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Thursday
Nov012012

DEALING WITH HARDSHIP AND OPPOSITION ON SHLICHUS

A selection of stories about shluchim who encounter difficulties, which turn out to be the very thing that strengthens their work.

A DAY CAMP IN A PLAYGROUND

A few years ago, a Chabad day camp for dozens of children found itself operating out of a public playground because municipal workers expelled them from their building. The camp was run by the shliach in Nachalat Yehuda in Rishon L’Tziyon, Rabbi Tal Kaplan. R’ Kaplan and his wife started a small community with a Chabad minyan, shiurim, Rosh Chodesh parties, camps, and events around the year.

However, like Avigdor and the Misnagdim of yesteryear, a few residents of the neighborhood called the municipality to complain about the Chabad house. That is how the children came to be removed from the building where the day camp was housed. The camp was forced to go back and forth from the playground to a nearby shul. This did not deter the shliach, and in subsequent years the day camp has grown and expanded.

On a recent Lag B’Omer there was a parade that entailed a large expenditure of money, which the shliach organized after being promised by a donor that he would cover all the expenses. In the end, the donation did not materialize, and a large sum of money that was beyond the shliach’s capabilities had to be deposited in the bank in order to cover the checks.

Then the shliach got a call from a Lubavitcher who said to him, “I would like to give you a small donation. Can you come and pick it up?”

The shliach showed up and to his surprise, the amount of the donation was precisely the amount he needed to deposit in the bank to cover the Lag B’Omer expenses.

RESCINDING DECREES

In Alon Moreh, the head of the city council told the shliach R’ Yehuda Rubin that he had to clear the Chabad house staff and activities out of his building due to a housing shortage thanks to the building freeze. The building freeze meant that not a single home was available for rent or sale. R’ Rubin posted a message on the Shluchim Forum asking all shluchim to see what they could do to help.

Some shluchim wrote a letter to the head of the Alon Moreh city council, but within four days the problem was resolved in an unexpected way. The owners of the building that the Chabad house was housed in went to R’ Rubin and, of their own initiative, they offered that he continue his activities on the ground floor of the building. This would cost less than he had paid in previous years.

In general, R’ Rubin is accustomed to miracles. I remember a Kinus HaShluchim in 770, when there was an Israeli Prime Minister who spoke about destroying dozens of settlements in Yehuda-Shomron. There was an outcry in 770. R’ Rubin called upon those present to daven that the decree be rescinded.

Within a few days, the plan was revised.

A similar thing happened when the government spoke about giving our enemies the Golan Heights. As a spiritual preventive move, Tzach held the annual Israeli Kinus HaShluchim in the Golan Heights. Then too, the government’s plans suddenly changed and the dangerous proposal was dropped.

A SHIUR ON SHABBOS 
FOR 300 WOMEN

One of my daughters went to Antwerp to help out at a camp. She had this uplifting information to relate.

Every Shabbos afternoon, there was a shiur in Pirkei Avos in the hall of the largest shul in Antwerp that was attended by 300 women. Many of them came early in order to get a good spot. There is a large religious community in Antwerp with a wide array of shiurim, but everyone knows that when the Pirkei Avos shiur is being given, no other shiur will be given because nobody would consider missing the Pirkei Avos shiur.

The lecturer is the shliach R’ Shabtai Slavaticki, someone who has always suffered from speech difficulties. How does he manage to engage hundreds of women, without a microphone, on a Shabbos afternoon? The answer lies in the same kochos and brachos that we have all been given to overcome any obstacles to spreading Chassidus; he who is dedicated and works hard, sees wondrous results.

HELPERS AND ENEMIES

R’ Meir Messas is a shliach at Moshav Safsufa and the nearby yishuvim. He has some stories about hardships and opponents who ultimately came around to helping the Chabad house (or who ended up leaving the area).

He related the following at a farbrengen:

When the Rebbe Rayatz left prison, he said a maamer Chassidus on the verse, “Hashem is with me amongst my helpers and I will see my enemies’ defeat.” I will also tell you about my “helper” and my “enemy.”

Several years ago, a new family moved to our yishuv. The father had won a lottery and bought a house with a large farm on our yishuv. It could all have been fine except that he was fanatically opposed to the Chassidic movement and especially to Chabad.

The night before they were going to move to the yishuv, his wife dreamed of the Rebbe and the Rebbe said to her, “Tell your husband not to stop up my wellsprings on the yishuv.”

Upon their arrival at the yishuv, the woman inquired who the shliach was. Then she came to me and told me about her dream. I immediately understood that it referred to the wellsprings of Chassidus and I explained this to her. She told her husband that the Rebbe warned them not to interfere with Chabad, but he was not receptive to this. He actually made it his goal to disturb, to besmirch, to argue and to stir up trouble for anything associated with Chabad.

The Rebbe tried to restrain him, once by means of that dream and a second time, in another way. One day, the man bought a gift for his oldest son, a thoroughbred Arabian horse that cost in the five figures. The horse soon disappeared. The boy and his family spent days and nights looking for the valuable horse. They went to all the moshavim in the area, but couldn’t find it. Then the young man came to me and asked me to write to the Rebbe with a request that they find the horse. I was somewhat uncomfortable with this, for what did a horse have to do with Igros Kodesh? But then I recalled the story in which King Shaul asked Shmuel the Navi about his missing donkeys. I guided the young man and he wrote the letter.

As he opened the volume, we heard the sound of a galloping horse right near the house. He ran outside to see which horse it was and it was his! He hugged it and yelled for a piece of rope. He ran to his house and shouted, “Abba, the Lubavitcher Rebbe returned my horse!”

The stubborn father insisted it wasn’t the Rebbe, the horse would have returned regardless, etc. but the son, who had seen the miracle with his own eyes, rejected his father’s disparaging remarks. He left the house in protest and broke off contact from his father and the entire family for a long time. Later on, this Misnaged experienced all sorts of other problems, and he finally left the yishuv, granting us quite a bit of relief.

LIKE THE ALTER REBBE’S WAGON

During that period of opposition to the Chabad house, there were some attempts made to close it down. One day, some of them showed up at the Chabad house with tools in order to break in and cause damage. They did not take into account who they were dealing with. When they turned on the electric saw, it broke. One of them volunteered to go off on his bicycle to bring another one, but on the way he fell and injured his leg. After some more mishaps, they concluded that it wasn’t worth fighting Chabad.

Some of them ended up leaving the yishuv while others joined the victors. All in all, R’ Messas is busy day and night as he reaches out to all the moshavim in the area.

FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

I like to call R’ Benny Nachum, shliach in Shlomi, the “Tzaddik M’Luban.” He is a successful shliach who answers all my questions in Chassidus and Kabbala, and he is also meluban, which is an acronym for melumad b’nissim (accustomed to miracles). The miracles began as soon as he began looking for an apartment to rent in 5752.

Back then, Shlomi was a small town of only 500 families (in contrast to the 3000 it has today). When he asked someone where he could find a real estate agent, the man laughed and said it was like asking in Moshav Safsufa where the Prime Minister’s house is. The man went on to say that in all of Shlomi there was only one house available, a small house on the edge of town. R’ Nachum had no need to think about it much and he rented the house.

Ten months later, the landlord said he had decided to sell the property and already had a buyer, but if R’ Nachum was interested in buying it then he had 24 hours to provide $18,000 as a down payment. R’ Nachum asked the Rebbe, who told him to buy it and added, “For the mosdos.”

When R’ Nachum and his wife saw this answer, they were astonished. They had no idea how they could raise that large amount within 24 hours. Nor did they understand what mosdos could fit in the old, 62-square-meter building. And yet, the Rebbe had given his answer.

“My wife told me to get going and so I went to some old friends. As soon as I set out, I began to see a series of miracles.

“I was under enormous pressure. On the one hand, I knew that there was no natural way that I could obtain the money and that within a short time I wouldn’t have a place to live. On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised wherever I went. One friend said, ‘How nice that you came today. It’s my birthday and whatever you ask for, I’ll give you.’ Another friend, upon hearing of the urgent need and of the Rebbe’s bracha to buy the house, donated $6000. Within 24 hours, I returned to Shlomi with extra money. I had $20,000. I made the down payment and the Chabad mosdos of Shlomi were underway.

“Two days after making this modest purchase, I noticed that a neighbor was starting to build a wall. He was enlarging his yard at our expense. I went over to him with a smile and asked him what was going on. He explained, ‘You are new here. You don’t realize it but this entire area is mine.’

“I had no idea what was going on. While I wondered what to do, the neighbor continued adding row upon row to his wall. I felt scared and helpless. I consulted with friends and one of them told me to immediately call a professional assessor to examine the maps of the Israeli Land Authority to see what the border was between us. I looked in the Yellow Pages and found an Arab assessor from Kfar Yasif who wanted 600 shekels for the job. I hesitated. Maybe we should concede to the neighbor, but in the end, the assessor came. He examined some maps and then told me, ‘Your property is two dunam.’ He went over to the neighbor and informed him that he had to move his wall over a bit. He didn’t leave until he saw the neighbor start taking his wall apart, row by row.

“Then we started building mosdos, since we had plenty of space. Thanks to donors in Eretz Yisroel and abroad, we have a shul, a beis midrash, a mikva for men, a mikva for women, a soup kitchen, as well as a house for our family and a guesthouse.

“As the Rebbe said from the outset, ‘for the mosdos.’”

 

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