July 30, 2015
Beis Moshiach in #983, Tzivos Hashem

By D Chaim

My grandfather is one of the most fascinating people I know. His supply of stories is never-ending and whenever I can, I try to hear another story from him. Even now, after the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach was nisgaleh and we are in the era of Geula, my grandfather continues to tell stories.

I remember that in the final moments of galus, my grandfather always said that the most important thing is to be happy. “Mendele, Moshiach is coming and we need to be happy,” he would say a little mischievously and with a smile that made me smile. Now, of course, there is no sadness and people are always happy.

My grandparents lived in Russia for many years and then made aliya. I was very curious to know what it was like in Russia for them but for some reason, my grandfather was unwilling to talk about it. Whenever I tried to bring it up, my grandfather would close his eyes and after a few seconds would start talking about something else. But don’t think I gave up; my curiosity only grew.

One day, before the Rebbe was nisgaleh, I heard old Efraim say to someone in shul that until today he sometimes senses he is being followed. I ran to my grandfather and said, “We must do something. Maybe it’s a robber who is waiting for an opportunity to rob Efraim of his little bit of money!”

“Nonsense,” said my grandfather, dismissing what I said with a wave of his hand. “Efraim himself knows that nobody is following him.”

“But Zaidy, I heard Efraim himself say so!”

“I know,” said my grandfather reassuringly, “that is only natural after many years when Efraim was under surveillance by the Russians. It’s okay, I am familiar with it myself.”

This was my opening. Grandfather himself was referring to that time in Russia! I excitedly asked my grandfather before he could change the topic, “Why did the Russians follow you?”

“Oh Mendele, Mendele. You cannot imagine what we went through there.”

My grandfather’s gaze was fixed on some invisible point and it looked as though he was thinking back to those days.

Suddenly, he asked me, “Why does this interest you?”

“Zaidy, I find this very interesting!”

My grandfather found it hard to ignore my pleas and we sat down together at an old table in the living room of my grandparents’ house and went back in time.

My grandfather’s soft voice, along with his hand gestures, explained what had happened as he was walking down the street and encountered a group of Russian kids.

“They noticed me from the distance and started whispering, but it was too late for me to withdraw. A slight indication of fear on my part would merely increase their boldness. I was terrified, but was determined to show them that I was not afraid. I walked toward them confidently and said, ‘Whoever thinks he’s strong, come over here.’

“They all suddenly lost their confidence and none of them said a word. Some time went by and then I said, ‘Don’t you dare touch a Jew.’ I turned around slowly and went on my way.”

My grandfather continued talking and I eagerly listened to every word he said. These stories of heroism seemed more real as I heard them from my grandfather and I could picture the dark room where my grandfather secretly learned Torah and the shul where minyanim were held with mesirus nefesh. I pictured how the KGB suddenly broke into the shul and the people escaped out the windows. I felt the mesirus nefesh of one of the Chassidim as he refused to reveal his friends’ names when he was interrogated. I exclaimed, “Zaidy, with everything they suffered, it was still an incredible time, a time when the Jewish neshama was revealed and burned brightly!”

“True, true, Mendele,” said my grandfather as he patted my cheek.


Why do I spend time telling you about stories I heard that took place in galus? It would be better for me to tell you what is happening with me now, when we are already in the Geula.

My grandfather has an old shed packed with ancient things. Today I decided to organize it in the hopes of finding something interesting. I spent a long time among the “treasures” there, and at some point I came across a mysterious item. It looked like a clock but it had all sorts of unfamiliar dials and numbers.

I ran to my grandfather with my find and asked him what it was used for. He examined it carefully and said, “I thought I had lost it. Where did you find it? In the shed? It is a clock with unique properties. It can transport you to any time and place you choose.”

“Really? I want to go back to the time of galus in Russia. I’d like to see for myself what went on there.”

My grandfather set the dials and asked me to press the green button in the center two times firmly and one time gently. Then, within seconds, I found myself in an unfamiliar place.

Russian is my mother tongue. After I read what it said on the street sign I immediately realized I was in Moscow, the capital of Russia. For a moment I was frightened. What would I do if a KGB agent caught me? But I immediately remembered to think positively. I started walking toward a magnificent building not far away. I quickly got there and walked in and was surprised to see many Jews wearing Chabad hats and sirtuks.

I wondered how come they weren’t afraid that the KGB would catch them. I went over to one of them and asked about this gathering. He said with a smile, “This is a Kinus HaShluchim for all the shluchim in the country. They have all gathered here for chizuk to continue their shlichus.”

“Are you not afraid of the KGB barging in, in the middle of the Kinus?” I asked in amazement.

The shliach burst out laughing. “The KGB? It no longer exists. This Kinus is approved by the government which greatly respects the shluchim and is happy to host a Kinus in its capital city.”

“Really? Then this is not the era I wanted. I came from the Geula to see what my grandfather went through in galus in Russia but you are living on the threshold of Geula.”

The shliach looked at me a little strangely but I kept talking. “You already get to see the wonders taking place so close to the Geula. Even the Russian government, which once fought against Torah and mitzvos, respects and hosts the Kinus HaShluchim in Russia.”

I did not wait to hear a response because I wanted to get to the era that my grandfather described. I pressed two and a half times on the button. As for what happened next, maybe I will tell you about it another time.

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (
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