Throughout the year, Rabbi Eliezer Krugliak is a teacher in Oholei Torah in Kfar Chabad. But when Pesach approaches, he becomes a dynamic shliach, campaigner, publicist and producer, with one goal: to bring the Moshiach seuda to every Jewish home. * In an interview with Beis Moshiach, R’ Krugliak tells how it all began, about the first Moshiach seuda, about a simple way to get people to fulfill this custom, about the Rebbe’s approach to strengthening this mivtza, and why specifically a Moshiach seuda. * Also, about a moving Moshiach seuda in the heart of the inferno in Jenin.
By Zalman Tzorfati
“Why a Moshiach seuda?” I asked R’ Krugliak.
“It’s not just a seuda; it’s Moshiach,” he said. “Through the seuda you bring Moshiach into every Jewish home. Picture a family sitting around the table and the father explaining to his children that now we are eating a seuda in honor of Moshiach, because he heard in shul or read on a paper he saw on Chol HaMoed that it is a segula to make a Moshiach seuda. Then the child asks, what is Moshiach? When will he come? Who is it? Why do we need him?
“Without needing explanations, lectures and shiurim, in thousands and hundreds of thousands of homes and shuls, they will talk about Moshiach, ask, answer, discuss, explain, and even tell a good joke about it. Is there a greater Mivtza Moshiach than this?”
When I wanted to interview R’ Eliezer Krugliak for the Pesach issue, he was thrilled. “Of course, wonderful, thank you very much,” he said. “I look for every opportunity to urge Anash and the shluchim to talk about this and spread the word. If I reach many more people through an article which they will read Erev Yom Tov or on Yom Tov and they will convey the message, that’s great!”
Everything, even the most holy, in order to be successful in permeating the public consciousness, requires that it have someone that is “meshuga” about it, one of the mashpiim once said. Someone who is passionate about it, who will have mesirus nefesh for it and will excite everybody else. The meshuga for the Moshiach seuda in Eretz Yisroel is, without a doubt, R’ Eliezer Krugliak of Kfar Chabad. He took the Rebbe’s instruction and made it into a real campaign with a main hub, volunteers, and all sorts of publicity. He lives with this all year, mobilizing the funds and coming up with ideas. During the days before Pesach, while everyone else is busy with cleaning and preparing for the seder night, he is already up to the Moshiach seuda. He makes flyers, puts ads in the papers and on radio broadcasts, does publicity through text messaging, and all for the purpose of spreading the idea of the Moshiach seuda to more and more Jews.
THE REBBE DRAGGED ME INTO THIS
“I got into this by divine providence. I feel like the Rebbe pulled me into this,” answers R’ Krugliak with characteristic humility, when I ask him, “What makes a person suddenly wake up one morning and decide to be a ‘Seudas Moshiach shliach?’”
“Apparently, the Rebbe wanted someone to be meshuga about Seudas Moshiach,” he answers simply.
“It all began in 5751, when before Pesach I returned from half a year on shlichus in Russia. During that period, the Rebbe began to speak very strongly about Moshiach, and every Shabbos there was another sicha with yet another novel insight about Moshiach. The Rebbe put us all into a very powerful atmosphere of Moshiach.
“When Pesach arrived, the whole idea of ‘As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders’ took on a special significance. So when the seventh day of Pesach came along, whose high point is Seudas Moshiach (outside of Eretz Yisroel it is on the eighth day), I was so inspired that I simply began going from shul to shul. I was living in Yerushalayim at the time, and I recall spending the entire seventh day going from place to place. At night I went to all sorts of shuls where people were up learning, and in the morning at Shacharis time I went to a few more. And before Mincha and after Mincha I managed to visit some more shuls. I tried to squeeze in as many shuls as possible, and in each of them I spoke to the congregation and told them that there is a segula on Shvii shel Pesach to eat a seuda in honor of Moshiach with matzo and wine.
“I was shocked to see the willingness and happiness with which my words were accepted, without any deep conversations or explanations. People were informed that there is such a segula and they all wanted to partake in the Seudas Moshiach. There were shul caretakers who began opening up tables, rabbis who stepped aside and let me speak, simple women who went to prepare and eat the meal in their homes, and all with simplicity and sincerity.
“I suddenly grasped that Seudas Moshiach is one of the Rebbe’s campaigns that is very simple to publicize and carry out. When you speak to someone about t’fillin, mezuza, Shabbos observance, or any other matter, it usually involves some physical exertion or an exertion of faith. Here we are talking about a simple project, eating matza and drinking wine. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, you don’t need to understand deep matters, you don’t need to drag yourself to a special location, and there are no complicated instructions to carry out. It is simple and easy. You can eat it at home and you’ve done it.”
MOSHIACH SEUDA IN AN IDF TRAINING BASE
That was the first time that R’ Krugliak reached out and since then many years of tireless efforts have come and gone. Prior to Pesach 5754, despite being a newlywed, he was drafted literally on Erev Pesach. “I was in the army the entire Chol HaMoed and couldn’t eat anything. I brought shmura matza with me and that’s all I ate.” On Erev Shvii shel Pesach, he was granted a leave along with the thousands of other soldiers who were part of the “March draft,” who had been together with him at the absorption and assignment base in Tel HaShomer.
Before their release, the thousands of recruits filled the main square of the base and received orders from their young commanders. R’ Krugliak went over to the commanders and said he wanted to bless the soldiers for the Yom Tov. “The atmosphere was uplifting and they allowed me to speak. I spoke briefly about Pesach and mainly about the Moshiach seuda that would begin in a little more than a day. I asked the soldiers to eat some matza then, and drink some wine or grape juice and make whatever requests they wanted, mainly for the Geula.
“When I returned after Pesach, many soldiers came over to me and told me that they did what I said and ate the Moshiach seuda. Even those who seemed unlikely candidates, i.e., those who don’t necessarily check for a ‘Kosher for Pesach’ on the label of food, informed me that they partook of a seudas Moshiach.”
BREAKOUT AS A NATIONAL CAMPAIGN
Every year, R’ Krugliak did what he could to spread the idea of Moshiach’s seuda. But at some point, about fifteen years ago, came the big breakthrough.
“I was on mivtzaim in Assaf HaRofeh hospital on Erev Shabbos HaGadol. We went through the departments with t’fillin and matza and wherever I went, I spoke about the first k’zayis on the first night of Pesach and about the Moshiach’s seuda on the last day.
“I really got into it and spoke with everyone, from my heart. I was sorry it wasn’t possible to go up on some high place and shout so everyone could hear. Then I got the idea of advertising in the paper.
“I called Maariv, which was then at its height, and the cost was nearly 10,000 shekels for a small advertisement. It was a fortune but I was so worked up about it, that I wanted to do it. I called a friend who gave me part of the money and called another friend who also gave something. I had no fax so we faxed the advertisement from R’ Avi Piamenta’s house. We wrote the ad and sent it off and it was featured in the paper’s holiday issue.
“At the bottom of the ad I put my phone number for those who wanted additional information. I got lots of feedback. People called to ask how to do it and after the holiday some called to tell me they did it. Shluchim also told me that people came to their Chabad House because of the ad in the paper.”
This was the first time that his personal efforts had a national impact. Since then, over the years, the work evolved and progressed, and R’ Krugliak became more knowledgeable about the many ways to reach people and the campaign for a Moshiach seuda has grown from year to year.
“Today we advertise in many venues. We have an ad in the papers which is publicized every year by Rabbi Shimon Yehuda Pizem of Hisachdus Ha’chassidim L’Kabbalas P’nei Moshiach. Aside from that, we do a lot of advertising on the radio, on stations that target religious Jews. We send hundreds of thousands of texts, and print tens of thousands of flyers that are distributed before Pesach and during Chol HaMoed by Anash and shluchim.
“I am in touch with many reporters and journalists of various stations, through whom we raise the subject of the Moshiach seuda on programs which reach a variety of audiences.”
MIRACLES ABOUND AND ENCOURAGEMENT FROM THE REBBE
It sounds like an organized and well run campaign. Where does the funding come from?
“I don’t know; it’s all miraculous. I make commitments and it is just unbelievable how every year things work out amazingly. There are some wonderful people to whom this is important and they donate a significant part of the costs. I’d like to mention the Stambler family who own the matza bakery in Kfar Chabad, who donate every year in memory of their father, R’ Yaakov, who passed away on 11 Nissan.
“Aside from that, we simply see miracles wherever we turn. A few years ago we somehow got the information that the last page in the most popular holiday supplement in the country was suddenly available due to a canceled advertisement. They were willing to sell it to us for an especially low price. Although it was five figures, it was a quarter of the full price.
“I didn’t know what to do. It was after I had already spent all the money on the usual campaign expenses and what I had left were two donations from two friends, 500 shekels from each. I wrote to the Rebbe through the Igros Kodesh and the answer was: The two donations totaling $112.50 were received and now we can go to print the letters of the Rebbe, my father-in-law, for Pesach.
“What’s amazing is that the letter is dated the month of Av! That means, it was a donation that the Rebbe received in the summer, so it seems, and he allocated the donations toward printing the Rebbe Rayatz’s letters for Pesach. The precise answer became even more incredible when I checked the exchange rate that day and the amount of $112.50 was exactly 500 shekels.
“At that moment, I took what I had and contacted R’ Pizem to get him to partner with me. He had already finished his project to publish the letter, but when he saw the answer I got from the Rebbe he got into it and also obtained a donation for the entire sum in the speediest, most amazing way.
“A number of times when I wrote to the Rebbe about the campaign, I opened to where the Rebbe speaks about advertising in the papers and on radio. We have answers from the Rebbe and miracles at every step.”
R’ Krugliak went on to tell me extraordinary stories of divine providence connected to the campaign:
“But that is not the main thing,” he suddenly interjected. “The main thing is to convince the shluchim and Anash to take an active part and spread the message about the Moshiach seuda.”
EASIEST AND MOST NATURAL
What do you tell people about the Moshiach seuda – how do you convince them?
As I mentioned, what’s unique about the Moshiach seuda campaign is the simplicity of it. Deep explanations aren’t necessary. Eating is easy and natural, and something that people do all the time. So we are just asking that he or she eat a certain food at a certain time, and even better if they have in mind that it is in honor of Moshiach.
When I have occasion to elaborate, I explain that during the final hours of every holiday is when the highest lights shine, like at the end of Shabbos and N’ila on Yom Kippur. All the holiness of the holiday is accrued during the final hours. It is an auspicious time, a time when, on Pesach, the light of Moshiach shines on the world and the gates of heaven are open. It’s a time to ask for whatever you want, for health, parnasa, nachas from children, shidduchim, good spouses for your children, for grandchildren, and of course to ask for the Geula of the Jewish people through Moshiach.
MIVTZA (SEUDAS) MOSHIACH
When a father or grandfather comes home and he gathers his wife, children and grandchildren and gives out matza and wine or grape juice and tells them about Moshiach, it is the greatest publicizing of Moshiach there can be. The Rebbe says that kabbalas p’nei Moshiach is the gateway through which all aspects of shlichus pass. Everything is connected with Moshiach; mivtza mezuza and t’fillin, Neshek, family purity, Torah study, it all has to be connected to Moshiach. The Moshiach seuda publicizes about Moshiach in Jewish homes and as they eat, so that it also becomes absorbed inwardly, as Chassidus explains.
I call upon all of Anash and the shluchim to join in this year for mivtza Seudas Moshiach. Every day of Chol HaMoed we go on trips with the family to the park. While the family is enjoying themselves, I take my older children for a walking tour of the park for a few hours and give out flyers. Chol HaMoed is an excellent time. People are relaxing in the park; it’s not like the hectic shopping mall on Erev Yom Tov. You can talk to them and explain things and it’s always amazing to see the interest they have in it.
EVERYONE IS INVITED TO JOIN
I go from family to family and there is hardly anyone who does not respond. Boruch Hashem, in recent years we also have the “kol koreh” that we published from rabbanim and Admurim through the efforts of Rabbi Naftali Roth in which g’dolei Yisroel call upon everyone to fulfill this custom and say they do so themselves. It’s very helpful to match the outreach to the background of the recipient, whether it’s Baba Sali, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu or Rabbi Yoram Abergel zt”l who were particularly interested in this, or the Chassidishe Admurim who follow this enactment of the Baal Shem Tov.
It’s important to explain that this is for women too. Often people make do with the fact that in shul there is a Moshiach seuda which the father attends. You need to explain that women and girls can and should do it too. They can do it on their own at home, or gather together. Either way, it’s important they have a Moshiach seuda too.
So how about joining the campaign? There is material on the Seudas Moshiach that you can take with you to parks and zoos, wherever people congregate on Chol HaMoed. Who knows? Maybe the family you convince to have a Moshiach seuda will be the act that tips the scale to bring Moshiach!
AN UNFORGETTABLE MOSHIACH SEUDA
R’ Rami Meir of Kfar Chabad has a story for us about a Moshiach seuda. It was in the middle of Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, and on Shvii shel Pesach, Rami was in the center of Jenin. The war cost us many casualties and spirits were low. In the few days of fighting, they had lost their commander.
Rami suddenly remembered about making a Moshiach seuda. He decided it had to be done despite the dire circumstances. He had a small piece of matza left and the remains of a bottle of wine. He gathered his colleagues and told them about the special light, the light of Moshiach, which shines in the world at this time, and about the segula in making a Moshiach seuda. He gave out some crumbs of matza to each soldier and some drops of wine. They ate, blessed one another, and were fortified. Their mood improved and they continued fighting until they completed their mission.
After the war, they gathered in Rami’s house and held a memorial for the commander who had been killed and another soldier who was killed after that when a Palestinian sniper shot at him as he wore t’fillin.
The soldiers recalled the special Moshiach seuda and it was a very moving event. The soldiers all agreed to commit to putting on t’fillin l’ilui nishmas their fellow soldier who had been slain.
I told this part of the story to Menachem Cohen who edits the Chaim Yehudiyim column in Sichat HaShavua and he published it.
But the story did not end here. The father of that slain soldier, an older Yemenite man, went to shul as he did every day, but the week of his son’s memorial was unbearable for him. His emotional state affected his physical state and he began to feel sick in the middle of davening. He decided to go out of the shul and sit on a bench outside and breathe some fresh air.
As he sat there, he noticed the latest issue of Sichat HaShavua which was near him. He was familiar with the publication but said he never read it since he read none of the Shabbos pamphlets. But now, as he sat outside, he leafed through it and suddenly came across the story about his son. He was moved to tears and took it as a heavenly sign of encouragement. And that is how, by divine providence, he received the strength to go on, thanks to a Moshiach seuda.