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Thursday
Jun142018

SIMPLY GIVE OVER THE REBBE’S MESSAGE ABOUT MOSHIACH

We spoke with Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Kesselman, mashpia in Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim in Johannesburg, in anticipation of Gimmel Tammuz. * Many weighty questions about emuna and preparing for the hisgalus of Moshiach came up, for which Rabbi Kesselman provided clear, thought-out answers.

Photos by Nitai AbelAs someone who has never traveled to South Africa, I was happy at the opportunity to meet with Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Kesselman in Kfar Chabad. RKesselman is a highly effective mashpia, and fulfilling that all important role is in his blood. He is the son of the mashpia of Kfar Chabad, Rabbi Velvel, and the grandson of the legendary mashpia, RShlomo Chaim. He came to Eretz Yisroel for theShabbos ShKula Moshiach,” in the course of which he farbrenged with Anash and the young marrieds in order to strengthen them in inyanei Moshiach.

24 years have passed since Gimmel Tammuz 5754, the day of concealment, and despite passage of time, the questions still weigh on us. The desire to understand what this day is about, why Hashem did this, and what is being demanded of us, Chabad Chassidim, has not let up.

There was no better person than Rav Kesselman to present these difficult, maybe even challenging, questions. He concedes that “not everything is black and white,” and “there isn’t an answer to everything.” He definitely agrees that some of the questions need to be referred to the Rebbe when we see him, soon.

Rav Kesselman, who is beloved to his students, is known for easy conversational style. He speaks to young people openly, while maintaining Chassidishe authenticity akin to that of old. It’s a combination that not everyone is successful at.

The concealment of Gimmel Tammuz came after a period of high expectations for the revelation of Moshiach. The almost daily encouragement of the Rebbe for the singing of “Yechi” intensified the anticipation from day to day. How can we, today, strengthen our emuna and anticipation?

The truth is that nobody dreamed that we would be sitting together in Sivan 5778 and asking these questions … Back then, in 5751-5752, it was clear that ut, ut, Moshiach was coming. I remember the uplifting sichos that the Rebbe said at that time, and when I would leave a farbrengen, I was sure that we were going straight to the Beis HaMikdash. But when I went out and saw Eastern Parkway busy as usual, I could not reconcile it in my mind.

Every inspiration at that time was an isarusa d’l’eila. The Rebbe lifted us up at farbrengens and spoke explicitly about our living in Yemos HaMoshiach, just like that!

At the same time, the many years that passed are not meant to weaken our emuna. Just as Torah study gets its power from Mattan Torah that took place 3300 years ago, and still, the avoda demanded of us is “every day it should be like new for you,” so too the belief in Moshiach and Geula needs to be really new for us. The Rebbe said that connecting to inyanei Moshiach needs to be through learning about inyanei Geula and Moshiach as well as increasing in mitzva fulfillment.

In general, the Rebbe often quoted the expression of Chazal, “kalu kol ha’kitzin” (all endpoints of galus have been finished). Couldn’t the Rebbe find a better term than that? That term could weaken emuna since already 2000 years ago, Chazal said “kalu kol ha’kitzin” … However, the Rebbe also emphasized that now is the time that a Jew can truly demand Moshiach.

Meaning?

In one of the sichos, the Rebbe mentioned a gadol (he did not say who, but I think it was the Arizal) who could have brought Moshiach but it was revealed to him from Above that if he would do so, all the sparks and souls that had yet to be refined, would remain “outside the camp.” Hearing this, he agreed to wait for the Geula so that in the meantime, the birurim would be completed. The Rebbe said that since in our time, the avoda of birurim is finished, each of us can demand Moshiach.

THIS IS WHY IT’S HARD FOR US TO ASK FOR MOSHIACH

So what’s the problem? Why aren’t we demanding Moshiach?

The hardest thing for a Jew is to demand Moshiach. I would say it is almost impossible to want Moshiach. The Rebbe himself said on 28 Nissan that he worked with us for forty years in order to bring the Geula and what more could he do to get us to sincerely demand it? The Rebbe said that even when we said “ad masai” (how much longer), it was because we were told to do so. The Rebbe said that even this, what he was saying in that sicha, did not move us.

Why do you think it’s so hard for us to ask for Moshiach?

I’ll expand on your question. Think, why is it so hard for a Jew to sincerely demand Moshiach? When Moshiach comes, “goodness will flow plentifully” (as the Rambam paskens), and there “won’t be any war, jealousy and competition.” Everyone wants good health, shalom bayis, nachas from children, and Moshiach will bring all that. So, the most obvious thing a Jew should ask for is Moshiach’s coming. And yet, it is still hard for us to ask sincerely.

The reason is that although Moshiach will bring all those good things, that’s not the essence of what Moshiach’s coming is about. Moshiach is about the revelation of G-d in the world on the highest level, no less than the revelation of His very atzmus (essence). G-dly giluyim (revelations) won’t suffice; only G-d in His essence.

The Alter Rebbe would say on many occasions of deep soul yearning, “I want nothing; I don’t want Your Gan Eden, I don’t want your Olam Haba; I want You Yourself.” The Alter Rebbe did not want mere giluyim, even of the highest sort; he wanted G-d Himself, as it will be in the Future.

In order to attain that level and desire in which we want only G-d and nothing else, we need to utterly nullify our entire existence.

We want Moshiach because he will bring us giluyim in the form of health, nachas, and abundant parnasa. All those things are good and fine, but the real point of Moshiach is the revelation of G-d’s essence in the world, and for that, we need to accomplish the nullification of our essential selves, just as the Alter Rebbe gave up everything, the self-nullification of the animal soul and the self-nullification the G-dly soul (which is also part of the self) and even Gan Eden which he deserved. So tell me, how much avoda does a person have to invest to achieve this sort of self-nullification. This is why it is so hard for us to demand Moshiach sincerely, because it entails a high price of conceding our personal “essence.” If you are a “substantive being” or an “existence,” even if that is the existence of the G-dly soul, that clashes with Moshiach.

In other words, you are saying that in order to ask for Moshiach sincerely, we need to reach the level of the Alter Rebbe!

In a sicha (Shabbos Nitzavim-VaYeilech 5713 and see also the maamer “B’yom Ashtei Asar” 5731, os 13), the Rebbe refers to this incident with the Alter Rebbe and adds, “Even though this is an exceedingly high level, still, since we are students of the Alter Rebbe, and mekusharim who follow in his ways, and at the very least, residents of the place he (the Alter Rebbe) was the mara d’asra, it is incumbent on us as an obligation and privilege to conduct ourselves, at least in practice, according to the practices that he taught us. Included in this is the conduct of ‘Who is unto me in heaven,’ and what that means on a practical level is to go out of all limitations and do G-d’s will.” Simply put: bittul atzmi.

You see that the Rebbe makes no concessions for us and throughout the years the biggest demand the Rebbe made of us is to bring Moshiach to the world, that we ask for Moshiach and draw down into the world that which is most impossible: the revelation of Atzmus.

The big chiddush is that the Rebbe said he was giving it over to us; this is our mission.

WHEN THE REBBE DROPPED A “BOMB” ON PURIM 5747

How is the Rebbe’s demand of us different as compared to earlier Rebbeim? What is new for the seventh generation?

The function of each Nasi Chabad is to reveal Moshiach in the world, that there should be the revelation of Atzmus.

The path of avoda that our Rebbeim laid out, as the Rebbe himself announced as soon as he accepted the nesius, is that the avoda of a Lubavitcher Chassid has to be through his own efforts, and not that the Rebbeim do the work for the Chassidim as is the norm by Poilishe Chassidim.

In one of the sichos that was said on Purim 5747, the Rebbe explains that the avoda of bringing Moshiach is something that pertains to the Rebbeim, and the Chassidim are involved only through their hiskashrus to the Rebbe, not that it is their “thing.”

Then the Rebbe dropped a “bomb” when he said: I thought to myself about why Moshiach hasn’t come yet. I exerted myself to understand why Moshiach hasn’t come and came to the conclusion that as long as there was the idea of “the Nasi is everything” and all members of the generation were devoted to him etc., it was possible to suffice with this and to say that this pertains to the Nasi Ha’dor exclusively. But following the spiritual descent of the generations in terms of hiskashrus, on the one hand, and getting closer to the time of Geula, on the other hand, there has become a greater imperative to be involved in this. Consequently, this is given over to every single Jew.

Meaning, from now on, the avoda to bring Moshiach is our avoda, that of the Chassidim. This is essentially the idea that was said in the sicha of 28 Nissan and which created such a storm, but the Rebbe had actually said it a few years earlier.

They say that the Alter Rebbe did not have the experience of exertion until the Maggid revealed to him his mission in the world. It all came easy to him, but once the Maggid revealed it to him, then he had to exert himself.

Then the Rebbe said that he has exerted himself for Moshiach and came to the conclusion that at this time, the idea of bringing Moshiach to the world has to transfer from the Nasi to the people, and now our exertion is also needed.

All the avoda that the Chabad leaders accomplished over seven generations has reached its ultimate completion specifically in our generation, the dwarf on the giant’s shoulders. This is the mission and responsibility that the Rebbe conveyed to us. We have transitioned to a new stage.

Is it possible to say that the Rebbe did everything to bring Moshiach but the generation wasn’t worthy?

G-d forbid! Moshe Rabbeinu wanted to enter the Land and prayed 515 prayers. In one of the sichos, the Rebbe explains that Moshe Rabbeinu is the “faithful shepherd,” and did not want to leave the people of his generation who remained in the desert, as a faithful shepherd does not leave his flock, no matter what. If so, why did Moshe pray 515 prayers to enter the Land? The Rebbe explains that with each prayer, he “entered” Eretz Yisroel in some sense.

The Rebbe accomplished the matter of Geula and as he himself put it, the Geula is already present in the world and we just need to open our eyes, for the feast with the shor ha’bor and the Leviasan, etc.

Then what’s missing?

Our avoda! The function of Moshiach is to penetrate the lowest aspects of creation, and so the avoda to reveal him needs to come about specifically through the tachton (lowly physical beings). At Mattan Torah, their souls flew out, because the G-dly revelation came from Above. It was only after the Jewish people began the avoda of the tachton that they were fit to receive the Torah. In order for Moshiach to be revealed, what is lacking is our avoda, on the part of the tachton.

This is why seven Rebbeim worked to draw down the revelation of G-d to the world, as the Rebbe laid out in the first maamer, “Basi L’Gani.” In the final generation, the matter was given to us, for us to deliver the “final blow” and complete the job. Because the real point is that Moshiach must be revealed by the lowest aspects of creation.

In 5751-5752, the Rebbe raised us to great heights. In every sicha and at every farbrengen, the Rebbe spoke about Moshiach in terms that the Chassidim had never heard before (and not just the Chassidim of the seventh generation). But if Moshiach would have come then, he would have come through the Rebbe’s avoda, not ours.

If I am understanding you correctly, the point of the great concealment of Gimmel Tammuz is for us to exert ourselves without the Rebbe “standing over us,” with every sicha and farbrengen.

We are presently in a period of concealment that we did not want at all, but it’s a time in which we need to live with Moshiach through our own efforts and not just because we were told. We need to reveal Moshiach thanks to our own avoda.

RELYING ON THE REBBE’S WORD

Excuse me for asking, but I am sure that I ask on behalf of many people: What is Gimmel Tammuz about? Is it a day of “is’chalta d’Geula,” as the Rebbe said, or a day of concealment?

I don’t think there is a black and white answer to this question. Every person treats this day as he feels he should. You cannot take someone who chooses to be pained on this day and tell him, “Now live with Moshiach.” I will ask you a question: Even when we saw the Rebbe, did everyone live the Geula as the Rebbe asked us to?

Gimmel Tammuz marks the beginning of the redemption of the Rebbe Rayatz, and the Rebbe himself asked how we could say that when on that day, they took him to exile! The pain was very great, as nobody knew what they knew afterward, that this was the beginning of his redemption. However, afterward, they saw retroactively, that it was, in fact, the start of his redemption. That is the power of emuna.

Gimmel Tammuz is part of the “I did my part and I give it over to you” – avoda on the part of the tachton, through the power of our own emuna.

Mashpiim often quote the Rebbe as saying, “the event that occurred is only a test.” What does that mean and how can it be explained to people like us, who are used to establishing our reality based on what we see?

I came to 770 from Johannesburg on Monday morning, 4 Tammuz 5754. I met a non-Lubavitcher friend from Williamsburg and he asked me, “What do you say now?”

Who had an answer to that? We were all stunned. We could not believe there could be a situation like this. I quoted various sichos to him and ideas that the Rebbe said after the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz, but I didn’t really have a compelling answer.

Then he said so matter-of-factly, “Look, the Rebbe is a very clever and responsible person. If he said Moshiach is coming, then you can surely rely on him.”

We are Chassidim of the Rebbe and we believe in every word the Rebbe says. If you want to follow the worldly perspective of a “balabus,” then you can. But since we believe every word of the Rebbe, and the Rebbe said Moshiach is already here, then this is the truth and the reality, even if we don’t see it or understand how this can be.

The Rebbe proved to us a thousand and one times that we don’t really know what is going on around us and if we thought A, the reality was B.

The Rebbe says, rely on me and I’m telling you that all the avoda of refinement and sparks is finished.

We all need to know that our lives are in the Rebbe’s hands and we need to rely on him. We need to work on this knowledge and feeling, and whoever works on it and tries it out, sees how the Rebbe actually does run things. If we live with the Rebbe as we should, then all the questions and doubts disappear.

LIVE IT YOURSELF AND THE MESSAGE WILL GO OVER EASY

You work with various kinds of people: yeshiva students, the Chabad community, and a community of mekuravim. How do you convey a “koch” in inyanei Moshiach to each of these groups?

First, you yourself need to believe the Rebbe. The moment you live it and believe it, then everything you say passes on to others without difficulty. The problem in conveying the message is more with ourselves, when we ourselves don’t live with the Rebbe’s message enough. We are not sufficiently convinced, and when we say “ad masai,” it is not something that really affects us. A genuine asking is lacking. This is what the Rebbe was complaining about in the sicha of 28 Nissan.

Furthermore, we don’t always have to convince and explain and it’s not always possible to explain, because this isn’t something logical that can be grasped by the mind. I think that in many instances, it’s enough to quote the Rebbe or to learn the Rebbe’s words inside, and the Rebbe already carries on the work in such a manner that the listener takes what he said and applies the words to his understanding and soul.

Let’s see what the Rebbe says: Moshiach is already revealed, our generation is the first generation of Geula, everything is ready, etc. You simply need to convey this, and each person will find a way to explain the Rebbe’s message to himself. If necessary, farbreng with him, tell stories of the Rebbe that relate to the issue, but give the Rebbe the credit that his message will find its way to the right spot.

And if there are still doubts?

Doubts are normal; the animal soul can have doubts. Our challenge is to instill emuna and dispel doubts.

Then you are putting the work back on the Rebbe instead of on us!

That the Rebbe gives us the job to bring Moshiach on our own, does not mean that we are distant or separated, G-d forbid, from the Rebbe. On the contrary, it means that our beings become more unified with the Rebbe and the Rebbe operates through us to bring Moshiach.

It is possible to say that every Chassid, and actually every Jew, is accompanied by the Rebbe. The more the Jew nullifies himself to the Rebbe and devotes himself to fulfilling the Rebbe’s desires, he and the Rebbe become one existence. If so, when you work through your own efforts, but you work in the proper manner, then the Rebbe’s power is revealed through you, because you are becoming unified with the Rebbe.

A LITTLE SIMPLE FAITH WON’T HURT US

In the Rebbe’s sichos, it talks about eternal life without an interruption, which does not quite comport with the reality as we see it. Maybe we did not understand those sichos properly, or maybe we are not understanding and interpreting the reality correctly? In other words, how do we relate to the contradiction between the sichos and reality as it appears to our eyes?

It is written in the Torah that Hashem created the world in seven days, whereas all the greatest professors insist that we do not understand the scriptural text properly. Nu, are you going to start listening to them now? Absolutely not.

There is no reason to suggest that we did not understand the sichos correctly when they were said, and therefore the same applies today. Even if we observe a lack of alignment between the sichos and the reality, chalila, that should not budge us from our emuna. And if there are questions, nobody ever died from them. It is ok for there to be questions, and yet, the emuna does not change.

I’ll give you an example. A few times, the Rebbe said that he heard from his father-in-law, the Rebbe Rayatz, that in the Baal Shem Tov’s siddur it says, “miyadcha ha’mlei’a, ha’pesucha, ha’gedusha, v’harchava” in the birkas ha’mazon. “Gedusha,” and not the usual “kedosha.” The bibliographer, R’ Yitzchok Wilhelm, looked in the Baal Shem Tov’s siddur and saw that unlike what the Rebbe said, it says “kedosha!”

So that’s a contradiction between what the Rebbe said and reality. R’ Wilhelm wrote to the Rebbe about this and the Rebbe answered him with simple faith, “That’s what I heard from my father-in-law.” The fact that reality is different should not sway anyone from his faith in what the Rebbe says.

A while later, R’ Wilhelm found that in the birkas ha’mazon in the Hagada shel Pesach that appears in the Baal Shem Tov’s siddur, it says “gedusha.”

The message is clear: When the Rebbe says something, he is not talking to the heavens but to you, and you need to accept it as is, with complete faith. If you have a question, so there’s a question … Questions shouldn’t bother us and with Hashem’s help, when we see the Rebbe, he will answer all our questions, including the big question about the current concealment.

In general, the Rebbe once said to someone to stop wasting time on questions; the time has come to take action.

That being the case, the Rebbe declared that the avoda of birurim is over. If someone does not believe that, he can take a recording and listen to the Rebbe’s voice saying it. The Rebbe adds that this is the reality; not a reality he is wishing for. If so, this is the absolute reality. But you’ll ask me how it is that the Rebbe said that we need to open our eyes and see the Geula in the world while he was simultaneously busy with lawyers arranging his will … That shows that the Rebbe did not see a contradiction between the two realities.

WHEN THE REBBE GAZED AT ME

You work in a yeshiva with bachurim who were born long after Gimmel Tammuz 5754. They never saw the Rebbe. How do you convey to them the feeling of love for the Rebbe, the connection and absolute belief in everything he said?

My father was born in Russia on 17 Iyar 5687, about two months before the Chag Ha’Geula, 12 Tammuz. He never saw the Rebbe Rayatz. He left Russia in 1946 and went to Eretz Yisroel as the Rebbe Rayatz instructed him to do. He went to the Rebbe for the first time in 5721 when he was 34.

From a practical standpoint, he was raised his entire life on the knees of the Rebbeim, in Russia until the age of 19 and afterward in Eretz Yisroel for another 15 years. Throughout these years he did not see the Rebbe, and when he was in Russia he never thought he would ever see the Rebbe. In those years, there was no video, of course, and there were hardly any pictures, certainly no recordings, and still, they lived with the Rebbe.

If a bachur works on himself and pictures himself going into yechidus, one of the things he needs to ask the Rebbe is to be able to fulfill the shlichus that the Rebbe assigned him, to live with Moshiach and do it right.

Goes into yechidus?!

In the HaYom Yom it says that in order to kasher meat, you need three actions: soaking, salting and rinsing. In Chassidic terms, soaking means to be immersed in the Rebbe’s words; salting means yechidus; rinsing is a Chassidic niggun. Out of these three activities, the main one is salting, of course, yechidus with the Rebbe. The one who removes the blood from the animal soul of the Chassid is the Rebbe. So even today, there must be yechidus, for it is impossible to say that a Chassid today does not need salting.

I still don’t get it. There is no yechidus today!

The Rebbe Rayatz writes that Chassidim would have yechidus once a week, twice a week, and some even had yechidus three times a week. How did that happen? In their thoughts.

The Rebbe says that if you saw the Rebbe, conjure his image and enter for yechidus. If you did not see the Rebbe, take his picture and place it in front of you while thinking that you are standing before him. That is how you will have yechidus in your thoughts.

When we were bachurim, we had yechidus once a year for our birthday. Was that enough? Of course not, but there were other ways we had yechidus and made our requests. It could even have been at a regular mincha when we davened in the Rebbe’s minyan.

I remember that at a certain point, I was in a difficult personal situation. I felt I was drowning and knew I needed help from the Rebbe. I could not physically enter his office, so I stood in his minyan for mincha and concentrated my thoughts on my needing the Rebbe’s help and asking for it. Suddenly, the Rebbe looked up and stared at me. I couldn’t bear it and I immediately looked down. But right away I told myself that I needed the Rebbe’s help and I could not look down. I looked up at the Rebbe who was still staring at me. It was impossible to continue looking at the Rebbe but I told myself firmly: this is your opportunity; don’t forgo it, don’t look down!

At a certain point I concluded that if I did not lower my gaze, I would die on the spot. It was unbearable. I caved in and looked down. I felt as though the Rebbe was saying to me, “True, it’s hard for you. I am not happy with you because you need to do the work through your own efforts.” I felt that the Rebbe was not giving in to me.

Sometimes I stood in a spot where nobody stood and waited for the Rebbe to “have yechidus” with him. I knew that the Rebbe knew what I was going through and what I was thinking. For example, on Friday afternoons, the Rebbe would go to the small zal for mincha. He would not walk in through the usual door but would walk down the hall, enter into the side room and from there would enter the zal. I would stand at the end of the hallway, a few feet from the Rebbe, with nobody else there at the time. I would stand there like a horse and beg the Rebbe in my heart that I don’t want to be a horse anymore. Sometimes the Rebbe would look at me more and sometimes less, but I always felt the Rebbe’s message, not to be lazy and to do the avoda. The Rebbe does not hand out deferments.

These were occasions that were more in a manner of “g’vura,” but there were also situations of “chesed.” Sometimes, I would contemplate the Rebbe in a way of experiencing pleasure in G-dliness.

EVERY PERSON HAS A ROLE

If a Chassid has time in the evening, what is the best thing for him to do with this time in order to be mekabel Moshiach?

In our world, things are not absolute. There is the ideal and there is the real, and at times there is a gap between them. Each person needs to speak to his mashpia and find out what he should do. On the one hand, you need to take action; on the other hand, if you grasp too much, you won’t have anything. Doing nothing is not an option; each according to his talents.

If it is a person with a talent for communal activism, he should go and help a Chabad House with inyanei Moshiach or go on mivtzaim. If he is verbally gifted, he should give a shiur in inyanei Moshiach and Geula. Obviously, it is necessary to make the effort to follow the straight path that the Rebbe directed us, to learn the subjects of Geula and Moshiach as they appear in Torah, and especially as they are explained in the teachings of the Nasi HaDor.

BRIEF BIO

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Kesselman was born and raised in Kfar Chabad. His father is the mashpia, Rabbi Zev Wolf (Velvel). He learned in yeshiva in Lud by the mashpia, Rabbi Abrahams and by Rabbi Eliyahu Landau.

When he was 15, he had a powerful yearning to go to the Rebbe and learn there. In those years, at the end of 5730 (summer of 1970), this was quite irregular, and certainly not at such a young age.

“My father was by the Rebbe on the great Yud Shevat in 5730, and he asked the Rebbe about my wish. The Rebbe said to ask the hanhala of the yeshiva.

“The hanhala of the yeshiva did not want me to go, among other reasons, also due to considerations of keeping up the yeshiva. A few years later, it became known that the Rebbe wanted bachurim to stay in the yeshiva and help in its development. In any case, the Rebbe sent us to ask the hanhala.

“When I had discussed it earlier with my grandfather, the mashpia Reb Shlomo Chaim Kesselman, he enthusiastically took the position that it was a good idea to grow up in proximity to the Rebbe, but after the hanhala expressed its negative opinion, he changed his mind to the opposite extreme.

“I felt like I was in jail. One day, I had an argument with my parents on the topic, and I almost fainted from the degree to which I took it to heart. It was two weeks before Tishrei, and my father offered that I travel meanwhile for Tishrei.

“When I was there already, I met the Chassid R’ Meir Friedman, and he told me that my father asked him to see if it is possible to help me realize my dream. He had approached the hanhala of Oholei Torah, and they agreed to accept me. During that period, I was in an in-between state, between the yeshiva in Lud and the transfer to Kfar Chabad. I must admit shamefully that I thought I was being clever by exploiting the fact that I was in this transition stage (and not under either hanhala), and I wrote to the Rebbe that the ‘hanhala’ of Oholei Torah had agreed to accept me, and I went to learn in Oholei Torah.

“After about a year, the Rebbe hinted to me, at least that is the way that I understood it, that he was not pleased with the way I had done things. This was when a group of bachurim came from Kfar Chabad to learn in the yeshiva in Morristown. I asked the Rebbe whether to join them in learning there, and the Rebbe answered: As per the advice of the hanhala of the yeshiva in which he is learning.

R’ Kesselman spent four years learning in Oholei Torah, and afterward went on shlichus to the yeshiva in Montreal, where he spent two years. He learned for almost one entire year in 770, and then married at the end of 5737, and continued his learning in the kollel.

Over the next years, R’ Kesselman went out on shlichus to a few places. He was in Michigan for three years, Miami Beach for one year, and then spent a year back in Crown Heights. As he describes it, “The year 5743, the year that I lived in Crown Heights, was for me, a taste of Gan Eden.

“With each of these positions, when I asked the Rebbe if I should take them, the answers were somewhat indirect. Only when I got the offer to go on shlichus to Johannesburg in South Africa, in the year 5744, did the Rebbe give the blessing of ‘bracha v’hatzlacha.’”

Ever since then, R’ Kesselman is serving as the mashpia in the local Tomchei T’mimim, in addition to his outreach work.

R’ Kesselman shares an interesting episode that he experienced in connection to his shlichus plans:

“On Erev Shabbos Mevarchim Adar 5741 (or maybe 5740), I was living in Detroit and went for Shabbos Mevarchim to the Rebbe, since my birthday is in the month of Adar. At that time, I was struggling with many questions in regards to my shlichus, and I wanted to ask the Rebbe about it, but I did not actually end up writing in anything on the topic.

“At the farbrengen on that Shabbos, the Rebbe began to speak at length about where a person needs to be to carry out his shlichus in the world. The Rebbe added that it is, in fact, difficult to know this, but the Torah is a ‘Torah of light,’ and the Torah illuminates, and when a person wants to know his shlichus in the world, things will resolve themselves for him.

“Throughout that sicha, the Rebbe spoke about shlichus and answered each one of my doubts one by one, as if he was talking directly to me.”

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