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When a person dies, he is free from Mitzvos – specifically a regular person, but this is not so regarding tzaddikim, who are called “alive” even posthumously. And of course this is not so of Yaakov Avinu, who “did not die”; it is certain that he is obligated in Mitzvos. * But how can tzaddikim fulfill Mitzvos, such as eating matza and the like, in the actual, real sense?!

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As we stand on the very threshold of the Final Redemption, the Rebbe exhorted us to engage the mind in subjects that relate to Moshiach and Redemption. This way, the Rebbe explained, we reshape our way of thinking; we experience a paradigm shift. And this is how we begin the process of conquering, not only the Seven Lands which correspond to our emotions, but also the Three Lands which correspond to the way we think.

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As far as the government of Israel is concerned, it would be far better if there were no Jews in East Jerusalem, thereby sparing them the political headache of dealing with the indisputable fact that the Arabs control the eastern part of the capital of Eretz Yisroel. It is safe to say that half of Yerushalayim is effectively devoid of any Jewish sovereignty. The Municipality of Yerushalayim does not relate to its eastern sector as an integral part of the city, and it gets its cue from the highest echelons.

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What do you do with a bachur who doesn’t want to daven Nusach Chabad or learn Chassidus?* Why should Chassidus be learned now when it wasn’t learned in previous generations? * From the life of R’ Yehoshua Shneur Zalman Serebryanski a”h.

Prepared for publication by Avrohom Rainitz

On 7 Kislev, about a month after the Rebbe received R’ Zalman’s detailed letter of 2 Cheshvan, the Rebbe sent him another letter requesting additional information about the yeshiva. R’ Zalman had already sent a detailed letter on Rosh Chodesh Kislev, but the Rebbe hadn’t yet received it by 7 Kislev, when he wrote his letter.


In his letter, R’ Zalman informed the Rebbe about a number of developments and asked for the Rebbe’s guidance and bracha in a number of areas. The Rebbe received this letter a short while later, and on 11 Kislev, the Rebbe responded to his questions.

This is what R’ Zalman wrote about:

Among the talmidim of the yeshiva there were two bachurim from the Hungarian community, whose learning in the Chabad yeshiva was always conditional. They were among the first talmidim who joined the yeshiva in its first year, but when the rabbi of their community arrived, they left the Chabad yeshiva to learn with him. Then the rabbi left, and they came back to the Chabad yeshiva.

These talmidim, despite having learned in the Chabad yeshiva for several years, did not relate to the Chabad spirit. They zealously kept themselves apart and even refrained from davening in the Chabad minyan in the yeshiva. They would show up to learn after Shacharis and they left before Mincha, which took place at the end of the day’s learning.

When R’ Zalman failed to convince them of the necessity of davening in the yeshiva, he consulted with Anash about whether he should tell them that if they wanted to continue learning in the yeshiva they had to accept all the yeshiva’s rules, including davening in the yeshiva minyan. None of Anash was willing to take the responsibility for such a drastic ultimatum which could lead to the two talmidim leaving the yeshiva altogether.

R’ Zalman asked the Rebbe what to do. He also asked the Rebbe to tell him what to do about the fact that the two bachurim did not learn Chassidus. Should he force them to join the shiurim on Chassidus at least twice a week, or let it go.

The Rebbe’s response:

“As to your question about whether to compel some talmidim to come and daven in the yeshiva, obviously, forcing is not the way, although you should speak about it at the right time and at farbrengens. Even better, it shouldn’t just come from the hanhala of the yeshiva, but also from Anash who are not in the hanhala. However, they should not be forced in ways of either do it or else etc. On the contrary, the way of drawing close with the right hand will be much more beneficial than the left pushing away.

“As for their learning Chassidus, in general the point is as stated above. Since this matter is more vital, the efforts in this should be more firm. They should be explained things according to what is said in the Zohar, Parshas B’Haalos’cha 152a about the soul of Torah and what is explained in Kuntres Limud Ha’chassidus of the Rebbe, my father-in-law, and in Kuntres Eitz Chaim.

As for the famous question about this, what about previous generations [who did not study Chassidus]? The answer is simple according to what is explained in a number of places including Likkutei Torah BaMidbar in the drush on the copper snake, that Biblically, it would be enough to recite the Shma. Rabbinically, you also need two t’fillos a day [Shacharis and Mincha], and now it became accepted as obligatory to also daven Maariv. Then, when hearts diminished and darkness increased, the P’sukei D’Zimra were added, etc. If someone came along and said it was enough for him to do as the tzaddikim of yesteryear did during Temple times, so he won’t say the P’sukei D’Zimra and not even the Birchos Krias Shma, the response would be obvious.

The same applies to the study of Chassidus, like it is brought in the Igeres Ha’kodesh in the name of the Arizal, that in this generation, it is a mitzva to reveal this wisdom. From generation to generation it has been necessary to reveal more, which is why Toras Ha’chassidus has spread and has been presented in a way that is understandable intellectually. Surely you can find the right words that would suit these talmidim. And like what was stated previously, you should begin the efforts in this matter during a farbrengen, and in an auspicious time it is likely to lead to exceedingly great results.”


Another topic which bothered R’ Zalman was that he received little help from Anash, relative to his expectations. R’ Zalman, who envisioned the great spiritual future that Chabad mosdos could achieve if they would only try harder, was very disappointed when Anash did not get fully involved in helping develop the schools.

In his letter to the Rebbe, he expressed his pain and tried to defend Anash who were preoccupied with parnasa, which is why they could not give much time to the yeshiva:

“The small numbers of Anash who live in distant places and it is hard for them to get together and farbreng as necessary, and they don’t even all come to the yeshiva minyan, each one is preoccupied with his parnasa and they owe a lot of money, and consequently it is hard for them to be devoted to the yeshiva.

“All of the Rebbe’s letters which are received at the yeshiva, I show to Anash. I’ve already called them several times to a special gathering in order to read again with the proper attentiveness the letters of K”K Admur Shlita, and I did not succeed in gathering them all, so that the last time, some came and some were absent.

“We read the letters and I explained to them that the times called for extra dedication and that we could not suffice with the work of a few hours to raise funds like before, because we had a big job to do. In truth, every one of Anash wants, deep in his heart, to fulfill the Rebbe’s wishes. It is only because of the many preoccupations that they ‘lose themselves.’ May Hashem have mercy and remove this ‘shortness of spirit’ from Anash so they can heed the Rebbe’s horaos.”

In response to this, the Rebbe wrote:

“You write that the reason for the lack of proper involvement is because of being preoccupied with parnasa. It is explained in Chassidus and it is also understood intellectually, that when it comes to parnasa there are two parts: 1) that the parnasa be prepared up Above, and 2) that it be drawn down in children, health, and a livelihood. As is explained at length in a number of places, including Kuntres U’Maayan…

“One who says he does not have the time to be involved in the first part, since he is busy in drawing it down below, this makes no sense. In order for parnasa to be designated up Above for him, he needs to be involved in matters of Torah and mitzvos. This needs no explanation, especially for Anash and the T’mimim whom divine providence sent to a special country on a special mission. How will additional busyness help, when this addition diminishes in the fulfillment of the shlichus and, as a result, also the designation of parnasa up Above, G-d forbid, and one should not go on at length about something painful.”


R’ Zalman also had educational-moral dilemmas in running the yeshiva which he reported to the Rebbe. Among the students who attended the after school classes were those from irreligious homes. One of them was fourteen and orphaned of his father, and his mother wanted him to sleep at the yeshiva. The hanhala agreed, thinking it would give them the opportunity to help him advance in his Jewish studies in the evenings. However, the boy had his own ideas and his own plans for the evenings, which were not in line with that of the hanhala.

R’ Zalman tried to convince him to start learning all day in yeshiva, but didn’t get anywhere. He wrote to the Rebbe and said he was afraid to come down harder on the boy, lest he leave Judaism altogether. He said that he called the mother to a meeting the following Sunday and he hoped that together they would be able to find a solution. The Rebbe’s answer would arrive after he spoke to her, but he assumed that this would be a recurring problem and that is why he wanted the Rebbe’s view about how to respond in similar situations.

The Rebbe’s answer was he did not understand the question and of course, as much as possible, effort should be made to be mekarev those talmidim who came from homes where the parents were not quite religious yet.

This response, that as much as possible, effort should be made to be mekarev them, was R’ Zalman’s guide in the years to come and it was the key to the astonishing success of the Chabad schools.

Along with a firm Chabad stance and the adherence to Jewish principles, R’ Zalman interacted with the students and their parents in a peaceful, pleasant manner. He asked parents to observe the fundamentals of our faith, while not expelling those students whose parents did not do all he asked them to do.

The patience the school exhibited towards those families that were not religiously observant proved itself, and over the years, nearly all of them were drawn to full mitzva observance. Many of them even became Lubavitcher Chassidim.

Even when R’ Zalman had to be firm, parents knew that what he said was coming from a place of love and they accepted it in that spirit. One Shabbos, the yeshiva celebrated the bar mitzva of one of the talmidim who was an only child. The boy’s father owned a grocery store that was open seven days a week and was near the yeshiva. Before the davening, the gabbai of the shul, R’ Chaim Serebryanski, went over to the father of the bar mitzva boy and asked him whether he wanted an aliya.

The father said he did and R’ Chaim explained to him nicely and firmly that he could not have an aliya as long as his store was open on Shabbos. The father, who really wanted an aliya at his only son’s bar mitzva, immediately went to the store and announced to all the customers that they had to leave, and he closed the store. Obviously, this made a tremendous impression on the entire family.



A compilation of Chassidishe stories about the Chabad Rebbeim, written down by R’ Chaim Ashkenazi a”h.

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He was born to a Christian family and was a successful missionary in the evangelical community in France. The church in which he was raised anticipated a rosy future for him, but then, right before completing his priestly studies, he decided to drop it all. He sought the Truth and ultimately found it in Judaism.

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Ten years ago, for the first time in his life, R’ Shloimke Maidanchek a”h was willing to grant an interview to a journalist. During the interview he described his growing up, his coming to Eretz Yisroel, his wide-ranging askanus, and the rare contacts he had with leading figures in Israeli politics, security, and the economy. He also told about his warm friendships with all these people across the spectrum of religiosity and political views. In this interview he did not discuss his work as chairman of the Vaad of Kfar Chabad for twenty-five years. That itself could fill a thick book.

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