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Mar312015

“IN ORDER THAT YOU SHALL RECOUNT”

Chol HaMoed, the entire family sits together and munches on matza. For dessert, you might want to serve up a Chassidic tale. * For the holiday that is all about telling stories.

THE AFIKOMAN THAT THE REBBE SENT TO BOMBAY

Each year the Rebbe would leave over some matza from his afikoman. One day, the Rebbe’s secretary, R’ Leibel Groner, was given an address by the Rebbe in Bombay, India and was asked to send a piece of the afikoman by express mail to that address. He was to write that it was for a family that requested a bracha for the mother who was sick and the doctors had despaired. The Rebbe asked him to contact the family and tell them to try to get their mother to eat from the afikoman and since matza is “food of faith” and “food of healing,” Hashem would send her a complete recovery.

R’ Groner sent the afikoman to the family and conveyed the Rebbe’s instruction. Two weeks later, the daughter called and said that they had put crumbs of the matza into her mouth and her condition improved significantly right away. Within a short time, she had fully recovered.

JEWISH PRIDE

The Rebbe’s father, R’ Levi Yitzchok Schneersohn, served as rabbi in a city in southern Russia. It was in this area that wheat grew for the entire country. Since he was one of the great rabbanim, the hechsher for the grinding of the flour for matza was under his supervision.

When the communist government nationalized all factories including the flour mills and matza bakeries, they found out that, until then, everyone relied on the Rebbe’s father’s hechsher. They knew that if they did not obtain his hechsher that year, nobody would buy flour from them for Pesach. So they called him down and asked him whether he would also provide a hechsher that year on the flour. They warned him that if he rejected some of the flour and did not give a hechsher, as a result of which some of the flour would not be sold, this would be understood to mean that he was harming the country’s economy and was fighting the government. This was because the profits from selling the flour would belong to the government.

R’ Schneersohn said that if he could ensure that the grinding of the wheat was in accordance with halacha, then he would give a hechsher that year too. But if they did not listen to him, not only would he not give a hechsher, he would publicly announce that the flour was not under his supervision.

The government representatives repeated their demand that he give a hechsher on the flour unconditionally and not reject anything for kashrus reasons, and warned that otherwise he would be considered to be fighting the government. R’ Levi Yitzchok was not frightened by what they said. He firmly replied that he would not do anything against the Torah. He added that he was ready to travel to Moscow to meet with the president of the Soviet Union, Kalinin, and explain to him that it was impossible to give a hechsher on something that wasn’t kosher. If the president would want to punish him, so be it, but he would not budge from his position and would not do anything against G-d’s will.

The government representatives tried to threaten and frighten him, all to no avail. The story eventually reached the president of the Soviet Union or his advisors and then the order came to follow R’ Levi Yitzchok’s instructions in everything associated with the grinding of the wheat.

And that’s how it was that year. All the matzos that were baked in the government bakeries were made from flour that was under his supervision and hechsher. The government itself gave him this authority.

The Rebbe publicized this story in order to teach every Jew, including children, that when you stand firmly to fulfill Hashem’s desire, Hashem helps you fight against all the obstacles and in the end you are victorious. The claim that the gentiles interfere is false and is a tactic of the evil inclination.

(From the sicha of 18 Nissan 5743, at a children’s rally)

DECISIVE PROOF
FROM THE HAGADA

During the time of the Tzemach Tzedek, the Russian government tried to make changes in Jewish education thanks to the tactics of the maskilim. The Russian Education Minister convened a meeting to discuss the matter. The Tzemach Tzedek was the main speaker at this meeting and he rejected all outside interference in Jewish education. When he was about to leave the meeting together with other rabbanim, a Jewish apostate official waved a Hagada at them and said that it proved that the Jews had killed the originator of Christianity and they used Christian blood.

He read from the Hagada, “Rabbi Yehuda would give signs: d’tzach, adash, b’achav and interpreted it thus: d’tzach – dam tzrichim kulchem (you all need blood), adash – al d’var sh’haragtem (because you killed), b’achav – ben keil chai ba’shomayim (the son of the living G-d in heaven).

The rabbanim were taken aback by his perversion of the true intention but the Tzemach Tzedek immediately replied that it came from lack of knowledge and displayed his ignorance. “The real meaning is, d’tzach – divrei tz’dokim kazav (the words of the Sadducees are false), adash – alilas dam sheker (the blood libel is false), b’achav – b’nei Avrohom chalila b’zos (G-d forbid such a thing for the children of Abraham).

The apostate was amazed by this retort and kept quiet. All the Jews present, and l’havdil, the gentiles, laughed at his downfall and were impressed by the Tzemach Tzedek’s clever answer.

THE BURNING OF THE CHAMETZ FROM HEAVEN

It was Pesach night and in the shul in Dobromysl there was a commotion. Two partners, Aharon Shmuel and Betzalel Chaim, who owned a small liquor factory, had forgotten to sell their chametz! Each of them had relied on the other one to do so and it was only Pesach night that they realized that the chametz had not been sold. At first they blamed one another for the oversight but then they immediately went over to the rav. The rav called over the Dayan and after they discussed it they paskened that the beer had to be spilled out with no benefit taken from it (according to Halacha, chametz under Jewish ownership on Pesach cannot be enjoyed), while the utensils and dry grains had to be locked up until after Pesach.

But the partners were not satisfied with this p’sak din and they asked the Dayan to tell them how to do t’shuva. The Dayan felt bad for these simple Jews and he reassured them. As he was talking to them, the wives of the partners ran into the shul screaming. They had heard what had happened and were afraid they would be punished by heaven. The Dayan went up to the bima and tried to reassure everyone. The crowd began to disperse but Betzalel Chaim was not sufficiently reassured. He vowed not to have any benefit from the factory and not to suffice with the p’sak din that said he should merely pour out the beer. Only then did he feel somewhat better.

After the seder, before he fell asleep, he noticed that a fire had broken out nearby. He went outside and discovered that his factory was on fire. The townspeople, who saw that his property was going up in flames, pitied him and tried to empathize with him. But to their surprise, Betzalel Chaim looked happy and he danced. He felt that the fire was a sign that Hashem had accepted his t’shuva. When he was sure that the factory was burned down to the ground he went and told his partner.

Betzalel Chaim was so happy that he did not go to sleep that night. He went to the beis midrash where there were Jews who were awake because of the fire. Some of them said the fire was a punishment from heaven for the sin of not selling the chametz, but Betzalel Chaim said it wasn’t a punishment but a salvation and he said he wasn’t at all worried over the loss of his livelihood.

The next day it was discovered that the fire had begun in one of the gentile homes in the area and had started due to an argument between neighbors. Erev Pesach, one had attacked the other and had hit him with an iron bar and broke his ribs. The son of the man who was beaten avenged his father and set the neighbor’s house on fire. On the one hand, the Jews were horrified by the cruelty of the gentiles; on the other hand, they were amazed by the reaction of Betzalel Chaim.

Those who arrived at the beis midrash that morning saw Betzalel Chaim standing on the platform and saying T’hillim with all the congregants. He was the reader and his recitation of T’hillim was not with a broken heart as someone who had suffered a tremendous monetary loss but as someone giving praise and thanks to G-d.

(The Rebbe Rayatz, Seifer HaZichronos)

MATZOS AND FORTITUDE

A Jewish porter who was walking on the street in Chernovitz was arrested by a KGB agent. In his belongings a package of matza was found. These matzos had been baked secretly and against Soviet law. A “crime” like this generally resulted in a sentence of hard labor in Siberia. The porter stood there helplessly as the policeman tried to draw out of him the names of the participants in the baking and where the bakery was located. When the porter remained silent, not wanting to inform on his friends, the policeman began dragging him to the police station. Many Jews gathered nearby who shared in the pain of their brother but they were unable to offer him any help.

Then the Chassid, R’ Avrohom Shmuel Lebenhartz passed by and noticed what was going on. He immediately came to the aid of the porter. With unusual courage he went over, took the package of matzos and said to the policeman, “These are my matzos.” The unfortunate porter immediately grabbed the opportunity and fled.

The astonished policeman immediately began to interrogate R’ Avrohom Shmuel. “Who are you? Where are you from? Where is the matza bakery?” But the Chassid did not answer any of the questions. He just gazed at him and said fearlessly, “Let us go together to the police station where I will expose who you really are.” In Russia of those days, when they feared a KGB policeman like the Angel of Death, nobody dared to speak to a policeman that way. The Jews standing around were sure the Chassid would be punished severely for his impudence but surprisingly, the policeman was frightened. He left the package of matza with the Chassid and walked away. R’ Avrohom Shmuel returned the matza to the porter, happy that he had saved a Jew from the clutches of the KGB.

(Yahadus HaDmama)

 

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