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Wednesday
Jul272016

THE DYNAMIC DOER FOR OVER FORTY YEARS * Part 2

For over forty years, R’ Yaakov (Yankele) Gloiberman has been at the forefront of Chabad askanus in Eretz Yisroel. He is in contact with Admurim and rabbanim as well as businessmen and corporate giants, with the elite of Israel’s security apparatus and the leaders of the national sports teams. He never misses an opportunity to convey messages of Judaism. When asked for the key to getting through to these exclusive people he said one word: heart.

WITH THE UPPER ECHELONS OF THE IDF

Spending time with government figures, R’ Gloiberman keeps up the relationships cultivated by R’ Maidanchek and R’ Wolf. His askanus hasn’t stopped; it has grown considerably. He has especially warm ties with the top brass of the military and police, whom he considers close friends, and he is often called to their offices for consultations.

R’ Gloiberman completed his army service as a captain in 5745 and was then appointed as rabbi of the “Kingfisher” unit, one of the elite IDF units.

General Benny Gantz, who served for four years as the Chief of General Staff of the IDF, served as a captain alongside him in the combat leadership of the unit. Another general, Tal Russo, a rising star in the General Staff, also served as a captain, as well as Major General Elik Ron of the Israeli Police. The one who commanded the unit then and was later appointed GOC (General Officer Commanding) Southern Command was Doron Almog. He kept up a warm relationship with all of them throughout the years. This helped Lubavitcher Chassidim when they went to army bases on the Rebbe’s shlichus.

“The relationships continued over the years. When a commander leaves, he connects us with his replacement,” says R’ Gloiberman. “The Rebbe’s view was always important to them. There were times I passed along letters of blessing to them. The relationship is openly of a Chabad nature, so when we meet, they will put on t’fillin or do other mitzvos. We see them primarily as neshamos, Jews to whom Divine Providence gave high positions, and so even when they end their jobs, we stay in touch.”

However, it seems that R’ Gloiberman enjoys a special relationship with Benny Gantz. At the ceremony when Gantz was awarded his new rank, R’ Gloiberman stole the show. In pictures seen afterward on many news sites, he is seen next to senior military figures, the Defense Minister, the Chief of Staff, major-generals and military chaplains. “I’ll give you a scoop,” R’ Gloiberman says, surprising me.

“A few months before Gantz was appointed Chief of Staff, the Defense Minister told me that he was going to appoint Yoav Galant as Chief of Staff while Gantz would be his deputy. Gantz got the hint that he was expected to resign. He called me and invited me to his office to say goodbye. I brought a volume of Igros Kodesh with me and said to him, ‘Benny, we are writing to the Rebbe.’ He responded dismissively; after all, the Chief of Staff was already chosen and he was ready to call it quits, but I insisted and he wrote. He got a special bracha from the Rebbe. What happened was that over the next month, he had pretty much stepped down, but then came the turning point. The Chief of Staff was dismissed because of illegal construction and the Defense Minister and Prime Minister decided to quickly appoint Gantz as Chief of Staff.”

At the induction ceremony, R’ Gloiberman reminded him of the Rebbe’s bracha. Right after he was awarded his rank and the crowd dispersed, he went up with him to his new office, high up in the Defense Ministry building in the “Kirya” (Israel’s equivalent of the Pentagon) in Tel Aviv and put up a mezuza on the doorway of his office. R’ Gloiberman also gave him a dollar from the Rebbe in a nice case along with the Rebbe’s picture and a warm blessing.

The bracha is one from the Rebbe to one of the generals of the General Staff to mark his being chosen to his high position: “May Hashem fulfill the requests of your heart for good and may you, with serenity, be successful in your responsible job for the benefit of all and the individual.” Needless to say, the dollar was immediately hung up on one of the walls by one of his assistants.

R’ Gloiberman also has an excellent relationship with Chief of the Israeli police, Yochanan Danino, whom he describes as someone very warm toward Torah and tradition. “Many people do not know this, but Danino was born on 19 Kislev. He has a Lubavitcher aunt in Kiryat Gat and on his bar mitzva he received a personal letter from the Rebbe, which he keeps in his wallet along with a dollar he received from the Rebbe. He is a great friend of Chabad. We are good friends.”

R’ Gloiberman also has good relationships with those whose public image is of being opposed to Torah life. With each of them, he seeks and reveals the Jewish spark.

“Ron Cohen, one of the heads of Meretz (a left wing political party that is not known to look favorably on religion) is a good friend of mine. He was the Deputy Commander of the brigade in which I served during the push into Beirut. I have kept in touch with him ever since. I recently sent him a Chassidishe reminder of his Jewish birthday. He called me, very touched, and said that I had reminded him of the birthday that his parents celebrated in Iraq, which was laden with Jewish symbolism. Ron Cohen is a good Jewish soul with a warm corner in his heart for Judaism.”

R’ Gloiberman has managed to utilize these extraordinary relationships for the benefit of Chabad work and to spread Judaism. Not only with movers and shakers in the worlds of sports and high finance, as will be soon be related, but also in the army ranks. He waxes nostalgic over those days when he instilled Judaism in whomever he came in contact with.

“You cannot compare a conversation I have with a public figure or an officer in his office to the impact on the battlefield. I was part of the invasion of Beirut in 1982 as a soldier in the ranks along with many kibbutznikim. The experiences we shared as, around us, people were constantly being injured and killed, do not compare to a conversation in an office.”

R’ Gloiberman saw open miracles during that war, and he shares two of them.

“One morning, before going out to fight in the village of Dawha, where Kuti Adam, deputy Chief of Staff, the highest ranking IDF officer ever to be killed in battle, was killed, I put on my tallis for Shacharis. Many soldiers were willing to put t’fillin on with me. Suddenly, we saw an astonishing sight. Armed terrorists came out with their families with flags of surrender. The soldiers in the unit photographed them and I was reminded of what the Rebbe said, quoting the Gemara on ‘and all the nations of the world will see that the name of G-d is upon you’ – these are the t’fillin of the head. Those terrorists surprised us and our lives were saved.”

Another miracle occurred in the coastal city of Jounieh.

“This city has many hotels that are visited by leading dignitaries in the Arab world. We went from house to house to clear each one out until we got to the Hilton Hotel. The manager came out and said there was not a single terrorist in the hotel and he asked that we protect the building. However, suddenly, a terrorist looked out from the fourth floor and opened with a volley of automatic fire. In an open miracle, not a single soldier was hurt. The bullets whistled over our heads. A shell shot from a tank silenced the fire. The soldiers were in shock and I felt that I had been saved in the merit of a Tanya.”

We went back to his relationship with people in the military. R’ Gloiberman related that after he gave a number of public figures dollars that he had received from the Rebbe, and he reported to the Rebbe, the Rebbe sent him Israeli shekels. He understood from this that the Rebbe was encouraging his work. Since then, his rule is that when any of his friends is chosen to fill a high position in the military or the police, and there are many like that, he gives them a dollar from the Rebbe as a segula and for blessing.

THE VIZHNITZER REBBE

R’ Gloiberman has relationships with distinguished Admurim, gabbaim, askanim, and rabbanim who seek his help. R’ Gloiberman, who usually is not tight-lipped, did not want to discuss these relationships, but was willing to tell us about his relationship with Vizhnitz. The beginning of the story came to light when he went to be menachem avel the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, R’ Yisroel, and told him a story that he had with his father.

“It was Tishrei time, when Chassidim all over the world go to spend Yom Tov with their Admur. An old Chassid from the United States came for Rosh HaShana and the other Yomim Tovim, but experienced something very unpleasant. The Vizhnitzer Rebbe became aware of this and prayed for him. The leaders of the Chassidus contacted me and asked me whether I could help.

“With Hashem’s help, after a few days the matter was taken care of and ended well. On Sukkos of that year, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe asked that I come to see him. The Rebbe received me very warmly in his sukka and held my hand throughout our meeting and discussion. He inquired about details of the treatment and asked about the Chassid’s condition. He said that this incident was on his mind, and during the davening on Rosh HaShana he prayed a lot on this Chassid’s behalf. Then he smiled and said, ‘You revived me.’ He thanked and blessed me with much success in my askanus work.”

R’ Gloiberman is also in touch with people in Neturei Karta with whom he grew up.

Along with relationships with people in politics and the military, his main claim to fame in the irreligious world is with soccer and basketball coaches and with senior figures in the Israeli corporate world.

“The facts speak for themselves. Through the various branches of the sports world, thousands are brought closer to the light of Torah. There are numerous people who have started putting on t’fillin after seeing me put t’fillin on with an athlete or trainer. At the big games that take place in European countries, we join the thousands of fans; in collaboration with the local Chabad we arrange Shabbos for thousands of Jews and have t’fillos there.”

For example, HaPoel Tel Aviv soccer team played in Sofia, Bulgaria. The coach, Erez Edelstein, who is a close friend of R’ Gloiberman, was worried about how to get kosher food for the team. Of course, R’ Gloiberman contacted the shliach in Bulgaria, R’ Yosef Solomon, who arranged for hot, kosher meals for the athletes.

Shai Striks, a referee who was there, was invited to put on t’fillin and he agreed. He emotionally told the reporters there that since his bar mitzva he had not put on t’fillin. During the Peace in Galilee War, Chassidim came to put t’fillin on with him and he had already rolled up his sleeve when he was suddenly called away.

There are many instances like this. R’ Gloiberman tells of daily incidents of spreading of the wellsprings. In his work with athletes and fans he was given an airtime spot on the national sports channel.

“Every week I discuss a point in the parsha and connect it with a lesson for sports fans. The segment is filmed near a pair of candles, challa and a bottle of wine. Thousands of people watch the program and it is broadcast during prime time. Many fans have told me that they started copying me and they also set the table for Shabbos and repeat the d’var Torah they heard from me.” R’ Gloiberman’s eyes twinkle as he tells me this.

R’ Gloiberman doesn’t take it easy; he is as youthful as he was forty years ago when he began his askanus work. If only younger people managed to do what he does in a day! His older appearance belies his indefatigable energy. For well over a decade, he has been a regular guest on a popular program called Layla Chai Meod with broadcaster Amnon Peer on Reshet Beit of Kol Yisroel. Listeners and guests are exposed to concepts in Torah and mitzvos that are presented tastefully and spiced with Jewish humor. The phone calls during and after the program demonstrate that the Jewish people are interested in Hashem and His Torah, and many listeners say that the program touches them.

If you haven’t grown tired yet, you must hear about R’ Gloiberman’s empire of chesed, Yad B’Yad. It is located in Lud but it impacts the entire country. Thousands of children receive briefcases and writing implements, pillows and blankets for the winter, and basic food items. R’ Gloiberman responds to hundreds of shluchim who request his aid. Along with material assistance, he also helps shluchim obtain building permits in various places. He has even sent big shipments to Chabad Houses in places like Greece and Bulgaria.

Every Monday, he gives a shiur in an office building in Ramat Gan which is attended by dozens of businessmen and top figures in Israeli sports. The shiur began as a result of a big demand on the part of people who were exposed to his outreach work in the courts and want to study Judaism more deeply.

Speaking of hafatza, every Thursday, R’ Gloiberman sends texts to thousands of subscribers who share them with friends in a pyramid system. In the forty-word text he conveys a d’var Torah with a pointed lesson. Another text is sent on Friday with the times that Shabbos begins and ends.

R’ Gloiberman uses his many connections to help Chabad mosdos and many mosdos exist thanks to him. For example, he was able to prevent the closing of a Chabad school in Lud, and around the country there are many mosdos whose development plans were suspended for years and were subsequently able to build thanks to his intervention in the right places.

WHAT STANDS OUT ABOUT A CHABAD ASKAN?

At the end of our talk, we wanted to hear from this veteran askan in Lubavitch: where does he get his strength from, and doesn’t he ever get tired? He said:

“A Chabad askan needs to remind himself day and night that he is the Rebbe’s shliach. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t write a report to the Rebbe and ask for his bracha. When you work for the Rebbe, it is all done with love. There is no self-interest and no games involving honor. A Chabad askan does not make calculations about how each move he makes will help him, but does things with bittul to the one who sends him, with full reliance on the meshaleiach that he will direct things so that they work out well.

“We also need to know not to dance around the issues for appearances sake. In matters that are important to the Rebbe, there can be no compromising or overlooking. When people feel that you present things to them with Jewish pride and believe that they are true, they will respect you. Be likable, but others have to go with our truth. When you go with the torch of emuna, you don’t get tired.”

We asked what differentiates a Chabad askan from other askanim. R’ Gloiberman said:

“Whoever is considering going into askanus needs to look at the real askanim we have had, those who built Chabad mosdos in Eretz Yisroel, establishing something out of nothing: like R’ Efraim Wolf a”h, R’ Shloimke Maidanchek a”h, R’ Moshe Slonim a”h, R’ Zushe Wilyamowsky a”h, and R’ Yehoshua Yuzevitz of Yerushalayim and others. They did not look for publicity. They were men of truth who only sought to give the Rebbe nachas and worked with mesirus nefesh. I remember how once a month R’ Zushe the Partisan would come to my office and proclaim, ‘Yechi HaMelech! What did you do this past month for the king?’ Without shtick, without tricks, for the king, without mixing in your own ideas.

“Just like regarding all of the Rebbe’s ten mivtzaim we didn’t ask questions but followed orders, so too with publicizing about Moshiach. We need to speak about it publicly and not be ashamed. In many speeches and interviews I speak about Moshiach. We all heard how the Rebbe feels about it and how often he spoke about it. Today, everyone talks about Moshiach. The Litvishe speak about Moshiach and even do various things to hasten his coming, and we should lag behind? There is no covering up, no being embarrassed. Go with the ko’ach of the meshaleiach. I always suggest that people write to the Rebbe through the Igros Kodesh, and I have seen miracles with hundreds of people with whom I write.”

DOZENS OF INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE REBBE OVER THE YEARS

R’ Gloiberman has dozens of letters from the Rebbe. Some of the letters have specific instructions while others have blessings for family events or askanus matters. He prefers keeping most of them to himself. “This is too personal; the time has not yet come to reveal it,” he says.

“The first time I had yechidus was after Sukkos in 5732/1971. That year, although I was a young bachur, I was offered the job of secretary of Vaad L’Shleimus Ha’Am. I asked the Rebbe if I should accept the position, but it seems the Rebbe had a different role in mind for me. The Rebbe said that even if I ultimately took the job, it would be better if it was done secretly and not with great publicity.”

R’ Gloiberman, of course, turned down the job. But he remembers the extraordinary brachos that the Rebbe blessed him with at the end of the yechidus, for askanus matters and personal matters.

“One year, I had a certain health problem. I was very concerned and submitted a request for a bracha. The Rebbe instructed me to switch doctors and said, ‘It’s a great exaggeration.’ I won’t forget those words.

“Every time I passed the Rebbe for dollars, the Rebbe would add another dollar for communal work or for askanus in Eretz Yisroel or for the city of Lud.”

At the first Kinus HaShluchim that took place in New York in 5747, nobody from the small army of shluchim in Eretz Yisroel was in attendance aside from R’ Gloiberman.

“The day before the Kinus, R’ Groner came over to me and asked me, on the Rebbe’s behalf, to speak as the representative of the shluchim in Eretz Yisroel. Of course I agreed, and I prepared something short and then spoke at the Kinus. Afterward, I received the Rebbe’s general letter for the Kinus with the addition of three handwritten words: k’pashut b’birkas ha’shluchim (obviously with the blessing of the shluchim).

“Thirty years ago, they found polio in Lud and many people in Shikun Chabad and throughout Lud were nervous that it would spread. I wrote to the Rebbe about this and the Rebbe responded, ‘I will mention it at the tziyun.’ The polio did not spread; it disappeared.”

R’ Gloiberman:

“I once had an offer for a certain administrative job and when I wrote to the Rebbe about it, I received the answer, ‘I will mention it at the tziyun.’ When I showed the answer to the rav of Kfar Chabad, Rabbi Ashkenazi, he told me that this bracha was no simple thing (lo pashut). I returned to the Rebbe with that response and waited for an answer. The Rebbe responded, ‘Ask him, in my name, what he intended when he said, in my name, lo pashut.’ I showed the Rebbe’s response to Rabbi Ashkenazi. The answer of the Rebbe apparently came as a shock to him and he sat down to write a lengthy response with his explanations. For this, he received the response, ‘t’shuos chein’ (thank you).”

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