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Tuesday
Jan032017

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Dear Reader sh’yichyeh, 

In the HaYom Yom of 14 Teves the Rebbe tells a story about the Shpoler Zeide, who was a man of ardent feelings, more so than the other disciples of the Maggid of Mezritch. When he visited the Alter Rebbe in Liadi, in the year 5569 (1809) or 5570 (1810), he related that when he was three years old and saw the Baal Shem Tov, “he placed his holy hand on my heart, and from that time onward, I have felt warm.” A gesture of a tzaddik, and even more so seeing him or hearing his voice, should generate an effect that will never be forgotten.

In the HaYom Yom edition recently printed by Sichos in English, the following story is retold: Once, in the early years of the Rebbe’s leadership, R. Yoel Kahn was asked by his father, who lived in Kfar Chabad, to approach the Rebbe at yechidus and request a blessing for a relative whose commitment to Jewish observance was faltering.

R. Yoel made the request of the Rebbe, who, in addition to asking the relative’s name and his mother’s name, also asked for his age. R. Yoel was unsure, and said that he would ask his father and relay the information to the Rebbe afterwards.

The Rebbe noticed that R. Yoel was puzzled by this last question, as it was not a detail typically requested. “I wanted to know if your relative had met the Rebbe [Rayatz] when the Rebbe visited Eretz Yisroel in 5689 (1929),” the Rebbe explained.

R. Yoel responded that he was certain that his relative had met the Rebbe Rayatz at that time.

“In that case,” the Rebbe responded, “please tell your father that he can be at peace. Your relative may experience occasional ups and downs throughout his life, but the fact that the Rebbe saw him will ultimately have a positive effect.”

This HaYom Yom teaches us a tremendous lesson in Emunas Tzaddikim. Tzaddikim are not just people who are more learned or smarter than the average man. They are not just people who may have holy ancestors; rather, Tzaddikim are people which are divinely sent and see the divine in each person and in the world. They inspire us to connect with Hashem. Their every action is part of that process and filled with that goal. Therefore, “A gesture of a tzaddik, certainly seeing him and hearing his voice, must make an impression never to be forgotten.” How many people were cured of serious illnesses by a wave of the hand of the Rebbe? How many people will be inspired to T’shuva just by seeing the Rebbe or even just his picture? How many people changed their lives by hearing the Rebbe sing or tell them a few words?

Everyone knows and feels that we are going through a very difficult test right now. It is very similar to what our nation experienced in Mitzrayim; after telling B’nei Yisroel that they would be freed, Moshe had to conceal himself from B’nei Yisroel and things became more difficult for the nation. In our times, right before the Geula, our faith is being tested with the physical concealment of the Rebbe. Yet Hashem is “מקדים רפואה למכה – sending the cure before the illness.” We are blessed with a treasure that chassidim of previous generations did not have: we have printed sichos and videos of the Rebbe.

In this way, we can live with the Rebbe and study all his holy gestures and movements. When we internalize the above-mentioned point – “A gesture of a tzaddik, certainly seeing him and hearing his voice, must make an impression never to be forgotten” – we will strengthen our resolve to watch videos and listen to the voice of the Rebbe. Today, there are many daily and weekly videos that come out which are doses of inspiration and Hiskashrus for us and our families. When we start our day with a video of the Rebbe then each chassid will say about himself that “…from that time onward, I have felt warm.”

I would like to share with you an email correspondence that I had with someone a while back. This person had reached out to me with a very basic question and concern: With all these videos of farbrengens and distribution of dollars by the Rebbe, what is the benefit of showing our children and ourselves the videos of the Rebbe sitting on the balcony in obvious pain and discomfort, just nodding his head and waving his hand to the heartfelt singing of “Yechi” by the Chassidim? Shouldn’t we focus on the good times and watch videos of the Rebbe smiling and leading Chassidism and the entire world with full strength?

The following was my response in its original form (largely based on this special HaYom Yom):

“Dear…

“Thank you for reaching out to me. I appreciate your feedback and your questions.

“You write to me your concerns of showing and spreading the videos of the Rebbe from 5753-54. You feel – and I can feel your sensitivity in your writing – that showing these videos, with the Rebbe visibly in pain and unwell, does not show the full glory of the Rebbe and is painful to see and watch. You feel that it would be better to show videos of the Rebbe from the earlier years where the Rebbe is teaching, leading and instructing in full health.

“In response, I would like to share with you a few points:

“1) I agree that seeing the Rebbe in a state of pain and suffering is very painful. Yet, in this case I feel that it is important for ourselves and others to see this. For with a Rebbe – unlike an elderly grandfather who goes through suffering in his older years, and we do not want to remember him this way and therefore do not necessarily show others pictures and videos of him in that state – he is suffering for us, his nation and Chassidim. As the Navi Yeshaya says (53:4), ‘Indeed, he bore our illnesses, and our pains – he carried them.’

“The Rebbe demonstrated a conscious decision to take it upon himself to help bring the Geula. Seeing these videos and seeing to what extent the Rebbe pushes himself to bring the Geula inspires us to do the same, on our level, in our lives.

“2) It is important that people should see and know the truth. Unfortunately, there are many that like to revise history. They say and write that the whole concept of the Rebbe accepting and encouraging “Yechi” was made up by a group of fanatical people. For many, seeing these videos is the first time that they discover and then begin having honest internal dialogue about the truth.

“3) This last point is the most important one. Seeing the Rebbe in obvious pain and discomfort, and yet with literal mesiras nefesh, do everything physically possible to encourage his chassidim to be actively involved in Moshiach and Kabbalas HaMalchus is a source of inspiration and Emuna to thousands! As the Rebbe writes in HaYom Yom (14 Teves), ‘A gesture of a tzaddik, certainly seeing him and hearing his voice, must make an impression never to be forgotten.’

“Personally, every time that I see these videos, my mind goes back in time to the original war with Amalek, about which the Torah tells us (Shmos 17:11) ‘It came to pass that when Moshe, on top of a hill, would raise his hand, Israel would prevail, and when he would lay down his hand, Amalek would prevail.’

“We are currently battling a newer version of Amalek. It is the Amalek that wants to weaken our Emuna in the Nevua of the Rebbe about Moshiach and the importance of Kabbalas HaMalchus. Yet, when we watch the videos and remember Moshe (the Rebbe) raising his hands, to encourage Yechi, then וַיְהִי יָדָיו אֱמוּנָה; we will prevail. If we Chas V’Shalom forget those moments, and to us the Rebbe’s hands are ‘down’ and not encouraging, then….

“I hope I addressed your questions and concerns and may we be zocheh to be reunited with the Rebbe in the third Beis HaMikdash, now!”

In addition to watching videos of the Rebbe from the past, we must open our eyes and ears to the future, to seeing Moshiach in the present, as well. In the words of the Rebbe (VaYeitzei 5752): “We must now only open the ‘heart to know’ and open ‘the eyes to see’ and open the ‘ears to hear.’ Likewise, we must utilize all 248 physical limbs and 365 physical sinews in the learning of the inner aspects of the Torah, as revealed in the teachings of Chassidus and observing the directives of our Rebbeim and leaders.

“These directives include learning about the concepts of Redemption, in a way that will open the heart, eyes and ears. That is, one must understand, see and hear in the physicality of the world the true and complete Redemption in actual reality. One should learn the Torah of Moshiach (the inner aspects of Torah) in a way of seeing. All the above is already prepared; one need only open the eyes to see it!

“Also included is the custom of the Jewish people, which is continually spreading in our time, to learn the subject of Redemption and Moshiach in order to prepare ourselves and others even more for the revelation of the true and complete Redemption, as mentioned above.”

 

Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www.ylcrecording.com

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