he’s standing…
While standing on a hilltop in
Itamar, people suddenly see jets
taking off and they realize how
close the Shomron is to the soft
underbelly of Eretz Yisroel. They
see Amman and the eastern side
of the Jordan River to their left,
and the Mediterranean Sea to
their right – and they understand
that it’s impossible to maintain
security for Eretz Yisroel’s main
cities without our presence in
Yehuda and Shomron.
Another point that is no less
important is the failure of the
government of Israel to speak
about our G-d-given right to
Eretz Yisroel. These Senators,
Congressmen, and European
MPs don’t hear that this land
belongs to us. However, we have
the best proof of ownership –
the Tanach. Most of the world
believes in the Tanach, and
even those who don’t accept
it as Divine do accept it as an
important document in the annals
of human history. However,
while the Arabs keep talking
about an ‘occupation’, official
Israeli government spokesmen
try and explain to the world that
we are in Eretz Yisroel because
we are a hi-tech superpower
that invented the drip irrigation
system… The average person
in Europe has heard for twenty
years – ever since the Oslo
Accords – that Israel is occupying
Arab territory. Therefore, he
is convinced that we have to
leave the region, regardless of
whether we are justified from
a security standpoint… Even
after we explain the security
arguments to him, the average
European will reply, “Fine, but
since you’re in territory that you
took from others, you have no
reason to be there.” Thus, we
face the absurdity that although
we are constantly withdrawing,
the world continues to be more
and more against us. They don’t
care how much land we have
evacuated. From their standpoint,
if this is occupied territory, we
have to clear out entirely and not
remain there at all.
I was sitting recently with
a member of the European
Parliament, and when he heard
that the West Bank is actually
Yehuda and Shomron, he was
immediately with us! While he
knew the Tanach and he had
learned about the Jewish history
of Yehuda and Shomron, he
didn’t understand that when
people said to him the West
Bank, they were actually referring
to Yehuda and Shomron. As soon
as he heard the names Shilo, Beit
E-l, and Maarat HaMachpeila,
he immediately replied, ‘These
are yours – that’s not an
occupation!’ Even someone who
doesn’t believe in the Tanach
can nonetheless come to realize
that we are not ‘occupiers,’
understanding the rationale
behind our presence in Eretz
Yisroel. However, as long as
the official government of Israel
wants to display its modern and
contemporary side by showing
its embarrassment of the Tanach,
we have no chance. While the
average person, foreigner or


I then explain to them that all this is happening
with their money, as hundreds of millions of
Euros are poured into the left-wing’s ‘peace industry’
against Jewish settlements in Yehuda and Shomron.
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native-born, will listen most
attentively to their arguments, in
the end he’ll simply say, “But it’s
their land.”
Today, most commentators
have never been to Yehuda and
Shomron, and therefore, they
don’t know how to explain the
map of Eretz Yisroel to the
world at-large. When I visit
Congressmen and show them a
map of the Shomron, I find that
they have never seen it before.
This is usually the first time that
they meet official representatives
of Eretz Yisroel who speak with
them about our inherent rights to
the Holy Land.
Nevertheless, despite
everything you have said,
there is currently a boycott
on products from Yehuda and
Shomron, and a threat of a
boycott on all of Eretz Yisroel.
The entire boycott issue is one
big joke. This whole story about
a so-called boycott is merely a
fabrication of the left-wing. The
Barkan Industrial Park alone
produces $300,000,000 in
world exports a year! There are
currently twenty-three factories
waiting in line to enter the
premises, and we have no way
to make room for them! You call
that a boycott?
Apart from that, the boycott
issue reveals the hypocrisy of the
political left at its very worst. For
example, the Barkan Industrial
Park, one of four industrial zones
in the Shomron, has the greatest
level of co-existence anywhere
in the Middle East. Among its
one hundred and forty factories,
there are three thousand Jewish
workers of Israeli citizenship
and, l’havdil, there are three
thousand Arab workers
living within the territory of
the Palestinian Authority. They
receive the same conditions and
salaries as those working within
the Green Line in accordance
with Israeli law. Now, these
extreme leftist organizations
come along, supposedly out
of a concern for these poor
unfortunate Arabs making a
decent living in Barkan, and try
to undermine the very source of
their livelihood.
I once had a debate with a
representative from one of these
left-wing organizations on the
boycott issue: “What will happen
to the laid-off Jewish workers
if you succeed in closing the
Barkan Industrial Park?” I asked.
“They’ll be sent to professional
training courses, receive
unemployment insurance, and
eventually find work,” he replied.
However, the Arabs who will be
fired as a result are unable to find
work so easily. Subsequently,
they are thrown out into the
street, to a life of crime and
terrorism. They hate the
settlements so much that they are
prepared to cause unwarranted
hardships to the Arab sector. The
main thing is their desire to crush
the settlers.
When we bring the world’s
parliamentarians to visit the
Barkan Industrial Park, they
are extremely impressed. We
show them factories such as
‘Shamir Salads,’ ‘Achva Halvah,’
and ‘Lipski Installation and
Sanitation,’ one of the leading
companies in Eretz Yisroel in
the field of plastic sanitary and
plumbing products. They meet
the Arab employees, speak with
them, and hear about their
excellent working conditions.
As they leave, they always
shake hands with us with great
enthusiasm, expressing their
genuine surprise by the aura of
co-existence. I proceed to tell
them that these are the factories
upon which the extreme leftist
forces are trying to impose a
worldwide boycott.
The guests are stunned and
incredulous. None of them
believes that these are actually the
factories they want to boycott.
‘How did they deceive us?’ they
ask me. I then explain to them
that all this is happening with
their money, as hundreds of
millions of euros are poured into
the left-wing’s ‘peace industry’
against Jewish settlements in
Yehuda and Shomron. Today,
there is a whole industry of
people making a living through
their activities against us – and
the ultra-Orthodox sector – with
European funds. Yet, when their
parliamentarians come here, they
realize they have been misled.
‘This is a marvelous industry of
co-existence,’ they tell me. ‘Who
could ask for more than that?’
Today, there are
already twenty European
parliamentarians working
together with us against
European funding of left-wing
organizations, once they realized
that the leftists are merely
creating provocations and greater
distance between Eretz Yisroel
and the European Union.
What is your message for the
ultra-Orthodox communities?
I think that we and the
ultra-Orthodox represent two
persecuted sectors in Israeli
society, and therefore, we must
work together with greater
cooperation. I constantly strive to
connect with the ultra-Orthodox
community and help many of its
members, whom I won’t mention
by name for various reasons...
Those left-wing organizations
working against the settlements
in Yehuda and Shomron, with
European funds, are the same
organizations working against
the ultra-Orthodox. Therefore,
we have much in common and
we must work jointly for our
shared objectives on behalf of the
People and the Land of Israel.
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INTERVIEW
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ENVY, DESIRE
AND HONOR
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
THREE FORMS OF
TZARAAS
The Torah details three forms
of the skin disease known as
nega’im or tzaraas which render
a person tamei-ritually unclean.
The afflicted individual, known
as a Metzora, is quarantined and
compelled to undergo a complex
purification process before
reentering the community.
This is how the Torah
introduces the subject of tzaraas:
“If a person will have on the
skin of his flesh: s’eis, sapachas,
or a baheres and it forms (a
suspected) lesion of tzaraas on
the skin of his body, he should be
brought to Aaron the priest, or to
one of his sons, the priests (for
examination).”
Our Sages tell us that these
lesions were a punishment for the
sin of lashon ha’ra – slander.
What is the connection
between these lesions and the sin
of lashon ha’ra?
Our Sages explain that lashon
ha’ra causes the slandered
victim to be isolated from the
rest of the community. Thus the
punishment for the slandering
person is measure for measure.
He too must be quarantined and
separated from the community.
This explanation, however,
does not explain what the three
forms of tzaraas, referred to as
s’eis, sapachas and baheres, have
to do with lashon ha’ra.
THE THREE VICES
One approach is based on a
commentary Shi’yarei Mincha
(by a 20
th
century scholar,
Rabbi Rachamim Chai Chavitah
HaKohen of the island of Djerba,
Tunisia). He translates the three
forms of tzaraas allegorically as
allusions to the three destructive
vices which can drive a person
from this world, as listed in
Ethics of the Fathers (4:28):
“Envy, lust and [the pursuit of]
honor.”
The word s’eis, is a cognate
of the words for “exalted” and
“pride.” Sapachas is related
to the Hebrew word s’fiach-
after growth, which suggests
something that goes beyond
what is necessary. It can also
be rendered as “lust,” denoting
an excessive desire. Baheres
is related to the word bo’eres-
burning (the Hebrew letters
Hei and Ayin are both guttural
sounds and can be interchanged).
This term alludes to the “envy”
which can burn in one’s bones,
as is stated in Proverbs (14:30):
“…envy is the rottenness of the
bones.”
Hence the skin lesions s’eis,
sapachas and baheres parallel
the vices of pride, lust and
envy, which, as stated in the
abovementioned quote from
Ethics of the Fathers, “drive a
person from this world.”
We can now understand the
connection between tzaraas
and slander. When a person
is consumed with envy, lust
and pursuit of honor he will
eventually confront people who
block him from realizing his
nefarious goals. The person
driven so will resort to slander to
neutralize his opposition.
The remedy for these moral
afflictions is to consult Aaron the
priest or a Torah scholar, who
will help the person uproot these
three negative traits.
THE HOLY METZORA
In Chassidic thought, the
person afflicted with tzaraas
was generally a very righteous
person. Tzaraas is understood
as the righteous person’s subtle
imperfections being expelled from
the body and which show up as
lesions on the skin. In contrast,
those who were far less righteous
would internalize and absorb
their negativity. The appearance
of lesions for a righteous person
thus was a sign of an allergy to
evil which manifested on the
skin as a result of his system’s
inability to assimilate nega-tivity
(pun intended). Indeed, the first
two people afflicted with tzaraas,
mentioned explicitly in the Torah,
PARSHA THOUGHT
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were Moses and Miriam, two of
the holiest people that ever lived!
Moreover, the Moshiach, the
ultimate Jewish leader is also
described in the Talmud as one
who suffers from tzaraas!
This imagery is intended to
convey the idea that right before
the Messianic Age all evil will
have been expunged. All the
evil that we presently see is skin
deep, whereas the positive energy
accumulated over thousands of
years of good deeds performed
run deep beneath the surface.
We are presently in that tzaraas
mode.
In light of this different/
positive approach to tzaraas
how do we explain the three
characteristics that are
allegorically represented by the
terms associated with tzaraas:
envy-s’eis, lust-sapachas and
honor-baheres?
In truth, every negative
characteristic has a positive
counterpart. This notion is based
on Ecclesiastes (7:14): “G-d has
created one thing opposite the
other.” Every vice is countered by
a parallel virtue.
If envy, lust and pursuit of
honor are destructive forces
that “drive a person from this
world,” there are kosher and
even righteous forms of envy,
lust and honor that empower
us to transcend the concealing
[olam-world is connected to
the word helem-concealment]
and conventional aspects of the
world.
What are the positive forms of
envy, lust and honor?
KOSHER ENVY
The Talmud (Bava Basra
21a) states that it is permissible
to set up a competing school to
teach Torah to children even if
it may cause financial loss to the
other school. The basis for this
leniency, the Talmud sums up
in a few words: “The jealousy
of scribes increases wisdom.”
When one is jealous of another’s
positive achievements, it
motivates him or her to emulate
and exceed the other. This will
lead to increased knowledge and
goodness.
In the mystical tradition
“kosher” envy is more than just
permissible; it is indeed seen
as a totally positive experience.
Moreover, the source of jealousy
has deep roots in the soul of
humanity.
Proverbs (14:30) states: “A
tranquil heart is the life of the
flesh; but envy is the rottenness
of the bones.” The Talmud
(Shabbos 152b) cites this verse
and elaborates: “Whoever has
envy in his heart his bones will
rot; whoever has no envy in his
heart his bones will not rot.” The
Talmud construes this to mean
that even after death the body of
one who is devoid of envy will
not experience decomposition.
The Rebbe (Toras Menachem
volume 26 p. 37) focuses on the
word bones, in Hebrew-atzamos,
which is related to the word
atzmus-essence. Envy affects
one’s bones, the essence of the
body. By extension, envy also
touches and degrades the essence
of one’s soul. If, however, the
envy is kosher it leads us to set
higher goals, touches our essence
and activates it in a positive vein.
In the terminology of Kabbala,
as elucidated by the Tzemach
Tzedek (the third Lubavitcher
Rebbe in his work, Or HaTorah,
Parshas VaYeitzei), envy is the
expression of the Divine energy
vested within the lower worlds
desiring to rise to the higher,
more G-dly, world. The Torah
relates that Rachel was jealous
of her older sister Leah. Leah
represented and embodied the
higher letter Hei of G-d’s name,
whereas Rachel was connected
to the lower letter Hei of G-d’s
name. In the time of exile the
lower Hei is dominant and the
Jewish soul is envious of the time
when the higher level Hei will be
fully revealed.
Hence, in the present day,
as we stand on the threshold
of the Redemption and are in a
state of tzaraas, as mentioned
above, we should encourage the
positive and holy envy to drive
us out of the stifling atmosphere
of this world and into the days of
Redemption.
THE KOSHER
FORM OF LUST
Lust is generally viewed as a
negative because it involves over-
indulgence in the sensual aspects
of life. Notwithstanding the very
positive dimension of intimacy
in the context of marriage, lust
crosses the line.
Marriage and intimacy are
themselves metaphors for the
true and ultimate intimacy that
we seek with G-d. Indeed,
the entire Biblical Book Shir
HaShirim-the Song of Songs


Today’s hedonistic tendency of society is a
reminder that we will soon experience true
desire and bliss with the imminent coming of Moshiach.
And if that is what the near future holds in store for us
why not begin now by becoming a spiritual “hedonist?”
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PARSHA THOUGHT
921_bm_eng_BRM.indd 22 2014-03-24 10:55:50 PM
describes the reciprocal love
affair between Israel and G-d
(and was therefore designated
by Rabbi Akiva as the “Holy of
Holies” of Biblical literature).
Hence, lust in the form of the
passionate desire for the greatest
intimacy with G-d is desirable
and will come to fruition in the
Messianic Age.
As we stand on the threshold
of the Messianic Age we should
recognize that today’s hedonistic
tendency of society is a reminder
that we will soon experience
true desire and bliss with the
imminent coming of Moshiach.
And if that is what the near
future holds in store for us why
not begin now by becoming a
spiritual “hedonist?”
THE KOSHER
FORM OF HONOR
The pursuit of honor and
glory is a vice which can also
be turned into a virtue. The
obsession some have with seeking
honor originates from the soul’s
passion to introduce G-d’s honor
and glory to the world. Ethics
of the Fathers (6:11) states: “All
that the Holy One, Blessed is He,
Created in His world, He created
only for His glory,” as is stated in
Isaiah (43:7): “All that is called by
My name, for My glory I created
it, formed it and made it.”
The soul’s desire for
generating G-d’s glory in this
world often gets confused
with the Animal Soul’s selfish
interests, which misinterprets the
signal from the G-dly Soul as a
desire for honor of self.
GO TO AARON
To illustrate the heightened
state of consciousness related
to tzaraas, we must turn to
Aaron. He was consumed with
love for his fellow and in whose
heart burned intense passion for
G-d. We should “envy” him and
emulate his manner of speech
and action.
This should be followed by
developing a kosher “lust” and
passionate desire to get closer
to G-d. To achieve this too we
must be brought to Aaron and his
sons, whose passion for G-d was
legendary.
And, finally, we must not be
content with satisfying our own
desire for spiritual growth as
suggested by the first two traits
of positive envy and passion.
We must also strive to satisfy
G-d’s desire to have a “dwelling
place” in this physical realm,
and reveal His glory to the entire
world. Towards this end we
must also follow the example of
Aaron and his sons, whose lives
were devoted to bringing the
Divine presence into the Beis
HaMikdash. We must create our
own miniature Sanctuaries in our
homes and communities.
h j h t s u b h b u n u r b u u r c b u n k l v n a h j k g u k o u g s
CHI TAS
INYONEI GEULA
& MOSHIACH
RAMBAM
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SICHOS KODESH
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MILITARY
SHLICHUS
As a senior military
chaplain, R’ Yaakov
Shmueli was very
involved in mivtzaim
and was a big help to
shluchim who worked
with IDF soldiers. * The
story of an offcer in the
army (of the Rebbe).
By Shneur Zalman Berger
O
ne year, a few days
before Purim, the
weather forecasters
predicted a storm in
the north for Purim. Nevertheless,
R’ Yaakov Shmueli, military
chaplain, decided not to forgo the
traditional Purim mivtzaim. He left
his home in Rechovot on Taanis
Esther and spent Purim night in
Tzfas. The next day he left with
some men from Kiryat Chabad,
loaded down with dozens of boxes
of mishloach manos. They boarded
a commercial vehicle and set out
on a long route throughout the
Golan Heights.
“Wherever we went, we were
welcomed with great respect,” he
recalls.
At some bases, a minyan was
organized for the Torah reading
and the reading of the Megilla. At
each army post they distributed
mishloach manos.
The weather wasn’t good.
Visibility was limited, the roads
were slick and they had to
drive very slowly. Yet, nobody
considered forgoing a single
soldier.
If that wasn’t enough, in
the afternoon it began to snow.
Despite it all, they managed to
reach all the soldiers in the area.
Then their vehicle got stuck in
the snow. The sun had almost set
when one of the men took out a
loaf of bread he had brought with
him. They washed their hands
with melted snow and began
their Purim meal on a highway
somewhere in the Golan.
It took hours until a military
half-track arrived and extricated
them. They continued their
Purim meal when they arrived in
Tzfas late at night.
That is one of many episodes
that demonstrates the energetic
commitment of R’ Yaakov
Shmueli, a high ranking military
chaplain, who worked tirelessly
on the Rebbe’s campaigns and
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PROFILE
921_bm_eng_BRM.indd 24 2014-03-24 10:55:51 PM
his shlichus to bring Judaism
and the wellsprings to tens of
thousands of soldiers during his
years of service.
A TWO HOUR WALK
TO HEAR THE REBBE
R’ Yaakov Shmueli grew
up on moshav Beit Yehoshua
near Netanya. His parents, who
emigrated from Russia, belonged
to the Mizrachi movement.
In his younger years he felt
drawn to the ultra-Orthodox and
was friendly with religious Jews
who came to the moshav’s guest
house. Over the years, he related
more to those groups that are
more open to the broader public
and help them. This led him to
Lubavitch.
“In Netanya I saw the Chabad
Chassidim doing Mivtza T’fillin.
I heard a lot about Chabad
who are mekarev Jews in such
a welcoming way. I started
attending Tanya classes at the
Chabad house in Netanya. One
of the maggidei shiur was R’
Menachem Wolpo, a shliach in
Netanya. I was particularly drawn
to the live broadcasts of the Rebbe
that took place at night and
toward morning. I would listen to
them in Netanya and sometimes
in Kfar Chabad. I remember one
time when the broadcast began
late at night. There was no public
transportation and I walked for
two hours from my home in Beit
Yehoshua to Netanya.”
His brother Efraim also
became connected to Chabad
after immigrating to the US.
When R’ Yaakov finished his
army service, he went to visit his
brother in New York and took the
opportunity to visit 770.
“I saw the Rebbe for the first
time and immediately felt that
this was my place. I continued
to spend time in 770. I learned
Chassidus and got more and
A group picture of the military chaplains. R’ Shmueli is standing fourth from the right.
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more involved until I joined the
talmidim on K’vutza with whom I
learned for about a year.”
When he returned from
K’vutza he took a job teaching
in the vocational school in Kfar
Chabad where he worked for
six years. During this period, he
married his wife Rochel.
From the vocational school he
moved on to becoming principal
of the Chabad schools in
Rechovot. By then, he was deeply
rooted in Chabad.
SHLICHUS IN THE ARMY
After a few years of civilian
life, R’ Shmuel returned to
the army, this time as an army
chaplain. He took a course for
the chaplaincy as part of his
reserve duty. Then he received
offers from commanders who
asked him to become a military
chaplain on a permanent basis.
“The first one to ask me was
the personnel commander in
the military chaplaincy. He even
recommended me to the Chief
Rabbi of the IDF. I was unsure
because I knew that military
service entails difficulties; on
the other hand, I knew that in
addition to my job I would be
able to do a lot of mivtzaim
among the soldiers. I asked the
Rebbe and after receiving his
positive answer, I signed up for
service as a military chaplain.”
R’ Shmueli was sent for an
interview with the commander
of the Nachal unit. After various
questions the commander said,
“You know that even the officers
in Nachal sleep in tents?”
“I know.”
“How will you manage?”
“Our ancestors also slept in
tents,” was his reply.
The commander did not
accept this answer. “Our
ancestors slept in tents but what
about you?”
“I am ready for any task
assigned to me,” he said tersely
and was immediately accepted.
R’ Shmueli knew he would
have to be away from home for
weeks on end, far from his wife
and children, but he also knew
that he had received the Rebbe’s
bracha for this important job.
“I arrived at the camp in
the Golan Heights where I was
assigned a tent. Despite the
many hardships I experienced
during my service which lasted
twenty-six years, I was able to
accomplish a lot and hopefully
give the Rebbe nachas.”
What was your role as rav?
“My roles were many and
varied. I supervised the kashrus,
the maintenance of the shuls,
Shabbos and holiday observance,
marriage, a long list of things.


I asked them whether they have the Dalet
minim and they said they did. “We have grapes,
dates, pomegranates, and other fruits,” they said. I was
astounded by their ignorance.
On the way to New York (on the left)
“What does the Rebbe say?” asked
the commander of the Arava
Regional Brigade (left)
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PROFILE
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A special project had to do with
religious soldiers. I made sure
they could receive kosher food
with the required kashrus and
arranged minyanim and Shabbos
and Yom Tov meals in distant
places.”
R’ Shmueli did many other
things for the soldiers in the
unit. Under him there were
four military rabbis who were in
charge of the soldiers of Nachal,
who were spread throughout the
country in bases and outposts
that were far from one another.
Although there were other
military rabbis and chaplains who
were acting rabbis in the field,
he did not relax at the command
base. He circulated among the
bases, outposts and positions
throughout the country.
“I loved talking to the soldiers
and taking care of their needs.
I believe that in a face to face
conversation you can be mekarev
a soldier more readily and enter
his heart.
“Along with the connection
with the soldiers, I forged a
special relationship with officers
and senior commanders. At
meetings with officers and
commanders, I would begin with
a d’var Torah. If at first I thought
that I was talking while they were
occupied with their matters, the
following story proves otherwise.
“I once started a meeting with
a d’var Torah, as usual, when the
unit commander stopped me and
said, ‘You said that last year.’
That made me realize that you
cannot know what impact you are
making. I couldn’t believe that
this most senior commander was
listening and even remembered
the divrei Torah. Of course, most
of the divrei Torah were based on
the Rebbe’s sichos.”
How did you combine
mivtzaim with your military
duties?
“Those were 26 years of
mivtzaim. Mivtza T’fillin was
something I did daily with many
soldiers and commanders.
Needless to say, I was also
involved with Mivtza Kashrus,
Mivtza Mezuza, Mivtza Bayis
Malei S’farim, and so on. These
are part of the usual activities of
a military chaplain but I put a
special emphasis on them.”
R’ Shmueli instilled the aspect
of mivtzaim in his son at a young
age. During Chol HaMoed
Sukkos, while most people are
going on outings and having fun,
he would take his young son Itzik
Receiving a bottle of mashke from the Rebbe
With then Commander of the Southern Command Matan Vilnai
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and go to military bases and posts
on the borders. They enabled
thousands of soldiers to do the
mitzvos of the Dalet minim and
sukka.
“One time, I went to the
Nachal settlement Eli Yam in the
south and I met young soldiers
there who were happy to see me.
I asked them whether they have
the Dalet minim and they said
they did. “We have grapes, dates,
pomegranates, and other fruits,”
they said. I was astounded by
their ignorance. “And do you
have a sukka?” I asked. They
said yes and showed me an old,
fabric tent. Then and there we
built a kosher sukka together.
“The commanders did not
understand where I got the
strength for such dedicated work
with the soldiers. Until today,
I can picture the expression on
a commander’s face when he
saw me coming with doughnuts
and bringing joy to the soldiers.
‘Since when does a military
chaplain visit such an out of
the way post? Are you being
punished for something?’ he
asked suspiciously.”
For three years, R’ Shmueli
served as the rabbi of the Nachal
unit until he was transferred
to the Armored Corps. The
job changed but the distance
from home did not. The corps
command center was in the
Golan Heights and during
training he moved south with the
soldiers.
CELEBRATING PESACH
IN THE MILITARY
The Shmueli family cannot
forget Pesach night in the
military. “For many years we
held a seder in the military mess
hall which was very hard,” they
say. “People were jealous of us
because we did not have to do
any preparations, but they did
not realize that we prepared the
food at home and ate it later
without it being heated up. This
was because although the military
kitchen was kosher for Pesach,
it did not meet our stringencies.
And taking little children to the
Golan Heights and sleeping there
in military quarters ...”
R’ Shmueli did not suffice
with a typical military seder. The
very first year on the job in the
Armored Corps, he convinced
the corps commander, General
Shlomo Yanai, to make a special
event. He suggested inviting the
chief military chaplain with the
chaplaincy choir and the chief
military chazan.
He promised the general,
“Our seder will be of a different
quality. The soldiers will enjoy it
and learn a lot.”
“I will never forget that seder.
The chief military chaplain
ran the seder accompanied by
the chief military chazan and
the chaplaincy choir. It was
enormously successful.”
THE OFFICERS THIRSTED
FOR INFORMATION FROM
THE REBBE
From the Armored Corps, R’
Shmueli transferred to the Arava
region after being appointed
as rabbi of the Arava Regional
Brigade. His jurisdiction was the
Jordanian border, from the Dead
Sea until Eilat. The command
base was near Merkaz Sapir in
the Central Arava region, the area
where R’ Yosef Karasik serves as
the rav and shliach.
The (first) Gulf War began a
short while later. As a Lubavitcher
Chassid, he publicized the
Rebbe’s message that Eretz
Yisroel is the safest place and
“the time for your redemption
has arrived.” He spoke about this
to soldiers and commanders.
“The desire to hear the
Rebbe’s reassuring words was
tremendous,” he recalls. “It was
most intense the day after the
first Scud missiles landed in Eretz
Yisroel. That day, the commander
of the Arava Regional Brigade
came to my office and worriedly
asked, ‘What does the Rebbe
say? What will happen now? Will
Israel be harmed by the war?’
“I thought I was dreaming. I
knew this commander and knew
that he was very far from any
religious observance. He always
preferred keeping his distance
from the military chaplain. Of
course I told him that Eretz
Yisroel is the safest place and this
was part of the portents of the
imminent Geula.
“During those tense times,
many commanders who met me
during the course of patrols and
meetings, wanted to know what
the Rebbe says. Although this
was publicized in the media, the
commanders wanted every bit
of information they could get
from the Rebbe. I saw how the
nation is eager for the Rebbe’s
leadership, the responsible
leadership of a Nasi. I gave much
thought to the importance of my
shlichus in the army, to bring the
Rebbe’s message to the Israeli
soldiers and commanders.”
In his various positions,
R’ Shmueli opened doors that
had been closed to Chabad
Chassidim. Chassidim visited
every base and post under his
jurisdiction.
WRITING TO THE REBBE
After the Gulf War, the army
focused its attention on studying
the lessons to be learned from the
conflict. Their main conclusion
was the need to establish a
Home Front Command that
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PROFILE
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would coordinate all rearguard
emergency efforts in a time of
war. In the wake of that decision,
R’ Shmueli was transferred to
serve as district chaplain of the
Southern Region of the Home
Front Command, and later to the
Central Region command center
where he was placed in charge of
dealing with the bodies of soldiers
who fell in the line of duty.
In recent years there have
been hardly any military
fatalities in the center of the
country, right?
“Boruch Hashem, correct,
but there were times when
they prepared for a worst case
scenario. Saddam provided us
with a lot of work. Plans were
made and they trained many
soldiers while I was also busy
with Mivtza T’fillin, Mivtza
Mezuza, etc.”
R’ Shmueli also started
promoting writing to the Rebbe
through the Igros Kodesh. With
this too, he saw how eager people
are to hear what the Rebbe has to
say.
“It started with a soldier who
asked me for a bracha since I
am a rabbi. I suggested that he
write to the Rebbe. He opened
the Igros to an amazing answer.
This became known among the
soldiers and commanders in the
camp and more soldiers came
who wanted to write.
“One day, when I entered
the mess hall, some officers
approached me and said, ‘We
heard stories about you. We will
come and visit you in your office
after lunch.’ I nervously asked
them what this was about. They
thought I was playing dumb and
said, ‘You know … everyone is
talking about it.’
“When they came to my
office they said they heard about
writing to the Rebbe and they
also wanted to write. I explained
to them what a Rebbe is and how
you write using the Igros, and
about the good hachlata you need
to make first. They wrote to the
Rebbe and opened to answers
and brachos.
“We had an officer here who
wanted to be promoted but did
not get a promotion. She wanted
to write to the Rebbe about this.
As she poured out her heart, she
added that she was married for
years without having children.
I suggested that she write about
everything on her mind. She
did so and received a bracha.
A few days later she asked for
a promotion once again, and
her boss surprisingly agreed
and recommended her for
higher positions. Her series of
promotions ended with the birth
of a daughter.”
***
R’ Shmueli concluded his
story with a great miracle that
happened to him on 4 Kislev
5748 (November 25, 1987)
on what became known as the
“Night of the Gliders.”
A terrorist from Lebanon
entered the country with a
motorized hang glider. He
landed near the Gibor army camp
and immediately went to the
entrance of the base. He hurled
grenades and sprayed automatic
fire at the sentry, who panicked
and ran away, allowing him free
entry into the encampment. He
then fired his AK-47 and threw
grenades into tents being used
by Israeli soldiers, killing six
and wounding ten, but was then
shot and killed by an Israeli
soldier (the battalion cook and a
graduate of the vocational school
in Kfar Chabad) who had been
wounded.
R’ Shmueli was one of the
officers on the premises:
“Bullets sliced into the tents
and it was a big miracle that most
of the soldiers on base were not
hurt. Right after the shooting, I
went to my office which was in
one of the tents to see if there was
any damage. I discovered that a
bullet had passed through a metal
filing cabinet, continued past
the spot where I usually sit and
penetrated a Tanach. It was a big
miracle that I wasn’t sitting in my
office at the time of the shooting.
I’m telling you this because the
Rebbe said to publicize miracles
for this hastens the Geula.”
Running a Zaka training session at Ben Gurion Airport
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AN ENTIRE
COMMUNITY
UNDER ARREST
“During the interrogation, all were seen to have
outstanding abilities, answering the questions
like idiots who did not know a thing and did
not even understand what they were asked”
– a quote from the prosecution fle against
the members of the Tzemach Tzedek k’hilla
who were arrested 84 years ago in Leningrad-
Petersburg * The full story of the arrests which
led to the collapse of the k’hilla.
By Shneur Zalman Berger
84
years have passed
since rough
knocks at the
door cut short the
lives of the heads of the Tzemach
Tzedek k’hilla in Leningrad. It was
the beginning of Teves 5690/1930
when, within a few days, members
of the GPU arrested R’ Shimon
Lazarov, the rav of the Chabad
community in Leningrad, R’
Nissan Nemanov, the menahel
of the local Yeshivas Tomchei
T’mimim, and other askanim and
talmidim of the yeshiva. Leningrad
was in an uproar.
The full story of the Tzemach
Tzedek k’hilla, which collapsed
because of these arrests, along
with the story of the arrest and
exile of the members of the k’hilla,
was told for the first time in a book
called Toldos Chabad b’Peterburg.
The book was published by Kehos
at the initiative of R’ Menachem
Mendel Pevsner, shliach and chief
rabbi in Petersburg/Leningrad.
The author of the book, R’
Shneur Zalman Berger, known
to the readers of Beis Moshiach
for his historical research, toiled
to locate testimony, documents,
newspaper clippings, and pictures
associated with the Chabad
history in the capitol city of the
Russian monarchy where the
Rebbe Rayatz lived and was
arrested.
THE REBBE OPPOSES A
PUBLIC GATHERING
The members of the
Yevsektzia, the Jewish department
of the communist party, knew
that the Rebbe Rayatz operated
an underground network of
chadarim and yeshivos and
encouraged Soviet Jewry, and his
Chassidim in particular, not to
abandon Jewish tradition but to
step up activities to learn Torah,
build mikvaos, have minyanim,
etc.
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They wanted to halt the
growing Jewish activities but
were afraid to take the drastic
step of overt action against the
Rebbe out of fear that it would
generate a sharp reaction on the
part of Soviet Jewry or outsiders
who were, in any case, protesting
the abrogation of rights of Soviet
citizens.
In order to intensify the
pressure, the Yevsektzia acted
deviously. They came up with a
“rabbinic convention” whose goal
was to bring important rabbis
together, under government
supervision, and to force them
to make resolutions that would
constrain the Jewish-Chassidic
activities in the Soviet Union.
They planned the convention
clandestinely and in a devious
fashion and tried to obtain the
Rebbe Rayatz’s approval of it.
In midsummer 1925, the
director of the Jewish community,
Mr. Lev Gurewitz, went to the
Rebbe to ask him about holding a
public meeting of all the rabbanim
and heads of communities in the
Soviet Union. The Rebbe was
adamantly opposed to a public
meeting such as this. He said it
was preferable for rabbanim and
askanim to meet secretly. The
Rebbe knew that the Yevsektzia
was behind this initiative, which
is why he opposed it even though
R’ Dovid Katzenelenbogen, the
rav of Leningrad, was in favor of
the convention.
One of the members of the
council called for making the
Jewish religion more attractive to
members of the Komsomol (the
communist youth movement)
by making religious reforms.
Rumors abounded that the
education committee of the
Leningrad Jewish k’hilla planned
on forming secret houses of
worship in which they would pray
from Reform siddurim and that
the children’s curriculum would
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include the New Testament!
A few days later, another
representative of the k’hilla, Mr.
Shachnowitz, went to visit the
Rebbe. He suggested that the
Rebbe join the k’hilla with the
precondition that when it came to
accepting resolutions regarding
religion, the Rebbe’s opinion
would be taken into account. The
Rebbe dismissed this suggestion
too, since it was obvious to him
that the plan did not seek to
enhance traditional Judaism.
THE RESIGNATION
Within a short time, the
difference of opinion became
known and the k’hilla in
Leningrad was in turmoil.
Religiously observant Jews
sided with the Rebbe while the
Zionists and Maskilim sided
with the heads of the k’hilla.
There were 23 members in the
leadership of the k’hilla; ten
were mitzva observant. At this
point, any subject that came up
immediately turned into a fiery
debate between the ten religious
members and the thirteen who
were Zionists and Maskilim.
And while the thirteen publicly
preached about strengthening
Judaism, they secretly tried to
institute far-reaching reforms.
At the end of Cheshvan
5686, the ten religious members
resigned with much fanfare from
the leadership of the k’hilla. On
Shabbos, 5 Kislev, the ten men
went to the shuls of Leningrad
with each of them visiting several
shuls and calling upon all those
who feared G-d to come to a big
meeting that would be held in the
big shul on Sunday at ten in the
morning.
At the appointed time, the
shul was full and a representative
of the ten men began to speak,
his voice trembling with emotion.
He said the ten had been elected
by the k’hilla, but now, when the
director of the k’hilla and some
of the members wanted to hold
a joint meeting with irreligious
elements, the ten of them decided
to resign.
When he finished speaking,
many voices were heard in
support of their decision and
out of the ten who resigned, a
committee for a new k’hilla was
immediately elected. Money was
raised and a list of regulations
was drawn up which said that
only those who observed mitzvos
would be considered as members
of the k’hilla.
R’ Shimon Lazarov, rav
of the Chabad community in
Leningrad, started a new, official
k’hilla. Any major question
regarding the k’hilla was asked of
the Rebbe and every Sunday, all
the gabbaim of the Chassidishe
minyanim throughout the
city met in the beis midrash.
Together, they made plans about
the establishment of chadarim,
the running of the mikva and the
organizing of small factories for
those who kept Shabbos so they
could work without desecrating
the Shabbos.
Despite all the persecution
and the closing of shuls, the
heads of the k’hilla were given
a partially demolished two
story building, on the corner of
Vostanya and Zhukovsky Streets.
The Chassidim put much money
and effort into renovating the
building and on 15 Kislev 5628
they celebrated a Chanukas Beis
HaKnesses.
THE YESHIVA
The most important work
of the k’hilla was the founding
of Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim,
a Chabad yeshiva in which only
about twenty talmidim learned,
but they breathed new life into
the Chabad activities on behalf
of Judaism and Chassidus in
Leningrad.
The underground branch of
Tomchei T’mimim in Leningrad
was founded following the
closing of the yeshiva in the
town of Nevel. The mashpia,
R’ Nissan Nemanov, and some
of the talmidim, escaped from
Nevel and moved to Leningrad. A
branch of the yeshiva opened in
the Chabad shul on 128 Nevsky
Avenue.
The yeshiva moved from 128
Nevsky Avenue to the shul on
55 Ligovka Street, and finally
ended up in the Tzemach Tzedek
R’ Shimon Lazarov, rav of the
Chabad k’hilla, may Hashem avenge
his blood
R’ Lazarov’s letterhead
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shul. This was with the help
of the rav, R’ Lazarov and the
chairman of the k’hilla, R’ Berke
Yasnagrovsky.
BEARDED YOUTH
LEARNING
The cream of Chabad learned
in the Tomchei T’mimim branch
in Leningrad. If you walked
into the yeshiva you would have
seen bearded youth diligently
learning and davening as though
communism hadn’t taken over
the country. The bachurim did
much to strengthen the Jews of
Leningrad and to help many keep
the Torah and go in the ways of
Chassidus. One way they did
this was through Chassidishe
farbrengens that took place now
and then with the participation of
the bachurim and men from the
city.
The talmidim ate the lunch
and supper meals in a room
located at the Yaffe family’s
home on 10 Relayev Street. Mrs.
Rochel Yaffe prepared the meals
every day. This house was also
the address for donations for
the yeshiva. Much money was
needed in order to sustain the
talmidim and staff, and generous
people would send donations to
the yeshiva. In order to disguise
what it was, the donations were
addressed to a different talmid
each time but the address was
always the Yaffe’s.
The prying eyes that
constantly followed the
Chassidim noticed the flow of
donations and figured out the
meaning of the daily trek to the
dining room. In the end, the evil
ones were able to discover the
deeds of many of the heads of
the k’hilla, roshei yeshiva and
talmidim, and a wave of arrests
began.
During the years that the
Rebbe Rayatz lived in Leningrad,
large farbrengens took place
in his house. Once he left the
city, R’ Chaim Yehoshua Refael
Gurary, nicknamed Folik,
donated his relatively spacious
house as a meeting place for the
scholars and Chabad Chassidim.
A kiddush took place in his
house every Shabbos, which
served primarily to strengthen the
brotherly bond of the Chassidim,
as well as a place where they
talked and advised one another
about how to survive; they
consulted regarding parnasa,
guided one another in how to
save their children from public
school, and encouraged one
another to continue cleaving to
the path of Torah and Chassidus
despite the enormous difficulties.
The GPU saw that R’ Folik
was an active Chassid and
perhaps the “angels of death”
also knew that he was a brother
to the Rebbe’s son-in-law, and
they arrested him and sent him
to Siberia. When he returned, he
was afraid for his life and he hid
in the home of R’ Eliezer Karasik,
his cousin through marriage, and
other places.
ARREST INSTEAD OF
LATKES
Avrohom Shlomo Patshin,
one of the talmidim in the
underground Chabad yeshiva
in Leningrad, lit the Chanuka
menorah in his home on 26
Charsinsky Street. The small
flames illuminated the house and
then went out a few hours later.
R’ Asher Sasonkin R’ Nissan Nemanov R’ Nachum Zalman Gurewitz
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The persecution and tzaros on
the one hand, and the Leningrad
freezing cold on the other, did
not prevent Avrohom Shlomo and
his mother from celebrating the
holiday. A little after midnight,
his mother began preparing
latkes. That is precisely when
knocks were heard at the door.
When she asked who was there,
the response was a curt order to
open the door. She opened the
door, and there stood members
of the GPU armed and prepared
with a search warrant.
The GPU were experts at
their work and for four hours
they conducted a thorough
search in which they found
Chassidic writings and other
“incriminating” evidence. They
asked for a sack in which to
pack the suspicious items they
had found, and told the shocked
Avrohom Shlomo to follow
them to the infamous Spalerka
prison “where they will tell you
everything.”
He was taken through an
iron gate and then went through
another gate, one room following
another until he arrived in a large
hall and was asked to fill out a
form. At this point he received
a tremendous shock for he saw
all his fellow talmidim and some
Chassidim. They were all arrested
that same night.
Among the arrested were:
the rav of the k’hilla, R’ Shimon
Lazarov, the mashgiach and
menahel of the yeshiva, R’
Nissan Nemanov, the chairman
of the Chassidic k’hilla, R’ Berke
Yasnagrovsky, the menahel of the
chadarim, R’ Leib Kreinitz, R’
Shimon Dovber Lifshitz – one
of the distinguished Chassidim,
and the talmidim of the yeshiva:
Avrohom Shlomo Patshin, Asher
Sasonkin, Nachum Zalman
Gurewitz, Zalman Gurary,
Gershon Eliezer Lazarov, and
Tzvi Hirsch Malchik.
Aside from them, R’
Shmaryahu Mekler – a
distinguished Lubavitcher
Chassid in the city, and Mrs.
Rochel Yaffe who ran the
yeshiva’s dining room, were also
interrogated.
We do not have many details
about how the wave of arrests
took place, but as Chassidim
tell it, while Avrohom Shlomo
was arrested as he celebrated
Chanuka, his friend Asher
Sasonkin was sleeping when the
GPU knocked at his door, and R’
Nissan Nemanov was arrested as
he walked down the street.
HOW THEY MOCKED THEIR
INTERROGATORS
The interrogations were
extremely difficult and included
degradation and torture. All
those arrested underwent many
interrogations. But despite
the pressure and torture,
they managed to mock their
interrogators again and again.
Even when they had to admit to
things because of proof presented
to them, they did so only partially
and in exceedingly clever ways.
They did all they could to reduce
the “serious crimes” from
themselves and their peers.
For example, the interrogators
knew good and well that R’
Lazarov was the head of the
Tzemach Tzedek k’hilla and
that he was the one who enabled
the existence of the yeshiva in
the shul where he served as rav.
But he had an entirely different
version:
“I wasn’t pleased about this
yeshiva and I certainly did not
take an interest in it. I could not
expel the students from the shul,
nor did I think it was my job to
do so since I have no connection
whatsoever with the running of
the yeshiva,” he said. He added
that he did not know the talmidim
by name, perhaps just by face. He
saw R’ Nissan sitting at a table
separate from the talmidim and
did not know whether there was
a connection between him and
the talmidim.
In another interrogation,
apparently after he was shown
that the interrogators knew
more about the yeshiva than
he realized, he said he opposed
the yeshiva and even censured
R’ Nissan for learning with the
talmidim, but R’ Nissan did not
listen to him.
At first, R’ Nissan also denied
the allegations and said he did
not know what a yeshiva is, but
the secret police knew his role
in running the yeshiva in Nevel
and Leningrad. When they
showed him that they knew of
his activities in recent years, he
said that he learned in Nevel but
did not teach, and he went to
Leningrad in order to find work.
In the end, he began teaching just
seven talmidim in the Tzemach
Tzedek shul.
What “parnasa” did he find
in the city? He said he did not
receive money from R’ Lazarov
or from Shmaryahu Mekler but
from other Jews who came to
pray in the shul. Thus, he shifted


“Members of the Tzemach Tzedek organization
in Leningrad are now the nucleus upon which
leans the entire Chassidic movement throughout the
country.”
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the financing of the yeshiva to
anonymous people.
R’ Berke Yasnagrovsky
claimed he did not know about
the yeshiva even though he saw
individual talmidim coming to
the shul. And he saw R’ Nissan
“coming infrequently” but did
not know a yeshiva existed there.
The talmidim Asher Sasonkin,
Tzvi Hirsch Malchik, Avrohom
Shlomo Patshin and Gershon
Eliezer Lazarov declared that
they went to the shul only to
pray and they did not learn in a
yeshiva.
Zalman Gurary who was
very active in the yeshiva and
in the city in general, told the
interrogators that he learned
in Nevel, but claimed that he
had never heard of a yeshiva
in Leningrad and out of all the
talmidim he only knew Lazarov.
Why did he admit to knowing
Lazarov? Because it would have
been ridiculous to claim he did
not know the son of the rav of
the Chabad k’hilla. But when
it came to the other talmidim
he denied any association with
them. This was even though he
was apparently told that he had
to know them whether from
Leningrad or from the period in
which he studied with some of
them in Nevel.
What did the interrogators
think of these shenanigans?
The answer is found in the
prosecution file from the
KGB archives, and which was
publicized a few years ago by the
Lazarov family:
“During the interrogation, all
were seen to have outstanding
abilities, to answer the questions
like idiots who did not know
a thing and did not even
understand what they were
asked.”
Tragically, despite the unusual
mesirus nefesh and the uniquely
clever tactics used by all the
arrestees, it turned out that most
of the incriminating material was
prepared ahead of time and the
interrogations were only done in
order to extract more material.
The interrogators were not that
successful but with a crumb here
and a crumb there, along with a
few admissions, they managed
to put together a prosecution
file that tells the story of the
Tzemach Tzedek k’hilla and the
yeshiva in Leningrad.
Word about the arrests spread
widely. Residents of Eretz Yisroel
knew about it from an article
published in a publication called
Shaarei Tziyon: “The latest news
from the Soviet hell is that R’
Lazarov and his son and four
members of the yeshiva were
exiled to the Solovki Islands for
ten years.”
PROSECUTION FILE
In order to explain what the
interrogation was about, let us
open the prosecution file:
“During the interrogations
and the examination of material
that was amassed over the years
since 1929 about the activities of
the Chassidim in the Tzemach
Tzedek organization, which was
founded and supported by the
tzaddik Schneersohn, known for
his anti-Soviet activities, it was
discovered that the most active
activists in the organization
established their strongest branch
in Leningrad.
“The activists of ‘Tzemach
Tzedek’ in Leningrad were also
highly active in this area. They
R’ Tzvi Hirsch Malchik R’ Gershon Eliezer Lazarov R’ Falik Gurary
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set up chadarim and yeshivos
in Leningrad and its environs,
which were attended by youth
from cities all over the Soviet
Union. Aside from disseminating
fanaticism for the purpose of
attracting children and youth to
learn in these schools, the activists
of Tzemach Tzedek disseminated
anti-Soviet propaganda. In
addition to disseminating
religion in the shuls, yeshivos
and chadarim, the organization
also educated religious Jews in
an anti-Soviet spirit. For this
purpose, it received special
financial support which was sent
from abroad through the tzaddik
Schneersohn who was expelled
from the country because of his
anti-Soviet activities. In order
to stop the activities of the
organization, all activists of the
organization were arrested and
taken for interrogation.
“Members of the Tzemach
Tzedek organization in
Leningrad are now the nucleus
upon which leans the entire
Chassidic movement throughout
the country.”
According to the file, the
leaders of the organization and
its top officers knew not only
about the activism in Leningrad
but were also privy to the secret
activities throughout the Soviet
Union. They ran the activities
in Leningrad and also had an
ongoing connection not only
with underground people within
the Soviet Union, in the cities of
Moscow, Rostov, Kremenchug,
Mogilev, and other cities which
have Chassidic communities, but
also with people abroad from
whom they received orders and
financial support.
Aside from the k’hilla and the
shul, the file also describes other
important mosdos:
A yeshiva with twenty
talmidim and its dean, R’
Nemanov; two chadarim run
by R’ Leib Kreinin; a dining
room that serves the talmidim
of the yeshiva run by Rochel
Yaffe; a fund for private loans
(a gemach) given to simple Jews,
run by R’ Lazarov.
At the end of the long list of
charges, there are conclusions
drawn. The following is a
summary:
*All those whose names are
mentioned above stand accused
of membership in the Chassidic
organization Tzemach Tzedek
and were talmidim in the
underground yeshiva. Likewise,
they are accused of disseminating
an anti-Soviet spirit through
their important standing and
their deep connection to religion.
Aside from the serious and
terrible activities in general, the
leadership and the students ran
anti-Soviet propaganda including
printing propaganda tracts.
*All those mentioned above
are accused of being under
fanatic influence, being educated
under strict discipline to operate
clandestinely, and were under
the influence of “tzadikism.”
Therefore, all their activities
were dangerous to society
and therefore, they need to be
punished according to Soviet
law.
*All of them are being charged
under Article 58, the article
concerning treason, whose
maximum penalty is death.
THE SENTENCE
At the end of the list of
charges is the sentence:
Regarding R’ Lazarov and R’
Nemanov it said that they were
very dangerous to Soviet society
and therefore, they should be sent
to a labor camp for a period of
ten years.
R’ Leib Kreinin and R’ Berke
Yasnagrovsky were sentenced to
three years in exile.
The talmidim Zalman Gurary,
Asher Sasonkin, Gershon Eliezer
Lazarov and Tzvi Malchik
were sentenced to be sent to a
faraway location for a period of
three years.
R’ Shimon Dovber Lifshitz
and the talmidim Nachum
Zalman Gurewitz and Avrohom
Shlomo Patshin were sentenced
to “minus six,” which meant that
they were prohibited from living
in six large districts of the Soviet
Union.
After a while, some of
the sentences were reduced.
R’ Lazarov and R’ Nemanov
received three years instead of
ten and Tzvi Malchik’s sentence
was reduced to “minus six.”
What happened to R’
Lazarov?
During the period of these
arrests, the Rebbe Rayatz was on
an extended visit to the United
States, which began at the end of
5689 and ended in the summer of
5790. One of the main purposes
of the visit was wide ranging
activity on behalf of Soviet Jewry.
On this visit, the Rebbe did a
lot for the release of a group of
rabbanim who were arrested in
Minsk, and at that time he wrote
about those imprisoned in Minsk
and Leningrad:
“Regarding the rabbanim in
Minsk, special efforts were made
and thank G-d were successful,
but what shall we do now about
those who were sentenced, R’
Lazarov and his fellows?”
In later years, a document was
publicized with a list of rabbanim
and other figures in the Soviet
Union who received special aid
from a committee of rabbanim
led by the Rebbe Rayatz during
the year 5690. Next to some
of their names it says pei-shin,
acrostic for “pidyon shvuyim,” for
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HISTORY
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those who were exiled. Among
those marked with pei-shin
were some of those arrested in
Leningrad: R’ Shimon Lazarov,
R’ Nissan Nemanov, Zalman
Gurary, Shmaryahu Mekler.
R’ Lazarov was exiled and
died in exile in 5693. When the
sad news reached the Rebbe
Rayatz, he sent a special letter
to R’ Lazarov’s son, Gershon
Eliezer:
“I was shocked to hear
of the terrible tragedy that
occurred with the passing of
your father, ha’Rav ha’Gaon.
May G-d (HaMakom) console
you and strengthen your hearts
to go in his paved path and may
the Father of orphans endow
all of you with an abundance of
blessing (write the names of all
of them and their ages and their
present condition and about
the possibility of considering
Mattos-Massei [code for
emigrating from Russia]).”
REOPENING THE YESHIVA
A year passed since the
wave of arrests and a yeshiva
in Leningrad was reestablished
despite the enormous danger
involved. It followed the closing
of the branch in Vitebsk and
some of the students from that
branch went to Leningrad. They
arrived in the city at the end of
the winter 5691 and after Pesach
they began organized learning.
The yeshiva lasted only until the
winter of 5692. In this group of
talmidim were R’ Yisroel Shimon
Kalmanson, later a shochet in
New York, R’ Nissan Eber, later
a maggid shiur in the Chabad
yeshiva in Tel Aviv and then in
Lud, and R’ Shmarya Feldman,
later the son-in-law of the
Chassid, R’ Yisroel Levin (Yisroel
Neveler).
In the winter of 5692, the
Rebbe Rayatz, who was in
Riga, told them to disperse, set
themselves up with work, and to
try and leave the Soviet Union.
A short while after the yeshiva
closed the Tzemach Tzedek shul
was also closed.
Besides for regular minyanim,
the shul had meetings every
Sunday in which the members
discussed issues with religious
education and strategies to help
those who refused to work on
Shabbos. The government viewed
these meetings as perfidious and
“kept an eye” on the shul while
constantly plotting to undermine
it. At first they succeeded in
removing the Chassidim from
the first floor of the building. The
worshipers protested mightily
but were unable to reinstate
themselves on the first floor. In
the winter of 5692, the board of
the neighborhood council where
the shul was located refused to
extend the rental contract of the
shul.
Complaints from the
community leaders about the
lack of justice on the part of the
council board were to no avail.
Following this decision which, of
course, came from the GPU, the
Leningrad municipality passed a
final resolution to close the shul.
On 9 Adar II 5792 the resolution
was carried out.
That is how the Tzemach
Tzedek Chassidic k’hilla was shut
down by the communists. The
k’hilla came back to life decades
later with the establishment of
a vibrant community led by the
shliach, R’ Menachem Mendel
Pevsner.
The arrest of R’ Lazarov and the talmidim of the yeshiva was publicized in
Shaarei Tziyon, in the Shvat-Adar 5690 issue.
Cover of the book
Issue 921 • 8£l5  HO5MlACM 37
921_bm_eng_BRM.indd 37 2014-03-24 10:55:57 PM
MIVTZAIM EXPERIENCE
By D Chaim
Hi, I’m Berel. Although two weeks
have gone by, I think I can still tell
you about my Purim experience.
Ready?
Purim is a day when we send
mishloach manos to friends
and receive mishloach manos in
return, we make noise in shul
when the Megilla is read, and we
are busy with costumes.
This year, my brother Mendel
made me an interesting offer.
“Berel,” he said to me with a
serious look on his face, “I think
you are old enough already, and
can come with me on mivtzaim
on Purim. What do you think?”
At first I was thrilled. Going
along on mivtzaim with the “big
bachurim,” Mendel’s friends, is
something I had always dreamed
about. But on second thought, I
was unsure.
Won’t I be embarrassed?
What will people think of me?
They would not understand
what a little boy is doing with
the older boys … Aside from
that, was it worth losing out on
all the experiences I usually have,
the nosh that would come to the
house and all the rest?
Mendel saw I was hesitant
and he said, “Think about it and
let me know what you decide so I
can reserve a place for you in the
van.”
What would you advise me
to do? You would probably tell
me to go on mivtzaim, without
thinking twice about it, but it
wasn’t so easy for me to decide.
In the end, as you must have
figured out, I decided to go ahead
in order to give the Rebbe nachas.
Mendel was happy to hear of my
decision and he reserved for me a
place in the van.
Purim arrived and I happily
walked to the van together with
Mendel. All the bachurim were
happy to see me. They enjoyed
the idea of a little boy joining
them and started singing a lively
Purim tune. Our destination was
various army bases where many
soldiers were eagerly waiting to
hear the Megilla and to do the
mitzvos of the day.
As we approached our first
destination, we divided into
teams. At my request, I joined
Mendel, but suddenly problems
arose. “Oy,” Mendel tapped his
forehead as he turned to me. “I
am sorry I did not tell you ahead
of time. You won’t be able to
enter the second base with me
because they do not allow a child
of your age to go in.”
I instantly began regretting
that I had chosen to go on
mivtzaim with Mendel. “That’s
a big brother,” I thought, “who
abandons me?”
“But Berel,” Mendel tried to
reassure me, “it’s okay. You just
won’t be able to enter one base
and instead of that, you will join
another nice team.”
I felt bad even as I joined the
other team. As the gate closed
behind us, one of the bachurim
suddenly said, “This base is
bigger than we thought, and we
cannot reach them all with one
team. What should we do?”
I was deep in thought and
did not notice when the two
38 8£l5  HO5MlACM • 26 Adar II 5774
TZIVOS HASHEM
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bachurim stopped walking. I
walked by myself into the base.
I held a big bag of mishloach
manos and thought longingly of
what was going on at home.
The two bachurim noticed
my absence only when I was no
longer visible. I felt scared. What
should I do? Where would I find
them? Now I was completely
sorry that I had not stayed home.
I sat down on a rock feeling
miserable. Suddenly, I had a
brainstorm. I remembered what
the chubby bachur had said, “We
cannot reach them all with one
team. What should we do?” I
had a responsibility! If I did not
make the rounds of this part of
the base, the soldiers here would
not fulfill the mitzva of mishloach
manos and matanos la’evyonim!
I looked at the bag of
mishloach manos and the coins
for matanos la’evyonim and
wondered, “Can I do it? Maybe
the soldiers won’t pay attention
to me, to a little, shy boy?
But responsibility is
responsibility and I decided to get
to work. The first ones I met was
a pair of soldiers who were sitting
in an odd looking building. “Hi,
Purim Sameiach!” I called out to
them.
“What?” said one to the
other. “Am I seeing straight? A
Chabadnik boy came to give us
mishloach manos? I must get one
from him!”
Their enthusiasm at seeing
me was contagious. I went
over to them happily and gave
them mishloach manos. After
they exchanged it amongst
themselves, I gave them some
coins which they put into a
matanos la’evyonim pushka.
Then the three of us danced. This
scene repeated itself more or less
wherever I went and the soldiers
were very excited.
When I finally returned to the
entrance of the base, I met the
two bachurim. They were very
happy to see me looking happier
than before. When we were back
in the van and I told Mendel what
h a p p e n e d ,
he took out
a sicha from
the Rebbe
and showed
me what
my story
r e m i n d e d
him of.
“ T h e
Rebbe says
that every
Jew, even
a little boy,
has the
responsibility
to bring
the Geula.
S o m e o n e
can think
that he is not
able to and
the responsibility is too much
for him, but even he needs to
know that you cannot shirk the
responsibility. Actually, in a
situation where it is difficult, we
get additional strength to be able
to do the job.
“See Berel?” continued
Mendel enthusiastically, “When
you began taking action, you
were more successful than the
two bachurim who were with
you. So let’s go to the other bases
and together, we will do the job
we were assigned: to prepare the
world to greet Moshiach!”
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Issue 921 • 8£l5  HO5MlACM 39
921_bm_eng_BRM.indd 39 2014-03-24 10:55:57 PM
GROW UP, POLITICIANS
– AND GET TO WORK!
With a little mutual respect and true Ahavas
Yisroel, the national-religious community
would be more connected to us. Rather than
cursing one another, there could be more
outreach activities with this sector, many of
whom identify with the ultra-Orthodox in a
joint effort to neutralize destructive political
forces. However, none of this was done.
They chose instead to focus their energies
on a religious civil war. Anyone who didn’t
conform to the messages conveyed by
Torah Judaism party leaders became an
enemy of the Torah and Judaism.
By Sholom Ber Crombie
Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
1.
What haven’t the ultra-
Orthodox Knesset Members
said during the last few weeks
about their counterparts from
the national religious sector, and
vice versa? One side accuses the
other of treason, while the other
counters with charges of aiding
and abetting the political left.
Curses, scorn, and contempt have
become routine among those
expected to act with leadership.
It seems that everything that
could be said – has been said.
There has never been as deep a
schism between the chareidi and
“knitted kippa” communities as
exists today. The resolute and
wholehearted support of the Bayit
Yehudi Party for the enlistment
law managed to ire the Shas and
Yahadut HaTorah legislators with
unrestrained fury, to the point
that they could no longer hold
their tongues. In the meantime,
most rank-and-file citizens of
Eretz Yisroel are sitting back and
waiting for this storm to pass.
They hope that as cooler heads
prevail, the current partisan
disputes will fail to drag other
sectors into an all-out, no-holds-
barred ideological war.
It would be advisable for
the ultra-Orthodox community
to set up an organized system
for issuing public statements
by rabbanim and askanim.
This would serve as a means of
clearing them before they are
published in the chareidi news
agencies. Meanwhile, the public
at-large wakes up every couple
of days to another barrage of
outrageous imprecations as they
fire their verbal attacks like slings
and arrows.
Their wrath is quite justified.
There can be no rationalization
for the Bayit Yehudi Party’s
steadfast backing of the recently
passed legislation on mandatory
conscription for yeshiva students
with their accompanying criminal
sanctions – a devastating blow to
the soul of the ultra-Orthodox
sector. All the MKs from the
“knitted kippa” party – save for
one honorable soul, MK Yoni
Chetboun – supported the bill
to put Talmudic scholars behind
bars, raising their hands against
this generation’s most prominent
Torah giants.
“What’s the big deal?” asked
people in Bayit Yehudi chairman
Naftali Bennett’s inner circle.
“Half of every ultra-Orthodox
graduating class will have to
enlist, and the yeshivos will just
have to wait a while...” This
novice politician has failed to
understand that when the main
issue at hand is yeshivos – or
“the world of Torah” in chareidi
terminology, this is a red line, just
as uprooting settlements is to the
national religious sector.
In any case, it’s clear that
this struggle could have been
conducted in an entirely different
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CROSSROADS
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manner. With a little mutual
respect and true Ahavas Yisroel,
the national-religious community
would be more connected to us.
Rather than cursing one another,
there could be more outreach
activities with this sector, many
of whom identify with the ultra-
Orthodox in a joint effort to
neutralize destructive political
forces. However, none of this was
done. They chose instead to focus
their energies on a religious civil
war. Anyone who didn’t conform
to the messages conveyed by
Torah Judaism party leaders
became an enemy of the Torah
and Judaism.
2.
This is also the reason why
the tremendous prayer rally in
Yerushalayim, attended by half
a million people, left no real
impression beyond those from the
ultra-Orthodox communities. It’s
now quite clear that the prayer
rally was for internal consumption
– relevant only to chareidim. The
average Israeli watching the rally
felt no connection to the intensity
of the t’fillos emanating from
hundreds of thousands of broken
hearts. Maybe it was the sea
of black seen in the newspaper
headlines and on the television
screen, maybe it was the Yiddish
or Sephardic accented prayer
services. The bottom line is that
the organizers didn’t even try
to gear this rally to the general
public in Eretz Yisroel. If they
had wanted to turn this rally into
an informational event to solicit
greater support among the overall
population, they should have
conducted themselves as did the
settler leaders in Gush Katif.
During the fight to save
Gush Katif, the settler leadership
designed all events for the Israeli
public at-large. An example of this
was the rally attended by tens of
thousands in Kfar Maimon. The
Yesha Council leadership had one
objective: hitting the eight o’clock
evening news and applying all
their efforts from that national
forum. This is also what happened
with the youth in Neve Dekalim
during the implementation of the
disengagement. Reciting Slichos,
taking out the Torah scrolls, the
hysterical prayers of the girls and
young women – all were designed
to reach the Israeli public sitting
at home and bring them to tears.
They tried to arouse their natural
sense of sympathy and turn it into
an emotional feeling of identity.
The organizers of the major
prayer rally in Yerushalayim
against the enlistment law
missed the opportunity to utilize
this effect. They established no
connection between the public
watching at home and the
hundreds of thousands pleading
for their way of life.
3.
During these times, when the
rift within the Jewish People is
growing continually larger, we
as Chabad Chassidim have a vital
role in uniting Am Yisroel around
our holy Torah. “Unity” means
that the Torah truly belongs to
all Jews – without exception.
There is no difference between
the Torah studied by a student in
Ponovezh Yeshiva, a student in
hesder yeshiva, or a young Israeli
coming to a Chabad House for
a shiur in basic principles of
Judaism. The Torah is a Jewish
inheritance and it is the cure for
the split in the Jewish People
today.
While the politicians are
fighting among themselves, each
one seeking to protect his own
Torah, we must create greater
unity with the light of His Torah.
There is no reason why the ultra-
Orthodox politicians fight only
for Yeshivat Chevron and Yeshivat
Slobodka, while the “Bayit
Yehudi” MKs only concentrate on
the hesder yeshivos.
In this ideological battle,
Chabad Chassidim find
themselves torn between the
desire to be part of the Jewish
People in general and the desire
to be a part of ultra-Orthodox
Jewry. On the one hand, it is
forbidden to separate oneself
from the rest of the community.
On the other hand, however, a
sizable portion of the messages
emanating from this struggle are
highly objectionable to Chabad
Chassidim. For example, during
the anti-enlistment prayer rally in
Yerushalayim earlier this month,
several of the pronouncements
dealt with the polarization
between the ultra-Orthodox
sector and their “brothers,”
Bennett and Lapid, as in “Save
me, please, from the hand of my
brother.” While this rally was
a display of amazing unity, we
must remember that not all of the
Jewish People were there with us.
Without a doubt, it was a united
assembly – but they were united
in force against another sector
of the population. True, these
politicians are fighting against
G-d and His Torah, however,
they too are part of the People of
Israel.
Last week, chareidi journalist
R’ Aharon Granot said that if
the number of knitted kippas at
the prayer rally in Yerushalayim
had been matched nine years
ago by an equal number of
chareidim at anti-disengagement
demonstrations, the Gush Katif
expulsion could have been
stopped. That perhaps is the
most powerful message to come
from the events of recent weeks.
There’s no “their Torah” and “our
Torah.” Why shouldn’t the ultra-
Orthodox be fighting against the
abandonment of Eretz Yisroel,
Issue 921 • 8£l5  HO5MlACM 41
921_bm_eng_BRM.indd 41 2014-03-24 10:55:57 PM
just as the national religious
sector should be joining the
struggle against the degradation
of all that is holy in Israel? We
are all children of one Father, and
the time has come to remove the
barriers and work together for the
sake of all Jews. We all have one
objective – although our methods
may appear slightly different.
4.
One tzaddik stood at the
Knesset rostrum before the final
adoption of the compulsory
enlistment legislation and gave
the speech of his life. This was
Knesset Member Yoni Chetboun
(Bayit Yehudi), who declared
that although he is a member of
the coalition, he will vote against
the proposed law. Chetboun bore
full responsibility for his bold
and gutsy decision, and he was
even punished with sanctions by
his parliamentary faction for his
violation of party discipline. Yet,
he agreed to pay the price as a
means of preserving the honor of
Torah by refusing to be a partner
in the fight against the ultra-
Orthodox sector.
On the day after MK
Chetboun’s courageous speech
before the Knesset plenum,
journalist Avishai Ben-Chaim
wrote the following in praise of
his actions: “Knesset Member
Yoni Chetboun yesterday emerged
as the most responsible person in
Israel. It’s been some time since
the relations between the ultra-
Orthodox and Israelis in general
have been such a potential powder
keg. After the criminal sanctions
and the court rulings against
them (Tal Law, Beit Shemesh,
budget allocations), they saw this
as proof that they could no longer
participate in Israeli society
through the democratic process.
During my commentary yesterday
on Channel 10 News, we wrote
the following: ‘A chareidi loss in
Beit Shemesh will create despair,
to the point of [inciting] ultra-
Orthodox civil disobedience
against the new enlistment law.’
Yesterday, the chareidim were
lying wounded on the ground, but
to our good fortune, Chetboun
came along. The last time
(l’havdil) that Chetboun saw
wounded lying on the ground was
at the Battle of Binat Jabil during
the Second Lebanon War, earning
him a special citation from the
IDF Chief of Staff. While he
wasn’t able to save the chareidim
in their battle, he was still the only
person around who understood
that if you see someone wounded
on the ground, you should at least
try and give him a hand.”
5.
We often hear complaints
about the concept of “factional
obedience” or “coalition
discipline,” which places a
veto upon a Knesset Member’s
ideological viewpoint, forcing
him at times to vote against his
conscience. Even the Rebbe
related to this ridiculous concept,
calling it a form of dictatorship
worse than Russia. In a sicha from
Zos Chanukah, 5746, the Rebbe
said: “And if this ‘explanation’ is
not enough – they bring the issue
up for a vote, as it were, for this
is a ‘democratic country’... Yet,
what happens? All party members
have to vote in a certain way,
and they aren’t embarrassed to
declare publicly that while there
are some party members whose
personal conscience obligates him
to vote another way, nevertheless,
the party compels them to vote
according to the party’s command
and instruction – contrary to
one’s personal conscience!
“Such a ‘dictatorship’ – under
the guise of ‘democracy’ – can’t
be found anywhere in the world,
not even in Soviet Russia! It’s
catastrophic that we have reached
the point where we have to bring
proofs from them – that even ‘the
most depraved nations’ don’t act
that way!
“I was in Soviet Russia
myself, and I know their manner
and their conduct: When they
force you to do a certain thing –
they explain that the ‘conscience’
obligates conduct according
to the Communist system, the
‘Marxist’ approach, the rules
of ‘justice and honesty,’ the
prohibition against harming
worker’s wages, and the like.
Then, they add that if someone
expresses his personal opinion
some other way – they’ll imprison
him or send him to Siberia...
However, to declare openly and
officially that someone will vote
against his conscience – no leader
in the Kremlin would do such a
thing!
“Yet, the situation today in
Eretz Yisroel is quite different:
They declare openly and officially
that if someone’s conscience
obligates him a certain way – he
should give it no consideration,
rather he should vote against
his conscience – not because
his conscience should obligate
him another way, but due to the
command of his party!”


While the politicians are fghting among
themselves, each one seeking to protect his
own Torah, we must create greater unity with the light
of His Torah... There’s no “their Torah” and “our Torah.”
42 8£l5  HO5MlACM • 26 Adar II 5774
CROSSROADS
921_bm_eng_BRM.indd 42 2014-03-24 10:55:57 PM

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