AMBASSADORS FOR MOSHIACH
July 23, 2014
Beis Moshiach in #935, Moshiach & Geula, Shlichus

When you ask R’ Yitzchok Weintraub what motivates him, he laughs and says he doesn’t know because he never thought about it. He says, “I always ask myself the opposite question. How is it that everybody isn’t doing it? How is it that Purim comes or Lag B’Omer and we don’t see everyone running to find where they can make a parade, where they can arrange a Megilla reading?”

R’ Itzik Weintraub is a Chabad Chassid who lives in Beit Shemesh, or to be more precise, in Ramat Beit Shemesh Alef. “Beit Shemesh is divided into several areas,” he explains. “There is the city of Beit Shemesh where the original population lives which is mostly secular-traditional. Then there is Ramat Beit Shemesh where you have the religious sector. Ramat Beit Shemesh itself is divided into different sections according to the type of population. There is the knitted yarmulke section with a large population of Anglos, and there are Litvishe sections and the area where the ‘zealots’ live who get into the headlines because of their acts of provocation.”

Within this mosaic there is a Chabad community which consists of several shuls, a Chabad house and schools, all overseen by the shliach, R’ Eliezer Weiner. This time, however, we did not opt to write about the Chabad community but chose to focus on one person: R’ Yitzchok Weintraub.

In his official capacity he drives a bus for private trips, but he is a shliach in the full sense of the word. On Chanuka he organizes big public menorah lightings, on Purim he arranges nonstop readings of the Megilla at the mall, on Lag B’Omer a parade, and on Shavuos the Aseres HaDibros for children. All of this, of course, is permeated with the main shlichus, i.e. kabbalas p’nei Moshiach Tzidkeinu.

THE BARRIERS FALL DOWN

“The topic of Moshiach and Geula is not a simple one in this area. It’s a religious area so people have prior opinions which are usually incorrect. At first, the children suffered from teasing in the neighborhood because of this, but we don’t compromise. All of our work is permeated with Moshiach. When you don’t compromise and you go with the truth till the end, while at the same time explaining it nicely, with a smile, with love for another, the barriers eventually fall. People understand that the belief that the Rebbe is chai v’kayam is based on Torah-halachic sources and they learn to admire you. Many of them also become open to accepting the message.”

R’ Dekel Cohen, on the other hand, has fewer problems with publicizing the Besuras Ha’Geula. “I work in Tel Aviv and people there are really interested in listening. They are receptive to everything I say, but Moshiach has a special appeal which no other subject has. When I talk to them about Moshiach it excites them.”

Dekel lives in the Chabad community in Rechovot and works for a big company in Tel Aviv which provides services for government offices. Like Itzik, he is also a walking Chabad house, a one man institution.

At work, Dekel is connected to thousands of people, some of them are employees of the company and some of them are government workers with whom he shares work connections. What they have in common is that they turn to Dekel for all Jewish matters.

Dekel grew up in a religious-traditional home. It was only when he was in the army that he decided to take religion more seriously. “I suddenly realized that a minute has sixty seconds which is a lot of time. It shocked me when I realized how much you can do in one minute. When your life is efficient and you know how to handle time, you can pack things into your day, which for someone else would take him two days and even longer.”

This insight gave Dekel the strong feeling that “I must accomplish as much as possible,” a feeling which governs his hafatza until today. He registered at the yeshiva in Ramat Aviv and attended every Chassidus class that he could. In Chassidus he found the tools with which to deal with the world.

In his first encounter with Tanya, he found the love of his life. “I understood that this is how a Jew is supposed to look. For the first time, I found a model of a Jew that I could point at and say: That’s the way to be and I want to look like that too.”

1000 WEEKLY MESSAGES

Dekel begins his workday every morning in Tel Aviv and ends it somewhere in the country. He meets dozens if not hundreds of people a day and he feels a sense of responsibility toward them all.

Every week he sends out a short message based on the Rebbe’s sichos on the parsha to about 1000 people via the internal company mail. The message always ends with a call to action having to do with the Geula and it always generates warm feedback.

“At the company they started inviting me to start conferences and cocktail meetings with a d’var Torah. Suddenly, this one wants her mezuzos checked at home, that one wants to know about bar mitzva lessons, this one has a question about Judaism and someone else wants an explanation about Moshiach having to do with the weekly message that he received.

“I have slowly become their unofficial shliach. I realized that to many of my work friends and colleagues I represent Judaism, Hashem, Chabad, and the Rebbe. That creates a powerful sense of obligation.” 

Dekel is driven yet warm at the same time. This combination is a winning one at work where he is widely admired. He was recently interviewed for a professional magazine in his field which is published monthly. Naturally for Dekel, this was a platform which he used to publicize the Besuras Ha’Geula and Chassidic ideas.

MORNING CHASSIDUS

“I learn Chassidus every morning,” says Dekel. “It gives me tremendous fuel for the entire day. My morning learning is what I try to pass on to others, to get whoever I meet caught up in my excitement.

“Sometimes, I don’t get to learn in the morning and then I feel empty. I go up in the elevator and there is an awkward silence. I see people waiting for me to say something. In places like that, if I don’t come laden with Moshiach, with Chassidus, the conversation instantly moves on to the mishaps of the morning, to the high cost of living, and then on to various entertainment programs. The principle of ‘either give out or absorb’ is very much in force in these places.”

And the reactions?

“Very positive. People meet me and it immediately reminds them about their connection with Chabad, with the Rebbe. One is reminded of a Shabbos that he spent at a Chabad house, another is reminded of a shliach who did him a favor, yet another is reminded of something from his childhood. I don’t need to work hard. It’s enough to have a Chassidic saying, a smile, encouragement, and the spark is ignited.

“I travel a lot all over the country for work. In every location I have my special connections. In one place it’s learning with a government official, in another it’s material about Moshiach that I bring for a guard who is waiting for it and somewhere else it’s a d’var Torah to a clerk in the property office.”

The fact that he is married to the daughter of the famous lecturer, R’ Chaim Sasson, who authored many works about Geula, helps Dekel in his work.

“My father-in-law’s s’farim are a big help. I get a lot of ideas from him about hafatza and how to make the topic of Moshiach and Geula accessible to the public. 

“I once heard a story of a Chassid who was very rich who went to his Rebbe and told him that he was going to close his businesses and devote his life to learning Torah. The Rebbe said: A person like you who earns so much is not meant to devote his life to learning Torah. But I want to learn, said the Chassid. Said the Rebbe: At the end of every successful deal you make, when you are sitting with the other side and discussing this and that, instead of empty talk, use the time to say a d’var Torah or learn something together.

“These stories and maamarei Chassidus which talk about the importance of affecting the world, and the understanding that if I was sent to an office in Tel Aviv it is not for nothing, are what give me the push to think about how to use every opportunity to spread Chassidus and the Besuras Ha’Geula.”

***

Back to Itzik Weintraub. Before Yomim Tovim you will find him running around like the director of a Chabad house. Between bus trips, he makes phone calls, meets with people, and arranges whatever event is timely: a menorah lighting, Megilla reading, or Lag B’Omer parade.

“In Ramat Beit Shemesh, everyone knows the Weintraub family,” said a friend who lives in the city and is the one who suggested that I interview Itzik. “Many people turn to them when they want to write to the Rebbe in the Igros Kodesh, when they want advice or to hear about the Geula.”

You are no different than thousands of other Lubavitcher families who live in Chabad communities or religious areas. What motivated you to take responsibility for your area and to do all these activities?

“The truth is, I haven’t thought about it. I believe the HaYom Yom where it says that a Chassid creates an environment. To me it’s clear, wherever a Chassid is, he needs to take responsibility for his environment.

“As long as Moshiach hasn’t come yet, there is always some place with a vacuum, some niche or place where nobody is reaching out. A Chassid needs to use his radar, find that vacuum and fill it up.”

How does this affect the family?

“We got married on Lag B’Omer after the parade. Since then, every year, we celebrate our anniversary with the Lag B’Omer parade,” laughs Weintraub. “Listen, there is no question that it has a positive effect. Shlichus infuses one with a sense of purpose and this is very important for our children’s chinuch, especially when you live in a religious area, for how are you different than them? The ‘v’niflinu’ (how we are different) greatly strengthens the children’s identity. A child who grows up in a homogeneous area asks himself: how am I different? Then he looks for a way to express his identity, to make himself stand out, and this can lead to undesirable results. But when you strengthen their sense of pride in who they are, it has a positive effect in every area.”

It sounds ideal …

“It’s not always easy. There are times and situations in which the children ask why they need to sacrifice. Why, for example, can’t we go to the grandparents for Yom Tov when all the cousins are there, just because we need to arrange Aseres HaDibros here for children or some other activity. In a case like that, we talk about it and encourage the children to talk and share their feelings and try to explain to them in a way they can appreciate.

“My motto in life is the question, ‘What does the Rebbe want of me now? Sukkos is coming. Does the Rebbe want a communal sukka? Purim is coming. What does the Rebbe want now? What would the Rebbe do? We constantly live with this approach and that is how we raise our children.”

 

THE REBBE’S CHILD

R’ Dekel relates:

In the course of work, I met a young man who has a restaurant in the heart of Tel Aviv. I spoke to him and we really connected. We keep up the relationship and we are steadily getting closer. 

One day, he asked me to check his mezuzos and to bring new ones. As I took down the mezuzos, he said to me, “You know that I’m the Rebbe’s child …”

I looked at him in astonishment and asked him to explain. After all, he looked well ensconced in Tel Aviv life and is the last one I would have thought to hear that from.

He told me that his parents did not have children for many years. “They went to the best doctors but nothing helped. Then one day, thirty years ago, friends told them about the Lubavitcher Rebbe. At first, they were skeptical but they finally decided to ask the Rebbe for a bracha for a son. The Rebbe blessed them and I was born less than a year later.

“We did not do t’shuva as a result or anything like that, but all my life I know one thing: that I am a child of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.”

 

THE LITVISHE BACHURIM WHO OPENED THE IGROS KODESH

Three young bachurim from a prestigious Litvishe yeshiva came to a farbrengen in our shul. They heard about writing to the Rebbe and wanted to try it out.

They did not want to tell us their question. We told them what to do and they went to the bookcase. They put in their letter and opened the volume in another room in the shul.

We heard exclamations of surprise. They came back inside and said they had asked the Rebbe about learning and avodas Hashem. They had also asked whether to switch to another yeshiva. They had put in two different letters and in both letters the Rebbe answered that they should consult with rabbanim and knowledgeable friends regarding switching to another yeshiva and that they should start learning p’nimius ha’Torah. On the spot we arranged to learn Tanya with one of them.

 

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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