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FEATURED ARTICLES WEEKLY COLUMNS
PRE-PESACH COURT CASE IN PARIS
Rabbi Shneur Zalman Chanin
REBBE ON 13 THE CONVERSION, AND PRAYER
CHABAD SEDERS AROUND THE GLOBE
Menachem Mendel Arad
4 25 50 52 55 58
D’var Malchus Stories Tzivos Hashem Memoirs Moshiach & Geula Parsha Thought
REBBE 30 MY Rocheli Green MODERN DAY CHONI 34 A HAM’AGEL STORY
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ON TO EVERY 38 HOLDING WORD OF THE REBBE
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42 YESHIVAS CINCINNATI PERSONAL EXODUS 46 MY FROM EGYPT
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WE FOLLOW THEIR LEAD AND PROCLAIM: MENACHEM IS HIS NAME
Of course, we (Chassidim) follow their lead (with respect to our Rebbes and N’siim. * There are those who say that Menachem is the name of Moshiach, as it is said, “because the comforter (menachem) is distant from me, even he that should revive my soul.” * From Chapter Six of Rabbi Shloma Majeski’s Likkutei Mekoros (Underlined text is the compiler’s emphasis.)
Translated by Boruch Merkur
ATTAINING THE HOLINESS OF THE ALM-GHTY HIMSELF
8. […] Parshas Acharei contains the commandment and warning that there should not be a “ratzo – a yearning to cleave to G-d through spirituality” without a “shov – a return to the mission of perfecting the physical world, making it a dwelling place for G-d through Torah and Mitzvos.” (The
result of having a ratzo without a shov and its shortcomings is illustrated in Parshas Acharei with the description of the klos ha’nefesh, the soul expiration, of “the two children of Aharon, in their approach before G-d and they died.”) Rather, there must specifically be a ratzo with a shov [which is the sustainable approach to spirituality and one that is in line with the Supernal Will of perfecting the world. This approach
diminishes or negates the risk of their being klos ha’nefesh, emphasizing the importance of there being ongoing life in the physical world] specifically as souls (which are inherently predisposed towards ratzo) within bodies (which are predisposed towards shov). The ratzo and shov must be united, resulting in Supernal revelations being drawn down and revealed within keilim, the means to
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channel and contain these revelations. Parenthetically, this union of body and soul finds further expression in the eternal life of the Future Era. (What is unique about the present times, our generation, is that there will be no interruption [no death separating the finite life of this world from the everlasting life of the World to Come]). Indeed, the life of the Future Era is specifically physical life, but a manner of life whereby the soul is nourished by the body [reversing the current dynamic whereby spirituality is supreme, and the body receives nourishment from the soul]. The union between ratzo and shov, G-dliness being manifest within keilim, is accomplished in virtue of a lofty level of G-dliness that transcends the two,* a state of sanctity described in Parshas K’doshim. There the Torah enjoins the Jewish people with the commandment to (and capacity for) “Be holy for I [G-d] am holy.” That is, the status and condition of the Jewish people, as they exist in the physical world – where the commandment of “Be holy,” “be distinguished” (Rashi on the verse), can apply – is one of sanctity (“Be holy”). Here in the physical world, Jews have the capacity to even attain the ultimate sanctity, the holiness of the Alm-ghty Himself, as our Sages teach, “Yachol kamoni? [according to the simple reading this means] You might think that the intent here is that you [the Jewish people] are being commanded to be as holy as Me [i.e., G-d himself]. Thus, the Torah teaches, ‘for I am holy’ [Divine sanctity is reserved for G-d alone]” – [but] according to the interpretation of Chassidus, this teaching is stated in the
Although Moshiach attains the ultimate state of perfection, he suffers and is stricken with pain over the illness of exile.
affirmative: “Yachol kamoni – You are able to be as holy as Me [i.e., G-d himself].” That is, each and every Jew “is able,” capable of being, “as Me,” like G-d Himself (as it were), attaining the Divine sanctity of “(for) I am holy.”
up from the Davidic dynasty, etc.,” it is the role of Melech HaMoshiach to redeem the Jewish people with the true and complete redemption, which will never be followed by another exile.
MOSHIACH: YEARNING FOR GEULA WITH BATED BREATH
The concept of holiness being manifest specifically in the physical realm is further emphasized in the name of Moshiach (the redeemer), who is called “metzora – leper” – “the Metzora of the House of Rebbi,” who “sits among the impoverished, who suffer from afflictions,” “those who are stricken with leprosy – and he too [Moshiach] is a leper.” That is, Moshiach is present in the world, in the time and place of exile, and there, amidst the condition of exile, he suffers the afflictions of exile (as the Gemara continues, “Says Rav: If Moshiach is among the living, he is, for example, Rabbeinu HaKadosh” – “If Moshiach is among those who are presently alive, it is certainly Rabbeinu HaKadosh,** for he [Rabbeinu HaKadosh] suffers from afflictions and is entirely pious.”***) And Moshiach peers out in anticipation, looking with bated breath and with yearning eyes for the revelation (from the concealment of the time and condition of exile). Indeed, in accordance with the ruling of Rambam, “a king will rise
MOSHIACH: PERFECT BUT SUFFERING
9. The aforementioned is also connected with the second chapter of Avos (which is being studied this Shabbos Kodesh), which begins with “Rebbi states: Which is the proper course that a man should choose? That which is an honor for him and which elicits honor from his fellow man.” […] (In his time) it was said of Rebbi (Rabbeinu HaKadosh) that “If Moshiach is from among those who are presently alive, it is certainly Rabbeinu HaKadosh, for he suffers from afflictions and is entirely pious.” Although he was “entirely pious” – for he had completed his service of G-d**** – nevertheless, he suffered affliction, the ailments of exile. The same is true of Moshiach (whose name is “the leper of the House of Rebbi”): although Moshiach attains the ultimate state of perfection, he suffers and is stricken with pain over the illness of exile (as above s’if 2).
WHAT IS THE FASTEST WAY TO BRING MOSHIACH?
In light of the above, this is the meaning of Rebbi’s statement, “Which is the proper course that a man should
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choose? That which is an honor for him and which elicits honor from his fellow man”: “A man” refers to “this man (“who is it at a level of greatness…perfection in everything”) whose deeds are wholesome and has rectified everything…only the extraneous aspects, at the hem of his garments, remain to be refined, etc..” His superficial inadequacies are solely on account of the exile, which was the case with Rebbi [who suffered and was stricken with ailments]. In this generation – the final generation of exile, the Heels of Moshiach, when all matters (the avoda that had to be done throughout the duration of exile) have already been completed and perfected – all the Jewish people are at this level of near perfection. The question is: Since we have already completed “our deeds and our service throughout the duration of exile,” what is the “proper course” (the easiest and quickest path among all the pathways of Torah) that a man (all the Jewish people as a whole) should choose. What path should a man, who has completed [all] matters of avoda, choose in order to bring about the revelation and the advent of Moshiach?***** The answer to this question is: “That which is an honor (Tiferes) for him and which elicits honor (Tiferes) from his fellow man”: “Tiferes” refers to Torah (“‘Tiferes’ – that refers to the Giving of the Torah”), which, on account of its tremendous virtue and power, can join the two movements of ratzo (drawing close and cleaving to the Alm-ghty, “Tiferes l’oseha”) and shov (drawing down below, “Tiferes lo min ha’adam”), so that the Supernal revelations are drawn down and revealed within keilim (as above s’if 6). In so doing, the true concept of exile (Supernal revelations) is revealed in a manner that rules out the concept of exile in the simple, literal sense, a redemption that is never followed by exile (as above s’if 7 and s’if 8).
(From the address of Shabbos Parshas Tazria-Metzora, 6 Iyar; Seifer HaSichos 5751, pg. 496-498)
me, even he that should revive my soul.” See also Yerushalmi Brachos 2:4, Eicha Rabba 1:51. Also see Likkutei Levi Yitzchok al Maamarei Chazal, pg. 106, that “all opinions are true,” and “both these and these are words of the living G-d.” See there. Of course, we (Chassidim) follow their lead (with respect to our Rebbes and N’siim, especially my revered father in-law, the Rebbe, leader of the generation): Yosef is the name of Moshiach, as it is said, “The L-rd will set His hand again the second time (yosif Adni sheinis yado)…to recover the remnant of the Jewish people, etc.”; Yitzchok is the name of Moshiach, as it is said, “Then He shall fill our mouths with laughter (s’chok pinu).” ***Footnote 68: Commentary of Rashi on the Gemara. For this reason Moshiach is referred to as “The leper of the House of Rebbi,” referring to Rabbeinu HaKadosh, who is called Rebbi … for he [Moshiach] suffers afflictions and ailments like him [like Rebbi]” (Chiddushei Agados Maharsha ibid). ****Footnote 73: following the interpretation of “tzaddik gamor – a complete tzaddik” as in the phrase, “a vessel whose work upon it has been completed” (Likkutei Torah Drushei Sukkos 81a). *****Footnote 74: beginning with the revelation and advent of Moshiach within each and every Jew, as is known, the verse, “A star will shoot forth from Yaakov, etc.,” refers to Melech HaMoshiach (Yerushalmi Maaser Sheini 4:6), insofar as each Jew possesses within a spark of the soul of Moshiach (Maor Einayim, Parshas Pinchas, end).
NOTES: *Footnote 61: by there first being the bittul of shov, as above s’if 6. **Footnote 67: There (at the beginning of the sugia): “Those of the School of Rebbi Shilo said that Shilo is the name of Moshiach, as it is said, “until Shilo arrives”; those of the School of Rebbi Yanai said that the name of Moshiach is Yinon (like Yanai – each would find a Scriptural source for his name – commentary of Rashi there. Note the inference derived from Rashi’s specific wording, “each would find a Scriptural source for his name” – and not that the disciples would propose that Moshiach’s name is the same as that of their master), as it is said, “May his name be eternal; before the sun, his name is Yinon”; the School of Chanina said that Chanina is the name of Moshiach, as it is said, “for as much as I will show you no favor (chanina)”; there are those who say that Menachem ben Chizkiya is the name of Moshiach (so it is in our versions of the text, but the Yerushalmi and Eicha Rabba render it simply as “Menachem” [omitting ben Chizkiya] …), as it is said, “because the comforter (menachem) is distant from
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(718) 756-3337 ^ P.O.B . 2 8 8 B roo k ly n , Ne w Yo rk 11 2 2 5 ^
jhanv lkn r"unst e"f ,uthab ,j,
B”H 16th of Adar II, 5774
To All Anash and Temimim wha' Sholom U'vrocho!
Excerpt of a Sicho Kedoisho, which speaks for itself The Jews will be redeemed solely through tzedokah... In particular, this applies with regards to the matter relevant at present, maos chittim, tzedakah given for Pesach that includes all of the needs of the holiday. Our involvement with this must be in a manner of ratzo and shov, i.e., one should not wait for the tzedakah collector, but instead, rush to give him maos chittim on his own initiative (ratzo). Moreover, even after he has already given maos chittim, he should go and give a second time (shov).... For one who has been blessed should increase his gifts according to the blessing he has been given. And who ever increases will be given additional reward. Indeed, there is no limit to this additional reward. From the sichos Shabbos Parshas Vayakhel-pikudei, 5750 It is well known that "Kupas Rabbeinu" endeavors to continue implementing all of the holy projects and activities which the Rebbe has established. Amongst these activities is the Rebbe's practice to extend financial aid to those families in need of their various Pesach necessities.
Accordingly, we are at this time urging and requesting each and every Anash member and Tomim uhjha to contribute generously to "Kupas Rabbeinu," in order to enable the administration to provide for these families and thus afford them with the opportunity to celebrate Pesach with contentment and joy. Regarding this Mitzvah it is stated: "Whoever increases (in giving) is praiseworthy." Unfortunately, the amount of families in need of this financial assistance is more than generally assumed. As such, the more generous your contribution to "Kupas Rabbeinu," the greater the number of families receiving assistance will be.
And since, with regard to all Mitzvahs we are instructed to act with Simcha and zest, it is all the more pertinent with regard to the aforementioned, as it is of paramount importance that the funds be received and distributed as soon as possible. In the merit of Tzedakah which hastens the Geula, may we merit the true Geula Shlaimah, with the revelation of Melech HaMashiach – The Rebbe Nasi Doreinu, immediately, Mamash.
Rabbi Sholom Mendel Simpson
Chag HaPesach Kosher V'Sameach, Vaad Kupas Rabbeinu
Rabbi Yehuda Leib Groner
P.S. 1) The traditional "Magvis Yud Shevat, Purim" can also be sent at this time, as well as all other Magvios. 2) All funds should be sent to the following address only; Donations are tax deductible
KUPAS RABBEINU, P.O. Box 288, BROOKLYN, N.Y. 11225
In Eretz haKodesh: KEREN KUPAS ADMU"R, P.O. Box 1247, KIRYAT MALACHI – ISRAEL
PRE-PESACH COURT CASE
By Rabbi Shneur Zalman Chanin
As a young boy with a healthy sense of curiosity, I wanted to know why R’ Schneersohn had called for my father at this late hour. * It was only years later that I heard what happened at a “din Torah” that took place that night between the rav and his wife with my father as the adjudicator, and his creative “p’sak.”
he following story happened Erev Pesach. But first some background. Little by little, Anash refugees left the DP camps. Many of them, including my parents, arrived in Paris, poor and bereft of everything. The Joint continued to help out and rented some buildings for them to live in. These were buildings that had formerly served as hotels. I was born in the Hotel Prima. About two years later my parents moved to the Hotel Moderne where I grew up and spent my childhood.
When I turned six, despite my young age, my father sent me to Brunoy to learn in Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim by the mashpia, R’ Nissan Nemanov. My father came to visit me once a week and I saw my mother once a month when I went home for Shabbos. As far as I recall, the hotel had four stories plus a ground floor. On the ground floor and the three lower floors lived about thirty families. On the fourth floor was a shul. I still remember some of the neighbors who lived on our floor: R’ Hillel Pevsner, R’
Hillel Asimov, R’ Nissan Pinson, R’ Eliyahu Haft, R’ Yisroel Noach Blizinsky and his son, R’ Aharon Yosef, R’ Leibel Eidelman, R’ Yehuda Chein, R’ Chaim Lipa Levin, and their families. I also remember Mrs. Roza Kleinman. I may have forgotten someone but that is what I remember.
IMPOVERISHED HOTEL LIVING
Our family was assigned two rooms, one on the second floor for my parents and me and one additional small room on the
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R’ Chaikel Chanin with his son-in-law, R’ Isaac Schwei in 5718
third floor for my sisters. Our room served as a living room, dining room, and all-around room during the day. At night, it was a bedroom. I remember that there was a wooden table in the center with four chairs around it. There was no other furniture, but I think there were some crates that served as cupboards and that contained everything we owned. After supper we would take the folding beds out from under the table, spread covers and pillows that were kept somewhere in the room, and prepare the room for sleeping. We were five
people, my father, mother, two older sisters, and me, but we had only four beds (I think those were the beds my parents got from the Joint as soon as they came to Paris and I wasn’t born yet). If we would have gotten another bed from the Joint, for me, there would have been no room to put it. On our floor there was an icebox that was shared by all the neighbors. The icebox had three levels. In the upper compartment they put a block of ice every day. Food was placed in the middle compartment, and the bottom
level was used to collect the melting ice. You bought the block of ice every day from the iceman. It was very smooth and slippery and in order not to have it slide out of your hands, you had to hug it tight. But we improvised a way of holding it with a sort of tongs which prevented it from slipping. We had to clean the icebox every day from the melted ice. We did not use it in the winter. Instead, we put whatever needed to be kept cool out on the windowsill. Out of one window of the room hung a sack with sour milk in it which my mother used to make cheese. It dripped steadily down into the courtyard and white cheese remained behind. I wasn’t a particularly picky child but I could not eat that cheese. Until today, when I recall the odor that wafted from that bag, it arouses in me a feeling of revulsion. About ten families lived on our floor but there were only two bathrooms. Can you picture the shouting that went on every morning and the banging on the bathroom doors? The kitchen was shared by all the families on the floor. On every floor a small room was designated as the kitchen which had two or three gas burners, each one having one or two fires underneath. Every balabusta had to measure, mix and prepare food in a pot in her room and then schlep the pot to the kitchen to put it on the fire. Each burner served several neighbors and there was a schedule of who cooked when. But there was always a line in front of the kitchen of women waiting impatiently to prepare food for their families. Although we all lived together in harmony and were devoted, heart and soul, to one another,
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when the older people waited for a cup of tea and babies needed their hot cereal, and the burner was occupied, there was no lack of disputes. As for hot water for washing, that was unheard of. Once a week we went to the municipal bathhouse where there were separate hours for men and women. The rest of the week we washed our hands and face in cold water. When I look back, it is hard to understand how we lived under those conditions. I have very pleasant memories of this period of time. I remember the spiritual wealth of those days. I remember some of the stories that R’ Zalman Schneersohn told me and the niggunim that he taught me when I came home. I was the only child there, at that time, and he loved having me around. With my father’s encouragement, I observed and learned from his ways. R’ Schneersohn was a baal mesirus nefesh. The other person was more important to him than
BEYOND THE CRACK IN THE DOOR
It was in the days leading up to Pesach. Yeshiva had ended and I was home. Late at night, about ten or eleven o’clock, I heard R’ Zalman Schneersohn call me, “Zalminka, where are you?” I left our apartment and went to his magnificent office where he said, “My child, please ask your father to come here.” I went to call my father. My father treated the rav with great respect, both because he was a rav but mainly because he was from the Schneersohn family. He went to his office immediately. My father wasn’t surprised by the request and the lateness of the hour. He thought Rav Schneersohn wanted to borrow money for Pesach expenses but I sensed that this time, the request was different. I remained in our apartment but, as any normal child, I was curious to know why the rav had called for my father at this late hour. After a few minutes I could not restrain myself and went on tiptoes from our apartment toward the rav’s apartment. I lay on the floor with my ear near the crack at the threshold. My mother realized I had left the apartment and realized where I had gone. She waited a few minutes and when I did not return she went to look for me and caught me snooping. She took me right back to bed, though not before “giving it” to me. My father remained in the office a long time and by the time he came back I was already asleep. Although I was very curious about why R’ Schneersohn had called my father, it did not occur to me to ask because I was terrified that my mother had told
“I took out the money and right away, before I could change my mind, gave him all the money along with the envelope. It did not occur to me to take any of the money for myself. If you will ask, how will we manage for Pesach? Hashem will help. In the worst case, I assume that when Chaikel will loudly say kol dichfin, we will join him for the seder and he surely won’t chase us out.” IN RABBI SCHNEERSOHN’S NEIGHBORHOOD
In 5717, after my sisters went to the United States and married and my father began supporting himself and earned a bit, we were able to leave the “hotel” and move to our own apartment. It was a five star apartment relative to the times and it was a few streets away from the hotel. My father rented it from the Chassidishe rav, R’ Shneur Zalman Schneersohn who lived in the same house. The apartment consisted of a spacious room which served as the dining room, a bedroom, and a small room that was meant to be a clothes closet but we turned it into a kitchen. We had our own bathroom and even had hot water from the faucet. himself and he fully complied with the Chassidic aphorism, “mine is yours.” He himself was destitute, but whoever asked him for help, got it. To all appearances he conducted himself expansively and on Shabbos he had many guests at his table. His apartment was considered an exclusive one and he had a very valuable library which gave people the feeling that they were in the home of a wealthy man. He gave shiurim in French to scientists, doctors and students, and knew people in high positions in all fields. However, despite his good connections, he did not have parnasa. When someone asked him for a loan and he did not have the money, he would borrow it from others in order to lend it.
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my father about my mischief. If I mentioned one word about that night, I would “get it” again. So I kept quiet. I was ten years old at the time and typical of children, I forgot about the matter.
A MOVING “DIN TORAH” BETWEEN THE RAV AND REBBETZIN
Quite a few years later, when we were living in New York, and R’ Schneersohn had also moved to New York, my father would visit him often and I nearly always went along with him. One time, on our way back from one of those visits, while extolling the rav, my father told me what happened that night in Paris, in R’ Schneersohn’s office, behind the closed door. My father entered the office and found not only R’ Schneersohn but also Rebbetzin Sarah. She began by saying, “R’ Chaikel, I want to take my husband to a din Torah and I want to ask you to be the judge for us and pasken who is right.” My father tried getting out of it by saying he wasn’t a rav, and certainly not a posek, how would he know how to pasken? But the rebbetzin said, “You will pasken better than other rabbanim and poskim. Both of us, my husband and I, rely on you and commit to doing as you say.” Having no choice, my father agreed. The Schneersohns made a binding exchange as is customary, and the rebbetzin, the plaintiff, began: “It is before Pesach and we have nothing for Yom Tov, no matza, no wine, no meat, no fish. We don’t even have pieces of bread for the B’dikas Chametz. If I had ten pieces of bread, I would
R’ Zalman Schneersohn standing on the porch in Paris
sit down and eat them with a cup of tea! “Today I asked my husband for money for Yom Tov and he told me that he had nothing. I began to shout, gevald! With my own eyes I saw, a few days ago, someone giving you an envelope full of dollars. What did you do with the money? “R’ Chaikel, do you know what he told me? He calmly said, ‘I gave the money to tz’daka
to those who need money for Pesach.’ “‘What about us? Aren’t we needy?’ I asked. ‘You want to give tz’daka? Fine, but leave a little bit for the household expenses for the upcoming Yom Tov!’” My father heard her out and thought she was right, but he had to listen to the other side. How would the rav justify himself? What could he say?
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R’ Schneersohn began to speak: “There is a wealthy Jew by the name of R’ Chaim who needed to arrange a heter Meia rabbanim (a halachic means to enable a man to marry a second wife despite the enactment of Rabbeinu Gershom, in the instance where the first wife has gone mad and cannot accept a get. According to Halacha, it is necessary for at least one hundred rabbanim to consent in order to rescind the enactment) and he came to me for my help. “After exchanging letters with a hundred rabbanim, which took tremendous effort because of the slowness of the mail, until they wrote a letter and until they sent it, and until it reached its destination and until a response was received and the process was started over with another rav, a lot of time went by. On Rosh Chodesh Nissan, I finally arranged the get. R’ Chaim, was very appreciative of the work that I put into this and he brought me $5000 to pay me for my efforts in addition to my expenses. “While the dollars were still warming my heart and my pocket, a Lubavitcher came to me whose name I cannot disclose, and he told me that he has a large family and there is no bread to eat and no clothes to wear and there is no money for Yom Tov. He told me he makes great efforts so that people will not know of his situation, so people assume he has parnasa, but now, before Pesach, he had no choice but to ask for help. He burst into tears and asked me to have pity on him and help get him on his feet before it was too late. “So R’ Chaikel, what could I do? Tell me what you would have done in my place? I thought, since becoming a rav, a sum like this has not come into my possession. Was it not for a situation like this that I received it? Wasn’t hashgacha pratis showing me clearly that I had to get this man on his feet? “I took out the money and right away, before I could change my mind, I gave him all the money along with the envelope. It did not occur to me to take any of the money for myself. If you will ask, how will we manage for Pesach? Hashem will help. In the worst case, I assume that when Chaikel will loudly say kol dichfin, we will join him for the seder and he surely won’t chase us out.”
For those readers who don’t remember the folding beds of yesteryear, nor the burners and ice boxes, I collected some photos so you can see the reality of day to day life that we had to contend with.
FATHER’S ORIGINAL P’SAK
My father told me that when he heard this story, he was struck silent. On the one hand, my father admired the rav’s action but, on the other hand, the rebbetzin was right. He decided as follows: “I, R’ Chaikel, agree to give the rebbetzin the money she needs for the Yom Tov expenses, so that will satisfy her. However, I am giving it on condition that I am a partner in the mitzva the rav fulfilled. I ask that the rav split the mitzva of ‘azov taazov imo’ and Maos Chittim with me.” R’ Schneersohn and my father made another binding exchange to ratify the new deal and all parties were satisfied. The Rebbetzin, because she had what she needed for Yom Tov; the rav, because he fulfilled the mitzva and without any grievances on the part of his wife; and my father, because he got a share of this lofty mitzva. When my father told me the story, my admiration for my father went up sevenfold for his cleverness and the original idea he proposed.
a folded bed
an open bed
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LETTERS FROM THE REBBE
THE REBBE ON CONVERSION, EDUCATION, AND PRAYER
Letters from the Rebbe publicized in the t’shura from the TelsnerGoldshmidt wedding held on the 23rd of Adar Sheni.
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LETTERS FROM THE REBBE
By the Grace of G-d 11th of Cheshvan, 5740 Brooklyn, N.Y. Mr. Bombay, India Greeting and Blessing: After not hearing from you for a long time, I was pleased to receive your letter of the 1st of MarCheshvan, and to note that you are in contact with Askanim who are active in the vital problem of ensuring Geyrus in accordance with the Halacha. It is a tragic state of affairs if it is necessary to argue and prove that “conversions” that are not in accord with the Halacha are “not worth the paper on which they are written”? Moreover, it would be laughable, if it were not
to elaborate to you on this painful question. But it is simply impossible not to cry out in pain, even in a few brief lines. May G-d grant that you should continue your utmost efforts in this most important matter, and this will surely bring you and yours additional Divine blessings in all needs. You do not mention anything about the matters of health and Parnasa, from which I gather that all is well, and may things go from good to better. I trust you took the fullest advantage of the month of Tishrei to spread and strengthen Torah-true Yiddishkait in all your surroundings. With blessing, M. SCHNEERSON
“Conversions” that are not in accord with the Halacha are “not worth the paper on which they are written.”
so tragic, that such “conversions” to Judaism are performed by an individual whose own conduct and way of life is diametrically contrary to authentic Judaism, and such a person is supposedly converting gentiles and bringing them into the bosom of the Jewish people. There is surely no need to point out that since such conversions are in most cases connected with marriage, the conversion obviously affects not only the immediate parties, but also their children and offspring to all posterity. In other words, the effect of this distortion and transgression is a lasting one, affecting all generations, and the one who perpetrates it, regardless of his motives, causes untold harm for all future generations. There is, of course, no need
THE INFLUENCE OF SUMMER CAMP
By the Grace of G-d 6th of Adar II, 5719 Brooklyn, N.Y. Committee of Beth Rivka Youth East St. Hilda, Vic. Australia Blessing and Greeting: I was pleased to receive your letter of the 17th of Adar I, in which you report on your work in connection with your first Annual Summer Camp. I hope that the contact that you have made with these girls during the camp season will be maintained by you also after the season and throughout the year. For, as you know, the purpose
of this camp is to invigorate the campers both physically and spiritually, and the maintenance of contact will surely have a beneficial influence on the girls in their studies and conduct throughout the year. I need hardly emphasize that very often children find themselves in an undesirable environment and undesirable influences which must be counteracted. Therefore, it is advisable to arrange a reunion several times during the year, as is done in connection with our camps here in the States. Such days as Purim, Lag B’Omer, and the Festivals in general, provide good opportunities for such reunions, etc. I send my prayerful wishes to all the Madrichos to make ever-growing strides in their own holy studies, and in all matters connected with daily life and conduct, for in order to be a source of inspiration and influence, one must possess a wealth of all those good things which one desires to impart to others. Hoping to hear good news from you always, With blessing, I hope that you are in communication with the N’shei U’Bnos Chabad, and it would be well also for you to communicate with the central organization of the N’shei in Brooklyn, which you can do through our office.
By the Grace of G-d 6th of Adar II, 5719 Brooklyn, N.Y. Mr. Melbourne, Vic. Australia Greeting and Blessing: I was gratified to receive your Cable, in which you state that
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negotiations for the purchase of a magnificent building for Beth Rivka have been completed. I am looking forward to receiving the happy news that studies have already begun in the new building, to educate the Jewish daughters so that they would realize that each one is a daughter of Sarah, Rivka, Rachel, and Leah, and will, in due course, be the foundation of a Jewish home. As we discussed this matter at length, I trust that no effort will be spared in this direction, and the very success which you have already accomplished with G-d’s help will surely spur you to evergreater accomplishments. I trust, in fact, that before long this new building will prove too small to house all the girls, and that it will therefore be the forerunner of greater things to come. The Cable with the happy news came appropriately during the happy month of Adar. As you know, it was a Jewish daughter who had a prominent part in the happy turn of events which gave us the Festival of Purim. Esther was able to accomplish such wonderful things because she had the proper education and upbringing in the house of Mordecai, who was the head of the Sanhedrin, as our Sages tell us. Her education stood her so well that even though she was in the royal palace and was an Empress of 127 lands, she remained loyal to her faith and, as the Megilla tells us, “For Esther did the commandment of Mordecai like as when she was brought up with him.” Please convey my heartfelt expression of Mazel Tov and best wishes to everyone who has participated in the efforts to acquire this building, and may each and every one of you go from strength to strength in the
development and growth of the Beth Rivka and the Yeshiva, and all activities for the strengthening and dissemination of the Torah and Mitzvoth on the widest possible scale. With blessing,
MECHITZA DURING PRAYER
By the Grace of G-d 4 Elul 5711 Brooklyn 13, N.Y. To the President and Officers Congregation Ahavas Achim Lubavitch Sholom u’Brocho! I was deeply disturbed to hear that there are individuals in your congregation who are inclined to introduce a new order in your synagogue to permit men and women worshippers to sit there without a partition. Although I do not know them, I take the liberty to write to you, because we all hold so dear the name of “Lubavitch,” and in general, a Shul where Jews pour out their hearts in prayer to the Almighty, for health and sustenance, for themselves and their children. Since the worshipper prays for G-d’s blessings as he wants them to be, good and generous in every detail, it is obvious that every effort should be made to bring the place of worship, even in its outer aspects, as close as possible to the way G-d wants it to be, and no infringement whatever should be allowed to mar the sanctity of the place. It is surely superfluous to enlarge upon the fact that from olden days, throughout the generations, wherever Jews gathered to pray, men and women prayed separately. Anyone recalling his parents and ancestors, pious and devoted
as they were to our sacred traditions, can have no doubts as to what their feelings in this matter would be. These sentiments are even more profound in the case of a Shul connected with the glorious traditions of the Lubavitcher Rabbis, known for their selfsacrificing work to preserve the sacred traditions among Jews in general, and among their followers in particular. In a congregation bearing the noble name of “Lubavitch,” a Shul without a Mechitza (partition) is completely unthinkable. My father-in-law, of sainted memory, often quoted the Old Rabbi, founder of Lubavitch, that a Jew neither desires nor is capable of being separated from G-dliness. Especially in these days of repentance and Divine benevolence, when every Jew feels the inspiration and urge to come closest to G-d, I trust and pray that every member of your congregation, and especially officer and trustee, will use his influence to reject any idea of doing away with the Mechitza. In the merit of this the Almighty will accept your prayers, and all the worshippers and officers will be inscribed unto a healthy and happy New Year. I am looking forward to hearing from you that the matter of the Mechitza has been properly taken care of, and thank you for informing me of same. Wishing you a Kesivo Vachasimo Toivo, Cordially yours, P.S. I have sent identical letters to several leading members of your congregation. However, I wish to emphasize that each one individually bears the responsibility – as though he were alone – that your Shul justifies its noble name.
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AROUND THE GLOBE
Do you feel tense these days before Pesach? Think of the shluchim who are preparing for dozens, hundreds, even thousands of guests. In their places of shlichus kosher food is hardy available and finding a spacious location for everyone can be difficult, not to mention security arrangements and all the other details that need to be taken care of. * A Beis Moshiach reporter took a virtual and telephone trip to Chabad houses around the world. He “visited” Katmandu and Nepal, India and Bolivia, Nicaragua, Mexico, and New Jersey and returned with fascinating stories about young shluchim who produce huge Seders as they witness divine providence guiding them every step of the way.
By Menachem Mendel Arad
became aware of a campaign of the united Chabad houses of India, which invites the backpackers across the huge country to join them for a Seder in one of fourteen Chabad houses in India and neighboring Sri Lanka. Information was posted all across the country, inviting the “fifth son” to come celebrate Pesach with the shluchim of the Rebbe. It is not only in India and Sri Lanka, Nepal and Thailand – Israeli tourist strongholds, where the shluchim have Pesach guests. Nearly every Chabad house, large and small, the world over, hosts a public Seder so that not a single Jew is excluded. The backdrop, location and the guests are what change from one Seder to the next. There are S’darim for needy people which are free and there are S’darim in shul where
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the shliach will hold his own Seder after everyone leaves. And there are shluchim who rent a hotel or simcha hall, kasher it for Pesach, and set up for a hundred people in formal dress, suits and ties, who come with an entrance ticket. S’darim have taken place on mats, eastern style, at a “table” no higher than five centimeters off the floor. In Chabad houses such as these, it is moving to see the Israeli visitors, a few days before Pesach, rolling up their sleeves and helping out. With lively Chassidic music playing, they peel mountains of vegetables and help kasher chickens and clean fish. At the conclusion of a round of phone calls and electronic communication, I am pleased to present to you a rare glimpse of the hours, days, and sometimes even months of preparation for “Pesach with Chabad.” Okay, let’s say you got an offer to leave home and you were given a ticket to fly somewhere to help run a communal Seder. You would feel lucky, right? To be excused from the cleaning and Pesach expenses while going on shlichus? That’s the good life … Wait, that was purely hypothetical. Here is the same offer with a few changes. You will have to clean your house and pay for your own tickets as well as buy everything from A to Z for Pesach and invite guests! Hmm … Aside from that, if you don’t mind, we need you to raise money before you go, and want you to bring the matza, wine and food and then organize, by yourselves, with the money that you raised, aside from your own Seder, another Seder for 250 people. Naturally, you will be leaving your parents behind. I know the answer; you don’t
La Paz, Bolivia: Hundreds of kilograms of grapes that are squeezed for the Seder
have to say anything. Assuming that just asking the question got you into the stressful atmosphere of Erev Pesach on shlichus, let us set out …
“IS IT POSSIBLE FROM ROSH CHODESH?!”
What is needed for the Seder? A place? Okay, that’s not a big problem. You can use a table in the living room. Maybe we will have to borrow or buy a folding table and some chairs from the neighbors. The location of a Chabad house Seder is an issue. There are Chabad houses that target tourists in which the Seder is set up with mats on the floor. No tables are necessary. But there are Chabad houses, of course,
where the people sit down at set tables in a spacious and sometimes beautiful hall. If the Chabad house fits the bill, great, and if not, a place has to be rented. There are also situations in which, due to the many guests, the Chabad house plus another hall are needed. On Pesach of two years ago in Cozumel, Mexico, they celebrated an exodus from Egypt. R’ David Caplin, who runs the Chabad house with R’ Shalom Peleg, said that the preparations began three months earlier. Due to the expansion of their activities, they decided to move to a new, larger building. Three months of work ended only one week before Yom Tov. As they prepared they realized that despite the size of the new
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Chabad house hall, it was still too small to contain all the people registered for the Seder (not to mention those who come without registering). What could they do? They got the mayor involved. Yes, the greatest “l’chat’chilla aribber” possible. The mayor got to work and arranged a huge hall where 250 Israeli tourists and locals fit comfortably. arrange sh’chita of hundreds of chickens (two days of work). Right after Purim he started making wine. He ordered three quarters of a ton of green grapes, the cheapest ones, and some purple grapes for the color. He had to take all of it, in addition to dozens of kilograms of sugar, up four floors. Don’t forget, the city is 4000 meters above sea level, so the oxygen is thin, which means that walking up those flights is very hard, especially with all that stuff. He had two problems. One, getting new kosher pots for Pesach; and two, finding shomer Shabbos workers so the wine would not become yayin nesech. It sounds simple when you are in Eretz Yisroel or Crown Heights, but go find shomrei Shabbos in Bolivia! Throughout the day, Kupchik looked for shomrei Shabbos workers, but none were to be found. At the end of an exhausting day of shlichus, the work was just beginning. They waited until all the Chabad house employees left and got to work. The plan was that the couple would work together but they had no idea how much work there was. Another problem that they had to deal with was an isolated place without allowing for the possibility of non-Jews to enter. They came up with the idea of preparing the wine in the shul that was at a distance from the Chabad house. But the shul has one door which can be locked, with another entrance from the kitchen which cannot be locked. Having no choice, they decided to stand a 24 hour watch over the wine. The shluchim worked for three nights in a row. On the second night, they finally found shomrei Shabbos workers and by the third night, they had a nice team who turned the grapes into a runny mush. Then the worst of all happened. Under pressure of preparing for the Shabbos meals with 300 tourists, the question arose as to whether the Chabad house maid had moved one of the barrels in order to clean. The problem was that much worse when they did not know which barrel it was, which made all the barrels suspect of being yayin nesech. In the meantime, the shliach found six bottles of kosher l’mehadrin wine for Pesach in a nearby supermarket. He bought them all and tried to reach the importer. After endless running around he found the importer, but he had no more wine. “Maybe in a month ...” The pressure was intense – after so much labor and so much money, and no time to make new wine. They consulted with a rav in Eretz Yisroel, a posek in kashrus matters. He asked the shliach whether they had, at any point, taken a little wine to taste. When the shliach said no, he learned that the contents of the barrels were not yet considered wine and therefore, the wine was all kosher and permissible for Kiddush and for drinking. Thank G-d!
“GREAT, POWERFUL, AND PLENTIFUL”
If I only needed to describe the huge Seder that took place in La Paz, Bolivia, I could fill an article. The challenges that the new, young shluchim, Yosef Yitzchok Kupchik and his wife, had in preparing for 1500 tourists, were enormous. Doubts were in the category of “chametz” and could not even be contemplated. Instead of doubts, there was strong faith in the meshaleiach, the Rebbe MH”M, that everything would work out. He described the logistics, the pressure, and the miracles with charm and humor. How do you get matza, wine, fish, chicken, bachurim to help out, waiters, security guards, and babysitters for the little ones? When you are preparing for your Seder at home, you vacillate between one brand of wine and another, but to make the wine yourself? You don’t consider that. What do you know about wine making? But when it entails four cups of wine for 1500 people, the cost of the wine and the shipping face off against the argument: What do I know about wine making? R’ Kupchik who landed with his wife and two children before Purim of two years ago, managed between landing and Purim to
“POOR MAN’S BREAD” ($9000 OF IT)
Getting bachurim to help out is not that easy. Ask any shliach and you will get a lecture about “shlichus is like shidduchim” and how many inquiries you need to make (and how you mainly have to pray) about every bachur to ascertain that he will meet the needs of the shlichus. We have yet to address
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the enormous cost of flying bachurim to shlichus. “It was Rosh Chodesh Nissan and I still did not know what to do. I did not have even one bachur,” said R’ Kupchik. “Miraculously, bachurim came to me. I paid the tickets of two bachurim and it turned out that they were the right people in the right place. One was a shochet with golden hands; he renovated and fixed anything that moved. The other one spoke Spanish and was a faithful translator. “One of the shluchim who operates in the area ‘donated’ a bachur to me and another four bachurim who came managed to arrange for their tickets to be sponsored. If that wasn’t enough, one of the bachurim who had not seen his parents in a number of years, ‘invited’ them to celebrate Pesach with him on shlichus. That way, we had an additional balabusta who helped a lot with the cooking, organizing, decorating the hall, the shopping, and even babysitting.” A Chassidishe young man might consider whether to buy regular mehudar matza or buy the more costly “tanur rishon.” After all, it’s only once a year and only a few kilograms, but
When you are preparing for your Seder at home, you vacillate between one brand of wine and another, but to make the wine yourself? You don’t consider that. What do you know about wine making? But when it entails four cups of wine for 1500 people, the cost of the wine and the shipping face off against the argument: What do I know about wine making?
container got stuck in customs for three months until he managed to produce the right permits.” The solutions were creative. The shliach’s brother, Shlomi, bought large, lightweight suitcases in which he stuffed boxes of matza. The matza came in pieces but at least there was what to give people. The large number of people flying, as well as the guests who came at the last minute, were a big help in bringing matza. The matzos arrived and then came the k’zayis preparing ceremony. Using a special scale, thousands of k’zeisim were weighed and packed so that the participants at the Seder could fulfill the mitzva. “To weigh a k’zayis of matza,
when it entails flying matza above and beyond the weight limit, you need to add $8 to every kilogram. Furthermore, the amount of space the matza takes up causes every kilogram to be considered as 2.5 kilo. Customs also wants a share of the “poor bread” and so every kilo of matza ends up costing $30! (By way of comparison, three years ago, the shliach R’ Aharon Freiman paid $9000 just for matza.) Even when a lot of money is paid for the matza, the health ministry steps in and raises various bureaucratic issues. R’ Kupchik provides an illustration of the inflexibility of the Bolivian health ministry: “There is a person in the community who imports chocolate from Switzerland and Germany. His
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WHEN ALL TYPES OF JEWS PROCLAIM “G-D IS ONE”
There are Chabad houses whose menu is a hybrid of Ashkenazi and Mizrachi foods, western and tropical foods. That makes sense when it’s Pesach, and all the children, in all their variety, sit together at one table. The following fascinating blog account was written by R’ Nechemia Wilhelm, shliach in Thailand: I am sure that many readers have had the occasion to visit the Chabad house in Thailand, “your home in the East.” As to those who haven’t (yet), I will briefly describe what happens here on Pesach in Bangkok. In the Hagada we read of the four sons. The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught us that at least the four sons, even the rasha, attend the Seder. This is in contrast to the fifth son who does not even show up. We need to make sure to get him to the Seder. Here in Thailand we have many of those sons. If not for us, who knows whether they would have a place to properly celebrate the Seder. Of course, we are very happy with this great privilege. Preparations for the holiday take several weeks in the course of which we have to plan for the needs of over 4000 people spread out over the country: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Laos. This includes flying in 9500 bottles of wine, 800 kilograms of matza, 115 boxes of gefilte fish, all in all, over twenty tons that come by sea to Thailand. Two years ago, Thailand celebrated its New Year during Pesach, a holiday that lasts three days in which they pour water over one another and run wild in the streets. The center of the chaos is the street where the Chabad house is. Thousands of people were in the streets, singing and dancing. In order to enable many Jews to also celebrate their own holiday, the local police set up a barricade around the entire area surrounding the Chabad house and policemen stood there to enforce order. At the designated time, masses of Israeli tourists dressed in holiday clothes, began pouring in. They all felt fortunate at being able to take part in this special Seder. The reaction of all those who walked in was the same – wow! It is truly amazing to see a hall set for a thousand people who will be celebrating Pesach in put it in a baggie and close it, took one minute each. Now multiply that by a thousand k’zeisim (it’s over 16 hours) and you will understand what needs to be done with all the pressure of Bangkok! The women and girls light candles and I begin with introductory remarks and instructions. Although this year (5773) will be the twelfth that I’m doing this, I am excited about it every time. The sight of a thousand people sitting there expectantly, waiting to do the Seder properly, gives me a very special feeling. Kiddush. A thousand people stand up. They hold the cup of wine. “For You have chosen us and have sanctified us from all the nations.” Everyone says it out loud. I am sure that even the Thai dancing down below stopped momentarily in order to hear this powerful Kiddush. Then we open the Hagados. The children in the hall, along with the children of the shluchim, start saying the Ma Nishtana. Here and there, I see tears in the eyes of participants who probably remember little siblings they haven’t seen in months or more. Nobody remains on the sidelines. Twenty or thirty people stand up for each section of the Hagada and recite it together. This enables everyone to hear. I don’t stop running around, from one table to the next, in order to make sure that each person reads in turn. We get to Shulchan Orech and here too, there is something special, Thai style. It’s not everywhere that you get to eat gefilte fish along with stir-fried vegetables, kneidlach with papaya salad. Toward the end of the Seder, last year, a middleaged woman came over to me and said with tears in her eyes, “I am 52 and this is the most special Seder I ever celebrated in my entire life.” The highlight of the evening and the most moving part comes at the end. The hall is full, nobody wants the evening to end. We start singing “Echad Hu Elokeinu.” At the beginning of the song, all sit. Slowly, some stand on chairs and sing with all their hearts. The feeling is simply indescribable. So many Jews from so many places in Eretz Yisroel and the world, standing together, feeling so emotional, and exclaiming, “One is our G-d in the heavens and the earth.” “Fortunate is the eye that saw this; Fortunate is the nation that such is to it.” got over half a ton of fresh fish whose price skyrocketed because of a gentile holiday, how they managed the food preparation with a varied menu (within two days because there is no freezer),
Erev Pesach.” As I said, a description of the preparations for the biggest Seder in the world could fill an article, how hundreds of chickens were kashered in two days, where they
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and all this along with being always available for those who come to register in person at the Chabad house, through email and the Chabad house website. Include hashgacha over the kashrus of the food, cleaning the Chabad house, decorating the hall, and more.
“AND OUR TOIL AND OUR PRESSURE”
I reached Aryeh Koskas, who works at the Chabad house in Nicaragua, by telephone. He was far from his place of shlichus, in Panama. In Nicaragua there is nothing kosher. The nearest country where you can buy kosher products is Panama, where he went by bus. It took thirty hours. Miraculously, at the Shabbos meal at the Chabad house in Panama, three mochileros went over to him and asked how much a ticket to Nicaragua cost. Aryeh asked, “Why do you ask? Do you want to attend the Seder there?” They said, “No, we want to donate a ticket to you.” What are mochileros? I did not know either. It seems to be Spanish slang for backpackers, usually Israelis. In order to appreciate the magnitude of the miracle, you have to understand why they are called mochileros. Mochila is ‘backpack’ in Spanish and when you call a tourist a mochilero you mean to say he has nothing in life but his backpack. In order to continue touring, he needs to do some roadside peddling like the poorest of the poor. For him to give a donation?! That is definitely a Pesach miracle. I asked where the Seder in Nicaragua is held. I was told: “Two years ago, we did not have a suitable place in our city
The Chabad houses of India and Sri Lanka’s advertising campaign for Pesach
At the Chabad house, after ascertaining that there was no time to get a new shipment, they decided on a daring rescue plan. A group of Lubavitchers, led by R’ Chezky Lifschitz, accompanied by some Israeli tourists, left for India on Thursday by helicopter. They went to the scene of the accident…
This year they are preparing for hundreds of tourists. In neighboring Costa Rica there is no Chabad house except in the capitol city of S. Jose, which means that hundreds of Israeli tourists make their way to Nicaragua in order to celebrate Pesach with them. In the meantime, on Aryeh’s mind is how to get all the food he bought onto the plane. When he arrived in Panama, he was met by a donor who told him to go to the supermarket and buy everything he needed and put it on his account. To that Aryeh added fifty pounds of matza that he bought at the Chabad house. The “overweight” for one person was beyond all logic, but what relevance does logic have when talking about miraculous shlichus work?
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and had to go to another city, four hours away. In addition to the problem with a place, there is also a problem with time. The gentiles celebrate their holiday Erev Pesach and the city fills up with Catholics, the prices of places to stay and hotels go up, and the noise is deafening. “Last year, we went searching for a place along with a gentile neighbor of the Chabad house. He goes out of his way to help us. We finally found a huge restaurant in a nearby city which we rented at a miraculous price. When we came two months before Pesach, they wanted to charge $2000 for five days (enough time to clean, prepare the food, and Seder night). In the end, we closed a deal with them for $400. All we had to do was kasher the hall.”
“AND HE SAW OUR SUFFERING”
An average family knows that Pesach means big expenses. If the family is hosting, the expenses balloon exponentially. One of the most important necessities needed for Yom Tov is money. When we are talking about a Chabad house whose daily existence is a miracle, and which in many cases has no set income, that precious necessity becomes that much more crucial. Fortunately for the shluchim, there is a “baal ha’bayis” in charge and they refer the creditors to him. That is the moving story of R’ Chaim HaLevi Brod, shliach in Playa del Carmen in Mexico. “Three years ago, about half
“I took a volume of Igros Kodesh and thought: Rebbe, I don’t even have the time or the head to write to you now, but I need urgent help. When I opened the volume I nearly fainted. In a letter from Chol HaMoed Pesach, the Rebbe wrote to someone by the name of Chaim HaLevi, and on the bottom it said his surname is Binyamini (my other name is Binyamin and I am a Levi). The Rebbe wrote “your letter of Erev Pesach was received in which you write of the success of your activities.” I was fainting away. The Rebbe went on, ‘don’t be fazed by opposition’ (those words were timely). “I got up my courage and called a friend and within a quarter of an hour I had all the money I needed.”
“Slowly, some stand on chairs and sing with all their hearts. The feeling is simply indescribable. So many Jews from so many places in Eretz Yisroel and the world, standing together, feeling so emotional, and exclaiming, “One is our G-d in the heavens and the earth.”
a year after we arrived here on shlichus, we had our first Seder on shlichus. I did not have even a single dollar in my pocket and I had no idea how I would manage to pull this off. What I did know was that, with Hashem’s help, it would all work out. “Miraculously, we got a place for the Seder for free from the municipality. The shliach R’ Y. Y. Meizlich of Mexico City donated matzos and wine. There were other miracles and other donors. “It was Erev Pesach and I urgently needed $1000 to buy disposable plates and cutlery, pay for the chair and table rentals and for waiters. I had no money.
“YOU OPEN FOR HIM”
R’ Yitzchok Gershowitz is the director of a Chabad house for Israelis in Tenafly, New Jersey. In past years, he organized a huge, fancy Seder for the upperclass Jews in his area. Last year, he did not make a public Seder but “merely” hosted six families along with their little kids. “The night of Pesach is one of the most moving of the year. It is very much a family oriented and social holiday and people prefer celebrating with family. So instead of running a big event, we decided to ensure that every encounter taking place the night of Pesach in the homes
of mekuravim would be done properly. On Rosh Chodesh we divided the entire membership of the Chabad house by age group, language and social circles. We prepared special shiurim along with model Seders in which we taught people what needs to be done, what the halachos, minhagim and obligations are, how much is a k’zayis, when and how to eat, etc. “These are people who, in previous years, would just sit at home, eat matza, read some paragraphs from the Hagada and then eat the meal and schmooze. With our coaching, every family in the community made a proper Seder. Those few people who had nobody to invite them came to us.” That’s not cheap … “Definitely not. The costs for matza, wine, fish, chicken and meat for six families are not negligible. Boruch Hashem, we have someone in the community who owns a huge vegetable store. A few days before Pesach, I go there with a van minus the seats and load it with boxes of vegetables. He donates the total, about $2000.”
“NIGHT OF PROTECTION”
In Chabad houses that receive warnings and instructions from the anti-terrorism unit of the Foreign Ministry, they don’t take chances. They work together with the proper authorities to ensure the safety of the tourists who participate in the Seder. In the Chabad houses in India that draw large crowds like Pushkar, Delhi and of course, Bombay, where they remember the attack on the Chabad house good and well, the local police steps up its vigilance. At the Chabad house in Pushkar where the Seder takes place in the yard, policemen and soldiers
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stand guard a week before Pesach on the rooftop and on the roofs of neighboring buildings. But of all the locations, the description of the precautions taken in Bolivia caught my attention. R’ Kupchik, who grew up on shlichus in Poona, India, first offers a quote from one of the interesting characters at the Chabad house in Poona. Jeffrey is one of the pillars of the Chabad house there who has become more involved in Judaism. “Moshe prayed to G-d, but held a stick,” Jeffrey said, meaning that in addition to bitachon in Hashem, we also need to take normal security precautions. And yet, you can’t always rely on the local police. We saw how effective they were in Bombay … So what does R’ Kupchik do? First, he does not publicize where the Seder will take place until the night of b’dikas chametz. He met with the head of the community and asked him to liaison with the local police. But he thinks that relying on the police is relying
on a miracle. It is not that he is afraid, but it is important to keep one’s word to the tourists that everything is under control. “The very week of Pesach we had a miracle. Two Israeli guys came who had experience with security. They were willing to take responsibility for the entire security situation and did so with all the ‘chumros’ and ‘hiddurim.’ “First, they got volunteers, those who had been in the army, to stand at the entrances and on the corners of streets nearby. They also had people whose job it was to patrol, armed in various ways. At the entrance to the Chabad house they put metal detectors. The decision was made to use an entrance that is not particularly noticeable from the street. Canvas cloths were spread over the doorway and any other from which one could see into the Chabad house, and large floodlights lit up any place that onlookers might lurk. “Two hours before entering the hall, they conducted a sweep
of the hall to ensure that nothing suspicious was there. On Erev Pesach itself, from twelve and on, they only allowed workers to enter the area. The regular employees were identified by us and had a colored ribbon on their hand. We asked all the waiters (whom we did not know) for copies of their ID cards and for two days before Yom Tov, and before entering the hall, they went through a metal detector and a thorough search of their bags. They were also marked with a ribbon on their hand and after that, they were not allowed to leave the area until after the event. “Every person who came and was identified as Jewish was registered and checked out at the registration desk, and received a special ribbon which he had to wear on his hand throughout the evening. The shluchim even made sure that the smoking area would be in a secluded place within the building in order to prevent tourists from going out
Issue 923 • �
to the street. They had yahrtzait candles lit for them, to prevent chillul Yom Tov with the use of matches or lighters.” In that way, the shluchim ensured not only that it was a night of inspiration but also a “night of protection.” how it is possible for us to have seen pictures from the Seder in Kathmandu (while we only see set tables, before the tourists have arrived, in photos from other Chabad houses), the answer is: the Seder begins two hours before Yom Tov in a beautiful hall. A band of musical Israelis greets the guests with music and holiday songs. When everyone is seated, the pictures are taken. A few minutes later, the girls go to light candles and then, the Seder begins with 2000 or so participants. At the same time, a Seder for those who speak English takes place in a smaller hall. They all read the Hagada together. The highlight of the evening is the singing of “Who Knows One” when thousands get up on their chairs and sing and proclaim, “Echad Elokeinu.” The Seder in Kathmandu is not the only one taking place in Nepal. Another one takes place in a village called Manang which is situated very high up on the famous trekking path, the Annapurna Circuit. Tourists who go mountain climbing must stop in this village for at least a day in order to adjust to the diminished oxygen. The Seder here is referred to as the highest one in the world and is attended by about eighty tourists. The equipment comes partly by donkey and partly by helicopter. The third Seder in Nepal takes place in Pokhara which is a base camp for treks around Mt Annapurna. About two hundred Israeli backpackers attend it. Every year, miracles take place in the running of and preparing for the Seder. Every year, tons of food and equipment are sent over land and sea for the huge Seder in Nepal. Two years ago, the truck with a shipping container containing matza and bottles of wine that were sent from Eretz Yisroel, overturned. The shipping container fell into the abyss. It had weighed more than eight tons and overturned on the way from India to Nepal. The driver was seriously injured and the matza and wine were scattered along the steep cliff sides. At the Chabad house, after ascertaining that there was no time to get a new shipment, they decided on a daring rescue plan. A group of Lubavitchers, led by R’ Chezky Lifschitz, accompanied by some Israeli tourists, left for India on Thursday by helicopter. They went to the scene of the accident and collected the matzos and even some of the bottles of wine! L ’shana HaBaa B’Yerushalayim!
“PUT ASIDE THE LARGER...”
The description of “biggest Seder in the world” is a tossup between Chabad in Nepal and Chabad in Bolivia. Still, the Seder in Kathmandu is arguably the most famous in the world because it was celebrated 25 years in a row and was the first of the mass S’darim for tourists. The first one took place in 1987. The ones that followed were conducted by bachurim from Chabad yeshivos all over the world until the arrival of the permanent shluchim, R’ Chezky and Chani Lifshitz in 5759. Since their arrival, the Seder has become the highlight of their year-round activities. You get to feel the atmosphere in the days close to Pesach as the staff works full-speed ahead to kasher the Chabad house and the hotel which will host the Seder, as well as managing the logistics of preparing food for thousands of people with joy. Pressure? Nerves? Not here. In case you’ve wondered
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24 � • 11 Nissan 5774
KING AND RAV
The Rebbe explains that Moshiach has two main roles: as king and teacher. As king, he raises up the spiritual status of the Jewish Nation as a whole to a level they could not reach as individuals. As rav he guides and teaches the Jewish people, like the leaders of the Sanhedrin in previous generations. We, as Chassidim of the Rebbe, have seen openly for many years how the Rebbe is carrying out these two functions, as king and rav; sometimes both simultaneously and sometimes each separately. On YudAleph Nissan we not only celebrate the birth of our king, the leader of the entire nation and ultimately the entire world, we also need to feel how it is a personal celebration and birth for each of us personally.
By Rabbi Yaakov Shmuelevitz a”h Shliach, Beit Shaan
WORDS OF WISDOM FROM A WAYWARD CHASSID
A fifteen year old boy from a beautiful Chassidishe family veered off the derech. He was drawn after friends who were a bad influence until he reached the point of becoming addicted to drugs. He ended up in a rehab center near Beit Shaan. As soon as Anash in Beit Shaan heard about this sad story, they wanted to get involved and help him, knowing he was alone in a tough institution. At first, we were not given
permission to enter the rehab center. The administration explained to us that the rehab process takes place in four stages with rules for each stage. In the first stage, the person cannot receive visitors and phone calls and cannot leave the premises. In the second stage, he is allowed visitors but cannot leave. In the third stage, he is allowed on brief outings accompanied by a counselor and only in the fourth stage is he allowed out on his own. Since the boy was in stage one, he could not be visited. It
was only after we insisted and explained that we had to bring him food under the Badatz hechsher (otherwise, he wouldn’t eat) and after getting the parents involved, that we were given special permission to go twice a day and bring him food. Of course, along with the physical food we provided spiritual food in encouraging conversations and divrei Torah. Before Yud-Tes Kislev, we were determined to have the bachur join a farbrengen. The bachur wanted to do so very much, but the administration of the rehab place would not allow it. “It’s not enough that you come and visit him, you also want to take him out?!” Once again, we got the parents involved and we explained to the staff that Yud-Tes Kislev is Rosh HaShana for Chassidus and just like on Rosh HaShana everyone has to hear the shofar, on YudTes Kislev everyone has to attend a farbrengen. In the end, they agreed to release him for just one half hour (maybe they inquired as to how long t’kios take …). They asked where the farbrengen would be held, and figured out how long it would take to get there and back and added a half an hour. They warned us to bring him back on time or else he would suffer some serious consequences. We agreed. The bachur arrived and the farbrengen was underway. About a hundred men from Beit Shaan and the kibbutzim were sitting there and the atmosphere was
Issue 923 • �
It took mere seconds but made a mighty impression on me. I saw the strength along with the humility, the great joy along with absolute solemnity. At that moment I knew: I have a king!
warm and uplifting. Suddenly, someone noticed him in the entrance and gave him a hearty “shalom aleichem.” He also loudly said, “It’s good you came since you have a good voice. Come sing some Chassidishe songs into the microphone.” Someone pushed the bachur toward the microphone and there he was, ready to sing. Then something unexpected happened. He asked whether he could say a few words before he sang. The truth is that my heart skipped a beat. I was very nervous. What on earth would he say? But the bachur did not wait; he just began speaking. “I come from a frum, Chassidishe home. But you know that I made foolish mistakes, as many boys do. I left home and yeshiva and hung out with friends who weren’t the most religious. I want to tell you that all my friends did a lot of things that I don’t even want to talk about. These friends always tried to get me to join them but I wasn’t willing. Do you know what saved me? “Every time they asked me to join them, I was reminded of the big picture of the Rebbe hanging in the living room at home and I said to myself: That is my Rebbe and I cannot go with friends to do these bad things. The Rebbe is the one who saved me and protected me. “In conclusion, I want to tell you parents, fathers of children, if you want your children to grow up in the right way, you should know that you have to be connected to the Rebbe. Bring
the Rebbe into your home, go in the Rebbe’s way. It is only this which will protect your children.” Everyone applauded and some wiped away a tear. The bachur went on to sing “Tzama Lecha Nafshi,” then “An’im Z’miros,” “Pada B’shalom Nafshi.” By that time there were only three minutes left before he had to return to the rehab center. He glanced at his watch and said he had to sing one more song, a camp song “I am Yours Forever,” which expresses the love of a Chassid for the Rebbe. He closed his eyes and sang and then, it was back to rehab. I weighed whether to write this story or not, for obvious reasons. What tipped the scale in favor of writing it was the fact that we need to remember that even when things don’t look good, when a child slips and slides downward, he has the Rebbe as king and beloved rav who will save him.
AT THAT MOMENT, I KNEW
A bachur from Givatayim
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from an irreligious home became acquainted with Judaism and Chassidus. He became a baal t’shuva and spent some years learning in the Chabad yeshiva in Ramat Aviv and went to visit the yeshiva in Tzfas. He joined a farbrengen with some bachurim and said this about his life: “I was a typical Israeli kid, not religious, not traditional, just an Israeli kid. With the education I got at home, I would not have ended up in a yeshiva. So what happened? In my neighborhood there is a Chabad house and in the front window they put a plasma screen which operated 24 hours a day. It constantly played videos of the Rebbe. As I would walk down that street, I would occasionally glance at the screen and see the Rebbe speak, give out dollars, pray or walk among the Chassidim. “One day, I stopped near the Chabad house and watched the Rebbe stride along like a king in a parade. Maybe he was walking into a farbrengen or to the platform at the Lag B’Omer parade; whatever it was, it was impressive. It took mere seconds but made a mighty impression
on me. I saw the strength along with the humility, the great joy along with absolute solemnity. At that moment I knew: I have a king! The rest was merely a continuation of that insight. I walked into the Chabad house and decided to attend t’fillos and shiurim. In short, I entered the king’s legion where I serve till this day.”
FROM CHABAD IN TUNISIA TO RADIO BEER SHEVA
In Beer Sheva there is a wonderful man who, along with his senior position and many public roles, does not forget the period of time he learned in the Chabad elementary school in Tunisia, a period that has an impact on him till today. Mr. Yossi Kimchi is the director of the southern district of Kupat Cholim. In his free time he is the director and a broadcaster at Beer Sheva’s radio station. Mr. Kimchi introduces himself as a proud Chabad Chassid and publicizes the Rebbe’s views on every issue. At every opportunity he represents Chabad gracefully and powerfully.
On his Kabbalas Shabbos radio program he does not miss an opportunity to share Chassidic ideas about Shabbos and the parsha. His favorite book which doesn’t move from his desk is HaShabbos B’Kabbala u’b’Chassidus written by a Beis Moshiach columnist, Rabbi Yosef Karasik, shliach in Bat Chefer. Every Erev Shabbos he reads ideas from the book on his broadcast. Mr. Kimchi is in close touch with the shluchim in Beer Sheva, mainly with R’ Moshe Ariel Roth who has served for years as the rav of the k’hilla in Naot Lon. He is a chazan and paytan (one who is versed in Sephardic poetic liturgy) in the big shul in that neighborhood and the shul is open to all Chabad events, the Moshiach Seuda, shiurim, and weekly visits by the shluchim. When his friends want to tease him, they say that he himself actually runs the Chabad shul. Mr. Kimchi responds by saying: All the Rebbe’s activities suit us and are welcome by us with open arms. To him, the Rebbe is both king and rav.
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Issue 923 • �
THE “GOY” WHO HELPED THE BAAL SHEM TOV BRING FLOUR TO BAKE MATZA
A story about preparing for Pesach from the book “Sippur shel Chag – Chag Ha’Pesach.”
By Menachem Ziegelboim
An old wooden hut stood on the side of the mountain, as though hiding in its shadow. Wherever you looked, the Carpathian Mountains extended in all their glory. The G-dly creation was visible in all its beauty. A young couple lived in this hut, a couple who had chosen to escape the bustle of city life. They had married just two months earlier and now they were building their lives in peace and quiet. The man’s name was Yisroel. As a child, he was called Yisroelik and when he became the leader of the Jewish people, he was known as Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov. Despite his young age, there was
always a grave look to his mien. His eyes shone with a joyous sparkle and he radiated calm. His young wife Rochel was happy even though she hardly saw her husband. Throughout the week, Yisroelik left the house and wandered through the thick forests that were plentiful in the Carpathian Mountains. He would leave the house Sunday morning and return Friday afternoon, before Shabbos. Rochel was happy nonetheless, because she knew that her husband was a tzaddik, a scholar, and a holy man. Not many knew this. Actually, only she knew. Her husband concealed his ways from others, even from her brother, the great R’ Gershon of Kitov.
R’ Gershon could not have imagined that his sister would do a shidduch like this. He had hoped with all his heart that he could marry her off to an outstanding G-d fearing Torah scholar, not a nobody who showed up one day at his house and showed him the engagement contract signed by R’ Gershon’s late saintly father. After a brief and modest meeting, the two agreed to marry one another. Having no choice, R’ Gershon accepted his sister’s decision. But in order not to be shamed before his congregation, he sent the young couple far away. He was happy that they had readily agreed to do so, and did not know that this was what his new brother-in-law actually wanted.
28 � • 11 Nissan 5774
Yisroelik walked among the mountains during the long summer, with the sun beating down, as well as in the snowy winter. He held a rough thick staff in his hand and had a small knapsack on his shoulder. The knapsack contained his tallis and t’fillin, a book or two, and bread. To support them, Rochel worked at various jobs, while her husband achieved heavenly spiritual heights in his isolation and holiness. No one was happier than her.
He accepted what happened and left again for one of the villages to obtain more wheat for matza. When he finished grinding, he loaded the heavy sack of flour on the wagon and left for home. He had a long journey ahead of him and the thin horse worked hard to pull the laden wagon behind him. The horse had done this many times before, but it
The snows began to melt and buds of spring began to appear here and there. Pesach was approaching but Yisroelik still had no matzos, nor meat. He harnessed his horse to a wagon and left for a neighboring village. He slaughtered an animal there and with the little money that he had, he bought wheat. He ground it and returned home with flour and meat for Pesach. When he arrived at his door, he said to his wife, “It would be a good idea to take the flour and meat inside and unhitch the horse.” He himself hurried to the hut where he would commune in solitude in his efforts to continue reaching ever greater spiritual heights. A few minutes went by and before his wife had taken the flour indoors, the skies became cloudy and it began to pour. She was devastated about the sack of flour which had become chametz. She knew that there was nothing else to do with it but bake regular bread. She rushed to tell her husband what happened. Yisroelik did not get upset.
seemed as though this time it wouldn’t make it. Yisroelik helped the horse and pushed the wagon from the rear, but the poor horse could not go on and died on the road. Yisroelik knew that human beings hardly ever came to these parts and having no choice, he had to continue pulling the wagon himself since he was afraid to leave the flour unguarded. At a certain point, he had no strength to go on and he stood
near the wagon and cried bitterly. As he sobbed, he noticed a tall, impressive person approaching him. It was a distinguished looking Jew. Yisroelik realized that this was Eliyahu HaNavi who had come to help him. Eliyahu HaNavi looked at him with a smile on his face and said, “You should know that your tears are desirable and your prayers were accepted. I will immediately send you a goy who will take your wagon with the flour to your house.” Yisroelik instantly woke up and saw it had been a dream and that he had nodded off in his tears. A short time later, a burly goy appeared with a horse and wagon. The reputation of the young, odd fellow (Yisroelik) who wandered among the mountains was already known to the gentiles in the area and he said, “Srulche, tie your wagon to my wagon and I will bring you home.” The hefty fellow loaded the carcass of the horse on to the wagon and they set off. A short while later, the two of them arrived near the couple’s hut. When he arrived at the Baal Shem Tov’s hut, the goy said, “What will you give me if I skin the horse and give it to you?” The Baal Shem Tov gave him a gold coin worth 13 rubles. Shortly thereafter, another goy came to the Baal Shem Tov and bought the skin for four gold coins and said, “Try to purchase clothing for Yom Tov for you and your wife with this money.” The Baal Shem Tov knew that these gentiles were none other than emissaries of G-d to help him for Yom Tov.
(Shivchei HaBaal Shem Tov)
Issue 923 • �
In honor of Yud-Alef Nissan, the birthday of the Nasi Ha’dor, our reporter collected personal accounts and stories, big and small, from people who feel that the Rebbe cares for them.
By Rocheli Green
uring Tishrei a few years ago, a friend told me how odd it was for her to hear how other girls spoke about the Rebbe. “He’s all mine,” she said, “and it was odd to see how they felt the same way.” It’s true. Because each of us feels that the Rebbe is only ours. Rocheli Blau Hanoka: I was asked to come to a farbrengen in Netanya and to speak on the topic of hiskashrus to the Rebbe. I planned on preparing properly, but I did not manage to do much. The farbrengen was planned for
Yud-Tes Kislev afternoon and that day (as well as the days prior to it) I was busy from morning till night. I knew that I could fill ten minutes and even that was just “perhaps.” I would expand a bit on the HaYom Yom for 24 Sivan and tell an unfamiliar story about Yud-Tes Kislev. But the organizers expected something a bit more substantial and lengthy. Before I left for the farbrengen, I stood near a picture of the Rebbe and said to him: Put the words in my mouth. I
30 � • 11 Nissan 5774
don’t know what to say and I did as much as I could do. I am preparing myself to be nothing more than a channel. At the farbrengen there was a large picture of the Rebbe wearing tallis and t’fillin. I looked at it and asked, in my heart, once again. And I began speaking. I walked in at 3:18 and left at 4:30 and I could have continued speaking... Batya Lombroso: One Tishrei, before we returned to Eretz Yisroel, my sister and I weighed our suitcases. They were significantly overweight. We did not have money and my sister suggested that we borrow money so we could pay at the airport. I told her that she could borrow if she wanted but I would not borrow money. I was coming from the Rebbe and I was sure that I wouldn’t have a problem. We went to the airport without an extra cent. When it was our turn, the clerk wanted to put the suitcase on the belt. I put the suitcase down as it was, without being nervous about it. The Rebbe was with me, right? I put down the suitcase as I murmured “Yechi.” The clerk attached a ticket to the suitcase with looking at the weight and said I could move on. On my right and left, clerks were telling girls to take down their suitcases because of four extra kilos and my sister and I, with more than ten kilos, went through with the Rebbe without any problem. Avital Borstein: It was a very difficult period. My mother had passed away a few months before and the hardship was overwhelming. At the same time, together with Kollel Chabad, I had come up with an idea for a small homey organization for
Issue 923 • �
high school and seminary girls going through similar challenges. Before the first activity that we did it was very stressful (because the issue was very sensitive). At a certain point, a friend whom I had relied on to help me, told me that she was backing out. I felt that the difficulties were unbearable and I wondered whether what I was doing was the right thing. That day, I came across a video excerpt in which the Rebbe stood, spoke, and cried. The Rebbe’s voice, his tears, along with the words, struck me deeply: “We wish to have ‘emuna p’shuta,’ that ‘I will thank you Hashem for You were wroth with me!’” With hot tears, crying out, pleading. I felt that the Rebbe cried then, when he said this sicha, for this moment, for the moment in which I was experiencing this terrible test, with tremendous hardship, at the brink of something revolutionary but on the verge of despair. I felt how the Rebbe understood me! And yet, was crying and pleading, “Carry on!” There were other people watching the video with me but I felt that the Rebbe was speaking to me and for me. I felt that it was only me and him. My Rebbe. And I carried on, with the Rebbe’s words constantly reverberating. “We desire to have emuna p’shuta that I will thank you Hashem for You were wroth with me!” Oriya Mavry: We became baalei t’shuva twelve years ago. We lived on a yishuv and our financial situation was bleak. My father was fired and my mother’s salary did not cover all our expenses. Since we hadn’t paid the rent, the landlord demanded that we leave so his son could move in. In order to make this happen quickly, he cut off the electricity and water. Boruch Hashem, we managed thanks to the rebbetzin of the yishuv. She would bring us pails of water and bottles of frozen water so we could keep dairy products in a cooler. My parents spent a year looking for another apartment to rent, but each time when it came time to sign a lease, somehow the arrangement would fall through. One day, my mother came across an ad in Yediot HaKfar about a bracha from the Rebbe. She called the number in the ad. A man answered and asked her to call back later or to send a request in the mail since the woman who took care of this was not available at the time. In the end, my mother decided to leave her address and phone number and asked that someone get back to her. When her call was returned, it was a nice girl who asked my mother what she needed. My mother said, “A bracha from the Rebbe.” The girl wrote a letter to the Rebbe and after putting it into a volume of Igros Kodesh; she read the page and happily reported, “You have a bracha for an apartment. The Rebbe gives a bracha for laying the cornerstone.” My mother did not quite understand how it was possible for her to lay a cornerstone when we were being threatened with immediate eviction. This all happened on a Thursday. On Motzaei Shabbos, the representative of some nonprofit organization called and offered his friend’s apartment to my mother. We were not familiar with that yishuv and had not seen the apartment, but it all happened very quickly. My father went to the new yishuv, registered as a resident, and the moment he came back they began loading the contents of the old house into a big vehicle. It took a bit of time until we actually moved because it was an apartment that had been closed for many years and it needed to be connected to the electricity and water and a few other things had to be done. During those three weeks, we stayed with my grandparents. Until today, we have tremendous bracha in this apartment in the merit of the Rebbe’s bracha. Ohr Rochel Inspektor: I’ve traveled a lot, always with a picture of the Rebbe in my wallet. A policeman once stopped me for a traffic infraction because I hadn’t come to a full stop at the stop sign. It was 10 Teves. When I handed my registration to the officer who was religious, he noticed the Rebbe’s picture inside the car. “Are you a Chassida of his?” he asked. “I try,” I said. “Fine,” he said as he handed back the papers. “I know him a bit, and I know that he would not want us to ruin the joy of the holiday with tickets and fines. Although this day has not yet been transformed into a holiday and is still a fast day, I won’t ruin it for you. Travel safely.” Doreen Dadon: “Last year I went to the Rebbe for Tishrei without realizing what this entails. I decided to go with the flow because I really wanted to go to the Rebbe. I flew with some friends and
32 � • 11 Nissan 5774
when we arrived, they arranged a place for us. The apartment was okay but for me, who wasn’t used to being away from a nice, comfortable home, it was very hard. The next day, I went to 770 where I discovered that I did not understand anything. The entire purpose of my coming to the Rebbe was to understand what a Rebbe is and what Chabad means, and I was frustrated that I had nobody close to me who could guide me. On the Friday before Rosh HaShana, I began to cry and I wrote to the Rebbe that I had tried, I had come, and the conditions here did not enable me to make any progress. I asked the Rebbe for two things: that I have a nice place to stay and that I have someone to learn with throughout the month. I finished writing and left for 770. My feet dragged me there while I felt I had nothing to do there. When I arrived, I met someone whom I did not know and she asked whether I had a place to stay because she had a place to sleep but her hosts were going away and she did not want to remain alone. I immediately told her that I was looking for a place with a homey atmosphere and I would be happy to join her. On the second day of Rosh HaShana I went to 770 and sat down somewhere. Someone told me that the person whose seat it was never came to shul which meant I could sit there through the entire davening in peace. This same person helped me follow the chazan and even davened out loud so I could hear her and know where we were up to. Thus, my second request was
fulfilled, a request for a chavrusa. That girl became my chavrusa for the month. From the moment I wrote my letter, my Tishrei became wonderful, thanks to the Rebbe who looked out for me. Mushy Lifschitz: One day, I had no strength for anything, not to do and not to work... just an undefined “lousy” feeling. I wrote to the Rebbe and opened to an amazing answer. The Rebbe wrote that he knows about the weakness of the men or women among the Chassidim, and we need to know that there is a great Rebbe, his father-in-law, who prays for them and thinks of them. That was just what I needed to see and hear at that time. Miriam Mussia Borstein: For many years I worked all year so as to be able to go to the Rebbe. But every year, for various reasons, I
remained in Eretz Yisroel. One year, I despaired in advance. I thought the Rebbe wanted me in Eretz Yisroel and that was that, so why bother expending energy on trying to go? But my Rebbe wanted me with him for Tishrei and I got a ticket for free! When I arrived, I had no idea where I would be sleeping. But a place was arranged for me with a wonderful family, for the entire month, for free. Every time, at the davening, at the hakafos, at the Simchas Beis HaShoeiva, the second I arrived, I had the best spot I could dream of. I felt that the Rebbe was looking after me so I would have everything I needed and beyond. He brought me to him and he hosted me in the best possible way.
Issue 923 • �
A MODERN DAY
CHONI HAM’AGEL STORY
The construction of the mikva in Recife, Brazil was quickly moving forward. There was a donor, an engineer had volunteered his time, space had been allocated, but one important thing was missing. Recife had been enduring drought conditions for five years (!), and there hadn’t been a drop of rain. While the shliach was extremely busy with the building project, the m’shaleiach “knew all that was being done.” During the farbrengen of Shabbos Parshas Shmini 5744, the Rebbe began to speak about a subject that filled the shliach with excitement. And the miracle? It naturally took place! “And these days shall be remembered and celebrated...”
By Chaim Brook Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry
ecife, Brazil is not as famous as its betterknown sister cities, S. Paolo and Rio de Janeiro. Recife is a port city that extended its hands in kindness to Jews in their time of distress. Apparently, this merit came to its aid centuries later. It was during the era when the Inquisition instilled fear throughout Spain, highlighted by its uninhibited war against Judaism. The Jews were forced into exile from their native land, and many of these refugees found safe haven in the South American nation of Brazil. Some eventually settled in the port city of Recife. Later, when the long arm of the Inquisition reached the shores of Recife as well, the longstanding Jewish community disbanded, and the local Jews
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Rabbi Shalom Yaakov Chazan receiving the kuntres “Anochi Magen Lecha – 5678” from the Rebbe
wandered to other locations. When the shluchim of the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, Rabbi and Mrs. Shalom Yaakov Chazan, arrived in the city in 5743, the renewed Jewish community there only numbered about three hundred families. There was no mikva in the city, but Brazil’s longest serving shliach, Rabbi Shabsi Alperin, had promised to help them in its construction. Thus, upon receiving the Rebbe’s bracha, the Chazans set out on their shlichus to Recife. As soon as they arrived in the city, activities began with the local Jewish community while they inquired about a suitable location to build the mikva. With G-d’s help, they managed to acquire such a location, owned by the local Jewish community center. They found a donor from
S. Paolo, who agreed to cover the cost of the mikva construction, while a local Jewish engineer consented to do the work on a volunteer basis. He traveled to S. Paolo to see how a mikva should be built, and in Adar Sheni 5744, shortly before Purim, the mikva plans were finally ready and the construction began.
NOT A DROP OF RAIN
The Purim holiday was celebrated in the Recife Chabad house with great happiness and joy. Shortly afterward, Rabbi Chazan traveled to New York for a family wedding. On the 17th of Adar Sheni, he submitted a report to the Rebbe, providing details on Chabad house activities in Recife during Purim. At the conclusion of the report, he also
informed the Rebbe of the start of the mikva construction: “A few weeks ago we began constructing the mikva. The engineer, Mr. Tzvi (Ernesto) Kopman, took the matter quite seriously, and he is building at a rapid pace without payment. We hope that the mikva will be ready within two months. The matter has left a very powerful impression in the city that Judaism in Recife has, thank G-d, begun to blossom.” The Rebbe sent the following answer in reply: Received with much thanks. “And a word in time” – close to Purim when “the Jews had light and joy, gladness and honor” – according to its literal meaning, and as in the saying of our Sages, of blessed memory – “so let it be with us.” I will mention it at the Tziyon. The mikva construction was progressing, and everything appeared to be going smoothly. There was a donor, an engineer had volunteered his time, space had been allocated, but one important thing was missing. Recife had been enduring drought conditions for five years (!), and there hadn’t been a
Issue 923 • �
drop of rain. However, this did not trouble Rabbi Chazan. First let’s finish the construction, and then we’ll see what we’ll do, he thought to himself. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it... Three days later, on the 20th of Adar Sheni 5744, the Rebbe made a farbrengen. The shliach, Rabbi Shalom Yaakov Chazan, was there as well, standing in 770 among the throngs in attendance, listening with great concentration to the Rebbe’s every word. Everything seemed routine, relatively speaking, for the place representing the very heartbeat of the Jewish People. pits, and caverns.” The rain then began to come down with great force, every drop being as big as the opening of a barrel... [His students] said to him: “We believe that these rains came down to destroy the whole world...” He said, “Ribbono Shel Olam, not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain of benevolence, blessing and bounty.” The rain then fell normally, etc. It then concludes: And they made that day (the 20th of Adar) into a holiday, as the rains do not fall except in the merit of Israel. And thus, we can learn an instruction in Avodas Hashem from this story, as in all matters of the Torah... relevant to each and every Jew... When a Jew stands to pray and ask G-d to give him all he requires... there is the teaching learned from the story about the prayer of Choni HaM’agel – how the matter of t’filla should be with each and every Jew... With regard to the conduct of Choni HaM’agel, who ‘drew a circle’ and ‘I will not move from this place until You have pity on your children’ – only Choni HaM’agel can take such a commitment upon himself, certain that his prayer and his request will be fulfilled immediately, as opposed to any other person, who can’t accept such a commitment upon himself. However, regarding the manner of t’filla itself, ‘like a son who imposes himself on his father’ – this matter is relevant to each and every Jew, since ‘you are the children of Hashem, your G-d’... And the intention is – that he should turn to G-d forcefully once, twice, three times, etc. and if he sees that his request had not been completely fulfilled – he says ‘not for this have I prayed, etc.’ On the other hand, when he sees that the drawing down of the bracha is in a manner of ‘an excess of good,’ and he still lacks the ‘vessels’ for that – ‘You showered upon them an excess of good that they could not endure’ – he should not be embarrassed (‘the bashful person cannot learn’), rather he should say that for the time being ... he asks that they give him a quantity of bracha in accordance with his current status and condition. And all this ‘as a son who imposes himself on his father.’ And although this is the conduct of Choni HaM’agel, our Sages, of blessed memory, have said: A person must say: ‘When will my deeds reach the deeds of my forefathers – Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov?’ And naturally, after Choni HaM’agel opened and paved the way – it would then be easy for every Jew to conduct himself in such a manner, as we found regarding the matter of yiras Shamayim after the avoda of Moshe Rabbeinu, it is ‘a small thing’ for each and every Jew…
THE REBBE SURPRISINGLY BEGINS TO DISCUSS THE SUBJECT
Then suddenly, the Rebbe started speaking about “the set date for this Shabbos, on the twentieth of Adar” (see Hisvaaduyos 5744): This is the language of the Megillas Taanis: On the twentieth [of Adar], the people were thirsting for rain ... and since the greater part of the month of Adar had gone by and yet no rain had fallen, the people sent a message to Choni HaM’agel, “Pray that rain may fall.” He told them, “Go and bring in the Pesach ovens (which were in the courtyard and made out of clay) that they shouldn’t be softened.” ... He drew a circle and stood within it... He said, “Ribbono Shel Olam...I will not move from this place until You have pity on your children.” Rain began falling drop by drop. His students said to him: “...We believe that these rains have only come to release you from your vow.” He said, “Ribbono Shel Olam, not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain that will fill the cisterns,
A LOVING FATHER TENDS TO HIS ONLY SON
Rabbi Chazan listened to these words with unrestrained excitement. He felt as if the Rebbe was speaking directly to him. The Rebbe was simply providing the cure before the illness – like a loving father concerned for his only son – his shliach building a mikva in Recife, Brazil, and in need of rain. It’s easy to understand that Rabbi Chazan was not all that surprised when a few days after the farbrengen, he received a telephone call informing him that rain had suddenly begun to fall in Recife… On the 15th of Menachem
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Av 5744, Rabbi Chazan wrote a report to the Rebbe, including an interesting episode that took place in its camp program: “One day, when one of the children participating in the camp returned home, he was playing with his friends, and they were eating candy. The boy covered his head and told his friends, ‘I’m now going to make a blessing over food. Even though you don’t understand what this is, answer Amen when I finish.’” At the end of the report, Rabbi Chazan informed the Rebbe that the mikva construction had been completed, enclosing an invitation to the dedication event. In reply, Rabbi Chazan received a general-personal letter, dated Motzaei Tisha B’Av, beginning as follows: “The letter, etc., were received, and much thanks.” The word etc. referred to the invitation to the mikva dedication and the PaN he enclosed. However, the Rebbe didn’t settle for that, adding afterward in his own handwriting: “And the invitation and the PaN.”
Key to the mikva presented to the Rebbe
A MIRACLE IN RECIFE AND A KEY FOR THE REBBE
As Rosh Hashanah 5745 approached, Rabbi Chazan and his wife came to the Rebbe. Rabbi Chazan had written a report on the mikva dedication ceremony, clearly detailing the content of his speech before those participating in the event, which focused on the miracle of the rainfall in Recife: “We saw G-d’s Kindness
during the building of the mikva, as Recife and its surrounding area had already gone five years without proper rainfall. It’s interesting that when we began dealing with the mivka’s construction, around the month of Adar, thank G-d, there was rainfall for about six months. “Furthermore, it’s interesting that while we were here in [Beis Chayeinu] on Shabbos Parshas Shmini, the 20th of Adar, one of the sichos at the farbrengen [that day] was regarding the story of Choni HaM’agel, which took place on the 20th of Adar, and its [relevant] lesson. From that week on, rain began to fall in Recife...” Together with the report, he enclosed a key framed with the inscription: “The Rebbe Shlita. Key of the mikva building. Recife, Brazil. 5744.” The Rebbe issued the following response: Received with much thanks. “And a word in time” – close to the Time of our Rejoicing, Shmini Atzeres, Simchas Torah, and Shabbos B’Reishis. I’ll mention it at the Tziyon.
Anywhere, Anytime !
CHITAS INYONEI GEULA & MOSHIACH RAMBAM SHIURIM IN LIKUTEI SICHOS KODESH
LIVE SHIURIM 0NLINE
,ww,j jhanu vkutd hbhbg owwcnr hyuekc ohrugha asue ,ujha
sgu okugk jhanv lkn ubcru ubrun ubhbust hjh
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HOLDING ON TO EVERY WORD OF THE REBBE
In k’dusha, there isn’t and there can’t be something that is devoid of meaning. Every word has a purpose. And even if sometimes we don’t understand the deeper meaning hidden behind a certain word, every person needs to be careful to fulfill the words of the Sages with awe. • From a speech said at a Chaf-Ches Nissan gathering in Kfar Chabad
By R’ Yisroel Halperin Shliach, Hertzliya
If you study the Rebbe’s sicha of Chaf-Ches Nissan 5751, you discover that the Rebbe endowed us with special strength that we did not have before. The purpose is for us to use these kochos in order to carry out the avoda that is seemingly impossible: to take “Lights of Tohu” and draw them down into “Vessels of Tikkun.” Whoever has learned any Chassidus and knows the significance of these concepts, “Lights of Tohu” and “Vessels of Tikkun,” immediately realizes that these are concepts that
don’t naturally occupy the same space. “Lights of Tohu” are lofty spiritual lights that cannot be absorbed by human intellect, while “Vessels of Tikkun” represent human intellect, which wants to deconstruct all spiritual matters into material terms. The question is: how is it possible to take such lofty spiritual ideas, which by definition are considered such that defy deconstruction and comprehension in material terms, and to break them down to the point that they can be grasped in the lowest material vessels?
As for us, the concepts associated with Yemos HaMoshiach sound so far from the physical reality we live in, in galus, how can we be expected to tell people about these lofty matters in a way that they can understand?
TO INSIST AND TO PLAN
You can find the answer further in the sicha. The Rebbe says that in order to bring Moshiach there are two prerequisites. The first condition is that ten Jews need to be stubborn about
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bringing Moshiach. According to Chassidic explanations, stubbornness is expressed in consistent and uncompromising advancement according to the rules that the Torah dictates, without taking into consideration any agency that seeks to undermine the full power of emuna. This stubbornness, even before coming up with a plan, which I will speak about shortly, is how we are described, “it is a stiff-necked nation.” In the positive sense, it can lead to “and You will forgive our iniquities and sins and take us as Your inheritance.” But stubbornness alone is not enough. It is necessary to fulfill the second condition, to come up with a plan. To sit with PR experts and think about all the ways the message can be conveyed in the most assimilative manner.
EVERY WORD COUNTS
The first original work the Rebbe authored contains his explanations on the Hagada. In the introduction, the Rebbe quotes the Maharil that “every person should tremble in awe to fulfill the words of the Sages who enacted the mitzvos of the seder and the Hagada and this matter should not be light in his eyes, even if people think that some things one need not be particular about; he should consider in his mind to fulfill them for there is no word devoid of meaning in them.” Being that in Chabad it is not the practice to say Chasal Siddur Pesach since Pesach does not end, especially as Chassidus explains the uniqueness of Pesach that not only a glimmer of it illuminates throughout the entire year but the very essence of the holiday extends over the entire year, obviously this
contains a practical lesson for the entire year. The lesson is that in the realm of holiness, “there is no word devoid of meaning.” Every word has a purpose and even if sometimes we don’t understand the deeper meaning hidden behind a certain word, every person needs to be careful to fulfill the words of the Sages with awe.
SLIPPERS AND TOWELS INCLUDED
The story is told of the holy Baal Shem Tov’s servant who merited to live an extremely long life. When he was asked why he deserved this, he said that one time he entered the Baal Shem Tov’s room in order to clean it. When he began cleaning, he noticed the Baal Shem Tov’s slippers near the bed. He considered moving them so they would not be in the way of his work, but changed his mind on second thought. He decided that since with a tzaddik of the caliber of the Baal Shem Tov, everything he does is precise, and since the Baal Shem Tov plays a pivotal role in the existence of all the worlds, surely the way he placed
his slippers is also of utmost importance and should not be changed. When the Baal Shem Tov awoke, he exclaimed that the servant had done the right thing in not moving the slippers because there were, indeed, lofty intentions. He promised the man a very long life. A similar story is told about the Mezritcher Maggid who once went to the Toldos, R’ Yaakov Yosef of Polnoye to visit him. The Toldos asked him how he, out of all the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov, had merited to become his successor. The two great men sat together and spoke divrei Torah and there was nothing that the Maggid knew that the Toldos did not know. Finally, the Maggid told the Toldos that in the Baal Shem Tov’s room hung two towels. The Maggid asked the Toldos whether he knew why the Baal Shem Tov needed these two towels. The Toldos was silent, for he did not know. The Maggid said, I will tell you the story of these towels. These towels were always in the Baal Shem Tov’s room and every Friday, after immersing in the mikva, he would use them. The Maggid once hid in the Baal Shem Tov’s room shortly before he returned from the mikva and waited to see what would happen. From his hiding place, he saw the Baal Shem Tov wrap himself in one towel. At that point he began to feel such a lofty spiritual elevation that he felt he could not bear it. He tried to leave his hiding place but then the Baal Shem Tov said to him that it was too late and he held out the second towel and said the Maggid should hold on to it and this would help him in his spiritual elevation.
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Living with Moshiach is our oxygen. Someone who doesn’t like it, someone who claims he is sick and tired of dealing with one thing all the time, has a serious problem and he needs to make a spiritual accounting and examine his hiskashrus to the Rebbe. Because to a Chassid of the Rebbe, inyanei Moshiach are like oxygen.
That was the Maggid’s story, which he concluded by saying that he could not divulge more than that. In any case, from this story we learn that by a Rebbe there is no such thing as even an extra towel. If there were two towels in the Baal Shem Tov’s room, there was a purpose for the second towel, to raise the Maggid to those lofty levels. principle explained in Chassidus that G-dliness is revealed within the worlds, there must be a judge and prophet in every generation that exists in an eternal fashion just like the Foundation Stone which is in a certain location in this physical world and it exists constantly with no change, not even the change of being hidden, as the Aron was hidden. In Kuntres Beis Rabbeinu Sh’B’Bavel, the Rebbe establishes unequivocally that Moshiach’s place is 770 where he sits and waits for Hashem to tell him to reveal himself and redeem the Jewish people. The fact that we don’t see this is a very tough problem, but it’s our problem. We are limited and unfortunately we cannot open our physical eyes and see the eternal truth, that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam in 770 without the change of g’niza.
From all that was said thus far, we understand that every point brought in the Rebbe’s sichos, even if it’s brought parenthetically, needs to be treated with the same measure of awe and fear that we treat all the explicit instructions of the Rebbe. There is no difference between them! In what the Rebbe said there is no “missing or extra.” If it was enough that we knew that the Rebbe is Moshiach and he is chai v’kayam in a physical body, but it was not necessary for us to know that there is not even the change of g’niza (being buried or hidden away) then it would not have been said! Since it was said, this proves that this fact is non-negotiable! In the same sicha (Shoftim 5751), the Rebbe explains that the very existence of the Nasi HaDor is the symbol of the revelation of G-dliness in the world and therefore, based on the
VICTORY PARADES COME LATER
We need to review and repeat to ourselves that in the end, everything the Rebbe said will be seen as utterly precise. In the final moments of galus we need to muster all our strength in order to stand strong. Each of us remembers and thinks about farbrengens with the Rebbe, getting dollars or kos shel bracha, the yechiduyos or Lag B’Omer parades. We feel nostalgic and long for those
days. Nostalgia is a good thing but we can’t stop with that. The great longing needs to spur us on to intensify the work with the absolute knowledge that we are right in the middle of the final assault on the enemy and we cannot stop. When we conclude the operation with a great victory, then we will merit once again all those special spiritual experiences, with the peak experience of receiving kos shel bracha at the festive meal with the Shor HaBar and the Leviasan. Another important thing to remember is in one of the Rebbe’s sichos in the summer of 5750. There he says that since the Nasi HaDor is one with Atzmus, he is capable of taking our free will from us. That means, we will definitely do the work the Rebbe gave us to do. If we don’t do it willingly, the Rebbe can take away our power of choice and then we will have no choice but to do what we have to do. The work will get done, that’s a given. The question is whether we will do it of our own free will or … We will stand at a parade in front of the Rebbe and receive kos shel bracha from him. Will we be able to look him in the eye and say: We did the mission assigned to us? The work is hard. Nobody doubts that. But it is nonnegotiable. We must do the job. We must rely on absolute faith in the Rebbe, the faith of stubborn people, and with this strength do what the Rebbe wants and expects to see.
DON’T LEAVE THE WOUNDED BEHIND
Along with the work with all the fervor we can muster we cannot forget what it says in
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the HaYom Yom for 28 Nissan: Chassidim asked the Alter Rebbe: “Which is the superior Avoda, love of G-d or love of Israel?” He replied: “Both love of G-d and love of Israel are equally engraved in every Jew’s neshama, ruach, and nefesh. The pasuk is explicit: `I have loved you, says the L-rd.’ It follows that love of Israel is superior – for you love whom your beloved loves.” Even in the fervency of the work, we must bear in mind that in war, as is always the case in war, there are those who are wounded. Some become shell-shocked and some receive head wounds and begin talking nonsense. It happens. But we never abandon the wounded. We go over to them and try to treat them and do all we can to save them and facilitate a full recovery. In the battle to bring the Geula there are people who are wounded. We cannot ignore them. We must do what we can for them so that they can heal. Then, they too can march, in good health, in the great victory
parade. We must recognize that there isn’t and cannot be a Lubavitcher Chassid who does not believe with complete faith in everything the Rebbe said. If we hear a Chassid speaking against pure faith, G-d forbid, we need to know that it’s only the “spirit of foolishness” within him, but he himself, deep inside, is also a believer.
LIKE AIR TO BREATH
In the sicha of Parshas Toldos 5752, the Rebbe explains at length that the idea of Moshiach can be likened to air that we breathe. Air is an inseparable part of our lives and that is how we need to live with Moshiach, in such a way that there isn’t a moment that we are living without Moshiach. Air is a natural need of every human being. If someone were to say that he doesn’t like the usual air and he wants to add interesting fragrances to it, or he would say that he is sick and tired of breathing air all the time, we would say this person is not
normal. Living with Moshiach is our oxygen. Someone who doesn’t like it, someone who wants to tamper with the message, someone who claims he is sick and tired of dealing with one thing all the time, has a serious problem and he needs to make a spiritual accounting and examine his hiskashrus to the Rebbe. Because to a Chassid of the Rebbe, inyanei Moshiach are like oxygen. Even when you proclaim Yechi, you need to know that Yechi is air for a Chabad Chassid and this is why it needs to be said slowly and while thinking about what it means, making sure it has an effect on all limbs of the body like air that reaches all limbs of the body. May Hashem help that our stubbornness immediately bear fruit and with a mighty singing of Yechi we will march proudly toward the true and complete Geula through the Rebbe MH”M! Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach L ’Olam Va’ed!
Issue 923 • �
YESHIVAS LUBAVITCH CINCINNATI
Every person tries to give a present to the Rebbe for his birthday. Eight years ago on 11 Nissan 5766, a young man, Rabbi Gershon Avtzon, decided to give the Rebbe a very unique present. He announced the opening of a Yeshiva in Cincinnati Ohio that would be infused with Emuna in the Rebbe and his mission of “Lekabel P’nei Moshiach Tzidkeinu B’poel Mamash!” The success of the Yeshiva is known throughout the world. • In honor of 11 Nissan, Beis Moshiach conducted an interview with the founder and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati, Rabbi Gershon Avtzon.
Thank you Rabbi Avtzon for taking a few moments of your busy schedule to spend some time with us. Our readership knows who you are from the weekly articles that you write for Beis Moshiach. For that, we at Beis Moshiach are very grateful. But we would like to focus on your Yeshiva, which has gained such a special reputation for the unique blend of high academics and great warmth and care for each Talmid. R.A.: It is truly my z’chus, privilege, honor and pleasure to be one of the contributors to the Beis Moshiach magazine, whose goal is to get people and the world ready for Moshiach. I also thank you for giving me this opportunity to share with the world a glimpse into our Yeshiva. Let’s start with a very basic question. In the fewest words, what is the mission statement of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati? R.A.: As a branch of Tomchei T’mimim, our job is to mold the students into חייליםwho are dedicated to the mission of their Commander, the Rebbe MH”M. It seems that there are three components included in that mission statement: 1) The Mission 2) The Commander 3) The Chayal. Can you elaborate a little on the vision that you have for your talmidim? R.A.: When a soldier wants to know what his mission is, he must check what the commander has assigned for him. The same is for the Mechanchim. We as Mechanchim must look into the Sichos of the Rebbe and see what type of Chinuch the Rebbe expects us to give the Talmidim. In short, it is this: To live with Moshiach! In the words of the Rebbe: “The most recent innovation in the work of shlichus is to receive our righteous Moshiach in the true and complete Redemption. Indeed, the preparation for the coming of our righteous Moshiach is the most allencompassing aspect of Judaism
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and includes all the other points and details of the work of shlichus.” (Chayei Sara 5752). ith regards to Chinuch, the Rebbe (Simchas Torah 5752) said: “According to our Sages, the verse ‘Do not touch My anointed ones (Meshichoi)’ refers to the children who study Torah.” One of the explanations of this statement is that the education of school children has to be in a manner that the children are completely permeated and absorbed with the ideal of Moshiach. Just by looking at a Jewish child, what should one see? Moshiach! His entire being is “Moshiach,” the realization of “You have been shown... there is none beside Him.” Are there any challenges you face, with instilling the inspiration necessary to fulfill this mission into the Talmidim? R.A.: The first challenge we face is making the Talmidim realize that we have a “living” Rebbe, a Rebbe that they can relate and write to and who cares about them. No soldier will dedicate his life and give up his physical comfort for a mission
I got a fascinating answer in which the Rebbe writes that it is all a test from Hashem and that we will soon see that the test in nothing! The very next day, Mr. Boymel showed up to the Yeshiva on his own, asking to support us in our work! With his help, we were able to get an entire new campus for the Beis Midrash. Yesh Rebbe B’Yisroel!
to our Yeshiva are regular American boys, and many are brought up on shlichus and in small communities. For many of them, the word Moshiach is associated with “politics” or is foreign. To turn around and instill in them that this is their life mission can be a challenge. So how do you handle this challenge? R.A.: The truth is that in a certain way, Moshiach is foreign to all of us. We need to do exactly what the Rebbe says to do in such cases: Learn Inyanei Moshiach and Geula! In the words of the Rebbe (Balak 5751): “Despite the uproar associated with this matter ... we see how difficult it is to inculcate the awareness and the feeling that we are literally
Issue 923 • �
that he views as a failing mission. Every talmid in our Yeshiva was born after Gimmel Tammuz. The foundation of our Chinuch is that even in 5774, the mission is real and actual because the commander is real and actual. Therefore, besides for learning the Sichos and having constant videos of the Rebbe playing, we strive to get the boys to realize that they can each have a personal connection with the Rebbe. We are constantly telling them stories of the Rebbe that happened after Gimmel Tammuz and encouraging them to write to the Rebbe through his Igros Kodesh. When they see that they can receive an answer from the Rebbe, the Rebbe becomes “theirs.” In addition, the boys coming
standing on the threshold of the Messianic Era, to the point that one begins to thrive on matters of Moshiach and Redemption... “The solution to this dilemma is Torah study concerning Moshiach and Redemption. For Torah – which is G-d’s wisdom, and thus transcends the natural order of the universe – has the capacity to alter the nature of man. Even when one’s emotions are still outside the parameters of Redemption, G-d forbid, (because he has not yet emerged from his internal exile), he can nevertheless learn the Torah’s teachings concerning Redemption and thereby be elevated to the state of Redemption. One then begins to thrive on matters of Redemption, borne of the knowledge, awareness and feeling that ‘behold he is coming.’” The readers can check out www.ylcrecording.com for shiurim that were given in Yeshiva on this topic. The goal of “living with Moshiach” is that Moshiach should affect the entire day and life of the person. What is supposed to be the “regular” life of a Talmid in Yeshiva? R.A.: In order to be a soldier in the Rebbe’s army, one must have three foundations: Chassid – He must have training in being a Chassid. This includes dedication to the Rebbe and to all his directives, tremendous Ahavas Yisroel even at the cost of some personal comfort and time, and an inner inspiration and fire in all that he is involved. This is accomplished through shiurim in Chassidus, going on Mivtzaim on Erev Shabbos and Yomim Tovim, and having special Farbrengens on chassidishe Yomei D’pagra. Yerei Shamayim – A Soldier must have an inner fear of Heaven. A successful soldier cannot only listen to orders when he feels that the Commander is looking at him. He must have an inner fear of disobeying and a deep desire to constantly improve in the areas that are essential to the mission that needs to be accomplished. This is achieved through learning about Davening and by having a mashpia with whom he is honest and open. The Mashpia guides the Chassid in his personal development. This is also reflected in the Chassid’s middos tovos. Lamdan – In order to fulfill his mission and to conquer the world, a soldier must be freed of the constraints of the world and live in a different world. The Chassid accomplishes this only through complete immersion into Limud HaTorah. This connects the Chassid with the King – Hashem – and empowers him to free himself of the “views” of the physical world and to make him receptive to the world of truth and holiness and purity. It is not enough to just study in Yeshiva; there has to be a complete immersion. What is the hardest challenge in the above? R.A. (smiling): Every talmid is a human being – and a teenager at that – who has a raging animal soul that wants to indulge in the imminent and physical. Many have come from communities and day schools where they have been focused primarily on this physical world and there needs to be an entire value system switch. So, what “magical formula” do you use for your worldrenowned success in this? R.A. (laughing): There is no magic in Chinuch! It is a very hard Avoda that demands a lot of work and Siyata D’Shmaya. But in short, we stress 4 components: First and foremost, we try to lead and show by example. They must see in us someone/ something that they wish to aspire to. We, the Mechanchim, represent Judaism, Hashem and the Rebbe to the young Talmidim. We must constantly be aware of that and act accordingly. Secondly, the staff members of YLC believe that we are on Shlichus to get through to the Talmidim. Just as a shliach must be aware of the unique needs of his community and find appropriate ways of connecting to and inspiring his community, we too believe that we must find a way to reach EVERY talmid. Just as the motto of a shliach is that “every Yid has a Neshama,” we truly believe that every talmid in Yeshiva was chosen by our holy Rebbeim and can and really wants to become a Chassid. “They do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” When we show the talmidim our care for, trust in and love of them, they will be opened to the messages that we are trying to teach. This does not diminish the necessity for structure. On the contrary; at YLC, we constantly remind them that the reason there is structure and discipline is because we love them and want them to be successful. The literal translation of Tomchei T’mimim is “the supporters of the T’mimim.” We do not believe that the talmidim are here to support the careers of the staff; rather the staff and entire institution are here to support the talmidim Also, we always try to include in our staff an inspired group of Talmidei HaShluchim (frequently graduates of YLC) who believe
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in the mission of YLC. They dedicate themselves to their younger brothers and work with them in their advancement. Lastly, we are strong believers in communication with our partners, the parents of the talmidim. They are the natural pillars of support for the talmidim and their involvement is crucial for success. We have a weekly report that goes out to the parents with the talmid’s grades and attendance. This facilitates communication and accountability. So far, you have told us about the goals of the Yeshiva in general. Are there any special plans for the imminent future that you would like our readers to know about? R.A.: Besides some structural changes that are being made in the Mesivta by adding some more married mashpiim etc., we are IY”H opening a Yeshiva G’dola “Al Derech K’b’Lubavitch.” We are working with the finest Yungelait to make sure that the Beis Midrash will attain the highest standards of learning and Yiras Shamayim. The details will be announced very soon. Wow! This is amazing! R.A.: I must tell you that this was a direct Bracha and miracle from the Rebbe. For many years, the Yeshiva had two main people in Cincinnati who supported it, Rabbi Shalom B. Kalmanson (senior shliach) and Rabbi Moshe Toron. The Yeshiva had grown and we purchased a new building and dormitory. While there was talk of a Yeshiva G’dola, we hadn’t actually got the plans off the ground yet, since we felt that it would need its own building. There is one Yid in Cincinnati, a holocaust survivor,
who is dedicated to ensuring that there be frum chinuch in Cincinnati. His name – Mr. Sam Boymel – is on all chinuch buildings in the city. For many years, I tried to meet with him but had no success. About two years ago, I wrote a long letter to the Rebbe. In the letter I spoke about the financial stress I was going through and that many people were saying that it was because we are “too strong” with Moshiach etc. I got a fascinating answer (Igros Vol. 2 page 282) in which the Rebbe writes that I should know that it is all a test from Hashem and that we will soon see that the test in nothing! The next day, Mr. Boymel showed
up to Yeshiva on his own, asking to support us in our work! With his help, we were able to get an entire new campus for the Beis Midrash. Yesh Rebbe B’Yisroel! If parents would like to speak with you about registration or donations, what could they do? R.A.: They can visit our website www.ylcincinnati.com, or contact me at 513-631-2452 or email yeshivaslubavitch@ gmail.com . Thank you very much. May we zoiche to eat the Korban Pesach in Yerushalayim this year, with the revelation of the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach. R.A.: Amen!
Issue 923 • �
MY PERSONAL EXODUS FROM EGYPT
As we celebrate the “Time of Our Freedom,” and remember the exodus from Egypt, there are those whose memories take them back to the not so distant dark days in which they personally experienced a despotic empire from which they went out to freedom. * We spoke with Mrs. Chaya Sheiner to hear about life in communist Russia and about Chassidim who celebrated Pesach as they looked forward to their personal exodus from Egypt.
By Tovi Kenig
Can you tell us what it was like to fulfill mitzvos in communist Russia? In general, someone who lived in Russia, lived in fear. The feeling was that at least half of the people walking down the street, at any given time, were KGB agents. As for the other half, we weren’t sure … Fulfilling mitzvos was illegal and anyone caught teaching Torah was sent to Siberia for years. Despite this, my father, R’ Aharon Chazan a”h, was fearless. He did not close the windows
in the house when my mother, Nechama Leah a”h, lit Shabbos candles, or when he read Pirkei Avos with us children. He also conducted chuppos outside at a time when a person did not dare do so publicly. One time, my father conducted a chuppa for a couple whose presence in Moscow was illegal. The chassan wasn’t allowed to be there because he was a released prisoner (who had sat in jail for the crime of teaching Torah), and the kalla was from a distant city without a permit
for being in Moscow. Making a chuppa for a couple like this was ten times more dangerous than performing a “regular” chuppa in the Russia, but my father did it outside anyway with all the gentile neighbors gathered round. The next day the chassan told my father, “I wouldn’t have done it if I was in your place!” Today, this family lives in Nachalat Har Chabad in Kiryat Malachi. What was it like to bake matza in Russia? The entire matza baking
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Chaya’s father, R’ Aharon Chazan with his first grandson, R’ Shneur Zalman Kenig and his son, his first great-grandson, Menachem Mendel Kenig
process was illegal and had to be done in utter secrecy. My father managed to rent a mill before Pesach and he and the boys koshered the place and ground the wheat. In the early years, he would buy regular wheat and the flour was “guarded from the time of grinding.” In later years, he was able to obtain wheat that was guarded from the time it was harvested. From the mill they had to transport the flour to the bakery. These were large quantities of flour that had to be transported on streets swarming with spies under the watchful eyes of the KGB. Only open miracles could explain the fact that they were never caught as they did this. At first, the bakery was in the home of Reuven and Batya, Chassidim who lived in the neighboring city of Tarasivka. We would transport the matza on the train, wrapped in white
pillowcases. We were nervous the entire time and still, as an adult looking back, we did not realize the full extent of the danger we were in. We did not leave the house with a series of warnings like “Make sure nobody is following you.” My father’s approach was not to be fearful when doing mitzvos and he guided us in this manner. After a few years, the matza baking moved to my parents’ house. I remember the house full of tables, rolling pins, aprons, water jugs, and a big special oven for baking the matza. We baked machine matza for Jews who wanted it and handmade matza for Chassidim and our family. The smell of the improvised matza bakery spread throughout the neighborhood, but miraculously, no KGB agents came to our house to check out the smell. Since he was particular about
all the hiddurim, many people relied on him and wanted to eat only those matzos that were baked by us. For example, the Machnovka Rebbe, R’ Avrohom Yehoshua Heschel Twersky zt”l, would bake matzos mitzva by us on Erev Pesach, at midday. In the baking of these matzos, only our family participated. Of course, the baking was done with the utmost hiddur. When we married, my husband Moshe Sheiner joined the baking and took responsibility for the dangerous job of transferring the matzos to their destinations. He would check to see which train compartment had a policeman and would enter a different compartment. Another Chassid would always accompany him whose job it was to keep a lookout and warn him about impending danger. It once happened that a policeman made the rounds on the train and stopped my husband and examined the contents of his belongings. The Chassid accompanying him noticed this and did not delay. He quickly ran to the “bakery” and told them that the shliach was caught and the KGB were probably on their way. The bakery immediately stopped operating. All the machines were dismantled, the tools were hidden, the workers were sent home and the house looked like a normal home. In the meantime, the policeman asked my husband to explain the matzos that were in his bag and he said they were biscuits. This policeman was not familiar with Jewish customs and did not know what matzos are. Not finding anything incriminating, he dismissed him. Since the Chassid escorting him was usually at a distance, my husband did not realize that he
Issue 923 • �
had left and had gone back to the “bakery” so he continued on his way, bringing the matzos to their destination and returning to the “bakery” to get another few packages to distribute. שIt is not clear whose surprise was greater, my husband’s when he saw there was no sign of any baking where they had been busy working so recently, or my family’s when they hadn’t believed they would see him again, alive and well and most importantly, free! How did the “Z’man a”h, who was the wife of R’ Zushe Friedman z”l of Odessa, was particular about many hiddurim on Pesach. In addition to being particular about not a crumb of matza getting into the plates because of gebrochts, she was also particular not to leave plates from one day to the next but washed them right away, after meals. Pesach night too, even though it was late and we were tired, we would wash all the dishes and not leave anything for the next day. I remember one time when that year we had to use raisin wine. Pesach night was special. There were always guests and when my father recited Hallel it was an inspired atmosphere. The guests, who were not religious, were greatly influenced by the atmosphere and in many cases were inspired to greater levels of commitment. Another thing I remember is the sight of my grandmother crying. Every year she cried when she said the words in Hallel, “a joyous mother of children.” This made her recall her children who were killed al kiddush Hashem. The KGB gave them two options, to send their children to the communist public school or to die. They did not consider sending their children to a public school as a viable alternative. They chose death, being moser nefesh for the chinuch of their children. What do you remember of your “exodus from Egypt” – your leaving Russia? “My father, and my fatherin-law, Efraim Sheiner a”h, asked the Rebbe a number of times for a bracha that we leave Russia. The Rebbe’s bracha was fulfilled and we left. We received the visas in 5727 before Purim. Most of the families who received visas would prepare for months but we went quickly. Our oldest daughter Batya was turning six and there is compulsory schooling from the age of seven. So it was important to us to leave Russia as soon as possible. Since there weren’t often flights, we left by train. We left quickly so that most of those who heard that we got visas, heard about it after we had already left. We celebrated Purim in a hotel in Vienna. My husband read the Megilla and other families that were with us came to hear it.
“Every year she cried when she said the words in Hallel, “a joyous mother of children.” This made her recall her children who were killed al kiddush Hashem. The KGB gave them two options, to send their children to a communist public school or die. They did not consider sending their children to a public school a viable alternative. They chose death, being moser nefesh for the chinuch of their children.”
Cheiruseinu” look under these conditions? On Pesach there was not much to eat: matza, potatoes, borscht (fermented beets), eggs, chicken and some schmaltz made out of goose fat, with which we made some latkes. We could not use carrots, for example, because in the winter, in order to preserve them, they would put flour into the sacks of carrots. And yet, we were not hungry on Pesach. We were hungry only on Erev Pesach. Despite the dearth of products, we children followed the halacha and did not eat either chametz or matza on Erev Pesach. There were no bananas like today … So on Erev Pesach we mainly ate sugar cubes. By the way, my grandmother
my father got grapes about two months before Pesach. A crate of grapes was usually not available and we were very excited because we could make wine for Pesach! (We usually made wine out of raisins.) We children were kept away from it so we wouldn’t touch it – this was going to be used to make wine for Pesach! My father wanted sugar so he could make it quickly and seal the bottles until Pesach. But in the excitement or because of haste, they brought my father a sack of flour instead of a sack of sugar. The sacks in Russia did not have the contents written on them and my father noticed the mistake only after he had mixed the flour into the grapes. Of course, the wine was not kept for Pesach and
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That was a very special Purim. The Jewish Agency made a Purim party that was attended by about 100 olim, some from Russia and some from Latvia and Lithuania. The children sang songs, some in Russian, some in French, and my daughter Batya also wanted to sing. She was the only one who sang in Ivrit! She sang a Jewish song, “Hinei Ma Tov U’Ma Na’im.” It was unusual because Russian children did not know Jewish songs, let alone in Hebrew. They gave her a lengthy applause and showered her with gifts and chocolate, which she couldn’t eat because of kashrus reasons. The reason she sang it was simple. She only knew Jewish songs! These were the songs we sang at home, despite the fear and the danger. It was the atmosphere at home. We gave the children a Jewish-Chassidic education while we lived under communist rule. I think that if in Russia these were the songs heard in our home, then certainly here in Eretz Yisroel we should have our children listen only to Jewish-Chassidic songs. We stayed at the hotel briefly until our flight to Eretz Yisroel. The food wasn’t kosher and we managed with bread from
the local bakery that was under the supervision of a Vizhnitzer Chassid. My daughter Devorah was two months old at the time, but we did not look for leniencies in kashrus. The mashgiach saw we weren’t eating at the hotel and he brought us a can of meat from Eretz Yisroel. My husband checked the hechsher and saw that although it was kosher, it was not mehudar. He politely gave it back to the mashgiach who was amazed by our hiddur in kashrus under these circumstances. About two months later, an Admur came to Vienna accompanied by his shamash (attendant) who was a relative of mine. They were on their way from the United States to Eretz Yisroel and the shamash came to visit the mashgiach that we knew. The mashgiach told him how impressed he was by the family that came out of Russia: the father with a full beard, the mother and daughters dressed modestly, and their fulfillment of mitzvos which gave no indication that they had recently lived under communist rule. The guest asked who these people were and to his surprise, discovered it was his cousin. What were your feelings upon arriving in Eretz Yisroel?
When I landed in Eretz Yisroel, we were welcomed by our parents, relatives who arrived in Eretz Yisroel before we did, friends and Chassidim, a huge crowd. They all danced and sang to “MiMitzrayim G’altanu.” We were flying high. All the hardships of acclimating and parnasa that are typical of aliya seemed insignificant. We felt fortunate that we could keep Torah and mitzvos without interference, go to shul without fear, give our children a Jewish-Chassidic chinuch without having to hide, and work without having to come up with an excuse each week about our absence on Shabbos. We arrived between Purim and Pesach. Our first Pesach in Eretz Yisroel, we felt like we had actually left Egypt. We walked the streets of B’nei Brak and from every house we heard Jewish songs, sung openly. It was moving and thrilling. Whenever I remember this I relive it and feel what I felt then. I wish us all that just as we merited to leave Russia, so too, may we soon leave galus with the true and complete Geula with all the Jewish people.
Issue 923 • �
PREPARING A CHABAD PUBLIC SEDER
By Y Schreiber
Chaim: We sit down to a meeting each season; it’s just the topic that changes each time … Yitzi: True. This time, it’s about making a public seder. Shneur: That’s before we get involved in the annual Mivtza Matza. Yitzi: We will talk about that soon, the next time. Now let’s get down to work. Shneur: The papers and pens are here. Let us write down the jobs.
Chaim: The first thing is a hall that is not located in a mall or public place which desecrates Shabbos and Yom Tov. And that the management of the hall agrees to all our requests regarding kashrus and a special mashgiach of our own. Yitzi: At the same time, the hall needs to be in the center of town so that many people will be able to get there without driving there and back. They are not all fully shomrei Torah and mitzvos yet and we have to beware of
causing them to blunder. Shneur: In the hall there must be total control. We need to talk to our graphic designer and ask him to design some colorful signs with basic instructions and quotes from the Hagada. Yitzi: The signs must have a special message about Moshiach and Geula. The entire Yom Tov of Pesach is about emuna and “as in the days you went out of the land of Egypt, I will show you wonders,” now too, with the true
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and complete Geula. Chaim: A big Yechi sign in the center of the hall, a huge picture of the Rebbe, Moshe Rabbeinu of our generation, and of course we need to make sure we have enough Hagados, the Hagada with P’ninei Geula U’Moshiach so people will have something to take home and will be able to maintain the Pesach atmosphere in their home. After all, Chabad custom is not to say Chasal Siddur Pesach because Pesach is ongoing. Shneur: After we have a hall, I think we need to work on the food that we will be serving the public. It needs to be mehudar for Pesach as well as tasty, varied and in large enough quantities so that people will have plenty without having to ask for more. The Rebbe instructed those involved in public s’darim that there be enough food for all so people will feel at home and not like uncomfortable guests. Chaim: That’s what we say the night of the seder: kol dichfin yeisei v’yeichol – whoever is hungry should come and eat. Who fulfills this with the greatest hiddur? The Rebbe’s shluchim, of course. Yitzi: Very true. I think it’s worthwhile to bring a special chef who knows how to cook with the Chabad Pesach ingredient list. People will enjoy it and it will give them an authentic Pesach experience. Shneur: We need to think about the wine for the four cups. We should buy several types of wine so people will have a choice and will find something they enjoy. We can put stickers on each bottle with a message about Geula and Moshiach that relates to Pesach. That provides another opportunity to instill a Moshiach message.
Yitzi: Great idea! Chaim: Shneur always has original ideas … Shneur: We also need to buy a lot of handmade matza so that every man will have three matzos for the ke’ara. Yitzi: Yes, that is one of the biggest accomplishments of the public seder, that people who are not Lubavitch will get to eat handmade shmura matza with all the Chabad hiddurim at least the first night of Pesach when we fulfill the mitzva of eating matza m’d’oraisa.
Chaim: It’s a lot … We also have to reckon with the number of people coming, and also think about manpower, who can guide the people in what to do with the matzos on the ke’ara and how to deal with the ke’ara altogether, with all its components. Shneur: We need to do a lot of publicity in the community to get as many young couples as we can, who will sit at the tables and explain things, in addition to the general emcee who I think should be Yitzi. Yitzi: What about you? I think you would be better at it. Shneur: I can help you but you have a strong voice and
speak well. Chaim: Stop arguing. Each of you will run a different part of the Seder so you can get back your strength in between. Shneur: Okay. The main thing is to do a lot of publicity in the right neighborhoods. That is also an instruction from the Rebbe, to do a lot of publicity. Even if people are not the type to participate, at least they will see the ads and they might be curious enough to show up. We have to give them that chance! Yitzi: All this costs a lot of money. We need to find donors who will fund it. Chaim: At one time, the Rebbe participated in a large part of the public s’darim expenses. Yitzi: That is what spurs us on to continue and do this holy shlichus, despite the huge financial difficulties. Public s’darim often get people to become more involved in Torah and mitzvos later on. Shneur: Don’t forget that after the public seder we need to go home to our families and make a seder with them. We need to have a lot of energy for that night so we can fulfill our personal obligations afterward. Chaim: I’m not worried about that; we have the Rebbe. He is our meshaleiach and he gives us the necessary strength. With Hashem’s help we will give him a lot of nachas; the main thing is we should bring him already, for the true and complete Geula. Shneur and Yitzi: Amen! Yitzi: We have a lot of work to do. Now, let’s divide the jobs and remember that every moment of this holy work hastens the hisgalus of the Rebbe. Then we will be able to eat the korban Pesach in Yerushalayim at the third Beis HaMikdash!
Issue 923 • �
ALL OF ANASH MUST GET INVOLVED
From the life of R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman Serebryanski a”h
Prepared for publication by Avrohom Rainitz
month and a half had passed since R’ Zalman wrote his last letter, on 7 Iyar. On 27 Sivan R’ Zalman wrote again and apologized about the long break and described his busy day that did not enable him to concentrate on writing a detailed report. Now and then he started writing a report, but did not finish it and it kept on getting postponed. The report begins with praise and thanks to Hashem for the success of the mosad, that he was able to buy a building, and for the many students learning in the afternoon, 110 boys. Within a few months the school had acquired a good reputation in Melbourne and throughout the country, he wrote, and he emphasized, “it is all with the kindness of Hashem in the merit of the Rebbe.” Despite the large number of students, R’ Zalman was dissatisfied with the quality of the learning and felt hindered by some seemingly insurmountable problems. The first obstacle was the dearth of qualified and available
teachers. All the Lubavitchers who were able to teach were already enlisted, but it wasn’t enough and they were forced to take young bachurim for the first and second grades. One of the bachurim had recently decided to leave and go work in a factory in order to obtain a profession, and the other bachur indicated that he wanted to leave soon. This perturbed him greatly lest he be forced to close the youngest classes and “if there aren’t kid goats, there won’t be any adult goats.” The second obstacle was the quality of the learning. The afternoon studies took place between four and six. The boys were tired after an entire day in school and they did not receive any encouragement from their parents to learn Jewish studies. The third obstacle was the lack of suitable guidance for Jewish-Chassidic life. Since most of the Jews in Melbourne were associated with various parties, the children were under the influence of foreign ideas that were antithetical to the spirit of Chassidus. Therefore, aside from
the learning, R’ Zalman yearned to provide the students with general guidance in Torah and mitzva observance with Chassidic flavor. But it was so hard to find regular teachers; it was even harder to find a good mashpia who would find his way to the hearts of the youth. Before Shavuos R’ Zalman asked R’ Betzalel Wilschansky to farbreng with the students who were in the highest level of the yeshiva, those who came to learn in the evening after finishing their studies at the university. R’ Betzalel farbrenged with them and although the farbrengen wasn’t long, it made a tremendous impression on the talmidim. R’ Zalman was very pleased and he wrote to the Rebbe that he begged R’ Betzalel to farbreng with the students again, at every opportunity. “If he does so, his class will be properly guided, with Hashem’s help,” wrote R’ Zalman. He added, “But in the rest of the classes we have no one to farbreng with them or at least to arrange a discussion with the talmidim. Having no choice, we suffice by telling a Chassidic story.” R’ Zalman told the Rebbe that he invited Anash to a meeting and told them about the situation and
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asked them to devote themselves even more to the work of the yeshiva, each according to his talents. During the meeting, his son Chaim offered to test the students once every three weeks in order to spur them on to apply themselves to their studies. His offer was accepted and one test was given which did indeed spur them on, “but the main thing is missing and may Hashem have mercy and help as He helped us in the past.”
R’ ZALMAN’S HUMILITY
As we mentioned a number of times, R’ Zalman did not consider himself fit to be the dean of the mosad. He felt that he did not have the requisite talent and that it was only because there was no one else that he continued to fill the role. Although within a short time he had managed to start a successful school by anyone’s criteria, and throughout Australia they spoke about his astonishing success with respect and amazement, R’ Zalman was still humble about it. He wrote to the Rebbe: “The more the yeshiva expands and develops and the work grows, the more I feel my lack of suitability to run it. Truthfully, even if I was suited to it, since I am busy most of the day in learning with the students, I have no time nor the necessary composure to run a mosad that has developed with Hashem’s help, and which needs further developing with His help. “Regarding the fact that Anash are not fully organized in general and in particular to be involved in the mosad, I blame myself. So too with the askanim that are not of Anash that I was unable to be mekarev, I try to strengthen them to do all that is necessary and to be happy as the
Rebbe says, especially as we have what to rejoice about, thank G-d. “But when I think about correcting the deficiencies and I am unable to correct them, I am very perturbed and I have no other recourse except to tell the Rebbe, the Nasi of the mosad, so that the Rebbe will state his opinion in how to go about all this and will arouse much mercy on those who are involved with the yeshiva in teaching and upon all of Anash, that Hashem grant them success in their holy work and fill their needs amply and in peace.”
CALL A MEETING OF ALL OF ANASH
As soon as his letter arrived, the Rebbe responded in a letter dated 6 Tammuz. The Rebbe said he did not understand the reason for the long break and said someone should be in charge of writing letters about the yeshiva and other Chabad related matters in Australia. As for R’ Zalman
saying the yeshiva was lacking, the Rebbe said that although matters should be rectified, this was not a reason for despair and despondency. After all, there was nothing in previous years and now there was what to show for his efforts. The Rebbe said to call for a meeting of all of Anash and each of them should be appropriately involved in the yeshiva and in great measure whether personally, with his Torah knowledge as well as with his money or all of the above. No one was absolved. “Since this matter is a primary one in their current situation, according to my outlook. And as I have written a number of times, this is the vessel for the fulfillment of their needs, even the physical ones, and going on at length on such an obvious matter is only superfluous.”
UTILIZING ALL MEANS
R’ Zalman asked the Rebbe
Issue 923 • �
Since there was no intention to make him into a Chabad spokesman but just to put his talents to use, ways and means should be found to do so.
regarding a young man who had once learned in the Chafetz Chaim’s yeshiva in Radin. He was a great scholar, possessed of special talents, who also knew English quite well. He looked religious in every respect but people said he wasn’t as he seemed. R’ Zalman wanted to hire him as a staff member. In order to get to know him, he offered him a job fundraising for the yeshiva. His intention was that through the man’s working with money matters, he would get to see what the man was like. The young man turned down the fundraising offer. At the same time, some friends of the yeshiva recommended hiring him in a spiritual capacity. R’ Zalman was undecided and asked the Rebbe what to do. The Rebbe responded, saying that in general, in matters such as these, he should try to utilize all educational forces that were suitable for the work in the field of Chabad education. As far as what he heard rumored about the man, he should definitely check it out and there was certainly exaggeration. Since there was no intention to make him into a Chabad spokesman but just to put his talents to use, ways and means should be found to do so. school and in the afternoon they learned Jewish studies that their community provided. Once R’ Zalman opened a full day school which included secular studies, they wanted to send their children to his school for the secular studies portion of the day while continuing to learn Torah studies in their own program. R’ Zalman received this request from one of the askanim in the Hungarian community and said he could not respond immediately. If they asked him again, there would be a discussion about it. R’ Zalman had no idea how to respond to the request. On the one hand, the school could double the number of students and acquire a good reputation for Chabad interacting well with other communities. On the other hand, he feared that if given a finger, they would try to take the whole hand and maybe even try to take control of the school. He wrote to the Rebbe and the Rebbe’s response was to accept them while taking the necessary steps to absolutely rule out the fear of a takeover. The Rebbe did not consider this a reasonable possibility since they would not be part of the hanhala. In fact, once the boys started attending the Chabad school, it was possible that ultimately they would also learn the other subjects there. So R’ Zalman gave a positive response to the Hungarian community and within a short time, their children began attending the secular studies in the Chabad school. And just as
the Rebbe wrote, not only didn’t the Hungarians show any interest in taking over, some of them switched their children to learn full time in the Chabad school.
SHOULD THEY OPEN A CHABAD BUTCHER SHOP?
The final item mentioned in R’ Zalman’s long letter had to do with sh’chita. In those days, the Hungarians had a kosher butcher store and the Lubavitchers bought their meat there. With the development of the school, a Lubavitcher raised the suggestion of opening a Chabad butcher shop with all the profits going to the school. R’ Zalman said they could convince R’ Betzalel Wilschansky to leave the job as a shochet for the Hungarians and work for the yeshiva. In addition, they would have to find a G-d fearing butcher and someone to supervise the kashrus. The Rebbe’s answer was that he was unaware of all the details but in general, this was likely to stir up trouble. They had to investigate whether this was the case and whether they could actually do it, i.e. whether they had the right people who would want to get involved, and whether they would make a profit. When they had this information they could make a decision. R’ Zalman dropped the idea of opening a butcher shop and Chabad Chassidim continued buying meat from the Hungarian store. It was first twenty years later, following the big dispute between Chabad and Satmar, that the Rebbe instructed Chabad Chassidim to establish their own kashrus system. That is when a separate Chabad kashrus organization was founded in Melbourne.
ACCEPTING THE CHILDREN OF THE HUNGARIANS
R’ Zalman also asked about the request of the Hungarian community, that their children be able to study secular studies in the Chabad school. Until then, their children had attended public
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MOSHIACH & GEULA
YUD ALEF NISSAN AND MOSHIACH
By Rabbi Gershon Avtzon Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati
Dear Fellow Chassidim sh’yichyu, L ’chaim! L ’chaim V’Livracha! Today is 11 Nissan 5774, the 112th birthday of the Rebbe MH”M. It is a day that we give thanks to Hashem for allowing the Neshama of the Rebbe to descend to this earth and prepare the world for the coming of Moshiach. This concept is brought out in the new chapter of T’hillim that we begin saying this year, chapter 113. It is the beginning chapter of the Hallel in which we thank Hashem for the miracles associated with the Geula of Mitzrayim. The Rebbe was born to bring Geula for the Jewish people. The Frierdike Rebbe writes that in the year 5662 there was a big decree in heaven against the Jewish people. However, “right before Pesach” the decree was nullified. The Rebbe writes about his childhood: “From the time that I was a child attending cheder, and even before, the vision of the future Redemption began to take form in my imagination – the Redemption of the Jewish People from their final Exile, a redemption of such magnitude and grandeur through which
the purpose of the suffering, the harsh decrees and annihilation of Exile will be understood...” It is not by coincidence that the Rebbe’s first seifer (besides for compiling HaYom Yom) was his explanations on the Hagada Shel Pesach, which is the story of Geula. In a similar vein, the first Mivtza of the Rebbe was Mivtza Matza, which is all about Emuna and Geula. In the Sicha of Tetzaveh 5752, the Rebbe explains a fascinating insight on the connection between 11 Nissan and Moshiach: In the month of Nissan in the year of the Chanukas HaMishkan, the N’siim brought their Korbanos. On the 11th day of Nissan, the Nasi of the tribe of Asher gave his offering. One of the blessings that the tribe of Asher received was that their inheritance in Eretz Yisroel would be blessed with much oil. Oil was used to anoint Malchus Beis Dovid and will be used to anoint Moshiach, as it says (T’hillim 89): “I have found David My servant; with My holy oil have I anointed him.” The Rebbe says that the 11th
of Nissan represents the concept of anointing the Rosh B’nei Yisroel, the Moshe Rabbeinu of our generation, as Melech HaMoshiach! In the sicha of Yisro 5752 (footnote 50), the Rebbe connects the 11th of Nissan to the 11th of Shevat (Kabbalas HaNesius). The Rebbe says: “What was born in (11) Nissan, comes to revealed Nesius in Shevat!” Let us finish with the words of the Rebbe (Shabbos HaGadol 5751): “What was said previously concerning the Redemption receives extra emphasis as we find ourselves in the month of Nissan of this year, ‘It will be a year of miracles [that] I will show you.’ “And as we said (also in the general letters) regarding the wonders and miracles which occurred this year (close to Purim), an opponent of the Jews was nullified. The victory reached the point that the enemy freed some of the prisoners of war in a fitting manner, as we previously discussed in detail. “And certainly the Holy One, Blessed be He, will continue to reveal wonders and miracles until – and most important – “I will show you miracles” in the true and complete Redemption.”
Issue 923 • �
THE “BLACK FLAME” BATTLING THE DARKNESS FROM WITHIN
By R’ Shimon Weitzhandler Rosh Yeshiva – Tomchei T’mimim in Rishon L’Tziyon
was a young boy when I was privileged to be exposed to the “world of Chabad.” In the initial moments (an outsider wouldn’t understand this), the Rebbe in all his power approaches each one and responds to his requests, especially that hidden, emotional, personal request that cries out in a still unheard voice, “to become a Lubavitcher!” At that time, I met a bachur who from the perspective of a seeker I saw as a typical Lubavitcher, who smiles, believes, understands, disseminates, and is mekushar. Who is utterly devoted to one essential point – Rebbe, Rebbe, Rebbe (until then, I had mostly met Lubavitchers whose world was intellect, understanding, explaining …). It was my friend, Tzvi Ventura, who said to me, “If you want to be a real Lubavitcher, you must meet two people: the mashpia, R’ Mendel Futerfas of Kfar Chabad,
so you see what hiskashrus and Ahavas Yisroel are, and the shliach, R’ Motty Gal of Ramat Gan, so you learn how to stop being afraid of the world.” In the heart of Rechov Bialik in Ramat Gan, I found myself one evening at a weekly shiur in Chassidus (volume 3 of Hemshech 5672). It was given by a smiling Jew who had three or four miskarvim around him. It was the type of shiur that I was wholly unfamiliar with. He did not teach, did not define, did not analyze. He illuminated. The topic was the analogy of a lit candle and the two lights around it. The one closer to the wick is the “black flame” and the one closer to the light, the “white flame.” The black flame (Ohr Ochma), said Motty, is us, people in the dark, who operate with tools of darkness, in the language of darkness. This type of light does not illuminate the darkness;
it captivates it and utilizes it to illuminate. This is the chiddush of the Baal Shem Tov. Motty too, did not explain and cajole; he captivated Jews by revealing their souls within the darkness. Only many years after that fascinating shiur did I realize that this is the story of Motty himself. He was one of those people that divine providence places as a foot soldier, whose job it is to scrape away the klipos and darkness. A soldier in the army of light broadcasters whose job it is to break thirteen breaches in the curtain that separates and covers the G-dly light, preventing it from reaching Malchus of Malchus, Malchus of Asiya as it exists in the corporeal world. He was one of those people who was ready to pay the steep price in constant manning his position in a winding, dangerous place, between heaven and earth,
56 � • 11 Nissan 5774
with characteristic “sabra” tenacity, without fear, and to reveal G-d there. (I once asked him after a shiur, “Motty, who taught you Chassidus like this? How do you take Hemshech SamechVav—his favorite—and turn it into something so clear and understandable?” He replied in his oh so Israeli lingo, “The script of the explanation of Samech-Vav was written for me by R’ Sholom Feldman of Kfar Chabad. I am just the producer.”) *** You can’t write about Motty without writing about the love of his life (as he put it) – the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach shlita. Among the many grandiose plans he had, plans that express more than anything his character to the nth degree (every month Motty had a new plan with which
he was sure the world would be conquered … ), was the dream of making the Rebbe accessible to the entire world, and mainly: to the place of darkness itself. For this purpose, he spent years looking for a talented producer who would take on the task. One night, he called me and asked me to go with him to a meeting. We arrived at a studio in Tel Aviv and in a room that was particularly unsympathetic from a spiritual perspective, sat a “heavy duty Israeli” who, according to Motty, was “the best chance to bring the Rebbe to the world.” The hours I spent with them taught me once again about his incredible ability to grasp the inner depth of the person he was speaking to while simultaneously creating a common language with him. They did not speak in
professional terms but in a spiritual-creative language about the hero of the film – “the man the world has been waiting for, for 6000 years.” The biographical details that I provided about the Rebbe were translated by Motty into a language which was unique to him. “Picture the biblical image of Shimshon grasping the two pillars of the building and shaking them. That is what happened there in Berlin-Paris ...” The Rebbe’s childhood in Yekaterinoslav did not come up. Motty explained to the producer that a meeting wasn’t enough for that; he had to enter the house that the Rebbe grew up in and “smell the walls.” How? Go to Russia? No, was the answer. We will sit and learn Likkutei Levi Yitzchok together so we can go back in time to R’ Levi Yitzchok’s Shabbos table, his wife Rebbetzin Chana, his oldest son and his brothers, and feel the forces that sprouted Moshiach in his childhood. The film did not end up happening but the “heavy duty Israeli,” became an instant maven in a number of fundamental concepts in Chassidus and the Rebbe. *** To end on a personal note – one time, in a personal and emotionally charged moment which only those who knew Motty can understand, he asked me, “What am I to you?” I was taken aback by his openness and could not answer. Today, I dare to say in sorrow and humility, “Motty, for many neshamos you were a ‘black flame’ from the essential light of the Rebbe MH”M shlita.”
Issue 923 • �
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
LIFE IN THE PLURAL
One of Judaism’s major contributions to the world has been its emphasis on life. In this week’s parsha the Torah states: “You shall guard My statutes and My judgments which a person shall do, and you shall live by them, I am G-d.” The words “and you shall live by them” appear to be superfluous. Knowing that there are no superfluous words in the Torah, our sages deduced from this phrase G-d’s instruction that we must live with the commandants and not die for them. Life takes precedence over all but three of the commandments. On a deeper level, commentators observe that Judaism is not just about life in its most accessible sense. Our challenge is to infuse every aspect of our physical existence with spiritual meaning and life. This, perhaps, is what Rashi had in mind when he interpreted the word “life” here as a reference to the World-to-Come. It is only in the future Messianic
Age that we will be able to fully appreciate and experience the true and ultimate meaning of life. In the present, our responsibility is to do our part in discovering the deeper dimensions of life and infusing them into our practice of the Mitzvos.
In Hebrew, the word for life, chaim, is in the plural. Three reasons, based on Chassidic teaching, can be given for this phenomenon: The first explanation for chaim’s plural nature is that it reflects the complexity of human life. We are taught that true life is an amalgam of different components, colors, hues and shades (See Introduction to Tanya). When the Talmud (Eruvin 13b) wishes to express how the conflicting views of Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel are both valid, it states: “These [the words of Beis Shammai] and these [the words of Beis Hillel] are “Divrei Elokim Chaim-the words of the living G-d.” In this phrase both
the word for G-d [Elokim] and the word for living [Chaim] are expressed in the plural. Chassidic thought explains that G-d’s unified light becomes refracted into a rainbowspectrum of light beams when it is filtered through the different G-dly attributes and diverse human attitudes. The Light then assumes the appearance of the various attributes and mindsets. We can now understand that the word chaim reflects the full spectrum of Divine attributes that characterize the different human personality types. But, while each individual mostly reflects one color of the refracted light, Kabbalah and Chassidic thought teach us that, in truth, each and every one of us possesses a full complement of faculties. Let us translate this concept into terms that we can apply in our own lives. We can see that the plural usage of chaim implies that to live life to the fullest we must learn to reflect the Light with all our soul’s multifarious faculties and talents.
In the present day and age we may find ourselves unable to be in touch with our multifaceted emotions and to express them in an unimpeded and balanced fashion. It cannot come as any surprise that Galus-exile conditions block our ability to be fully expressive.
Angels and animals cannot draw upon the complex system of feelings that we experience as humans because they do not possess these variegated faculties. Each human being has thus been referred to as a “miniature
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world.” Every creation and force that exists in the macrocosm is reflected in the microcosm. Indeed, have we not been taught (Sanhedrin 37a) that “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world”? Frequently we are unable to be at peace with ourselves because we do not understand the complexity of our nature. When we vacillate from one direction to another we can become distraught because it seems that we cannot maintain consistency. In truth, the problem is not necessarily the lack of consistency in our lives, but our inability to recognize that we are multifaceted beings. If we had a deep knowledge of ourselves, we would know that we are composites of opposite feelings. We would recognize that the challenge is not curbing the tendency to go in different directions but to know when to go in the different directions. Furthermore, we are challenged to elicit the appropriate emotion for the occasion. We are not being inconsistent if we dance at a wedding and grieve at a funeral. The problem of consistency arises when we are joyful at the funeral and are gloomy at the wedding. The problem is not consistency itself but rather knowing when, where and how to express a given emotion. In the present day and age we may find ourselves unable to be in touch with our multifaceted emotions and to express them in an unimpeded and balanced fashion. It cannot come as any surprise that Galus-exile conditions block our ability to be fully expressive.
In these days immediately prior to the Festival of Passover, also known as the Season of our Freedom, we must surely focus on our freedom from the slavery we knew in Egypt. It is no less important for us to acknowledge our need for the spiritual freedom to express all our faculties in the most harmonious and productive way.
COMPOSITE OF PHASES
The second reason for the usage of the word chaim in the plural is based on a discourse of the Rebbe (Likkutei Sichos, volume 24, p. 177-187), which describes our existence as a composite of two phases and influences. During the first phase, we try to integrate all that with which we have been endowed with and what we have accumulated from the experiences and achievements in our lives. In the second phase our task is to add to that which was given to us. The Rebbe likens this effort to the process of birth. Even before a child is born it lives within its mother’s womb. It is alive. Yet, we do not call that a life in the fullest sense of the word. In truth, all of life is like birth. There are “unborn” and “birthed” elements to every moment of our lives. Yesterday’s accomplishments are gifts that we take along with us on our life’s journey. While yesterday these accomplishments were ours and were attained with much effort, relative to today they are gifts that we take with us. It’s what we do today that determines whether we are truly alive. Yesterday’s life, relative to what we can make of life today, is like the fetus in the womb when compared to life after birth. If one were to live one’s
life using only the vitality that was bequeathed by others, it would not be a complete life. That “receiving” aspect of life represents only one part of the whole. Moreover, even if we have achieved much on our own but retired to rest on our laurels, we would not enjoy the full measure of life. This compares to the fetus that is not considered a fullfledged soul because, while it is a living being, its life remains one-dimensional. It only has that which its mother gives it. Life lived to the fullest requires that a human being know how to draw on the past as a catalyst to promote future growth. But one who remains content with yesterday’s achievements lacks the true vitality that is known in Hebrew as chaim – in the plural. In every venture we must ask ourselves a two-part question: is what we’re doing now derived from or based on existing knowledge and inspiration; and what new insights and feelings are we generating? Here too, the limitations posed by Galus inhibit our ability to forge ahead. We appear to need all of our spiritual energy just to hold on to what we already have acquired. Our life in Galus, therefore, is comparable to that of the child growing in its fetal position doing nothing on its own, totally dependent on its mother; it is a one-dimensional form of life. The World-to-Come will free us from that constrained life.
The Rebbe also expounded the third reason why the word chaim is used in the plural. He explained that a life that is not lived in concert with others is not
Issue 923 • �
worthy of the title life. For life to be worthy of its name it must be a shared life. This thought, that life is only worthy of its name if it is a life lived in the plural, is rooted in the Talmud (Taanis 23a). Choni HaMa’agel (the “Circle Drawer”) was a saintly miracle worker of the Second Temple era. Choni awoke from a seventy-year sleep and discovered that none of his peers remained alive. He asked G-d to take him from this world too. The Talmud characterizes his desire to leave this world with the words: “Either friendship or death.” Elsewhere the Talmud (Bava Basra 16b) describes the kinship of Job’s friends and the way they gathered from far and wide to comfort him. The Talmud explains that they had sensed Job’s terrible suffering and were all impelled to rally to him. The Talmud then concludes with the statement: “This echoes the folk saying ‘Either friends like those of Job or death!’” Indeed, this very thought was at the root of Eve’s creation. G-d says: “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helpmate.” (B’Reishis 2:18). Thus the basic rationale for marriage in the eyes of the Torah is companionship. However, as much as we need to focus on ideal relationships and show a commitment to the commandments, reflecting the true definition of chaim, Rashi informs us that living with the commandments will become a true reality only in the World-to-Come. In Galus our ability to connect to others is compromised. Our challenge now is to do our utmost to enhance our relationships with others and restore the idyllic marriage of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. This will prepare us for the time about which we sing in the wedding Sheva Brachos: “O G-d our G-d, may there be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, the sound of joy… the sound of a groom and the sound of a bride.”
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60 � • 11 Nissan 5774
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