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Wednesday
Nov282012

A FALLEN SOLDIER IN THE REBBE’S ARMY

Mrs. Mira Ruth Scharf and her husband ran a Chabad House in New Delhi, an exceedingly difficult shlichus, while being a devoted wife and mother to her three children. * The shlichus will continue!

The day after the tragic passing of Mrs. Scharf, the phones at their Chabad House in New Delhi didn’t stop ringing. An email sent from the Chabad House described the atmosphere there: “Tourists, mekuravim and local residents are shocked by the news. They said that in addition to the Scharfs’ outreach work, Shmulik and Mira provided a warm home and listening ears. You could feel the deep connection they had with the Scharfs.

“Since the news of the tragedy, many people have been dropping into the Chabad House. We feel like one family and people want to know how they can be of help.

“Last night, after Shmulik came out of surgery, he called to say that the shlichus must go on. Since he made this request, despite our anguish over what happened, the Chabad House will continue to operate.

“Dozens of people put on t’fillin, dozens of candle-lighting kits were given out, and hachlatos tovos to increase in mitzvos are encouraged.”

This is the attitude that sums up the shlichus. Despite the tragedy, or because of it, there will be no interruption to the shlichus. The shliach, recuperating in the hospital and bereaved of his wife, called the Chabad House to say that the shlichus must go on.

GOING ON SHLICHUS

Delhi, the capitol of India is a polluted, crowded, smelly, noisy city that attracts millions of tourists a year. Delhi is the city that every backpacker who plans a trip to India passes through, whether he is heading north to the Himalayas or east to the ghettos of Varanasi.

R’ Nachman Nachmanson opened the first Chabad House on this sub-continent in 5752. R’ Scharf first arrived in Delhi as a bachur to help R’ Nachmanson in 5764, after he finished learning on K’vutza. He arrived before Chanuka and remained to man the Chabad House for seven months. When R’ Nachmanson could no longer run the Chabad House, he gave the responsibility over to R’ Scharf. After R’ Scharf married, it was clear to the couple that Delhi was their place of shlichus.

The highlight of their outreach is the Shabbos meals. Mira’s father-in-law, R’ Yehoshua Scharf, mentioned this at the funeral. “She was a woman who worked 24 hours a day to help Jews. On a typical Shabbos there were 100 guests, and they themselves lived in less than desirable conditions. Today, everybody wants things on their terms, while they were moser nefesh.”

To prepare a Shabbos meal for so many people, when the ability to obtain basic food items is so hard, was almost impossible. One of the tourists who visited the Chabad House described it like this: “To prepare a Shabbos or Yom Tov meal, when basic vegetables are full of bugs, the eggs are full of blood, and in order to obtain Chalav Yisroel you need to find the owners of the cows that wander around the city, well, how is it possible?”

And yet, Mira did it, week after week, holiday after holiday, without complaining, and while raising three children.

FINDING HER OWN WAY

“Out of the thousands of people who passed through Mira and Shmulik’s Chabad House, I don’t know whether many of them remember her. Why? Because Mira was on the sidelines. She was there for everyone, modestly, quietly, devotedly,” said the shlucha in Poona, India – Mrs. Rochel Kupchik – who was in touch with Mira regularly.

Mira Rus was born 25 years ago. Her parents are Sadigura Chassidim. As a girl, she took an interest in Chabad and Chabad Chassidus. Her childhood friend, Liba Crombie, said that she knew Mira from the Chassidus classes for girls that were given in Ramot in Yerushalayim.

“She was a young girl who loved Chassidus and came regularly to the shiurim. We, her friends, didn’t think she would continue to Beis Rivka in Kfar Chabad, but she did. She swept up all those she met along the way and inspired many girls. She didn’t forget for a minute how she came to the light of Chassidus through one shiur on Shabbos.”

Mira was admired by all who knew her for her refinement, inner calm, and her Chassidishe neshama. She was a role model for all her friends and acquaintances.

A high school friend, S. K., emphasized her good qualities and the Chassidishe seriousness that she already had as a young girl: “Mira came to the high school following a spiritual search. She felt very connected to Chabad Chassidus and to the Rebbe’s horaos and went to Beis Chana High School in Yerushalayim. You couldn’t help but notice her good heart, her refinement, and the way in which she charmed everyone. She was beloved.

“Many did not know her well since she was very shy, but once you got to know her you saw how great she was. She always sought to learn and know more and was never content with her current spiritual status. On her own, she learned maamarim and sichos and enriched her Chassidic knowledge. She was eidel yet strong, solid in her determination to follow through on the goals she set for herself. She had a powerful emuna and was a terrific friend.”

As soon as she got engaged, she knew that she was headed for shlichus to distant Delhi.

“I remember her as a kalla, speaking enthusiastically and with bitachon about shlichus to India. Within a short time, they left for Delhi.”

Her life in Delhi was permeated with Kiddush Hashem, despite the tremendous hardships. She lived in a one and half room apartment with three children. At her funeral, her father-in-law said that at a time when many young people seek luxuries, Mira did not. She didn’t look for a nice neighborhood and a spacious apartment. She lived in the Main Bazaar of New Delhi, in the most polluted city of India, one of the filthiest cities in the world.

SHLICHUS WITH NO PRIVACY

Mrs. Rochel Kupchik said, “Mira wasn’t a regular kalla who wants a home with plants and nice furniture. The Chabad House in the Main Bazaar is, first of all, a public place. There is no privacy whatsoever by day or by night. There is no private kitchen. It’s a noisy area with cows, rickshaws, coops, and sewage pipes. Mira gave of herself to others and that is how they lived, starting immediately after they married.”

R’ Shimi Goldstein, shliach to Pushkar, India, said that Mira had come back from an event and had written to the Shluchos Forum in chat, “No evil descends from Above; everything is good.”

“She gave her life for Jews. Leaving where she came from, a religious neighborhood, to the Main Bazaar in Delhi, was real mesirus nefesh. I am in India for thirteen years now, but I didn’t grow up in such a sheltered environment and I didn’t go to such a difficult place. She decided she was giving her life for others and for the Rebbe.”

WHY ARE THEY THERE? BECAUSE THEY ARE NEEDED!

Over the years, far from the spotlight, the Scharf family was moser nefesh on the Rebbe’s shlichus in New Delhi, India. The following is a description of their work as seen through the eyes of a former backpacker, Hila Harel:

“The first feeling I had, when I stepped foot in the place, was to run away as fast as I could. The air is thick, heavy, polluted, and full of nauseating smells. This is not a result of a fire or some ecological disaster. It is just the usual air of Delhi, which millions of unfortunate Indians breathe every day, as well as the Israeli tourists who are in Delhi as a way station to other cities in India. This is the capitol of India.

“It is noisy, filthy, and sooty. There are thousands of paupers who are missing limbs, who crowd around you because you are rich (obviously you are rich since you have sunglasses and a camera around your neck). There are markets with masses of people, cows and pigs. Peddlers scream, barefoot children are in rags, and the houses are about to collapse. There are thousands of homeless families living in the streets, whose only roof consists of a piece of cardboard or a big garbage bag. The scent of incense for idols wafts from every corner.

“As much as I’ll describe, it’s nothing compared to one minute in the place. As much as I attempt to put it into words, it’s impossible to understand.

“Without being there for even a short moment, breathing the sooty smoke that fills the lungs, hair and clothes at every hour of the day, experiencing the pulling on your clothes by beggars who plead for a coin, just one coin … without attempting to walk in the street when you don’t know whether it’s preferable to look down so as not to step on something foul (did I mention the cows in the street?), or up, so as not to get hit by a motorcycle that is trying to make its way through the hordes of people who fill the narrow road (because there is no pavement) … without experiencing for even one minute this city, this country, it’s hard to imagine that such a place exists.

“It is hard to seriously believe that people really live under a plastic bag, but when you see a huge neighborhood of tin huts, cartons, and improvised tents made out of garbage bags, it is impossible to deny the truth. Even if you don’t believe it, this is the reality.

“The poverty, the filth, the choking air – this is Delhi. If there is a place on earth where the shlichus entails utter bittul at every moment, this is the place. If there is a place in the world where you would not want to be shluchim, Delhi is that place.

“In fact, no Chabad family dared to settle here. Bachurim came and went, and sometimes, some remained if they could tolerate it. A family or two attempted it and ran for their lives. It’s an impossible shlichus in every respect. To raise pure, young Chassidishe children in a place like this?

“To start a k’hilla, when tourists don’t stay in the city for more than a day or two? And those who stay have gotten entangled in problems and need help.

“To raise funds? Definitely not from the regulars in the minyan.

“To go out and do errands? When after a short stay outdoors you want to burn your clothes because of the stench in them?

“Here are some more fun facts. The electricity works inconsistently for a few hours a day and you never know when those hours will be. The faucets work arbitrarily, but you can’t drink the water because it is full of bugs and disease. The only way to heat water for a bath is with a large electric immersion heater in a bucket.

“Medical services in Delhi, as in all of India, are stuck back in the 50’s of the previous century (in the best case scenario. Most Indians suffice with medicine dispensed on the street while sitting on a stool in a filthy alley). Top medical care is reserved for diplomats and when paid for privately is frightfully expensive.

“In the summer, you cannot remain in the city because of the tremendous heat accompanied by awful humidity and monsoon rains that flood the streets, and which bring along mosquitoes and diseases like malaria.

“So why are people there on shlichus? Why don’t they find a more comfortable place, one that is a little less crazy, and live a more normal life? The truth is, I don’t know. Allow me to guess that it’s simply because they are needed there. They give up everything, really everything, to be there. It’s a warm Jewish home that embraces 50,000 Jews who pass through for a brief visit throughout the year.

“But still, why? Why go to such an awful place? My personal answer is so that I, and other lost Jews like me, can get a taste of the truth in a place where it is so lacking. So that the moment I feel that I am ready to leave Egypt, there will be waiting, just for me, a kosher Seder. So that when I feel so confused, I will step into the Chabad House for a minute and watch a video of the Rebbe at the Didan Natzach farbrengen. I will stop and feel, for the first time in my life, the power of K’dusha. How would I have woken from my spiritual faint if there was no Chabad House there? It was an island of normalcy, physically and spiritually, within the demented, incomprehensible Indian sea.

“So I salute them! I salute the soldiers of the king who, with mesirus nefesh, left comfortable lives in a city of Torah and Chassidus and uprooted themselves to another, impossible world in order to enable another Jew to connect with his Father in Heaven. They went in order to be a lighthouse of k’dusha and purity within the epicenter of refuse and grime.

“I salute them from here, from a city of Torah and Chassidus, as my precious children go every morning to yeshiva, with Shabbos candles that fill my home with light, where I kiss the mezuza on my way out and in. You should know, dear shluchim, that you are a piece of this puzzle that is the story of so many Jews. You don’t give yourselves credit and you’ll never admit to me that you are so important.

“So just permit me to salute you once more, from here, 8000 kilometers west of you, for every moment you remain at your posts, fleeing honor and praise. Be successful and see the fruits of your labor, because it is not for naught.”

•     •     •

On Rosh Chodesh Kislev, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip made a direct hit on the building where the Scharfs were living this time of the year, when the tourist season is over. This was the time that they spent in Eretz Yisroel, giving the children a different sort of Chassidishe atmosphere, and recharging their batteries. They rented an apartment in Nachalat Har Chabad in Kiryat Malachi.

Mira was killed and her husband and oldest child were seriously injured. Mira’s funeral took place that night in Yerushalayim. Hundreds of people attended the funeral, including young, irreligious people who had been their guests over the years.

May we immediately merit the fulfillment of the promise “Arise and sing those who dwell in the earth,” and Mira among them, with the coming of the Rebbe, Moshiach Tzidkeinu, now!

For more on the Scharf shlichus in Delhi, see Beis Moshiach, issue #728.

Now is the time to help the Chabad House and this family of shluchim. Let us lighten R’ Scharf’s load and ensure that the Chabad House in New Delhi continues to operate. Donations can be made via:

www.chabadnd.org or chabaddelhi.mycharitybox.com

 

“AND AHARON WAS SILENT”

Mrs. Rochel Kupchik

Poona, India

Today is Rosh Chodesh Kislev. On Rosh Chodesh Kislev, four years ago, the shluchim in Bombay were murdered. Mira, the shlucha in Delhi, one of our sisters, was murdered in Kiryat Malachi and her husband and children were wounded.

When the two sons of Aharon died, Aharon was silent, because there are things that have no rational explanation. But along with accepting the din without questions, a Jew can and ought to ask, as Moshe Rabbeinu did, “Why did you inflict bad upon this nation?”

Last Shabbos, a Kinus HaShluchim took place in 770. In the Rebbe’s last address to the shluchim he demanded: The only thing that remains to be done in the avoda of shlichus is Kabbalas P’nei Moshiach! If the Rebbe said so, then that’s the way it is, even if everything seems to be just the opposite.

The Rebbe and his promise that Moshiach is imminent are the only things that keep the shluchim going. This provides the strength to keep the Chabad House doors open, despite everything. All of us, shluchim and Klal Yisroel ought to cry out to Hashem, “Ad Masai!” and demand, “We want Moshiach now.”

Boys, when you pass a Chabadnik at the Chabad House in Hampi, India or the Philippines or Tokyo on the Midrechov in Yerushalayim or Ramat Aviv, go over to him and put on t’fillin. Because that is what you can do for Mira who gave everything for you.

Girls, on Friday, check out what time candle-lighting is and light candles on time, you and your mother, your daughter and your friend. Because that is what you can do for Mira who gave everything for you.

And whisper and shout in your heart: Yechi Adoneinu … Melech HaMoshiach L’olam Va’ed, because nothing can take that emuna away from us. This emuna is what will enable Shmulik to carry on. It will leave the door of the Chabad House open for you, and this emuna will bring Moshiach NOW!

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